Despite numerous issues, general ups and downs, and an overall lack of consistency, one thing AMC’s The WalkingDead has always managed to do well is end a season. Explosions, mass chaos, and major character deaths have all played into season finales. Not perfect, and a definite tale of two halves, “A,” the 16th and final episode of season four, is a fitting and worthy addition to this family.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Packaged as a non-stop action extravaganza, David Ayers’ (“End of Watch”) “Sabotage” is not the movie you expect. That’s not to say there aren’t big action pieces, the structure is bookended by the two most notable incidents, but the main narrative thrust is supposed to be a mystery, though we’re not talking about a particularly mysterious, or memorable, mystery. And not one overly concerned with finding answers, either. The end result is never really in question, but that doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. What “Sabotage” is, at the film’s heart, is an excuse to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger be a complete and total badass. Nasty, mean, and appallingly violent at times, this is a film not even necessarily for Arnold fans, but for fans of pulpy late 1970s/early 1980s revenge tales, the kind that star Charles Bronson. “Sabotage” is like a bloodier version of the entire Cannon Films catalog, which is way more appealing than another by the numbers action vehicle.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
If you've been lamenting the lack of time traveling Nazi hunters and man-eating dinosaurs on your reading list recently—and let’s be honest, who hasn’t felt that way—I'm here with some news that will brighten up your day. Titan Comics has just unleashed Stuart Jennett’s Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol on the unsuspecting populace, and this collection is a straight injection of pure pulp awesomeness that starts off from page one and never relents.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
We all know how rare it is that a sequel lives up to, let alone surpasses, the original. It definitely happens from time to time—“The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” both spring to mind—but in the grand scheme of things, this is the exception, not the rule. The folks behind “The Muppets Most Wanted” are well aware of this, and tell you right up front that their movie is not going to be nearly as good as the 2011 franchise reboot. Most of us didn’t expect it to be—that movie was on my ten-best-list for the year—and the sequel simply never measures up.
Weirdly enough, I am not the target audience for most young adult fiction. As it turns out, bitter late 30s Internet denizens are not the demographic that books like Veronica Roth’s Divergent, nor Neil Burger’s subsequent movie adaptation, are aimed at. That much is expected, as are the melodramatic romance and angst-filled teenage rebellion, and depending on your tolerance level for such things, they might not even be total deal breakers. If nothing else, Divergent is still light years more tolerable than any of the Twilight movies.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Well that was one hell of a bummer of an episode, even for a show a notoriously bleak as The Walking Dead. If you thought Andrea’s death at the end of season three stung, Rick shooting zombie Sophia in the head in season two, or the debacle at the prison a few weeks ago were bad, you’re in for a hard slap of reality with tonight’s episode, “The Grove.” It’s like the writers went out of their way to say fuck you, here’s how bad shit can really get. So sit back, strap in, and get ready to get ready to have your day ruined a little bit.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
“Need For Speed” has set itself up as an homage to badass low-budget car movies from the 1970s, even going so far as to explicitly evoke that image in the marketing. And the action is definitely more “Vanishing Point” than “Fast and Furious.” Hell, there’s even an early scene where the main character, Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) and his crew watch Steve McQueen tear around San Francisco in “Bullet” at a local drive-in theater. You know right away what aesthetic they’re going after. This isn’t intended as a knock on the Vin Diesel-centric franchise, those films have been fun—especially the last two—but this is a throwback different time, with a stoic, man-of-few-words hero, and is more about American muscle and Italian rarities than it is about supped up imports with gaudy paint jobs and low-profile tires. Even though “Need For Speed” is 40 minutes too long, and everything that’s not driving is utter garbage, this is still a reasonably good time.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Frank Herbert may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean the Dune universe is going to stop expanding anytime soon. Since 1999, Herbert’s son Brian, along with writing partner Kevin J. Anderson have been churning out Dune books of their own, actually eclipsing Frank’s output in number. Their, latest, Mentats of Dune, hit bookshelves today from the fine folks at Tor. A sequel to Sisterhood of Dune, Mentats is the second in the proposed Great Schools trilogy.
Set after the great jihad against the thinking machines, but before still before the events of the original novel, a new wave an anti-technology fervor is sweeping across the Imperium. Within this framework, Herbert and Anderson weave together more than half a dozen storylines, including Gilbertus Alban’s school where he teaches students to become “human computers,” the banished relics of the Rossack Sisterhood, the aged war hero Vorian Atreides’ attempts to make amends for his past and reconnect with his scattered family, and a Harkonen’s quest for vengeance, among others. There’s a lot going on here. And of course it wouldn’t be a real Dune book without spending some time on Arrakis with a sandworm or two. The various arcs span the galaxy, and delve into key pieces of Dune lore.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Still,” was perhaps the most contained episode of the series. Aside from a few random walkers, there are only two people in the entire thing, and most of the time is taken up with Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Beth (Emily Kinney) opening up and sharing with each other. Tonight’s installment, “Alone,” offers a wider look at the still-splintered group of survivors, following the pair from last week, who are quickly forming a tight bond, but also checking in with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.).
Titanfall is one of the most highly anticipated video games coming down the pipe. I know less than shit about video games, but even I’m aware that fans are pretty damn pumped up for the latest offering from Respawn Entertainment. The game doesn’t even come out until Tuesday, March 11, but if advanced hype is any indication, it’s going to be rather popular. People at work who managed to get their hands on beta versions of the game can’t, or at least won’t, shut up about it. To be honest, I don’t particularly know what sets this apart from its competitors, or why it walked away from E3 2013 with a record breaking number of awards. I don’t know anything about game play, or the history, but what I do know is that visually the game is absolutely stunning. Even if you’re like me, and think video games peaked with Ms. Pac Man, you take a look at the gorgeous new book The Art of Titanfall.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Last week’s episode of AMC’s The WalkingDead, “Claimed,” was all about looking towards the future. We were introduced to a trio of new characters—Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene—who will continue shape the show for the foreseeable future and beyond. At the same time, we learned that they were on a mission to get to Washington DC, and could possibly hold the key to ending the walker apocalypse once and for all. “Still,” tonight’s installment of the hit zombie drama, however, looks into the past, specifically into the earlier life of fan-favorite Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus).