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Archive for October, 2009

The Punisher versus Nazi Zombies

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Outpostposter2008Thanks to my friend Trevor Snyder’s October Zombie-Thon feature at the 411 Mania website I’ve been turned on to all sorts of movies featuring the flesh hungry undead. I’ve also been encouraged to check out some films on my own.  This weekend in  honor of Halloween I checked out one of the entries in the growing Nazi Zombies sub-genre, the Scottish film “Outpost” starring Ray Stevenson of “Rome” and “Punisher War Zone” fame.  It ended up being an entertaining film, but it’s flaws kept it from being a great one.

In the film Stevenson plays D.C., the leader of a team of mercenaries hired by a businessman to protect him on a recovery mission deep in the heart of an unnamed and war torn Eastern European country. Their destination turns out to be an abandoned underground outpost.  D.C. and his men explore the titular outpost and discover a pile of bodies. They also turn up evidence that the facility was used by the Nazi’s for some mysterious purpose. Soon something begins kidnapping, torturing, and killing members of the mercenary army; an useen force that can seemingly disappear and reappear at will. As the attacks escalate D.C.’s client reveals the real purpose of  his mission. He’s there to recover a device the Nazis hoped would create a race of invincible super soldiers. What it actually did was turn a platoon of vengeance hungry SS soldier into angry undead monsters.

The most intriguing things about “Outpost” have to be it’s tone and story. Some have classified it as a zombie movie but I think it’s more of a ghost story mixed with an action movie. It’s a low budget film and it’s very ambitious .You can see elements of movies like “Aliens”, “Dog Soldiers”  as well as elements from various haunted house films.  The actual back story involving what happened at the “Outpost” is cool in a pulpy weird menace sort of way. It feels like something out of a “Hellboy” comic. And there are some genuinely creepy  and cool scenes, like when reality shifts ominously to announce the arrival of the full platoon of undead SS troopers, who then march on D.C. and his men

Where “Outpost” falls flat though is in some of the characters and the acting. Stevenson is pretty decent as D.C.   Michael Smiley (Tires from the British sitcom “Spaced”)  is entertaining as an ex-Scottish soldier and Enoch Forst  who plays a former african child soldier turned Belgian Peacekeeper turned mercenary is also pretty good. Richard Burke’s American ex-Marine, Prior, comes off as a psychotic dick though and is more annoying than interesting.  The rest of the cast is pretty generic for lack of a better term. They might as well have been wearing Star Trek style Red Shirts.

The other thing about the characters in the movie was they all had different and very thick accents. And unfortunately none of the actors in the movie were really good at speaking up or annunciating their lines. So even though the entire movie was in English there were some scenes where the dialogue was so garbled that I found myself wishing for sub-titles.

So Outpost is by no means a great  movie, possibly not even a good one, but it was an entertaining way to spend a Friday night. There’s a sequel being developed that promises to expand upon the interesting backstory of it’s undead Nazi menace and I’ll definitely add it to my Netflix que when it becomes available.

Categories: Movie Reviews

CBR Interview- Rick Remender Talks “Punisher”

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment

In my latest CBR interview I talk with writer Rick Remender about his plans for Marvel Comics’ ongoing “Punisher series

Categories: CBR Links

CBR Interview- Jason Aaron Talks “Wolverine: Weapon X”

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

My latest CBR interview is up. I talk with writer Jason Aaron about his work on “Wolverine: Weapon X” and the one-shot special “Dark Reign: The List-Wolverine”

Categories: CBR Links

Reads of the Week 10/28/09

October 29, 2009 1 comment

Every week I read a lot of comics; some to stay informed for my job at CBR (so many of the books I mention here will be Marvel ones), some for pleasure, and some for both. Usually what happens is there will be some average reads, some good reads, and possibly even a bad read or two. Generally though there’s at least one or two books that stand out as being the best of the bunch. So to celebrate and pay tributes to those books I’m kicking off what I hope will be a weekly feature, Reads of the week.

Unfortunately I’m kicking off this feature during a week that saw a lot of good stuff come out. So deciding on just one or two books will be difficult but here goes:

Honorable Mentions: “Fantastic Four” #572, “Secret Warriors” #9, “Necrosha X”, “Incredible Hercules” #137

READS OF THE WEEK:

“Dark Reign: The List-Punisher”

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: John RomitaJr,

23_dark_reign__the_list___punisher_1I’ve been a fan of the Punisher since I was about 10-11 years old. I’ve read every series the character has starred in. The MAX and Marvel Knights versions of the character are incredibly compelling, but I also think the Punisher of the Marvel Universe is pretty damn interesting too. And I have yet to read a better Marvel Universe take on the Punisher than the current series.

Rick Remender gets that what makes the Punisher interesting and unique in a world of superheroes and supervillains is his background as a soldier. He kicked off the series not by having the Punisher fight super crime but by having him go to war with it. And to make things even more interesting he armed the Punisher with some of the most fantastic and dangerous devices in the Marvel Universe.

Going to war against super crime meant trying to topple Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign. And in “TheList-Punisher” Remender brings Frank’s year-long crusade against Osborn to its logical conclusion. “The List-Punisher” is a brutal, violent, exciting, powerful, and even poignant story about standing tall in the face of impossible odds.  I won’t spoil the story by saying how it ends but readers of the special did get a hint about where Remender is taking the series and it looks quite interesting

And if the story wasn’t enough “The List-Punisher” featured the art work of  John Romita Jr (whose depiction of the Punisher is second only to Mike Zeck).  Plus for my money nobody draws New York better than John Romita jr. The end rooftop fight scene of “The List-Punisher” has to be seen to be believed

Die Hard Year One #2

062909_diehard2-jockWriter: Howard Chaykin

Artist: Stephen Thompson

I’m a huge fan of the first “Die Hard” movie. I think it’s one of the greatest action movies of all time. I enjoy the later installments in the series as well but not as much. They’re fun, but none of them hold a candle to the original and as the series progressed it got more and more cartoony. So the present-day adventures of John McClane aren’t as interesting to me as the past.

That’s why I got very excited when I heard about Boom! Studios ongoing “Die Hard: Year One” series, which takes you back to 1976, John McClane’s first year as a New York City cop. And to make things even better Howard Chaykin was writing it.  Chaykin knows how to write crime and action incredibly well. I’d read a cop book set on the mean streets of NYC circa 1976  by Chayking even if it didn’t star John McClane.

So I had high hopes for the first issue of the series and was a little bit disappointed. The first issue was all about introducing readers to a young John McClane and an eclectic cast of characters that will become embroiled in his first adventure, which is happening on America’s bicentennial July 4th, 1976. With the second issue though the pace picks up and you start to see where Chaykin is going with this first story.  Lots of threads develop and come together and it’s hinted that the arc might climax with explosive action set piece on the crowded yacht of the third richest man in the world.  This issue had quite a bit of set up but it did what the best comics do, make me eagerly anticipate the next issue

Stephen Thompson also did nice job with the art. I see hints of Michael Lark in his work, and Lark is one of my favorite artists.

Categories: Reads of the Week

Book Review- “9 Dragons”

October 26, 2009 2 comments

I imagine it’s got to be tough writing the same character for 17 years.  You can continue to try to do something new with your protagonist and have their life evolve. Or you can go the other way and basically never change the status quo. Personally I don’t want to read the latter. No matter how great you are with dialogue or how cool your characters are if they’re static I get bored.

Fortunately though there are writers like Michael Connelly who believe in making their characters change and grow. Connelly has a few series characters, but the one he’s been most prolific with is LAPD Detective Hieronymus  Bosch.  For 17 years and 15 novels Connelly has been taking readers of the Harry Bosch novels on harrowing, exciting, powerful and often poignant journeys. Some are admittedly better than others, but the one thing they almost always do is leave Harry in a different place.

And Connelly’s latest novel “9 Dragons”nine_dragons is no exception. Not only does Harry’s life change in the novel, but Connelly also takes his protagonist on a different kind of adventure. Most Harry Bosch novels are police procedurals. You follow Bosch as he gathers evidence, tries to solve a crime, and deal with the politicians, and police brass who are more concerned with press than results. The first half of “9 Dragons” reads like that, but the second half is a decidedly different Bosch novel.

“9 Dragons” open with Harry investigating the murder of Chinese liquor store owner. All evidence points to a local Triad, a secret society and organized crime ring. Things become personal though when it appears that associates of the Triad kidnap Harry’s 13 year old daughter who is living in Hong Kong with his ex-wife. A desperate Bosch flies to Hong Kong determined to do whatever it takes to get his daughter back.

So “9 Dragons” reads like a better episode of “Law and Order” combined with the movie “Taken”. The pacing is quick and the action is exciting especially when Harry is on the ground in Hong Kong looking for his daughter.  It almost moved too fast though.  The novel doesn’t end in Hong Kong. It moves back to Los Angeles where Harry tries to close the case that started everything.  I personally wish Connelly would have spent a little more time in Hong Kong. The scenes there have a noirish tone as Bosch breaks laws and does almost whatever it takes to get his daughter back. It’s a morally murky side of Bosch that we don’t often see and I liked it.

I also thought Connelly did a great job depicting the relationship between Bosch and his daughter. You feel for the girl because of it and Bosch’s quest to get her back becomes even more intriguing and heart rending.

I won’t say what happens because of spoilers but “9 Dragons” ends on a note that takes future Bosch books in a new direction and I applaud Connelly for doing that. That direction also comes organically  I’m a Harry Bosch fan and anything that keeps the series fresh and makes sense I look forward too. All in all “9 Dragons” was an entertaining and fun read. It’s by no means the best book in the series, but it is a solid entry and the author should be applauded for trying something different and continuing to take his character some place new

Categories: Book Review, Harry Bosch

CBR Interviews: Gage on “Avengers: The Iniative” and John Cassaday on “Astonishing X-Men” motion comic

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment

My two latest CBR articles are up. I spoke with artist John Cassaday about his involvement in the upcoming “Astonishing X-Men” motion comics.  I also spoke with writer Christos Gage about his plans for “Avengers: The Initiative.”

Categories: CBR Links

CBR Interview- Jason Aaron Talks about Scalped

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

My latest CBR interview is up. I talk with writer Jason Aaron about his ongoing Native American crime saga, “Scalped” from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint

Categories: CBR Links