Comic Book Review – Punisher: In the Blood

Punisher: In the Blood (2011)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Roland Boschi

punisher in the blood

There was one significant loose end left at the end of Remender’s Punisher run: Jigsaw’s paternity of Henry Russo. There’s also the resurrected former sidekick Microchip running around. Moreover, to add to the chaos, a mysterious leather-clad masked woman appears on the scene, and Frank believes this is his wife, brought back from the dead by the Hood, still alive and kicking. Life isn’t going to get comfortable for Marvel’s top vigilante as Remender brings his run on the character to its conclusion.

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Comic Book Review – Venom by Rick Remender Volume 1

Venom by Rick Remender Volume 1 (2011)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Tony Moore

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Flash Thompson has served his country in Afghanistan, given his all including both of his legs. However, this isn’t the end of Flash’s service. Project Rebirth has captured the Venom symbiote and allows it to bond with the military veteran giving him the ability to walk again and responsibility to carry out missions for the U.S. government. The catch is that he cannot stay bonded with the symbiote for more than 24 hours or he risks a permanent conversion. Almost immediately he secures an arch-nemesis and comes under the thumb of underworld boss The Crime-Master. Just like Peter Parker, Flash finds himself struggling to balance his relationship with Betty Brant, his ongoing conflict with his dying abusive father, and his job as a black ops operative for the government. With so much on one man, it is inevitable that things will break.

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Movie Review – Super 8

Super 8 (2011)
Written & Directed by J.J. Abrams

super 8

Strange things are happening in the town of Lillian, Ohio in the summer of 1979. Teenage Joe Lamb lost his mother in the winter, and now he and his father are struggling to recover. Joe is occupying his time by helping his best friend Charles make an amateur zombie film. While shooting a scene at a train depot, they witness a horrific crash caused by a local science teacher parking his truck on the tracks. Something was on that train that is now menacing the residents of this small Midwestern town. Joe and his friends quickly become embroiled in a mystery that brings the air force to town and puts their lives in danger.

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Comic Book Review – Uncanny X-Force Volumes 1 & 2

Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalypse Solution
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena

Uncanny X-Force: Deathlok Nation
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Esad Ribic and Rafael Albuquerque

xforce apocalypse

Rick Remender came to Marvel after receiving acclaim for his independent series Fear Agent. He would carve out his own niche in Marvel’s universe that would have some incredible highs regarding character development and rich storylines, but his tenure would come to close in a somewhat unspectacular way. Some creative missteps that are still looked back on as atrocious, plus the company’s choice to soft reboot the universe with the Secret Wars event left Remender without much left to say. He is still writing, primarily back on creator-owned material like Black Science and Seven to Eternity. But I would like to go back to his Marvel work and spend the rest of the year and into 2019 doing a very comprehensive read-through and review.

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Movie Review – Fast Five

fastfuriouslogo

Fast Five (2011)
Written by Chris Morgan
Directed by Justin Lin

fast five

Dominic Toretto is on his way to prison when Brian O’Conner and Mia show up to bust him out. Months later, Brian and Mia show up in Rio de Janeiro to meet up with Vince, from The Fast & The Furious. Dom is on his way, and Vince has a job involving hijacking a train for cars belonging to local crime kingpin Reyes. Turns out one of these cars actually holds vital information to Reyes’ drug empire and Dom uses this as an opportunity to get rich. The DEA was transporting the cars on the train and want their evidence back. They dispatch Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his team to recover the car and take down Toretto and crew. To pull off the heist of Reyes’ fortune, Dom is going to need help and calls in Gisele, Han, Tej, Roman Pearce, Leo, and Santos. All of these people come together to make an insanely crazy action movie.

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Cinematic Immersion Tank #1: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011, dir. Sean Durkin)

Purchase Martha Marcy May Marlene on Blu-Ray
or Rent on Amazon Video

martha poster

This is my first stab at the Cinematic Immersion Tank, so I decided to go with doing a write up after each viewing. In future, I may do something more comprehensive, more of a critical analysis that isn’t as fragmented, but that would take a little more time. In the meantime, please watch Martha Marcy May Marlene *before* reading over this. I hope you find as much beauty and sadness as I did in this amazing film. My biggest take away from this film is the power of Elizabeth Olsen’s acting (she has some of the most powerful eyes) and the amazing supporting cast that surrounded her in this film. Every actor pulls so much depth out of their role.

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End of 2011 Part 3 – Top 10 Favorite Narrative Films

As I have done every year since 2005, I keep a list of every film I watch for the first time in a year. Here are the ten films that topped my list:

10) Super 8 (2011, dir. J.J. Abrams)

This was my most anticipated summer movie and it definitely delivered what I wanted: a return to the  wonder filled Spielberg-ian cinema of the late 1970s/early 1980s. It wasn’t a perfect film in terms of an tightly written script, but it was a technically strong film. It also showed Abrams deft hand at recognizing the core elements of a style of filmmaking. I’d like to see him attempt to recreate other iconic mainstream directors’ styles in the future.

9) Blood Simple (1984, dir. The Coen Brothers

This was the only Coen Brothers film I hadn’t seen and I had avoided it for a long time. From production stills I was wary due to the very 80s specific production design. Being so used to a more stylized approach in their modern work, I assumed Blood Simple would be an inferior work whose purpose was more to develop what would be their future style. Was I wrong! Its as if these two men were born with an inherent ability to make perfect films.

8) Dogtooth (2010, dir. Giorgos Lanthimos)

I only became aware of this film with his Oscar nom in the Foreign Language category and was a bit apprehensive at first. What I discovered was a dark allegory that perfectly captures life in a “free” society. Depending on your perspective the film is about governments or the church or authority in general. Its also a great example of the strength of quiet European cinema. The events that unfold in the final minutes will linger with you longer than the majority of films coming out in your local cineplex.

7) Melancholia (2011, dir. Lars von Trier)

I am not a von Trier fanboy, more I admire the idea of what he attempts. I enjoyed Antichrist but didn’t fall in love with it. Melancholia is a different story. I expected a subversion of the sci-fi genre, but what it is here is actually a more faithful ode to science fiction literature than film. This is a short story made film, a perfect example of the fantastic being used as an overlay for a human story. It also has some of the most beautifully composed shots you’ll see in a film this year, particularly the opening montage.

6) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978, dir. Steven Spielberg)

This is another of those films that got away from me for a long time. I was very glad I watched this mere days before Super 8, as it got me in the perfect mood for that film. It also reminded me of what an amazing filmmaker Spielberg can be. Since the 1990s, he seems to have become a different filmmaker. While the work he does now isn’t terrible, there is a nostalgic side of me that misses the cinema of wonder. His films now seem more horrific (War of the Worlds, Minority Report, AI) or experimental (The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can, War Horse). Part of me would like to see this Spielberg come back one more time.

5) Rubber (2010, dir. Quentin Dupieux)

You will not see another film like this in your life: A tire comes to life and proceeds to go on a telekinetic killing spree in a world wherein the inhabitants seem to know they are fictional. There is very little to say about this film other than, just got to Netflix and watch it.

4) Red, White, & Blue (2010, dir. Simon Rumley)

This film is the perfect antidote to the mindless torture porn horror craze that seems to be a large part of cinema these days. The opening acts of the film are torturously slow and methodical. But there is a reason why we are introduced so completely to the three main characters. When the violence begins it doesn’t let up and it devastates the audience. Everyone is guilty, yet everyone could plausibly claim innocence. A horror film that will truly haunt you.

3) Amer (2009, dir. Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani)

This almost wordless homage to the Italian giallo horror genre is one of the most beautiful looking films I saw all year. The film follows one woman from childhood through adolescence to adulthood using the framework of classic 70s European horror. Its incredibly interpretive and hypnotic. I popped it on one Sunday afternoon, expecting something that would simply serve as background noise. I quickly dropped everything I was doing and was fully absorbed.

2) Drive (2011, dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

I first became familiar with Refn when I saw Bronson (2008) and was fairly impressed. Little did I expect a film of this level of style to emerge years later. Drive was able to capture the atmosphere games like Grand Theft Auto pray they can. Everything about the film felt exactly right, as if all LA Noir type films must be set in an 80s synth inspired environment from now on. It was particularly nice to see Bryan Cranston and a highly out of character Albert Brooks.

1) The Tree of Life (2011, dir. Terence Malick)

Tree of Life is a perfect example of film as art. First, its an incredibly personal work that shows how, as an artist becomes detailed and specific, they in turn become universal. Secondly, it has produced highly passionate and differing reactions. Its the sort of film that upsets some viewers because it asks them to participate on an intellectual level, something many films today do not. It does this, because it respects the audience’s intelligence. Malick is almost more of a composer than a narrative filmmaker, and he produces some very sweet music.