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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Geek Recs - Your guide to geeky things to do this week!

7/30: Justice League - The Flashpoint Paradox - Kyle and I watched this DC animated film last week in its early digital release, and I have to say that it was probably one of the best of these movies I've seen. Something goes terribly wrong in time and The Flash finds himself stuck in a world where Superman never appeared, Batman is completely different, and Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war. It's so much fun and highly recommended. 

7/31: Batman Incorporated #11 - The solicitation for this issue reads "Batman saves the world, and loses everything." How could you not want to read it? It helps that it's also the final issue of Grant Morrison's 7 year epic on the Caped Crusader. Expect to hear more about this in a future GeekRex retrospective!

7/31: Injustice Martian Manhunter DLC - The fans demanded it and now it's here! Those of us that love playing the fighting game Injustice are finally getting the one character we've been begging for in J'onn J'onzz. It also doesn't hurt that Justice League vet Carl Lumbly returns to voice our favorite green, shape-changing superhero!

8/2: The Europa Report - We were lucky enough to catch The Europa Report On Demand a few weeks ago, and it was well-worth the money. This is a strange blend of "mockumentary" in the science-fiction realm, somewhat like District 9, but more along the lines of a horror or thriller film. The film also talks loosely about actual events and presents itself as an alternative history about humanity's attempt to investigate potential life on Europa, a moon orbiting Jupiter.

8/2: The Spectacular Now - Things are looking pretty bright for The Spectacular Now on Rotten Tomatoes (91% as of this writing), a drama/comedy/coming-of-age indie movie in limited release this weekend. As huge Kyle Chandler fans, we can't wait to see this one, which comes from the writers of 500 Days of Summer (a wonderful, offbeat rom-com). The Spectacular Now is a story of a high school senior who falls for an unlikely classmate and the fallout that ensues.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Batman/Superman #2

While it may not have been the most risky move on their part, certainly one of the most surprising announcements at this years San Diego Comic Con was that WB/DC would be following up this summer's Man of Steel with a Superman/Batman movie.  The announcement sent shock waves throughout the geek community, even ending up as fodder for news on day time talk shows.  In other words, the public is very intrigued about DC's biggest heroes joining forces on film.  When it comes to comics, this is not a new thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly means more eyes will be on new series Batman/Superman by Greg Pak and Jae Lee.  With that in mind, it seemed best to take a look at this series' second issue to see how this creative team follows up on what was a spectacular debut in terms of art and story.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

GeekRex Podcast Episode 16

This week, Harper rejoins us as we take on The Wolverine! Then afterwards we run down some notable news items and our comic picks of the week.

You can listen to the latest episode of the GeekRex podcast on the player below, or on Itunes!

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Kyle reads Indie comics sometimes: The Underwater Welder

Jeff Lemire has become one of the highlights of a fairly rough past year for DC Comics. Jumping from a terribly unappreciated run on Superboy pre-DC relaunch, to riding a critically acclaimed run on Animal Man that many called the highlight of the "New 52". I've enjoyed some of his mainstream work, particularly his fabulous Green Arrow run that I've highlighted before on this very site, which is quickly becoming his answer to Scott Snyder's acclaimed Batman tenure. I can be a little hot and cold on Lemire overall though, but I've come to understand that the comics that he also provides the art for are always amongst the best of his work. With that said, in 2012, Lemire released a book years in the making with Top Shelf publishing entitled The Underwater Welder. I had been interested in digging a little deeper into Lemire's more stylized end of things for quite some time, and with a pitch that compares this story to a great episode of The Twilight Zone, how could I refuse? Granted, said pitch was by Damon Lindelof, which is not a positive endorsement necessarily, but I digress.

The Underwater Welder looks at the life of Jack. Jack works in the occupation of the title of the book at an oil rig in Nova Scotia, and he has a child on the way with his stay at home wife Suse. They live in Tigg's Bay, a place that Jack grew up in and brought Suse back to in order to work a menial labor job despite having a college education. The reason being, Jack is haunted by the memory of his father, who disappeared on Halloween night when Jack was a little boy. Jack's father, who has indeed departed the mortal coil, was also an underwater welder.  This relationship has haunted Jack his entire life and set the course for his fairly withdrawn adulthood. Jack is really only happy when he's alone and at work. One day he sees an item underwater that throws his world out of balance and eventually leads him to the somewhat otherworldly scenario that reads much like something Rod Serling would have penned. Jack becomes alone, will he find peace here or will he realize the mistakes of his past and come back home?

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Review: True Blood, "In the Evening"

Season 6, Episode 7

Grade: C-

Verdict: Once again we have another episode of True Blood ripe with apathy.  Not even the actors seem to care any more as the writers continue to force viewers to witness a litany of stories which do not matter, deciding to ignore more interesting plot threads.  Sam's story is completely useless and one that should have been forgotten a long time ago, no matter how many forced stakes are thrown in.  Sookie and Lafayette are the most interesting characters, as is the story of the reaction to Terry's death, but all of that is given too short of screen time.  Instead we are treated to more insight into this vampire concentration camp and some very horrible acting (a rare occurrence) from Alexander Skarsgard.  It is starting to become a miracle that this season is two episodes shorter.

Last week, True Blood took a bit of a dive in quality after a few episodes which were, surprisingly, mostly decent.  No matter how much good this show does, it always seems to make the mistake of giving too much attention to stories which, ultimately, do not matter to the overall end game of the story.  Perhaps it is because they feel fans would like to see more of their favorite characters, or it could be because they want these actors to get work, but whatever the reason is, it has become a chore to watch most sections of a True Blood episode these days due to so much superfluity.  Although, as we have learned this season, each week could be a surprise.  Unfortunately for us, this week's surprise is that things are not improving much at all.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: The Wolverine

When The Wolverine opens, we find the titular hero imprisoned in a well in World War II era Nagasaka just before the Atomic Bomb drops. I was immediately reminded of the Concentration Camp scene in the first X-Men when young Erik and his family are separated by the Nazi horde. The bookended nature of both of these prologues are simple in concept, but also allows you to dig deeper to think about the ramifications of the actions of its central characters. Erik is drug down by the worst of humanity and it sets the course for his impressions about humankind, and the eventual villainy he'll fall into as Magneto. On the other hand, Logan alternatively saves an enemy combatant's life by pulling him into the well with him before the bomb drops, thusly enacting his first truly heroic action of a long-lived life. The parallels between the beginning and the end of WWII, and the two worst moments of the entire conflict being featured as prologues in both films are also worth noting as a part of the somewhat circular narrative being built in the series. The scene is also out together in such a simple fashion, without heavy-handedness, that it's easy to just sit back and enjoy it for nothing more than background information. For the most part, this describes my feelings around The Wolverine to a T: simple, intimate, and a film carried by probably the best central performance of the big box office summer films this year. It's a shame that the final act mars the whole thing, until then, I would have argued this was the best of the summer.

Taking place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine opens with Logan (Hugh Jackman) living out in the wilderness, returning to the state he was in before Charles Xavier took him in. Haunted by dreams of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the woman he had to murder to save innocent lives, Logan resembles a hermit or a drifter. Circumstances eventually pull him out of his hiding, and into Japan where the man he saved in Nagasaki, Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) summons Logan for a dying request. After he passes, Logan becomes the protector of Yashida's granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) after she is targeted by the Yakuza. Logan gains a sidekick in Mariko's long-time friend Yukio (Rila Fukushima), another helping hand with slightly more mysterious motives in Harada (Will Yun Lee), and a villainous thorn in his side named Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), whose ultimate goal is to strip Logan of his powers that have caused his functional immortality.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Splash Page Volume 8

For Comics Released July 24, 2013

Greetings, everyone, and welcome to yet another edition of The Splash Page!  Before moving on, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to those of you who checked out my SDCC Edition of The Splash Page.  It was easily the highest viewed Splash Page article yet, and I hope this trend can only continue!  With SDCC now out of the way, we can finally ease back into a normal groove of comics each week.  Unfortunately for me, that normal groove means yet another very large pull.  I suppose I am just going to have to realize that the hope of having a small pull each week is something of the past if I want to keep up with all of the awesome comics that come out each week.  Once again I have been able to achieve somewhat perfect balance in my pulls from Marvel and DC.  With a little trickery in choosing my Spotlight Issue for this week, you will see below an even amount of Marvel and DC books, with one Image title thrown in.  I know my coverage of indie comics is not as extensive as it could be, but I also know most people reading comics buy superhero books, so I guess I'm covering all demographics.  But anyway, enough of my rambling, let's talk this week's comics!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Ultimate Comics: Spider-man #25

As the previous issue of Ultimate Spider-man proved, you don't even have to focus on Miles Morales or Spider-man for the comic to still be great.  Brian Michael Bendis poured his all into the introduction of the Ultimate Marvel U's Cloak and Dagger, giving them an origin that was tragic yet beautiful.  While their actions in the present of that issue were questionable, it was hard not to fall in love with the take on the two often forgotten characters in what was one of this series' best issues ever.  Sooner or later, however, you have to return to your main characters, and that is what this issue does.  The question going into the latest Ultimate Spider-man, then, is whether or not Bendis could keep setting the bar even higher after reached new heights just a month ago.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: The Mysterious Strangers #1

This has been an interesting summer to be reviewing comics on GeekRex.  While new comic books starting up is not a new thing by any means, it seems like there is a big boom in brand new comics.  Some of these have been reboots a la Marvel NOW or The New 52, but there have been just as many if not more brand new comics from indie publishers to debut over the past year.  Frankly, it is an exciting time to see the medium flourish with stories which seek to take advantage of the possibilities of comics.  While it may not be a lot of fun for our wallets, it also helps that many of these new series are actually very good.  A comic series which started this week (for the most part) is The Mysterious Strangers by Chris Roberson.  I had a familiarity with Roberson's work from reading his Cinderella standalone graphic novels set in the world of Vertigo series Fables, so I was more than willing to give his new story a chance.  So, does The Mysterious Strangers live up to the high bar set by other new indie comics this summer, or does it fail so miserably it has no chance of survival?

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Building A Better Superhero Universe: Marvel vs. Warner Bros. vs. Fox

It all started with X-Men.

Sure, you could make the case that the superhero movie craze really started with Blade, but the truth is, it was X-Men where a recognizable comic property became a fairly large hit at the Box Office after the crash and burn of the original Batman franchise. X-Men grossed a little under 300 million dollars worldwide. Such a total would be a disappointment by today's standards. This is a testament to just how big superhero movie franchises have become since.

But now, beyond incredibly large box-office expectations ("1 Billion Dollars or it's a failure!!") and massive scale budgets that usually range from 150-250 million dollars a film, the end all dream of fans has been the idea of translating the interconnected world of superhero comics on the silver screen. As we obviously all know, that changed in 2008 when Jon Favreau, really just as a winking joke, inserted a Samuel L. Jackson cameo into the end of Iron Man. Since then, every major studio that has their hands on a comic property or three is attempting to replicate Marvel Studios' incredible success. From a film obsessive and comic book lovers perspective, What are they doing right? Where are they stumbling? What would I personally wish they'd do differently? I'm going to take a look at the key three examples and give my (hopefully coherent) thoughts on the respective "universe building" plans as they currently stand and have been rumored to expand out further.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: True Blood, "Don't You Feel Me?"

Season 6, Episode 6

Grade: C+

Verdict: After a steady few episodes, True Blood takes a bit of a nose dive in quality.  Sookie's story arc is still pretty interesting, but it is not given much focus this week, or at least not enough to be engaging.  This is an episode which drags a bit in its first three quarters, presenting development after development in the story that either feels boring or downright stupid.  The train to Silly Town is boarded once again in several places this week as the episode has a lot of groaning, eye roll moments.  In its final minutes, however, True Blood quickly dispatches with two characters without warning, allowing for the episode to become a bit more intriguing.  Sadly, this slight improvement does not take away the apathy of the majority of the episode.

Perhaps I spoke too soon last week when I said that it appeared True Blood could be on an upswing, with noticeable work to make the show the more interesting drama it was in its opening seasons.  At San Diego Comic Con this week, much of the cast of the series was on hand to discuss the rest of Season 6, saying that they were going to be making a concerted effort to get back to basics.  Hopefully this week's episode is not an example of that effort as it is easily the show's worst episode in a while.  Although, as can be seen by the above grade, perhaps things aren't as bad as they could have been.  So where did this episode go to slip from the steady upward climb it had been making for the past two weeks?  Read on to find out!

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GeekRex Podcast Episode 15

This week, Kyle and Shane run down all the big news items of this year's San Diego Comic-Con, including ruminating on the two huge movie announcements from Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios. This is one not to miss!

You can listen to this latest episode on the player below or on Itunes!

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Review: The Conjuring

Horror, as a film genre, is in rough shape these days. I can count on one hand the number of horror films that I've enjoyed in the past ten years. James Wan has been anointed as a semi-savior for Horror films amongst its faithful, with "Saw" and "Insidious" obtaining both popular and critical success. I found the former a fairly interesting excursion that sequels and copy-cats took the wrong lessons from, and the latter was a mess. I went into "The Conjuring" hoping that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga could carry the day, unfortunately, it's tough to overcome a terrible script.

"The Conjuring" opens in 1971 Rhode Island, as Ed and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) move into a house they recently purchased at auction from the bank, along with their five daughters. By the first night, strange occurrences start to pile up, gross smells, slamming doors, and strange voice being heard. Eventually this ratchets up to ghostly projections and terrifying nights for the Perrons, so much so, that they enlist the assistance of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga), famous paranormal experts and demonologists. The Warrens set up shop in the Perron household and begin the process of trying to rid their family of the demon, while battling a few fears of their own.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: Fruitvale Station

WARNING: If you know absolutely nothing about the true story of Oscar Grant, this review will contain spoilers. 

On New Years Eve, Oscar Grant took the BART train into the city instead of driving to give his mother some peace of mind. By 10 a.m. on New Years Day, Grant was pronounced dead after being shot in the back while pressed into the pavement by BART police officers. Grant's last words, witnesses say, were: "You shot me. I got a four-year-old daughter." 

Oscar Grant's story is one with both ripples and depths. There is the story of Grant's life and premature death; the story of his family and how they cope with the loss; the story of the strangers who riot, and the outrage sparked by his murder. Digging deeper, there is the story of African American males in today's society, who as President Obama said recently, "are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence." Deeper still, this story is rooted in a nation's embarrassing past, embroiled in a history of slavery, segregation, discrimination, and finally fear, echoed in today's media with headlines featuring Paula Deen and George Zimmerman. All of these things are connected and staggering in scope, but "Fruitvale Station" uses a microscope to give us the story of a single day in one person's life. Although the implications of this movie are wide, the scope is narrow, delivering a well-told, concise, and moving film.  

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The Splash Page: Comic Con Edition

Welcome, dear readers, to a very special edition of The Splash Page.  This Splash Page is dedicated to discussing all things Comic Con.  Okay, maybe not all things, but at least some really awesome looking comics!  With all of the craziness of San Diego Comic Con winding down, it now becomes time to settle in and let all of the announcements process in our heads.  There has been A LOT announced over the past four or five days in terms of movies, television, and, of course, comics.  There are even things which would not necessarily be considered front page news which were announced at SDCC.  Since there is a lot of news to sift through from the past few days, I thought I would do a little bit of the work for you.  In this Comic Con Edition of The Splash Page, I will be taking you through some of the comics announced or expanded upon throughout the con which you should keep on your radar over the next year.  After all, it wouldn't be COMIC con without some comic news, right?  Right.  So, enough stalling, let's take a look at some new comics!

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: Only God Forgives

After 2011's "Drive" which stood proudly as my number one film of that year, I waited in breathless anticipation for Director Nicholas Winding Refn's follow up. "Drive" was the mainstream breakthrough that had long eluded Refn despite good critical notices for "Valhalla Rising" and especially "Bronson". Having never seen the former, and struggled through the latter, I was hopeful that Drive was a predilection for where Refn's filmmaking style would continue to travail. Having reunited with that previous film's star and the same composer, the possibilities for similar success were strong. Incidentally, "Only God Forgives" was booed and given a standing ovation at the same time at the Cannes Film Festival, promptly won the top prize at the Sydney Film Festival, and has a received generally negative reviews from critics. Where's the truth lie? For my part, somewhere in the middle, but generally towards the good.

"Only God Forgives" centers on Julian (Ryan Gosling) who runs a boxing club in Thailand with his brother Billy (Tom Burke) which fronts for their drug trade. After Billy rapes and murders a young girl, the police officer, named Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), overseeing the crime scene allows the young girls father to take vengeance on Billy. As a result of this end, Julian's mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) comes to Thailand to take vengeance and seeks to enlist Julian into that aim. The struggle between Julian's moral compass and his loyalty to his domineering mother, while Chang threatens further investigation into the family, is the focal point of the film.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Splash Page Volume 7

For Comics Released July 17, 2013

Hello, everyone, and welcome to yet another volume of The Splash Page!  We are in the midst of July, and if you're a comic nerd, you know what that means: San Diego Comic Con!  As if the amount of announcements on comics, television, and movies would not be enough to keep one nerd excited, this was also easily the largest pull I have had in some time.  This week's Splash Page is going to be absolutely massive, and Kyle didn't even contribute any reviews this time around.  It is a week that features a ton of Marvel, a few DC, and even two indie titles (one of them new).  It is a week of new story lines beginning, others continuing, and the much anticipated crossover Trinity War offering its latest chapter.  Since this is the week of SDCC, I figured I would be remiss if I did not do something to discuss some of those more awesome comic announcements.  With that in mind, keep a look out for a Comic Con Edition of The Splash Page coming early next week (once all of the festivities have died down).  I think that's all I've got to say right now, so let's dive into some comics!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013


In case you're not lucky enough to be at Comic Con this weekend (don't worry, we aren't either), we have some alternative suggestions for your weekend on this week's Geek Recs. 

1. David Lynch's, "The Big Dream" (releases 7/16)
We don't often make musical recommendations, and is may not be for everyone, but it's pretty hard for us not to pay homage to filmmaker legend David Lynch and give him a chance in his other mediums, including music. This is Lynch's sophomore solo album, and the album's first single is available streaming on YouTube or for download in iTunes.

2. Batman 66, #1 (releases 7/17)
DC returns to the days of Adam West with this throwback comic written by long-time Marvel writer Jeff Parker and art by indie artist Jonathan Case. This digital first series has been delighting comics fans for the past two weeks and now its first chapters are being collected in print in this first issue. Relive all the pop-art and "bam, thwap* of a time when Batman was more of a dancer and less of the brooding Dark Knight. It's great fun and highly recommended. While this first issue features the Riddler, it's expected that Parker will even be giving the Batman 66 treatment to a number of villains that never appeared in the series. Who doesn't want to see a swinging version of Bane or Killer Croc?

3. Fables #131 (releases 7/17)
Although this is a comic that broke the hearts of many fans with the killing of a major character, Fables begins a new arc this week that just may rope the grieving fans back in. Focusing on Rose Red and the Knights of the Round Table, hopefully the new arc "Camelot" has a much happier ending than recent Fables stories. 

4. The Conjuring (releases 7/19)
We're suckers for a genuinely scary movie these days, and unfortunately they are rare. Early reports of The Conjuring, however, look promising - the movie clocks in at an 86% positive ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 40-review sample size. This is the allegedly "true story" of paranormal investigators called in to help a family living in a secluded farmhouse. Added bonus: Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. 

5. Only God Forgives (releases 7/19)
It is with uncertainty and a grain of salt that we look forward to Only God Forgives. In a follow up to the critically-acclaimed Drive, Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn team up again to tell the story of a criminal running an underground boxing ring in Thailand. This movie was literally booed at Cannes, but we loved Drive so much, we're willing to risk the pain. 

Other than that, keep a close watch on all of your favorite Geek sites (ours included) for the constant barrage of announcement and news that is sure to come out of Comic Con this weekend!
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Kyle reads Indie Comics sometimes: Red Handed - The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

This is the first in a series that I'll be pulling together on an irregular basis. As Shane has taken over our comic reviews that focus more on the Big Two of DC and Marvel, I've taken it upon myself to stretch out into the areas that I find that I enjoy the most in the sequential art world which is the fabulous stuff being produced by the indies! Companies like Image, IDW, Dark Horse and even publishers have been producing the kinds of product that don't get the same level of attention as books starring the Avengers or Batman, but are far more thought provoking and compelling. These are titles that play with the form and advance the medium far beyond the near soap-opera elements that often bog down the superhero genre. While I'm still an avid reader of all types of comics, I hope I'm able to introduce you, dear reader, to a few new comic creators and their often mind-bending ideas whenever the mood strikes me to pull one of these together. First up is a creator that I've come to adore over the past year.

Matt Kindt is my kind of writer. He first came to my attention when he took over the much-missed "Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E." over at DC from Jeff Lemire and turned a slight homage to Hellboy into a spy/heist serial the likes of which you rarely see in mainstream comics. This tends to be the area that Kindt would likely see as his safety zone, having had phenomenal success with his "Super Spy" graphic novel at Top Shelf, and his "should have been nominated for an Eisner" on-going series "Mind MGMT" that both cover this very fertile ground in different ways (and I cannot recommend either enough). I've never read a writer who combines the cold, "massive in scope aura" of Christopher Nolan, with the ensemble casts of early Paul Thomas Anderson. You could easily replace those names with Fritz Lang and Robert Altman, but I digress. Matt Kindt is definitely the most promising talent that's on the verge of breaking loose with either Marvel or DC but he's holding his own quite well in the independent world. His latest release is "Red Handed...", a title I devoured in a night, I was so engaged in what I was reading.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Justice League #22

We have finally arrived.  Since The New 52 began, no large story at DC has received nearly as much hype as Trinity War.  Were this event happening at Marvel, you would have one main Trinity War mini-series, and then tie-in comics that spread across several different series for a number of months.  DC has made the wise choice to make this story remain within the family of Justice League titles, but that does not mean this is a crossover without size, scope, or stakes.  In many ways this is the beginning of a story at least two years in the making, one which we have had hints at for quite some time.  Now that this event has started, will it prove to be worth the wait?  Can writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire give us a story that rises to meet the hype that precedes it?  The time for speculation is over, the time for answers is here: Trinity War has begun.

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Review: The Newsroom, "First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers"

Season 2, Episode 1

Grade: A

Verdict: The Newsroom begins its second season with an episode that feels very much like a return to the format which made the first season so good.  Unfortunately, this means the episode will not likely do anything to sway viewers who may have disliked this series.  Story-wise, the series makes a slight shift in that it now contains an over-arching plot which will guide the season as a whole, making for a story which feels a bit more focused and keeps the viewer guessing as to how all of the pieces will fit together.  New story arcs such as a focus on the Occupy Wall Street movement are a mixture of the show's well established commentary on past events as well as a new way to expand upon certain characters.  Much of the personal drama which occurs outside of News Night still feels either forced or apathetic, but the aforementioned over-arching plot may seek to mend these problems.

Last year, Aaron Sorkin's latest foray into television, The Newsroom, was met with decidedly mixed reactions that tended to skew more positively.  The show's detractors were upset about a number of things.  A seemingly self-righteous attitude in the show's writing/Jeff Daniels' portrayal of Will McAvoy as well as accusations of blatant sexism were among the chief complaints.  Nevertheless, the show received consistent ratings, and Sorkin continued to prove to fans that he was creating a unique television experience that was providing a treatise on modern journalism that was desperately needed.  Now the show has begun its sophomore season, and many have been wondering if things will be business as usual, or if the series will simply continue to ignore the complaints lodged against it.

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Review: True Blood, "F*** the Pain Away"

Season 6, Episode 5

Grade: B

Verdict: After the previous episode provided an interesting enough twist to Sookie's storyline to make the show engaging again, this episode continues to expand on some of the more fascinating aspects of that development.  This episode provides some interesting examinations on two different themes, as well as giving a lot of emotional depth to some characters who sorely needed it.  Where the episode really falters, however, is in its continued coverage of stories which are, frankly, boring and feel superfluous to everything else going on this season.  True Blood could possibly be on the upswing as we reach the mid-way point of the season, but it is going to have to do a lot of work to gain back the trust of its viewers.

You may or may not have noticed that there was not a True Blood review last week.  It would be very convenient to blame something like a faulty Internet connection or the episode being so terrible there was no way to coherently express an opinion on it.  Unfortunately, the lack of review was more a result of laziness and not seeing last week's episode until a few hours before this week's.  Apologies on that end, but expect the True Blood reviews to (hopefully) be back on track starting now.  To briefly sum up some thoughts on last week's episode, it was downright shocking at how solid the previous week's episode really was.  For all of the crap this reviewer had been giving Sookie's storyline thus far this season, the writers really  surprised and took the story to a totally new and unexpected place, doing so in a way which did not feel nearly as silly as it could have.  Had there been a review of last week's episode, it would have easily gotten a B+ (the highest grade this season).  So now we move into this week's episode.  Will True Blood continue to improve, or will it return to its bad habits?

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Monday, July 15, 2013

GeekRex Podcast Episode 14

This week we debate the unfortunately divisive Pacific Rim, Shane enjoyed it, Kyle didn't. Then we dig into the TONS of news that hit the rounds this week.

Take a listen on the player below, or on Itunes!

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Confessions of a Movie Theater Employee: Tips and Tricks

If you are among the awesome people who take part in listening to our podcast each week, it may not surprise you to learn that I am a former movie theater employee.  I believe I have made mention several times of my experiences working at a movie theater, but each of those moments has been rather brief.  Here at GeekRex, we have been working to create a website which provides more than just reviews, but also features.  Enter: Confessions of a Movie Theater Employee, or COAMTE for you twitter users.  Taking my experience of spending time working at one of my hometown's local movie theaters, I have decided to bring a series of feature articles which will be published from time to time.  Do not expect this to be a weekly thing by any means, but don't be surprised if 1-2 pop up each month.  This will be a series for me to share my experiences, rant about things that happen at the movie theater I find annoying, maybe tell a funny story or two, and, in the case of today's posting, offering tips and tricks for making the most of your time at a movie theater.  I hope that you all get a lot out of this and enjoy it as much as I have had fun working on it.  

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Steam Summer Sale! Mike's Picks

It's that time of year where the days are longer than the nights and the interminable rain intermingles with the blisteringly hot Sun (at least if you live in Atlanta right now). The grass is growing out of control, grills are being fired up, and no one knows where all the damn mosquitoes are coming from. That can only mean one thing - it's time for Steam's Summer Sale!

Okay, none of this stuff is actually related, but still this exciting time of year is upon us again! I suggest taking advantage of it now, as who knows when it will happen again? (December is when it will happen again, they do it about every 6 months)

For the uninitiated, the seasonal sales on Steam are a period of two weeks where a large swathe of their catalog is deeply discounted (33~66% typically, with 50% being the average) and with rotating daily and 8 hour deals with much heavier discounts (50~75%). There is also a daily vote for one out of three items (sets picked by Valve) to be a rolling daily deal; whichever is picked is discounted at its highest level for the next 24 hours before the new game is picked.

There are simply a ton of games on Steam and there is no one summary page as so much stuff is on sale. With that in mind, and the fact that I haven't been able to make myself write up and recommend as many games as I would like, I thought I would do some quick recommendations given the time-sensitivity of the sale. Two weeks goes a lot faster than you'd think!

Note, I will skew towards smaller games that you may not have heard of but that I personally recommend. A lot of these games are normally only $5-20 so at 75% off you can get a stupid amount of gaming for a very wallet-friendly price.

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The Splash Page Volume 6

For Comics Released July 10, 2013

Hello, everyone, and welcome to an all new volume of The Splash Page!  I hope everyone has had a great week so far.  With it being the first week after a holiday, it seems things are steadily getting back to normal, and that includes this week's comics!  My pull this week was significantly larger, and, frankly, there was a lot more to be excited about this week than there was the previous.  I'm pretty excited for you guys to see the reviews for some of this week's comics as I have finally achieved perfect balance in my comics pull.  Yes, as you'll see below, there is a perfectly even amount of comics from Marvel, DC, and Image!  July is really starting to heat up as we creep closer and closer to San Diego Comic Con.  The always much hyped comic book, movie, and television convention starts next Thursday, July 18.  You may want to keep your eyes on GeekRex that week as there will undoubtedly be some very cool things with The Splash Page involving SDCC.  Anyway, let's dive into this weeks comics.  Below you'll find reviews for huge new story arcs, continuing stories, and even a brand new comic series you must pick up.  Enjoy!

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Review: Pacific Rim (A Case Against)

Pacific Rim starts off promisingly; we’re introduced to a startlingly built mythology and lots of grand scale. There are more ideas presented in it's first 10 minutes than films like World War Z have in their entire running times. In this world, the alien creatures that attack Earth, known as Kaiju, become cultural icons and are simultaneously deadly menaces as well as toys and action figures, for example. When we’re first introduced to the Jaegers, pairs of pilots determined to stop the Kaiju by mentally link up via a bit of hand-wavey neuroscience called “The Drift”, we see that pilots are able to share each other’s memories. This is a very clever idea and something that was completely hidden from all marketing in the film. But much like the very inventive backstory, all of the promising developments that could be pushed to the fore via this narrative device are slapped aside, like a Jaeger hitting a Kaiju with a boat.
Pacific Rim’s sole focus is action, and lots of it. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but as a viewer, you need to be able to connect to the characters so that there are some levels of stakes that you can invest in. The players in Pacific Rim aren’t really characters so much as broad archetypes; you have the handsome loner with a scarred past, his angry rival, the big boss that barks orders but really has a heart of gold, the potential love interest who is a hero in her own right, and the wacky scientists. Certainly this is the kind of film that may appeal to a kid-focused audience (and those that are able to check their brain at the door), but it’s hard not to be disappointed with just how conventional a director of Del Toro’s stature actually went with the material. It’s a story where I knew each of its beats the moment every character was introduced. Each player is imbued with so little personality beyond some on-the-surface purposing that its impossible to create any emotional investment. The only time the film came to life at all is via a surprise Ron Perlman appearance as a shady dealer in Kaiju parts, a character that lives and breathes in a way that none of the others really do. In the end, I had no reason to care about anything going on because the script focused on the least interesting element of the world as presented.
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Review: Pacific Rim (A Case For)

If I had to define my taste in movies, it'd be a stretch to say that I'm generally a fan of big-budget blockbusters or action movies. I never collected action figures or comics, and the CGI I typically enjoy is the sort that creates adorable, PG-rated children's movies.

That said, I absolutely loved every minute of Pacific Rim.

Word on the street about Pacific Rim is that it feels like a movie made for 12-year-old boys (an argument that is made both in the positive and the negative, depending on the review). Having never been a 12-year-old boy, I'd argue this is close, but not quite accurate, to the sentiment it's capable of stirring. The surprising thing about Pacific Rim is that it's high-end, flashy, and all very new-looking, but it manages to gently tug at the heart, producing pure joy and nostalgia by taking some of our favorite character archetypes and action mechanisms (robots, aliens) and delivering them in a way that allows us to smile, and laugh, and get excited in a way that so many terrible action movies don't.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

GeekRex Podcast Episode 13

This week Kyle and Shane chat about "The Last of Us", the week in comics and the upcoming SDCC schedule and our predictions about what may be unveiled!

You can listen to this episode on the player below or on Itunes!

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Satellite Sam #1

Quick.  Name an era where television was at its absolute best.  Most of you probably said sometime close to the present, didn't you?  You may be right.  We live in a time where serialized dramas have become a place for some of the best writing, acting, and directing anyone has ever seen on television.  But this is also an age of a pandemic of reality television and long expired sitcoms that just don't know when to quit.  So is this really a second Golden Age of Television?  Maybe, maybe not.  Now, think back to that first Golden Age.  Most mark the Golden Age of television as taking place from around the late 1940's to the early 1960's.  Such was a time when classic shows like I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and any number of other shows dominated the air waves.  It was a time when television was beginning to come into its own as a medium of entertainment, seeking to prove any nay-sayers of the "boob tube" wrong.  This time in our history does not seem like the most obvious setting for a comic book, but that is just where writer Matt Fraction has placed his new series Satellite Sam.  Image Comics has been on a roll lately with brand new comics, so will Satellite Sam rise to the top with the rest of the company's titles?  Only way to find out is to keep reading!

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MOVIE SHOWDOWN: Monsters University vs. Despicable Me 2

The past few weeks have seen the release of two legacy, computer-animated children's movies, with the first being Pixar's "Monsters University," a prequel to the 2001 "Monsters, Inc." and the subsequent being Universal's "Despicable Me 2", a sequel to the 2010 animated film. If you're not interested in seeing both, we've got a movie showdown brewing based on five randomly-selected (by which we mean thoroughly-constructed and scientifically-precise) dimensions: Characters, Plot, Voice Cast, Animation, and Humor. Let the games begin! 

Round 1: Characters 

This round is probably the closest battle out of all five. Both films have well fleshed-out, interesting characters that have already been well-established in previous films. Despicable Me 2 writers must have realized from its first go-around that the most likable part of its cast are the babbling, line-less, and unrelentingly adorable minions, which are featured more prominently in the sequel. And for the minions alone, Despicable Me 2 almost wins. But Monsters University has a superior set of villains who are darker and much less caricatured, along with lovable, flawed protagonists that are equal in depth and character to Gru and his children. So, by a hair, Monsters University eeks out a victory in this category. 

Winner: Monsters University 

Round 2: Plot 

In a decidedly less close battle, we have the battle of plot. In Monsters University, we see the origin of Mike and Sulley's friendship as they compete to win the Scare Games, a competition that will secure their places as top scarers in the university. This is a college story about learning who you are and what you want to do in life. Despicable Me 2 is almost the reverse; this is the story of what happens when you've finished with your calling and are ready to retire or move into a new field (specifically, what happens when you retire from being a notorious villain to spend more time with your family). The latter is far more interesting. Children's movies are rarely unpredictable, but Monsters University was more boiler plate and generic. Despicable Me 2 took some unexpected turns and felt light and fresh in comparison to Monsters University, which felt like it was working too hard to get us to its end point and set up the beginning of the original movie.  

Winner: Despicable Me 2 

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Geek Recs: July 7 - 14

The last few weeks of entertainment media have treated us somewhat unkindly, ending many of our favorite shows and passing the time with good-not-great animated movies. But behold - this week, things are looking up! Starting with... 

1. The Walking Dead, 400 Days: Technically this came out last week, but we're still working our way through it, and maybe you are too. This DLC is the latest chapter in The Walking Dead, a game we think you should be playing. Titled 400 Days and available for $5 on PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360, this chapter focuses on a new set of characters and is rumored to be a bridge between the original game and an upcoming sequel. The latest chapter of this tale provides roughly 2 hours of game play. 

2. Spring Breakers: We see so many movies in the theater that Blu-ray and DVD releases are only occasionally exciting to us (because how many movies are really worth owning?), but this week happens to be one of those. Spring Breakers was one of our favorite movies so far this year and it comes out Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray. If you haven't seen it, RedBox this movie. Even if you hate Spring Breakers, it'll be absolutely worth the $1 price tag when you see James Franco perform a Britney Spears ballad.  

3. Justice League #22: After months of hints and hype, we are finally getting the start of the crossover titled Trinity War on Wednesday. Linking Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark, this crossover is said to begin with the death of a hero that sparks a feud among the three teams. This is an event that has been a long-time coming and is easily the most exciting thing DC has done in a while. If you are a comics fan, this should be one you definitely pick up! 

4. Pacific Rim: Monsters. Guillermo del Toro. Robots. Idris Elba. CHARLIE DAY. Just shut up and take our money. This movie releases on Friday. 

5. Newsroom: On the heels of the Veep and Game of Thrones finale, we've been aching for some decent HBO programming. And no, True Blood is not filling that void. Here's hoping that Season 2 of the Newsroom is successful and continues to build on the momentum it built last year. Look for the Season 2 premier on Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern. 
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Friday, July 5, 2013

The Splash Page Volume 5

For Comics Released July 3, 2013

Hello, everybody, and welcome to a brand new volume of The Splash Page!  As you may have noticed, The Splash Page is coming to you on a Friday this week instead of a Thursday.  I would have loved to have given you my thoughts on my pull of this week's comics yesterday, but, let's be honest, most of you were out having fun with family and friends yesterday so you wouldn't have been able to check out this awesome little comics article anyway.  All of this to say I will go back to posting The Splash Page on Thursdays next week!  Since there was a holiday this week, it also meant that the amount of comics released was a little small.  While this means a shorter Splash Page this week, my wallet is not complaining at all after two big pulls one right after the other.  In addition, I am thrilled to announce that I pulled the exact same number of Marvel and DC books this week for the first time in a very long time!  I know that I had promised to make the Spotlight Reviews more even if I ever had such a pull, but, I think you will like the route I have decided to take instead.  So, anyway, without further ado, let's check out how some comics turned out this week!

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: The Way Way Back

Jim Rash has been a favorite of ours for quite some time. He's the only standout remaining on Community in his role as "The Dean", and his first foray into motion picture screenwriting (with Nat Faxon) produced the wonderful (and Academy Award Winning) "The Descendants", one of the more touching looks at mortality and family connection that I can recall. I was excited to get a chance to see his directorial debut with his partner Faxon in this coming of age comedy "The Way Way Back". Rash, as a comedic writer, produced one of the better scripts of this past season of Community, an otherwise deplorable affair. It would lead one to the conclusion that Rash and Faxon's comedic chops are fairly strong. It's with regret that I must dissuade you, dear reader, of this notion.

"The Way Way Back" is the story of Duncan (Liam James) who is going on a trip with his mother (Toni Collete), her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell) and his daughter (Zoe Levin) to the beachhouse owned by Trent. While Duncan's relationship with his mother is strong, his introverted ways are a sticking point in his relationship with the much more gregarious Trent. On a bike ride through town and into the beach, he happens upon Owen (Sam Rockwell) who befriends him and talks him into coming to work at the Wizz World Water Park in which he is the manager. At the same time, Duncan strikes up a friendship with the daughter of their kooky neighbor (Anna Sophia Robb and Allison Janey respectively), and through these two growing relationships, he's able to steel himself against a rising tide of turmoil in his family life.

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Film Dispenser - GeekRex Co-Podcast Episode 1

Film Dispenser and GeekRex are proud to present the first in a set of collaborative podcasts between our teams, be on the lookout for these new podcasts that touch on areas not normally covered by either of our individual shows.

First up: Spencer, Kyle, Katy, and Hannah chat about the recent season of Mad Men: Our favorite moments, the mystery that is Bob Benson, the role of the female players this year, and our predictions for where it may go moving forward!

Take a listen on the player below or on Itunes!

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: True Blood, "You're No Good"

Season 6, Episode 3

Grade: B-

Verdict: Three episodes in and True Blood finally has its least silly episode of the season.  That being said, there are still numerous storylines present in this season that feel superfluous.  Eric's war with the humans continues to be the most intriguing aspect of the story thus far, while Bill continues to be a big question mark in terms of motivations.  Alcide and Sam get some decent enough development, and while the tension in that plot thread is amplified significantly, there is still the dangling question of why any of this is even happening.  Sookie's story feels less cheesy this week, but not any more interesting.  Although, on the whole, this is a much more solid episode for the series, the terribly slow pacing makes for an episode that still falls short.

So, True Blood viewers, how many of you guys actually stuck around for this episode?  If you left on the previous episode, it is doubtful that many would blame you.  Not only was last week's episode incredibly silly, but it was also one of the worst hours of television in recent memory.  Unfortunately, some of us are gluttons for punishment (or at least hits on a website that reviews all things geek), so this reviewer decided to continue giving True Blood chances it probably doesn't deserve.  With this season only containing ten episodes (as opposed to twelve), it makes the mediocre to downright terrible quality of some of the stories, writing, and acting on this show all the more distressing.  On the one hand, if every episode is bad, then this means we will only have to deal with just a few more episodes.  On the other hand, if the show could improve, the lower amount of episodes could be an excellent way for the show to get back on track with a tighter narrative.  Did True Blood make a step back into the light (no pun intended) with this episode?  Keep reading to find out!

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Checking Back In On: 25 Films to look forward to in 2013

As we have entered July, we have come upon the halfway point of the film-going season. Back in January, I pulled together my list of 25 Films to look forward to in 2013, a mix of indie and big budget fare that I was excited about at the time. At this point, I have seen ten of the films on the list, and finally gotten better looks at a number of them that didn't have trailers at the publication date of the previous article. In short, it's been a bit of a lackluster year in film so far, with two to three major standouts that surprised me and everything else kind of fading into the pack. This isn't necessarily a big surprise, as the first quarter of the film-year is usually quite bad with studios dumping their worst material in the January-April timeframe. The prestige stuff also not coming until September-December also skews things a bit, so alot of the big disappointment comes with the summer releases so far. But let's dig in a little deeper into these particular films that I cited earlier this year...

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: Justice League of America #5

If you have not been reading Justice League of America, you may or may not have heard that a major death appeared to occur in the most recent issue.  Yes, on the final page of issue 4, we saw the body of Catwoman lying on the floor and bleeding out, with no apparent hope for survival.  By fans, this was a death that was met with a bit of a surprise as, for the past few years, the death of a major character has usually been spoiled by some major news outlet weeks in advance (USA Today spoiled that Ultimate Peter Parker would be killed off, then becoming the source to reveal Miles Morales as his replacement).  Nevertheless, this death caused rampant speculation of just how the next issue would unfold.  As Catwoman not only has her own solo series but has been featured in all of the artwork for the upcoming Trinity War, most of this speculation was on just how Geoff Johns would bring Selina Kyle back.  Well we finally have our answer in the last issue of JLA before Trinity War.  Although the method of Catwoman's resurrection is one that some fans predicted, that does not mean it was one which was necessarily pleasing.  Keep reading to find out how this and other matters unfolded in the latest issue!

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