Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Maggie Review... or, "It's Not a Tumor, You're a Zombie!"

Maggie, the art house zombie apocalypse movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last month, is living proof that art house and Arnold don't mix. Written by John Scott 3 (yes, that's his name) and directed by Henry Hobson, Maggie is the story of a farmer trying to spend as much time as he can with his infected daughter before she crosses over into being a full-blown zombie.

It's not a tumor, you're a zombie!

In the world of Maggie, the zombie apocalypse is known and carefully tracked by the government. The infected are monitored and diagnosed and even treated as long as possible; unfortunately, there is no cure and eventually the infected must be put into quarantine when the time of their change is at hand so they can be euthanized. When his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) is bitten, silent and stoic farmer Wade (Schwarzenegger) refuses to  send her into quarantine, believing instead that their love for each other will keep her human as long as possible, and that when the time comes, he'll be able to do what must be done to her himself. In the process, Wade drives away his wife Caroline (Joely Richardson) and gets into scuffles with neighbors and the local police in what remains a very boring flick despite it all. There's really none of the violence and bloodshed you expect from a zombie movie, which is fine because the family drama should be enough to keep your interest. Except, it isn't.

The problem is that the acting is nowhere near good enough to carry the drama. Richardson is good in her small role, and she does a good job with taking an unlikable character who is unlikable solely because she is the voice of reason and making her sympathetic. Breslin is solid as well, playing her part with the right amount of both heart and the sullen moodiness you would expect from a teenager in her position. But she isn't up to how much of the acting burden she has to bear alone, because her primary costar is as emotive as an adobe clay brick hut. Seriously. Every time Arnold is asked to actually emote, the results are absurd. His laughs sound like he's in pain. His attempts at crying are absolutely laugh-inducing.  And his words of wisdom fall so short because of the maddening lack of emotion behind them. The few instances he gets to snarl and be a tough guy are the only times he is any good, which goes to show that sometimes action stars should stay just that. Myself and my friends who I watched this with basically spent the whole time shouting Arnold's most famous lines from other movies at the screen in our best impressions of him, that's how awful and boring his performance in this movie and the movie as a whole was.

And I refuse to get started on the ending because there's no way to talk about it without spoilers. Suffice to say it completely failed at anything other than thoroughly undercutting the movie as a whole. Which I suppose makes it fit in perfectly with the rest of this awful movie that gets zero stars from me.

He makes awful movies, that's what!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Cursor's Fury

Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera, #3)Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much like with the Dresden Files, this series continues to improve with each installment Butcher turns out. This one benefits from a serious "band of brothers" vibe added to the intrigue of the previous two books, with protagonist Tavi joining a legion. We see him interact with soldiers and see how it helps him grow. A complaint would be that he almost matures too fast to be believable in that setting, but it's unavoidable and a situation where the good outnumbers the bad. Likewise, it's too convenient that all his friends wind up in the same place to help him, but without that, the book would lose a lot of its wonderful character interaction. Plus, it gets away from the "I have to see my family" trend of the last two books, while still keeping all the members of Tavi's family involved. There are a few twists in the book, one a good o0ne that shows the heroes aren't as stupid as they sometimes appear; and one I didn't see coming until about a page before it happened, which is definitely praiseworthy. I enjoyed this book enough that it's gotten me to the point that I can't wait to start the next installment in the series tomorrow.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Panel of the Week: 5/20/15

Here I am, about to catch up on these after falling behind a couple of weeks... so of course I'm catching up on the day a whole new batch of comics comes out. Whatever, not the point. We'll get to this week's winner in a second, but first, a little spoiler-blocker for the FB thumbnail, to preserve the mystery a bit when this is posted there...

And now, this week's winner, which comes to us from Transformers #41 (I have no idea which volume it is at this point, except to say it's the current IDW ongoing), written by John Barber with art by Livio Ramondelli. The series is doing an event called "Combiner Wars," which is basically a free-for-all between all the merged Transformers like Devastator and Superion and the like. It's chaos, and Optimus Prime decides there's only one way to stop it:

He becomes a combiner himself, merging with some of his most trusted Autobots, real classics: Ironhide, Mirage, Sunstreaker, and Prowl. It's an absolutely ludicrous turn of events and the child TF fan in me absolutely loves it. And I'm crazy about Ramondelli's gritty art for this series. His robots actually look like robots, unlike a lot of other artists who have a habit of making the Transformers look too human.

And as a parting gift, an image released today for an alternate cover to one of Marvel's upcoming books, with art by J. Scott Campbell, one of my all time faves who absolutely needs to get back into monthly comics.

Absolutely friggin' beautiful.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Panel of the Week: 5/13/15

Yeah, I know I'm just a tad behind. Had a bit of a crazy weekend last weekend and with work and commuting times there hasn't been as much time to give to reading my comics as I'd have liked. But I muddle through, and everything will happen eventually. Like the winner from May 13th's batch of books, an award that goes to Marvel's Secret Wars #2, written by Jonathan Hickman and art by Esad Ribic. The plot of Secret Wars has been nebulous in all the build up to it, with little known about it other than it's about Battleworld, which is what's left when all the different Marvel realities are destroyed. Well, the revelations start coming in #2. First, we learn that Dr. Doom is the power behind this world, worshipped as a god. But later in the issue we got our first glimpse at the real through-line that is connecting things to what has come before:

We learn that Thanos and his Cabal, who were trying to stop the events that led to Battleworld's creations from taking place, have survived and made it to Battleword and may just be the only people (other than Doom, perhaps) who aren't brainwashed into thinking this new reality is what has always been. And yes, I know it's a bit of a cheat as it's technically two panels, but since one is set into another, there wasn't much I could do about it. Ribic's art is absolutely gorgeous, so the page wins. Plus, it's Thanos, which means Battleworld's name is probably about to become a whole hell of a lot more literal...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To me, Neil Gaiman is one of the best modern writers out there. He's certainly the most structurally sound and poetic. There's a rhythm and magic to his writing, a lyrical quality that makes even his prose feel poetic and makes everything he writes a joy to read. Yeah, you can tell I'm a big fan. I've loved his anthologies before, but this one, I hate to say it, disappointed. The problem for me this time around is that, as lyrical and poetic as Gaiman is, he's also that esoteric at times, and there were some stories or works here that I just didn't get. His fault or mine, I can't be sure. Also, with one or two exceptions, none of the stories really jumped out and grabbed me the way past Gaiman stories have. One exception is the novella at the end, Black Dog, an adventure of perhaps Gaiman's most famous non-comic character, Shadow Moon from American Gods. But even that story felt too simple too me, and a large part of my enjoyment of it came from the nostalgia factor. Perhaps I just set my sights too high this time to make anything possible other than disappointment in reality. But still, even a bad Gaiman effort is better than most author's great works, and it's good enough to net three stars.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Panel of the Week: 5/6/15

Here's a quickie for you because it's late and I'm exhausted. This week's winner comes from Hulk Vol. 3 #16, written by Gerry Duggan, drawn by the inimitable Mark Bagley, one of Marvel's most legendary and reliable artists (I've been a fan of his since his initial run on Amazing Spider-Man way back when, and then his work on New Warriors, Thunderbolts, etc...). It's just an impressive two-page spread of the evil future Hulk known as the Maestro, and was the most awesome looking thing I saw in a comic last week.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Academ's Fury

Academ's Fury (Codex Alera, #2)Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second book in the Codex Alera series is definitely an improvement over the first book, but it's nowhere near as good as the stories Butcher is able to craft in the Dresden Files series. Tavi's second adventure feels a little repetitive... it begins with him in over his head, a mystery to investigate, betrayals, chance encounters, etc... which I know can be said of any story, but it felt very noticeable to me here. Formulaic, even. But it was still an entertaining read, and the way the world is expanded adds a lot to the story. The climax was fairly thrilling, and it hints at things that I thought I had figured out but that I clearly got wrong, so the mystery is there as well. I'm looking forward to what happens next... but I'm not pulled along enough to not take a break between part two and three to read something else.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Panel of the Week: 4/29/15

This week's panel of the week isn't any great, momentous moment or anything of that sort. It doesn't even feature all that great of a character. But it is the culmination of a solid issue, it makes for a pretty great moment, and it's a very well put together picture. It comes to us from Moon Knight #14, written by Cullen Bunn, penciled by Ron Ackins and Steven Sanders.

I know what you're thinking. Moon Knight doesn't look like that! Well, you might be thinking that if you've ever heard of him. But this new look has been around a little while, and I like it a lot, as opposed to his typical superhero getup. I especially love the way the color interacts with all the other colors around it. And I love the mission statement that goes with his declaration as he uses the dogs as his "flock," helping them get revenge on someone who abused them. And I love how the shadow he casts isn't quite his own, a nod to his status as avatar of a god. All in all, it's a great example of comic book story-telling.