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“I hope to show you reflections of your friends, your neighbors, your families, and yourselves, and what their reactions are to the extreme situations on this book.”  
- Robert Kirkman



Over the past seven years, writer Robert Kirkman (Battle Pope, Invincible) has found quite a literary and theatrical phenomenon with his series, The Walking Dead.  The story follows a band of unlikely heroes in their daily trials and tribulations, given their extraordinary circumstances in a world devastated by a zombie apocalypse.  Initiated as a graphic novel series in 2003, the books were met with rave reviews from critics and fans alike, most notably with its receipt of the Eisner Award in 2010 for Best Continuing Series.  In 2010, AMC released The Walking Dead as a television series, which garnered such a positive response that the network ordered an extended, 13-episode second season.

I was very excited to see this film.  Aliens and Predator were my bread and butter as a kid, and Predator, in my opinion, still stands strong to this day, outdoing most current action films. Robert Rodriguez returning the Predator franchise to its former glory was not something I was about to miss! Sadly, while Predators makes a fine chapter in the Predator universe, it squanders the opportunity to upstage the original the way some feel Aliens did to Alien.

 

SPOILERS BELOW

 

The setting for this movie is brilliant, and it’s a shame that it is not used to its full potential. Royce (Adrian Brody), a deadly mercenary, finds himself stranded on an alien planet with other expert killers gathered from all over the earth. Apparently, this tribe of predators has prepared this planet as a game preserve with prey from all over the galaxy, and now it’s trophy hunting time! The scenario is ripe with potential! Instead, the film treads too closely to the original, never seizing the strength of its new and unique plot.

Buffy Season Eight has been a long, ambitious journey, but, as with all seasons, it has come to an end.  As with other well-constructed shows, the previous seasons of Buffy featured overarching themes that were revisited in each season’s finale.   While Buffy has struggled to convince its fan base that this was still possible in Buffy's venture into comics, Season Eight and its messages can now be viewed as a whole.  While not flawless, the season remained a major accomplishment for the Buffy team and gave a Whedonish view of what happens when you change the world and how, despite good intentions, no one can completely hold onto the mantel of hero or villain when operating on a global level.

 

SPOILERS BELOW

 

As is the case with many young children, I was fairly obsessed with dinosaurs at a young age. I was so obsessed, in fact, that Tyrannosaurus Rex quickly became my personal hero and could do no wrong. T-Rex killed a herbivore? A guy’s gotta eat! T-Rex has small arms? That’s the way he wants it! T-Rex is fighting Triceratops? Ain’t no Triceratops walking away from this battle! Understandably, I was extremely upset upon my first viewing of King Kong (1933) when my boy, T-Rex, was brutally killed by the big, dumb ape. That day of my youth forever cemented both my distrust of large apes and my undying loyalty to the Tyrant Lizard. So, of course, it was a given that when my hero returned to the silver screen in 1993 (sans his big, hairy murderer) I was sold before he (She, actually, given that all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are female. I DID go around and lift up the dinosaur’s skirts!) crushed his first Ford Explorer. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one enamored with Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park considering the massive box office numbers it pulled in ($914,691,118 worldwide), the two sequels it spawned, and the fact that it bares sole credit for making Velociraptor a household name.

Movie sequels are rarely good, especially ones that have a decade or more gap between them.  Luckily, Tron: Legacy was able to break free from this stigma and was one of the few good movies in a mostly lackluster year of film.

When watching the movie, I remembered the wonder and awe that used to come from experiencing a Disney movie and, for a moment, forgot what an evil corporation it was.

The movie is far from perfect, but extremely enjoyable.  The story moved slowly at times, but I found this refreshing, as most movies these days try to shove far too many side plots and superfluous scenes in just to make it more fast-paced.

For most fans of geek culture, San Diego Comic-Con is a yearly event that is not to be missed.  Fans travel far and wide to attend the four-day convention, which has come to encompass all things pop culture: movies, television, video games, sci-fi, toys, manga, horror, and comic books.  Initiated in 1970 to celebrate the comic book industry and film/television, the convention has increasingly become home to Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large within the past decade.  Despite being an initial focus of the convention, the major film and television studios have inserted their dominance over its media attention and convention hall space.   These media giants brought with them a perceived imperialistic presence that created a social hierarchy, which fans of geek culture used to avoid at comic conventions.   Tickets that were available for convention goers have now been set aside en masse for agents, managers, film and TV celebrities, and their entourages.  With this transformation, serious concerns have surfaced with regard to overcrowding, ticket sales, and angst amongst convention patrons, who long for the days of being able to enjoy the convention for its original purpose without having to fight the crowds.  This year, with pre-ordered tickets selling out at astronomical rates and booth availability for independent comic book vendors becoming more sparse, fans have been forced to deal with multiple failed attempts to purchase online tickets due to server overload.

I already had my review for this week picked out, but then something so momentous happened that I needed to write about it, instead.  One of the best shows currently on television had a crossover with my favorite show of all-time.  I am speaking, of course, about this past week’s episode of The Office.

For several years now, there have been rumors about a possible cameo or two by characters from the original BBC version of The Office.  So many promises have been made that, when I heard that Ricky Gervais might be reprising his role as David Brent, I had dismissed it as just another false rumor.

Well, I was wrong, because this week Steve Carell’s Michael Scott met David Brent in a chance encounter.  It was short but sweet, and it was worth the wait.

Over the past decade, I have become increasingly dismayed with the “films” coming out of Hollywood.  Of course, you know that I am talking about the fetishization of pop-culture nostalgia.  Let’s face it; they just don’t make movies like they used to.  From Transformers to G.I. Joe, from The Karate Kid to Teen Wolf (it is going to be on MTV – and do not even get me started on the topic of “Music Television...”), it is difficult (editor’s note: impossible) to name a recent big-budget film that is not a remake/reboot/reimagining/reinventing/sequel/prequel/sidequel.  Some may argue that there are only “seven original stories in existence,” but, let’s be honest here; this is a completely specious argument.  At the end of the day, all humans eat, breath, and sleep, but are their lives all the same?

Tekkoshocon/n/tech-ko-show-con (Steel Mill Con)
1. An anime convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that usually happens around April of every year.

2. A gathering of Otaku, Cosplayers, and gamers to celebrate anime, manga, and Japanese Culture.

3. An experience of dedication and love.


If you were to were to walk down the streets of Pittsburgh, PA, on any given day, you'd be hard pressed not to encounter one of the following: a yinzer, a hipster, or a hometown sports fan. The sports fan, in fact, is your surest bet. Decked out in Steelers regalia, possibly one or more team tattoos, as sure as sure can be, if pricked would bleed black and gold. But, if you were to encounter a six foot tall Pokemon accompanied by members of Team Rocket, you'd do a double-take. If a gaggle of teenage cat-girls and maids passed you on the way to work, you may think your prayers have been answered and the restraining order was finally lifted. One glimpse of Raptor Jesus and our more devout citizens cling to their rosary beads more tightly. Then again, if it's early Spring and you've been in the ‘Burgh a while, you may already know... it's Tekko time in town.

The Tarantino Blogs Part I : Westerns

I can thank Quentin Tarantino for my current infatuation with westerns.  As an impatient kid flipping through channels, I moved like lightning past the dusty catwalk towns, the pallid landscapes, the Stetson hats.  I sought the humor, pace, and vividness of a Spielberg adventure, a Lucas fantasy, or Disney fairy tale.  But since my first viewing of Resevoir Dogs with its gritty, in-your-face violence, its cool anti-heroes, and its witty and verbose humor, I have developed an insatiable appetite for B-movies, action and kung-fu flicks, and westerns.  This is the first in a series of blogs dedicated to one of my favorite filmmakers working today, Mr. Quentin Tarantino, and it will focus on one of my new favorite genres, the western.


My first pick is Shane (1953) directed by George Stevens and starring Alan Ladd as the title character.  This is an extraordinary western.  The story follows Shane, a stranger who helps a small band of oppressed farmers fight back against a wealthy cattle baron who is trying to force them from their land.  It is essentially a ‘David vs. Goliath’ struggle, but what makes this a truly unique film are the memorable characters, both bad and good, and the passion and perspective that the filmmakers infused into this masterpiece. We feel the anger of the homesteaders being pushed off their land by the remorseless cattle baron.  We love the innocence of their wives and children and long for their safety.  We despise the hired gun (Jack Palance at his best) who mercilessly and joyfully guns down innocent men.  And, as if we’re children again, we look up to Shane as he reluctantly and dutifully leads us towards the thrilling climax.  It’s exciting, heartbreaking, and lovely, and I cannot recommend this movie enough!

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