If you like edgy superhero flicks and missed Kick-Ass 2 in theaters, it’s now available on Blu-ray and DVD. If you liked the original, you’ll love the sequel. Kick-Ass 2 pretty much requires you’ve seen the original Kick-Ass, a truly novel, unique, and interesting piece of filmmaking. It’s a good film that takes an idea from a Mark Millar comic book series and propels it into a big-time action movie. But Kick-Ass 2 does something rare–its success is being better than both the original film and Millar’s source material. It’s a great superhero flick and a fun, awesome, over-the-top action movie, with villains you’ll want to see crushed and downtrodden heroes you’ll want to see persevere.
The caveat for the Kick-Ass franchise is you can’t be offended by a teen or pre-teen with a thorough and eloquent knowledge and use of George Carlin’s seven dirty words. You’ll hear all of them. Many times. And if you can’t tolerate a big dose of over-the-top violence, pick another film to watch. This probably rules out a big segment of the adult audience. In another director’s hands, this would be a gimmick, even an annoyance, but Jeff Wadlow knows his characters and audience and deftly moves beyond the Whedon-Buffyverseworthy dialogue to a superhero film that can be both gritty and tongue-in-cheek, and manages to be on par with Stan Lee’s original Spider-man, only juxtaposing innocence against the worst of society to an in-your-face extreme.
The only missing piece in Kick-Ass 2 is Nicolas Cage, who played Damon Macready, alias Batman-esque Big Daddy, in the original film. Father to Chloë Grace Moretz’s Mindy, aka Hit Girl, events in the original explain his absence in this sequel. But Kick-Ass 2 makes up for his absence with some other great performances from new additions. One is Jim Carrey’s almost unrecognizable performance as an ex-mob enforcer turned superhero called Captain Stars and Stripes. Carrey completely embraces the role of the leader of a league of good guys trying to take back their streets, and the result is one of his best performances–up there with his shape-shifting Ace Ventura, and zany Stanley Ipkiss aka The Mask. The always superb John Leguizamo turns in a similarly good performance as a majordomo for the show’s villain, the returning Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) as Chris D’Amico. Mintz-Plasse plays the evil villain bit for all it’s worth–he’ll make you cringe while you cheer for his imminent demise.
Were I Joe Hollywood, that puppet master that controls the destiny of all things in Entertainmentland, who has infinite resources and influence and what he says goes, I’d put Bryan Singer forward as the next director of the next movie release for Star Trek, Star Wars, or any DC Comics property. The guy behind the X-Men movies, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, House, M.D., and The Usual Suspects could make magic out of any mega-franchise. And yes, I do believe his Superman Returns dances circles around last year’s feeble attempt at rebooting the Superman mythos.
Were I Bryan Singer, I’d use the new X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer as my business card, as page one of my portfolio for the new mega-franchise gig. Unlike the earlier Days of Future Past trailers released, this new preview gives us a major glimpse of the scope of this new story, and some brilliantly designed sets and character interactions. Not to mention more of that 1970s retro that moviemakers can’t seem to get enough of recently. As a child of the 1970s, I am all for that (although it would be nice to see a real view of the decade at some point and not just what the 1970s looked like in New York City and Los Angeles over and over again).
But it’s all really about bringing Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey back for a Phoenix movie, right? Why else go to all this trouble to change “this” timeline?
You can definitely get the feel that this new time travel story could get the “fixing the past” concept right. There’s not much better for a sci-fi aficionado than a killer time travel story, so here’s hoping Days of Future Past is as good as it looks. Maybe even good enough to propel Singer into some other big franchises.
Here’s the latest trailer for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past:
In the same way that Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series took us by surprise as the best new series of 2012 (and hasn’t let up in 2014), Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow monthly comic book series is proving to be at the top of the 2014 titles. Strange that the duo of Hawkeye and Black Widow is well-known to be a second tier partnership within the Avengers, yet they are the stars of some of the best monthlies the Marvel universe has to offer.
The Black Widow series follows Natasha Romanova and her attempt to atone for her past sins as a mercenary, assassin, general all-around “bad guy.” She selects missions these days very carefully. Her goal is making money but not hurting anyone in the process. And that money goes into trust funds and pays off her web of back-up operatives around the world—nothing in her plans is about profit-taking.
That doesn’t mean she won’t be tapped for S.H.I.E.L.D. or Avengers projects from time to time. Former agent and now director Maria Hill (who you’ll recall is played by Cobie Smulders in the live-action Marvel universe) brings her in on a few missions. They make a great team. Edmondson has a great feel for Romanova. In the same way Fraction was able to show the personal side of Hawkeye, Edmondson scratches the surface of what makes this lethal heroine tick, but her character shows great depth. Yet as she says at the beginning of her series “my full story will never be told”.
With so many on-going monthly series in the DC Comics New 52 universe, it’s sometimes difficult to find an entry point into the DC Comics titles because of continuing story arcs. If you’ve dumped one or more titles and want to get back in, where do you start?
One entry point for you may be Detective Comics, Issue #30, the beginning of a new story arc titled “Icarus.” In this first chapter we don’t learn what Icarus is, but we do meet up with an interesting Batman, moving on past the death of son Damian. We also meet Elena Aguila and her daughter Annie, a motorbike daredevil who looks like she’s cut out to be the next Robin. Similar to one of the main story threads in the Arrow TV series, Elena and Bruce Wayne are forging an alliance to restore the welfare of the citizens in the community of Gotham’s East End Waterfront District.
Replacing Wayne’s plans to commercially develop that area of town, and the likely deals with businessmen in Gotham City that he is going to need to cancel to do it, will no doubt create some enemies for Wayne in the process.
From the previews of the 2014 theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy, we get the feel we’re dealing with the motley crew of a Firefly class-inspired vessel, Marvel universe style. Along with that we see plenty of “bounty hunters” or assassin types previewed. Fans of the Eleventh Doctor on the Doctor Who TV series are particularly eager to watch the actress who played the beloved Amelia Pond—Karen Gillan—as the very futuristic looking alien assassin Nebula. Gillan even shaved her head for the role.
We don’t know how great Nebula’s role will be in the film, but she gets center spotlight in the first of two “prelude” comic book issues from Marvel Comics.
Like Darth Vader, Mara Jade, and Anakin Skywalker were subjects of the Emperor, we meet up first with Nebula as she is being guided by the villainous Thanos. And similar to the plot the previews have promised us for the new Tom Cruise summer release Edge of Tomorrow, this warrior fights and loses and is somehow recycled to live and fight on another day. Like Vader and Skywalker, Nebula, too, is part cybernetic.
If you’re missing the Flash Gordon of the 1980 movie then a new monthly comic book series beginning today may be for you. Following the original story elements from Alex Raymond’s original stories first laid down in 1930s comic book strips discussed previously at borg.com here and here, but updating elements to the present day, Dynamite Comics is rebooting Flash Gordon for a new audience.
Issue #1 of the new series finds Flash Gordon and sci-journalist Dale Arden a year ago, with Arden covering the last space shuttle’s decommissioning, and Flash bungee jumping. One year later at they are about to encounter the planet Mongo, and the dreaded Emperor Ming, for the first time. That is, after a slight detour to the planet Arboria, and an encounter with Prince Barin.
Like the 1980 movie, this Flash Gordon series has a confident, cocky and a bit foolhardy Flash, and a no-nonsense, sharp, and attractive Dale. It’s just brought forward a bit with the starting point–34 years updated from the film. Jeff Parker is the series writer, with art by Evan Shaner.
After the break, we have a preview of Flash Gordon, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:
If you want to see a bit of faith that there is some goodness in humanity, you’ll want to check out a new show this Wednesday on PBS. My Bionic Pet tracks down the efforts of some compassionate, superhero humans who have used their imaginations and energy to make the lives of several animals better through prosthetics and other means. Ignoring the old cliché of “putting down” an animal for having a lame limb or otherwise non-life threatening malady, the show recognizes the value of animals’ lives and their contributions to those around them.
My Bionic Pet looks at an alligator with a prosthetic tail, a swan with a prosthetic beak, as well as a pig, a pony and dogs with bionic limbs.
Check out this preview of My Bionic Pet:
We at borg.com have been pretty excited about Bill Willingham and Sergio Fernandez Davila’s new monthly Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure. So much so that our resident author and frequent TV and movie reviewer Elizabeth C. Bunce cosplayed one of the characters at Planet Comicon last week (and Willingham said yesterday on Twitter it may be the first time anyone cosplayed one of his non-Fables characters!). Check out our earlier review of Issues #1 and #2 of the series here. Call it steampunk, steam-noir, or as Willingham prefers “steampulp,” the new series is moving full steam ahead with the Dynamite Comics arsenal of licensed characters from the past and telling their story in a fun, new way. And what’s more exciting than taking the Bionic Man in a new direction?
Last month we sneaked a peek at future marketing blurbs and knew this was coming, but the origin story of Major Steve Austin and scientist pal Oscar Goldman was even more intriguing than we could have hoped for. The opening image of Steve Austin in a wheel chair–the result of some experimental flying gone wrong and an “uncooperative autogyro”–is just plain inspired.
Austin’s first mission with his $6,000 worth of prosthetics comes about when Captain Victory’s dirigible encounters a disaster in-flight. Austin and Goldman’s chummy banter is immediately believable and true to their mirror universe 1970s incarnation.
The Six Thousand Dollar Man’s design, both in this month’s Legenderry Issue #3, and the formal look on the cover, has set up a gentlemanly steampunk hero whose exploits, whatever they come to be, could take on the best of the genre–if given a chance.
After the break, check out this preview of Legenderry, Issue #3, from Dynamite Comics, featuring the first appearance of The Six Thousand Dollar Man:
Comedian David Brenner was said to have been Johnny Carson’s favorite guest on The Tonight Show, showing up on 157 episodes. He passed away this weekend at age 78. Watching clips decades later reminds you how easy Carson and Brenner could fill air time with a quick chat and be able to make others laugh so effortlessly, and how much of a good guy Brenner seemed to be. When I was a kid, I’d try to get my parents to “let me stay up to watch Carson” and they often let me, to my sleepless glee. But I was disappointed if the show didn’t have David Brenner as a guest or as guest host. I liked to watch him laugh as he told his jokes, and his humor, whether I understood it all or not, made me laugh. I learned of Brenner’s passing via a nice comment by Jimmy Fallon on Monday night’s episode of The Tonight Show, where Fallon has returned to the kind of humor as the new host of the long-lived show, the kind of humor that kept audiences rolling back in the 1970s and 1980s with Brenner’s brilliant monologues.
I liked Brenner so much that when his autobiography came out before I was a teenager I nabbed it up, maybe the only autobiography I read until adulthood. Again, some of it was outside of my understanding back then. And here’s a strange thing. My personal sleep habits spring from staying up late to watch Carson and Saturday Night Live, but even more so to Brenner’s own sleep clock. I latched onto the fact that Brenner said he would only sleep about four hours each night, nothing close to the eight hours most people aim to get. He figured if he kept it up he could live–be awake–something like 20 years longer than everyone else. People say you need 8 hours of sleep per day, yet Brenner made it to 78. Bravo. It makes me wonder if he kept up that 4-hour sleep plan. Because of Brenner I have never bought into the need for the eight-hour nightly sleep. My own strange takeaway from this funny funnyman.
Called Soft Pretzels with Mustard, Brenner’s autobiography is a story of a kid growing up in Philly and how he picked up his sense of humor along the way. The book became a bestseller and I count it as one of my favorites.
My favorite clip of The Tonight Show with Brenner is one of the funniest pieces of television you’ll ever see and I last saw it on a Johnny Carson anniversary show. I scanned the Web for it to no avail, but found Brenner’s own recollection of the episode:
“Johnny loved to catch someone NOT watching the “Tonight Show,” especially when they were on it. So one night I was on the show and I did my act and I came over and sat on the couch and, if you remember, sometimes the last guest would be the author of a book.