Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Kick-Ass (volume one graphic novel)

Here at It reads me...
Quite simply, we just can't get enough Kick-Ass.  Short of buying our own green and yellow wetsuits, Wrangler boots, and thick yellow industrial gloves, plus batons, we decided to indulge our mitts with a copy of the graphic novel version of Kick-Ass.  Bringing together all the comics, (originally published by Marvel's imprint Icon), that the film Kick-Ass (currently on cinematic release in the UK) was adapted from, the graphic is a chunky piece of value-for-money.

What's the story?
A punk-ass teen wonders about why no one has never taken up the role of a super hero before to fight the world's ills.  Before he realises what he's doing, he's ordered the wetsuit and gone out and gotten himself into far more trouble than he ever realised possible.

Please note that the film's story does deviate at numerous points and details from the original comics.

How does the graphic and the film compare?
The film's creators took the comics and changed the story in parts, and details of characters, in ways that actually allow the concept to be more believable and sophisticated.  Essentially, even though Mark Millar is an excellent writer, when you read the graphic and then watch the film, or the other way round, you will notice that Matt Vaughn has taken Kick-Ass that extra bit further.

Though there are parts from the comics that I wished they'd put in the film, such as Dave's dad's search for love, or sex.  Also, people say the film is violent, well actually the original comics are a heck of a lot more violent: electrical testicular torture, and a Hit-Girl who uses swords far more often.  Definitely a read for those past the age of fifteen.

John Romita Jr.'s artwork is fricken' awesome, with distinct character designs.  As with pretty much all comic book movies that are adapted from a specific work, it is worth reading what the film is based on.  Even though Vaughn made changes to the comics' story, Millar's original still makes a fine read, with some more intriguing nuisances with particular characters and their back story.

The graphic novel is out now at all good UK booksellers (online and offline).  With an RRP of £9.99 for the regular version.  If you want to collect the original comics, then check out your local comic book store.

Related links
Wiki entry on the comics
Our Kick-Ass film review

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Doctor will see you now...

New series of Doctor Who has begun!
If you haven't already caught it (and are a UK resident) go check it out on BBC iplayer now.  Otherwise, read on as I detail the delights of the new Doctor and his companion (so yes, there may be spoilers)...

Starting out...
Other than the brief yet dramatic transformation scene that occurred during the end of Tennant's final episode of the two-parter The End of Time, which was aired on New Year's Day this year, Saturday's new episode was Matt Smith's proper first outing as the eleventh doctor.  And what an outing it was.

What happened with The Eleventh Hour?
I don't want to go into too much spoiler filled detail, however I really enjoyed what new lead writer, Steven Moffat, did to introduce us to the new characters and a new mystery or two that will obviously plague the Doctor during the rest of the series.  It's Bad Wolf all over again, but potentially even worse news for the universe.

Watching Saturday's episode reassured me that having Moffat take over from Davies was a good idea.  The man that bought us such terrors as The Empty Child in the first series of the reboot of Doctor Who, has cleverly introduced yet another Runaway Bride as the companion of the Doctor, and this is a woman who has an even more interesting background than previous companions.  Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, is a lady to watch.

Matt Smith as the new Doctor
David Tennant had built up a rather large fan base during the previous series, but Smith, though maybe not the cup of tea of die-hard Tennant fans, has made the role this own.  The youngest actor to play the Doctor yet, Smith bought an energy to the role that younger viewers were certainly able to identify with.  I do believe that I genuinely enjoyed watching him in the role, but I won't say outright that he is amazing until I have seen a few more episodes.

Only criticism...
At times, it was difficult to believe what the Doctor was getting up to whilst trying to save the world.  Moffat's uses of technology were perhaps, at times, stretching the realms of disbelief just a little too much.  Hopefully this won't be something that happens with every episode. 

The next episode of Doctor Who - The Best Below can be caught on BBC1 Saturday 10th April at 6:15pm.

Related links
Official BBC Doctor Who website
Wiki entry on Doctor Who

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Kick-Ass is kick ass

(And candy is dandy)
Just an hour back from the cinema and I can't believe the awesomeness that has been unleashed upon British cinema screens before our friends over the pond are able to get their mitts on it.  Based on Mark Millar's comics of the same name (illustrated by John Romita Jr.), comes Kick-Ass directed by British director Matthew Vaughn.

We've got hot British actor Aaron Johnson (previously played as John Lennon in last year's Nowhere Boy) as the title hero and comic book geek Kick-Ass, and upcoming young star (and comedy film favourite) Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Role Models and Superbad) as a "rich boy" and "hero" Red Mist.  Then there's a spunky performance from young actress Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl (previously starred as Kiki George in Dirty Sexy Money), and Nicholas Cage manages to gain forgiveness for involvement in both National Treasure films by becoming Big Daddy.

So Johnson's character Dave Lizewski, a typical American teenager, one day contemplates becoming a super hero.  Now these thoughts kind of stick heavily with him until one day he finally caves in and becomes the phenomenon known as Kick-Ass: New York's "first" super hero.  Of course things are not all dandy and just a simple case of dealing with the odd mugger, as Dave/Kick Ass quickly learns, muggers are not all that's out in the world as there's a lot of organised crime in the Big Apple too.  As Kick-Ass struggles to realise who his true allies are, and Dave falls in love with a girl from school, New York does not know just quite what is about to kick its ass.

What did you like?
There's a lot in this film to like.  Due to the nature of its source material, there are tonnes of comic book and comic book film references, and Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman quickly show just how to make fans of the genre squeal and laugh, with both often happening at the same time.

The film is well-edited, well-acted and stylised in just the right way, producing a humour filled and action packed text that is just bursting at the seams with cinematic goodness.  Admittedly I have yet to read the original comics/graphics that the film is adapted from, so I can't tell you how they compare, but this is definitely the best film of the first quarter of this year (at least if you like plenty of action and super heroes).

Who should watch this?
Quite frankly, anyone aged 15 and over who isn't, as Matthew Vaughn put it on a recent appearance on BBC 1's The One Show, a Daily Mail reader because, quite frankly, Dail Mail readers are just too sad to be capable of handling this awesomeness (and as Vaughn actually said, "this film wasn't made for them.").  Seriously, with the levels of violence in the film, any parents who let their under-age kid watch this film is irresponsible, it has a 15 BBFC handed out certificate for a reason.

By the way...
This film has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a film for a while, and is definitely worth picking up.  There's a healthy dose of Prodigy and some sweet old tunes that will make you smile when you watch the scenes where they're used.

Kick-Ass is out in UK cinemas now.

Related links
Official website
IMDB entry
Wiki entry on the Mark Millar created comic book series

Friday, 26 March 2010

John Hicklenton passes away (1967-2010)

This week
The comic book world mourns the passing of British comic book artist John Hicklenton (aka John Deadstock) one of the many inkers and pencillers to work on 2000 AD's Judge Dredd over the years.  Having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000, John decided to end his life on 19th March (last Friday) at the Swiss based Dignitas clinic.

John's work spanned from the late 1980s until the time of his death, and was not just on the Judge Dredd comics.  John's agent, Adrian Weston, in an interview with the BBC said that John was a, "clear sighted and visionary person."  He was well known for his horrific and grotesque art style.  And according to reports, completed his final book 100 Months the day before he travelled to the Dignitas clinic.

Outside of comics
John led a strong campaign to raise awareness of MS including starring in a documentary called Here's Johnny in 2008.  The documentary took seven years to make and was screened on More4 in 2009.

Related links
BBC article on Hicklenton's death
Wiki entry on the artist
More4 overview of Here's Johnny
2000 AD's website
Forum thread on 2000 AD forums announcing John's passing

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Hangover (2009)

What a night!
So, four men go to Vegas... You might have seen this poster plastered around last year, because it was well publicized. Despite being a relatively recent film, you may be seeing this going cheaper than you'd expect. Starring quite a cast of newcomers, and Heather Graham, there seems to be very little marketability for the film without only evoking the genre of the film. However, saying that, it doesn't seem too shabby.

Dude, where's my movie?
The theme is fairly similar to Dude Where's My Car (2000), in terms of story layout. So much so in fact that I shall create a new sub-genre of the Road Movie, which is already a sub-genre of the "stoner films", which is a sub-genre of adventure/"buddy movie" type, and this new kind of film will be the "hey, where's my thing". Okay, not a catchy title, you make one up!

Anyway, as I was saying, put another dude in and turn your car into another dude, and you have the basic premise. The characters find themselves in the "hilarious" position of trying to track down what they did the previous night, and as with this new sub-genre (ahem), we don't get to witness it until the characters discover it.

Meet the dudes!
The characters themselves are all unique. We have the chilled out cool guy, that basically wants to get wasted and relive his glory days, the uptight hen-pecked husband (to be) who finds his wild side is more crazy than anyone else, the not-quite-there guy who is basically a big kid and the soon-to-be groom and reason for the characters who wouldn't otherwise stick together to make it through the entire film together. What could possibly go wrong?...

Well as you guessed it, one of these people will be the car (metaphorically) that they need to find. Why? Well, that's because they cannot remember through the amount of alcohol and other substances that they take (another generic convention of this type of film, wink, wink) where the groom is. Oh, there is another thing with this type of film about the ending, but I won't spoil it for you.

Spoilers? No thanks! But can you tell me more about the plot please?!
I sure can my little friend (or big, depending on who's reading this). The plot is often incredible. No, I don't mean awesome, I mean not-credible, as in I don't believe it. This breaks the illusion that what I'm watching is possible (verisimilitude for the media savvy), and while it's fine to say "Well light speed isn't possible, you can't like Star Trek then", you must understand that this shattering of illusion is only applicable to each film universe's logic. In the universe that we live in (and presumably the universe of The Hangover), there are things that throw the film off balance somewhat, such as...

...Well, I won't spoil it for you. Suffice to say that I was entertained but not really "into" it if you know what I mean. I was essentially amused by the antics, but not believing in them, knowing that there was never any risk to the characters, because it's a comedy film, and because I was aware constantly that I was only watching a film (yes, you can get so wrapped up in films that you forget that they are just films - just ask anyone who's hidden behind the sofa or a pillow while watching a horror film).

Don't get me wrong, it's part of the genre for incredible (and un-credible) things to happen, such as learning Japanese while stoned and still remembering it in the morning, and speaking it fluently after just one lesson (Dude Where's My Car?). And somewhat bizarrely, that wasn't the most, well, bizarre thing to happen in Dude either!

Overall, I think I was more laughing at the bizarre scenarios they had got themselves into, rather than empathizing with characters, and thus didn't care if the characters got what they wanted.

Should I buy or rent or skip out on it?
It's worth a rent, just to say that you have seen it, and it's my policy that everything should be watched at least once. Well, maybe not some things, but theatrical films, yes. Overall though, the people that are likely to like this film the most are people who enjoyed Dude Where's My Car? as well as other stoner films. Not a bad film, just not a particularly good one either.

Johnny Storm to play Captain America!

Kind of...
Variety has just reported that actor Chris Evans, is going to star as Captain America in The First Avenger: Captain America, which Marvel is hoping to release during the summer of next year.  He'll also play Cap in several other Avenger themed movies.  Obviously Evans doesn't have much in the way of plans to reprise his role as Johnny Storm/Human Torch of the Fantastic Four... (I assume.)

Further examination of the Variety article points to Hugo Weaving taking up the role as Captain America's arch-nemesis the Red Skull.  An Australian playing a German, this should be interesting.

Marvel news...
I like Marvel, but I'm not just a fan of their comics, I like other publishers' works too.  Just, they have a lot of news going for them at the moment.

Am I the only one who can foresee some level of confusion when the film comes out? Oh, I am, well okay.  "Flame on!... sorry I mean..."

Related links
Variety article on the matter
IMDB profile on Chris Evans
Marvel's website

Monday, 22 March 2010

Legal fights not over with Marvel

Oh copyright, let me compare thee...
Okay, so Disney didn't seem too phased when purchasing Marvel last year that they could be facing some legal fights over the copyright pertaining to characters that Jack Kirby worked on for Marvel during 1958-1963.  Kirby's heirs are now definitely fighting for his piece of royalty pie.

The big guys don't seem troubled by any of this at the moment.  If you want to read the full story, and get confused over America's version of copyright laws, check out The New York Times link below.

Related links
The New York Times article on the lawsuits
Wiki entry on Jack Kirby
Marvel's Official site