New Warriors Vol.5 #8

Writer: Chris Yost
Penciller: Marcus To
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The artwork in this issue remained generally outstanding. Marcus To has a knack for penciling heroes who just plain look aesthetically pleasing while also conveying action, drama and story progression. Too many pencillers these days can either make things look pretty or clearly convey the action, but not both. The man’s up there with the likes of Patrick Zircher, Tom Grummett and Mark Bagley in terms of sheer awesomeness.

The one drawback to the art was the colouring. It has always looked a bit flat in this series, but this issue particularly suffered because there was so much brown and black. In many scenes, things just looked gritty and muddy and with no real depth, which is a shame considering how beautiful To’s pencils were underneath.

The writing remains outstanding. This issue continued to set some really solid groundwork for a great ongoing series. I can already see many subtle subplots coming to fruition twenty issues down the line, and can’t wait to see how they evolve. Yes, we’re in the midst of a typically shallow set-up story, but all the roots are discreetly digging into the ground below. I’m literally on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next!

Kill Theory (2009)

Screenplay by: Kelly C. Palmer
Directed by: Chris Moore

This film tries to be a cross between Battle Royale and Saw, but isn’t as engaging or interesting as BR or as gory as Saw.

That isn’t to say it’s a bad film, at least from the perspective of the direction. It is very polished and looks quite pleasant. This is helped largely by a very pretty cast – who knew that Patrick Flueger, who we know from Chicago PD, used to actually be very good-looking? The weakness is in the writing: it takes a solid premise, but executes it in a very weak and cliched way.

There is a twist at the end, and while you may not guess it precisely, you’ll likely be in the ballpark by about three-quarters of the way through.

This could have been an excellent film. Instead, it is just average.

Animal (2014)

animal2014Screenplay by: Thommy Hutson & Catherine Trillo
Directed by: Brett Simmons

It is a bit of a stretch calling this film horror. It has more in common with an action film, and there are elements of comedy. The issue is simply that at no point in this film did I experience even a hint of fear. There’s a monster, it eats people, the people have to fight it. It tried to be horror by making the monster monstrous, but it could just as easily have been a bear or a wolf.

I don’t know that the steps into comedy territory were intentional – I could have been affected by recognising half the cast from Nickelodeon and MTV comedies. I certainly didn’t feel any real drama, though.

There just isn’t much substance to the film. There’s a wild beast, people try to escape it, and then the film ends. There’s no real fear, no rallying cause to get behind, no detailed characters to care about. Stuff just happens, and then stops happening. It wasn’t a bad film, there was just nothing remarkable about it.

The Hitcher (1986)

Screenplay by: Eric Red
Directed by: Robert Harmon

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy fiction in which things just happen and we get to see characters react. That is exactly what happens here. We never get even a hint of an explanation as to why Ryder does what he does – he just does them, like a creepy force of nature.

I found C. Thomas Howell’s Jim Halsey incredibly agreeable. I’d never pick up a hitchhiker (unless I believed they were in distress), but beyond that I completely relate to the character. As he escapes Ryder’s murderous intentions and is stalked, framed for his crimes and tormented, I understand his response at each step. I’m not sure I’d go as far as Halsey does at the very end, but I’d be sorely tempted – Ryder is a malevolent force that won’t stop by choice.

I absolutely loved this film, but I’m scared to watch the 2007 remake, as it is by Michael Bay, whose films I’ve so far universally loathed.

Futari wa PreCure Episode 34

Episode 34: “Nagisa breaks away! The blazing ‘Gachinko’ relay”

Aw, the boy having a crush on Nagisa is so sweet… but Yuka is a bit of a rhymes-with witch.

The memory of the previous episode suggested Nagisa scored the winning goal, when it was a very significant story point that it was actually Shiho, so that was a little bit dodgy.

It seems like every episode now is about Porun running off, and the girls rarely do any real fighting anymore – they just get beaten until Porun realises they’re in danger and gives them the Rainbow Bracelets. Even in early episodes they tended to just stall until doing the PreCure Marble Screw, but the action was a bit more intense; the fights now feel like filler.

Essential Silver Surfer Vol.1

Writer: Stan Lee
Pencillers: John Buscema & Jack Kirby
Publisher: Marvel Comics

ISBN: 0-7851-2008-4

Note: This TPB collects Silver Surfer Vol.1 #1-18 and Fantastic Four Annual #5.

The Silver Surfer is a jerk.

Yes, he made a tremendous sacrifice to save Zenn-La from Galactus. Yes, he paid a terrible price for saving Earth from Galactus. But he’s an arrogant, judgmental jerk. However, he is a very well-pencilled jerk. John Buscema’s art here is just outstanding. I’m not Jack Kirby’s biggest fan, but usually find his art okay – compared to Buscema, Kirby is terrible.

What really appealed to me in this volume were the first appearances of two of my favourite Marvel villains: Mephisto and the Badoon. The issues in which Mephisto tries to claim the Surfer’s soul are particularly good, as it pits the Surfer against one of few entities that are much, much more powerful than he is. Mephisto could blink him out of existence if he wishes, but instead chooses to toy with him. It’s great stuff.

The Surfer is, of course, very introspective, but I don’t really enjoy that, since he is so preachy. Add to that that he has an angelic appearance and almost god-like powers, and he starts to become something I’m not comfortable with. The character needs better grounding in the Marvel Universe – a context in which he fits, not sits above.

Futari wa PreCure Episode 33

Episode 33: “Get the victory! Find the path of light with your heart!!”

I love the lacrosse games in this series. Every single time they’ve shown one I’ve been jumping up and cheering for the Verone Academy girls. If only real-life sport was that engaging!

The bad guys were a bit of an afterthought in this episode, which was fine, as there was more important stuff to do.

I didn’t like the intervention of some sort of mystical power during the game, though. Nagisa seeing Porun’s predicted “path of light” and that leading to Shiho’s redemption was a cop-out – it would have been better if Shiho had redeemed herself by a legitimate return of confidence from actual dedication, effort and skill.