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Monday, August 13, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 240

Ice Cream Man #6
by Christian Ward

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #308
by Chris Bachalo

Proxima Centauri #3
by Farel Dalrymple

Ether: Copper Golems #4
by David Rubín

Batwoman #18
by Dan Panosian

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Quick take: THE MEG

The Buzz: Based on the trailers, The Meg gives one the belief you'd be headed into Snakes on a Plane-type cult fervor territory, and given the way those anticipating its release speak about it with a chuckle, that's the movie that is basically expected: drive-through type fare about a giant shark with Jason Statham as the lone man who's able to kick its ass. Jon Turtletaub, the man who's best know for his work on similar schlock like the National Treasure movies (schlock I'd watch 10 times over any of the interminable Da Vinci Code films), and whose more recent work was Last Vegas, you know the one...where a bunch of old Oscar winners get together on screen and embarrass themselves. Yep! That's the bar we have to clear here. Can Statham's muscular torso and the underwater antics of this sharksploitation fest do it?

What's Great About the Movie: Nope. Nothing. As a matter of fact, while watching The Meg, I almost entered a fugue state. A little voice in my head said to me: "Just leave! No one will know the difference," and dear reader, for the first time ever, I broached the idea of walking out. But I didn't do it! From the opening frame, to the final title card that read, groaningly "Fin", I was there to witness this entire spectacle roll out in front of me. If one were forced to give some begrudging credit, there's a decent jumpscare or two that gave me a welcome jolt, if only to keep me awake - and Statham himself, even when given horrible dialogue that does him zero favors, still is able to carry a scene despite the deadwood that surrounds him at all times.

Though nothing to do with the quality of the film itself, The Meg also stands as an interesting new benchmark in just how far a studio will go with a project aiming to appeal to the Chinese market. The entirety of the narrative takes place in Chinese waters, with two of its main heroes also being of Chinese origin (played by Chinese actress Li Bingbing and Taiwanese actor Winston Chao). It's a nice bit of cast diversification on top of the core cast that comes from a variety of backgrounds. But where it really turns up the dials, is in the final set-piece, taking place on a densely populated beach off of one of the country's big resort islands. When you see it, if you see it, you'll know what I mean. The Meg follows the recent Skyscraper in playing hard to this ever-important audience, and it'll be fascinating to see if that pays off dividends for them or sets some new precedent.

What's Not-So-Great About the Movie: To really dig into why The Meg doesn't work could take all day, so instead I'll just burrow down into a few key points:

1. It's tremendously boring. For a film like this to actually work, it really needs to bear its weight into one of two modes: horror or ridiculousness. Instead what we end up with here is a $150 million dollar version of an Asylum direct to DVD product. The cast never seems game enough to play up the humor that's so inherent in a premise like this, it's not gory enough to appease the bloodhounds, and the shark lacks any kind of threat or scare-factor. The Meg's final sequence is where things seem to start to actually get cooking on the b-movie carnage, but by then, you've already plunked down more than 90 minutes of your time, and it's really nothing more than a tantalizing taste of what should have been.

2. The script is, largely, awful. Here's an example of the central line that's repeated more than once, "It's not about who you lose, it's about who you save." I think the first time I heard it, I did a audible "pfft" in the theater, the second time it came around, I was already so over everything that I just let it wash over me, like a hideous blanket made up of Statham's furrowed brow, green screen and theater farts. There's nary a character in this thing, and to be clear, when someone dies it's almost unnoticeable. I'm still not totally sure I understand why Statham's character is even in this movie, and to even touch upon the non-existent romantic tension between he and Bingbing's character is more than I have the energy to venture into. Also, Rainn Wilson gets to play a billionaire entrepreneur....lol. 

3. It looks like crap. Again, this movie cost $150 million dollars to make, yet prior to learning that I was convinced it had to of cost no more than $30-40 mil. I don't know where that money went, but it sure didn't go into the 4 sets that Turtletaub and company kept revisiting. Honestly, the best effect in the entire thing had to be the giant ball that one dude in the end kept rolling around in. Get me one of those, is really the point I'm trying to make with all of this.

Final Verdict: It's clear The Meg has no idea what kind of movie it wanted to be, other than one that tried to appeal to a bunch of different demographics. Instead it's just a joyless mess and one of the year's worst films.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 239

Eternity Girl #6
by Sonny Liew

 Sandman Universe #1
by Jae Lee

 Wonder Woman #52
by Jenny Frison

Death or Glory #4
by Andrew Robinson

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Monday, July 30, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 238

Eclipse #9
by James Stokoe

Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost #4
by Ron Garney

 Leviathan #1
by Nick Pittara

 Mister Miracle #10
by Mitch Gerads

The Wilds #4
by Natasha Alterici

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Friday, July 27, 2018

Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE -- FALLOUT Is A Relentless Joyride

Super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) knows something has gone wrong. The world is falling apart quicker than he can put it together. When he teamed up with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and took out the head of rogue spy network the Syndicate, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), he thought that threat was over. Little did he know that Lane's network would just get more aggressive and less controlled. Now facing a team of rogue agents intent on nuclear war, Hunt and his team - Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) - are in a race against the clock, and against (in grand Mission: Impossible tradition) their own government, to find the missing nukes and stop Lane's former network from using them to create a global catastrophe.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is, in a single word, amazing.

Mission: Impossible used to feel a bit like the odd man out when it came to American blockbusters. It was unusually filmmaker friendly - rather than each Mission: Impossible movie feeling like the one before it, each felt like an extension of its director's style and obsessions, for better (M:I & M:I IV) or worse (M:I II & M:I III), and each one brought in a new director. They were very nearly continuity free, a rarity in a landscape dominated by Cinematic Universes. And they depended heavily on relatively practical stunt. Ghost Protocol's Burj Khalifa stunt was the stuff of legend almost as soon as the film came out, and while the Vienna Opera House sequence in Rogue Nation was less technically demanding, it was one of 2015's most memorably tense, gorgeous set pieces. Rather than depending on brand recognition to coast by, Mission: Impossible has done, well, the impossible, and upped the ante on its stunts and set pieces in every single outing.

The trend continues here. Whether it's the breathtaking Halo Jump sequence, a motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris, or a frankly bananas sequence involving a helicopter boarding and chase, Mission: Impossible -- Fallout has some of that will almost certainly go down as the best action set pieces of the decade. And the action in Fallout is relentless; after an exposition-heavy first minute or two, Fallout takes off and rarely, if ever, takes a moment to let you catch your breath. The film runs about 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it feels crisp and controlled for damn near every second of it.

It's impossible to talk about what makes Mission: Impossible work without talking about Tom Cruise, and it's irresponsible to talk about Tom Cruise without at least mentioning that he is 1) a noted figurehead for a dangerous cult, and 2) famously kind of a piece of shit to some of the women in his life. He's also, and with good reason, one of the most iconic action actors of all time. I totally understand people who avoid his work, and I equally understand people who are drawn to the film in part because of Cruise's charisma. Just know that this, like every Mission: Impossible movie is very much the Tom Cruise show, and while it is the best possible iteration of that particular kind of programming, it is still, ultimately, a vehicle for Cruise's particular talents.

That is not to say that he doesn't have a stellar supporting cast behind him. Henry Cavill is perfectly cast as the stone cold CIA assassin shadowing Ethan and waiting for him to step out of line, while Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg remain excellent mission support, with Rhames' chill charisma bouncing off of Pegg's nerdy neuroticism. But they can't match Cruise.

One person may be able to, however: Rebecca Ferguson. Ferguson was the standout new character of Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation as a seemingly reluctant member of Lane's Syndicate, and she returns here with a vengeance. Ferguson's kinetic charisma is similar to Cruise's, someone who looks great and feels honest whenever she's in motion, and the movie makes damn sure she's in motion as often as possible. Once again, her role in the film is nebulous, part confidant and part fly in the ointment, letting Ferguson go toe-to-toe with Cruise while still maintaining audience sympathy. Ferguson's turn in Rogue Nation was star-making; in Fallout, the wattage is no less dim but the roll is dialed back just a bit, sadly. Still, even with a slightly less front-and-center roll, Ferguson shines.

Mission: Impossible -- Fallout is, to reiterate, amazing. It's one of the best blockbusters of the year. Hell, it's one of the best blockbusters of the 2010s. Alongside the similarly excellent (though admittedly superior) Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation, Christopher McQuarrie has cracked the code on why we love these movies and, in doing so, created two damn near perfect blockbusters. This is M:I's Skyfall, a big gorgeous burst of an action film with an abiding love for the history of the franchise and its characters -- but where Skyfall often faltered to incorporate Bond's history comfortably next to Craig's more minimalist take, Fallout is nearly note perfect.

Mission: Impossible -- Fallout is out now in theaters everywhere. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible -- Fallout stars Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, and Sean Harris.
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Monday, July 23, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 237

Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #5
by Tommy Lee Edwards

 Star Wars Adventures #12
by Elsa Charretier

 The New World #1
by Ian Bertram

Barbarella #8
by Christian Ward

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Monday, July 16, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 236

Euthanauts #1
by Nick Robles

The Life of Captain Marvel #1
by Julian Totino Tedesco

 The Weather Man #2
by Marcos Martin

 Dry County #5
by Rich Tommaso

Batwoman #17
by Michael Cho

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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