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spider-manIsaac’s Book of the Month

The Amazing Spider-Man #595
Joe Kelly (w), Phil Jimenez (p), Andy Lanning (i), Chris Chuckry (c). Marvel Comics.

Though this issue would stand on its own merits to become Book of the Month, it also gets points because of the contrast between itself and the previous Spider-Man storyline. The previous story, “Spider-Man 24/7,” was not a well-done Spidey, and, to me, has been the only misstep since the start of “Brand New Day.”

The pin-up covers I’d put up with for years during Straczynski’s run made a disarming return (barely including the image “24/7″ does not make the cover any less of a pin-up), and I’m not a fan of modern Mike McKone’s bright, sterilized artwork that fails to synch up the words with the facial expressions — how hard is it to figure out J. Jonah Jameson’s expressions? He’s always angry, or, if he has to print a retraction, is a little upset, moaning “Oooh, why me?” (See the 60s Spider-Man cartoon for reference.)

Don’t try and draw “surprised Jonah.” Especially not when the words are angry. The whole premise was out of character for Peter Parker anyways, but that’s enough about how Marvel did me wrong (yes, it was a personal attack, I can tell) with what must have been a filler story, and let’s look upon the shining face of everything that is right about Spider-Man #595.

The Jimenez cover is the apotheosis of a modern cover, wordlessly setting up the story and priming you for what’s to come. I’m usually a fan for goofy captions on the cover over-selling a book, but that’s really the old school comic fan in me. There’s no denying the dignity and artfulness of this cover, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

The acting is incredible in this book; just flipping through and ignoring the words, the story is told regardless. I can’t get over the range of expression from panel to panel.

As for the story itself, titled “American Son,” we take a close look at Harry Osborn, the poor little rich kid at the top of the world. We don’t often get to see him this strong, so self assured. Supporting players often get the short end of the straw, looking bad to build up the hero in our eyes, but that’s taking an easy way out. This is a Harry that you have to like and respect (you don’t always get both).

But what about Peter Parker? Does he, the star of the show, end up looking weaker by comparison? Nope, he’s just a different person, with a different kind of strength. It’s interesting to see him more in the role of observer — his is often the narrative voice, and being the star with so much action following him has its perks, but often it’s a very self-involved narration.

This is a Peter Parker that is naïve, but keen to learn; it reminds me of the character archetype of the burgeoning writer, a role I welcome for Peter. He listens to Ben Urich, which leads him to Wolverine for advice (while making a Back to the Future reference). It’s only when Harry is “threatened” by Norman Osborn that Peter loses his cool and makes a rash move. This is part one of the tale after all, the characters have to make some mistakes.

As far as the craft of the issue, there is an odd misstep that I’ll address — you don’t need a not-so-subtle dig at the Bush administration followed by Wolverine and Spider-Man fist bumping. That’s unnecessary.

The team behind the Spider-Man books have consistently created the best comics and “event” story lines for the past year, and this issue is a fantastic start to another one.

theunwrittenOwen’s Book of the Month

The Unwritten #1
Mike Carey (w), Peter Gross (a), Chris Chuckry (c). Vertigo Comics.

This is a comic that everybody needs to try. It’s only one dollar and it’s the best read I had all month. In the span of one issue I was introduced to the concept, the characters and got a hint of the conflict to come. That’s how you do a first issue.

Peter Gross does a great job of handling the realistic setting that the main characters inhabit but also of allowing a more fun, fantasy style to the fictional world within the world. Plus, on that note, Mike Carey does fantastic work in creating scenes from both the book within a book and the movie adaptation of that book. That’s no easy task, but each one feels like a work that could be the mega-hit that it is said to be.

Every so often a comic comes along that I really want to get behind and tell everyone to buy. That was the case with Jersey Gods and that’s the case with The Unwritten. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to see what happens next in a comic.

theunwritten-pageMiles’ Book of the Month

The Unwritten #1
Mike Carey (w), Peter Gross (a), Chris Chuckry (c). Vertigo.

As I said in my initial review, I had high expectations for The Unwritten. These expectations were met and exceeded in its first issue. It’s got its hooks in me and I’m really excited to see where this series will go. And that’s exciting. More exciting than most of the mainstream comics out there because you kind of know what will happen: you know who the players are, and what they can do, and that there are limits to what all the characters can or cannot do because they are franchises (or franchises in the making).

Like, Lizzie Hexam who may also be Sue Sparrow: what’s her deal? What is she trying to accomplish? She said she messed up badly last time and has a chance to make it right? What was the mistake?

Also, as usual, Todd Klein, the world’s only famous letterer, does a great job with the text. There are a lot of font switches and each one of them connotes something different. The one interesting choice I noticed was that sometimes when characters said “Tommy Taylor” the words would appear in blue — what’s that all about? Just a simple text change or will it indicate something more profound?

I’m excited to find out.

791573-prv2531_cov_superSandra’s Book of the Month

Irredeemable #2
Mark Waid (w), Peter Krause (a), Andrew Dalhouse (c). Boom Studios.

This series has me very excited. I was hooked three pages into the first issue and this one definitely delivered. This was an issue that sold out before any stores had even opened their doors. See, I’m not the only one raving about it.
Irredeemable #2  goes on to peel away at the layers and further explore the man behind the Plutonian. Kaidan, a former teammate of Plutonian, is assigned to find the Plutonian’s ex-girlfriend in the hopes of perhaps finding out once and for all what made him snap. Alana Patel indeed recalls her relationship with the Plutonian. She recounts her tale of meeting him and falling in love him. She also recalls her memories of Dan Hardigan, a co-worker that one day professed his love for her in a broom closet and revealed that in reality, he was the Plutonian. Unlike what a typical Lois would do, she freaks out and goes on an angry tirade and reveals his identity to everyone around her. The situation leaves the relationship in ruins, but doesn’t seem to be catalyst of his breakdown. It was a mere piece of the puzzle.

The art by Peter Krause and colouring by Andrew Dalhouse is very clean and well suited for the story. There is noticeable effort put into creating the two different feels of the past and present. It really helps to contrast the man that the Plutonian was then, to the man he is now.

I mean, I could tell you a lot more about the series and the issue, but that takes the fun out of reading it yourself. Mark Waid is definitely taking the Superman role and adding his own twist. I mean the Plutonian is no tool and he has reached his breaking point. He’s a dangerous man. By the end of it, you get a glimpse of the story that is to come and it promises to be a very riveting read.

Drag Me To Hell Reviewed

Posted by film On June - 2 - 2009
Loh-man on fire.

Loh-man on fire.

Drag Me to Hell
Directed by Sam Raimi
Universal Pictures/Ghost House Pictures, 2009

By Sean Kelly

Back in the late 1970s, a man named Sam Raimi got together with his high school buddy Bruce Campbell and made a low-budget horror film called The Evil Dead. After the film was released in 1981, it became a huge cult hit, spawning two sequels, and even adapted into a campy musical. Evil Dead launched Sam Raimi’s film career, where he went on to make more genre films culminating with taking the helms on the Spider-Man franchise. Throughout his success, Raimi hasn’t forgotten his horror roots as five years ago he started his own horror production company Ghost House Pictures, which resulted in films such as The Grudge and 30 Days of Night. Now, before he begins production on the fourth Spider-Man film, Raimi returns to his horror roots directing Drag Me to Hell.

Before I talk about the film itself, I believe I should talk briefly about the film’s rating. The official MPAA rating of the film is PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images, and language (for us in Ontario, the rating is 14A for Frightening Scenes, Gory Scenes, and Disturbing Content). The PG-13 rating is almost considered sacrilegious in horror circles and, given Raimi’s history of having mass blood and guts in the Evil Dead films, it might appear that he has given in to the Hollywood corporate machine to make a horror film that would appeal to as mainstream an audience as possible. However, since there have been PG-13 horror films that were truly scary (including the Raimi-produced The Grudge), I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see if the film was truly the “return of true horror” advertised in the trailer.

After seeing the film, I have to say that this line comes more from the studio marketing team’s desire to make a buck than to capture Raimi’s intentions. It quickly became apparent to me during the film’s first major horror sequence that Raimi was seeking to return to the not too serious, campy horror that made the Evil Dead series so beloved (that’s probably not that surprising, since Raimi wrote the script for this film shortly after Army of Darkness and sat on it until now). This type of horror, which in some cases involves Looney Tunes-like goofiness, might alienate those unfamiliar with the campiness of the Evil Dead series who were expecting a more earnest horror film (that trailer message didn’t help). As a big Evil Dead fan, though, I was reeled into the campiness of the film and I had quite a good time. I even thought that the 80s era Universal logo at the start was a nice touch.

I reference Evil Dead continuously because this film would probably be the closest Raimi has gotten to creating a fourth film in that series. In fact, there is a séance scene in the film that feels like a deleted scene from Evil Dead. All that’s missing is the blood and guts, though Raimi does manage to sneak one massive blood spray under the PG-13 rating.

In the lead role, I thought that Alison Lohman did a good job (and though I don’t want to diss Canadians, she was probably the better pick than the original choice, Ellen Page). My only real criticism of casting her is that she looks ten years younger than she really is (something that worked to her favour in Matchstick Men) and, as such, she didn’t appear to be the kind of person that is working as a loan officer in a bank. That aside, she held her own in the horror scenes — including a creepy scene that would make pet-lovers cringe — and even got a few good one-liners in. In addition, even though he will probably be forever known as the “Mac Guy,” Justin Long (whose first major leading role was in the horror film Jeepers Creepers) did a competent job as the sceptical, yet supportive boyfriend.

In the end, Drag Me to Hell was certainly not the return of true horror that it was billed to be. However, it was still a fun campy horror film that will probably make fans wish even more that Sam Raimi grabs Bruce Campbell and makes that fourth Evil Dead film.

New Music Tuesday: June 2, 2009

Posted by MUSIC_Jake On June - 2 - 2009

newBy Jake Shenker

This week sees new releases by three of my favourite artists. Sorry ’bout the severe biases.

Here’s what’s new this week:

Dave Matthews BandBig Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (RCA)
I think I might be the only person who still cares about the Dave Matthews Band. Their last truly excellent album came out in 1998, and in the meantime they’ve released three unacceptably mediocre albums. But now, 11 years since Before These Crowded Streets, DMB has done something good. Big Whiskey isn’t your classic, acoustic-driven Dave Matthews Band: it’s full of electric guitars, glossy production, and succinct tunes. While it might piss off some diehard fans, it’s an undeniably well-made, enjoyable record.

RancidLet the Dominoes Fall (Epitaph)
Rancid is one of the few modern punk bands who have — arguably — never released a disappointing album. Well, their newest effort is much better than “not disappointing” — it’s fantastic. Let the Dominoes Fall has all the energy of previous albums — and its share of double-time drums and scream vocals — but it allows the aging band to explore some new territory. While tracks like “This Place” and “Up to No Good” maintain Rancid’s heavy punk and ska elements, “Civilian Ways” is a truly gorgeous acoustic tune, complete with slide guitar and mandolin. To top it off, the deluxe edition of the record comes with a bonus 12-track disc of acoustic versions of select new songs. In all, a very impressive effort.

Jeff Buckley - Grace Around the World DVD (Sony)
This eagerly anticipated DVD set chronicles Jeff Buckley’s live performances in promotion for his debut album, 1994’s Grace. Though many of these performances have been circulated on bootlegs, Grace Around the World is the first official DVD to compile them, along with previously unreleased videos. If you’re not sold yet, check out the special 3-disc edition of this set, which comes with a CD soundtrack of the film and — the coup de grâce — the as-yet unreleased documentary, Amazing Grace, which documents Buckley’s life and career, pre- and post-Grace, culminating in his untimely death.

Next week: a haiku about how much the Black Eyed Peas piss me off.

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S is for Sleeper

Posted by Comics On June - 2 - 2009

The Alpha Review
By Andrew Uys

I’ve heard that trade paperbacks — a run of comic issues collected into a graphic novel — are all the rage today. But which ones are worth your time? This column aims to put the spotlight on the spectacular trades — at least according to this writer. And just for fun, we will start with the letter “A,” and each subsequent review will follow with the next letter of the alphabet. While you might object to my taste or my opinion, I hope that this column will help save you time and money when you are next buying a trade paperback, as well as effort in alphabetizing.

sleeper_outinthecoldS is for Sleeper
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips.
Wildstorm, 2009

Sleeper is a noir style, crime-spy story, mixed with a dash of super-powered characters.  Tough to peg, but great to read.  Originally a mini-series, it was first collected in four trade paperbacks — and is being reprinted into two larger books this year.  Point Blank, the story’s prequel, is not essential to understanding Sleeper, but was just re-released and is also a good TPB to pick up.  The recent series Incognito, by the same creative team, has a very similar feel. If you have read and have enjoyed one of them, then I suggest checking out the others.

Sleeper has a very basic set up, but the story is all in the details.  Secret Agent Holden Carver is undercover, investigating a powerful criminal organization run by super-powered individuals.  The catch is, the man that placed him there — the only one that can redeem Carver’s reputation — is in a coma.

Secret Agent Carver used to work for International Operations, a shadowy government agency which is part police force, and part black-ops.   When Carver gained a super-human ability, his boss John Lynch decided that Carver was the perfect agent to investigate a growing pattern of criminal cohesion.  Carver — now equipped with the ability to feel no pain, and able to redirect any injury he does sustain into powerful electrical blasts — has his life “burnt”.  His former allies, friends, and lover think he has betrayed them, and joined the other side.  Carver finds himself deep undercover in a ruthless and vicious criminal enterprise run by the enigmatic villain Tao.  Staying alive with your former allies hunting you and your new allies being sadistic criminals is difficult enough, but when Lynch is attacked and falls into a coma, there seems to be no way out.  The plot twists and turns fast, and every time Carver thinks he can see his way clear, he is dragged back in.

Ed Brubaker is known for his work on Captain America, Daredevil, and Criminal — all of which have a noir-crime feel to them.  His writing never disappoints, and both his characters and their dialogue immerse you in the world he is creating.  Sean Philips’ art is equally amazing, perfectly accentuating Brubaker’s plots.  Everything has muted, dark tones, and yet each character is perfectly detailed — even if they are only a smile in the shadows.

Brubaker and Philips’ new series Incognito is the conceptual opposite to Sleeper: about a bad guy in witness protection. Both books shares a similar feel but explore good and evil and grey in different and exciting ways.  This is a dark and dangerous world, filled with edgy, doomed people, who forever struggle to succeed, only to have their hopes crash down around them.

Sleeper is a must-read for anyone who wants their comics to have a little bite.  This isn’t a world of super-heroes in spandex, and of good versus evil.  Sleeper is about having to make tough choices, where every decision seems to chip away at your soul.  While I would suggest trying to track down the original TPBs, I don’t think they are in print anymore — my copies were hard enough to find.  The new ‘two-volumes-in-one’ trade paperbacks will be released very soon, and will be one of the best reads you can hope for this year.

Pixar’s Up Reviewed

Posted by film On May - 29 - 2009

UpUp
Directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
Pixar, 2009

By Miles Baker

Up is a story that you want to share with people. I want my family and friends to see it because I think they’ll like it. I think everybody should like this. I don’t know what’s not to like. I want to see it again. Right now. It’s the kind of movie that if you heard someone say they didn’t like it, you’d think less of that person. It’s a serious lapse in taste to dislike Up.

The writing is so sharp. Nothing is said that doesn’t build character or move the plot — and there’s a nice balance of both. Every action scene has the intensity of the door chase in Monsters Inc. and just as much of the fun. Though it is a little unrealistic that an old man can take that much falling down and getting thrown out of things, but we’re watching a story about a house that floats with helium balloons — we’re talking some liberties with reality.

And what a moment that is. The sight of Carl’s house being lifted by thousands of colourful balloons is such a magical moment. It’s a moment of true awe in an age where we think the word means explosions.

Ed Asner does an amazing job as Carl. He brings such a great mix of heart and heartlessness to the character that you can’t help but love him. His origin story is beautiful and made me misty. For the first 15 minutes of the film Carl is completely silent. You fall in love with Carl because of what he does, and it’s so powerful. Without words, Up is able to connect you to its main characters, so wait until you meet Dug the dog with a collar that talks for him. It’s one of the funniest introductions to a character I’ve ever seen. Everything he does makes you laugh or cry or both. I love Dug. And his name is Dug! It’s so funny and cute my heart hurts. Get used to that feeling — heart pain I mean — because this film is filled with moments that make your heart hurt with joy.

And you have to see this in 3-D because it’s artfully directed. When the scenes are quiet, the look is a little flatter, has less depth, is further away from you. When the characters are excited, everything is bigger, big as can be. It’s an effective choice as Carl’s house feels small at first, but then much larger as his adventure begins. It’s so subtle, but very effective. The colours are a treat as is the quality of the animation and lighting. It’s all carefully chosen to create the most amount of wonder in the audience.

It’s a story I think parents should show their kids to make them better people. I feel better for having seen it. Go in with high expectations because they will be met and then exceeded.

Making Fun of Newfs (As Only Newfs Can)

Posted by art On May - 29 - 2009

Dance Party of Newfoundland
Performed by Phil Churchill, Steve Cochrane, Jonny Harris, and Susan Kent
May 21-24, 2009 @ Factory Theatre (part of the Performance Spring Festival)

By Matt McGeachy

A spunky and irreverent comedy troupe, Dance Party of Newfoundland’s skit sets — presented as part of the Performance Spring Festival at Factory Theatre — were fresh, delightfully ironic, and at times wonderfully wicked.

This troupe makes fun of Newfs as only Newfs can, or are allowed to.  Beginning with a skit where a Newfoundlander brings his new wife to meet his family in an isolated coastal town with true Shakespearean dialects, followed by an old woman talking about the joys of molestation money, these comedians are not afraid of political incorrectness.

Whereas a less talented (or funny) group would have seriously offended even the most irreverent among us with the molestation gig — my god, did I just write “molestation gig?” — DPN skillfully treads on some dangerous topics.

Among the best of the night were: the man-cats, where two grown men behaved like cats in a fashion instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever owned one; Pervlerte, the sexy Spanish guitar maestro, who — no joke — licked a member of the audience; Chinesus, an Asian-fusion version of Jesus who was upset that Mary Magdalene and Timothy have taken up together since his crucifixion; and the translating of an extreme Cockney English accent.

Punctuated with Newf-inspired musical themes from the international rock sensations “The Sons of Our Fathers”, the entire evening was good, heady, Canadian humour.  In what other country would a group of hosers on the pogey, planning their holidays to Latin America on their Blackberries, elicit a string of laughter from an audience?

The woman sitting behind me had it all right when she said through laughter, “I thought I knew where they were going with that, but I was all wrong!”

The unexpected musings of Dance Party of Newfoundland were a treat — the troupe offers up the droll sense of humour for which this country is famous.  It doesn’t make your gut hurt from laughter, but it sure does tickle your funny bone.

MONDOcomics #4: May 27, 2009 [UPDATED]

Posted by Comics On May - 29 - 2009

mar092530dThe Amazing Spider-Man #595
Joe Kelly (w), Phil Jimenez (p), Andy Lanning (i) Chris Chuckry (c). Marvel Comics.

There are a lot of great things about this comic, but maybe the best is the title page, where Harry Osborn and Peter Parker look up at Avengers Tower from Central Park. No, there’s no cool character flying to the tower itself or anything. And, yes, the architecture is a bit out there. Honestly, a pretty normal set-up scene, but it’s a perspective too few of us indulge in — looking up and seeing the world around us. It gives a whole new appreciation for the idea of a guy swinging around fifty stories up. It’s real and surreal at the same time, an amazing moment. There’s a cool Wolverine appearance and homage to Amazing Spider-Man #39 too, so go get it already. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Miles’ Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

avengers-initiative-24Avengers: The Initiative #24
Christos N. Gage (w), Huberto Ramos (a), José Marzan Jr. (i), Marvel Comics

I’ve been very frustrated with Marvel lately for continually putting Humberto Ramos on comics I like, from Mike Carey’s X-Men to Runaways and now on Avengers: the Initiative. It’s not that I don’t like a cartoony style; it’s that I don’t like a cartoony style when it’s expressionless, unclear and has a poor sense of anatomy. For an example of this have a look at the first splash page of this issue: I stared at this page for several minutes and I still don’t really understand what’s going on. Maybe the writing was good, I don’t know. I just know that I can’t stand to look at this artwork. Please, Marvel, please stop putting Ramos on books I like. It just makes me sad. — Owen Craig

Owen’s Rating: 2 out of 5

avengers-invaders-11Avengers/Invaders #11 (of 12)
Alex Ross and Jim Krueger (w), Steve Sadowski and Patrick Berkenkotter (p), Tom Mason (c). Marvel Comics.

There are moments in this book that are really sappy, but when they work they work. Like having WW2 era Bucky tell Iron Man “It’s too bad my Cap wasn’t around in your era. I think you two would have been great friends.” I’m a sucker for sweet odes to friendship, I guess? Wolverine yelling “Avengers Assemble” on the last page doesn’t do anything for me though. Could have something to do with how he prefaced it with a “know I’m not supposed to say this now in this time, but…” It’s really clunky writing, forcing bits you think sound cool together that don’t work. Bucky chronicling the adventure in a note pad is cute — a classic sidekick thing to do — but not the best representation to sell Bucky to modern audiences. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

tnbftankies02covcassadayBattlefields: The Tankies #2 of 3
Garth Ennis (w), Carlos Ezquerra (p), Hector Ezquerra (i), Tony Avina (c). Dynamite Entertainment.

So it seems I’ve been picking up a lot of Ennis’ work and the only reason for that is because it’s great. His characters are well-developed and show a lot of personality. With the creation of Battlefields, Ennis has really been able to create a niche for himself writing war comics. He pushes the preconceived notions that have developed over the years in terms of the weaponry and the tactics used in war. In this mini he explores and defies the once widely held belief that tanks were invincible weapons. Ezquerra’s art is fantastic and really matches Ennis’ edgy writing. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 4 out of 5

thehoodDark Reign: The Hood #1
Jeff Parker (w), Kyle Holtz (a), Frank Martin (c). Marvel Comics

I picked up the original Hood mini-series because Brian K. Vaughan wrote it. That was the only reason behind it. I liked it, not BKV’s strongest work but a good heist story with a cool concept. When Brian Michael Bendis gave the character a huge push in New Avengers I was surprised and disappointed that so few threads of the original mini-series were picked up. The Hood seemed like a totally different character. Well, not anymore. This is the sequel to The Hood and it’s a really good one so far. It settles you back into Parker Robbinson’s — The Hood’s — life, complete with supporting cast and the return of a character that I never thought I’d see again. So, if you read and enjoyed the first Hood I recommend reading this series. If you skipped BKV’s The Hood it’s worth going back, if only to read this. — Miles Baker

Miles’ Rating: 4 out of 5

ghost-rider-35Ghost Rider #35
Jason Aaron (w), Terry Moore (a), Marvel Comics

I still can’t believe it. Ghost Rider is fan-bloody-tastic. I know I’ve covered this territory before, but I’m still in shock. Moving on, this issue is gross, in the best possible way. An absolutely creepy new (right? I’ve never heard of her before, but correct me if I’m wrong) villain is introduced and madness ensues. Tony Moore draws the Hell out of it and Jason Aaron does what he does best: writes some kickass scenes. If you’ve ever said to yourself “Ghost Rider sucks, I’m not buying that” then just remember…I’ve said that too. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

gotham-gazetteGotham Gazette: Batman Alive? #1
Fabian Nicieza (w); Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, Chriscross, Jamie McKelvie, Alex Konat and Mike McKenna (a); Guy Major and Guillem March (c). DC Comics.

It’s hard to go wrong with so much packed into a book like this: something will grab your eye. The last page has a Dustin Nguyen version of the classic “leaping Batman in front of a bolt of lighting” and it’s hard to deny how great that is. The art in the Leslie Thompkins story is far too bright for Gotham, a problem Robin had before it was cancelled (just readying for the relaunch folks). The story from Vicki Vale’s perspective (art by Guillem March) should have been the whole focus of the comic, nicely showcasing the Bat-family with their new status quo while Vale is busy figuring out the double identity thing. Of course March’s artwork is beautiful. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

green-lantern-41Green Lantern #41
Geoff Johns (w), Philip Tan & Eddy Barrows (p), Jonathan Glapion, Ruy José & Julio Ferreira (i), DC Comics

This is sad. Johns is telling a great story here but it’s a story I’ve found a little bit meandering since the Sinestro Corps War. In this chapter Johns finds his focus and really delivers an emotional punch that I thought worked beautifully, but the art slightly ruined it for me. I don’t know what was going on here, but I don’t think the penciller(s) is (are) to blame. I don’t know too much about the process of inking and colouring, but something happened to give the art in this issue an incredibly inconsistent feel. One panel the lines were clean and clear, the next they were sketchy and gritty and in some panels there was even a pastel-like style going on. Any of these are fine choices in their own right, but switching between them seemingly at random and a last page which featured ALL THREE STYLES ON ONE PAGE completely undercut what should have been a great last page. It’s a pity; this could’ve been a great issue. Ivan Reis and “The Blackest Night” can’t get here fast enough. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3 out of 5

igcityIgnition City #3 of 5
Warren Ellis (w), Gianluca Pagliarani (a), Chris Dreier (i), Digicore Studios (c). Avatar Press.

There is something to be said about Warren Ellis and his writing abilities. I’m a huge fan of his online series Freak Angels and have become a fan of this mini-series as well. He creates new worlds through the establishment of complex stories within new cities that you just want to explore. In this series, Mary Raven’s been asking some dangerous questions about the death of her father, Rock. She finds herself at the end of some smoking ray guns trying to keep herself from getting killed. I’m excited. There is one problem though, the art just doesn’t do the story justice. I actually had a hard time reading the last issue because the art bothered me so much. Nevertheless, the story matters more to me, so I still love the series. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 4 out of 5

hercules-129The Incredible Hercules #129
Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (w), Ryan Stegman (p), Terry Pallot (i), Marvel Comics

If you like awesomeness then this book is for you. If hate kickass fight scenes, hilarious dialogue and amazing characters then maybe give this comic a pass. Because seriously, every issue of this comic is golden. This journey into Hades is taking the comic’s “fun with mythology” approach to new heights. If you’re not buying this comic then what is wrong with you? — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4 out of 5

jsa-27Justice Society of America #27
Jerry Ordway (w+p), Bob Wiacek (i), Hi-Fi Design (c). DC Comics.

Now that Geoff Johns is off JSA, I was wondering whether or not I’d like to keep buying it. I don’t get Justice League, but two pages into this and I remembered I like these characters. That Atom-Smasher somehow imprinted himself on my heart (I hated this guy before) and now he’s centre stage, and for this issue trying to get on Bibbo Bibbowski’s good side, so that’s another blast from the past right there. Or it would be if I didn’t read all those Superman: Man of Steel trades recently. This book got a couple of laughs from me. In fact, it just got feelings out of me in general: worried about Stargirl being possessed, frustrated at Obsidian’s quiet recalcitrance, and understanding Hourman’s fear. This is a good comic, I hope Willingham can follow suit when he takes it over. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 2 out of 5

animal-man-1

The Last Days of Animal Man #1
Gerry Conway(w), Chris Batista(p), Dave Meikis (i), DC Comics

I love Animal Man. So if any of you are wondering who this book is aimed at, look no further. The big question, though, is how did this Animal Man fan like the book? Honestly, quite a lot. Conway does a great job with the character of an aging Buddy Baker, an intriguing new villain is introduced and Conway takes the time to set up the future world of Buddy Baker before he marches in the future DCU guest stars (a wise move). The art is great, clean and detailed, and the Brian Bolland cover is amazing. My only real complaint is the cliffhanger. We’ve seen it. Many times. In fact, we just saw an almost identical cover in last month’s Superman (not that that’s Conway’s fault). I loved the book, but nothing about that ending has me chomping at the bit for the next issue. But honestly, fans of superhero stories should be checking this out. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

literals-2The Literals #2
Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges (w), Mark Buckingham (p), Andrew Pepoy (i), Vertigo Comics

Now this is more like it. Just when I was feeling ready to give up on this storyline an issue comes along and nails down what should have been nailed down many issues ago. After parts 1-5 wasted time making jokes about storytelling and genre while portraying the Fables-verse characters mucking about outside their respective books this issue does what I’ve been waiting for: all of that PLUS progressing the plot. Toss in Mark Buckingham’s art and you’ve got yourself a solid book. Bravo, gents. Now bring it home in the final three parts. — Owen Craig

Owen’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

northlandersNorthlanders #17
Brian Wood (w), Vasilis Lolos (a), Dave McCaig (c). Vertigo

If you’ve been looking for a new series to pick up, you could do a lot worse than Northlanders and this issue in particular. As an introduction to the series, this issue is pretty much perfect because it has all the elements that make Northlanders great. The entire issue is about two men fighting in a circle as a ritual. The captions explain the practice while giving you inside into the men desperately trying to stay alive and kill their opponent. The fight is gruesome and realistically portrays how hard it would be to kill a man with an axe or a sword. But what makes the issue more than an illustrated text book is how well the characters are written. They don’t speak a lot in the issue, but the details that Wood gives about their lives are interesting and makes the whole thing so very human.

Miles’ Rating: 4 out of 5

nova-25Nova #25
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (w), Kevin Sharpe (p), Jeffrey Huet and Nelson Pereira (i) Bruno Hang (c). Marvel Comics.

I didn’t even realize this was an issue #25 until after I’d read it: they don’t make a big deal about it which is refreshing. Of course, Nova has always been about telling a good story, so I shouldn’t be surprised that Abnett and Lanning eschewed faux anniversary conventions. This issue has Richard Rider find out what’s wrong with Worldmind and how to fix it. Awesome, so now it’ll be, what? Another two issues before everything is resolved and the next story arc can happen? Oh, wait, they solve the problem in this issue too? That’s good pacing. They also answer the question about whether Rider will lose his sanity upon regaining the incredible power of the Nova force: “Nah, you seem to cope okay.” That’s pretty funny.  — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 4 out of 5

runawaysRunaways #10
Christopher Yost and James Asmus (w), Sara Pichelli and Emma Rios (a), Christina Strain (c). Marvel Comics

Yay, the Runaways are back! It’s been a rough couple of years for my favourite comic teens: Whedon’s came out incredibly slow, then Terry Moore just missed the mark completely. He wrote them as dumber than they all were and that was the biggest piss off as a fan. When you know your characters are smarter than they are being written. Well, thankfully, the smart has returned to Runaways and they’re celebrating with two stories in issue 10. The lead story is definitely the stronger of the two, plus we get to see new series artist Sara Pichelli take a first crack at drawing the kids – she does a wonderful job. She reminds me of original series artist Adrian Alphona in a really good way. The second story is fun, but doesn’t flow as well. There are parts where  I wasn’t sure what was happening. However, Asmus writes the kids well — just the way nature intended. — Miles Baker

Miles Rating: 4 out of 5
Owen’s Rating: 4 out of 5

short-halloweenSpider-Man: The Short Halloween #1
Bill Hader and Seth Meyers (w), Kevin Maguire (a), Dean White (c). Marvel Comics.

For those of you unfamiliar with the reference, the title’s a take on Batman: The Long Halloween, a story which I rather enjoy. That’s just the start of some of the fun comic type references you find in this book. When a couple of guys dressed as the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus get into a fight with the REAL Spider-Man you get such moments as “Hey Spider-Man, read any good books lately?” before tipping over a bookcase which doesn’t come near Spidey. And then there’s Doc Ock swearing revenge when Spider-Man leaves (he’s really in character). It’s supposed to be pretty goofy — and yeah it is — but it’s a sweet adventure where a villain decides he’s a hero and a bumbling Spider-Guy finds redemption (to a degree) with his friends. I was thinking how it’d be cool to see Kevin Maguire do a Spider-Man comic, but that he’d be wasted with the full face mask — I should have trusted him to know his strengths, the final panel is an unmasked Spidey with a simple smile. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SM Cv688 dsSuperman #688
James Robinson (w), Renato Guedes (p), José Wilson Magalhâes (i), DC Comics

If anyone has been saying to themselves “where is that James Robinson who wrote Starman, I want to read more of his work” then look no further. I, too, have been reading Robinson’s latest DC work, hoping that some of it would live up to the greatness that is his Starman run. After some pretty decent (but not spectacular) issues over the last year his work on Superman has broken through and reached the heights I’ve been waiting for. This issue is terrific. It won’t be for everyone, it is a quiet issue after all. There’s not much in the way of fights (although there are some), but there is some well-written character interaction, some philosophy from the guards of a secret door and a quiet moment for Mon-El as he comes to an important decision. I would call that a winning issue. — Owen Craig

Owen’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

teen-titans-71Teen Titans #71
Sean McKeever (w), Yildiray Cinar (p), Julio Ferreira (i), Rod Reis (c). DC Comics.

This issue follows Ravager and the fallout from the “Death Trap” storyline that I didn’t like. It’s a back and forth of her deciding whether or not to stick around with the team, even though she actively dislikes the leader. The indecision and ultimately Ravager’s leaving is all pretty standard fair, however a showdown with another member, Bombshell, to see whether she will stick by the team shows an interesting depth to Ravager’s character — she’s, at least, protective of her “friends.” The art is a big improvement in this issue over the last few. — Isaac Mills

Isaac’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

wonderwomanWonder Woman #32
Gail Simone (w), Aaron Lopresti (a), Matt Ryan (i). DC Comics.

So I’ve been reading Wonder Woman, not because I’m on love with the series, but more because I don’t want to stop until this story arc is finished. There is something about it that keeps me from being able to completely relate to her as character. Maybe it’s just me. Regardless, the story has been consistently picking up and it’s great to see Wonder Woman kick some serious Genocide ass. She comes to terms with the duty that she has as a protector of the human species, but keeps intact the essence of who she is at the same time. It’s a complicated balance and constant struggle, but she’s doing her best. — Sandra Yao

Sandra’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

x-forceX-Force #15
Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle (w), Clayton Crain (a). Marvel Comics

Thankfully, this issue finally moves the plot a little. However, even though the plot has moved, the writing seems unable to raise the stakes at all. I don’t feel any danger for Hope or Thunderbird while they’re captives of Stryfe. The writers haven’t given me a reason not to think that they both won’t be skipping out of there in a couple issues’ time completely unscathed. And someone really needs to give me a reason to care about Bishop’s plan, it’s infuriating that no one has really bothered to explain it (perhaps they did in that Bishop mini-series, but if they wanted anyone to buy it they wouldn’t have put Larry Stroman on the art). Also, can someone tell me what Cable’s powers are? He’s a revolving door of mutant abilities. On the upside, there’s a really good last page that makes me want to read the next issue. — Miles Baker

Miles Rating: 2.5 out of 5

xmen224_cov_100X-Men Legacy #224
Mike Carey (w), Scott Eaton (p), Andrew Hennessy (i), Brian Reber (c). Marvel Comics

The end of the “Salvage” arch brings about some interesting changes to Rogue and Danger, two characters who never really interested me before but do now. This arch really served as the “pass the torch between Xavier and Rogue as the lead of X-Men Legacy and served that job well. Carey writes both characters with intelligence and pathos and an amazing comprehension of where they come from. He seems to know everything about the X-Men, even the terrible stuff. The biggest weakness of this issue (and really the whole arc) is that Carey’s Shiar villains weren’t very compelling. They’re drugged up space pirates, and while that sounds cool it isn’t. I feel they had no resonance with the characters. However, it’s still a solid series and I’m looking forward to what Carey will do with next. — Miles Baker

Miles Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Fashion Profile: n.s. designs

Posted by art On May - 26 - 2009

ns-designs-desolateBy Helen Fylactou

Fashion designer Natalie Simms, with her perpetual smile and her bright red hair, is a breath of fresh air in the fashion industry.  She first exploded onto the scene in 2006 with her own design company.  Based out of Toronto, n.s designs draws inspirations from music and nature.

Simms’ street fashion designs can be worn right off the runway. The Hot White Night collection encompasses designs for men and women. Using light linens, and with a hint of bold colour, the garments are natural. The slim pants are tailoring with perfect line making the cut incredibly flattering. Simms has mastered the art of screen printing: n.s. designs makes its mark by customizing all the designs with graphic prints. Simms explains her dedication and love for the process of design as “satisfying and liberating” — her designs a therapeutic expression of art.

In addition to the Hot White Night collection, Simms’ 2007 Swing Tanzen Verboten collection makes you see and feel the connection between self and landscape. These designs are filled with earth tones and warm colours. Always remembering the body’s silhouette, the garments have a crisp lightness and daring prints. Simms’ design motto: “keep it very wearable but with funky details and a hint of sophistication that can be a bit unexpected, but still work.”

My personal favourite collection from n.s. designs is the Desolate collection. The collection was created for an avant-garde fashion show. The dresses range from the “little black dress” with a boat-cut neck line to hooded dresses with an open front (for the more adventurous woman).

Beyond giving the world something more than skinny jeans and leggings, n.s. designs is creating versatile collections for the everyday man and woman. With collections varying from cotton skirts to fluid-shaped dresses to silk blouses, this up-and-coming designer’s appealing and flattering apparel is gaining the attention of industry professionals. Such intrigue has allowed Simms to break into a competitive industry and to showcase her signature style.ns-designs-whitens-designs-swing

Natalie Simms and n.s. designs will be at The Creators‘ Marketplace Show & Sale, taking place on May 31 from 10am-6pm at the Thornhill Community Centre Hall (7755 Bayview Avenue). This one-day event will showcase original and handmade work from artists and craftspeople of all types, such as comic art, fine art, jewellery, food, clothing, photography, toys and more. One dollar from every admission fee, plus proceeds from a silent auction, will be donated to the Hospital for Sick Children’s Foundation.

New Music Release Tuesday: May 26, 2009

Posted by MUSIC_Jake On May - 26 - 2009

imgBy Jake Shenker

Yes, it’s that time of week — New Release Tuesday! This week, MONDOmusic introduces a new weekly feature designed to help you spend your hard-earned paycheck on shiny new CDs (or digital downloads, if you run with the cool crowd).

Here’s what’s new this week:

Grizzly BearVeckatimest (Warp)
These guys opened for Radiohead last summer, and despite that ridiculously high-profile exposure, I couldn’t help but feel bad for Grizzly Bear. They did their best and put on an interesting show, but the cutthroat Radiohead fans were having none of it. Grizzly Bear got booed, they got ignored, and I’m pretty sure someone chucked something at them. Do these guys a favor and check out their Arcade Fire-flavoured record — they’ve earned it.

Marilyn MansonThe High End of the Low (3D)
That’s right, a fresh new way to scare children and another album on which to blame senseless violence. The High End of the Low is an earnest effort to sneak Marilyn Manson back into the mainstream, and… it’s actually not bad. You’ve got the usual Manson sound, but a good chunk of this record is infused with a classic Nine Inch Nails-meets-Beck sound. If that comparison just blew your mind, go give this record a listen.

PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glassnote)
I’ll be honest, there’s nothing here I haven’t heard a hundred times before — Phoenix’s new record is another album full of potential background music for iPod commercials, but that doesn’t make it boring. If you like The Kooks or Jet, go have a listen.

Next week: I shower undue praise on the new Dave Matthews Band album.

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Found in the Back-Issue Bins

Posted by Comics On May - 26 - 2009

amazing-spider-manBy Owen Craig

One of the most fun things about being a comic book fan is getting to rummage through back-issue looking for the collector’s version of buried treasure. Recently I was at Dragon Lady, a neat store with some old comics and magazines checking out their 30-50% off sale and walked home with a great haul. Let’s take a quick look at what I bought.

Amazing Spider-Man #162

Nightcrawler was guest-starring in Amazing Spider-Man with The Punisher…I dunno, seemed like fun to me.devil-dinosaur

Devil Dinosaur
#1

Devil Dinosaur. It’s a comic about a giant red tyrannosaurus. Not only that, but it’s a Jack Kirby-created red tyrannosaurus with a monkey-man sidekick. This a slam-dunk.

house-of-mysteryThe House of Mystery #249

I bought this one based on the amazingness of the dialogue on the cover. “No! NO! You were just a voice on a record!” “Yes! The voice of your DOOM!” That’s fantastic. I miss dialogue on the covers of my comics these days. It still happens once in a while, and I always appreciate it when it does. I can only hope that the story inside this issue is as much fun as the cover. Plus it features two terrifying tales. Two!

thorThe Mighty Thor #364-366

Ever since I heard of Frog Thor I knew I had to own those issues. Thor is turned into a frog, awesomeness ensues. If you’re reading Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers (and if you aren’t then why not?) and want to know where the concept of Frog Thor originated then this is what you need to track down.

uncle-scroogeUncle Scrooge #300

I’m a huge Uncle Scrooge fan, so it’s hard to resist a cover like this one where Don Rosa draws a bunch of characters from Scrooge’s past. The issue also reprints some great stories I hadn’t read.

worlds-finestWorld’s Finest #289

This is the famous (on the internet) issue of World’s Finest that I read about on The Invincible Super-Blog and had to check out for myself. Sure enough, Superman and Batman are engaging in long handshakes, reaching out gently for each other and helping alien creatures mate. It’s awesome. They make a cute couple.

I can’t remember the last time I walked away with a stack of comics I was so pleased with. Feel free to recommend great old comics for me to look for next time I’m doing some rummaging through back-issue bins.

Comics I’ll Buy in August

Posted by Comics On May - 26 - 2009

By Miles Baker

The advance solicitations for books from Wildstorm, Vertigo, DC and Marvel are out now. Here’s most of what I’ll be buying that month.

From DC/Wildstorm/Vertigo:

WEDNESDAY COMICS #5-8
This still looks really impressive. Huge talent and a unique format. I hope it’s good because my expectations are high.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #3
I’ve promised some good friends I will at least try this opening arc. I’m excited for it.

DETECTIVE COMICS #856
Man, the cover for this looks so awesome. I’m so pumped for this series.

THE SPIRIT BOOK TWO TPB
Actually, I already have this in hardcover, but if I didn’t I’d be totally buying this. If you want to see how The Spirit should have been adapted for the big screen you should read Darwyn Cooke’s take on the character, which wrapped up last year.

SLEEPER SEASON TWO TPB
I’m so pumped for this to come out. Sleeper is one of my favourite comics of all time. It’s about a spy in deep cover named Holden Carver. He’s infiltrated a super-villain crime syndicate, getting pretty high up, when his handler — the only one who knows he’s an undercover operative — gets shot and is put in a coma. Carver is left out in the cold and desperately wants back. It basically asks whether a good guy who does terrible things in the name of good still gets to be a good guy. This volume concludes the Sleeper story and it’s one helluva ending.

AIR #12
I’m thinking of bumping this from a “wait for the trade” to a monthly pick up. Hmm… undetermined.

THE UNWRITTEN #4
The first issue of this came out last week and it was good as I was hoping it would be. This could be the start of Vertigo’s new flagship title.

YOUNG LIARS #18
Tear. This is the last issue of Vertigo’s craziest series. Rock, alien spiders, transvestites, post-modernism: what’s not to love?

From Marvel:

DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING #3 (of 3)
I’ll make the final call on this purchase after I’ve seen some previews, but I really like that Jae Lee cover.

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #1
Ultimate Spider-Man was a consistently great title, and this new re-start could prove to be as great. From what I’ve seen, I also really like David LaFuente’s art. I’ll give at least this first issue a shot.

UNCANNY X-MEN #514 and DARK AVENGERS #8
Matt Fraction’s Utopia crossover interests me even if it will probably result in the current Uncanny storyline (which I am enjoying quite a bit) being disrupted.

X-FACTOR #47
I’m so glad I stuck with this series through the rough times, because Peter David has hit his stride again. A great balance of misery and humour, and I’m excited to see how this “Cortex” storyline wraps up.

X-FORCE #18
I’ll buy this as long as Mike Choi does the art for it. It has good writing, but the regular series artist really turns me off.

X-MEN LEGACY #227
Mike Carey didn’t let me down with the first year of X-Men Legacy, so I don’t know why he’d start doing it now.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA OMNIBUS HC
Killing Captain America was the best thing Captain America ever did.

PUNISHER: WAR ZONE TPB
The team behind Preacher takes on Marvel’s most gun-happy character. And there are a lot of gun-happy characters in the Marvel U. This is a purchase based entirely on who is making it rather than what is in it.

REBORN #2 (of 5)
Secret project of mystery is still being written by Ed Brubaker, so I’m  still going to buy it.

THE MARVELS PROJECT #1 (of 8)
Yeah, I have a deep man-love for Brubaker, and considering this re-teams him with Steve Epting, I can’t wait.

THUNDERBOLTS #135
I don’t usually buy Thunderbolts, but Nick Fury is on the cover of this comic and I really like Nick Fury. So… yeah… I’m weak.

DAREDEVIL #500
It seems like only a year ago that Daredevil was celebrating #100 — oh, wait, that was only a year ago. I’m not a big fan of this combining new and original numbering to manufacture an anniversary issue. However, I am a big fan of Daredevil and this looks like it will conclude the amazing “Return of the King” storyline.

RUNAWAYS #13
I’m so happy that I’ll be back to buying Runaways again. I met Kathryn Immonen briefly at TCAF and got the feeling she’s really excited about the book.

SECRET WARRIORS #7
This title gets better with every issue. Marvel was right to hype Jonathan Hickman as their new star.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #28
“Guest-starring the YOUNG AVENGERS!” Yay! I love those kids.

NEW AVENGERS #56
Just when I think I’m out, they pull be back in with a far superior interior artist.

DARK REIGN: THE HOOD #4 (of 5)
If this series is half as good as the original Brian K. Vaughan series, then it will still be pretty damn good.

DARK REIGN: MISTER NEGATIVE #3 (of 3)
Damn those attractive Jae Lee covers!

MYSTIC COMICS #1 70
This is written and drawn by David Lapham so it’s pretty much a no brainer that I’ll pick this one up.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #601-3

Even though issue 601 has a gross cover by J. Scott Campbell, I’m really excited for the return of Mary Jane in the Amazing Spider-Man comics. They’ve been teasing her arrival for over a year now and I’m curious to see what the payoff will be.

Summer Movie MegaCalendar: June – Part Two

Posted by film On May - 26 - 2009

By Caesar Martini and Brian Last

Remember I told you that we’d be seeing a smaller crew for now? Well here we have it — prolific newcomer Brian Last and the irascible Caesar Martini have returned to weigh in with their takes on June’s big releases. The guys have more optimism for Pelham but uncertainty and conflict remain the only staples in pre-assessing Year One. Read on, enjoy, and throw your voices into the mix!

JUNE 5th

The Hangover

But how will THEY get HERE?

But how will THEY get HERE?

Caesar:

I love the premise of this movie — three buddies (Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper) wake up from a bachelor party bender in Vegas with no memory of the previous night, and no groom. The trio try to piece together what happened and find their missing man in time for his wedding. I think everyone can relate to this plot — after all, who amongst us hasn’t woken up with Mike Tyson in their living room singing “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins? That guy’s a menace. Collins, I mean, not Tyson.

Brian:

Todd Phillips, who has brought us such classics as Old School, Starsky and Hutch, and Road Trip, is back with another comedy. His last film, School for Scoundrels, did not do so well, perhaps because he moved away from his Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, and Ben Stiller bubble, something Judd Apatow may want to think about when people start to get tired of Seth Rogen. Phillips has a new crew of funny, talented guys to work with and I think the audience will enjoy them. The trailer had me laughing and I doubt very much the funniest bits were in the trailer. I believe that there is a whole lot more hilarity in store for this film.

JUNE 12th

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The thrilling 123rd installment in the epic Taking of Pelham series.

The thrilling 123rd installment in the epic Taking of Pelham series.

Caesar:

John Travolta, in badass mode, takes a subway train hostage and starts using subway traffic conductor Denzel Washington as a relay station for his demands.

There are a lot of Travolta-haters out there, and to be honest I can’t blame them. He’s Scientology’s #2 celebrity and is in as many terrible movies as he is good ones. Plus he can fly his own private jet, so there’s always the worry of a Travolta-From-Above sneak attack. But Denzel hasn’t done anything wrong in what seems like forever, and when he teams up with director Tony Scott usually something pretty good happens. And I do like me a good heist movie.

Brian:

Denzel plays Walter Garber, an ordinary dispatcher for the New York city transit system. When Ryder (Travolta) hijacks a train, things escalate into an intense face off as Garber has to be extraordinary and rise to the call to end this ordeal.

Director Tony Scott is back with another crime caper that will take the audience on an adventure that will thrill and entertain them. He’s armed with an all-star cast that also includes Luis Guzman, Jon Turturro, and James Gandolfini — perfect choices to work within Scott’s always sharp, mile-a-minute style of directing. It will be interesting to see how he tackles remaking a highly praised film. I predict a solid film that is smart and intriguing with Tony Scott‘s signature all over it.

JUNE 19th

Year One

Like VeggieTales for the teen/20's set.

Like VeggieTales for the teen/20's set.

Caesar:

This movie stars Michael Cera and Jack Black (playing pretty much the only characters either of them ever play) having wacky adventures in the distant past. I can’t remember exactly which year. Anyway, this is going to be one of those silly movies that guest stars a whack of people I love to see in silly movies (Paul Rudd, David Cross, and Hank Azaria for starters). I think I will laugh heartily and not be in any danger of learning even the smallest little thing. Hooray!

Plus it’s directed by Egon from Ghostbusters.

Brian:

After two slacker gatherers are kicked out of their village they go on an adventure through the ancient world where they encounter many crazy things. I am not anticipating much from this movie. Even though it has the comedic master Harold Ramis at the helm, you will get the same old jokes that have been done in the past. The only difference is that it is set in the past, so the jokes will be all about that time period, nothing groundbreaking — we’ve all seen The Flintstones, right? Jack Black’s over-the-top goofiness with some elongated words to build to some potential singing, and Cera’s awkward naivety will make for some passable reused entertainment. Even with all of the cameos in this film, it will not be saved.

JUNE 26th

40% more KA-PLOW!

40% more KA-PLOW!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Caesar:

HOLY CRAP. Have you guys seen this preview?? Look at it. Look at it. Michael Bay catches a lot of flack for his directing, and sure, a lot of it is well deserved, but anyone who didn’t enjoy the first Transformers just has a black, black heart, or maybe they just didn’t understand that the movie was about giant awesome transforming robots doing awesome things. I mean, I had complaints about the first movie, but I couldn’t voice them over the gleeful giggling I was suffering from after watching said awesome robots do said awesome things. It’s just a fun, fun movie.

In this sequel, it looks like Devastator comes to Earth (the Voltron-esque construction-vehicle super-Transformer that breaks up into six regular sized Transformers), resurrects Megatron, and a lot more robot fights happen… which is basically all I’m asking for. Tee hee! To borrow from Borat, VERY EXCITE!

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MONDO is a non-profit, weekly, Toronto-based, online magazine that focuses on arts, culture, and humour. We’re interested in art of all kinds (music, theatre, visual art, film, comics, and video games) and the pop culture that we inhabit.The copyright on all MONDO magazine content belongs to the author. If you would like to pay them for more content, please do. To contact MONDO please email us at editor@mondomagazine.net

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