Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen has made his best film in decades.

Owen Wilson has proven himself a first rate actor.

Marion Cotillard was perfection, as always.

I have never disliked Michael Sheen or Rachel McAdams characters more. This is a success.

The best of the year.

 

Damn you SWTOR!!!!

After a solid week of access to Star Wars: The Old Republic, I can hereby state that the game is a tremendous success, and I am going to miss writing for this column. hehe.

The newest (and best) Star Wars MMO dropped into my life last Wednesday right after I picked up my comics. I rushed home, played the game, and when I turned my computer off, it was suddenly Friday morning and I had to work! Where did the time go?!

I worked through the weekend, attended a Christmas Party on Monday, and on Tuesday went to a Masonic Meeting of Bristol Lodge in N. Attleboro, MA which featured Scott Wolter- writer of “The Hooked X” and the central figure in the 2009 History Channel special “Holy Grail in America”, which had a cameo by my friend and Brother- Rick Lynch.

Wolter recapped his prior research into the various Runic inscriptions scattered across America by Pre-Columbian expeditions, and presented some of his more recent discoveries (which I cannot talk about). Although I was in the beginning stages of the mother of all cold viruses, I enjoyed the chance to meet Scott, and get my copy of the book autographed. I anxiously await his next project, and recommend that every American look into this research and discover that the facts written in our history books are neither complete, nor accurate.

Besides reorganizing the knick knacks and doo-dads which populate my computer desk, that has been my week. I did manage to get through the 2 weeks of comic books that were amassed on my shelf, and the bests of the bunch had to be Leviathan Strikes: The first part of the Grand Finale to Grant Morrison’s Batman Saga, and the latest issues of Uncanny X-Force.

Batman was terrific. Many people hate it when Morrison goes off the reservation, but I love it. No one writes insane trippy Batman like him, and I am sorry to see this story, which began in 2006, end with the Leviathan mini-series.

Remender is out of his friggin mind. He has reached a level of talent that is making nearly all of his colleagues look very bad. Since the title launched in October 2010, they have published 19 issues in 15 months. These days you are lucky to get 12 issues a year! This week’s installment had the very tough job of following the release of (last week’s) Uncanny X-Force 18- the end of the Dark Angel Saga. which also makes this list:

#18, with it’s Poly-bagged goodness, was a delight. The team goes all out to take down Archangel before he kills all life on Earth. Probably the best written comic of this title, and that is saying an awful lot.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

In 2009. I trepidatiously entered the local cinema to see the latest incarnation of my favorite literary character- Sherlock Holmes. I have seen Basil Rathbone play Holmes, and my personal (and everyone’s) favorite Jeremy Brett play Holmes.

Brett played the “Classic” Holmes that we hear in our heads when reading the stories. very British, upper class, well put together. What Robert Downey Jr did was actually a bit more honest in my opinion. When Holmes was between cases, he was intolerable, and often descended into cocaine fueled periods of malaise. When off the case, he would liberally use cocaine to speed up his genius to keep his mind occupied. The thing about drug addicts- they are not pretty, and tend to smell pretty bad.

While a bit “amped up”, RDJ’s Holmes displays all you would expect of a drug addled GENIUS. His humor and amazing chemistry with Jude Law (who is becoming the definitive Dr Watson) makes these films something special.

In the first film, there was a shadowy figure manipulating all the events facing Holmes. He is of course the legendary James Moriarty- arch Nemesis of Sherlock Holmes. Their story together- The Final Problem shocked me as a boy. Moriarty is easily the greatest villain ever committed to paper. He is, in every way, the equal of our hero, and it was scary to see Holmes face him.The ending was impossible for an 11 year old to fathom… The hero of these tales, who outsmarts everyone, dies at Reichenbach Falls in a battle to the death with Moriarty. I had this thing going where I would read the Sherlock Holmes stories during the week after the next episode aired on PBS. When I saw that particular episode of the Brett Series (which I knew was at the end of the book I owned) I was horrified. I tried to read Hound of the Baskervilles after this, but kept putting it off. I was dumbstruck that my hero had died. I avoided everything Holmes for over a year.

Now, many of you have read the stories and know damn well that Holmes survives the battle and has many more adventures with Dr Watson…but I was a kid, and there was no internet in those days of the late 80’s early 90’s. I only had Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes with Hound of the Baskervilles…Thats it. I was missing all the later stories. What is worse is that the following episodes of the series were not being broadcast at that time! The next week the series repeated to the first episode. I was heartbroken, and that was the end of Holmes for me. Little did I know that I was experiencing the exact same emotions that readers in 1893 experienced, only a century or so late!

What brought me back to Holmes was that the episodes were showing on television in a mini-marathon every night of the week on PBS. I had made my peace with Sherlock’s end, and watched the series every night. I viewed the final problem once again…and it was immediately followed by The Adventure of the empty house… what was this? Holmes Lives?! I hounded my mother and she took me out to find the next book in the series. Thus, my fascination continued and I ended up reading all of Doyle’s Holmes work, as well as a few later tales by other authors (Holmes in WW1? an 89 year old beekeeper during WW2?!!)

Now, it is 2011, and A game of Shadows is released. This film is not heavy on clues or deduction for the audience. This, like the first, is us living in Holmes’ world. The film loves to slow down to show us how he processes the world. It is a film that shows Holmes at his best, facing his equal. There is little for us to figure out, we are along for the ride- to see the evil genius of Moriarty, and Holmes’ quest to outsmart his equal. Jared Harris nearly steals this movie from Downey Jr.  His Moriarty is terrifically sadistic, but always reasonably so. While Holmes is compelled to see justice done, Moriarty is compelled to cheat, steal, and attain power- all while using similar methods and thought patterns as Holmes. The final showdown of the film- at Reichenbach falls (gasp!…spoilers- yes, they go there with this story) was exquisitely done.

People are going to complain, they are going to rail against the modern bastardization of Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpiece. There is nothing that can be done to stop them. I simply feel that they are wrong. Those that would pass over this movie over the aesthetics of Guy RItchie’s Holmes universe is doing themselves a huge disservice. Check it out- well worth your time.

Comix This Week!

It is actually impossible for me to pick a best comic for 12-7-11. Of the 11 comics I purchased, 4 are outstanding, and the rest are Awesome.

Outstanding:

X-Men 22:The Army of Sentinels have been activated and the X-Men, with War Machine, must stop them.

Red Lanterns 4: Atrocitus gives sentience back to several of his lanterns in hopes of building allies to stand against an uprising within the ranks.

Omac 4: Kevin heads home, and is attacked by bio-mechanical Alligators in the subway. This comic is cool.

Justice League International 4: Peraxxus is the name of the alien who is going to destroy the Earth to claim its mineral rights! Also, Batman gets his junk felt up by Lady Godiva’s hair.

Awesome:

The Fearless 4: The hunt for the Hammers continues as Sin heads under the sea, and fights Namor. Valkyrie heads to NYC and the baxter Building to face the Thing.

The Defenders 1: I was not too sure about this, but issue #1 was great. The Black Hulk must be stopped! Namor, Silver Surfer, Iron Fist, Red She Hulk, and leader Doctor Strange fly off to face the danger! fraction wrote a good comic! Hooray!

Detective Comics 4: The Dollmaker story concludes as Batman saves Gordon and the Joker remains faceless. Literally faceless. His severed face skin is in a glass case.

Action Comics 4: All hell breaks loose. The army is chasing Superman. Braniac has unleashed his robots into metropolis and promptly bottles it. John Corben has become Metallo and goes after Superman. John Henry Irons dons the suit and becomes STEEL. By the end of the issue, metropolis is gone, braniac is preparing to take out the Earth, and the only hope…Superman. I think the world is about to go from fearing to loving Superman over the next couple issues.

Amazing Spider-Man 675: I Love, Love, Love, Love the Vulture. Old Adrian Toombs is back as his new squad of young Vultures are robbing NYC blind. Peter teams up with former gf Carlie Cooper, and defeat the threat. Vulture escapes to fight another day.

Avenging Spider-Man 2: Red Hulk and Spidey venture under the earth to fight in the Moloid civil war! very good.

PICKS OF THE WEEK

yup, its another one of those weeks.

by Lemire and Foreman

and

Swamp Thing 4

These two comics are probably the best DC is making right now. In Animal man, Buddy and his daugther fight off two agents of “THE ROT”, which is the force of DEATH in the universe. This battle happens within “THE RED”, the force of animal life in the universe. Thier leadership is the “Parliament of Limbs”, who has had many avatars over the milennia to fight THE ROT. The current avatar is Buddy’s daughter, who he must protect.

From time to time, THE RED has joined forces with…

“THE GREEN”, who is led by the “Parliament of Trees”. Like The RED, The GREEN also has an avatar….

Forgive me if this sometihng you already knew. hehe

Swamp Thing chases after Billy Arcane, Avatar of THE ROT as he spreads awesomely depicted death wherever he goes. Although Alec Holland is fighting the Parliament, he must soon become Swamp Thing and face this threat.

These comics, written by 2 seperate amazing writers are heading towards the mother of all crossovers. If you don’t like this, you don’t know comics.

Fall of the Destroyer….Deathwing is down.

I have never gotten a major endgame boss down during the run of the expansion he is in. I never downed Ragnaros in Vanilla WoW. I never got Quel’thas or Illidan in Burning Crusade. I did not down Ulduar, nor did I kill Arthas during Wrath of the Lich King. Cataclysm started out much the same. I did not down the new Ragnaros (yet) but thanks to the new  “Looking for Raid” feature, Deathwing is down.

With my trusty Imp Bizpad, and faithful Winterspring cub by my side, I ventured into Wyrmrest Temple and deafeated all the first three bosses.

I then traveled to the eye of eternity for the 4th boss.

I duked it out with the 5th aboard the Skybreaker airship.

Following a skydive with Captain swayze and K’eanu Reaves (awesome) I dropped onto Deathwing and attacked his spine!

Then, surrounded by the heroic Dragon Aspects, we fought on the edge of the maelstrom and finally defeated the Destroyer!

Ponte….Wins.

Beginners

Ewan McGregor will always be remembered for Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, and his other big budget fare. I think this is a sad thing. Beginners is a great example of the type of film Ewan McGregor excels at.

The story of a man who’s father is dying and reveals a secret- He is gay. The film follows how the son deals with the news, and his father’s cancer, as he meets and falls in love with a lovely actress who, like he, has issues with making long lasting connections. Christopher Plummer delivers a terrific performance as the father, while Melanie Laurent, one of my favorite actresses who is FINALLY breaking into American Cinema, is the love interest. This movie reminds me a lot of 500 days of Summer, and in a good way.

This is a charming film that delivers its message of life, death, regret, and love in an outstanding way. Worth your time.

SMEE?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bob Hoskins played a wonderful Mr. Smee in the 1990’s Spielberg film: Hook. he and Dustin Hoffman were near perfection.

Amazingly, he has reprised the role for SyFy’s “neverland” mini-series!

First off, Hook was not that good of a film (Despite Rufio and that one fat Lost boy), but it is practically Shakespeare when compared to Neverland. This aims to tell the “origin story” of Peter Pan. In it, Peter is a early 1900’s street urchin who, and his band of lost boys, are led by a Faginesque James Hook.. There is a magical Orb that transports people to the planet of the center of the universe (Oa?), which here is called Neverland. There are 400 year old alchemists, Holograms of the Galaxy, 300 year old Pirates (Smee!), Indians and of course the freakiest fucking Tinkerbell to ever invade your dreams.

This is the best image I could find, but trust me- she is not adorable in this. She’s akin to some evil crystalline demon. So, apparently there is some plot to move all the elite of English society to Neverland, and leave the poor behind on Earth, and the Pirates are gonna commit genocide against the fairies to get to their supply of “Fairy Minerals” (pixie dust) blah blah blah. This thing is total garbage, and a waste of a great cast…but at least it had more Smee!