Posts tagged Review

James Knows…DVDs: Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

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Thanks to Geoff Johns, Green Lantern has become one of my favorite super heroes. Unfortunately, my love for the character doesn’t get past the comics. The live action movie last year was pretty lackluster to say the least and the first animated film left something to be desired. I held out hope for the next one though, titled Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. This time the rest of the Green Lantern Corps would get some time in the spotlight as the movie focuses on a few different members of the Corps, none of them being Hal Jordan.

Although I didn’t think it was as good as the main book, the Green Lantern Corps comic was still pretty decent with some interesting stories and more importantly, some characters that I grew to love. That was nowhere to be found in Emerald Knights as each chapter focused on mostly no-name Lanterns aside from Mogo and Kilowag, although the latter wasn’t really the main focus of that segment. The film should have just been called “Story Time with the Green Lanterns.”

The whole thing centers on new Lantern Arisia. Instead of going through normal new recruit stuff like training or learning how to use this immensely powerful weapon that she’s been given, she’s thrown right into an epic battle that has the Guardians so afraid that they’ve moved out of their fortress on Oa. Sounds reasonable. Hal Jordan (who goes on to bang Arisia in the comic, despite the fact that she’s really only like 13) spins a few yarns about past Lanterns to kill time or get into her pants until the big fight against Krona. This guy has a pretty cool story in the comics where he goes back in time to watch the Big Bang only to inadvertently create the Multiverse and the Anti-Matter universe. The filmmakers decided to skip all that interesting back story and just made him a power mad super villain who throws around Anti-Matter. The Green Lanterns fight him by shooting green beams at him. Hooray!

Outside of All-Star Superman, I’ve been incredibly disappointed by all of the DC animated movies. Each one seems to at least try to be a decent film but just misses the mark entirely. They go after name actors instead of professional voice actors and throw together a hodge-podge of a storyline that sort of resembles a popular arc in the comics. I thought this might be my inner fanboy struggling to be free, but it’s not that. I can accept the idea that some specifics need to change in the transition of the story from the comic to the film, but this is more than that. These movies are just bad. There are huge plot holes in most of them and they’re just uninteresting.

James Knows…Comics: Batman: Cacophony by Kevin Smith

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Sometimes two great tastes don’t taste great together. What works with peanut butter and jelly doesn’t work for everything. This was the case for me with Kevin Smith and Batman. I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan and I f-ing love Batman so when I heard that Kevin Smith was writing a Batman story I had to go change my Spider-Man underpants. Smith’s previous comic work on Daredevil and Green Arrow were both great so I was looking forward to what he could do with Batman.

I don’t know if it was the time away from comics or the tremendous exposure I’ve had to Smith lately through the various pieces of the SModcast network but this book just didn’t do it for me. Not only that, but this was one of the worst Batman stories I read. I understand Smith’s devotion to the character and I know how much artist Walt Flanagan put into the story but this was just not a good story. I think Batman was alright in the story but the Joker was where I was lost. It didn’t feel like the Joker. It felt like Kevin Smith in a Joker suit. It was clearly his voice throughout the book so the Joker’s dialogue is filled with poop jokes and thinly veiled gay innuendo.

The art by Flanagan is just OK and adds nothing really to the book. It felt average at best. I want to like it more because I like Flanagan but this was just blah.

Even with all this I’m still planning on picking up the duo’s next Batman book, The Widening Gyre. I don’t know if I’m a glutton for punishment or I’m just a loyal fanboy.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

James Knows…DVDs: How I Met Your Mother – Season 3 (2007)

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There are only a handful of really funny shows on TV right now in my opinion. These include, but are not limited to the likes of 30 Rock, Glee, and How I Met Your Mother. That being said, HIMYM is not a show that I watch as it airs. That’s because I’m still behind and I’m just now getting the opportunity to catch up on previous episodes through the wonders of DVD. I don’t remember how I got into the show, but Monica and I plowed through the first two seasons on DVD so we were eager to check out the next DVDs. We went through the third season in less than a week.

How I Met Your Mother is a very funny show but with a couple major flaws. The whole premise of the show is that in 2030 this guy is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. Sounds OK, right? Well, it is except that the entire show should theoretically end when he meets the woman that will eventually give birth to his kids. The show isn’t called How I Met and Fell in Love With Your Mother, Got Married and Had You Kids. That title is just far too long. So, with this logic in place, any relationship that Ted (the main character) gets into is doomed to fail because we already know based on the show’s title and premise that he doesn’t end up with any of these girls. As a result, I don’t give a crap about any of his relationships. I just can’t bring myself to do so.

Another big problem with the show is that I hate Ted. Seriously, he’s one of the most annoying and stupid characters I’ve seen on Television. Plus he makes some of the absolute worst decisions I’ve ever seen. What really doesn’t help Ted is his friends, most notably the legendary Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) who steals every single scene he’s in. When Barney is through, Marshall (Jason Segal) is taking what’s left leaving Ted with little to nothing to work with. It’s actually a little sad.

Anyway, despite these two huge problems, this show is hilarious, not to mention incredibly well-written. The writing is very smart and each episode has a unique quirk to it with pieces falling together almost seamlessly. Sometimes it’s little things like a framed newspaper headline in a scene in the future in Marshall’s office that reads “NYC Lawyer Discovers Nessie” which ties in to a previous storyline. Other times though, it’s the shape of an entire episode as was the case with “The Platinum Rule” where 4 stories are told almost simultaneously that each exist a year apart. That’s just impressive.

This season’s episodes were pretty damn funny and this DVD is pretty good as well. There are commentaries, deleted scenes, and a personal favorite: an unrated gag real. There’s also a music video for both “Sandcastles in the Sand” the follow-up to Robin Sparkles Canadian Hit “Let’s Go to the Mall” as well as a video for Marshall’s “You Just Got Slapped” which is a song that’s been stuck in my head for days.

If I can catch up on this season of How I Met Your Mother, I’d consider watching the episodes as they air. I can’t guarantee that because of how I’ve viewed the show already. I think it would be tough to make that transition. I’d go from plowing through an entire season, watching episodes back-to-back-to-back to watching one every week with commercials. That just doesn’t seem that fun. If the show continues to be this consistently funny I’d at least give it a try on-air. Every episode of this season had me literally laughing out loud.

Rating: ★★★★½

James Knows…DVDs: M*A*S*H – The Martinis & Medicine Collection

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In my quest to consume as many aspects of pop culture as I can in my lifetime, I was led to M*A*S*H, an 11 season long series about doctors in the Korean War. Before diving into this massive box set my only exposure to the show was a scene from a rerun here and there when a show or event was postponed on TV. I quickly changed the channel. If I see an episode on TV now though I’ll probably check it out.

M*A*S*H seems to have a lot of history as it was the show on Television for awhile. The series finale still holds the record for highest rated show of all time. According to the booklet included in this DVD set, about 125 million Americans watched the show’s finale which was about half of the population of the country at the time. That’s insane.

Watching this show now was a bit of a challenge because I saw many aspects of it that felt like they were being copied from other shows. That wasn’t the case though because in many examples, M*A*S*H was the first to do it. These shows that I may have seen first came years later and looked to M*A*S*H for inspiration. The show that I’d compare it to the most would be Scrubs which was also about the medical field, albeit not during war time. The main reason though was not the doctors. It was the way that both shows managed to walk a fine line between comedy and drama. Yes, each show would have great laughs, but they never let you forget that these are doctors and sometimes people die.
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James Knows…Movies: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

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I’m a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work. Say what you will about the guy, but he can make one entertaining flick. Needless to say, when I first heard about Inglourious Basterds I was pretty damn excited. This was a movie that Tarantino has been talking about for years and now it finally arrived in all its Nazi killing glory. What I wasn’t expecting was a 2.5 hour long ADD-fueled pile of nonsense with no character development and lots of boring talking. It’s like Tarantino’s gigantic head exploded and what was left was an out-of-control 14 year old who loved him some Michael Bay.

According to the trailer, Basterds is about a band of elite American soldiers led by Brad Pitt to kill some Nazis with no mercy. That’s actually all I can really tell about the movie from the trailer, but hey, it’s directed by Tarantino and it looks like Pitt’s crew has really gotten Hitler’s panties in a bunch, so let’s see what kind of crazy antics and hilarious pop culture filled conversations they have along the way. Oh…You mean that’s only like 20 minutes of this whole thing? It’s how long? Two and a half hours?! What the hell fills up the rest of it? Oh, boring talking…OK. But is the talking at least about something cool like that scene in Reservoir Dogs about tipping? No? Then what happens?
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James Knows…Books: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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I’m often a victim of hype. A majority of the DVDs I watch I’ve picked up knowing little about the overall plot. They were purchased solely on someone’s recommendation somewhere at sometime. I take their word for it (some people more than others) and form my own opinion after I eventually watch it. This happens with books too, albeit not as often. This was the case with The Kite Runner. Monica had read it for school during one of her last semesters at college and said she liked it. Granted, she had to read it for a class, but she still enjoyed it. I figured I’d check it out as I had heard the title kicked around a bit and there’s apparently a movie based on it now too.

Unfortunately, the book did not live up to the hype. At first I thought it was actually quite a good read. Here we have Amir growing up in Afghanistan, a country I know next to nothing about because I’m an ignorant American, but I could probably locate it on a map. The culture depicted in the story was rather intriguing, so I learned a bit while Amir’s tale unfolded. Speaking of Amir, he’s kind of a dick. I understand that his father didn’t seem to love him like he should, but that’s no excuse for being a complete asshole, not to mention a total coward. I understand that the Afghani culture seemed to have this sort of racial divide between Amir’s class and that of his “best friend” Hassan (The Hazara), however the guy has numerous chances throughout the book to break that mold and strike out as an interesting person and he just doesn’t do it. Instead he rolls with the punches (figuratively speaking because he probably doesn’t even know how to create a fist) and treats Hassan like dirt. (more…)

James Knows…DVDs: Rush Hour 3 (2007)

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I’ll admit that at first I didn’t see what most people had to complain about Brett Ratner. I mean, I dug Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 and despite its faults, I was entertained by X-Men – The Last Stand, so why do so many people seem to consider this guy a hack? Maybe it’s because of Rush Hour 3. If that’s the case, I can agree with them 100%. The film reeks of horrible decisions.

How can I describe this mess? Picture a large pot in your mind. Now fill that pot with every stupid buddy cop cliche you can think of. Mix in a heaping helping of as many stereotypes for black and Asian people as you can think of, the ignorant, the better. Then find a few crappy email forwards that your wacky uncle or grandma sent you and toss those in too. Mix it altogether over a fire made with the corpse of Jackie Chan’s career while Chris Tucker jumps around like a jackass for 90 minutes and then ask Brett Ratner to take a dump on top. Congratulations! You just made Rush Hour 3!

Seriously, this movie was terrible. I’m actually glad that this version of the DVD had no special features outside of the trailer for the film. I can’t imagine what kind of horrors await those that pick up the 2 disc version. Sorry, Brett Ratner. Better luck with Rush Hour 4: Ching Chong Blacka Attacka.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

James Knows…DVDs: Speed Racer (2008)

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I’ve had a longstanding fascination with Speed Racer dating back years, but something always bothered me about it. Regardless of this, I was excited when I heard about the film adaptation of the kooky Anime series from the 1960s. I mean, what could go wrong? It was being handled by the guys that did The Matrix and it’s Speed F-ing Racer! Go Speed Go!

Then the movie came out and tanked and despite my childlike urging, I couldn’t get Monica to come see it with me. She kept saying something about having a seizure while watching the trailer. So needless to say, she didn’t watch this with me when I finally got the DVD. After a viewing though, I can see why it failed in the theaters. It just didn’t translate well. Remember back in 2003 when Ang Lee’s Hulk came out and everyone hated it even though it was basically a comic book on screen? Speed Racer suffers from the exact same problem. If you’ve ever watched the cartoon, you’ll see how the movie is actually a rather faithful and stunning adaptation. I mean, the Anime series was fucking crazy. None of that made any sense with all the car jumping and monkeys in the trunk and super giant cars, so what did everyone expect when they made a movie that had all of that PLUS Matthew Fox in a leather dominatrix outfit? (more…)

James Knows…DVDs: Stakes (2002)

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Through the wonders of the Internet, I sort of met writer / actor / director, Joe Ripple. I met him as much as anyone can meet anyone else on the Internet and not in person without having cyber sex with him (not that I didn’t offer). Ripple has done several low budget horror movies over the past few years and he even has an IMDB page. I heard some jokes about his movies from the now defunct DVDSpot forums and the currently operational Bullet Point Review forums. These were all mostly about the quality of his films. I couldn’t say much of anything though because I haven’t seen any. Now I have.

My first entry into the work of Joe Ripple was Stakes, a 2002 film featuring vampires from a parallel dimension. These pasty bloodsuckers come through to our world and start creating a vampire army since they ran out of people to turn into vampires in their own. It’s up to a crack detective and a band of humans from this other dimension to stop them. Oh, and some little kid gets kidnapped for some reason. Sounds like an OK set up, right? It is actually. Stakes, which is co-written by Ripple, is a fairly interesting take on the vampire genre. Instead of going into the origins of the vampires, they come from a parallel Earth, similar to the recently released Marvel Zombies comic. Also, the weaknesses of the vampires are tweaked slightly as are the ways that they can be killed. The most interesting of which is a stake made of frozen holy water. I’m actually surprised that no one has thought of that sooner as it seems like a total no brainer when fighting vampires. (more…)

James Knows…DVDs: X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season (2000)

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Monica and I have been slowly working our way through The X-Files. We ramped up the viewing a few weeks ago and plowed through the seventh season. There’s going to be some spoilers here, so beware.

*STARTING SPOILERS*

I thought that the end of season 7 was actually a rather fitting end to the series. Mulder has been abducted by aliens and Scully is pregnant. We don’t know why either event has happened, but it doesn’t matter. That fits with the rest of the show and the lives of the characters up until that point. Think about that for a second. What would be a better end to Mulder’s story? A guy that’s obsessed with finding the truth about aliens being abducted himself? Perfect. And Scully, who has suffered so many personal losses throughout the past seven years to finally conceive a child even though she thought she could never do it. It leaves us with just enough mystery to keep us interested and pondering the “What if?” of the characters.

Of course, that isn’t how it happened at all. (more…)

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