Joe The Barbarian (2011)

Joe The Barbarian (2011)

Publisher: Vertigo
Creative Team: Grant Morrison, Sean Murphy

Joe The Barbarian collects issues #1-8 of the limited DC/Vertigo series written by Grant Morrison (Batman Inc., Supergods) with artwork by Sean Murphy (Hellblazer, American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest).

Joe Manson is an eleven-year-old kid with type 1 diabetes. On top of that, his father died overseas in the ongoing war in the Middle East. It’s no wonder that he spends all day in a dream world of action figures and drawings of noble knights and scary creatures. However, after some school bullies steal his candy he gets home and begins to go into hypoglycemia, but unexpectedly also into another world…one so real he cannot discern it from reality. Traversing this new fantasy world, in the real world he is only trying to get to the kitchen. Realities blur and soon it’s apparent that there is a purpose behind the visions and that he must stay alive.

First off, I love Morrison and I love Murphy. Two great talents working together. Can I refer to them as M&M? Haha, no, but really.

The story is evocative of Alice In Wonderland and Tellos, sort of mixed together in one awesome stew. Tellos will always be my favorite but this book managed to capture that feeling and the wonder of that book, if a little bit darker….yet it had almost as much heart.

It was nice to see a story dealing with a character who must battle diabetes. Coming from a family where diabetes is a constant concern, Joe The Barbarian was especially poignant to me. My great grandmother recently died after choosing not to continue with her dialysis treatments but she’d been battling diabetes for years.

In any case, I loved Murphy’s work on American Vampire, and I think he did an amazing job with Morrison’s fantastical vision in this book. The art has a nice steampunky type of style to it, which somehow fit the theme nicely.

You should really check it out, especially if you enjoyed Todd Dezago and Mike Weiringo’s work on Tellos.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Here’s A Sample Page From Joe The Barbarian
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Warrior (2011)

Warrior (2011)

Original Theatrical Release: September 9, 2011
Director: Gavin O’Connor

Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) is an ex-marine with a tragic past he’s trying to escape from who returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh. Once there, he begrudgingly seeks out his father and former coach, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) to help him train for the “Superbowl” of MMA fights, with a five million dollar purse. However, Tommy’s brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is a public school teacher who is having a tough time making ends meet and hears about the fight as well, prompting him to take up his former habits as an MMA fighter to gun for the prize, too, setting the brothers on a collision course which will force them to confront their broken family issues head on.

I am not normally into sports movies, or even fighting movies that much (though Rocky was okay) but someone told me I should check this out. I was not disappointed.

It had sort of a slow middle section that some may appreciate more than others, and to me, this was the film’s only drawback. (It’s not much of a drawback, though)

However, the acting was amazing. Tom Hardy’s performance as the tortured ex-marine was top-notch. Nolte was excellent as the recovering-alcoholic father seeking redemption. Joel Edgerton was great as the teacher putting his heart and soul into the fights. There was definitely nothing to complain about in that department.

The action sequences, which I suspect most people will watch this film for initially, are really well-done. As a sometimes-viewer of UFC matches, I can attest that the fights aren’t always so exciting in real life, but the fights were done in such a way and the acting was done so well, that you feel like this is a real fight with real stakes, and you are just watching it on television at home.

This is a movie with a lot of heart and you can really identify with the plight of the characters, especially if you come from a broken home or know those kinds of people. The performances turned in by the actors is really the shining point of this film, for me, but the action is there for those of you who flock to the film for that aspect.

Seeing this, you can tell why they chose Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Also, does anyone else think that Joel Edgerton looks a lot like Conan O’Brien if he were to work out? Weird.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Warrior

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008)

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008)

Original Theatrical Release: September 2, 2008
Director: Jay Oliva, Gary Hartle

It’s been around twelve years since the Avengers were defeated and scattered by the villainous android known as Ultron. Captain America, Wasp, Giant Man, Black Panther, Hawkeye and Black Widow are all dead. Thor (Michael Adamthwaite) is in Asgard and Hulk (Fred Tatasciore) is missing. Iron Man (Tom Kane) and Vision (Shawn Macdonald) are the only ones left but Iron Man is in charge of protecting the children of the original Avengers: James (Noah C. Crawford) – the son of Captain America and Black Widow, Torunn (Brenna O’Brien) – the daughter of Thor, Pym (Aidan Drummond) – the son of Giant Man and Wasp, Azari (Dempsey Pappion) – son of Black Panther and….Hawkeye (Adrian Petriw) – son of, well….Hawkeye.

It starts out a little slow and depressing, what with some of the kids (Pym especially) being annoying and all the cool Avengers being dead or gone.

The animation and action sequences were fairly well-done, but it might be a little too “cartoony” for some older viewers. It’s very reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon special, but depending on how you look at it, that could be a good thing, too.

The take on the Avengers’ kids was kind of a neat idea but some of the character motivations were a little vague and seemed thrown in there. (Thor seems to have basically let the Avengers be slaughtered). While we’re at it, for a kid’s flick, this is pretty dark. It deals with death and it deals with loss. Grown-up themes for the kiddos, in my opinion, but as long as a parent is watching with the kids and can explain all that stuff if they need to ask, it should be fine.

All-in-all, it was good to watch just as sort of a “What If?” type of thing.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Oh, and if you like The Hulk and all things Hulk-related, check out The Collectionary….where you’ll be able to find a HULKING (get it LOL) amount of merchandise for all your collecting needs.

Movie Trailer For Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow

Lars And The Real Girl (2007)

Lars And The Real Girl (2007)

Original Theatrical Release: October 25, 2007
Director: Craig Gillespie

Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) has a problem, and nobody knows what it is. He’s painfully shy, full of anxiety, is super-awkward and can’t even have dinner with his family, let alone have a normal conversation with a girl. When he tells his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and Gus’ wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) that he has met someone over the internet, they are ecstatic for him. However, Bianca is not what they expected. She is a sex doll that Lars ordered online. Lars’ family, friends and the town must now find a way to deal with Lars’ delusional beliefs that Bianca is a real girl who not only talks to him, but loves him back.

I remember hearing about this film a while ago, and since it had Ryan Gosling in it, I sort of shied away from it because he tends to be in a lot of movies I didn’t think I liked him as an actor. However, this film seemed to have such a quirky idea and personality that I figured I’d give it a shot.

First off, I think the premise was the best part about this film. A town set “somewhere” up north, which is somewhat reserved and apparently full of churchgoing people, having to deal with an otherwise healthy and kind individual who is in love with a sex doll….that’s great stuff. What it lacked was the proper focus and execution.

The movie felt like it dragged on forever. I understood what the film was trying to do fairly early on, so to have to watch it all unfold at a snail’s pace somewhat lessened the impact of the film’s idea. Also, they sort of moved “six weeks later” from the point Lars first hears about the doll until he had ordered it, and you don’t really see anything in between. It was the only jarring part of the movie, to me.

Gosling’s acting was great, honestly. The whole cast was acting up a storm, so no complaints on that front.

There had to be a little suspension of disbelief because of certain things, like an ambulance that is willing to pick up a sex doll and waste money/time and potentially interrupt someone’s REAL emergency…all because he is Lars? When he doesn’t even seem to be that well-liked at the start of the film? So, there are things like that in the movie that are somewhat hard to swallow.

It makes for a great date movie, I’m sure…or if you really like Ryan Gosling in sweaters.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Lars And The Real Girl

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Original Theatrical Release: August 27, 2004
Director: Jared Hess

Napoleon (Jon Heder) lives in a small Iowa town, where there seems to have congregated a long list of off-the-wall eccentric characters including his crazy family – Kip (Aaron Ruell), Uncle Rico (Jon Gries) and Grandma (Sandy Martin). At his school, he pursues a girl named Deb (Tina Majorino) and tries to help his newfound friend Pedro (Efrem Ramirez) become the class president and defeat the obnoxious Summer Wheatly (Haylie Duff).

The big draw to this film, in case you couldn’t already tell, are the zany characters. The story is there to fit the characters, and not the other way around.

Heder is definitely at his best here, playing the squinty, annoyed and overly-confident but tragically clumsy Napoleon who must constantly wade through the others in the cast to get anything accomplished in his life…from his squabbling brother Kip, who wants to be a cage fighter and somehow gets more attention from the ladies….to his Uncle Rico who does nothing but eat steak and wish he were still in the 1980’s.

There are many worthy moments of comedy cold and there are lots of catchphrases still being used even today from the film (and even a new animated show, which I’m not sure is still on or not).

The locations where the film was shot hold a sort of nostalgic charm that you can’t find in today’s hustle-and-bustle cities and it’s really fun to see a world where you’re really not sure if it’s supposed to be the 1990’s or if it’s really just that backwater there.

This is a classic, for sure.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Napoleon Dynamite

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man (2002)

Original Theatrical Release: May 3, 2002
Director: Sam Raimi

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is your average high school student from New York who has a lot of troubles in his young life. Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is the girl of his dreams but doesn’t really give him the time of day. He gets bullied, and doesn’t even live with his real parents – instead living with his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). Next to his rich best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), Peter’s life looks pretty lame. Well, until he is bitten by a radioactive spider and is granted great powers. As young Peter finds out in a very hard and tragic way with the murder of his Uncle Ben, with great power must also come great responsibility. Peter dons the identity of Spider-Man and fights crime, and the menace of the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), in New York City.

When this movie first came out, I was ecstatic. I never thought I would see a Spider-Man movie on the big screen. Not only that, but it was being directed by Sam Raimi, the same guy who made those Evil Dead movies that I loved so much.

The film mostly lived up to my expectations. Tobey Maguire has always been questionable to me as a good Peter/Spider-Man, but I think he pulled it off (quite a bit better than James Garfield, I’m sorry to say….but I’ll tell you why in my review of the newer Spider-Man movie when I finally do it) for the most part. I always thought of Peter as really dorky and Maguire can certainly pull off dorky.

I know a lot of folks had a problem with Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, but I enjoyed her in that role. It’s probably the only role of hers I actually like. (Not sure on that, yet)

James Franco was okay as Harry Osborn, but he wasn’t amazing. In fact, I like him in almost any other movie. I felt like he was hamming it up too much in this film. I dunno why. Maybe just because it was a comic book movie and he felt he had to be Shakespearian?

Willem Dafoe was AMAZING as Norman Osborn, but the choice to put him behind a metal mask as the Green Goblin was atrocious. We could have had some really demented scenes with Dafoe, especially if he wore prosthetics or a different mask, but instead we got fights that were reminiscent of Power Rangers….where you hear the voice of the villain but if the sound were off you would just see him shaking his head around a lot when he’s “talking”. I know it’s possible to do this with some range, just like in V For Vendetta, (the link to my review for that film) but whatever their technique…it didn’t work.

Almost everything else was great, though. I didn’t like the organic webshooters, though it DOES make sense…that’s not who Spider-Man is. I wanted to see him create the web shooter devices as he does in the newer movie (and they do it quite well) because that was integral to his character in the comics. I feel like he was dumbed down a lot in the film.

So, overall, it was a decent movie (the second one was much better) but due to a lot of weird problems, I didn’t think it was as amazing as it should have been.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Spider-Man

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

Original Theatrical Release: July 27, 2007
Director: David Silverman

In this film adaptation of The Simpsons television show, Homer Simpson adopts a pig that was to be slaughtered after a Krusty Burger shoot. In typical Homer fashion, he indulges with the pig on an eating binge and the two of them fill up a silo with feces (yes, Homer helped fill it) which Marge tells him to dispose of. The lake in town has recently been protected, but homer dumps the silo into its waters and pollutes it, causing Russ Cargill and the EPA to place a dome over Springfield. The Simpsons escape the dome to the outside world and become fugitives, as Russ has plans to destroy Springfield and doesn’t want any witnesses. The Simpsons must decide whether they love Springfield enough to try and go back to save their town and all the people in it.

I have been a Simpsons fan since before the cartoon even came out. I still remember the Butterfinger commercials, announcing the “coming” of the animated show. The series started off strong and really hit its stride in the mid-to-late nineties and then, I felt, lost some of its edge with shows like Family Guy being more bold and edgy. I did notice the Simpsons start to do this but not too much (as Family Guy sometimes does).

The movie was great in the first half, but lost its momentum. I felt many of the episodes of the show were far funnier than the film, and I’m not sure why that was. I would rather, I think, have watched the movie slimmed down into an episode’s length and I may have been far more satisfied.

Still, it was fun to see the Simpsons family finally get their big-screen debut and although we don’t get to see a lot of the minor characters for any length of time, it was nice to spend so much time with the family we’ve all come to love over the years since being first introduced.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For The Simpsons Movie