Let’s be real. No one watches a Bruce Lee movie for the story. The plot of The Big Boss (his first major role) and Enter The Dragon (his crowning achievement) are essentially the same, and decidedly threadbare. Both films pit Lee against shadowy drug cartels. He preaches fortune-cookie inspired anti-violence, before dispatching the goons in escalating video game-like fashion. The Big Boss (aka: Fists of Fury) couldn’t be more low-rent. Enter The Dragon is only superficial sophisticated, filling the frame with anonymous day-players, and flirting with a ham-fisted flashback structure. Victims of the era in which they were produced, these films should be resounding failures.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
|Gotham City Mayor, Anthony Garcia|
This morning, Gotham City’s Mayor, Anthony Garcia, signed the controversial Dent Act into legislation. The sweeping bill, which was passed unanimously by the City Assembly, targets organized crime. Named in honour of Gotham’s deceased District Attorney, Harvey Dent, the act authorizes stiffer sentencing, including a moratorium on parole. It also closes a loophole that hinders the city’s ability to prosecute individuals who commit crimes that are part of a larger network. "[Harvey Dent’s] courage in taking on the criminal empires that ruled our streets saved our city. It would be inappropriate for us not to honor his sacrifice", said the Mayor.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
In the future, Manhattan isn’t a maximum security Federal penitentiary, nor is it ruled by costumed street gangs. Instead, The Big Apple has become a Demilitarized Zone, the neutral no-man’s land in a second American civil war. That’s the provocative premise of DMZ, Brian Wood’s long-running Vertigo comic-book series. A rookie reporter named Matty Roth is our hapless tour-guide. When stranded in this hellacious concrete jungle he has no choice but to navigate a warren of shifting alliances and ulterior motives. Matty isn’t an iconoclastic gonzo-journalist like Transmetropolitan's Spider Jerusalem. He’s a confused kid who has bit of more than he can chew, and is forced to man-up or be put down. Elevated by Riccardo Burchielli's distinctive art-style, the story investigates Matty's struggles as an embedded journalist in a terrifying what-if scenario, but it also chronicles the war for the soul of an entire city.
As zombie fever sweeps across North America, vampire mania is brewing in Eastern Europe. The LA Times is reporting that the discovery of a 700-year-old skeleton, with its chest punctured by a metal stake, has visitors flocking to the Bulgarian town of Sozopol. Increased tourism and interest from occult groups has prompted authorities to move the remains to a special display case at the Natural History Museum in the nation’s capital, Sofia.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Paramount Pictures is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. From Titanic to Top Gun, they've shown an uncanny ability to produce Oscar-winners and crowd-pleasers in equal measure. Vanity Fair’s recent photo shoot, which assembled a diverse roster of Hollywood heavyweights, reminds us of the talent, both on-screen and off, who have contributed to Paramount’s legacy. But after a century of hit-making, the studio that gave us The Godfather, Indiana Jones and Star Trek, appears to be in serious trouble.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Short films are the red-headed bastard step-children of feature-length motion pictures. Over the years they’ve been relegated to the realm of experiment and curiosity. All too often they’re half-hearted exercises produced by eager amateurs just trying to get a foot in the door. It’s obvious they’d rather be doing something else entirely. It’s a rare feat when a short is able to convey a fully realized story, let alone display professional-quality production values. But The Girl and the Fox, a new animated short from the talented team at Base 14, manages to do both, embracing short form storytelling with quiet confidence and gentle observation. It’s a sublime marriage of image and idea that evokes the films of Hayao Miyazaki. Although, director Tyler Kupferer hadn’t seen any of the Japanese master’s work when he began developing the story.
Saturday, 9 June 2012
The name Ridley Scott is synonymous with lowered expectations. No other filmmaker has achieved more success, or is more respected, despite directing some of the shittiest mainstream movies of the last thirty years. The past decade in particular, has not been kind to the prolific septuagenarian, who’s fumbled around in every genre except the one that jump-started his career.
Thursday, 7 June 2012
Whether you like it or not, zombies are here to stay. They’ve overwhelmed our pop-culture, lurching (sometimes sprinting) inexorably into our movies, TV shows, comic-books and video games. AMC’s The Walking Dead, based on Robert Kirkman’s long running Image comic series, is a ratings juggernaut. A blockbuster adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling World War Z , starring Brad Pitt, is set for release next summer. With a new game in stores and a fifth film on the way, the Resident Evil franchise is alive across multiple platforms, and shows no sign of stumbling. But a recent string of disturbingly gruesome real-life incidents has some people wondering if an actual Zombie Apocalypse is just on the horizon.
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
|Ray Bradbury 1922-2012|
The blazing globe we orbit, that celestial source of light we call The Sun, has dimmed today. Here on earth. There, on Mars. Across the stars. Ray Bradbury, the incomparable author has passed away. He was 91 years young, lived a full life and brought immeasurable joy to millions of readers. Bradbury is best known for sci-fi classics like Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and hundreds of short stories. Although it’s set in a dystopian future, where books are banned and burned, Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t reflect the optimism that colours most of his work. No other 20th Century author captured the joy of childhood, the melancholy of adolescence and the wonder of the universe like Bradbury did.
DC Comics is doing the unthinkable. This week they’re launching Before Watchmen, a multi-issue prequel to the seminal superhero comic-book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It’s comprised of seven separate miniseries and a one-shot epilogue, and will unfold over the next thirty-five weeks. DC has assembled a formidable team of talent to tackle the project, including writers Darwyn Cooke and J. Michael Straczynski , and superstar artist Adam Hughes. These guys are among the best in the business, but that doesn’t change the fact that Before Watchmen is ill-conceived and utterly blasphemous.
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
With The Avengers currently lighting up the global box-office and The Dark Knight Rises poised to invade theatres, you’ve got to wonder were all the action movies aimed at men are? Forgive me if I’m nonplussed by this decade-long fascination with superheroes. I prefer my summer entertainment to feature car chases, endless ammunition and testosterone-fueled explosions. As our Reagan-era icons reach retirement age, action movies have been hijacked by costumed ubermensch and low-rent Euro-thrillers. Parkour has replaced bulging biceps and body-shrapnel. A recent New York Times article by Adam Sternbergh chronicles the rise and fall of America’s greatest cultural export, lamenting a bygone era of guts, glory and distilled machismo.
But hope is on the horizon. The Expendables 2, which drops in August, may be the bullet-riddled reprieve we’ve all been looking for. Sylvester Stallone’s original film co-starred Jason Statham and a stellar supporting cast, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis in a much-ballyhooed, but all-too-brief cameo. While the sequel re-assembles the same red-blooded roster of forgotten action heroes, it also throws Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck “Fucking” Norris into the fray.
A few weeks ago, a fan-made trailer for The Expendables 2 kicked up a stir across the web. It was created by Garrison Dean, and presents a refreshingly gung-ho point of view. Schwarzenegger himself says the insanely jingoistic trailer “is without a doubt the best fan video I've seen.”. The Governator even goes so far as to suggest it should be the official trailer for the film. I couldn’t agree more. I recently traded punches with Garrison Dean, who currently works at an ad agency in Kansas City. We chatted about his creative sensibilities, his career aspirations, Michael Bay and the sad state of American action movies.
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Gore Verbinski is a filmmaker I’ve never given much consideration. Until I screened Rango, his Oscar-winning animated Western featuring the neurotic vocal styling of Johnny Depp, I regarded him as little more than a high-priced director-for-hire. Say what you will about his bloated (but successful) Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy, his deft touch was sorely missing from Captain Jack’s most recent adventure. There’s no doubt Verbinski has the ability to marshal a massive, special-effects laden production. But what else is he capable of? Quite a lot, it would seem. And it’s Rango that snaps his entire filmography into perspective.
Friday, 1 June 2012
Crossovers have been a comic book industry staple for decades. There’s nothing terribly objectionable about in-house mergers, like Marvel’s Avengers Vs. X-Men, which currently sits atop sales charts. After all, Captain America and Wolverine exist in the same continuity, and have interacted countless times before. Even a title as blatantly money-grabbing as Dark Horse’s original Aliens Vs. Predator has some appeal. There is some gratification to be had from seeing these two formidable extra-terrestrial species throw down in a Darwinian battle of gnashing teeth and slashing blades; although subsequent instalments, including two big-screen flops, have fallen prey to the law of diminishing returns. These pulpy fusions certainly have a time and a place, but the launch this week of IDW’s Star Trek: TNG / Doctor Who crossover, smacks of pandering fan-fiction.