Thursday, January 10, 2008

Two Reviews

Hey there, I've pretty much decided that I'm going to give up reviewing everything I get every week, I'm just going to point out the things that really stood out, both good and bad. Fortunately, the comics web-o-sphere is alarmist enough to warn me not to buy things that are most-likely-to-be-awful (*cough* One More Day *cough*), however, we all make mistakes (*cough* Countdown: Arena *cough*).

Anyway, here are two items that struck my fancy this week (or rather, yesterday), first a movie:


I was watching Space Cowboys on TNT last Saturday and was lamenting to my 5-year-old that they just don't make hard-science-fiction movies anymore, meaning that most of the SF hitting the screens tends to be more fantasy (think Star Wars) than actual, scientifically possible, fiction. Like just about any geek in his thirties, I'm fascinated by the idea of space travel and the possibilities and problems associated with it. Very few movies actually deal with this and just act as if it's just normal to travel in space and you need something like an alien invasion or a ghost to make it dramatic. Dude, you're riding in a tin can literally millions of miles from breathable atmosphere, just the plain mechanics of the situation make it dramatic.

Now onto the actual movie, Sunshine's story is that the sun is dieing and the Icarus 2 has been dispatched to attempt to reignite it. While most of us assume that our sun isn't set to burn out for billions of years, there is science behind the story, Roger Ebert's review explains it a lot better than I can (I assume it's also explained by Science Advisor Dr. Brian Cox in his commentary on the DVD, which I plan on hitting up soon). Unfortunately for our crew, theirs is not the first attempt, the Icarus 1 disappeared right about where they are now, and, since this is a movie, they've just received a signal from their predecessor. As the kids say, this is where the shit gets real.

They decide to rendezvous with the other ship, thinking that, if their bomb is still intact, two shots at reigniting the sun is better than one. This is probably a bad idea. From there on, the situation continues to get more and more grim, giving you cause to wonder if these problems are supernatural, psychological, or just plain bad luck.

It's an absolutely beautiful film to look at. The CGI blends in seamlessly with the practical effects and truly, you never even see "effects", you simply see a space-ship approaching the sun. I really recommend this movie, I've watched it twice in the last two days, tonight with director Danny Boyle's commentary and he really makes you rise to a new appreciation of the movie with his enthusiasm. It's not a great movie, but it is a darn good one.

Teen Titans: The Lost Annual

Now here's an odd little thing. This issue, the final written work by Bob Haney (I believe) featuring art from Jay Stephens and Mike Allred hits the stands after sitting on shelf at DC since 2003. Obviously Haney is channeling the crazy with this issue that features Mod-Aliens kidnapping and brain-washing JFK in 1962 in order to help them battle Space Hippies on their own planet.

Let's let that sink in: Mods vs. Ouuuutttteerrr Spaaaaaace!

Of course, Robin is there to witness all of it, so who's going to believe him, he's just a kid? A kid who was staying in the Lincoln bedroom while JFK got kidnapped mind you. Robin, dude, for the contribution Bruce Wayne had to give to get you that night in Camelot, trust me, I think someone will believe you.

, he gets his buddies, the original Teen Titans to go on a trip to Ouuuttteerrr Spaaaaace to get our Prez back. The do leave Aqualad behind though, because that dude's totally a buzzkill. Once there, they realize the stakes, so of course they go to war. Well, except for the (Wonder)girl, who of course totally falls in love with the Hippy-alien leader and wants to have his babies. And Robin eventually saves the day through a convoluted plan to snap JFK out of his programming involving the PT 109, a demolished spaceship and a hat. Then, in the last four pages, shit gets really weird.

OK, stepping away from it, it sounds like the most crazy-tastic issue ever written in the 60's, doesn't it? The problem is that it was written in the 2000's, so it just doesn't seem as authentically crazy. Obviously, having Haney on board mitigates that, but I don't know, maybe I'm just over thinking the whole thing, but after reading the Saga of the Super Sons, you get the feeling they were really trying to be hip. Now it's like they're making fun of themselves trying to be hip. Maybe it's just the overuse of irony in comedy these days that kind of blunts this for me. Stephens and Allred's art is very good, almost too good, since it's aping 1960's comic art which tended to be serviceable at best. That said, Nick Cardy's cover (above) and sketchbook is amazing. I would kill for just one of those sketches, the detail and composition are so good.

Along with that, the ending just kind of struck me wrong. ***SPOILERS ON*** In the end, they return to Earth with the real JFK (a duplicate had taken his place) only to find out the duplicate-JFK had a very bad day in Dallas while they were gone. So JFK decides, for the good of the country, to go back to the alien world since him reappearing after being "killed" would be too much of a shock to the nation. Linking such a crazy, lighthearted book with such a tragedy just kind of ended the whole thing on a sour note. The artist even draws in the famous photo of JFK Jr. saluting his father's casket, which is, in my mind, one of the most heart-breaking images ever.


OK, that makes me feel a little better. Overall, it's a fun little artifact, and I'm glad that I have it, but I kind of think it is a missed opportunity.


Bill said...

Only you (shakes head)...

I've never even heard of Sunshine.

CalvinPitt said...

I think "Red Planet" is a pretty decent sci-fi movie, without a lot of stuff that's too far out. I think if you can buy the idea they would try seeding Mars with algae to improve its atmosphere for future settlement, it's pretty solid science. Plus, it was the movie that convinced that maybe Batman Forever isn't the best movie to use to form an opinion about Val Kilmer's acting ability.

Jason said...

Bill - yeah, I know...I know.

Calvin - You know, I was going to mention that flick. I was one of the twelve people who actually saw it in the theater. Also, if you like Val Kilmer, check out Spartan, now that's a really good movie.