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Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery – Fear Itself (Review/Retrospective)

This March, to celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll be taking a look at some classic and not-so-classic Avengers comic books. Check back daily for the latest updates!

Whatever about the quality of big “event” comics like Secret Invasion or Fear Itself, they typically serve as the launching pad for a variety of new series. Using the sales power of a tie-in to a big event, comic book publishers are more likely to convince readers to try something a bit new or a little outside the norm. It doesn’t always work, but – if used cleverly – these tie-ins can serve to draw attention to low-key books that might otherwise be flying under the radar. Or, you know, “Loki books.”

Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery is a contemporary classic. Even if one is unsatisfied with Fear Itself – and I’m quite fond of it, to be honest – Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery is enough to justify that juggernaut of an event.

Ghosts of gods of mischief past...

Ghosts of gods of mischief past…

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Non-Review Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

The vampire genre has been around for a reasonably long time. The literary genre that was formalised by Bram Stoker’s Dracula at the dawn of the twentieth century, even if it drew on a rich selection of local beliefs and superstition. And yet, despite that, there really hasn’t been too much radical done with vampires in recent times. The last attempt to do something a bit provocative and game-changing with vampires occurred with Anne Rice’s discovery that you could easily shape vampire narratives into creepy romances – a technique refined by Stephanie Meyer to considerable commercial and popular success.

As such, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is fascinating because it manages to push the archetype a little further. It builds off those sorts of vampire romances and vampire fantasy epics in order to tell a more novel sort of story. Only Lovers Left Alive is a wonderful piece of mood based around two powerful central performances, taking one of cinema’s oldest monsters and finding a way to make them interesting again.

Only Lovers Left Alive is the most original vampire movie in what feels like an eternity.

onlyloversleftalive5

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Watch! New Thor: The Dark World Trailer!

I’m looking forward to Thor: The Dark World, if only because (somewhat controversially) I think that Kenneth Branagh’s Thor is the best of Marvel Studios’ films to date. Branagh isn’t back directing, but I’m always a sucker for high-concept fantasy and a wonderful cast. From the looks of it, Thor: The Dark World is really cashing in on this year’s hip new cinematic trend: destroying London. It joins Red 2, The Fast and the Furious 6, Star Trek: Into Darkness, among others, in laying waste to the capital.

The Dark World features returning performers Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, which is reason enough to watch. Add in Christopher Eccleston and I’m intrigued.

Anyway, the traielr is below. Check it out.

Non-Review Review: The Deep Blue Sea (2011)

The Deep Blue Sea has two reasonably solid leading performances and some nice enough direction, but it suffers because it can’t convince us to are about any of its central characters. We don’t have to like any of the three characters involved in the central love-affair, but there does have to be some hook that grabs us and convinces us to emotionally engage and invest in this post-War exploration of several broken characters. That connection simply isn’t there, and the rest of the movie collapses as a direct result of that absence.

Yeah, she wants to dance with somebody…

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Non-Review Review: The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble)

The Avengers has a lot of geeky charm to it – the sort of giddy “this is so cool!” spectacle that appeals to the popcorn-munching child in each of us. That’s more than enough help it coast through a somewhat muddled first act, through a stronger second act and into a truly awesome finale. I think that the carefully choreographed large-scale action sequence that caps the film off might be worth a ticket alone. While there seem to be some very fundamental problem juggling a cast this large in a movie that technically a sequel to at least four films, Joss Whedon knows his audience well enough to ensure that most of the individual moments are satisfying, even if the overall film feels a tad uneven.

Three of a kind...

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Wallander: One Step Behind (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. I’ll have some thoughts on the service at the end of the month, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

And so we reach the end of the first season of the British adaptations of Henning Mankell’s acclaimed Swedish crime novels. Wallander is a series that is probably much stronger than it really should be, offering ninety-minute-long mysteries that are produced the standards of feature films. Director Philip Martin returns after directing the first episode to helm the final in the first trilogy of adaptations. (There would be a second set of three broadcast in 2010 and another set of three to be shown in 2012.) Strangely enough, this final episode actually manages to give a significant amount of depth to the title character, finally suggesting a role worthy of the depth Branagh imbues into it.

We've got a hit on our hands...

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Wallander: Sidetracked (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. I’ll have some thoughts on the service at the end of the month, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

In hindsight, it’s very hard to divorce Wallander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Both are Swedish murder mysteries exploring the darker side of what one character here terms “the great social experiment”, both involve uncovering old secrets buried in the past, and both are adapted by the production company Yellow Bird. In fact, the BBC adaptation of Henning Mankell’s novels actually debuted a year before the theatrical release of that other hugely influential Scandinavian thriller. Featuring a blistering centre performance from Kenneth Branagh and absolutely superb production, I think that the BBC’s production of Wallander actually stands in fairly good company.

Out in the field...

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