Saturday, November 27, 2010

Iron Man: Hypervelocity

Iron Man: Hypervelocity (2007) - Written by Adam Warren (Dirty Pair, Empowered) art by Brian Denham (The X-Files, Nova)

Adam Warren and Brian Denham’s Hypervelocity is a prime example of using science in creative ways. Iron Man has a long history of shouting “redirect power” and “reboot system” at various levels of intensity, but Adam Warren takes the Iron Man tech to an entirely new level, using realistic scientific theory to back up the Iron Man armor upgrades. Well, as far as my high school level physics knowledge can vouch for. He shows his work at least once.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Layout Changes!

Since Blogger is a pain to work with when using white text, I'm changing to a grey background with black text. Unfortunately, this means that I have to go back through each of my previous posts and change the text to black. So there will be a few strange looking posts in my archives for a few days, and I'm sure I'll miss one or two of them.

Happy American Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Comics You Should Read: Runners by Sean Wang

Sean Wang’s Runners Vol 1. Bad Goods

Runners (art and words by Sean Wang) is the sci-fi action/comedy chronicling adventures of the freighter Khoruysa Frimia and her crew of smugglers, former pirates and rascals. I think I’m the 72,329th Guy On The Internet(TM) to make the following comparison, but I do so because it is apt: Runners is as fun as Star Wars used to be. I’m talking Episode IV fun, nerds. There’s an excitement and velocity to the story that is hard to come by. Sure, smuggling has been done before, but Sean Wang’s story of smuggling is backed by a lush and full universe full of cool technology and believable galactic politics. The characters are developed and fascinating, the action is intense, and the dialogue is superb. In most science fiction I’ll settle for dialogue that is merely not painful, but Wang uses words as deftly as he does art. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Evolution of the Modern Movie Poster

Dale from Marketing: Okay folks, we need to sell this movie! You know what we need? A kick-ass movie poster! Get me Simmons from the art department!

Simmons from the Art Department: You asked for me, sir?

Dale: Simmons, we need you to make a poster for a movie. It’s called “Unstoppable,” it’s inspired by true events, and it stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

Simmons: Okay, what’s it about?

Dale: Hell if I know, Simmons. I think there’s a train involved.

Simmons: A train? What’s it doing?

Dale: I don’t know, but whatever it’s doing you can’t stop it. That sounds kind of boring, though. Maybe I could get the director to change it. Maybe instead of an unstoppable train it could be some sort of out-of-control robot with an angle grinder.

Simmons: Angle grinder?

Dale: It could be...I don’t know... grinding to the center of the earth, or something. Either way, make sure this poster clearly represents either an unstoppable train or an unstoppable angle grinder in case I can get Tony Scott to change it to an out-of-control robot with an angle grinder. Get on it, Simmons!

Problems with the feed

So I've had a few of my friends tell me that they've subscribed to my blog using RSS, but it always comes up blank because the text on the site is white. Well, I'm working on that. There's no way for me to know how much of my readership this is affecting, so sorry if there's been confusion. I'm working on changing the site design, and the new one will probably have black text in a white boxes, at the very least. 

Are you subscribed through an RSS feed? Let me know in the comments. I often wonder how many people outside of my Facebook contacts actually read this blog. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Movie Review: Monsters

Monsters, directed by Gareth Edwards, is a fascinating experiment in low-budget, guerrilla-style film making, but it’s about as fun to watch as an experiment in cleaning pennies with various household chemicals. In both experiments, you watch it for an hour and NOTHING HAPPENS.

There are approximately thirty minutes of anything interesting happening in this Monsters; it would have made a powerful short film instead of a glacial full length feature. Subtlety works in short doses or between action sequences, but the human story between Samantha (Whitney Able) and Andrew (Scoot McNairy) is spread so thin over the 94 minute running time it’s practically invisible.

As for the monsters themselves, the effects are convincing enough for a micro budget movie, but I question the alien design choice. You know how in District 9 the aliens looked sort of like anthropomorphic lobsters, and thus were nickname prauns? Well, the monsters in Monsters are straight up six story tall giant land octopuses. At times they’re eerie, but other times they’re just hilarious. Especially when they moo. Seriously, it’s a riot.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Movie Review: Unstoppable

Unstoppable is inspired by the true events of a 2001 runaway train incident in Ohio, where locomotive CSX 8888, nicknamed “Crazy Eights” wandered unmanned through 66 miles of pristine Ohio countryside before it was slowed, and then stopped. The incident ended without injury or derailment, and it’s most dangerous freight, molten phenol, was safe and sound.

In Unstoppable, the runaway train Engine 777 (nicknamed “Triple 7”) begins its murderous rampage desperate bid for freedom when a lazy train yard worker commits several acts of criminal negligence, which has his Triple 7 ambling out of the train yard unmanned and at full throttle. I’m no expert, and maybe jumping out of a slow moving train to pull a switch is common in the locomotive industry, but I’ve been through enough petroleum industry safety orientations for that opening scene to practically give me an aneurysm.

Sharing the same rail with Triple 7 is an excursion train full of children on a field trip and a passenger car full of nuns a freight train crewed by rookie conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) and veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). Can they make it to another track before a head on collision with Triple 7? Hey if new Captain Kirk can’t, then nobody can.

Unstoppable occupies a very comfortable middle ground of action movies, where the danger is real enough to build tension, but grounded enough that we don’t start rolling our eyes. A runaway train, you say? I guess that could happen. You don’t need to suspend your disbelief or turn off your brain to enjoy the story.

Chris Pine and Denzel Washington play off each other with ease, and a great supporting cast rounds off this enjoyable action flick. A runaway train is sort of an allegory for modern movies. You know exactly where it’s heading and how long it will take to get there, but what makes it interesting is the people on board and what happens when it finally reaches its destination. Unstoppable won’t surprise you, but it’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Movie Review: Skyline

“Skyline,” starring Eric Balfour (24) and Donald Faison (Scrubs) is the brainchild of brothers Colin and Greg Strauss, visual effects gurus whose have worked on films like “X-Men” and “Terminator 3.”

There are amazing visuals in “Skyline;” it’s well crafted and wonderfully designed. It shows an alien invasion from the perspective of citizenry, people who don’t have any government insider knowledge of the situation. We’re in the dark for the alien’s motivation and abilities, and that’s a GOOD thing. The more pseudo-science in a movie, the stupider it seems. The aliens are bizarre and their motives are incomprehensible to us, which fits the mood of the film just fine.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Remembrance Day Special: The Devil's Brigade (1968)

Last year one of my roommates introduced me to “The Devil’s Brigade,” a 1968 World War 2 movie starring Willaim Holden, Vince Ewards, and Cliff Robertson. It’s his family tradition to watch “The Devil’s Brigade” and eat pizza on Remembrance Day. I didn’t ask him, but I’m assuming the movie is to honour the American and Canadian Soldiers and the pizza is because they successfully capture two Italian strongholds. It’s based on the true story of the 1st Special Service Force, a commando unit comprised of handpicked Canadian and American soldiers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Comic Review: The Stuff of Legend

“The Stuff of Legend” is set in 1944 and begins with the Boy (not to be confused with The Boy from Cormack McCarthy’s “The Road”) being snatched in the dead of night by mysterious tendrils sprouting from the darkness in his closet. The toys in the room spring to life after the abduction, and quickly surmise that the Boogeyman has taken their Boy into The Dark, and it’s up to them to get him back.

Monday, November 8, 2010

5 Second Films

“5-Second Films” produces a new short movie every weekday. There are two seconds of title, five seconds of movie, and one second of credits. I’ve been following it for more than a year now and it still amazes me that they haven’t lost steam.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Movie Review: Megamind

When you walk on the tightrope of archetype, you risk falling into the swamp of cliché. Dreamwork’s “Megamind” (Will Farrel, Tina Fey, David Cross) is the story of a Superman analogue (Metro Man) versus a Lex Luthor analogue (Megamind), but with the twist: what would happen if Luthor finally won?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Iron Man: Titanium

This Iron Man one shot snuck by me last month. It contains four short storys by four different authors and four different artists, making it an interesting way to get a taste of different styles of art and writing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Transformers: The Last Stand of the Wreckers

Believe it or not, there are people who are into Transformers in the same way that Trekkies are into Star Trek. Walk into my room, and you’ll soon realize that I am one of these people.

Yes, that is Dreamwave’s “Transformers: War Within” volumes 1 and 2 and a bit of “Transformers: Armada” up there on my wall (and yes, I really need to make my bed). It was the non-terrible Transformers comic that was produced back in 2002. After Dreamwave’s bankruptcy in late 2004, Transformers comics went into limbo until mid 2005 when it was picked up by IDW Publishing. They’ve been producing a steady stream of decent Transformers books since then, and the pinnacle of their work is the mini-series “Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers,” now out in trade paperback.