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Non-Review Review: World War Z

World War Z is a lesson in compromise, a Frankenstein’s monster stitched together out of necessity with the lines very clearly showing. It goes this way and then that way, never really sure where it wants to be in the next act, save that it’s a safe bet there might be zombies. World War Z isn’t as bad as it might have been, but the problem is that it feels like it’s trying so hard to find an ending that it never bothers to excel. It’s not that World War Z is bad, it’s a competently made thriller that works as well as it can with a script that spent most of production in triage. The problem is that it’s never bold enough to do anything genuinely exciting.

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde...

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde…

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Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Claws of Axos originally aired in 1971.

Are you trying to tell me you can absorb the total output of this complex in a police box?

Yes.

– Hardiman and the Master discover that self-confidence is a genetic Time Lord trait

The Claws of Axos tends to come in for a fair bit of criticism for pretty much being the quintessential Earth-based Jon Pertwee story, with very little exceptional to distinguish it from the pack. Personally, I’m actually quite fond of it, perhaps precisely for that reason. I think you’re hard-pressed to find an adventure in the early part of Jon Pertwee’s tenure that so effectively and so efficiently captures the spirit of the show – both good and bad. That kind of makes The Claws of Axos stand out if only because it so perfectly embodies those early Pertwee years.

Eye see you…

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Secret Warriors Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

There are plans within plans… wheels within wheels. The old order is waking from a deep sleep any my masters… they hunger for knowledge of this new world.

– Leviathan Disciple

Secret Warriors is an interesting ride. It’s a rather bold narrative, crafted with a great deal of skill by author Jonathan Hickman, exploring an interesting underbelly of the Marvel Universe, while providing a pretty compelling exploration of Marvel’s super-spy Nick Fury. It reads like a densely-packed pulpy espionage thriller, with Hickman cleverly layering the story and gradually peeling back the skin to reveal wheels within wheels. While the climax of the story isn’t as strong as it should be, Secret Warriors still makes for an interesting read, a relatively long-running series that was carefully planned out from the beginning and executed with considerable style.

Secret Agent Man!

Note: There will be spoilers in this here review. Don’t worry, I’ll flag them before we reach them, but given the twisty nature of the narrative, I thought I’d let you know up-front.

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Non-Review Review: Now is Good

Now is Good wallows in all the clichés that we’ve come to expect in these stories of young lives cut tragically short. There are long sequences without dialogue, scored to music designed to cue our emotions, inviting the audience to contemplate the profundity of everything going on. There’s care not to dwell on this as a bleak or depressing story with an inevitable downer ending. However, despite the awkward and trite direction, the script itself is surprisingly sturdy. While it seems to check off all the items on the list – not that set down by our protagonist, but the one codified by other recent stories of child mortality – it does have a hint of humanity that shines through from time to time. “Life is a series of moments,” the narration is prone to remind us, and there are some nice moments to be found in Now is Good, slotted between the plotting and structure dictated by the genre.

Their troubles are far afield…

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – Disassembled (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Today and tomorrow we’ll be taking a look at the two Brian Michael Bendis events that kick-started the writer’s work on the franchise.

Avengers: Disassembled welcomed Brian Michael Bendis to the Avengers franchise. The super-star writer had enjoyed long and well-received runs on Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil, but his tenure on the Avengers franchise proved much more divisive. Taking over for a three issue arc on the main Avengers title, Bendis literally destroyed the team. Not only did he demolish a lot of the iconography associated with the bunch of superheroes, he also launched a fairly scathing deconstruction of the stalwart superhero team. Bendis wasn’t just going to adopt a caretaker position on the series, he clearly planned some very serious remodelling. That meant that some walls had to get knocked down. In many ways, Disassembled feels like a brutal demolition.

Things come apart…

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