Saturday, May 31, 2003

Donna had to go into Brooklyn for the weekend and I had Friday off, so it was a perfect day to catch a movie or two. Caught a 1:00pm matinee of MATRIX RELOADED and rented three DVDs for later.

I have to say that I was disappointed in the MATRIX sequel. Of course, knowing that it was the middle installment of a trilogy may have had something to do with it. You kept expecting "TO BE CONTINUED" at any time past the half way point. While the FX are as good, and possibly better, than they were in the original way too much time was spent explaining much we already knew plus stuff that could have been explained clearer and more concisely. It was good to see the original cast back again, though few of the new characters really are that interesting and are cannon fodder as far as I'm concerned. Although I do admit that I liked the Key Maker and would have liked to see more of him.

(TANGENT: Speaking of seeing more of.... You can bet that when this finally shows up on Fox a lot of Keanu will be deleted. :-)

Neo is way TOO powerful this time around and you really have to wonder why, with all his powers, he has to do all that martial arts stuff. A bit at the end seems to indicate that there are still more things he can do that he has yet to realize.

We only have until July to wait, but I'm not sure if I'm going to shell out the money (even $6 for the matinee) after this one. Maybe I'll just wait for the DVD.

STAR TREK: NEMISIS - I watched this early in the day, since I wouldn't be heading out to the movieplex until aroung noon. Like all the better ST films this was like one of the superior episodes of the regular series, blown up big and with a season's worth of FX tossed in. The whole thing had a feeling of both a reunion and a farewell. Various characters seem to be heading to their own fates and you have to wonder if the remaining actors want to put the uniforms and make-up on again.

Patrick Stewart certainly is given more to do and does it better than in either of the X-MEN films. His Picard, like Shatner's Kirk, would never ring half as true in the hands of other actors. On the other hand, I don't think it would be difficult to put someone else into Xavier's floating chair. I have to admit that seeing Stewart driving the buggy in the desert certainly made it clear that he could indeed gleefully bring to life the role of Spider Jerusalem (which he has said in several interviews he would love to do).

You all know the plot from the countless trailers, so I won't bother with that, except to say that the story certainly was more interesting and held together than a couple of the previous attempts to bring together the TNG crew.

FRAILTY - The only other time that actor Bill Paxton set in the director's chair was for the music video FISH HEADS. If this film is any indication I think that Paxton should certainly be given the opportunity again. I don't ever recall hearing about this, but spotted it in the 'Thriller' section of the video store and decided to take a chance. Hell, Ebert gave it a 'thumbs up', so why not?

According to the Internet Movie Database website, this film is not only Paxton's major film directorial debut, but also the first screenplay credit for Brent Hanley. Both gentleman showed themselves more than able for the task. Frailty is a disturbing film, and it's easy to see how it may have not easily found an audience.

The idea is that a man (Bill Paxton in front of the camera this time) suddenly declares to his young sons that he has been visited by God and told to slay demons (who just happen to reside in the bodies of seemingly innocent folks chosen at random). The brothers have different reactions to this 'revelation' by their widowed parent. The older Fenton feels that his father has totally flipped and wants no part of this divine mission, while the younger Adam is more than happy to follow the lead of his father in seeking to do 'god's will.'

The tale is told in flashback, when Fenton (Matthew McConaughey) visits an FBI agent (played nicely by Powers Booth) to reveal that his brother is the serial killer, who calls himself "God's Hand". We see Fenton's growing alarm at what his father has become and his frustrated attempts to bring his younger brother out from under the influence of their Dad.

I really can't say much more, for fear of spoiling some of the impact of the film. If you think you can deal with something disturbing and very, dark I recommend you seek this one out.

When BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (LE PACTE DES LOUPS, 2001) was released in the states, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON was making waves here, so the PR folks decided to take several scenes of martial arts from the film and basically build the promotional campaign on trying to get the CTHD fans into the theatres. While there are some damned good action scenes the film itself is primarily about the hunt for a 'beast' which roams the French countryside in the 18th century. It's also more than that, as much of the talk centers on the role of the church and the King in the so-called "Age of Enlightenment". For long stretches the 'beast' and the hunt are put in the background as we see the conflicting elements of society dealing with each other. The obscene wealth and corruption of the Upper Classes, as well as their contempt for the lower, and of course for any non-French or non-Europeans.

Into this comes the rather naive Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Native American companion Mani (Mark Dacascos, possibly remembered by some as The Crow in the short-lived TV series), who are sent by the Royal Court to investigate, capture and bring to Paris the beast, thereby proving the King's concern and sympathy for his 'people'.

If I was reviewing this for the old Joe Bob newsletter I'd give it the following: 50+ breasts, ax/sword/flaming arrow-fu: Drive-in Academy Award nomination for Monica Bellucci (Persephone in the MATRIX films) as the most beautiful, knife wielding prostitute in all of France. Steve Bob gives it THREE STARS and says "Check it out!"

Whew! I think that about does it for me today! Have a good weekend and save me an aisle seat. :-)

Apparently Al-Queda is now training squirrels to take on suicide missions. Well, anyway that seems to be what happened earlier today.

Around 6:00am a squirrel bent on self-destruction or just getting out of the rain, made its way into a transformer and took out most of the main campus. The network has been down most of the morning and we've only been able to connect to the 'net for a half hour. I had wanted to post some comments on movies I saw yesterday (both in the theatre and on DVD), but that will have to wait until later, since I really should try and catch up on actually job related stuff first.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Quick look at some current comics.

POWER COMPANY #16 - Kurt Busiek once again totally suprised me. I'd heard rumors that he was going to bring the Haunted Tank into the comic, but I didn't expect this. Also, he has brought back (even if only for an issue or two) one of my all time favorite DCU characters, Baron Winter of Night Force. As with his run on Marvel's THUNDERBOLTS (before somebody decided to totally destroy the title and turn into Fight Club for meta-humans) you can never know what Kurt is going to do with any character.

POWERS #31 - Brian Michael Bendis has me totally confused, but I've enough faith in him to keep reading. A whole issue with no actual dialogue (not counting some grunting and gibberish) and lots of monkey sex. Either the guy is brilliant or his meds didn't kick in that day.

SUPERMAN/BATMAN: GENERATIONS 3 - John Byrne can be both brilliant and infuriating. I have loved each GENERATION series and allthough I see folks nit-picking the series I think he's doing a great job of using many different versions of the major DCU characters. I do wonder if even he is keeping track of everything he has going on here. Definetly a series which will need to be read again when it wraps up.

JSA: ALL-STARS #1 - I love the current JSA series, but wonder if this book will be anything more than a bunch of 'spotlight' segments on the new members. I don't know if this character LEGACY has been around before, but I must say I'm NOT impressed. I'll know better next issue if I'm going to pick up the series.

TITANS/YOUNG JUSTICE: GRADUATION DAY #1 - If I had not been a major fan of YJ I doubt if I would have picked this up at the shop. Peter David had been doing a great job with the kids over in their title, making interesting characters out of both established and original heroes. Sadly, they have decided to hand the thing over to a writer who seems to have no real interest in any of them, but rather is a Titans fan who skimmed a couple of YJ issues. I realize that they are trying to set up some mysterious event which will both launch a couple of new titles (a relaunched TITANS and a revamped OUTSIDERS), but you should at least give us some kind of hint. Also, why bring the Metal Men into the mix for a couple of pages? As with JSA/All-Stars I'm giving this series one more issue to catch my interest, but frankly I'm already leaning towards just peeking at it in the shop and not even bothering.

That does it for now!

Probably should have come on earlier or said it yesterday, but...

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY, BOB HOPE! May not have always cared for your politics, but you certainly brought a lot of laughs into my life. All the Road pictures with Bing, THE LEMON DROP KID (one of my fave Hope films), the USO shows and regular specials. Thanks, indeed, for the memories.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

As I've mentioned before I started picking up just about all of the Batman 'family' titles last year, when they were doing the BRUCE WAYNE: MURDERER/FUGITIVE story line. I thought most of the books handled the interconnected story fairly well and it was certainly nice to once again find that the Batman was turning more human (if not exactly normal :-).

I dropped NIGHTWING almost immediately, it's combination of ugly art and incomprehensible (to the new reader) plots held no interest outside the cross-over. I only picked up one issue of AZRAEL, as it was a character created, IMHO, to push the awful KNIGHT FALL storyline which had me dropping the Bat titles to begin with. What I saw didn't change my mind on the book, so I wasn't disappointed (or surprised) to see the book cancelled a few months ago.

The three main Bat-books (BATMAN, DETECTIVE & GOTHAM KNIGHTS) have been up & down quality wise. I enjoyed, surprisingly, the Bane plot line and the re-introduction of Checkmate along with their pursuit of The Huntress. Both ROBIN & BATGIRL continue to be interesting titles and can easily stand alone, as Tim Drake and Cassandra are interesting characters. BIRDS OF PREY has been uneven and, in spite of my LOVE of Black Canary and Barbara Gordon, I don't know that I'll continue to pick up the book. The ending of the Metamorpho story seems like a good point to drop the title.

For the time being I think I'll also stay with the two original Bat books, but drop GK. Also, if DETECTIVE runs another story like the recent Elongated Man x-over, I'll drop that as well. I love seeing Ralph & Sue Debney, but felt that Batman/Matches was really badly done.

GREEN ARROW, HAWKMAN & JSA are probably my favorite current DC titles and I'd certainly recommend all three to fans who may have dropped the DCU from their reading lists. The six part GA/GL crossover actually had me liking Kyle (formerly Crabface Guy). HAWKMAN #15 really shakes things up with the re-introduction of two surprise guest stars. It also does an incredible job of the nearly impossible task of dove-tailing every other incarnation of both lead characters and explaining how one gave way to the next.

I've picked up but have yet to read TITANS/YOUNG JUSTICE: GRADUATION DAY #1 & POWER COMPANY #16, so I'll hold off commenting on either until I have.

I really am on the fence when it comes to Rick Veitch's AQUAMAN series. I like what he's done and appreciate that he at least pays lip service to what others have done before. I think it is going to depend on how he wraps up the current THIRST storyline that leans me toward staying onboard or not. I do want to see how Veitch gets Arthur back to Atlantis and the battle to liberate the city (if not regain the throne). Personally, I'd rather he didn't take up the crown, but remained in the lighthouse, perhaps acting as ambassador to the surface world.

What a nice surprise it was to pick up the latest issue of DOOM PATROL and see the work of one of my favorite artists, Rick Geary, doing a DCU comics (even if not actually taking place in continuity). Even the book's cover lists the titles regular creative team, so I wonder what happened to bring Geary into the mix. Again, I'm sorry to see the book is on the chopping block, but I've been enjoying this latest incarnation of the DP, even after initially fearing the worst. I keep my fingers crossed that somebody will find it in their heart to bring Cliff Steele into another DCU book. My pal, Brian Morris and I have batted around a few ideas and think that Cliff/Robot Man would be a perfect fit over in JSA. He's been around long enough to have met just about all of the heroes currently on the roster and might be a great partnered with Wildcat.

I'm sad to see that Metamorpho is going to be included in the unnecessary new OUTSIDERS. Brian and I also agree that Rex would be a great JSA member as well. Hell, if DC really wanted to do something 'original' with the OUTSIDERS they'd have Rex, Cliff, the Resurrection Man (Michael Shelly),Animal Man and some of the other third-string characters join together. Anything beats creating new (and face it unneeded) characters, including the illegitimate daughter of Black Lighting (created in my mind only to further tarnish Tony Isabella's character so he would want to distant himself from it).

Well, I don't expect anybody else to agree, but this is my Blog after all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Well, the weather played havoc with our plans for the past weekend. We cancelled our hotel reservations, for the Mystic Marriot, and didn't go down to the Mystic Seaport. We had wanted to hit the Lobsterfest this year and meet up with my best friend, Gerry and his wife.

Donna and I ended up staying home most of the weekend, playing Scrabble, reading and watching some videos we rented.

Speaking of which, I want to recommend both THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS (a strange comedy, which rightly got some good reviews when it originally came out) and THE ROAD TO PERDITION (in which Tom Hanks and Paul Newman both give solid performances; with Hanks outstanding in a role you would not normally envision him).

If I remember, either later today or tomorrow, I'll have some quick comics reviews. I'm reconsidering my purchases of some titles and think writing my feelings down might urge me one way or the other.

Oh, I know some folks are bothered by the usual Rah-Rah patriotic stuff on Memorial Day, but as a Vietnam Era vet myself I have mixed emotions. I'll never be convinced that the recent Iraqi invasion was justified and certainly have problems with the current drumbeat to head back to take out Iran. However, men & women did put their lives on the line, even if they didn't really understand why they should. You don't take votes in the military, no matter in which county's armed forces you serve. You are expected to do your job and these folks certainly did.

American men & women have fought and died for this country since it was founded and they all deserve a moment of recognition and respect.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Well, I think I'm losing it! I honestly can't recall whether or not I've already posted my review for INTO THE INFERNO (although it was sent off to Joe Bob). Just in case I did screw up and already posted it, my apologies. If this IS the first time I hope you read and enjoy, since the book is definetly recommended.

INTO THE INFERNO – by Earl Emerson; Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0-345-44591-0

If a writer is doing his job properly, he or she will research their topic before writing. Possibly, if they are ‘good writers’ they will speak to people working in the occupations they are writing about and possibly have one of these folks act as an advisor, so they won’t get the little details wrong. Now if these ‘good writers’ are also talented they just might bring a sense of realism to their stories.

Then you have writers like Earl Emerson. Emerson knows his subjects, in this case firefighters, because he himself is a member of the Seattle Fire Department. He knows what it is like to walk into a burning building, with the possibility of not walking back out something that is in the back of his mind. He doesn’t need to talk to an expert, because he lives this every day. Emerson is also a very talented writer and creates a reality in the novels he writes.

Emerson has already created two different series in his almost twenty years of writing professionally. One features private detective Thomas Black and the other fireman/sheriff Mac Fontana. In this work he creates yet another character, much different, perhaps much more flawed than either of his better-known creations.

Jim Swope is a single father of two young daughters. He’s also one of a small number of full-time, paid members of a mostly volunteer fire department in the Pacific Northwest. While he likes to think of himself as a decent man, he is also battling elements of his own past. His mother abandoned him to a religious zealot of a father, who forced the young Jim unto the streets to proselytize. Running away to join the Army, Swope placed both emotional and physical distance between himself and his father. Now the old man spends his last years near comatose in a nearby nursing home, rarely if ever visited by his only son.

Swope awakens one morning to find he back of his hands covered in a waxy coating. He has the first sign of the ‘syndrome’ and has a week until he will surely be no better than his father. How did this happen and can it be stopped?

Beginning the story almost at the last part of the tale, Emerson takes us back to where it started, or at least where Jim enters the picture. Emerson is able to engage the reader almost immediately, throwing us right into the middle of a situation that moves at a rapid pace, but never confuses or loses you along the way. Able to write quiet scenes of a father spending what may be his last hours with his daughters, Emerson can also write horrific scenes of fire and their aftermath.

Emerson fills his tale with a large cast of interesting, if not always likable characters. As the story progresses we begin to find that many of these folks are not who they appeared to be at first. Even Swope is unsure of who he can trust as he tries to unravel the riddle of his last days. Three and a half stars.
If you're a fan of DOONESBURY as I am you might want to swing over to Gary Trudeau's essay at Slate. Apparently the daily comic, along with the other material available on Trudeau's site will now be part of the Slate package.

Since I already get my daily dose of the strip via e-mail (by way of MYCOMICS.COM) it really shouldn't effect me. Still I usually forget to check out the other DOONESBURY related stuff, so this will make it a bit easier when I'm already reading Slate.

Yesterday I found my first dollar bill listed on the WHERE'S GEORGE website. I'd heard about this bit of Internet tracking, but had only seen one other bill that someone at a grocery store showed me a few weeks ago.

I have to admit that it is silly, but go over to the webpage and find out if it's something you want to do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I'm really not supposed to drink beer, at least not often or a lot. I have a gluten allergy, which can act up at times. The hops, malt, barley and sometimes wheat used in the production of beer can play havoc with my system. Still I've always been a beer lover and have found that if I'm really careful keeping other glutenous articles out of my daily diet I can cheat every so often.

Anyway, there was a regional beer festival this past weekend, so me and long-time buddy Gerry decided that we'd be 'real men' and check it out. :-)

What a great time Gerry and I had on Saturday night! We actually found the place where the event was being held with little problem, but almost got wiped out by bicycles on the way there!

We were on a main highway, before turning off to the local roads, when a car started to pass me on the left. I saw the car coming up and suddenly heard this crashing sound. Looking behind Gerry and I saw two of the four bikes the guy had strapped to his roof go flying off and hit the car behind him. The car behind that one swerved over to the right
sideswiping the car immediately behind me! You can imagine the chaos in the rearview mirror. :-(

To say we were lucky is an understatement.

The festival itself was a lot of fun, with over thirty brewers & brewpubs taking part. There were about 100 different beers on tap (or from bottles) from all over New England and the Eastern Seaboard. The only 'mass produced' beer was Saranac, a small but old brewery from New York. It seemed like I tried at least half of what was available, but probably not since both Gerry and I were still standing after three hours. :-)

Among the brewers and brewpubs taking part were Buzzard's Bay, Dogfish Head, Sea Dog, Red Hook, Smuttynose, Flying Dog, Allagash, Brooklyn Brewery, Magic Hat, Otter Creek and Bru Rm (a nice brew pub in nearby New Haven). Even if some of the beers weren't all that great, you have to give the folks points for some of the names and labels. :-)

Even though the even is over you might want to check out Mountview Plaza site to get links to some of the brewers and see where else they might be showing up. Mountview has beer events coming up in September and November, so if you are in the New England area you might want to swing by.

Later, we wisely decided to grab some food at the restaurant (the event was held behind the country club in Naugatuck, CT at a public golf course) before leaving so we (actually me, since I was driving) was sober enough to get on the road safely. Since we had to head back on back roads (it was shorter than backtracking to the highways) I wanted to be in fairly decent shape, as it was around 10:00pm.

Still I almost did get us killed, because I had hit the heat since the temp had gone done. The inner windows immediately fogged up and I was crouched down trying to look through an unfogged two inch gap at the bottom of the windshield. Fortunately, I was able to get over on the shoulder without incident. *sigh*

Friday, May 16, 2003

The New York Times reviewer calls up refercences to Achilles, in discussing the soon to be released HULK movie. A powerful, yet tragic and ultimately doomed hero. Numerous other reviewers call up all sorts of biblical references (both Old & new testament) when talking about MATRIX RELOADED. Can we just have somebody talk about a film on it's cinematic merits, or lack thereof?

It reminds me of the several classes on 'cinema' I took as an Undergrad. I loved going to the movies themselves, but found the mandatory dissection of each one later to be almost painful.

Sometimes you sit around for a few weeks, never really doing anything. Suddenly you feel like a real 'social butterfly.'

This weekend, while Donna heads into Brooklyn to be with her daughter and family, for a bridal shower, I'm heading off to Naugatuck, CT for a beer festival, with my best friend (and a guy I've know since we were in sixth grade together), Gerry. Naturally, I also get an invite from my ex (Hey, Elayne!) to hit our old favorite street fair in Manhattan. Back when we were together I don't think we ever missed the annual Ninth Ave. Food Festival. Hell, if I remember right we actually went both days one year. :-)

I'll fill you in on the beer fest on Monday, but if you are into homebrewing or just like to try something different in beer, you might want to try the Brewing News site. Links to information and events that any beer lover will be happy to Bookmark.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

It seems that no matter where you live somebody makes the remark, "If you don't like the weather here, just wait a minute." I"ve lived in Colorado, Connecticut, New York, plus several other states while in the service. The only place you don't is in Southern California.

Anyway, today is one of 'those days' here in Connecticut. It was perfectly sunny and hot this afternoon, but it has become overcast, windy and feels like rain tonight. Sadly, I really did hope to catch the lunar eclipse, but what can you do?

Okay, so we're getting ready to shoot looters in Iraq. We haven't found any evidence of those "WMD" that this was supposed to be about. We are threatening Syria and Iran, but 'negotiating' with the one country which definetly does have a wacko with nukes. Our good buddies in Saudi Arabia can't seem to help us with their home grown terrorists, but the Administration says not to worry they really are.

The economy is continuing to go downhill, Congress is doing everything they can to help George II grow the debt into crippling amounts, but he is still able to beat any known Democrat in the various polls. Where are these supporters? Folks I talk to seem in agreement that he's a jerk and still wonder why we had to send the troops over to be killed.

Sorry, the doctor has me on medication for an inner ear infection, as well as for a minor sinus infection. I have been having dizzy spells and feel like I'd rather be sleeping than nursemaiding college students, most of whom don't seem to know things I knew back in grade school.

Thanks folks and drive safely!

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

With all the events currently going on around the world. The failure of the Administration to seriously do anything about the reconstruction of Iraq, except to hand out multi-million dollar contracts to supporters; the inability of the U.S. supported (and installed) government in Afghanistan to build support or gain a foothold outside the capital; the continuing downturn in the economy, etc. The major print media in this country finds itself focused on a single reporter for the NY Times and his obvious lies, misquotes and other reporting failures.

I have to admit to a morbid fascination with the whole matter, since the Times has always prided itself on being credible. I personally doubt any heads will role over at the newspaper, but it is run to see them trying to cover their butts.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Yesterday was Mother's Day, one of those days to which one normally one gives only a little thought. Maybe you buy a card, send some flowers, or take your mother out to lunch or dinner. If you happen to be miles away, perhaps you pick up the phone and give her a call. I couldn't do any of those things yesterday.

Last year on Mother's Day I spent it, with my two sisters, visiting our mom in her nursing home. Only a few weeks before my mother had been out driving around and enjoying herself. The next day she woke up with sharp pains in her chest. It was discovered that a clot had formed in one leg and breaking loose had traveled to her lungs. Sadly, when they began to test her further they found that cancer, which she had seemingly beaten years before had returned. Almost one week after that Mother's Day visit, my sisters and I were standing before my mother's grave, saying goodbye for the last time.

This past weekend was what some would call 'an emotional roller-coaster.' On Saturday, Donna and I went to a wedding for one of her co-workers. While nobody was thrilled by either the food or the service at the reception hall, everyone seemed to be having a good time. On Sunday I gave Donna her card and later we went out shopping, for a new gown for our up-coming cruise in September. We grabbed a quick lunch at Subway, then caught ANGER MANAGEMENT, which was pretty good. The evening ended with take-out Chinese food and some dessert from Carvels.

During both days I would occasionally think of my mother and all the things which had happened the past year. Things which she had missed and which I'm sure she would have had something to say.

This coming Saturday (5/17) is the day my mom passed away. I'll be spending that day, at least part of it, back in my hometown of Norwich, CT. I'm going to be bringing flowers to place on my parents grave and spend a few minutes 'catching up.' Later my best friend Gerry and I will be driving to Naugatuck, CT for a beer festival. We will take a moment before that first brew to toast my mother and father. I think both of them would have approved.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Only a few things to say this time out.

Firstly, got back my first review for Joe Bob, with a few editorial changes. To be honest, I feel pretty good since the review still 'reads' like my writing and not all that different from the draft I posted here. Some things were cut out, which were unimportant and I'd actually forgotten to give a 'star' rating. As soon as it is actually up on the site I'll let you know.

Well, don't know about you but for me "Free Comics Day" was a letdown. The local shop only had a half dozen freebies, and none from the major companies. I'd been looking forward to the BATMAN comics and was surprised, since the film debuted that weekend, that the shop didn't have any of the ULTIMATE X-MEN comics to give out. Real lost opportunity.

I did get four of the six give-aways and will have more to say after I read them.

While I'm talking about comics....

I was disappointed in the latest issue of BATGIRL. The new art is UGLY, with Batman especially badly drawn, it was also hard to follow the art. Likewise, the writing seemed to be disjointed or maybe it was the editing. Whichever it really seemed to jump around and the story difficult to follow. I had been looking for books to cut from my buy list and I think this is one of them.

I'm also only going to give BIRDS OF PREY one more issue, to finish up the 'Felix Faust' storyline. Just when I was beginning to warm to many of the Bat Family titles they are declining in quality (at least IMHO).

ROBIN remains a favorite, so I'm going to keep buying that title. It remains to be seen if I'm going to keep getting all three of the major BATMAN books (BATMAN, DETECTIVE, GOTHAM KNIGHTS). I think that resurecting the Joker as a major protagonist in both BATMAN & DETECTIVE, at the same time (but in unrelated stories) may have been a mistake. In one book, the character is locked up while in the other he's running around with Harley Quinn. Perhaps some editorial decision should have been made to put some time between the storylines. I feel bad saying this, since I'm really enjoying both plots.

If JLA doesn't keep my interest over the current three issue "White Rage" story line it will also be cut from my buy list. I'm getting enjoyable super-heroics from JSA, GREEN ARROW, HAWKMAN & AQUAMAN, to name a few. Speaking of DC, I can't believe that I'm reading the current GA/GREEN LANTERN x-over. I've actually become fond of Kyle! That's scary!

For the most part I'm still enjoying POWER COMPANY, but Manhunter could easily take a walk and I wouldn't miss him. There's enough interesting characterization in the rest of the team.

In case anybody cares, Donna and I thought the Lucy & Desi bio-pic the other night was okay. We both preferred the earlier Jackie Gleason one with Brad Garrett and the Martin & Lewis TV-movie with Sean Hayes. Sure, they aren't 100% accurate, but if done well can still be fun.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

I absolutely loved X-MEN 2, which I caught yesterday at a matinee. Even at 12:30pm on a Friday afternoon the place was 3/4 full, plus there was another screen showing the film beginning at 1:00pm. I've read on some sites earlier that the film is already going to be a major box-office smash for opening weekends. I think good reviews and word of mouth will keep the films in theaters for a while.

As Hugh Jackman mentioned in an interview I heard this past week, they were able to get right into the action since so much had already been introduced in the first film. Of course, it probably would be hard for anyone unfamiliar with the mythos (even from the initial film) to understand who all these folks were, but there is some brief attempt at explanation early on.

I'm not going to give a lot away, but there were a few surprises (at least to someone like me who hasn't read a dozen message board postings giving everything away) that delighted folks familiar with the comics. Several mutants make there first appearance in this film, one of them only in his 'civilian' identity. When the other two revealed their powers (and thereby who they were) there was applause and cheers from those 'in the know.'

Hugh Jackman, as Logan/Wolverine is clearly the main focus and hero of this film, just as he was in the second. All the others seem to be 'guest stars' in his movie. Moreso here, than even in the first, Jackman has the character down and turns in a great performance. Clearly the character could spin-off into solo films, but only with Jackman in the role.

Alan Cumming, almost unrecognizable under all the makeup, is quite good as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler. He brings just the right amount of pathos, innocense and humor to the role. The FX folks do an excellant job with his teleportation power, the only quibble is that no body seems to mention the smell of sulpher (I believe) that he leaves behind. Of course, that's something I remember from when I was reading the series, so that may have been written out or just not mentioned any more.

Bobby Drake/Iceman gets an extended part this time around and I couldn't be happier. His relationship with Rogue developing pretty well and the small demonstrations of his powers hint that he'll probably have a larger part in the planned sequels.

I've read that Hallie Berry may not be returning, but since she really doesn't seem to be adding much to the mix (not for lack of trying, but the script really doesn't give her much to work with), it will probably not be hard to fit somebody else for the white wig and contacts.

The main villain of the film, General Stryker, really isn't much more than a second-rate military type. We've seen his equal in hundreds of movies and twice that many television shows. It's the mutants we came to see and in the end we won't miss Stryker.

While Patrick Stewart is a good actor and plays Prof X as well as anyone could, Ian McKellan as Magneto is far more interesting. In this film it's easy to see that he can manipulate people, just as easily as he can metal. The means of his escape from his metal-free cell is creepy, but so in character.

The theatre in which I caught the movie had a number of trailers (long one of my favorite parts of the theatre-going experience), among them being ones for MATRIX RELOADED & LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. The second Matrix film looks quite good and easily as jammed with killer FX as the original. LoEG looks to be absolutely amazing, even with the changes they have made to Alan Moore's creation. I suppose it makes sense, in Hollywood logic, to bring in a younger man as the lead action hero. I really have no problem with him being a slightly older Tom Sawyer, who was turned into a detective by Twain anyway.

The rest of the summer looks to be a good one for both comics fans and folks who just like action/adventure.