Sunday, 8 August 2010

Random Reviews

Well, I'm obviously still not settled enough to create, dahlinks, so what's been catching my interest lately? (And I dunno why the start of this post comes up as a link!)

First up is the Norwegian Nazi zombie movie Dead Snow. The concept alone is great but this is the most fun I've had from a movie in a while. In an Evil Dead-style setup, some Norwegian medical students head up to the mountains for a break and run straight into an army of Nazi zombies. There's no excuse for how the Nazis became zombified, but they are swiftmoving and silent under the command of their imposing leader. Funny, gory, original and lean, this is a great film that I'd recommend to everyone.

Next up is Heavy Metal: oh dear. I'm tipping my toe into Eurocomics and have been intrigued by the Heavy Metal magazine for some time (as well as a lovely painted scifi strip run by Marvel UK in Strip, Havoc, Meltdown or a similar early 90s mature-readers anthology that I can find no reference to whatsoever online). I saw the DVD of the 1981 animated feature dirt cheap online so thought I'd give it a try. Oh dear. Oh deary deary dear. The animation is pretty ropey, the acting dodgy and the scripts pretty poor: here is proof that boobs and decapitations may be for an adult audience but it definitely isn't mature.

The first story foreshadows Blade Runner's city design (understandable as Ridley Scott was using the HM mag as a visual starting point anyway) and is echoed in Fifth Element, the second story is an adaptation of a dull Corben graphic novel, the Bernie Wrightson-derived Captain Sternn segment is actually quite fun before zipping in to a brief but effective EC-style story featuring World War II zombies (them again!) and the last is quite clearly based on Moebius' Arzach. Getting the rights to the original European strips was harder than expected so while emulating Moebius style, this sequence substitutes a silent warrior princess astride a flying plucked chicken thing for Moebius' character. Actually, this sequence is probably the most involving, probably due to the fact that the rotoscoped animation for the female warrior is so naturalistic that is stands head and shoulder above the rest of the animation. Held aloft by soundtrack contributions from classic rock acts like Black Sabbath, Nazareth and Blue Oyster Cult, probably only 10-year old boys could really enjoy this...

So, moving on, I managed to finally lock down a (surprisingly cheap) English adaptation of the first volume of the Dutch comic series Storm, featuring fully painted art by British artist Don Lawrence. Published in 1982 by a crossword/puzzlebook publisher of all people, I'm glad I didn't shell out much for this: the art is fine but the plot is fairly generic and uninspired, again highlighting the European preference for plot over characterisation.
More successful is the second volume of Garen Ewing's The Rainbow Orchid trilogy. It's been ages since I've seen any new stuff from Garen but it's as clearly meticulous as ever. His visual research results in authentic locales and details, all presented in lovely full colour. Written, drawn, coloured and lettered by Garen, this is a creative tour de force and I hope the Adventures of Julius Chancer continue after The Rainbow Orchid concludes.
It's been years since Garen and I first crossed paths in the small press scene but really the only stuff I still read seems to be by mates such as Rol and Ralph. However, the most prolific output remains with Tony McGee, who has the first collection of his fun Martian sci-fi Eva Nova strips out in between issues of the nearly complete Outcastes series. #8 starts bringing background details to the fore as the plot threads start to twine together to lead to a rocketing final few issues. This is probably Tone's most ssured writing and is well worth a look.
Finally, Booster Gold #32 is the start of a story finding BG back in the past alongside Ted Kord once again. Written by Giffen & DeMatteis, this feels more like the classic JLI than either the current Generation Lost or the last Formerly Known As JLI series (maybe it was me, but Ted in that darkened Beetle costume just felt odd and kind of spoiled the fun a bit). I would have picked up the previous Blue & Gold arc but, y'know...Jurgens art...but Batista's art is pretty decent and it's always cool to see comics' greatest buddy relationship together again, supported by third stooge Mr Miracle.
I've been slowly reading Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 on the train for months now...I have to admit that although on one level, it's an easy read, on another the florid prose and snail pace plot has been leeching me of any enthusiasm for completing the book, so when I saw the graphic novel in The Works, I snapped it up as I can read the whole story before deciding if it's worth continuing with the book. I don't think I'll bother. The graphic novel is stylishly done and is a solid adaptation but overall, the plot is poetic and deep but also slight and uninvolving.

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