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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Comic Review - Siege 1-4

Publish Date/Year
Creative Team
Brian Michael Bendis, Olivier Coipel
Touted by Marvel as the story that took 7 years in the making, Siege spells the end of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign.

The Cabal (Osborn, Dr Doom, Loki, The Hood, Namor, Emma Frost) is falling apart with the falling out from Namor & Frost arising from the events in Utopia and with the added threat of the Realm of Asgard floating over Oklahoma, they decide to remove the Asgardian threat by fabricating an excuse to wage war against it.

The first salvo from Osborn comes when the U-Foes are ordered to attack Thor's good friend - the rotund Volstagg, inadvertently causing a catastrophe with heavy casualties, hence giving Osborn the needed reason to attack Asgard.

Meanwhile, Steve Rogers (the original Capt America who was supposed to be dead after the events in Civil War) is revealed to be alive and is amassing heroes (including Thor and Nick Fury & his Secret Warriors) to right the wrongs wrought by Osborn.

With both the Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts under Osborn's command, they lay siege to Asgard. Ares, the God of War, reluctantly leads Osborn's attack with the super powerful but mentally unstable Sentry serving as their fearsome attack dog. When Heimdall, Guardian of Asgard's Rainbow Bridge, manages to convince Ares that he'd been deceived by Osborn, Ares finally turns against Osborn. However, the power shift is short lived as Sentry defeats Ares in a most shocking manner (well, to me at least!) - he literally tears Ares in two! Even the usually twisted members of Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts froze upon looking at that spectacle!

Capt America and the rest of the heroes arrive to save the day but not before the Sentry goes on a rampage and literally brings Asgard crashing down! Iron Man manages to defeat the now visibly insane Osborn by deactivating his Iron Patriot armor (which was based on Stark's Iron Man design) but the main threat of the Sentry seems to just be about to rear its ugly head as the Void (the Sentry's evil self) seems to have taken dominance.

Things seem really grim as even Loki, who thru Osborn, orchestrated the whole thing was shedding tears of remorse and asking for Odin's forgiveness when he realised what a grave mistake he'd made by releasing the Void! Loki takes it upon himself to try to right his wrongs by going against the Void. The Void seemingly destroys Loki (I can't really believe he's gone - after all, Loki is the master of trickery and deceipt!) before Thor's eyes!

It's now up to Thor to bring down the Void! However, it was Iron Man who manages to clobber the Void using a HAMMER (or SHIELD) Heli-Carrier as a makeshift missile, reverting him to Bob Reynolds momentarily. Bob begs Thor to kill him before he reverts to the Void again but before Thor can bring him in, Bob transforms into the Void again! Thor musters all his power to defeat the Void once and for all, with thunder and lightning, burning him to a crisp. He then disposes Bob's burnt corpse to the sun to be forever destroyed.

In the aftermath of Siege, Steve Rogers had been authorised to replace Osborn in his role and the currently outlaw Avengers re-instated as heroes, paving the way for the next era of Marvel - the Age of Heroes!

Olivier Coipel really does an incredible job in the series! Altho' his art is somewhat less fluid than some artists such as George Perez or Marko Djurjevic, but his work has picture perfect panels and conveys power & drama (much like Travis Charest - Yummy art)!
Additional Comments
This is of course a significant event in the history of Marvel as the Marvel Universe had goen thru so much since the events precipatated by the House of M, leading to the near-extinction of mutants to the dis-assembly of the Avengers. Hence, regardless of whether you are a DC Die-hard or Marvel Front-Facer (or an Insufferable Independent!), this is a story that must be read , if not for anything else but just the sheer significance of the storyline alone. Personally, I like Bendis's writing and Coipel's art is just lovely. So, reading the Siege is a pleasant experience. My only complaint is that too much happens outside of the 4 issues. Readers would need to read many of the accompanying 1-shots and the other cross-over issues like New Avengers, Dark Avengers, Thunderbolts, etc to fully appreciate everything that's happened.
The variant covers by Del Otto (#2-4) & Bianchi (#1) are also excellent (altho I would've prefer Djurjevic). All 4 are re-preduced here.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Movie Review - A-Team

Movie Title
Action, Adventure

Appearing for the 1st time on NBC back in 1983, this unlikely group Vietnam War vets have evolved with the times to become a group of Iraq War Rangers.

No doubt many would compare this to the recent similarly themed movie the Losers (see - a group of special forces military men who were betrayed by their own country and they are now back to clear their names and for some payback.
However, the movie offers for the veryfirst time the origin of their first meeting and formation of the Team we all know and love - the A-Team (aka Alpha Team).
Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson) & Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Bradley Cooper) were on a 2-man joint opsin Mexico. During their Mexican mission, the also met their 3rd team mate when Hannibal enlists the assistance of passerbyRanger Bosco B.A. Baracus (Quinton Jackson), who also happen to be a War Ranger. They then recruited H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (the brilliant Sharlto Copley of District 9) from a mental instution when they were back in the US.

Decorated as heroes and stationed in Iraq, they blaze a hot trail of succesful missions under their collective A-Team belt and earn a formidable rep for doing nigh impossible missions. However, their rivals who envy their reputation , the Black Forest team (a fictionalized version of Blackwater), caused the death of their comanding officer, General Morrison (Gerald McRaney), upon the A-Team's return from their succesful black ops mission. Blamed for General Morrison's death, they were court-matrialled, dishonorably discharged and jailed.

The mysterious CIA Agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) who instigated the black ops mission in Iraq frees them from prison to tie up a few loose ends from that mission. Then it becomes a game of cat& mouse between the players and unravelling the puzzling circumstances of their predicament.

I kinda thought Liam Neeson didn't really capture the essence of Hannibalas best he could although he did a credible job of it. However, I was really taken in by the brilliant Sharlto Copley's Howling Mad Murdock! Bradley "Face"Cooper was also every bit the smooth ladies man. After this movie, I'm sure therewill be more roles for him to take on as the leading or ladies man!

The movie sticks with the TV Series' formula of tongue-in-cheek actionwith many action sequences that would make the Autobots and Decepticons blush! Viewers have to suspend their knowledge of the laws of physics for the duration of the movie as they have been flushed down the toilet!But it makes for interesting viewing as you'll see many impossible featslike how BA manages to avoid any injury when hundrends of shipping containers fall on him as he dashes about like a crazed jack-rabbit! The other one would be how the tank was manouvred in the sky (you have to watch it to know what I mean)!
It's a fun romp and a nostalgic meeting up with old friends for those old enough to have watched the TV Series. Just don't put too much on the realism department and you'll enjoy yourself.
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The A-Team

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Movie Review - Shrek Forever After (Shrek 4 or Final Chapter)

Movie Title
Shrek Forever After (aka Shrek 4 or Shrek Final Chapter)
Animaton, Adventure

Now happily married to Fiona and father to 3 little ogres,Shrek finds himself a domesticated family man instead ofthe feared ogre he used to be. One fine day, the craftyRumpelstiltskin (the wee troublemaker who popped up briefly in Shrek 2 and 3) happened to overhearShrek's secret longing and arranges for Shrek to relive his monstrous self for just 1 day (his birthday!) by signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker!

Shrek finds himself in a twisted version of Far Far Away,where he had never met Fiona because he had never existed. Ogres are hunted to be Rumpelstiltskin's slaves, as heis king. With a coven of broom-riding witches as his personal death squad, he rules Far Far Away with an iron fist. Now, it's up to Shrek to undo all he's done in the hopes of saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming Fiona as his one True Love. All this, before the sun rises!

Well, Mike Meyers' Scottish accent is still irritating (somewhat)! But then, so is Eddie Murphy as Donkey! However, the nolstalgic of watching all the them again on the big screen does bring on the feeling like that of meeting up with old friends. These guys arepros at voice overs (as the guys over at Toy Story 3) and it all seems natural for them to say the things they do - very much in character!

This is by far the most entertaining instalment of the franchise but it is much darker in tone than any of the previous movies. Some of the concepts can be downright scary even for adults. However, I'm sure the younger viewers won't really mond or be bothered as they would just be glad to see the entire Far Far Away gang together again. Go watch it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Movie Review - Toy Story 3

Movie Title
Toy Story 3

Andy turns 18 and is preparing to leave home for college, leaving his loyal toys thinking that their time with him was over, as several of Andy's other toys, including Bo Peep and Wheezy, had been sold in garage sales.
While Andy was packing for college, as he ran out of boxes, he put his toys (all except Woody as he planned to bring Woody with him to college) in a trash bag to be kept up in the attic, but his mom takes his trash bag (with Buzz & gang) out for disposal by mistake. Altho they escaped the garbage truck, but their escape got them being donated to the Sunnyside Daycare Centre where lots of other discarded toys reside. Buzz and gang made no atempt to return as they had thought Andy had grown up and didn't want them anymore. Here, viewers are introduced to a whole bunch of new toys and kids will have a blast meeting them. However, parents beware as I'm sure your kids will ask you their names - so get to know them here!

Andy's toys receive a warm welcome from the other toys at Sunnyside and they seemed to be very happy with their lives there as they are constantly being played with by children. Woody reluctantly leaves the Buzz & gang at Sunnyside as he knew Andy wanted to bring Woody with him to college. However, once Andy's toys experience playtime at Sunnyside, they knew they had made a wrong decision in leaving Andy.
The Sunnyside toys are led by leader Lotso (a cute strawberry-scented pink Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear) and run with an iron fist like a sinister syndicate or a high-security prison. Lotso and hsi toys even managed to reset Buzz from "Play" to "Demo" mode where he served Lotso as his security muscle.

Woody soon learns of the dire plight of his friends and decides it's up to him to get back into Sunnyside to save his friends.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and the gang have gotten so good with their chracters (plus the audiences have also taken to them as old friends) that they really shine. Their performances are seamless and seem no natural. Hence, it does not tane away from the viewing pleasure (unlike some other animated features whose characters sound really contrived & annoying !)

Most memorable moment(s)
1 - When Woody saves his friends and accidentally sets Buzz onSpanish mode! Buzz does the Paso Doble while wooing Jessie, who by the end of the movie becomes complete putty to Buzz's smooth moves!
2 - When Ken does a fashion show (with a wardrobe of clothes so impressive that it'b rival that of any Hollywood Diva) to impress Barbie.
It's cliched but I'll say it - Great entertainment for the whole family!
Be sure to enter the theatre on time as there is an additional short animated feature called "Day & Night" (not to be confused with the Tom Cruise/Caremon Diaz film "Day & Knight") before the main feature that is not only extremely entertaining but takes animation beyond what we've seen before. No it's not new technology but just how being innovative and imaginative can break new grounds! So be sure to be at your seats on time!
Toy Story 3 is by far the BEST ANIMATED movie for 2010 hands down (Yes, beating even Shrek 4)! It's funny, heart wrenching (Andy's struggle to hold on to his childhood memories vs letting go & growing up), suspenseful (the fate of the toys) and gives audiences the warm fuzzy feeling! MUST WATCH!
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Toy Story 3 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)