Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Popcorn for One: A movie review - WATCHMEN


Wow! That pretty much sums up my reaction to the film adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel, WATCHMEN. Director Zack Snyder finally does what others before him could not get done. Namely bring this book to the big screen and do it justice. Seeing it in IMAX probably added to my enjoyment, but I'm sure it would also work on the regular screen.

If you are familiar with Moore’s story you already know that it takes place in an alternate 1985, where Richard Nixon is in his third term as President and the U.S. won in Vietnam. In this reality super-heroes, have been around since the 1940s and were pretty much accepted until outlawed. Some have gone into business, or into other pursuits and some began working for the government in one way or another. When one of the more notorious members of the group called The Watchmen is murdered, another member believes that someone is purposely targeting ‘masks’.

That pretty much sets up what happens as we learn some of the background and origins of the major players. It seems the ‘good guys’ may have had their own share of dark secrets and might not have been morally much better than some of the ‘bad guys’ they fought.

Some reviewers didn’t look favorably on the performance of Malin Ackerman (Silk Spectre II), but I thought she was quite good. Her action scenes seemed believable and I thought she was equally as good in the straight scenes as many of her male co-stars. To be honest, I certainly thought she was better than Matthew Goode, doing his best David Bowie impersonation, who chewed the scenery as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias. I put Goode’s performance on a par with Julian McMahon who made Dr. Doom such a cipher in both FANTASTIC FOUR films.

On the other hand, a couple of the major male leads were extremely good and I would hope one of them gets a nod come Oscar time. If Heath Ledger brought the Joker to life (pardon the expression) then Jackie Earle Haley as RORSCHACH deserves equal credit. With his face totally hidden behind his ever-shifting mask, Haley has to use his voice and body language to portray what is going on. Those scenes, especially those in prison, where he can be seen are even more powerful. Patrick Wilson and Billy Crudup (Nite Owl II and Dr. Manhattan respectively) are both good, even though Crudup is computer generated for part of his performance. Hey, if a CGI- Gollum can get an MTV Movie award than Dr. Manhattan and his blue wee-wee are equally deserving of one. As The Comedian, Jeffrey Dean Morgan actually makes you feel sympathy for a character that is pretty unlikable.

By the way, it was fun to see Matt Frewer(Max Headroom, for those with good memories)as Moloch, a 'retired' super-villain. Even though he doesn't have a big part in the film his role is pivotal to the plot.

Finally, I think this film does as much to bring up the level of ‘super-hero’ movies as did the original SPIDER-MAN, IRON MAN and last year’s DARK KNIGHT. Just don't take any small children or elderly nuns, huh?

Folks who know me know I love previews. There were about a half dozen film trailers, evidently being released to IMAX. Of them, I know I'll be catching the new STAR TREK film, with fingers crossed and the second TRANSFORMERS film looks to be even more over the top then the first. Donna caught an ad for MONSTERS VS. ALIENS on television and we might both go to see that one. The next Harry Potter movie really looks as dark (even in the way it was filmed) as I remember the book, but the 'kids' do seem to be much older than the ones they portray at this point.

Save me an aisle seat!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Amazon Babes from Another Dimension!

I just got a real kick out of this. Ultimate fanboy stuff!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Review: The Jakarta Plot

Despite the fact that the Joe Bob Briggs site hasn’t posted a new review for well over a year, I’m still finishing up the books I have. There should be three more after this one, I believe, but at this point I think I may have lost track of which books JB sent me and those I’ve picked up at cons.

While I’m at it I want to apologize again for posting so seldom but I have listed the reasons before. Hope you will forgive me and drop by every so often to see if I have actually blogged.

The Jakarta plot – R. Karl Largent; published by Leisure Books
ISBN: 0843945680

When you read these books you have to wonder how many ex-CIA agents are running around. Also, why does it seem the Agency always has to bring them back in to perform actions the current crop can’t seem to accomplish? I’m just asking.

Largent’s book is quite good, even though his hero, former agent Gideon Stone does seem to question himself a bit more than necessary. Stone is likable and I’m assuming that Largent will be bringing him back, if he hasn’t already (as the book was published back in 2006). One of the weaker elements is that some of the secondary characters, and there are dozens, never seem to really have any back-story, or any that we learn. We feel sympathy for them when they are injured or killed, but that’s because of how it affects Stone and not because we genuinely care about them. An odd thing is that this is truer of members of Stone’s team than of individuals on the opposing side. For instance, we know more about a native crewmember on a barge, used in a later mission, than we do about several servicemen who accompany Stone on his first rescue attempt.

When a group of Communist terrorists capture and hold captive U.N. delegates of an international meeting on the island of Java, including the U.S. Vice-President, the CIA is asked to attempt a rescue, while not admitting it publicly. Led by the popular Bojoni Sawak, the Bandung rebels demand that the current leader of their country step down and recognize the Bandung as the legitimate government, otherwise, the hostages will be executed one by one. With Stone already in the area, working to recover some documents lost when a civilian airliner is blown up, it’s an easy move to have him head up the assignment. Since he is an expert diver and former black op, you know that the ultimate rescue will involve at least some of those skills. When the initial attempt goes badly wrong, leading to the death of two of the group and the VP still hostage, the stakes rise. Stone has to get his team into the terrorist base, perform his mission and get everybody out alive. Complicating matters is the threat by China that any overt American intervention would be considered a provocative action and might lead to that country becoming involved.

As is typical of this type of book, Largent brings in a lot of technical information on the equipment Stone and his team uses. Interesting to a point, but it does make this reader skim over paragraphs of this stuff in order to get to the main action. If you are more into this Tom Clancy sort of thing and especially if you are interested in deep-sea vehicles and helicopters you might want to tack a half-star onto this. Overall I give this a solid -

Three stars