Friday, March 29, 2019

Movie Review - Dumbo (2019 Live Action)

I hate Dumbo. I hate the story. I hate the Disney animated film. When I heard about the live action remake, I looked to the heavens and said, "Why?" Then I heard Tim Burton was directing it and suddenly got very excited and decided to see it opening night.

is a 2019 live action family film. It is rated PG and is appropriate for all ages.

The Good

The Story. The story was solid. There was

The Characters. The actors did such a great job portraying their characters, and the script gave them plenty to work with. Everyone (minus the children) was unique and likable.

Visual Feast. This movie was gorgeous, and as it progressed it only got more and more gorgeous with incredible sets, costumes, and cinematography. Tim Burton is a master of the visual.

Weirdness. The original cartoon had several bits of weirdness (pink elephants, singing elephants, mouse guide, magic feather) that barely made sense in the cartoon. Somehow the filmmakers were able to incorporate all of those in a way that not only worked but added to the movie.

Pacing. The movie moved at a great pace. I was never bored checking my watch, but the movie still moved at a gingerly pace allowing the audience to really absorb what was going on and to feel the emotions with the characters.

The Bad

Ending. The ending wasn't as well thought out as it could have been. It was too easy and preachy.

The Children. The children were very stiff, generic, and predictable. They weren't particularly likable.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish the ending had been better thought out and not the obvious, easy, preachy ending seen all too often.


Dumbo is a gorgeous, well written, well acted family film. The visuals from the sets to the costumes to the cinematography are feast for the eyes--Tim Burton is a master of the visual. The story was solid filling in a lot of explanation and motivation. The script gave the actors a lot to work with, and all of them (minus the children) gave a great performance. The pacing gave the film lots of room to breath without ever feeling slow or boring. The ending wasn't as well thought out as it could have been being too easy and too preachy. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Book Review - WildStorm Summer Special (2001)

I wasn't a fan of WildStorm or Jim Lee back in his heyday, but after he sold his company to DC, a few titles caught my eye and I decided to get my feet wet in the WildStorm world.

WildStorm Summer Special is an anthology of comics book stories from Gaijin Studios. It is available as a 48-page Prestige Format comic book.

The Good

Orbital. This story by Warren Ellis, Cully Hamner, Karl Story, Brian Stelfreeze, and John Costanza is basically Jack Hawksmoor going for a jog across different cities on different continents using a "magic portal" type device. The words are narration in his head. While there isn't much plot, there is a lot of story exploring Jack and his view of his life and job. The art is really nice, and the format is different for a comic book.

Apple Read. This story by Brian Azzarello, Brian Stelfreeze, Karl Story, and John Costanza is a fun experiment in storytelling. The art evokes Oriental brushwork in a black, white, and red palette. The words are written in poetry, with the plot being as simple as Zealot buying an apple but the story containing much more. This is another fun experiment in storytelling.

Behind the Scenes. This section was the most interesting for two reasons. One, I didn't even realize there was such a thing as Gaijin studios and two of my favorite artists were part of it, and two, I love behind-the-scenes material. It's the reason I used to buy so many DVDs.

The Gallery. The gallery had some nice pinups of various WildStorm characters from several different artists that were fun to look at.

The Bad

Cover. The cover by Adam Hughes has some pretty colors that make it stand out, but otherwise is kind of a mess. There's no rhyme nor reason. Other than featuring a few characters from the stories, it has nothing to do with the issue. It's not particularly well drawn, and the design is poor.

Isolation. This story by Paul Jenkins, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Brian Stelfreeze, and Kathleen at Fishbrain is very disappointing, and this from a big Paul Jenkins fan. The art is fine, but the story reads like a bad erotic novel with no real point.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

For an anthology, this really had everything you could want.


WildStorm Summer Special is a really fun artistic experiment. It contains three stories of three different characters from the WildStorm Universe, with each story told in a different style both in format and approach. Two of the stories are great successes with beautiful artwork by Cully Hamner and Brian Stelfreeze. The pinup gallery and behind-the-scenes materials are great additions. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Book Review - Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander

I remember the first time I discovered 300. I had walked into a comic shop, and they had a short bookshelf with graphic novels and comic book trade paperbacks on it. I was instantly drawn to a book that looked like a children's storybook but for adults. It was by Frank Miller, someone who I knew from his run on DareDevil. I was instantly a fan. I had never seen a more beautifully rendered comic book story.

Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander by Frank Miller and Alex Sinclair is a collection of 5 comic book issues that were always meant to be collected in a widescreen hardback. It is available in Hardcover and digital formats.

The Good

The Art. The art is some of Frank's loosest, but it is still really beautiful, especially with Alex Sinclair's colors making it look painted.

Narration. This story is mostly narration, a storyteller telling the overall story of Darius, Xerxes, and Alexander with pauses for a few specific events. The narration is some of Frank's best. It's quick, it's clean, it's clever, and it includes the Greek gods in a really clever way.

Color. The colors in the first issue are a little overdone, but by issue three they just sing.

The Bad

Disjointed Story. Frank began this story years ago completing two issues before moving on to other projects and then finally returning to complete it, and the story shows. The first two issues are a completely different style and story than the last three. They read like comic books telling a sequel to 300 while the last three issues feel like a storybook that gives a brief overview of the events from Darius to Alexandre.

Large Brush strokes. 300 told a tale that lasted a little over 3 days. This one covers decades and so tells the story with large brush strokes leaving out so many of the smaller stories and characters and character developments fans fo the first story were expecting.

Loose/Shaky Art. Frank's art has always been loose and shaky, but it's gotten near intelligible in some parts. His sense of design isn't as strong as it used to be, but it still light years ahead of most current comic book artists.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish the story had continued like the first two issues to tell a story instead of a broad overview of history the last three issues painted. I also wish the art in the first two issues had been as strong as the last three.


Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander by Frank Miller and colors by Alex Sinclair is a visual delight with epic narration. The art is some of Frank's loosest and ranges from nearly indecipherable images to gorgeous designs. The story is a bit disjointed with the first two issues reading like a comic book sequel to 300 while the last three issues feel like a storybook that gives a brief overview of the events from Darius to Alexandre. While not as good as the first, it's still a beautiful volume to look at and a lot of fun to read. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.


Monday, March 11, 2019

Movie Review - Alita: Battle Angel

I read some anime, but Alita is one I was aware of but knew nothing about. But the trailer looked interesting enough I decided to give it a whirl.

Alita: Battle Angel
 is a 2018 cyberpunk science fiction anime action film. It is rated PG-13 for language and violence and is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

The Action. The action and fight scenes were really well done. They were fun, furious, and exciting.

The Characters. The characters were surprisingly strong and interesting. The point of the movie wasn't world building or action, but the interaction between characters and them facing their pasts and choices they made.

3D. Normally I don't like 3-D in movies, because it's little more than a gimmick. But in this film they made great use of 3-D using it to enhance the scope and size of the world. When characters were high up looking to the ground, I felt like I was high up. The 3-D also helped make the scenery seem larger and more enveloping.

Scenery. The scenery and environments, while not totally new and original, were really well done and felt like a world that could exist.

The Bad

Pacing. This movie was a little slow. The exciting parts weren't as exciting as I'd hope they would be.

Story/Concept. One thing I love about manga and anime is how original and fresh and different it is. This movie felt very western. Nothing in it was new or something I hadn't seen before. The movie was pretty straight forward and predictable.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish the movie had been a little more original and had pushed the boundaries a little more story-wise and concept-wise.


Alita: Battle Angel is a solid film with a good, linear story, great characterizations, and nice backgrounds. The action is a lot of fun. The pace is a little slow and the movie follows the typical film formula with no real surprises or anything new or unique, something I really look forward to in anime. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.