The weekend has been full of movies and comics. Here’re my takes on ’em.
Fast Five: D: I have no idea how this movie received enough favorable reviews to warrant a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m a fan of action movies and can suspend my disbelief to the extent to enjoy most of them, but the stunts were so obviously impossible even the most layman theater-goer would find them hard to swallow. All the dialog is awful; all of it. I don’t think Vin Diesel can remember more than one sentence at a time. He spend the whole movie delivering insipid one-liners with a stupid look on his face. They also shoved a pointless car race and some other references to underground racing just so they could justifiably include it in the franchise.
Kung-Fu Panda 2: A: I’m a kung-fu fan, and the makers of this film were too. Like the original, (and most good animated movies quite frankly) the story adapts a tried and true genre plotline and adapts it for it’s own purposes. Though not quite as good as the first, it delivers when it counts. There were moments of character overload, but with the amount of talented actors and artists this movie gathered it wasn’t overly distracting.
Faster: B: The Rock was much better in this than he was in Fast Five. Here, he got revenge in a such a visceral fashion that it was quite enjoyable. His seemingly flat character even learned some lessons and changed himself, though not so much as to detract from all the bloody vengeance he needed to administer. The assassin character, however, was utterly useless and served no point but to provide plot filler. And the assassin’s wife was so amazingly awful that I wondered if it was intended as farce.
Zero Effect: C+: Ultimately, it was another forgettable quirky detective story. I was bored throughout, my interest only piquing when some witty revelation unraveled one of the amusing mysteries. In a movie with only four real characters, only the titular detective was interesting. My friend Josh’s take on a quirky detective story was much more entertaining (though I am admittedly biased.)
Thor: Tales of Asgard: C: Both Marvel and DC seem to be churning out the straight-to-dvd animated movies. DC’s have been mostly good. Marvel, not so much. Substandard, TV-series-level animation and poor voice work were dropped haphazardly on a dull plot. The world was oddly non-canonical too. It’s as though the writers didn’t really research much about Norse mythology or even the way the Marvel universe adapted it.
Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai: C-: This comic is not part of the “main” story line and hopefully it wont dissuade me from the rest, but it sure got close. The dialog and art are on par with a children’s book, which may be the point, but the subject matter (demons and curses and the killing of people with swords) seems at least targeted to young adults. I thought I’d enjoy the story, a standard Japanese monster plot, but the juvenile approach was too stifling.
Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1: A: Alan Moore knows how to write. Period. Full stop. He weaves words eloquently and elevates the rather silly subject of a plant-man into the realm of literature. The art is fantastic and from a time when comic art was breaking out of the standard page layout. It’s a superhero book without superheroes, but rather people (and a couple plants that think they’re people) dealing with very human problems.
Cowboy Ninja Viking, vol 2: A-: The main premise, assassins with multiple stereotyped personalities, is beautiful. This second volume was filled with even more intrigue and plot twists and red herrings than the first, possibly to a fault. Another problem with such a concept, is that there are lots of personalities to give, well, personality. And there are lots of characters. Tons. I don’t know how people read this issue-by-monthly-issue. But the action is fun and the dialog is like a frantic comedy roast.