Walrus's 11: Dream Edition

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Yeah, this movie is a few months old, but it just got nominated for best something or other so I thought it was timely to put up a quick review of this movie here on the ol' blog.


Story
This was a smart, thinking person's sci-fi tale that somehow had broad appeal. In spite of my natural inclination to not like things that are strongly recommended to me with enthusiasm that cannot possibly be lived up to, I watched Inception and still quite enjoyed it. The story was solid and well put together. The movie is built around a set of rules that are easy to understand and not boringly explained throughout the movie. There are a couple of "actually's" that bothered me (something happens that would seem to indicate a common result, except actually in this case it doesn't), but the story largely adheres to those rules.

In a lot of ways, this isn't a sci-fi movie, but a cross between a love story and a heist movie with a sci-fi backdrop. The heist is well thought out and made me feel I was watching Ocean's 11 rather than the inferior 12 or 13. The characters are well-developed, although Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character seemed to get the shaft. He has some great scenes, but some of his abilities seem to come out of nowhere.

Presentation
Pretty solid all the way around. I am not the biggest fan of "Dreamboat Leo," but he does alright here. Tom Hardy outshines the rest of the cast in my opinion and any blame I had assigned him for Star Trek: Nemesis, I now remove. Special effects were good. Music was good.

As an aside, Christopher Nolan hasn't made a bad movie yet. He may not have gotten the best director Oscar nod for this movie, but he's bound to land that gem someday. While I put no particular stock in the Oscars, if it's something he wants, I hope he gets it. It would be well-deserved.


STORY
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PRESENTATION
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REWATCHABLE
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Yeah, not only would I watch this again, but I'd love to see a sequel. I think there's plenty more room for stories in this universe.

The Cape: Use It to Cover Your Eyes

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cape_promoOut of curiosity and some friendly goading by our buddy Jack, I watched the pilot episode of The Cape that aired a couple Sundays back. NBC has been promoting the hell out of this show and pitching it as a superhero drama that’s accessible to mainstream audiences.  You would think that a caped crusader, Summer Glau, and Keith David would make for a show with potential. I wish I could say it delivered.

 

Jack has a good synopsis of the show in his blog post, but the premise is pretty simple. In order to take private control over a city’s police force, a billionaire mogul promotes crime and sets up a straight laced policeman to take the fall as a criminal mastermind. After being trained by a group of circus performers, the honest cop assumes the persona of the superhero The Cape and fights for justice and for his old life he had to leave behind to protect his family. The Cape is helped by a super hacker (think Microchip or Batgirl) who provides intel and tech support. The pilot seemed heavily influenced by Robocop and some Marvel and DC comic elements.

 

I admit that it’s unfair to judge a show on a premiere episode. Personally I prefer to give 3 or 4 episodes for a show to find its legs, but the pilot episode (available on Hulu) did nothing for me. I thought the writing was trite and the chemistry was lacking, except for some scenes with James Frain. Several people, including Digio over at The Atomic Geeks have made the comparison to NightMan. The Cape’s production values are certainly superior to anything NightMan could offer, but I will be amazed if CapeMan can hang on for the 42 episodes that its late 1990s predecessor managed.

Nerd Lunch: The Web Series - Episode 1

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I want to make a few special shout outs here. First, there are two people who are integral to our being able to present this to you. When concepting the show a few months back, I felt like it wouldn't work if I didn't have someone along for the ride. Since Jeeg and PLee are 900+ miles away from me, that meant finding someone new. I could not be happier to have found the perfect co-host in Savannah from thetallytype.com. And, of course, we need a person behind the camera and for that we have photographer extraordinaire Scott Holstein of Scott Holstein Photography. He does a great job keeping us on track and making us look good.

Our first guest on the show is Blake Kandzer who is an independent comic book writer/artist. He was very gracious to share his time and show us his art. We staged our meeting at his local comic book shop located in Tallahassee, The Cosmic Cat. Thanks to them as well for letting us disrupt one of their Saturday afternoons.

We also took a tour of hot dog places in Tallahassee. There are more than you'd realize. We scoped out Dog Et Al, Voodoo Dog, and Chubo's. They were all great places. If you're in the Tallahassee area, I recommend doing exactly what I did and checking out all three.

Finally, thanks to Flannelhorn for the music, Bill Wiist for the art used in the opening, and Cordy, Christian, and Jeeg for doing some advance previewing of this episode.

Thanks for watching episode 1. I hope you stayed through until the end to watch the preview for the next episode. Episode 2 proves to be an improvement as we've been learning from our mistakes.

Announcing... NERD LUNCH: THE WEB SERIES!

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Mark your calendars now for Nerd Lunch: The Web Series which is debuting January 18, 2011. It's a short, video podcast that is an extension of the blog.

I will be joined by Savannah from thetallytype.com and in the first episode, we will meet a comic book artist and do a tour of hot dog places in Tallahassee, FL. The show will be based in Tallahassee, but I believe that it includes things of interest to nerds and fans of lunch everywhere.

Our intent is to release one a month. This is a great undertaking. We've had fun putting this first episode together and I hope you have fun watching it when it makes its debut in a week.

For now, enjoy this quick promo video:

All-Star Superman

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When All-Star Superman came out in single issues, it grabbed my attention in spite of the fact that I am not actively reading comics, but I opted to treat this like I do my TV viewing and just wait until it was completed and collected. With news that DC Animation was going to be producing a movie based on this story, I decided that if I was ever going to read this, the time was now. Reading source material before watching the movie isn't my usual MO, but in this case, I decided to make the effort.

I am a huge Superman fan, but I find that there is an incredible lack of great Superman stories. I was a long-time reader of the comics and jumped on before John Byrne took over the titles and stayed with the character for about 15 years. Very little of my Superman readings over the years have come close to being this good. What Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns was to Batman, All-Star Superman is to Superman. Often, Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" is thought of as the quintessential Superman ending, but All-Star Superman far, far surpasses it.

I find that I am hit or miss with writer Grant Morrison, but he gets Superman far more than I would have ever guessed. Morrison is able to boil down the Superman mythos of the past 70+ years into broad strokes and capture the basics of the major characters. He doesn't overlook the absurdity of the character either. All the wackiness of Superman's past is here and integral to the story and character. The downside of Morrison's writing is that I felt at times like I was missing some background on some of the supporting characters. However, anything I was missing was easily filled in by me or not needed and actually added a depth to the universe.

Frank Quitely's art has never looked better. A decade ago, I wasn't a fan, but his skill has grown by leaps and bounds. Superman has a "page presence" here that makes him pop off the page. Quitely shows that he can draw a variety of characters with a variety of emotions. His small, quiet scenes are beautiful and touching and his action scenes are full of the needed grandiose.

One final note...it was nice to see this story be exclusively about Superman. Batman is mentioned, but never seen. The Bizarro versions of Flash and Green Lantern are seen, but none of the Justice League plays a part in this story. Morrison doesn't ignore the existence of the other DC characters, but they are not a part of this story. Too often, the Superman stories of recent days have relied "enhancing" the stories by having other heroes show up. Team-ups are nice, but it's time to set that lazy crutch aside and tell stories about Superman alone as this All-Star Superman tale does.

I'm looking forward to the animated movie, but have some skepticism about how well it can be pulled off in the 65-75 minute format. That said, I'd like to see the Superman property move in this direction on-screen. The upcoming Zack Snyder-directed live action reboot should embrace this version of the character. I want to see a Superman where ANYTHING can happen, not a Superman where NOTHING happens.

Here's the trailer for the upcoming animated movie:
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