Reel Geek Review: Amazing Spider-Man(2016) vol. 2 Worldwide

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Dan Slott has been writing Spider-Man for the past 6 years now, and has proven himself to be the premier writer of the character for our generation.  Since the post Secret Wars reboot but not really a reboot, there’s been some changes to the character of Spider-Man as a whole.  For starters, the Ultimate version, Miles Morales, is also in the main Marvel Universe these days, still as Spider-Man, also the future version, Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, is also in the present, also as a Spider-Man, and the biggest change of all, Peter Parker has become a tech mogul, second only to Tony Stark in the Marvel Universe.

A far cry from the struggling photographer trying to make ends meet by selling Spidey pics to an angry J Jonah Jameson, it’s a new twist on the character, just not one I’m sure I’m really into just yet.

In the first collected volume of the new series, also titled Worldwide, Spider-Man, the Peter Parker version in this series, had to deal with the terrorist group Zodiac trying to steal secrets from Parker Industries operations all over the world.  In this volume, it’s Spider-Man action in China, against Mr. Negative, a villain who’s kind of like Spider-Man’s Two-Face, he’s still a good man, except when his negative side takes over, and respected philanthropist Martin Li becomes the gangster Mr. Negative, and at some point he apparently also got a hold of superhero tandem and soon to be stars of their own tv series Cloak and Dagger, and made them part of his crew.   So Spidey’s in China, having to deal with Mr. Negative, his friends turned evil, and keeping his company running smoothly.

 

I’m still, after 8 issues into this new status quo, not sure if I like it so much, I’m cool with change, but having Parker being a poor man’s Tony Stark just doesn’t feel right to me.  The writing is still sharp as ever, and the art, done here by Matteo Buffagni is serviceable, but this status quo still doesn’t quite sit right with me.  I do like the twist of Doc Ock secretly surviving his recent body switch with Parker (long story) secretly hiding out in a robot body though, and look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Also in this new series is the all new 2016 model Spider-Mobile, which is a lot more useful than the original 70’s version, but still kind of useless, because, Spider-Man doesn’t need a vehicle, he’s freaking Spider-Man.    All in all it’s a fun read, but I just hope for a change in the canon soon, as I’m not sure there’s a lot of stories you can do with Peter Parker: Tech Mogul, but if there are, I’m sure Dan Slott could tell them.   *** Three out of Five Stars.

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Reel Geek Review: Spider Woman vol. 6 (vol.1)

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Spider Woman has had quite an interesting history over the years, starting off as a “We better make a character called this before a rival company does to keep the copyright” character in the real world, to having one of the most convoluted origin stories in all of comic book history (seriously, look it up sometime), to being a retired superhero, to a private investigator, to being replaced by a Skrull for a few years to… well, like I said, it’s been quite an interesting road for Jessica Drew.

And that road continues to be further interesting still in the latest collection, collecting the first 5 issues of the latest reboot in the post Secret Wars Marvel Universe from writer Dennis Hopeless (Avengers Arena) and artist Javier Rodriguez (Axis:Hobgoblin)   It starts out, and she’s 9 months pregnant, and still doing the superhero thing, along with investigative reporter Ben Urich, and a reformed D-List supervillain, The Porcupine.  The story moves into high gear when her best friend Carol “Capt. Marvel” Danvers gets her an appointment at the best labor and delivery ward in the galaxy, literally, which gets taken over by a group of Skrulls.

I’ve never really read too much of the character before, just been familiar with her exploits via other characters books, and her appearances on various Avengers teams over the years.  But needless to say, this book made me a Jessica Drew fan.  Smart, funny, and a total badass even while being the only superhero who’s also super pregnant, she’s a hero for 2016 for sure.   Both the writing by Dennis Hopeless and the art by Javier Rodriguez are both top notch, and I loved the use of Rodriguez’ use of the medium of comic book panel art to making it something else.  It really is comic book art.

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The pregnant superhero storyline wraps up in this volume, which I was a little surprised by, but not really surprised, since that’s kind of a hard concept to really keep going, look forward to seeing how the series  develops as new parent/veteran superhero is a new ish concept.

 

I highly recommend this book for anyone, even if you’re only passingly into comics thanks to the copius amounts of superhero action there are between movies and tv and such, this is a highly accessible series to get into, smart writing, fast and fun action, and a good time to be had by all.

TV Geek Review: The Get Down (Season One Part 1)

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Netflix has been on a roll for creating and putting out fresh original content as of late, this summer especially, with the Duffer Brother’s huge hit Stranger Things last month, and now this month’s offering, The Get Down, a huge collaboration between writer/producer Stephen Adly Guirgis (Birdman),  Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet), hip hop legend Nas and an extremely talented cast and crew.    Not long after I heard of Stranger Things, it seemed everyone else discovered it as well, and everyone’s talking about it.   This show, I stumbled across it last week, got hooked on it, and haven’t really heard as much rumblings, but its a show you really should watch, especially if you’re any type of fan of good television, hip hop, disco, or any combination of the three, which this show melds perfectly like a great dj mix.

The show is set in the summer of 1977, in the Bronx in New York City, in the beginnings of hip hop.  Ezekial (Justice Smith-Paper Towns) and his friends Ra Ra (Skylan Brooks-Southpaw) Boo Boo (Tremaine Brown, Jr) and Dizzee (Jaden Smith-The Karate Kid) have a chance encounter with local legend/grafitti artist/aspiring DJ Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore-Dope) that changes all of their lives forever.

That doesn’t really do the show justice, as there’s so much more going on then that in it, it’s an epic 6+ hours of television to be watched here.  There’s crime, murder, mystery, drugs, corruption, sex, and more.  The first episode is a full length movie, at an hour and a half, and my first time watching it it was a lot to take in, but I was hooked nonetheless.

For starters the cast is all top notch, from Justice Smith, to Jaden Smith, and drama veterans Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Jimmy Smits (Sons of Anarchy) the casting is phenomenal.      The visuals themselves are quite fantastic as well, fantastic cinematography by William Rexer.   I loved the inroduction of Shaolin Fantastic’s character.  He’s presented as an urban legend A  kung fu ninja of graffiti, like Bruce Lee met with Luke Cage and met Bruce Leroy after that and all fused into one.  I like how they turned one of the originators of hip hop, Grandmaster Flash (played here by Mamadou Athie) into an actual kung fu grandmaster here, dispensing wisdom as well as fresh beats.

The scripts too are top notch, you really get a sense of the hero’s journey in this tale, as hip hop is presented as part kung fu, part Jedi, part superhero in a sense, and it totally works.  I was already a fan of all three things, so the mashup worked well for me.   Some of the dialogue didn’t sound right to me, but some of this slang could be era accurate, I might just be more familiar with it as a more contemporary words.

The soundtrack as well is amazing, you really get a feel for 1977, from disco to soul to rock to early hip hop, it’s something that needs to be heard.  It also helped I watched the majority of the season on a computer or a tablet with headphones so I really felt the music as it was being played, much like how I used to listen to albums in the days when I bought albums and not streamed music, just me and the music, which, as it’s the lifeblood of the show, it enhanced every scene, and made a great show, even greater.

My only real complaint about the show, is that it’s not a full season, it’s part one of the story, and it’s a good stopping point, but I want to see more of it, as soon as possible.    I’ll leave you with the trailer for it, if you haven’t seen it yet, just to give you a taste, and hopefully you’ll enjoy The Get Down as much as I did.  5 out of 5 Stars. *****

Reel Geek Food Reviews: Local Spotlight: Sweet Mama Teez

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Photo from my girlfriend’s Instagram of the Funnel Cakes we had the other night.  I had the Oreo Explosion, she had the Strawberries and Cream.

 

One of my favorite parts of summertime, aside from the big dumb blockbuster movies, and baseball, is carnival food.  You know the type, things that are deep fried that normally aren’t,  Flavored Ice, and of course, the Funnel Cake.  Unfortunately though, carnivals are a temporary thing, and it’s a little pricey to go to a theme park (the only other real place you can get a funnel cake on a regular basis).  So what do you do when you have the craving?

Well, if you’re in the Tidewater area of Virginia, you can go to Sweet Mama Teez, in Hampton.    If not for the brightly colored shack you might just pass it by as you’re driving through, but that would be a mistake.  Inside this tiny shack and van in the parking lot is the answer to your sweet tooth that’s craving funnel cake.   And not just your standard funnel cake either.   Here I was introduced to the world of specialty funnel cake, different topping combinations of just about everything sweet you could think of.   There’s Oreo Explosion funnel cake, Banana Pudding funnel cake, Strawberries and Cream funnel cake, and that’s just the tip of the funnel cake iceberg.

In addition to the varieties of funnel cake, you can also get deep fried Oreos, and a Water Ice so good it’s like you’re back in Philadelphia.  If you haven’t been, it’s not your typical Italian ice, just shaved ice covered in syrup, it’s something unto itself that you really must try for yourself.

Also if you’re hungry for more than just dessert, they do serve Cheesesteaks, Gyros, and more, so you really could have a whole meal here.  It’s a fun summertime atmosphere too, with beach chairs set up out front, and a monitor showing fun music videos, it’s a great place to take a date.    Fall’s creeping up around the corner, so if you’re in the area or traveling to it soon, I’d suggest stopping by Sweet Mama Teez soon to get your taste of summer.

Sweet Mama Teez is located on 908 West Pembroke Avenue Hampton, Virginia 23669

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Reel Geek Reviews: Ben Hur (2016)

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Timur Bekmambetov first caught my eye when he directed 2008’s Wanted.  It had a real strong visual style that set it apart from other action movies that year, I looked forward to seeing what he did next, and what he did next was disappoint audiences and fans of the novel alike when he directed the adaptation of Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter in 2012.   So I pretty much just forgot about him when I all of a sudden heard word of this remake of Ben Hur coming out soon.   I don’t recall ever watching the original adaptation, all I know of that is it’s got an epic chariot race scene, and Charlton Heston proclaiming “You really are….the son of God..” in all his Charltony, Hestony glory.   But, the previews looked really interesting, and I’d done a Bible reading plan in my app based off of/promoting the movie, so I was really getting hyped for this biblical epic to be retold on the big screen.

The movie itself is about Judah Ben Hur (Jack Huston-Boardwalk Empire) who has an adopted brother named Messala (Toby Kebbel-Rock N Rolla) , Messala goes off to join his fellow Romans in the Roman army, and comes back a changed man, who then sells out his adoptive family, and Judah is sent into slavery aboard a ship, where he spends his days for the next five years until his ship crashes, and is saved by Morgan Freeman, a slaver and chariot manager, who gets him back into Jerusalem where he can finally take his revenge against Messala in the chariot race, where he is Rome’s champion.    Also throughout the movie Judah meets and interacts with Jesus Christ (Rodrigo Santoro-300)  at a few key times as well.

I wanted to like this movie more than I did, though I did like what I saw, for the most part.   The cast was great, and I really brought the brotherly rivalry between Jack Huston and Toby Kebbel.  Kebbel really seems to be a better actor than the movies he’s often in (Prince of Persia,  Fant4Stic)  Morgan Freeman pretty much just plays Morgan Freeman, no even attempt to do an accent, but he’s Morgan Freeman so he gets almost a pass by me for it.

What really bogged the movie down for me was the amount of slow scenes, it starts out with the chariot scene, the setup for it at least, and then we go back in time to flesh out the characters to get them back to where they need to be.  There seemed to be a lot of padding in this movie, trying to make it a longer story than it needed to be.  If you know it’s not going to fill an epic length, then just scale it back, it’s okay, the movie would have likely benefited from some time in the editing room.

 

The special effects were pretty on point, and the action in the chariot race was good, doesn’t hold up against the original though, and all in all I can really only give this movie a 2.5 stars out of 5   ** 1/2

Reel Geek Review: Sausage Party

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By this point I think Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg can just say, we want to do a movie and they give them money to make whatever pot smoke filled ideas come to mind, much like the people in charge of new food items at Burger King and Taco Bell.  I highly doubt marijuana smoking had nothing to do with the creation of a Doritos taco or Cheetos filled with macaroni and cheese.

So in this highly R rated animated movie, Seth Rogen plays a hot dog named Frank, whom along with all his other food friends in the supermarket, longs to go to the ‘Great Beyond’ where people will take them out of the store and they get to fullfill their purpose in life and also get to have sex with hot dog buns as well apparently, as his girlfriend Brenda is a hot dog bun.  Shenangigans ensue and the two are separated from their packaged friends, and also discover the truth about what happens when food leaves the store, i.e. they get eaten.    There’s also a literal douche as the villain of the story played by Nick Kroll (The League, Parks and Rec, where he also played a character called The Douche btw)  and some slight social commentary but this movie is pretty simple,  and that’s okay.

This movie is pretty much Seth Rogen and all his friends doing a raunchy R rated animated comedy because they can, and I had a lot of fun with this movie.  Nothing ground breaking here, but sometimes it is possible for a movie to just be fun and have that be okay.      Four out of Five stars ****

 

Reel Geek Review: The Tick

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As a teenager/geek in the 90’s I was a huge fan of the Fox Animated series, The Tick, based on the comic by Ben Edlund.  It was a brightly colored, hilarious parody of the superhero genre, with loads of smart humor, and crazy action.    The Tick returned to TV a few years later, as a live action sitcom, also on Fox, wherein the titular superhero was played by Patrick Warburton, who perfectly embodied the live action version of the character, though the costume never looked right to me, so I never really gave that version of the show a chance, and it was quickly cancelled soon anyway, so, I never really had a chance to watch it, really.

Cut to now, or 2016, as people of the future may be reading these words, and there were rumblings of a new version of the series being made for Amazon Prime, and Peter Serafinowicz (Spaced, Parks and Rec, Guardians of the Galaxy) was going to play the titular Tick based terror of crime.  I was admittedly iffy on this casting, but I’m a fan of the man’s work, and I’d heard that Ben Edlund himself, known moreso these days for being a writer on Supernatural was involved in the project, I awaited for hearing more.

This was all not that long ago, so imagine my surprise when I see on Facebook yesterday that the pilot episode is streaming on Amazon in their “Pilot Season” er…season, where you have a few pilots to choose from, and the higher rated one gets a full season order.  So, I of course dropped everything i was doing in order to check out the show.

 

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Arthur (Griffin Newman) meets The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz)

This episode is basically a further detailed origin of The Tick and Arthur (Griffin Newman-Draft Day) than we’ve gotten in previous versions of the series (maybe even the comic as well, but I’m not too familiar with the comic,as they were hard to find back in the 90s.)  We get this world established, that superheroes have existed here since the 20’s, and that the top superhero, Superian (Brendan Hines-Lie To Me) has been fighting The Terror (Jackie Earl Hayley-Preacher, Watchmen) for just as long, but The Terror is now dead.

Arthur doesn’t believe that this villain is gone for good, as he has a personal investment in this, as he was highly traumatized by the villain as a child, and goes to look for proof at the docks, where The Terror’s thugs have a new stolen weapons suit that has the appearance of a moth.

Not too long after, The Tick makes his grand appearance, and the two meet, and get set up for their future roles of superhero and sidekick.

I really loved this episode, it, as I mentioned was a more fleshed out version of these character’s backstories than other tv shows in previous eras could have given us.  Thank God for this new era of great episodic television we live in now, where things don’t have to be wrapped up in 30 minutes or less.    I knew I would like Peter Serafinowicz, but I wasn’t sure, how, as a British man, he was going to do The Tick, and as it turns out, he nails it by giving The Tick a part Adam West meets the narrator of the Superfriends voice which really works for bringing the character to life.   Griffin Newman nails Arthur as well, really the casting is all just spot on, and I liked the appearance of Jackie Earl Hayley, who’s career seems to be 90% comic book based stuff these days, and he’s killing it every time out.

The writing is also top notch, Ben Edlund I don’t think hasn’t written these characters for years, but he knows this world better than anyone, as he created it, so that would explain it.   Also, extra points for writing the line, “Mano y Monomyth”  that’s just some clever wordplay right there, and I’m a huge fan of wordplay.   In a world of superhero movies and shows like we have now, it’s the perfect time for The Tick to make a comeback once more, and tell the world, SPOOOOOONNN!

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