Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wednesday Pickups 1/18/12

Lots of good stuff this week (including Uncanny X-Force and New Mutants which I left off in favor of some new stuff, but they're both still great as usual) so let's get right into it.

First up this week comes from IDW and is a series I haven't written about yet, Memorial #2. We last left Em narrowly escaping an army of statues come to life and things just continue to get stranger in this issue as Schrodinger, her new talking cat companion, fills her in on what's really happening. Written by Chris Roberson, with art by Rich Ellis, this book falls some where between 'Fables' and 'Unwritten' both in it's subject and style. I did like this and the first issue but I wouldn't say it's cemented a spot in my pull list yet, as it is rather slowly developing. However, I am still looking forward to seeing where this book goes as it has a lot of potential.

Moving over to Image, we have the highly anticipated Prophet #21. Reviving a long dead series, this book follows John Prophet as he awakens to a strange, new world that is more organic and definitely less human. While I never read any of the previous incarnation, this twenty-first issue (written by Brandon Graham with art by Simon Roy) is very inviting and new reader friendly. Part sci-fi, part survior tale; Graham's story sets up a general direction but also doesn't seem to be in a rush to get there, content to wonder at the oddities all around this unique terrain. Said oddities look great from the combined efforts of Ray on art and Richard Ballermann on colors, rough but given life through it's natural color spectrum. Don't know that I will be getting every issue, but I am looking forward to picking up a few more to get a better grasp of the book.

The lone mutant title that made it to the blog this week is Uncanny X-Men #5. Tabula Rasa (Archangel's evolutionary testing ground from Uncanny X-Force) needs to be dealt with and Psylocke recruits Team Cyclops for the job without telling them the location's origins. Written by Kieron Gillen, with pencils by Greg Land, this new arc brings to the title one of the main X-Men staples it's being missing, meaningful and fun character moments. Whether your tastes lean towards Magick and Colossus bonding over this strange land's natural beauty or Magneto and Psylocke conspiring to keep shared secrets; Gillen does a good job of flushing out the characters a bit and making the reader care about them. Really enjoying this book, as it takes the powerhouses of the mutant world to task even more so now with good characterization and Land's art (although I realize that art isn't for everyone.)

We have nice double feature of finales from Avatar Press this week, with the first one being Crossed: Psychopath #7 of 7. In an issue that is sure to touch the deepest parts of one's heart, Harold finally reveals his "feelings" for Amanda and every thing he's done so that they could be together. A good issue, but it did leave the story a little more open than I would have liked. Who knows though, this could mean Lapham plans to return to these characters during his time at the wheel on the upcoming Crossed: Badlands series. That minor disappointment aside, Raulo Caceres' art maintains it's horrific excellence, bringing both a tear to one's eye and inducing dry heaving at the same time. While it went out with a whimper, this is my favorite Crossed volume to date and definitley has me anxiously waiting for the ongoing series.

Part two of the Avatar finales this week (both written by David Lapham) is Caligula #6 of 6. Felix and Laurentius plan to save Rome and defeat Caligula is executed, but how does one defeat an immoral immortal? Perhaps a bit anti-climactic for the end of the series, but like the book previously mentioned I still enjoyed it. Certainly not Lapham's greatest work, but one that does keep with his troubling and true examinations of the "human" condition. If your a fan of Lapham's work (or the other stuff Avatar Press puts out) make sure to check it out when it's collected.

Heading over to DC Comics, we have Red Hood and the Outlaws #5. It's Roy vs. Crux and Jason vs. The Untitled this issue, with Kori's life and their own hanging in the balance. Another awesome issue from Scott Lobdell (writer) and Kenneth Rocafort (artist), showcasing a bit more action than the previous ones but still managing to further the story and slip in some character moments. Still the biggest surprise out of the new 52, as I am enjoying this book way more than I ever expected to and dread the monthly wait for the each new one.

Pick of the week goes to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman #5. The citizens, capes, and cops of Gotham worry as Batman is missing in action; while the Court of Owls is busy putting him through the mental, emotional, and physical wringer. Fantastic issue from Synder and Capullo, with the former's story really delving into the mind of The Batman and the latter's art spectacularly illustrating it a mind bending fashion. If you are not picking this book up, you're missing one of the best Batman stories I've read in years!

That's it for this week and look for the following week's books to be posted soon as I try to catch up on my comic reviewing.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cool Powers Bro!: A Review of the Film "Chronicle"

Chronicle, directed by Josh Trank and written by Max Landis, seeks to wow audiences this weekend by crossing super powered characters in to the increasingly popular realm of the found footage genre (films that want you to believe the characters in it are the ones wielding the camera) but does it end up flying above such a gimmick or merely beat the audience to death with it? Personally, I think more of the latter.

The film chronicles - sorry, had to do it - three high school teens (played by Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, and Michael B. Jordan) who all acquire telekinetic powers (ability to manipulate objects with one's mind) after discovering a strange, alien presence underground. A simple concept in and off itself, but one that is weighed down heavily by trite character backgrounds. Andrew (DeHaan) is school's social outcast who also happens to have a crappy home life, Matt (Russell) is his good-natured cousin but also the smartest guy in the room, and Steve (Jordan) is the popular kid good at every thing. Granted, when they are thrown together through the chance encounter of getting these powers, it makes for a few honest moments of teenage life; like using the powers for practical jokes and lifting girl's skirts. For the most part though, these characters never get past the stereotypes they were written as in the screenplay, despite the best efforts of the actors playing them (especially Michael B. Jordan whose proven talents, showcased in The Wire and Friday Night Lights, are woefully underused.)

Moody Mind SMASH!

Okay, but at the end of the day the film's not really about the story right? After all this is something of a spectacle film, with kids flying around and tossing cars in the air. Putting one's hopes in that to be the saving grace of the movie would be a mistake, as most thing done here we've seen done better already. Also, by the time any real or interesting action happens most viewers will already care to little for it to be enjoyable. While the film only runs just over 80 minutes so much time is wasted on quiet moments, such as Andrew levitating the camera above him just before sleeping on multiple occasions, that one would wish the film closer to 60 minutes.

Now all these problems aside, the film does have a few redeeming qualities. The previously mentioned "honest" character moments are refreshing to a film about high school teens, even when they are practically drowned out by the cliched character-types. Trank's choice not to limit the "found footage" to the protagonist's camera also proves interesting as it opens up the film a bit. The addition of security cameras and cell phone cameras of bystanders, helps to bring a little life back into the film by the third act and help navigate the action scenes for maximum enjoyment. Outside of these though, the film's attempted telekinesis on the viewer's feelings is quite transparent and makes it that much harder enjoy and easier to resist.

Ultimately, I give Chronicle 2 stars out of 5, as it has a few positives but definitely not enough for me to like the film. If your still tempted to check it out, save your cash and wait to rent the film as this theatrical experience certainly doesn't give you any more bang for your buck this time and it is less acceptable to try telekinesis there waiting for the film to pick up.