Comic Book Review – Seven to Eternity Volumes 1 & 2

Seven to Eternity Volume 1
Reprints Seven to Eternity #1-4
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena

Seven to Eternity Volume 2
Reprints Seven to Eternity #5-9
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena and James Harren

After my year-long read through of Rick Remender’s tenure at Marvel, I was excited to get back to his work. This time it’s his Image work, specifically this fantasy-adventure series Seven to Eternity. Remender reunites with his Uncanny X-Force collaborator Jerome Opena, and the material is just as gorgeous and epic. They don’t hesitate to throw the audience into the deep end of a richly developed world with tons of back history. You might find yourself a little disoriented at first, but once you get your bearings, understand who’s who, the story becomes deeply engrossing.

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Movie Review – The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower (2017)
Written by Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen, and Nikolaj Arcel
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel

The Dark Tower is based on a series of novels by Stephen King and existed in development hell for a decade before finally being made. The three phases of development are the JJ Abrams phase, the Ron Howard phase, and the “we give up, just make the damn movie” phase. Because the script went through so many rewrites, it has ended up a continuation of the books instead of an adaptation. Thus the story is incomprehensible to someone who hasn’t read the books. This is one of the strangest decisions I’ve ever seen a studio make when adapting a book.

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Movie Review – Dragonball Evolution

Dragonball Evolution (2009)
Written by Ben Ramsey
Directed by James Wong

There are some signs a movie is going to be bad. When it comes to properties being adapted to the screen, one of the biggest red flags is when the picture opens with long-winded narration explaining something that happened two thousand years prior. Dragonball Evolution spends its opening moments moving us through a digital mural of images of our villains and explaining what happened back then. The narration only serves to create more confusion and talks about characters in a way that assumes the whole audience is familiar.

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Movie Review – Wings of Desire

Wings of Desire (1987)
Written by Wim Wenders, Peter Handke, & Richard Reitinger
Directed by Wim Wenders

In the late 1980s, the city of Berlin was divided, split down the center by the construction of the Berlin Wall by the Soviets in 1961. This wall served as a physical representation of the ideological rift that existed in the world during the Cold War. While Wings of Desire is not about this wall, it is ever-present in the background, a reminder that West Berlin was once part of a whole and in 1987 a fragment. Our first scene puts the audience above the city, through the eyes of the angel, that is the film’s protagonist. We see the complexity and beauty of this place through the perspective of one who loves it and the people dearly.

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Movie Review – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinkner
Directed by Jake Kasdan

The children’s literature of Chris Van Allsburg is mysterious. If you’ve ever read The Stranger, his picture book about a mysterious vagrant whose arrival at a farmhouse signals a pause in the seasons, you’ll know how powerfully haunting his illustrations can be. His work exists on a line between photo-realism and surreality. Faces look real, yet the world around these characters feel as if it emerged from a dream. The original 1995 film adaptation of Jumanji does a reasonably good job of telling its story with those visually softened edges of Van Allsburg’s illustrations but is forced to expand significantly upon the source material. The film would be followed by an animated series by Everett Peck and resembled the look of his work, Duck Man and Rugrats. A little-seen film sequel Zathura would be released in the early 2000s, based on a book that is a spiritual companion to Jumanji more than anything else. This brings us to the current state of Jumanji as a media product.

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Movie Review – Birdboy: The Forgotten Children

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015)
Written & Directed by Alberto Vázquez & Pedro Rivero

On an island in a seemingly endless sea, where a factory in the industrial zone exploded, leaving this place a decaying hell, lives Birdboy. Birdboy is a teenager possessed by a demonic force that makes its home in the lighthouse just off the shoreline. Despite his dark nature and dependency on meds to keep this demon at bay, Birdboy is loved by Dinky, a mouse girl from a troubled family. Dinky is a runaway who, with her friends Sandra the rabbit and Little Fox, have pooled their money to try and buy a boat so they can finally escape this place. This animated Spanish-language picture is very dark and most definitely a mature adult-oriented film dealing in themes of mental illness, addiction, and abuse.

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Movie Review – Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
Written by Dan Hernandez & Benji Sami, Rob Letterman, and Derek Connolly
Directed by Rob Letterman

It was always a matter of time. It was 1996 when Pocket Monsters came to the United States in the form of Gameboy games and a collectible card game. I was in high school at the time and preferred to spend what little disposable income I had on comic books so I never really got caught up in the phenomenon. I think I played the card game once in college but wasn’t pulled in, I went and saw the first animated feature film in the theater due to a nearby dollar theater, and have played an hour or two of the Gameboy game. So I’m aware of the concept and can identify a few core Pokemon, but not a fan in any sense. That said, I was hoping that this live-action feature could maybe create a bridge between hardcore fans and the liminal audience that would make Pokemon appeal to the broadest audience possible.

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