Saturday, May 11, 2013

WGTB talks Iron Man 3 & Community

Like the previous two Iron Man and Avengers films, Iron Man 3 (released May 3rd) stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark, the billionaire industrial magnate turned superhero who's called upon to once again save the United States. This time, he squares off against the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and his squad of biologically enhanced goons who have been augmented by the Extremis program, itself created by a scientific organization headed by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pierce). Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Stark Industries chief and Tony's love interest, Pepper Potts while Jon Favreau and Don Cheadle return as Iron Man friends and allies, Happy Hogan and James Rhodes.  
Iron Man 3 stars Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau & Ben Kingsley. Directed by Shane Black. 130 minutes
Being a generally positive reviewer, I’ll begin with the visuals, which were in a word: stunning. There's a scene you’ve probably seen on TV where Iron Man saves people falling out of Air Force One and seeing this in 3D was simply breathtaking. As someone who has never exited a plane that wasn’t grounded, I have to say this is probably the closest I’ll ever come to skydiving. Other technological aspects of the film, including Iron Man's new armour and the climactic battle at the end were equally amazing, with a special note going to the various models of Iron Man suits which were awesome escapist fare for any comic book reader. 
Unfortunately, the positivity of this review ends there as the rest of the film was lacklustre and on the whole disappointing. Frankly, there were just too many plot holes and silly subplots to contain my suspension of disbelief and by mid-film I was waiting for the next battle because I had lost interest in the story. With regard to the actors, I also found their characters seemed tired and played-out to the point where they were just going through the motions to get a third film done. I know that's the Hollywood thing these days – a trilogy per character – but here it just seemed forced to the point where it was no longer necessary. I know this seems harsh, especially because Robert Downey, Jr. was so good in The Avengers and that film was fantastic. But here he just seemed fatigued and no amount of (admittedly) great action was enough to salvage a sub par performance or a stretched and pockmarked story. I hate giving bad reviews on this blog, but in this case the best I can do is 2.5/5 STARS.    

Community RENEWED! 

Somewhat tangentially but likely of note to many readers of this blog, last night we learned Community, NBC’s quirky single camera comedy was picked up for a fifth season. Being in the UK the past few years, I was a late convert to the show, but have since taken up the cause of Greendale with a relentless fervor. Suffice it to say, I was very pleased to hear this news. 

With Chevy Chase off the show and Joel McHale's character graduated, might we see an addition or two to the core cast of Community next year? Pictured here are Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) & Annie Edison (Alison Brie). Photo from Community's Google+ site.
And while I’m certain the line-up will change as former regular Chevy Chase left the show in November 2012 and Joel McHale’s character graduated from Greendale at the end of Season 4, the core of the group is taking an Astronomy class together which means the same fun and (regularly) geek-themed antics we’ve come to love from the show. If you’re not familiar with Community, think of it as Arrested Development in a 90210 setting with a smattering of The Big Bang Theory thrown in for good measure. Except it's so much better than TBBT, that I can't for the life of me understand why it loses in the ratings battle. But that's for another blog...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the 4th Be With You!

Happy Star Wars Day everyone! And Happy Free Comic Book Day too. With one of my Star Wars t-shirts on, I'm about to head down to my local funny book emporium for a few freebies. But before that I thought I'd share a few images and commentary from a small sampling of the Star Wars books I've collected over the years. Of late, I've been very busy with exams so I feel terrible about not spending as much time on my blog as I'd like. But I promise to get back to writing reviews and features as soon as possible and in the meanwhile hope you enjoy the art. May the Force be with you!

There's no order for the images, except to start with the comic that re-booted things for Star Wars in the early 90s: Dark Horse's Star Wars: Dark Empire #1 (August 1992) by Tom Veitch with art by Cam Kennedy. 
This image comes from Dark Horse's Star Wars: Dark Empire #2 (April 1992) Creators are the same as above.
Here's an image from Dark Horse's Star Wars: Crimson Empire #1 (December 1997) written by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley with pencils by Paul Gulacy and inks by P. Craig Russell. This was the last comic I bought before I took my 'I'm too cool for this stuff' hiatus from comics. I was gone for too long!
The splash from Dark Horse's Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith #1 (October 1994) Written by Tom Veitch & Kevin J. Anderson with pencils by Chris Gossett and inks by Mike Barreiro. It was one of the early efforts by Dark Horse/Lucasfilm Ltd. to explain the Sith/Jedi conflict.  
Here's a page from Dark Horse's Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War #1 (August 1995). It was written by Kevin J. Anderson with pencils by Dario Carrasco, Jr. and inks by Jordi Ensign. Note the familiar look to the helmet.
Remember when Han mentioned the 'bounty hunter on Ord Mantell' in The Empire Strikes Back? Well, here he is! It's from a reprint of an original newspaper comic published shortly after the original film. It's called Dark Horse's Classic Star Wars #2 (September 1992) written by Archie Goodwin with art by Al Williamson and colours by Steve Buccellato.
Yoda and Luke in Marvel's official comics adaptation of Return of the Jedi #2 (November 1983). The story was adopted by Archie Goodwin with art by Al Williamson & Carlo Garzon.
From Marvel's Star Wars #61 (July 1982) written by David Michelinie with plot by Walter Simonson and finishes by Tom Palmer. The Star Wars universe always had the coolest looking spaceships.
I love this comic. I first read the story when it was on one of those Books on Records/Tapes back in the early 80s. The image is from Marvel's Star Wars #55 (January 1982) written by David Michelinie with pencils by Walt Simonson and inks by Tom Palmer. Thanks for reading!