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Non-Review Review: Speed

Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?

– Howard tells you everything you need to know

Speed is the quintessential nineties action movie. If you want to look at a movie that typifies what a nineties action film looked like, but does so with an incredible amount of skill (and a reasonable portion of wit), it’s hard to recommend a more obvious choice. It’s a movie that falls apart if you think about it too hard, but director Jan de Bont does an absolutely amazing job making sure that we’re never really looking beyond the next ridiculous plot twist or tension action set piece. More than earning its name, Speed is a movie that runs on enough raw adrenaline that it becomes as easy to overlook the movie’s flaws as it is to it seems to be ride a bus across a fifty-foot gap in a half-constructed bridge. And de Bont manages to make that look really easy.

Can I phone a friend on this "pop quiz"?

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Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers (Review/Retrospective)

With the release of Marvel’s big-budget superhero action movie Thor this summer, we’re taking a month to celebrate the God of Thunder. Check back each Wednesday for a Thor-related review.

One of the slew of hardcovers released to coincide with Kenneth Branagh’s epic adaptation of the classic Marvel comic book Thor, Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is basically just a repackaging of the classic four issue Loki miniseries written by Robert Rodi and painted by Esad Ribic in the nineties. Much like Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, the miniseries was repackaged with a slew of extras and re-released in order to capitalise on a hungry market place. (Luthor, as it was rebranded, was released after the success of the another villain-themed graphic novel from the same creative team, the superb Joker). Still, despite the fact that the “Thor &” part of the title was just stuck on there to tie the book to the film, it’s a lovely little story which perfectly captures a lot of the charm and appeal that the Norse backdrop offers to epic comic book stories.

Commander and (mis)chief...

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Non-Review Review: The Tempest

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Julie Taymor’s Titus. It was a punk rock adaptation of perhaps Shakespeare’s trashiest play, and it was a fusion which just worked. The Tempest, on the other hand, is a very different beast. Far from being one of the Bard’s more easily forgotten plays, it has been one of his most highly regarded since its revival in the nineteenth century. It is, despite some outward cynicism, a far more optimistic and (dare I say it?) lighter piece than the orgy of death and destruction in Titus Andronicus. So Taymor’s skills aren’t quite as perfectly in step as they might be. That said, she’s still a remarkable director with a keen visual sense, and the movie manages to be engaging and entertaining, despite a few missteps.

It's a kinda magic...

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Is Avatar a Revisionist Take on Aliens?

I know this isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s one I’ve been mulling over quite a bit lately – especially since my aunt picked up the Alien Anthology on blu ray for Christmas. It’s been fairly frequently remarked, on-line and in-print that James Cameron’s Avatar bears remarkable similarities to his Aliens. However, it’s not the similarities that interest me, it’s the differences which reveal quite a bit. Most fascinating – at least to me – is the idea that Avatar represents an attempt to revise Cameron’s work on Aliens.

Killer queen...

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Final Crisis (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. Later on today, we’ll be reviewing Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, so I thought I might take a look at a comic book tale which was heavy on Superman, Darkseid and Batman…

This epic elegy for a doomed civilisation, declining from splendor to squalor. This Final Crisis. This last ditch attempt to save creation itself from a loathing and greed beyond measure.

– Grant Morrison outlines the whole point of the book, in case you weren’t paying attention… in a narration which deserves to be read in the most pompously ridiculous style possible

Look, I could hitch a ride back with you. I have a real talent for gritty drama no one’s ever thought to exploit.

– Merryman makes a pitch for “relevance” in the hopes of escaping comic book “limbo”

Destruction or creation. Everything or nothing. A universe full or a universe empty. Life or anti-life. Grant Morrison certainly lives up to his reputation as a frustrating and challenging author – is Final Crisis the statement of a genre looking to make peace with itself, or nonsensical Silver Age surrealism repackaged for a modern world? Is it pretentious or profound? Insightful or devoid of interest? Can’t it be both, or are these mutually exclusive states?

We all knew Obama was Superman…

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The Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. II (Review)

I don’t think it’s really fair to split up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen into two separate volumes. I’d argue that they are instead two halves of the same tale. It’s to the credit of this second storyline that it doesn’t feel like a sequel to the original – it feels like the second half of a circle, closing it out.

Out of this world!

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The Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. I (Review)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is, like most works from writer Alan Moore, a strange beast. Essentially a pulp comic book narrative banding together several iconic fictional characters from Victorian fiction (Allan Quartermain, Mina Murray, Captain Nemo, Hawley Griffin and Edward Jekyll form the main cast), the series is much more than that. Cleverly and insidious cross-referencing and weaving its way through a slew of existing fictional and non-fictional elements. I spent as much time googling a rake of obscure and semi-obscure names and events and locations, all tying back to the great authors at the turn of the last century. How ironic that a pulpy Victorian tale would be perhaps the first classic of the internet age.

Nothing to Hyde...

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Oceanic Airlines, We Salute You…

Lost returned to Sky One recently, for its sixth and final mind-bending season. In the fourth season it was flash-forwards, in the fifth season it was time travel and this year it looks like it’s alternate dimensions. In fact, this season opens with an alternate universe where the Oceanic 815 flight from Sydney never crashed. Yes, there exists a timeline where an Oceanic Airlines flight made it from one side of the world to another. I’m a big fan of linking seemingly disconnected threads from various strands of fiction together – like postulating that Fight Club is a sequel to Calvin & Hobbes – so I was quite impressed to learn that Oceanic Airlines have a long and varied history of aviation disasters across any number of movies and television shows.

Note that flying that low over London is incredibly dangerous... and perfectly in keeping with oceanic's standards of safety...

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