Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bridesmaids Review

I'll just let you know straight off the bat, with no preamble or fancy introduction, no artful lead-in to display my film critic expertise and massive intelligence, that this movie was not in fact good. At all. Not only is the entire media off-base in their lavish praises for the film, but their interpretation of it as some kind of feminist achievement or gender-barrier-breaker is entirely incorrect and rather insulting.

I admit the possibility that my expectations were too high. For one, I'm a big fan of the cast. Obviously the SNL women are talented and charismatic and deserving of leads. In addition I loved Melissa McCarthy for years as Suki St. James on Gilmore Girls, and I have a sincere devotion to Rose Byrne (from Sunshine, Damages, etc) who I believe will win an Oscar some day. Naturally, I was excited for this assemblage since I first saw the trailer a couple months back. And then when the reviews started coming out, glowing reviews that were not shy of words like 'hilarious', 'genius', 'monumental' and 'I peed in my pants' I had no doubts that these ladies had put out a movie I would love.

But then I actually saw it.

For one thing, the majority of the humor is disgusting. Yes, some of that was expected. I knew there was a food poisoning scene from the trailer, and that McCarthy would be obligated to do some gross fat jokes (cause a weekly sitcom comprised entirely of them is not enough apparently) but they seemed rather like harmless attempts at selling a Hangover-for-chicks theme while the actual movie meat would rely more on Kristen Wiig-type awkward dorky humor.

Unfortunately not. Instead we get an extended poisoning scene, with the cast puking on each other and having bowel movements in public. We get extended sex montages with bad jokes that just come off dirty and perverse and disturbingly violent. We get vulgar berating of 13-year-old girls and a post-credit sex video (that is completely unnecessary and unfunny) where once again McCarthy must portray how fat people have sex by doing some disturbing roleplay with a giant sandwich. 90% of the jokes in this movie are crude and off-putting, and while it may seem as if I have a thin skin, in all honesty I do not. I can stomach violence, gore, sex, crudity, but if there's nothing intelligent behind, no decent story or likable characters, if it is nothing but a woman puking on another woman's head for the sake of cheap laughs, its leaves an awful taste in my mouth.

However, it was not only the comedy that was disappointing and unsettling. By all accounts this film was a triumph for women in the entertainment industry and a sign of changing production policies; an all-female cast, written by women, incredibly well-reviewed, and doing great at the box office. Imagine my discomfort at realizing not a single relationship in the entire movie is healthy or equal or relevant. For instance, the man Maya Rudolph is marrying thus giving us the main plot device? We see him maybe twice, never with speaking lines, and we're assured by his sister (McCarthy) that he's a douchebag. Any conflict Rudolph experiences, any anxiety about this big step in her life, is solely about how it will change her relationship with her best friend. The man is seemingly incidental, and yet she tends to sublimate her entire personality to fit his life, suddenly becoming the WASPy country clubber that she used to make fun of.

Wiig's character is even worse. The movie opens with a long scene displaying her unhealthy relationship with Jon Hamm, who uses her for sex and insults her to her face while she bends over backwards to please him and be attractive to him and try and squeeze out some morsel of affection from him. It's insanely degrading, and while you put up with it expecting that inevitable triumph where she realizes what a bastard he is in the end and puts him down severely and in public, that never happens. Instead she bravely gets out of his Porsche when he asks for a blowjob. No satisfying speech, no physical gratification, not even any shame for Hamm's character. Very anticlimactic. (Sidebar: Jon Hamm needs to stop playing complete dickheads, because he is so entirely convincing that I kind of hate him now.)

Even when Wiig meets a decent guy, the bumbly local police officer that actually treats her with some respect, she automatically shits all over him (thankfully not literally, though that would not be out of place in this movie) before somewhat coming to her senses in the end. But then, in the final scene of the movie, when the wedding is over and he has appeared to drive her home and repair any gulf between them, the most bizarre thing happens. Instead of a kiss in the moonlight and a cut to credits, they decide to make some last minute jokes, and, being it's a cop car, he orders her into the backseat. Not only that, but he grabs her head and shoves her head in like she was a perp.

After supposedly going on some kind of psychological journey in which she needs to learn how to be brave enough to change her own life and not be mired in self-pity and self-destructive relationships, in the end she fails to show the most basic self respect and strength of character. It was a ridiculously unsettling final scene.

Other characters are similarly flawed, without any resolution of true growth of character. Rose Byrne's frigid bitch character is never truly shown to have a heart of gold nor to be accepted by the two main characters, and her complaints about a husband who never stays home and step-children who curse her off in public remain entirely unsettled in the end. Basically, she's still miserable as a wife and mother and makes up for it by burying herself in party planning other people's friendships. Melissa McCarthy's fat comic relief character has one redeeming scene wherein she is a good friend to Wiig, providing clear-cut moral guidance and a stern pep talk, but quickly goes back to farting and sex jokes. Critics called her a 'miraculous discovery' of comedic talent, showing just how tasteful our culture has become. Having seen her in Gilmore Girls as the sweet, beautiful, earnest, hilarious Suki, I find her new career completely disheartening.

All in all, not only was this movie a badly written, juvenile, tasteless failure at comedy, but it portrayed weak women who need men to give them some sense of self, have no dignity, and only have a story to tell when one of them is getting married. It's a shame, because there was such potential, but it just goes to show you: Never trust the critics.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Jewish Avengers

This is an old link, but I remembered it this morning and want it on my blog. Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance, among his endless number of funny and intelligent articles, does a series called Great Comics that Never Happened. This is one he did in December of last year with a guest artist:

And the description:  

 The Hanukkavengers #1 (December, 2010)

Story by Chris Sims
Art by Kevin Mellon

And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat to the holiday season On that day, the Hanukkavengers were born!

When the sinister Dr. Doom hatches a plan to harness the energy generated by worldwide top-spinning to power his own Cosmic Dreidel and gain mastery over the entire world, Israel's own Sabra gathers a group of heroes to save Hanukkah itself! But can even the combined might of Magneto, Moon Knight, Kitty Pryde and the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing stop the maniacal Von Doom?! Maybe not -- but the addition of Wolverine, whose contractual obligations to appear as a part of every single team in the Marvel Universe have led him to embrace the teachings of the Torah, ought to even things up!

It's a gants or nischt battle for the fate of the Festival of Lights with a Mildly Magnificent Mighty Marvel Mazel Tov! L'chaim!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More SMG! Extended Ringer Trailer

Another trailer has been posted for Sarah Michelle Gellar's new CW show Ringer, only this time it's longer and juicier. It includes more Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower himself!), more backstory, a more elaborate sketch of the series' premise, and a pretty substantial spoiler that I assume will be revealed at the end of the pilot.

Feast your eyes:


This Week's New Comics

What I'm buying at lunch.


Green Lantern: There are three GL titles out this week, all of them pertaining to the current War of the Green Lanterns storyline. I'm not a huge GL fan, and it feels like they've been having events and crossovers ceaselessly for the past 8 years. However I AM rather fond of Kyle Rayner, the writers are pretty good, Batman's on one of the covers, and despite generally regretting the purchase afterwards, when I'm in-store I feel as if I would be missing out if I don't buy Geoff John's latest mini-epic (except for Flashpoint, I'm not touching Flashpoint.) Time will tell if my resolve holds out.


Walking Dead #85:  Time to find out what Kirkman's going to do about his latest brutal casualty. Live? Die? Change everything? Probably the latter, regardless of survival. True, the carnage gets a bit tiring in this book, but I'll give Kirkman this: his tone hasn't wavered once, and as we get nearer to issue 100 it has yet to become boring. Although I would like some more Michonne. (Also, great cover.)


Amazing Spider-Man # 662:  Part Two of Spidey's crossover with Avengers Academy, in which the kids are possessed and he has to teach them another lesson, as it were.

FF#2:  The Council of Doom meets and gets all brilliant while the War of the Four Cities finally erupts. Last issue was a bit heavy on the exposition, so expect things to start heating up here. This book is intelligent and supremely beautiful.

Ruse #3:  One of my favorite comics out there. Still waiting for news that it'll be a full-on regular monthly series. Simon and Emma continue their investigations but things are unravelling faster than their witty expertise can put it all together. Waid's a master genius---he should do a comic with Laure R. King.

Secret Avengers #13:  Despite a sweet cast and an awesome premise, this title never took off for me. Brubaker kept things too obscure and boring, but now Marvel's newest golden child Nick Spencer has a turn, so let's see what he can do. Perhaps he can confirm the need for several of the members, as they just seem to be set decoration most of the time and not overly fond of each other. Also, set something up with DnA to bring Nova back (I see Star Sailor is back in a Hulk book, so why not Star-Lord and Nova already?)

Uncanny X-Men #537:  The Breakworld revisited storyline continues, as Ord shockingly proves untrustworthy, and Kitty gets more well-deserved screentime (though it feels a bit as if Gillen writes her as too snarky...but I love that he has her prominently in two different x-titles. Good taste man.)

X-Men Legacy #249:  Magneto reconnects with Rogue and his grim past, Legion gets some new treatment, and Frenzy goes crazy on her hairstyle (her headspace is still stuck in Age of X.) This new darker team continues to form, but I'm kind of just waiting for the return of Havok storyline. Let's at least hope for some Revenant/Rachel Summers-Grey face time (shouldn't Kitty being reuniting with her?)

Other Comics To Find If They Have Them

Moriarty #1:  Really wanted this when it came out, but it wasn't in the store by lunch. (Check out The Gutter's making fun of Image not printing many #1s so that they all sell-out.) Not positive if it's been reprinted yet but I'm keeping an eye open.

Fables:  Now that I'm a huge fan (though still only half-way through the series) I'm on the lookout for single issues. Maybe the #100 issue is in store, or some cheap back issues, or even a TPB on sale. I want to support Willingham.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Comics Everybody!

An excerpt from Fables #50 that makes it my favorite comic, Bigby my favorite character, and Willingham my favorite writer, EVER.

Newest Comic Obsession: Fables

Obviously I've heard of Fables for years, and I have even read writer Bill Willingham's work in both Robin and Angel, yet for some reason I never picked it up. I knew it dealt with fairy tale characters in the modern world, which is the kind of premise I would certainly enjoy, and it was critically acclaimed and highly recommended. So why did it take me so many years to finally read it?

For one thing, while I do read the occasional independent comic, I don't read many, and while Fables is a Vertigo (DC) comic and thus not strictly independent, it certainly isn't a Big Two Superhero book. And I have enough of those on my pull list to strain the checking account already.

Secondly, it's a bit daunting to jump into a series when there are already so many issues out there. At the same time, there's a feeling of deferred excitement because you know one day you will look into it, and then you will have about 80 issues waiting for you, which is wonderful fun and precisely how I finally read numbers 1-70 the Walking Dead in one night.

Thirdly, the covers. I absolutely hate the covers of Fables. I can't really explain why it won Eisner award(s?) for best cover artist, other than assuming my taste and the Eisner' board's differ wildly. The photoshop aesthetic combined with slight elements of surrealism combined with very depressing coloring led me to believe that this wasn't my kind of comic. You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover (I definitely do though) but for 24-page comic books the cover is an essential part of the package. It sells the story and the tone of the book. Naturally, I thought Fables was grim, bizarre, and possibly illustrated by one of those photo-realist artists. And being a John Cassaday kind of guy--clean lines, bright colors, clear faces--I never picked it up.

Well, now I finally have. I'm only up to around #34 (issue #100 came out on the stands not that long ago) but I love it. To be clear, I still hate the covers, but that's the only thing. The art inside is lovely, discernible, whimsical and tonally perfect. Willingham's characters are completely believable, utilizing their myths and folktales ingenuously and extrapolating their personas in the modern world after centuries of exile from their homes with brilliance, humor and authenticity. The main characters, Bigby Wolf (a reformed Big Bad Wolf, currently Sheriff of Fabletown) and Snow White (Deputy Mayor of Fabletown, to King Cole's Mayor, but she does all the work) are perfect leads. Bigby mixes noir with fantasy and humor and Snow gives us the competent, strong-woman-in-charge character (always pleasing) while briefly hinting at great pain and loneliness. These are immortals, beings of great power and history, and while Willingham reminds us of this constantly, he also writes them as human beings. But they are anything but Mundane. (The sleazy, manipulative but...well, charming, Prince Charming is particularly enjoyable. In fact, eventually every character introduced becomes familiar and endearing.)

The plots are deftly woven together, each one somehow feeling epic. From murder mysteries, to communist uprisings on the Farm (where all Fables who can't pass as human live), to all out war against wooden soldiers, each storyline moves quickly and with weight. The premise alone is insanely rich when it comes to story ideas, whether they be flashbacks from past centuries or future action. Like most creators, Willingham throws in the sporadic death of a character to solidify the intensity of various conflicts, and the fact that he doesn't really foreshadow it and makes it seem as if no one is safe makes it all the more effective. (The one-shot story where Boy Blue recounts the tale of the Last Castle actually made me cry. I can't remember the last time a comic made me cry.) I pray the characters I've grown fond of so quickly will all last throughout the 70-some issues I have left before me, but I was raised by Joss Whedon and I know better.

Still, tragedy is a part of each genre Fables touches on; fantasy, adventure, mystery, and especially fairy tales. Even when there's a happy ending, there are casualties along the way. Fortunately, however, Willingham doesn't get bogged down in disaster or death. The humor of the series balances out its drama very nicely, and provides us with an interesting, fast paced, lovely read. Not to mention that often a new character requires a quick google search, and thus enriches your knowledge of folk and fairy tales. Also it seems even the covers have gotten better.

Go out and find it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Torchwood Returns to TV

It's been two years since Torchwood aired on TV, with their critically acclaimed miniseries Children of Earth. It did rather well and despite some personal objections (it was far too dark, and of course they killed off another character--RIP Ianto) it was most definitely better produced than any of the prior seasons. Compared to the first episodes it was a masterpiece.

But the darkness, frenetic energy, and inevitable cheese factor is part of the charm both of Torchwood, and its lead, Captain Jack Harkness. John Barrowman plays a character I've enjoyed since he debuted in the first season of Doctor Who's reboot and befriended Rose and the Doc. He quickly became a fave with Russell T. Davies as well, recurring often and then getting his own spinoff.

Now Gwen & Jack are coming to America for some reason other than breaking into our audiences, much like Doctor Who itself. Miracle Day is the name of the new miniseries/season, and it deals with the crisis of Death taking a break. That is, no one in the world dies, from horrible accidents, murders, illnesses, etc. Thus population booms and resources dwindle within a matter of days. And I suppose it's up to Torchwood to wake up Death and save the world.

It's fun to see Jack and Gwen back , and their return plus the contribution of Jane Espenson as a writer is more than enough reason for me to tune in. But then they started to getting me interested with a list of guest stars, including Mekhi Phifer, Bill Pullman and Eliza Dushku (though the latter is only on the webisodes.) And then I got excited because they revealed Lauren Ambrose is joining the cast! And I rather love her. Also I saw her in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, and she's pretty stunning in real life.

The show airs on July 8th on Starz. Check out the promo.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Promo for Sarah Michelle Gellar's Ringer!

No one loves Sarah Michelle Gellar more than me (not even you Freddie) so naturally I turn into the 14 year old Buffy-watching past version of me whenever I hear news about her impending return to TV. Finally we have a promo released. Also EW did an interview with Gellar. Check out what she had to say:

For Gellar, who has largely been absent from the television landscape since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air in 2003, playing two characters was just about the only thing she hadn’t done in her seven seasons on the UPN/WB show. “With Buffy, I got to do so much,” the actress told EW this morning at the CW Upfront presentation. “So what do you do next? What do you do that an audience hasn’t seen you do? But bringing to life two characters and making them different, but at the same time interesting, and [showing] the similarities is definitely a challenge I’ve never done.”

Gellar admits that her long time away from television was largely due to her judiciousness. ”I have the greatest fans in the world, and I loved my show. I think sometimes, too, you need that time to understand that it was a cultural phenomenon, a legacy,” she said. “I want to honor those people who were so good to me and show them something worthy of their time and worthy of them. I think it was worth the wait.”
The real judge of the show’s success will likely come when residents of the Whedon-verse get a chance to weigh in. Gellar’s confident they’ll be on board. She says, “[Buffy] was a world. And the CW is very good at creating a world and a universe.”
Her favorite part of the Ringer‘s world? The surprises. “This is the person who in the middle of The Sixth Sense yelled out, ‘Oh my, God! He’s dead!’” Gellar says about herself. “Usually I see it coming, and I didn’t see [Ringer's plot twists] coming.”

Man, is she a class act or what? When she says "greatest fans in the world" she's really just referring to me. (The plural is a courtesy to other people who only kinda sorta like her.)

Tears! Guilt! Pretty red dress! Kissing! GUN! Dear God, but I am excited.


The CW announced that Ringer will be airing on Tuesdays at 9/8c!! Sarah returns to Buffy night!! Bless you CW, I had you all wrong. You're the greatest of all networks.


Found more videos! No stinking teasers, just straight up Sarah Michelle Gellar acting action.

The Week In Review

Captain Elias provides a report card for the world of television, comic books, and literature.


Castle: A-    As I said in my review, this was probably their best episode ever. Fast, exciting, emotional, and tightly written. So why the minus? I rather hate cliffhanger series finales that leave you dangling for five months until you can't recreate your initial enthusiasm despite your best efforts.

Parks & RecA   This show is wonderful. Along with Community, it's probably the best written, funniest show on the air. They too had a bit of a cliffhanger ending, but since it's a comedy show it wasn't insanely heavy, death or life stuff. Well, except for L'il Sebastian, may he rest in peace.

The OfficeB-/A+   The first grade is for the show, which was an hour long and rather boring. They didn't even pick a boss! A lame attempt at an annoying cliffhanger. Despite the guest stars, there wasn't much excitement, though there rarely is in this show which is one of the many reasons I don't watch it regularly. But boy am I glad I did because Catherine Tate was on it!! (That's the reason for the second grade.)Will Arnett? Cool. Ray Romano? Um..I guess. Jim Carrey? For like 2 seconds. Catherine Tate? SQUEE!!! This lady is brilliant. Living legend. Not only did she have a hilarious, hugely successful show in the UK for years (The Catherine Tate Show, youtube it and love it) but she was a companion to the Doctor! And a good one at that, who became something greater than either her character or the Doctor himself, before a tragic end that I still hope will be reversed. I am not entirely sure I want Tate on The Office (it's probably not good enough for her) but I just want to see her more. Hell, I watched Gulliver's Travels just because she had a small part in it. She's wonderful.

Doctor Who: A+    Even without Donna Noble's return, this episode was superb. Neil Gaiman's grasp of the Doctor's universe is complete, and the complexity was such that, while I intend to watch it again before tomorrow's new episode and thus comprehend everything, I was challenged while bouncing on the couch like a 8 year old. The TARDIS sent into a human! Like most brilliant ideas it is simple. It takes a staple of the Doctor Who mythos and alters it temporarily, and in doing so finds a wealth of emotion and potential dialogue. Not just the TARDIS learning to speak, but the fact that these two beings have traveled together for hundreds and hundreds of years. The TARDIS has seen The Doctor in abject grief, shame, fear, and homicidal rage. She admits responsibility for the times he goes off course, but she takes her where he needs to be. She discloses her practical omnipotence and, of course, thankfully, after seeing all of him, she still loves him.  The weird subplot with Amy is starting to build up (I really can't stand to see Rory die any more) and I'm very curious to see where the season's going, but it's entirely possible that this episode was the high point of the year. They better sign Gaiman up for next series.


Batman & Robin #23B    Why does Jason Todd suddenly have red hair? I really had a lot of trouble getting past that.

Alpha Flight #0.1B+    I like the energy and spirit of this classic team's relaunch, and I like Northstar despite his posturing and inevitable gay Canadian stereotype as a raging, rebellious liberal, but what worries me is their enemy for the series seems to be the government, who are apparently devolving into fascists. Obviously this could be right up my alley, but both sides throw around that word, and in general I have zero faith in mixing mainstream superhero comic book stories with politics. In fact I rather hate when the writers do it, not only because I monumentally disagree with them but because it cheapens the character they are god-damned lucky to be writing (cause they sure as hell don't own them.) If you want a mouthpiece, make your own (like Bosch Fawstin and Pigman.)

Amazing Spidey #661: A-    The only thing that would make Dan Slott's Spidey issues better is if they were longer and came out as one-shots. I shouldn't be complaining, since it seems he does two part stories often and in a world where it takes half a year for a basic arc to unfold, Slott's an angel of mercy. This issue saw him teaching the kids at Avengers Academy, which I knew would be funny, but I didn't expect how well Slott writes Spidey as part of the FF. I think he does a better job than even Hickman has, as of yet, in showing how Peter fits into the group. I think I've been converted into a regular on this book, and might stick around for Spider Island.

Avengers #13: A   I've enjoyed Bendis' backup feature of the Oral History of the Avengers since he relaunched both titles, but the oral history with pictures? Yes please. A nice Fear Itself tie-in, that doesn't actually force us to sit through any evil hammer god fights but instead gives us downtime with the Avengers, which I actually rather love, and sets up a grim few future issues. Also, I really thought Clint was with Bobbi, since after she returned. Maybe I missed a miniseries. Regardless, I have yet to reach a verdict on Jessica Drew as a full-on main-team Avenger.


Vaclav & LenaA    I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch party in Greenpoint for this new, already acclaimed, novel by Haley Tanner. The author seems lovely, the excerpt she read sounds enchanting and natural, and the crowd certainly appreciated it. I haven't begun the book yet but I like what I've heard and I certainly recommend it.  Buy it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Photos of Sarah Michelle Gellar in Ringer!!

Finally, they give us some promotional goodies. But where's the video? Every other network has posted clips from the upfronts or trailers of their new shows, except the one everyone should be most excited for; the return of the divine SMG.

So feast your eyes on these two teasers for now. Oh, and if you're wondering, yes, that's Ioan Gruffudd! As in, Horatio Hornblower! Also he played Mr. Fantastic in two Fantastic Four movies, but mostly I think of him as Horatio Hornblower. Great books, great miniseries, and wonderful actor. In Ringer, he plays SMG's husband, or rather her twin sister's husband but when she steals her twin's place and secretly lives her life, he can't tell the difference and she ends up falling in love with him. (That last part is speculation, but c'mon.)

Ringer premieres on The CW this fall.

Castle Season Ends with a Bang

Let's start with the basics: Why do you watch Castle, Captain Elias?

Well, I'll be honest with you, anonymous fictional fan slash questioner, I don't watch it regularly. I tried, but the massive amount of filler episodes in which the killer is invariably the second guy they interview bored me to tears and I just couldn't keep up. Many episodes have died an unwatched death on my DVR, including last week's episode billed as a murder mystery at a beauty pageant. But every so often it fits my mood perfectly, and after all, I believe in it. If you need a reason for my faith and fandom, here it is:

Nathan Fillion. 'Nuff said.

Every season it seems there are a few episodes where they really go for it. Naturally, these are either premieres, finales, or two-parters around sweeps time. This year was no different, only they were all pretty tame and in the end nothing changed (the Love tension between Castle and Beckett has grown almost intolerable.)

And then KABLAMMO the season finale comes and the entire two-dimensional cast going through the motions becomes several distinct characters with humongous emotions. The predictable procedural becomes a fast-paced plot with twists, betrayal, shock, and yes, some satisfaction for the Castle/Becket shippers.

Out of nowhere they wrote a fantastic episode. It was akin to a movie in its action and excitement. The often cheesy dialogue became entirely...well, at least much less cheesy, and for once it was heartfelt and pertinent and it didn't matter if an occasional cliche slipped in. Fillion was wonderful as always, but Stana Katic, who maintains an endearing character despite being a hardcore cop whose entire life is the job yet somehow manages to shop the new Spring lines and wear stilettos while chasing perps, really turned up the acting and became a real woman. One which makes the viewer understand Castle's (now declared!) love, although the whole easy-on-the-eyes bit was a good start.

Every. Scene. Mattered. For once nothing was a throwaway, or stretched to fit a commercial segment. It was a thrill to watch and I look forward to the inevitably dramatic season premiere in the Fall. (First scene in the ER? New Captain? Finally try the show with Castle and Beckett going out?)

There's just one thing I'm not clear on: Is it impossible to write like this every week? Obviously the personal nature of this week's episode and the mystery it relates to is not something you can stretch out for 22 episodes. But even when it's not a homicide case that directly effects their lives, can't the intensity remain? Other cop shows manage to do it, they make every episode matter, they have story arcs that last seasons. Is the primary audience for Castle so unoriginal that they need the same version of a lighthearted murder case over and over? I think the ratings for the finale should tell the showrunners otherwise.

In related and totally awesome news, as Richard Castle told us at the beginning of the show himself, Castle is coming to comics! Well, his fictional character, Derrick Storm, is. That is to say, not one of the books someone wrote in real life pretending to be Castle that were published and marketed brilliantly, but one of the books in the show Castle talks about having written (all clear?) is being adapted into a graphic novel. And none other than the king of the hill Brian Michael Bendis is writing it. Pretty exciting stuff. I'm particularly pleased that Derrick Storm bears a strong similarity to Nathan Fillion.

Can never get enough of Captain Tightpants.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This Week's Comics

Captain Elias is (probably) buying the following...


Batman #710 (?):  I'm not a huge fan of Tony Daniel writing Batman, though I enjoy his art. For some reason Catgirl's presence in this issue is a temptation, but I think I just have a soft-spot for young hero wannabees (whatever happened to Flamebird anyway?) Also Two-Face is back...from wherever he went.

Batman and Robin #23: Judd Winnick, however, is a Bat-writer I seem to inevitably enjoy, and Jason Todd has been his pet character for a few years now. This sees Todd's return to mainstream DC, in a time where Batman has been franchised and Bruce has picked a dozen new partners while Jason rots in jail. Unfortunately, it seems he's still in that horrible costume from Grant Morrisson's take on him, but I guess I'll have to deal.

Power Girl #24: Picked up the last few issues of these (also a title written by Winnick--can't wait to read JL: Generation Lost in trades) and it was hilarious and fun. This month Karen Starr hangs out with Batman (presumably the original) in Gotham City while trying out her now brunette wig.

Teen Titans #95: The storyline whose main purpose is to introduce Solstice into the team continues. That's about all I can remember about it, which isn't the best sign. But Tim Drake is still on the team so obviously I'm buying it. Plus Ravager seems to be making a move on Superboy, judging by the cover.


Alpha Flight #0.1 (?): Do I really need to start a new title and end up picking it up every week? No. BUT Northstar's gonna be in it (so long X-Men?) and I have some fond memories of them from many years ago...mainly when they showed up in Wolverine but still, I tracked down a few of their stories in my day. And I hear great things about the Pak/VanLente team (I never read Herc.)

Amazing Spider-Man #661: Spidey teaching the Avengers Academy kids? Heck yeah. This comic can't stop hooking me with its clever...well, hooks. But come Spider Island, I'm jumping off the train. Honest. Really. I swear.

Avengers #13: The group deals with Fear Itself. I guess. Which involves a Serpent God Odin-impersonator and a crapload of hammers. How about we skip to the crossover and Bendis explains how he's gonna get Hawkeye and Spider-Woman together? Poor Bobbi--you came back from the dead only to get gutshot and re-divorced.

Avengers Academy #14: The kids fight the Sinister Six. Do they persevere or discover some new role models in the classic villains? Probably a bit of both.

Generation Hope #7: Something bad is going on with this new still-in-utero mutant birth, and it's up to Hope and her Lights to avoid another Kenji situation. Gillen keeps us entertained.

Heroes for Hire #7: Spider Man! Misty Knight! Batroc the Leaper! Paladin! Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's tenure continues. If the infusion of Spidey into the mix doesn't help sell this title, nothing will. Except for even more guest stars!

Sigil #3: Mike Carey's lovely CrossGen reboot continues to satisfy as Samantha begins to get a handle on her mysterious, potent powers. Too bad this is only miniseries. They better make it monthly, but only if they make Ruse a full-on regular title first!

Uncanny X-Force #10: The solicit says classified. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it concerns Warren's deteriorating personality, Betsy's guilt, Magneto's discovery, and some bad guys trying to do bad things who need to be filleted. Sounds awesome.

X-Factor #219: Monet rampages! And she takes some of her rage out on J. Jonah Jameson. Plus, what's behind Guido's miraculous recovery? Are Rictor and Shatterstar too busy doing it to join the fight? (I hope so.) Where's Rahne and her speedily germinating wolfcub? And why is Layla Miller so freaking cool?

X-Men Giant Size #1: This sounds a bit hokey, and very much like Deady Genesis, what with the X-Men discovering a story from their past long held hidden in the corners of their minds. Wanh wanh. BUT Chris Yost is writing it, and I've rather missed his comics. Plus I'm pretty sure Emma Frost has words with Jean Grey somehow, and that's always fun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Unflappable Captain Kearney

Once again, Wooden World Comics presents Captain Kearney facing the (unpictured but certain) destruction of his precious ship.

Executive Orders


God and the Captain Have a Debate 
Part I of II
with thanks to Amanda and Aristotle

God and the Captain Have a Debate 
 Part II of II

Sacre Bleu! A Musketeer Interlude

Sarah Michelle Gellar's Ringer Picked Up & Moved

Sarah Michelle Gellar's eagerly anticipated (at least by me) return to television via her new pilot Ringer, in which she plays two twin sisters, both with bad guys chasing them, was supposed to be airing on CBS this fall.

Now reports are saying that CBS passed, because they're idiots, and the CW has picked it up. Poor Sarah. I can imagine her being rather upset about this development. She's gotten extremely careful about picking her projects after a few missteps and disappointments, and by all accounts she waited a very long time to even entertain the thought of returning to TV.

Apparently the script for Ringer was just that good. There are fears the plot is too convoluted, and it certainly seems complex, but I don't see how that is a negative. Procedurals and sitcoms are boring and not nearly good enough for SMG. But the CW? They haven't had a layered and well-written show since...well since they were the WB and aired Buffy. Even they didn't hold on to it, and freaking UPN aired the last two seasons.

If UPN could have the vision to stick with Buffy, maybe I'm overreacting and the CW has made a brilliant move here. The main point to take away is: Sarah Michelle Gellar is going to be on TV again! Commence celebrations.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Masterpiece Theatre: South Riding Review

This was a most unfortunate way to close out a season of Masterpiece Classic. I cannot guess what made them choose this 3-part series to air at all, let alone as the final installment of Classic, especially after a stellar year including the fantastic Downton Abbey, the highly praised Any Human Heart, and the brief, well-produced, albeit rushed, return of Upstairs/Downstairs.

The miniseries South Riding is based on the novel of the same name, written by "writer and reformer" Winifred Holtby in 1936. The legendary Andrew Davies (if you've seen an Austen or Dickens adaptation in the past 30 years, he's the one who adapted it) wrote the screenplay, thus proving that even he can't do much if he's not given a good story to work with.

The main character of South Riding is Sarah Burton, an idealistic, fierce, enthusiastic new headmistress for the local girl's high school in traditional South Riding. One imagines the single, career-oriented Ms. Burton is almost entirely modeled on the author, who was given only a couple years to live in her mid-30s and thus poured all her energies and principles into this, her final work. Even the setting is based on her youth in East Riding.

Neither character nor author ever got married, with only an unhappy relationship to their names, and both seem powerfully motivated by feminist principles, as well as the injustice of the British class system in the early 1900s.

At the beginning of the story, regardless of how one feels about Ms. Burton's vocal set of beliefs, one thinks she may be a rich character, presented as fearless but doubtless overcompensating for hidden vulnerabilities. In the end, this is not to be. Several things happen to her, and she accomplishes a couple educational transformations as well (which is her initial purpose in coming to South Riding as headmistress) but in the end she is exactly the same character. She has not changed at all, has not revealed something deeper about herself except showing us what she looks like crying, and has not actually told us who she is besides a collection of characteristics.

This is sadly the case for the whole production. There is no Truth to find here, no message about the human condition attempting to be imparted. The only heavy-handed point of view they continuously beat the viewer with is that the poor are miserable but noble, in need of help, and the rich are cruel, corrupt, and only willing to provide such help if it benefits them financially. This is not a message that BBC needed to commission a serial story to put across, nor did Holtby, a prolific journalist, have to force personages into a plot to reveal her displeasure with the status quo. This is an angry, disenchanted editorial disguised as a love story.

As for the story itself, there is nothing original. Peter Morrissey (God knows why he did this) is Robert Carne, a financially-in-trouble respected man of the town, with completely opposite political views to Ms. Burton, so naturally they develop an attraction that goes unconsummated until it's too late, Holtby seemingly having written herself into a corner and discovered that infinitely useful writer's aid of random, sudden death. Carne's personal history reads like a blatant rip-off of Jane Eyre: lonely, sad, acerbic man lives in large house of former glory with his eccentric young daughter. A young teacher enters the picture and shakes things up, revitalizing his soured heart. Soon it is learned his previous wife is not dead, but locked up, being a sufferer of violent and profound psychiatric illnesses.

Come on now. Try just a BIT harder.

Along with Morrissey, I don't know why Penelope Wilton was in this. She is always great, and was no less solid here as the only female alderman on the city council, and both Ms. Burton's ally and Mr. Carne's lifelong friend, but the story just wasn't worth her time. Other characters, and there were several, are not even worth mentioning; despite their numerous plots they proved in the end to be completely pointless to the story and only written to confirm the message that the rich get richer through deceit, and the poor need help. Anna Maxwell Martin, who played the lead role, was neither enchanting nor endearing. Her facial expressions and crumbling stoicism was at times either confusing or much too obvious as an actor's idea of what a human reaction should look like. She certainly attacked the role with enthusiasm, and I'd be interested to see Martin's other work, but she was not successful in making us care for Sarah Burton.

If you want good British drama, don't watch South Riding. But don't be discouraged, they still make fantastic shows across the pond. Go find Downton Abbey now, and then you can thank me in the comments section.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th Special: Horror Movie Preview

In honor of this revered, august, sacred day, I thought I’d take a little peek at what’s to come in the world of horror…at least so far as it’s interesting to me. So read on for news of in-production slashers, currently -playing thrillers and maybe even an occasional brilliant recommendation.

Starting with something a bit out of the ordinary, we have Danny Boyle’s theatre production of Frankenstein, starring Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch (the handsome guy who plays Holmes in Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock series.) The cool twist, aside from being a live action version of the story, is that Miller and Cumberbatch alternate playing the roles of the doctor and the monster nightly. However, according to this FEARnet review, the story is unfortunately thin, despite the actors’ clear enthusiasm, and Boyle bogs down the production with an endless train of special effect gimmicks.

Ridley Scott is currently filming his Alien-prequel Prometheus. From what I can tell it involves the terraforming of a planet and some evil scientist who creates the Aliens and sends them to kill settlers so he can reap the bounty of the planet’s natural resources. It has quite a large cast, including Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. However I don’t feel very excited about the plot…whenever ‘terraforming’ is used in sci-fi these days it tends to turn into some kind of global warming allegory. Also, no one can replace Sigourney. Ever. (Well, except maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar who can do anything.)

The remake of Straw Dogs, Peckinpah’s classic bloody, psychological drama/horror, will be released in September. The original is rather hard to watch, and this one will be too (they’re calling it a “hard R”) so by all accounts I would have no interest in the remake. But then they went and cast James Marsden as the lead Dustin Hoffman character. I just can’t say no to him (call me, James!) and that includes the possibility that one day I’ll find myself watching Hop. Talk about horror.

Victor Salva, convicted child molester and child pornographer and director of Jeepers Creepers (which is a film I unfortunately enjoyed, mostly due to the brother-sister dynamic in the face of evil) has a new horror film coming out. It stars Rose McGowan, whom I also have a soft spot for, as a radio talk show host who comes back to her hometown after her alcoholic father dies. There she discovers the local paperboy is a sociopath who might also be a serial killer and she finds herself in a fight for survival. Rose McGowan in a climactic battle? Yes please. Victor Salva? Isn’t he what Blacklists are for? Find another guy to press record on the camera.

Marti Noxon (of Buffy writing fame) and her Fright Night remake keeps trucking along. Starring David Tennant as a vampire who moves next door, this campy, humorous, potentially brilliant scary movie is starting to get me rather enthused. It also stars Toni Collette, and for some reason Colin Farrell. Check out a pic of Tennant as a glam vamp, and look for the trailer online (it’s being released today.) Update: Bleeding Cool has a (Tennant-free) trailer. It actually looks rather good.

One small piece of news, though enormous for its coolness factor, is that the great Michael Biehn is in talks to join The Darkness, a thriller about, well, a world that has gone completely dark and then the electricity grid falls under the new demand.

Also looking pretty fantastic is Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Who knew vampires were behind the Civil War? Well, Giles, probably, but he didn’t tell anyone.

And last but not least, Dimension is starting to try and drum up support for a Scream 5. Scream 4 did rather pitifully at the box office, and as followers of this incisive, relevant blog might recall, I wasn’t a huge fan of it. Nonetheless, it seems I’m a complete glutton for punishment, or else have severe memory loss, because I would totally support further adventures of Sidney Prescott.  And that’s key; this next movie must focus more entirely on Sidney. Who wants to end the franchise with Scream 4? 5 should kill Dewey, give Cox more lines, and have Sidney go super badass. Also she should really be carrying a gun at all times by now. So if you agree, tweet your support:

"How much do you love @Scream4? How badly do you want #Scream5? Come up with a clever tweet and we'll RT!" (Per Dimension’s twitter)

Have a fantastic weekend everybody!


Starbuck x 3

via Bleeding Cool "Starbuck and Starbuck in a Starbucks"


Thursday, May 12, 2011

X-Men Legacy #248: The Big Reveal

While I haven't read my entire newly purchased pile, I did start with the ones I was most excited about, and they were rewarding enough to want to comment on.

One in particular offered an unexpected surprise that hits right at home for this particular massive character-continuity-geek; X-Men Legacy #248.


Considering the cover and the recent X-team-specific marketing campaign, I figured this issue was going to be less post-Age of X trauma resolution and more Rogue getting hardcore once again by assembling a team of brooding heroes with shady pasts (remember when she handpicked Sabretooth, Mystique, and Lady Mastermind? That worked out well.)

But no, Age of X Aftermath is exactly what we get, and it's almost more fun to see inside everyone's heads than it is to see them in an other reality as hardened soldiers. Emma Frost and the Cuckoos provide a voluntary false-memory-erasing for all the characters who can't live with the Age of X rattling in their brains, and many take them up on it. Cannonball can't deal with the loss of his family and Paige blaming him, Pixie is rather fond of her Nightmare counterpart but the not such a fan of her pretty angel wings turning into leathery bat wings on a moment's notice, and Namor and Ororo want no memory of each other's private parts.

Frenzy, however, does not want the telepathic procedure. Her conversation with Scott goes as expected, namely "I know the real you!" and "No, you really don't." And yet the clarity with which Mike Carey displays Frenzy's potent, unfamiliar feelings is rather heartbreaking. She's always tended to be a miserable, violent character, but here we see her holding onto something that gives her misery as if that's the price one pays for a glimmer of true love and acceptance. Can't wait to see what Carey does with her next.

Hmm what else happens...oh they give Legion a super-brilliant bracelet that allows him to access his many different powers without being overcome by their multiple personalities, which is rather brilliant and ingenious enough you wonder why no one thought of it before. Rogue and Gambit kind of break up but they weren't going out really before but now they're definitely not going out at least for awhile even though they still love each other for like the eight thousandth time, but at least Carey only spent 2 pages on it, before she's off kinda-flirting, kinda-fighting with Magneto, for the six thousandth time.

But none of these things is the highlight of this comic. The highlight is the unexpected reveal of this mysterious Age of X character's identity:

Revenant was Rachel Summers the entire time!!! Sure, maybe one could have guessed this, Revenent clearly being Phoenix-related, but I didn't. To be fair, there are several options for Phoenix related characters these days. She could have been a temporarily brought back, or alternate version, of Jean Grey, or, more pertinent to current storylines, a manifestation of Hope (interesting how neither she nor her Five Lights were involved.) Marvel Girl seemed the least likely choice, being stuck in limbo, not to mention such an erratic character among the X-Men.

As you'll certainly recall, having gone to space with the Professor, Rachel then stayed on as part of the new Starjammers team with Havok and Polaris in order to take down Vulcan, and after Vulcan's death (thanks to Black Bolt) they decided to go home. This was about a year ago at least and often have I wanted to know where the hell they are, considering the speed of space travel in the Marvel Universe.

Apparently she was trying to make psi-contact with someone on Utopia ("on my way home") when the Age of X happened, and not only did she get sucked into the new pocket world Moira made, but she lost contact with her own body. Now she is just the mind of Rachel Summers, disembodied but still possessing powers, only without the information Rachel had in her mind at that precise moment of contact. She had a message for Cyclops, but it was erased in the confusion.

That is to say, Havok, Polaris and Rachel (and Korvac?) are in trouble, hence their super late return to Earth.

And Cyclops is going to find them.

Best. News. Ever. This is a story I've long been looking forward to. These three characters have been missed. Havok has always been a personal favorite of mine, and by extension Lorna who, despite when Alex shacked up with the school nurse and she went evil due to post-Genosha traumatic stress, has had several brilliant character arcs revolving around possession, obsession and fierce independence. As for Rachel, I've watched her through horrible hair-dos, S&M outfits, grim futures, joyous Excalibur days, and her brief time trying to live up to her Mother's reputation. When all three were in space, the Phoenix abandoned her in an as yet to be explained phenomena (meaning it was Hope.) So it's long past time to get explaining, and have Rachel meet her step-sister-niece (not to mention an emotional reunion with Kitty and Storm and Wolvie.) Plus they all might as well be around in time for Schism.

Well done, Mr. Carey. And thank you. This is kind of exactly the reason I read every X-Men issue that comes out. And no one has a better sense of X-history than you.


Comic Book Resources has a well-timed interview with author Mike Carey about the future of X-Men Legacy, in which we see the aforementioned return of Havok, Polaris and Rachel Summers/Grey. Here's what he has to say about their current status and a beautiful pic of these recently underused X-Men joining Rogue's new team!

"The last we heard from them I believe was in "Realm of Kings" and they were on their way home. Obviously they never got there.

So in the story that begins in #254, four of our six protagonists end up in a very remote section of space. They're dealing with a crisis that arose in the aftermath of the "War of Kings" -- the war that was fought between the Kree (led by the Inhumans) and the Shi'Ar. But you don't have to know anything about the "War of Kings" to know what's going on. We're focusing on the destruction wrought in the conflict on some of the remoter parts of the Shi'ar empire. We'll be looking at what that meant for a strategically unimportant but narratively interesting part of the galaxy."

Man I love it when the X-Men go cosmic. Carey is the best writer with an X-book these days, but now that DnA have New Mutants (their premiere yesterday was a great issue) perhaps he's even taking over as the best writer of cosmic events. Can't wait.