Whiteout

I read Oni’s smaller, digest-ish sized edition of Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber’s Whiteout this weekend. It’s a pretty good read, though I feel like I’ve read or seen all the pieces of this story already between episodes of shows like CSI, The Thing and Bad Boys II (especially the scene where Carrie and Lily drive a Hummer through the arctic shanty town). But, hey, that’s not really an indictment on the book itself, I’ve often said that it doesn’t really matter the order that pieces of fiction come out, but the order you’ve seen them. For instance, I read Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens well before I saw The Omen (well, I still haven’t seen the movie, but I DID read the novelization of the movie that I thought was the novel it was based on). Really, though, reading Whiteout made me want to watch The Thing again, that’s a freaking rad movie.

It also made me want to see the Whiteout movie starring Kate Beckinsale. What’s the deal with that flick anyway?

One last thing I want to talk about, more so than the contents of the book is the scale of the book itself. I will never understand why companies want to shrink down artists’ work to such a small format. It’s one thing with manga or Scott Pilgrim when the book was originally conceived in that format, but shrinking Steve Lieber or Frank Miller’s art (like in the Sin City volumes that came out around the movie) just boggles my mind. Their art is SICK, show it as big as you can! That’s why we have Absolute editions.

Okay, that’s my rant. What do you think of shrinking down artwork like that? Or Whiteout? Or Kate Beckinsale? Or The Thing?!

Mid Season Replacements

Welcome to the middle of the season folks. No, I haven’t gotten my calendar out to see how many episodes of Big Bang, How I Met Your Mother or The Office are left, but I can just tell. How? I’m a genius. Well, no, not at all. I can tell because we’re getting hit with a slew of new shows that may or may not still be here by the end of the actual season. Over the next few weeks (and the previous four-ish) you’ll see the networks put a big push behind these shows they hope will fill the gaps in their line-ups, which, let’s be honest, weren’t exactly bustling with new, innovative and interesting shows as I mentioned before.

Anyway, I’ve caught a few episodes of these new shows here and there and will be offering up my opinions on each as is my blog-given right.

CASTLE
Monday 10:00 (ABC)
Live everyone else, I saw a TON of previews leading up to the premiere of Castle. I wasn’t really sold on the “writer teams up with a cop” shenanigans the ads were trying to sell me (it seemed like Bones with reversed genders), but I like Nathan Fillion and wished him success. Well, I found myself without anything to watch on Monday night last week so I checked it out and it wasn’t bad. This week’s episode was pretty good too, if a bit overcomplicated. Fillion’s rad and the lady copy is growing on me. There are two aspects that I really like though. First off, I like his family. His daughter is smart and kind of the anti-Gossip Girl while his mother is a former (?) New York actress who likes to party. Not exactly the most original dichtomy, but it all works well together (you might recognize the mom as Greg’s mom on Dharma and Greg). The second thing I like is seeing a writer at work on a TV show. Sure, he’s supposed to be a grocery story aisle novelist, but he thinks like a writer and I just like seeing that, being a self proclaimed writer myself.

DOGG AFTER DARK
Tuesday 8:30PM (MTV)
Dogg After Dark is kind of like Hugh Hefner’s old show where he’d just walk around a party in a loft and talk to people except this time it’s
the Dee Oh Double Gee sporting shades in a huge nightclub and “bumping into” celebrities. I’ve only seen it once, but he called a lot of dudes cousin and then someone sang at the end. I didn’t even realize until I just looked things up for this blog that it’s on Tuesdays, a day I don’t have anything to watch, so I’ll have to give it a look next week.

BETTER OFF TED
Wednesday 8:30PM (ABC)
The Better Off Ted ads did a good job of getting me to want to watch the show, mostly because they heavily featured Portia de Rossi who, aside from being SUPER hot, also gets a near-infinite pass for being on Arrested Development. I tried watching the first episode online, but it got really skippy so I quit and watched the second episode last night. Due to some phone calls, I missed the second half of the episode, but I liked what I saw. The premise is kind of tough to explain (the main character actually does a pretty good job in the opener of the first episode), but I like the fact that it focuses on characters from all over this huge research and development company. I’m not completely sold, but I’ll be back next week.

DOLLHOUSE
Friday 9:00PM (FOX)
I saw one episode of Dollhouse, the second one, and will not be watching any more. I was pretty bummed by how not-great this show was, but I wasn’t surprised. I had heard the production had hit a lot of bumps, plus I’m not an Eliza Dushku fan, so this didn’t feel like a home run from the beginning. I also felt like they didn’t do a good job of letting us know what this show was about (or even letting me know it was on). At first I thought the dolls were supposed to be some kind of super agents, but it turns out they’re kind of prostitutes? I dunno. The problem with a show where the main character is blank is that you really have to like the actor or actress because that’s all you’ve got for lack of character (though I’m sure all that will come back in the memory flashbacks that will probably become important at some point). It also seemed like all the characters were just rehashes of other Joss Whedon characters, like the nerdy tech kid. I know that Whedon has a tendency to start his series’ slow and then really kick it into gear (like Buffy and Angel, I haven’t seen Firefly yet) and I hear there was a big game changer last week (please spoil it in the comments, I’m curious), but I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Dollhouse.

KINGS
Sunday 8:00PM (NBC)
I probably shouldn’t even include Kings on this list because I saw about 20 minutes of one episode. But in that 20 minutes I saw a show that I definitely want to catch up on. There’s such a deep history to this show about America if we had kings (something I think NBC should have advertised way more clearly). The series seems taylor made for my ilk, by which I mean fans of well thought out alternate realities. There’s a ton of history ready to be mined here. Hopefully I can get caught up so I have an idea of what’s going on this week (if I remember to watch).

And a few other shows I’m looking forward to:

THE UNUSUALS
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (ABC)
and
THE DUEL 2
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (MTV)
Before realizing both of these shows will not only be on at the same time, but also starting on the same day, I was kind of looking forward to The Unusuals. Again, the concept seems a bit whacky, but I really like the cast: Michael from Lost (Harold Perrineau), Joan of Arcadia (Amber Tamblyn), one of the nerds from Dazed and Confused (aka the crazy roommate from Friends, aka Adam Goldberg) and a guy from 28 Weeks Later (Jeremy Renner). But, alas, my attention will be diverted thanks to the latest Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which starts the week after one of my top 5 favorite shows, The Real World Brooklyn, ends. This one will be dubbed The Duel 2 and promises to have a fight between Real World Paris castmates Adam and CT!!! (If that made sense to you, we can be friends forever.)

So, what shows are you watching? Seriously, please comment, I need to know that SOMEONE’s reading.

Still Waiting…for a good follow up to Waiting

Back before I moved out here in 2005, I went with a couple of my friends who also worked at the Bagel Place (which has since been demolished and rebuilt as something…very different)to see Waiting… starring Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long and Anna Faris. It’s basically a look at a day in the life (though a crazy one) at Shenaniganz, an Applebees-like restaurant. Even though it wasn’t the same kind of restaurant we worked in we could totally relate to hating jerk-hole customers, relating to each other and playing games to make the day go by quicker (though, they didn’t involve balls).

Anyway, I’m a big fan of the movie. I worked with a lot of people during my 7-ish years at the bagel shop just like the people in the movie. Plus it had the above mentioned actors along with John Francis Daley who, like everyone else, I loved in Freaks and Geeks and a bunch of other actors I would eventually come to know and love like Chi McBride, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Lengies (yeah, I like Stick It, deal with it) and even Dane Cook who I like much better as a comedian, but whatever.

I actually get the itch to watch the DVD every time we eat at one of those TGIFriday’s-type (that’s can’t be the way to write that), though I usually don’t ’cause, you know, I’ve got a lot of other stuff to watch. Anyway, when I heard that the sequel, Still Waiting… came out I was cautiously interested. I put it at the top of my Netflix queue and got it the other day.

Well…

It’s not a good movie. The guy who’s supposed to be the Ryan Reynolds-type character just isn’t as good of an actor and can’t play off the lovable jerk character (also, making him kinda racist probably wasn’t the best choice). Overall, the characters just aren’t as real or interesting as the ones written in the original (even the few recurring characters), which is strange because, as far as I can tell, it’s the same guy who wrote the original (Rob McKittrick who also directed that one, but not this one).

I can’t say I’m disappointed or surprised because, hey, it’s a straight-to-DVD sequel to a movie that didn’t do all that well in the first place. I did appreciate the fact that Justin Long popped up in a cameo. Uh, I guess the following counts as a SPOILER, if you care. I like that he came back for this movie, but I’m not sure if I like the scene, where he basically tells the bartender that his life still ended up shitty after quitting at the end of the first movie. He sure gives a hilarious performance though and I was actually thinking “It’d be interesting to write a movie that starts where movies like Waiting and Empire Records end, with the guy leaving his dead end job and seeing how well they actually do with that” and then that essentially happened.

Oh well, I’ve still got the original, which is still rad, so who cares? Anyone else see it or even want to?

MyTube: Lex Luthor & Mega Man

Being in the industry I’m in, I get sent a ton of videos from friends and co-workers, but I tend to ignore them. Hey, even I have important things to do sometimes. I’ve also got sites like Topless Robot, /Film and /Gamer in my Google Reader, so I’ve got a pretty steady stream of videos coming in, some of which I pass over, but lately I’ve been checking more out. In the most-likely recurring MyTube section I’ll post a video or two for your viewing enjoyment.

Mad Man’s Jon Hamm as Lex Luthor asking President Obama for bailout money to kill Superman. Mostly based on the Superman movies, which I’m not a fan of, but more on that later, it’s a great watch. It’s from Funny or Die, naturally.

Another video that looks to be originally from Funny or Die that I first saw on /Gamer. This one has Link, Mario and Mega Man from old school NES lip syncing a song called “Put It On a Hook” by a group called The Inhumans. I’m not too crazy about the song, but who doesn’t love a rapping Mega Man?

Big Ups To Topless Robot

My buddy Rob and the gang over at Topless Robot hopefully got a significant hit boost from this link on /Film about Jetfire, an old-timey looking Transformer from the upcoming sequel.

If you’re not familiar with either site, /Film (“slash film”) is my number one source for movie news and their podcast is pretty entertaining if you’re caught up on your theatrical releases and Topless Robot is the funniest site on the net. Check ’em out!

My Top 5 TV Shows Right Now

2009-03-13
8:35:13 pm

When the new season began I said a few words about the shows I’d been watching. Well, now the season’s been on it’s merry way for a while now and I figured I’d lay out my top five shows right now. They’re in no particular order except #1, but they’re rocking my world right now.

5. How I Met Your Mother

4. Big Bang Theory

3. 30 Rock

2. Real World

1. LOST

Unfortunately, HIMYM and BBT weren’t new for a while, which has been a huge bummer as we don’t really watch anything else on Mondays. I still really enjoy both shows and can’t wait to see where the further new episodes take me. After watching the first season of 30 Rock all the way through I gained an all new appreciation for 30 Rock and they haven’t been disappointing this year (though it is interesting to see how the dynamics have shifted by now). I don’t think I laugh harder at anything more than 30 Rock. The Real World: Brooklyn has been surprising this year. I think the producers thought that, by combining a transgender woman, a gay guy, a Mormon, a girl who used to date girls but now dates guys, an Iraq War veteran, a girl who’s kinda engaged, a body builder and a hip hop dancer they’d have LOADS of conflict. Instead, we’re treated to the most thought provoking, yet still fun season since Las Vegas (SO MANY pranks!). And finally, Lost. I freaking love this show. I’ve actually found that Lost gives me something to really look forward to (my new catchphrase of late has been “Life is better with Lost”). I was close to devastated when I walked into work Wednesday morning and Justin told me it wasn’t new this week. If you’re not watching you should be and if you don’t like it, you’re crazy.

Black Panther Is Awesome Part 2: Wild Kingdom

2009-02-25
8:38:59 pm

Part two in my argument why Black Panther is an awesome comic.

X-MEN/BLACK PANTHER: WILD KINGDOM

(Black Panther #8-9, X-Men #175-176)

Written by Reginald Hudlin & Peter Milligan, drawn by David Yardin & Salvador Larroca

X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom isn’t exactly the best example of why Black Panther is awesome. As I mentioned last time one of the big reasons I like this book so much is that it feels like it’s firmly entrenched in the Marvel U without getting too detailed or confusing. That all gets hindered when you bring in the X-Men. I know a lot of people are all about the X-Men, but I still find them to be the most difficult franchise to get into thanks to the incredibly dense history. It’s not even that Milligan’s story is all that confusing, I just have a hard time placing this story in the long history of X-Men. You’ve got Gambit and Rogue on the same team, but what’s their deal? Emma’s there too, but is this still when Astonishing was going on? None of this really matters to the story, but it is distracting. I do like how both writers handle Storm and Wolverine though, two characters who will be important in their own ways coming up.

The story of this book is that the Red Ghost wants to start a new commie ape society in Africa. There’s something about mutant animals, which gets the X-Men interested. BP of course gets involved too because this is his turf. For those of you unfamiliar with the Red Ghost, he’s a communist scientist who can turn intangible and has created super powered apes who talk. There’s another scientist guy in the story who can absorb mutant powers.

I’ll be honest, the larger story here isn’t all that interesting unless you’re a huge Red Ghost fan (and I know some people out there are). What is cool about this story is seeing Storm and Black Panther together. Like I said before I don’t know much about either character aside from what I’ve read in this book, so I’m not sure if there were any previous hints of their relationship or if this is the first readers saw of it, but I like how they are around each other, especially considering how adversarial they tend to be towards one another. It’s cool to see the beginning of their love story (even if it’s not the chronological beginning).

Oh, Dragon Man’s in the book too which is pretty cool, but, again, the overall story isn’t all that interesting. As far as my collection goes, I’m not all too concerned about adding this one to my collection, unless I can get it on Sequential Swap (a great site to get rid of some of your old trades as well as get some cool new ones). But, don’t let that deter you from checking out my future installments of Black Panther Is Awesome, as Part 3 will focus on Bad Mutha, the arc that got me interested in this book in the first place.

They Can’t All Be Winners

2009-02-25
2:06:36 am

I haven’t been having a ton of luck lately when it comes to watching movies. Aside from falling asleep about a half hour in exactly no matter how cool the movie, I’ve been picking some duds (though still a few good ones). I couldn’t even get into watching Repo: The Genetic Opera for some reason. I’m not going to pass judgment on that one now because I was really tired, but I wanted to keep our Netflix queue going so I sent it back.

I did not however like an action movie I tried watching last night called Kiltro (2006). I made it about a half hour into that one before I fell asleep. I was hoping for an awesome action movie (as advertised), but instead I got a story about a guy who likes to fight and has a crush on a girl who blah blah blah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want my action movies (and my giant monster movies for that matter) to be less talking and more destruction, unless they happen to be actually funny like Police Story 1 and 2. Again, I don’t really consider this a review, because I didn’t watch the whole movie, just letting you action fans out there know not to waste your time.

I also watched most of a movie called Hickey and Boggs (1972) which has a lot going for it in that The Warriors writer Walter Hill wrote it and Bill Cosby stars as a tough guy private detective along with Robert Culp who also directs. I didn’t have any problem with this movie, though it is a bit slow, I just haven’t finished it yet because it’s kind of long and it expires from Netflix on March 1. It’s in the same vein as Dirty Harry and is pretty cool, so I might finish it up today. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes it’s kind of weird seeing Bill Cosby as a tough guy, but he also pulls it off really well. It’s fun to watch. Again, not a real review, but just some thoughts.

That being said, I do have four ACTUAL reviews:

POPCORN (1991)

Man, the 90s were a weird time for horror movies. You’re looking at a time after the slasher glut greatly hindered the genre, but before Scream made them cool again. Popcorn is kind of a weird movie. The basic premise is that a college film club decides to hold a movie marathon to raise some money. But this isn’t any movie marathon, they’re showing movies with a gimmick like smell-o-vision or shock-o-rama. As such, they need an old movie theater to show their flicks in and a crazy old guy to help out (and then completely disappear) in the form of Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian). If you really liked the beginning of Scream 2 where there’s all kinds of craziness happening in a movie theater, then this is right up your alley as it seems as though a counterculture guy from back in the day wants his weirdo movie to be seen so much he’s willing to kill people for it (that’s not exactly the plot, but I don’t want to give too much away). There was enough quirky charm to keep me watching even though the movie isn’t awesome by any means. So, if that sounds interesting (oh and the fact that someone gets killed via giant fake mosquito), check it out.

THE ROCKER (2008)

I was really surprised with how much I liked this Rainn Wilson flick. I was also surprised with the huge number of cast members I not only recognized, but knew by name (for the most part). Wilson stars as a drummer who got kicked out of what became the biggest band of the 80s right before they blew up. Now, in modern times, Rainn’s down on his luck, but ends up joining his nephew’s band, which garners its own huge levels of success. Aside from the cast that includes Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, Jeff Garland, Jane Lynch (from 40 Year Old Virgin and a hundred other things), Jason Sudekis, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Krakowski, Bradley Cooper, Lonny Ross (30 Rock), Demetri Martin and Aziz Ansari, I was really impressed with how well they pull off some moments that could have come off as cheesy. There’s also one part where Rainn offers up the emo lead singer some songwriting advice (paraphrase “let’s speed it up and switch it to I’m NOT bitter) and he actually takes it without flinching. Sure it’s kind of similar to a scene in That Thing You Do, but in this case the lead singer just decided to go for it instead of being a d-bag. The Rocker is one of those flicks that seems like it either went up against some huge other movie or their producers didn’t have the juice to put much/any advertising cash behind it, because there’s no reason that this shouldn’t have done way better (though I said the same thing after seeing Speed Racer, which I still really enjoyed, so what do I know).

I also watched a couple movies all the way through that I wasn’t really into and those were Bangkok Dangerous (2008) and The Crazies (1973). I’ll be honest, the only reason I wanted to watch BD is because I’ve laughed a million times at the Best of The Wicker Man video on YouTube starring BD’s Nic Cage. Man that’s a funny video. You can get to it here after reading an AWESOME article I wrote about horror movie remakes for ToyFare. Unfortunately, BD was no where near as ridiculous as I was hoping it would be (I mean, COME ON, it’s Nic Cage as an assassin!). Instead, it’s a pretty run-of-the mill story about an assassin who has all kinds of rules, but is starting to not want to be an assassin anymore. You’ve seen it a million times and this doesn’t really offer up anything new, unlike Grosse Pointe Blank which is completely awesome.

The Crazies (1973) is the first non-zombie George Romero movie I’ve ever seen. It was okay, but not all that interesting. Instead of focusing on characters and how they react to these crazy situations, it seemed like Romero was more focused on showing a lot of dudes in white hazmat-type suits rounding people up after a virus that makes people go bat-poop nutso, gets released in a small town. There’s nothing all that wrong, really, it just didn’t grab my attention like my favorite Romero (and horror) flick Dawn of the Dead does.