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206. se7en – Halloween 2020 (#20)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Doctor Bernice Murphy and Phil Bagnall, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This week and next week, we are taking a break from our Summer of Scorsese for a Halloween treat. David Fincher’s se7en.

Detective William Somerset is seven days away from retirement, and has just been partnered with a new arrival from outside the city. Detective David Mills has yet to fully adjust to the rules of the urban landscape. However, Somerset’s plans to retire are undercut after a pair of strange deaths point to something sinister simmering below the surface of the city.

At time of recording, it was ranked 20th on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the best movies of all-time.

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Stan Lee & Gene Colan’s Iron Man – The Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 2 (Review/Retrospective)

To get ready for Iron Man 3, we’ll be taking a look at some Iron Man and Avengers stories, both modern and classic. We hope to do two or three a week throughout the month, so check back regularly for the latest update.

The second omnibus contains both the tail end of Stan Lee run on Tales of Suspense and the Archie Goodwin run on The Invincible Iron Man. To make matters easier, I’ve split the review in half. This half covers the end of Stan Lee’s Iron Man.

And so we come to the end of Stan Lee’s work on the character of Iron Man as part of the Tales of Suspense magazine. This part of the run is consistently illustrated by the wonderful Gene Colan, who is among my favourite artists of the era, and Colan’s pencils do a lot to give the tail-end of Lee’s work with Tony Stark a bit of weight and gravitas. Because, as we reach the end of the character’s time as one-half of Tales of Suspense, it’s hard to argue that Lee still hasn’t quite figured out what he wants to do with Iron Man as a character. While Tony Stark’s teething problems are nowhere near as severe as those of The Incredible Hulk, it still feels like the character isn’t gelling nearly as well as he should.

If you can't stand the heat...

If you can’t stand the heat…

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Stan Lee’s Iron Man – The Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Review/Retrospective)

To get ready for Iron Man 3, we’ll be taking a look at some Iron Man and Avengers stories, both modern and classic. We hope to do two or three a week throughout the month, so check back regularly for the latest update.

Working in collaboration with a stable of fantastic artists, Stan Lee created so many iconic characters and franchises at Marvel Comics that you could easily believe that everything he touched turned to gold. His work on The Fantastic Four, Thor and The Avengers with Jack Kirby so perfectly captured the sci-fi spirit of the sixties, and his creation of The Amazing Spider-Man with Steve Ditko redefined comic books, so it’s hard not to imagine that everything Lee set his mind to worked out perfectly.

Of course, inevitably, there were books that didn’t quite work right out of the gate. While his first reboot of Captain America was so awkward that he had to retroactively re-write the stories to feature a crazed Captain America impersonator, a lot of these titles were given the time and space necessary to try to figure out how to make them work. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Lee was quite sentimental towards some of his creations, with the awkward development history of The Incredible Hulk suggesting that Lee was going to try to figure out any way to make that character gel.

The Invincible Iron Man was never quite that troublesome, but he also never entirely clicked under Lee’s pen. While none of the character’s re-tools and re-workings are as severe as the kind of things that Marvel tried to do with the Hulk, there’s a very clear sense – reading this mammoth collection of Tales of Suspense short stories – that Lee wasn’t entirely sure about how to write Iron Man.

I am Iron Man!

I am Iron Man!

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Watch! New Iron Man 3 Trailer!

Iron Man 3 is being released at the end of April, and I’m quite excited. Then again, I actually liked Iron Man 2 a great deal more than the original Iron Man, so what do I know? We’ll be hopefully doing a month of Iron Man related stuff around the release of the film, so check back in April for more Tony Stark goodness. In the meantime, here’s the latest trailer. I’m warming to Ben Kingsley’s accent, but really looking forward to Shane Black’s script and direction.

Watch! An Extensive… errr… Extended Look at Iron Man 3!

You gotta love the Superbowl! Not because of the sports mind you, but because they get all the best adverts. We did The Fast & The Furious 6 earlier, so it’s worth a look at the extended peak at the upcoming Iron Man 3, which I am actually getting quite excited about. Reteaming Robert Downey Jr and Shane Black is reason enough, but an adaptation of Warren Ellis’ Extremis and a fantastic cast are just icing on the cake. Anyway, take a look below.


Non-Review Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow evokes pulp science-fiction cinema with an earnestness and an eagerness that is endearing, if not infectious. Although the special effects have dated significantly in the time since the movie’s release, it’s hard not to admire director Kerry Conron’s use of computer graphics to forge a connection to classic cinema. However, one senses that Conron might have been better suited to emulate the mood, rather than merely the appearance, of these old adventure serials. The problem is that despite its rather wonderfully crafted appearance, there’s never anything in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to really get excited about. And that’s a shame.

A ray of hope?

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Non-Review Review: Contagion

It’s somewhat ironic that the biggest fault with Contagion is that it’s not nearly clinical enough. Soderbergh’s exploration of the impact of a mass pandemic actually works best when the director pulls back to give us a high-level overview of a society collapsing, the individual lives reduced – appropriately enough – to microscopic cells in a larger organism in what might be its death throes. It’s these sequences and shots that are brilliantly effective, demonstrating the systemic and group dynamics that enable and facilitate the spread of a deadly bird flu variant, while the more intimate moments feel awkward and shoehorned in, never afforded enough space to develop character or plot lines. Still, if you pull back and look at the big picture, Soderbergh’s latest effort is an engaging ambitious disaster movie.

One sick picture...

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