Archive | Review RSS feed for this section

Newcastle Brown Ale is infused with Sexism

18 Aug

This commercial from March that I only discovered today during ads between The Colbert Report relies upon blatant sexism in order to sell beer.

The commercial focuses on hands – the workforce.  It builds the brewer of the beer as a master at their profession.  They are the one that crafts the beer and makes it such a high quality.  Okay, that’s fine, bringing the beer to the masses and showing that they are not too elite but still have a quality product.

Then the end comes.  The quick shot of the brewer sitting on a chair in which the camera quickly pans downward in order to mask the face of the worker.  The question the narrator asks rhetorically about why they’re not showing her face is quickly answered with “because she’s not an attractive woman.”  The ad recognizes that attractive women sell beer but then reinforces this same ideal/strategy.

That line ends the commercial in what I can assume is meant to be humor.  The trick that she’s not a man but does a man’s work is pulled on the viewer.  This reinforces beer commercials’ need to show attractive women, otherwise they should be faceless.  Attractive women do not sell beer, and god forbid they’re going to put an “unattractive woman” onto their commercial.  Let’s not address the larger demographic of men and women who drink beer and appeal to men who objectify women, the commercial implies.

Because that’s really what we need: creating a further boys club built upon the hardships and misogyny against women.

The Dark Knight Rises – Review!

21 Jul

The Dark Knight Rises is one of those movies in which I’m initially stumped with how to review it.  At times, I enjoyed it, and, at others, it was a confusing mess.  It was a like/dislike relationship.  I wouldn’t go so far as say it was a love/hate relationship because, in actuality, there was nothing to love and nothing to hate.

I saw this film in IMAX because that’s what everyone online said I should see it in.  Unfortunately, the only true IMAX theater in the Pacific Northwest is in Seattle… which I’m 5 and a half hours away from.  I noticed that the audio was slightly better, but the picture quality was minutely clearer.  This upgrade was not enough to justify the price, and I do not see the big deal with IMAX.  Sure, I’ll get around to true IMAX, but it’s not for me currently.

I’m not sure whether or not it was the IMAX or the finished film, but the score was distracting my viewing experience.  Hans Zimmer is talented in making scores for films, I’m not trying to take away from that.  However, I am not a fan of constant scores.  The mixing was too loud for the score particularly when the movie has a lot of mumbling, accents, and weird Bane voices.  I was occasionally lost with all of the noises going on.

The film contains many plot holes as well as too many coincidences.  It builds and builds and builds but only because one thing leads directly to another rather than having multiple issues pan out.  Despite trying to make multiple storylines with almost an absurd amount of characters, the vision remains fairly singular.  Along this path, the film was entirely predictable aside from the few spoilers at the end.  The screenplay relied upon so many classic tropes that there was not much of a new interpretation on anything, just a rehashing of old material into a superhero film.  A lot of the fun was lost when you knew what was about to happen with almost everything.  I’m not sure if that’s because I’m an avid movie viewer, study film, or comic book geek – there just were no surprises.

The technical film making aspect was fairly solid.  There were occasional shots that made me wince, but I was satisfied with most of the presentation.  It’s a good movie when focusing on most of the cinematography.

The action scenes cover up many of the problems with the film with some inspired dirty, hands on fighting.  Not only is Bane fiercely intelligent, he can match Batman in a first fight which makes the fighting imaginative and brutal.  That’s the great thing about Bane in this form, he’s methodical and may be one of the few multi-layered characters in the film.  Christopher Nolan nails the character with an interpretation similar to the introduction of the character in the comics.  Many people have since decided that Bane is purely a brute, but, in actuality, he’s one of the more intelligent comic book villains out there.

The acting was fairly consistent in a film that had many loopholes.  The stand out character in the entire film is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Officer Blake.  He’s the emotional center, and we see Gotham through his bright, hopeful eyes.  That’s what makes the film so satisfying at the end.  He sticks to his beliefs in right and wrong, and pursues justice and even understanding.  I ended up caring more about Blake over any other character.

Overall, I came out of the film with an okay feeling.  It’s worth seeing in theaters for the experience, but I’m not sure if it demands many repeated viewings.

Green River Killer – Review!

16 Jul

Green River Killer is a based-on-a-true-story fiction comic that delicately presents humanity in a murder story.  Now, this humanity isn’t necessarily directed towards the murderer, although it doesn’t rail against him.  Instead, the comic asks why or what would lead a person to do these things.

The comic does not present the story from the perspective of the killer who may or may not be caught at any given time, but opts to focus on the lead investigator detective Tom Jensen.  Writer Jeff Jensen happens to have great knowledge of the case on the detective’s side since Tom Jensen is his father.  A certain amount of authenticity is brought to the story with this relationship.

Prior knowledge of the story is not needed to enjoy the comic, although it helps to have a clue.  For instance, I lived in Tacoma – about half an hour south of Seattle – and had some familiarity with the serial murders.  Most of this, however, came from those true life cheesy recreation stories on TV.  I didn’t live through this like many people in the area did, but I had heard about it.  Actually, coming to this story without much previous knowledge allows you to be more drawn into the story without over-analyzing everything.

The writing strikes a chord because you become so heavily invested in Tom Jensen’s mission, and he becomes real to you without ever meeting the real life Tom Jensen.  He is a man with burdens upon his shoulders and a dedication to one sole mission; he’s someone you can rally behind.  The writing also shows a lot of the confusion and frustration involved for Jensen and the other detectives even after they bring in Gary Ridgway.  How do you go through with finding the history of a serial killer?

Jeff Jensen manipulates time with the use of multiple time periods without ever losing the reader.  It causes parallels and themes to the story and provides the reader with clues.  You know Gary is the killer, right?  But there’s more to that underneath his 48+ murders.

I’m a sucker for black and white artwork.  I love seeing the raw ink strokes and detail.  The great thing about Jonathan Case is that he adds just enough detail to the scenes while not drawing away the focus.  It’s impressive how subtle his art really is.  He draws a lot of talking heads, but each one has a slightly different expression making no two panels the same.  He can really convey a whole array of emotions with just a slight line manipulation.  Even though it’s a crime comic, Case doesn’t go with the typical heavy shadows which actually benefits the story.  The best thing about the art, however, is Case’s use of splash pages.  I’m usually not too big on splash pages, but there were two in a row where I literally said “wow” aloud.  That’s how gripping the art is.

There were little problems in the comic.  My one worry is the reread factor.  That’s where the art comes in, but it may be hard with a story you already know the outcome of particularly with something from real life.

Overall, the effect of the book mirrors the impact of the splash pages – a big “wow.”  It latched me into the story causing me to read it within one sitting.  The graphic novel truly deserves its recently announced Eisner Award.

Moonrise Kingdom – Review!

8 Jul

I’ve been mulling around about how I was going to do this review.  In the end, I decided to just go for it because, well, you’ll see…

Moonrise Kingdom is a Wes Anderson film.

For most people coming to this movie, that is what they’re coming for.  For others who have heard about it from someone, they may think that this film is quirky and cute and fun.

But that’s what every Wes Anderson film is.

His voice is unique and he presents quality films relentlessly.  In a film industry that rehashes the same sequels, prequels, reboots, and jacking of other literary endeavors, Wes Anderson is needed in this industry.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that his voice is amazing.  It’s just a unique freshness that is necessary.  He provides hope for the industry without actually delivering the how.  Indeed, he has basically crafted for himself the “Wes Anderson” genre of film where occasional filmmakers do poor (and, rarely, even better) interpretations of the genre.

What makes the Wes Anderson genre different?  Well, Anderson starts it off with having really inventive dialogue, inventive shots, inventive ideas, but all of those things come off as almost too perfect.

His dialogue never hesitates with certainty, there are no moments that seem to be unscripted rather than what I presume says “dancing” within the script.  He centers his shots, and, when he doesn’t, he finds the perfect, photographic shot with just enough balance shifted to a different side of the frame.  He comes up with a grand story of love between young kids discovering their feelings and bodies, but they meet through nearly impossible means (Cub Scout-esque Khaki meeting the sad but sweet mod girl) explained by the story set on an island (in the 60s which basically looks some other Wes Anderson films with just “the 60s” tag added at the end).  His pacing starts slow and quickens exploding into complete chaos where everyone has complete composure during impossible moments.

This film basically feels like Wes Anderson doing a Wes Anderson interpretation of the “Wes Anderson” genre.  He repeats the same style and perfection (and characters) as he has with every film which is unfortunate because this could have been an amazing film.  Instead, after watching his other films, most of what is within this film is predictable.

It’s all there: A-List actors, fantastic finds with young, burgeoning actors, great scenery, and heartwarming young love.

Every actor gives a great performance with what they’re given, and the leads Jared Gilman (Sam) and Kara Hayward (Suzy) capture you’re heart quick.

By all rights, this is a great movie.  But then, you get that whole Wes Anderson thing going.  His style overwhelms the story and overpowers all of those performances and ideas by making this movie more about art than story.  If he was able to find a balance for this conundrum, then this film would have excelled way past all of his previous films and the “Wes Anderson” genre.

But he doesn’t.  That’s what hurts this film.

If you do not know much about Wes Anderson, check it out and you’ll probably like it.  If you love Wes Anderson (like I used to) you’ll probably love it.  But, I’m world weary about this film, and it just doesn’t do anything for me.

TMNT #9 – Review!

3 May

It goes without saying that I have been VERY critical of IDW’s new TMNT series.  The series presents a take on the TMNT with some new elements, but a foundation that I find built out of the 80s/90s cartoon.  Nothing terrible, but nothing particularly great.

Last issue began a step in the right direction with a more action oriented plot.  This issue, surprisingly, continues the step in the right direction.

The writing by Tom Waltz isn’t actually that bad considering the cookie cutter approach to many of the characters.  His writing, since the start of the series and a couple of issues ago has gained some footing, and I feel like he’s a bit more comfortable with the characters.  The plotting is tight, and we get more rounded depictions of some of the secondary characters.  In addition, there is progress in developing the turtles.  Leonardo is at full force sometimes outshining the other turtles, but, for someone who’s favorite character in all of comics is Leonardo, I don’t have much of a problem with that.  Though, more screen time for Mikey would have been nice even though he’s my least favorite turtle.

The art by Dan Duncan has increasingly gotten better since the first couple of issues.  He takes more risks now and they pay off.  Still, there’s occasionally a complete lack of detail in many of the frames.  This is understandable when the scene is focused on action, but some of the establishing shots could benefit from a few added additions.  Take for instance the scene where Old Hob interrogates Splinter.  Basically, there’s floor, bars for the cage, a computer and desks, with three characters in the panel.  There is so much open space in the panel that the layout of the place wouldn’t really make sense.  The coloring becomes more vibrant halfway through the issue which is slightly distracting and took me out of the story for a bit.

The final splash page reveal is a given considering where this series has been going.  A major character appears with a pretty good redesigned outfit, but, more importantly, one of my favorite female characters of all time is introduced the page before.  This made me incredibly excited.  I’m more interested in her development than the big reveal.  If her story arc is anything like the Mirage series or even the 2k3 cartoon, I will be ecstatic.

Overall, the series is picking up pace.  I’m looking forward to where it goes, and this is a major turn around from 2 issues ago.

Infestation 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 – Review!

24 Mar

Tristan Jones, Mark Torres, and Jay Fotos have done something amazing with a rather ridiculous tie-in to a rather ridiculous IDW event.

To catch us all up to speed (you can also read my previous review here): Something’s been happening in the deep recesses of the New York sewer system and the turtles aim to find out what’s causing it.  Creepy monsters appear and end up capturing Leo while putting the rest of the turtles in peril.

Once again, the issue centers around Donatello’s perspective, but all of the turtles except maybe Raphael get equal screen time.  Each turtle has a strong character moment including one of the most badass panels for Leonardo that I’ve seen in a long time.  The writing by Tristan Jones remains strong throughout with some freakiness and some humor.

Mark Torres’s art is fantastic continually reminding us of what would happen if the turtles were in the Hellboy universe.  It’s blocky and works with a lot of shadows.  At one point, the turtles face a monster of massive scale.  Typically, things just look larger in comic books but there’s not much change in the proportions.  Torres counters this by making this thing look huge in comparison to the turtles.  It’s really quite an impressive feat.  To Tristan Jones’s credit, he handles the turtles by having them face such a large beast with a lot of grace.  The turtles show no fear, but there’s some slight trepidation.

Jay Fotos must also get recognition for his coloring work.  He mixes a flat style of coloring with a slight gradient blending of colors.  The effect has a very strong color palette while remaining fairly limited.  Each beat of the story features some interesting colors and he definitely bumps the artwork to its full effect.

Unfortunately, the issue was not as strong as the previous one.  The whole idea of facing an unknowable foe is lost when Donatello puts two and two together.  The mystery is gone and it is more of the turtles fighting.  I’m sure reading the two issues back to back would alleviate this, but, as a single issue, this one is just a bit weaker.

The ongoing series needs to take a few notes from Tristan and the rest of the team because they crafted a Ninja Turtles story on par with one of Mirage’s greats in two issues.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Infestation 2 Issue 1 – Review!

8 Mar

The first issue of this crossover by Tristan Jones and Mark Torres delivers everything the title series does not.  I have lamented on the state of direction for the title series (most recently in my review for issue #7), but this issue provides me with so much hope for the future of the TMNT.

First off, I have to admit my bias, I am internet-friends with Tristan Jones often tweeting back and forth with him on movies and other things.  We’ve even shared a few Words with Friends games with one another.  He previously worked on the Turtles with Mirage, and his ‘Tales of the TMNT’ #36 is the issue that got me back into comics.  I also helped in a campaign to get Tristan as the ongoing writer of IDW’s Ninja Turtles series before the writers or artists were announced.  Long story short: I’ve been waiting for this issue for forever.

The premise is the TMNT begin an investigation into weird occurrences happening in NYC particularly within the sewer system.  Strange horrors appear and the Turtles dig deeper into their purpose and meaning.  Donatello, with all of his reasoning, is the one most challenged and most at a loss to what’s going on.

The first thing that this comic reminds me of is a Mike Mignola ‘Hellboy’ comic.  Mark Torres fits perfectly into that vein of horror with his moody lighting and blocky lines.  The lighting is what excels in this issue particularly with the use of flashlights.  Torres and colorist Jay Fotos pull off a technique of hinting at what’s there with the lighting by giving its vague outline which comes as a fresh take on an old technique.  I’m not quite sure what I’m looking at all the time, and that’s a good thing.

Tristan’s writing is wonderful.  He builds suspense, throws in some surprises, and adds a hint of humor to things.  It never comes off as flashy, and he nails all of the Turtles’ personalities right off the bat.  Though, knowing I’m a Turtles fan, I would have liked to see a little bit more development for Leonardo.  (Speaking of being a Turtle fan, Tristan slides in a few references to his previous Mirage work). Nevertheless, this is, at its heart, a comic about Donatello.

Tristan takes a simple premise of the TMNT not knowing what’s going on with weird horror-creatures around and makes this the best TMNT comic IDW has produced yet.  This title being part of a crossover has absolutely no effect to your enjoyment of the comic.  In fact, that should not even be a consideration.  If you miss out on this, then you’ll miss out on an amazing comic.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #7: Review!

28 Feb

Some of you may be wondering, “what happened to that Turtles guy who did all of the reviews?” after I neglected to post a review for issue #6.  Well, I’d like to reply that it did absolutely nothing for me.  How am I to write on something that I just toss away and forget about?

The last issue was very bad because it was so unremarkable.

This issue just continues the trend of bad dialogue and lack of detail in the art.  Let’s tackle the dialogue/writing through some examples:

“It’s high time he and I get together… [cut to Krang's menacing, pink, alien body] for a little FACE-TO-FACE.”  Krang says this when he’s angry at Stockman and we discover that Krang is the unfortunate blasphemy of the Utrom idea from Mirage.  Krang mirrors the style of his kids show variant only with a more intimidating host/mechanical body.  I’m not okay with this decision, but I realize that I must get past it in order to fairly review the comic.

“righteous dude” “bustin’ their humps” “that Rat-man digs it.”  Here’s some excerpts from Mikey’s conversation with the pizza boy character.  They’re trying WAY TOO HARD to have hip dialogue.  Do people still talk like this?  Or do comic writers just think people talk like this?

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this unexpected visit, hm?”  Classic line… so classic I’ve seen it in so many other places.  Is it a trope?  Is it!?

“Get showered, slugger – We got a paper to knock out!”  Puns!

Over in the art corner, we have Dan Duncan’s impressive scratchinesss/heavy line working its magic in (most of) the action scenes.  However, when we get a half-splash like on THE VERY FIRST PAGE of a war zone, there’s 2 or so tanks that have been blown up and a few scattered bodies.  THIS IS ONE HECK OF A WAR, isn’t it?  I can see why Krang is soooo worried.

The only thing that saves Duncan’s talking scenes are the colors that add some really nice texture and prettiness despite being so focused on setting up an atmosphere with the tones.  At one point they both fail when I can’t tell if April’s walking into a wall or through a door with a “Ladies” sign hanging up as decoration.

Some nice things:

Despite all of these problems, I was still interested in what happened in the next issue if only because I know there’s going to be more fighting which both the writing and art excel at.  The mousers still intrigue me especially with this variation upon the concept (but how does Old Hob control all of them with a remote that has about 6 buttons on it?).

I’d like to give props to Duncan for giving April a fairly normal body with fairly normal proportions.  She’s not exploited in the least.  It’s sad that I have to applaud this (when this should just be considered normal), but taking notice always helps.

Conclusion:

The writing has the basic plots down which work really well and are quite layered, but the details in the actual dialogue and execution cause the whole thing to end up as a mess.  I really want to like this comic, but it’s hook is getting dull and I’m slipping away.

I just cut 8 titles from my pull list, this may be next.  As a turtles fan, that hurts so much.

The Artist – The Review!

19 Feb

The Artist is nothing short of brilliant.

The film follows George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) from his historic popularity to his quick downfall with the advent of “talkies.”  Along the way, we meet Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who gains her notoriety through a chance meeting with Valentin.  George wants to follow silent films until the end while Peppy learns to adapt to the new market.  The film is very much about the old versus the new and how it is possible to find a middle ground.

A lot of people have been rather cynical of the film saying things like, “It’s only getting such good reviews because it’s a silent film!”  True, it is getting a lot of good reviews AND it’s a silent film.  But, it’s not getting good reviews just BECAUSE it’s a silent film.  It stands well on its own no matter what category we put it into.  By the way, it’s not completely a silent film…

This film is deserving of the praise because it is so charming.  It does some fantastic things such as the playing with sound and image and how the movie industry has evolved.  The acting is spot on considering that the actors had to learn to be extra expressive and mug the camera, but it never feels too overdone.  The score fits brilliantly with the film gently gliding between upbeat hurrahs to the strings of misery.  During the darkest parts of the film, the score had my heart racing.  Other times the score helped me laugh along with the characters.

The one part of the film that seems to hinder it from a perfect review is the middle slump.  Between the great beginning, the climax, and the ending, the film sank a little.  A little bit more editing could have kept up the pace.  Otherwise, the film was pitch perfect.

Most importantly, I walked out of the theater with a huge smile on my face.  Considering that I volunteer at the theater, you can often hear me on a Friday night working popcorn whistling one of the tunes from the show.

It’s memorable and mesmerizing.  It’s worth your money and time, and I’ll be rooting for it at the Oscars.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5: Review!

12 Jan

Surprise! This issue is actually better when the turtles are NOT in it.  In fact, they only grace the frames of roughly 5 pages.

Primarily, the issue follows the tale of Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki.  Both characters belong to the Foot Clan, but Yoshi leaves due to Saki extending his powers too far.  Naturally, Saki seeks revenge for Yoshi disgracing him.  This leads to Yoshi running off into the woods to train his four sons.  Thus, the comic hints at the turtles and Splinter being the reincarnated forms of these past figures.  This connection would explain how the turtles’ skills come so naturally to them. (How turtles come to embody previous spirits instead of humans is beyond me).

I have to say that the feudal Japan parts of the tale far outweigh the effort shown for the rest of the series so far.  I’m a turtles die-hard and yet I found myself ready to lay down some cash for a feudal Japan comic instead of a ninja turtles comic.  The art by Mateus Santolouco during these parts blow away Dan Duncan’s New York parts despite Duncan improving on this issue over the ones previous.

On to my least favorite part… I’m going to assume it was mandated by Nickelodeon – the bandannas, they are back to their cartoon colors.  The reasoning for the colors is decent, but I still cannot get past the fact that it’s merely for turtle beginners to tell them apart.  The beauty of the Mirage issues was that they were in B x W allowing for the reader to have to figure out which turtle was which based upon their personalities (and, for the beginners, their weapons).  Oh well.  I’ll get over it, but it’s still bothersome.

The writing was okay.  What’s new?

IDW, if you come out with a spin-off series of the Ninja Turtles, please be with it in feudal Japan.  Those were the best parts of the issue and I’m sad that they probably won’t come back that often.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 172 other followers