Friday, March 14, 2008

Fantastic Four #554-555 Review

Marvel’s First Family looks for a fresh start.
by mr. b

Following an insanely successful run on The Ultimates, superstar creative team, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, check in for an extended stay at the Baxter Building. The aptly named “World’s Greatest” storyline kicked off last month and continues (on time!) this week.

I was apprehensive when this story arc was announced. Aside from the obvious prospect of having Hitch falling behind schedule, Millar has had a rough couple of years critically. I, personally, enjoyed the majority of Civil War but the ending felt extremely disappointing. His previous runs on Ultimate Fantastic Four were underwhelming and forgettable. That being said, I approached the first issue with high expectations.

Those expectations were met within the first four pages.

Everything a Fantastic Four comic should be was here. The sarcastic Ben Grimm. The nerdy, oblivious Reed. The annoying kids. All balanced out by the ever-present mother figure that is Sue Richards. The opening of this comic oozes Millar’s obvious love of the Lee/Kirby era. It was amazing to me that he nailed the characterizations so quickly. All against the backdrop of a time traveling train, barreling through the Old West. Millar spends the rest of the issue setting up a handful of interesting subplots that will run through his tenure on the title.

“Wow” seems to be as good a word as any to describe what Bryan hitch brings to this book. Every panel is illustrated with pain-staking detail. No empty spaces and no shortcuts taken. His trademark widescreen panels are made to give the book a blockbuster movie feel, and they accomplish just that. Imagine if Michael Bay made good movies. These two issues also showcase Hitch’s underrated ability to draw “quieter” moments. His facials and body language add a whole dimension to Millar’s already excellent dialogue.

The running subplots make sure the book never seems stale. Every member of the team seems to have something going on. Sue has joined an all-ladies group of superheroes to fill her time. Johnny has moved out of the Baxter Building and getting ready to start work on a reality TV show. And Reed has been recruited by his ex-girlfriend to rebuild the planet. Millar was so good at putting these side stories together and having them seamlessly run through the book, without bogging it down.

Two issues in and the nay-sayers already have begun speculating how late the next issues will be. Bad news for them. Millar has twelve scripts finished and hitch has enough issues in the can to last to December.

One Sentence Review: A great Fantastic Four story in the tradition of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. | 9.0/10

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #12 Review

Dark Horse’s canonical continuation of the cult television series ventures into its third arc.
by dares

This issue starts a new story for the all new, all illustrated scoobies. “Wolves at the Gate” is being helmed by former Buffy and Angel television scribe, Drew “Cloverfield” Goddard and also features the ooey gooey deliciousness that is Georges Jeanty’s art.

Buffy #12 has received some attention in the media, spotlighting a certain moment in the book which is sort of hinted in the first arc and then sort of even more hinted in issue eleven, and while this spotlight receiving moment is very much memorable, it’s another scene in the book that has become my favorite part Buffy Season Eight. (Hint: It involves most of the main cast).

(Yes, the moment topped the “mask reveal” of issue eleven.)

Following two solidly boss arcs by Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughan, “Wolves at the Gate” has procured the title of "favorite issue of series" in one awesome swoop. Drew Goddard has hit it out of all parks in the world combined together to make one gigantic super-park. While the last two arcs have felt like episodes split into four parts, this single issue feels like an episode of Buffy all by its lonesome.

This issue also has the return of a character not seen since Season Five (or, if you’re a real Buffy keener, the Tales of the Vampire anthology series published by Dark Horse a few years back) and it’s a good one.

Georges Jeanty’s art on Buffy is another reason the comic is so great. He hits the personalities of the characters perfectly, ensuring that the reader is seeing Xander Harris and not Nicholas Brendon. It's a very fine line between the character and actor in comic tie-ins and Jeanty balances it perfectly. I think it’s safe to say that he is the definitive Buffy artist.

Drew Goddard is no stranger to Buffy comics either. He wrote a short for the previously mentioned Tales of the Vampire collection. If you’ve watched the television show and you love the comic book, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of Tales of the Vampire. It definitely adds to the experience.

One Sentence Review: A great issue in an already fantastic series. 9.5/10
If you’re reading Buffy, let me know what your favorite moment of the book has been.

The next issue of Buffy The Vampire Slayer ships on April 2nd.

Later Days!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Incredible Hulk Trailer

The long-awaited trailer for The Incredible Hulk has finally hit the net.

With just over three months until the film's June release Marvel and Universal have finally released a trailer for the upcoming Hulk film. Check it out below.

This trailer is incredibly well paced and really builds towards the ending showdown. However, I'm getting a weird vibe from this flick. Norton is a great Bruce Banner but something about this film just feels weird. It's almost got a bit of a b-movie buzz going. Does anybody else share my concern? Post a comment and let me know what you think of the trailer.

The Incredible Hulk hits theatres on June 13th.


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Final WALL-E Trailer

Disney and Pixar have unveiled the final trailer for their upcoming box-office smash.

WALL-E is going to be BIG. Pixar have come off Ratatouille, arguably one of their best films, and have all the momentum leading into this June release. The film will be a box-office hit, guaranteed, but I wouldn't be surprised if it cracked $125-million on opening weekend.

Pixar has brought out a new, and final, trailer for the film. Check it out below or click HERE to watch it in HD.

As much as I refuse to respect cg-animation I must admit that I'm kinda excited for this flick. The character designs are really tight and robots are totally sweet. Pixar is also pushing the envelope with visuals in this film unlike any other. Everything is crisp and the atmospheric effects look absolutely amazing.

What do you guys think about this trailer? What about computer-animation as a whole? Will you go watch WALL-E on opening weekend? Let me know, post a comment.

WALL-E hits theatres on June 27th. If any film is going go head to head with The Dark Knight this summer it will be this one. Watch out.


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dead Space Developer Diary

EA has released the first behind-the-scenes developer diary for their upcoming sci-fi survival horror game.

It looks like another strong day for survival horror games at MediaZEALOT. Yesterday we posted a preview of Atari's upcoming Alone in the Dark and mentioned how it was leading the way for some upcoming horror releases. One of those games is the EA developed Dead Space. Today the Redwood Shores EA studio released the game's first developer diary, check it out below.

This game is looking very promising. As I mentioned yesterday I'm a huge fan of survival horror games and Dead Space looks like it could be a real treat. Outer Space is the ultimate prison and, similar to the sea in BioShock, it looks like it will set the perfect tone for this game. From what I've seen in these videos the atmospheric effects look to be spot on and the eerie score used throughout is killer. The game has a very Alien inspired feel with a pinch of The Thing thrown into the mix. Hopefully Dead Space can capture what made both of those films so great.

In an attempt to create some buzz for Dead Space's release EA has partnered with Image Comics. Image has begun releasing a six-issue comic mini-series based on the game. Anthony Jonston has stepped in to write while each book will be illustrated by superstar artist Ben Templesmith. The first issue hit shelves last Wednesday but I unfortunately missed out. Hopefully I can find it on eBay or get Pow Comics to re-order it for me.

Dead Space hits shelves on Halloween. It will be released for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Click HERE to pre-order Dead Space over at Amazon.


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BioShock 2 Announced

Take-Two has announced the sequel to 2007's PC Game of the Year.

Take-Two Interactive have officially announced the development of BioShock 2. Although no details have been announced the company did mention that developer Irrational Games would not be responsible for the sequel. Developer 2K Marin will instead step in to handle the second installment of the underwater shooter. However, Ken Levine, the producer of the first game, will oversee the sequel's development.

Many are speculating that Take-Two have made this announcement simply to boost their value in their potentially pending sale to Electronic Arts. Confirmation of the development of a hit video game sequel will only increase the company's financial value.

I'm fairly unsure about this announcement. I loved BioShock and have been anticipating a sequel since I beat the original back in August. However, I'm disappointed by Irrational Games' choice not to handle the sequel. I'm sure 2K Marin is more than capable, and Ken Levine's involvement is a good sign, but why mess with a good thing? Hopefully Take-Two is making the right choice here and not just rushing out a sequel in an attempt to cash in.

While an official release date for BioShock 2 has not yet been announced one could speculate a summer 2009 release.


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Monsters vs Aliens 3-D

Dreamworks have rallied up a hilarious cast for their "ultimate 3-D" B-movie.

Dreamworks has announced the cast for their upcoming 3-D B-movie spoof Monsters vs Aliens. Reese Witherspoon will play the animated film's lead role as a 49-foot woman who must fend off an alien invasion. Joining her in the fight is Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogan, Kiefer Sutherland, and Will Arnett. Rainn Wilson will lend his chords to the alien villain and Stephen Colbert will voice the President.

Monsters vs Aliens will also be the debut of what Dreamworks' animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg is calling "ultimate 3-D". The animated film is the first to be shot in natural 3-D and will be digitally projected in theatres across North America come 2009. Dreamworks has also announced that, moving forward, all of their CG-animated movies will be shot in natural 3-D.

While I'm not normally a fan of computer-animation I am slightly interested in this project. I'm a sucker for 3-D on the big screen and Monsters vs Aliens looks like it could be a fun experience.

Monsters vs Aliens doesn't come out until March 27th, 2009. MediaZEALOT will have more information on the film leading up until its release.


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Monday, March 10, 2008

Alone in the Dark: Tech Demos

Atari and Eden Games have released two videos showcasing the next-gen Alone in the Dark.

As a huge fan of survival horror games the upcoming Alone in the Dark has been on my radar for quite some time. I've been a fan of the series since Jack is Back on the Playstation and have been dying to play a next-gen release of the series.

Recently Eden Games and publisher Atari have been releasing what they are calling "Real World Rules" tech demos for Alone in the Dark. The videos showcase the game engine as well as some of the title's key features. Check them out below.

Alone in the Dark: Real World Rules Episode 1

Alone in the Dark: Real World Rules Episode 2

These tech demos looks absolutely amazing and have really gotten me excited for this June release. I love how the game's focus is on object combinations and strategy rather than the size of your arsenal. It looks like the title will be very open to different play styles and it will be interesting to see what possibilities arise in different scenarios. The jacket equip menu looks very cool and moving objects with the right stick looks very intuitive. I am, however, a bit skeptical about the overuse of sticky-tape.

As cool as these videos are they don't delve into mentioning the feature that will put this game on the map; episodic play. Alone in the Dark is structured around quite a few 30-40 minute episodes that allow you play the game as if you're watching a TV show. Whenever you load a save file the game will play a video summarizing previous accomplishments and plot points. Also, to stay true to the television feel, each episode will end with a teaser for the next adventure. It's a cool idea and could potentially lead the way to downloadable episodes as bonus content.

Alone in the Dark looks to be leading the way for a few interesting survival horror video games. The Atari release will be followed by EA's Dead Space in October and Capcom's Resident Evil 5 sometime in 2009.

Alone in the Dark will be released for the Xbox 360, PC, Playstation 2, and Nintendo Wii on June 3rd. It will not be released on the PS3 until 2008. Click HERE to pre-order the game at Amazon.


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Charlie Bartlett Review

Editor-turned-director Jon Poll delivers a haphazard yet enjoyable experience in his feature film debut.

I, for the most part, enjoyed Charlie Bartlett. I love high school dramas and this film feels like a return to form for the genre. While the film isn't without its flaws it does deliver quite an entertaining tale. Browse the list below for a more detailed perspective.

The Good:

-Actor Anton Yelchin reminds me of a young Michael J. Fox.
-Robert Downey Jr is excellent as always and a force in every scene.
-Almost all the characters are well rounded and develop somewhat naturally throughout the film.
-Hope Davis is great and Kat Dennings (Catherine Keener's daughter in The 40-Year Old Virgin) is pretty good.
-The return of the high school drama?
-That Indian dude from those Rogers My5 commercials.

The Bad:
-The Film has a hard time defining itself and changes its identity throughout.
-Takes risks in an attempt to be original when simply telling the story would provide a better film.
-Some characters are exaggerated to unlikely extremes.
-The film's message is a bit off; is selling prescription drugs really the giant leap to popularity in high school?
-There was a mouse in our theatre.

Charlie Bartlett feels a lot like a Patrick Dempsey high school flick from the 80's. I enjoyed the film quite a bit. However, I'm not sure it was due to its quality or my craving for more high school dramas.

One Sentence Review: Fun and enjoyable, albeit quite flawed. | 7.2/10

Have you caught Charlie Bartlett in theatres? Post a comment and tell me what you thought of it.


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Kunis Cast in Max Payne

The That 70's Show star has been cast opposite Mark Wahlberg.

Twentieth Century Fox and director John Moore have cast actress Mila Kunis in the upcoming film adaptation of the video game Max Payne. According to Variety Kunis will play an assasin who teams up with Wahlberg to avenge the death of her sister.

Kunis may be a video game nerd but I don't think she's right for this role. The actress has done voice-work for Halo 2 and Saints Row but is best known for her role on That 70's Show and as Meg Griffin on Family Guy. While I look forward to seeing what Kunis can do in the upcoming Forgetting Sarah Marshall I don't think she can carry a large portion of the weight in a film like Max Payne. Some will say the Ukrainian-born actress deserves her shot at a big role. Go watch American Psycho II: All American Girl; Mila Kunis will only hurt the production of Max Payne.

I really enjoyed both Max Payne games and it will be interesting to see where this project goes. I really like Mark Wahlberg as Payne and if the adaptation shares the same dark, gritty, and over-the-top tone as the video game it could work. However, the flick could easily come off as a simple run-of-the-mill shoot 'em up. I'm having a hard time accepting Kunis in this role but you never know, she could be a perfect fit.

Check back to MediaZEALOT as we'll keep you up to date on the Max Payne film adaptation.


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Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #1 Review

Gunslinger Roland Deschain is back in another Marvel mini-series.

The first issue of Dark Tower: The Long Road Home is more of what was found in the Gunslinger Born mini-series. With the Big Coffin Hunters hot on his tail and his lover Susan Delgado dead, Roland and his ka-tet must flee into the desert.

As much as I want to enjoy Marvel's Dark Tower comics I just can't bring myself to do so. Peter David has written these books in such a distanced perspective that completely removes me from the characters and story. It's so hard to fall into the universe and allow yourself to be swept off your feet when you feel like you're watching the action from above. Plus, I can't feel for any of the characters in the book because they are all fairly underdeveloped. I need a book that I can connect and relate to and it just seems impossible to do so with Dark Tower.

I do, however, love Jae Lee's visuals. The Korean-born artist is the only reason I continue to purchase and read this book. His pencils are so clean and refined and he uses negative space better than any artist I can think of.

Many praised Gunslinger Born as one of the best mini-series of 2007. Quite a few have also claimed to really enjoy the first issue of The Long Road Home. I am in no way claiming that it is a bad book. However, it is not for me. I've tried countless times to give it another chance but it doesn't grow on me.

One Sentence Review: Not my cup of tea. | 7.1/10

Are you a fan of Dark Tower who thinks I'm totally off my mark with this review? Leave me a comment.

The second issue of Dark Tower: The Long Road Home hits shelves on April 30th.


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