Sunday, February 11, 2018

Movies - The Villainess

The Villainess is one of the best South Korean exports in recent memory. Female action powerhouse Kim Ok-bin plays Sook-hee, a woman trained from youth to be a living weapon and deadly assassin. When her lover is murdered, she seeks revenge on the criminal organization that killed him. Captured by the authorities, she is arrested and given a choice by a clandestine government group—she can die, or she can go work for them. In 10 years she can retire fat and rich. She takes the job.

From the first minute, a point of view camera takes Sook-hee into a warehouse full of criminals where she violently removes everyone on four floors. First she uses guns; when she runs out of (a lot of) bullets, swords, then knives, then blazing fast hand to hand combat. This first scene challenges viewers to think, what’s next and how can the filmmakers possibly top this? Believe me, they do.

Sook-hee, now working undercover in her new identity as Chae Yeon-soo, soon embraces her government job. She gets an apartment and starts to fall for her quirky neighbor, Joong-sang. There is more to Joong-sang than meets the eye, but is he friend or foe? Or both?

Korean Actress Kim Ok-bin
Life slowly improves as Sook-hee raises her new daughter and proceeds to carry out her spy/assassin assignments—until she is targeted by a man she thought was dead. This leads to massive set piece battle scenes between Chae and a large group of criminals. She battles it out with their greatest assassins, with fights on the side of skyscrapers, in public transportation, and a heart-stopping sword battle on motorcycles, in a tunnel with armed riders all around her. These fights are original, spectacular and violent. The motorcycle sword battle alone must have left scores of dead stuntmen on the ground. If they used CGI to make heads strike the pavement at 70mph, I didn’t notice it.

Chae goes through so much heartbreak in the movie, with betrayals, dead lovers and family members, and vast organizations trying to kill her—including her own. The story is fun (if a bit soapy) and the action is unique and non-stop. This is one for action lovers. Highly recommended.

Rating: **** stars out of 5

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Quarter of a Million Dominoes and Counting ...

There is something meditative about watching dominoes fall for 14 minutes ... This must have been a monster to set up. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 Cincinnati Comics Expo

Last weekend was this year’s Cincinnati Comics Expo. For several reasons I could only attend one day this year, Sunday. As usual, my friends at Comic Book World had the biggest (and best) booth at the con.

The famous Comic Book World Booth
One thing I love about the Cincy con is that they have lots of comic book dealers. In this day of cons featuring media celebs, wrestlers and cosplay professionals, the Cincinnati Expo likes and features comic dealers of all stripes. Folks were there with quarter boxes (haven’t seen that for a while), dollar boxes and walls full of primo key books for thousands of dollars apiece. There was something for every budget. There were also dealers with comic-related art, posters, clothing, props and weapons.

A Cheesecake art booth. Nice art!
David Bradley

I first walked by the media celebrity tables. I really wanted to meet actor Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride. I read his book about that movie and it was a hoot. He was the con’s biggest media guest and they had been pushing his appearance for almost a year. He cancelled a week before the con. Not sure why, but if it wasn’t an emergency that was a jerky thing to do. I next looked for actor David Bradley, Filch from the Harry Potter movies. He just wrapped up the fourth and last season of The Strain and I loved his performance as the crusty old professor and monster killer Abraham Setrakian. Of course, he had cancelled too. I did meet up with character actor Jason Isaacs. I mentioned he creeped me out with his performance as a New England gangster in the cable show Brotherhood. I’ve spoken with several bad guy actors and movie villains now, and it amazes me how they justify the behavior of their characters. In response, he said, “Yeah, but he had morals and did the right
Jason Isaacs
thing sometimes.” I pointed out that he killed innocent people (and many deserving ones). Isaacs replied, “Sure, but he tried to do the right thing.” That’s interesting. In the show, Isaacs’ character Michael Caffee terrorized his girlfriend, murdered innocent people and threatened anyone he could to get his way. He really was an amoral scumbag who deserved to be removed from the planet for the good of humanity. But the actor who played him only saw the character’s redeeming features, as few as there were. I supposed actors are human and have to survive playing evil people, so they cling to anything good or not wicked about their character. That was an interesting conversation.

L to R: Matt, Ty Templeton, Ted
I next ran across my friends Matt and Ted, waiting for Ted’s sketch from comic artist Ty Templeton. He was drawing Jack Kirby creation Big Barda for Ted (shhhh—I think Ted as a bit of a fetish for Barda—not that I blame him). Matt showed me the Steve Canyon Templeton had drawn for him the day before (shhhhh—I think Matt has a bit of a fetish for Steve Canyon). Here’s the drawing, which I loved:

Steve Canyon by Ty Templeton
I didn’t go to any panels this year, but I did take a few cosplay photos:

Poison Ivy - Excellent costume

Not sure and a Disney Princess

Star Wars Character

Another family that cosplays together ... 

Star Wars pilot and a Sith Cheerleader. Really. 

Suction-cup tip Green Arrow and the Joker

The best Harley Quinn at the show

Emma as a female Joker

Black Cat & Kingpin

Movie Wonder Woman. I approve!
A working R2-D2
A fun con, as always. Hopefully not as many guests will cancel next year. Either way, it is not the con organizer’s fault—some things just can’t be helped. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Punisher TV Show: Latest Trailer

The new Punisher TV show trailer from Netflix gets the Humble Opinions 100% approval rating. Can't wait!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Evansville Museum Geek & Comicon

Last Saturday, August 26th, was the first annual Geek & Comicon hosted by the Evansville Museum in Indiana. Organized by Evansville librarian Karen Malone (with advice and help from my friend Ted Haycraft), this first show was well attended and had some excellent panels.
Early on, Ted asked Ye Author to be part of a panel called “The Ins and Outs of Comic Book Collecting." Since I have collected since before I could read and have more comics than any sane person should have, it was probably a good match. My friend Matt and I set out early Saturday morning for Evansville. Here are some highlights of the con.
Ted Haycraft on left
Here Ted warms up for the first panel of the day, “Attending Cons 101.” No one was sure how many folks would come, to the con or to the panel. Turns out a few folks wandered in and soon the Planetarium where most panels were held had a good crowd gathered.

Ted and Kyle Starks
Here Ted interviews comics creator Kyle Starks about his independent comics work, especially his work on the Rick & Morty comic. His graphic novel Kill Them All comes out later this year.

This gentleman did a wonderful job on a panel entitled “Captain America as a Propaganda Tool During World War II.” He adapted his Master’s Thesis into an hour-long talk filled with little-known facts about Cap and comic book WWII propaganda. It was incredibly interesting. He really got into it, with his helmet and shield.

Ins and Outs of Collecting Comics panel
Ye Author (middle) gets a word in
Above are a few shots from my panel on collecting comics. I had two knowledgeable comic book dealers on either side of me, so it was tough to get a word in edgewise. I did manage to mention my life-long love of telling stories with words and pictures, and how modern comics are too expensive. But whatcha gonna do?

Ted's Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
The last panel of the day was a Jack Kirby tribute from Ted “The Man” Haycraft himself. Although it was a challenge to squeeze even an overview of King Kirby into 60 minutes, Ted did a brilliant job, enthusiastically expounding on the man and his works. He opened many young eyes up to Kirby’s legacy—I hope those kids will seek out his stories and enjoy them half as much as we do.

With all modern comic conventions, cosplayers are along for the ride. Here are a few from the show.

After the show, a starving Matt and I accompanied the Evansville comics crew to a well-deserved feast. A fine group of men:

All in all a great way to spend the day. I look forward to an even bigger show next year!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Happy 100th Jack "King" Kirby

Today we recognize and salute the 100th birthday of Jack Kirby, born as Jacob Kurtzberg. Jack was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York 100 years ago today.

Jack Kirby was one of the most powerful, creative and prolific artists who ever lived. Everything he did resonated with mad ideas and energy. He didn’t live to see himself become the world-renowned superstar he is today, but I think he’d be happy knowing that his creations will live forever. Thanks for everything, Jack. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fans Strike Back against SJW Marvel

It’s sad to think what (SJW) Marvel Comics has become. Instead of telling adventure stories about heroes and villains and good vs. evil, SJW Marvel has chosen to publish comics about social issues, alternative lifestyles and how racist/intolerant/xenophobic, etc. America is. Of course their traditional audience has fled in droves, decimating their sales and crashing the company’s comic publishing division. What is Marvel’s response? More SJW characters. Fewer classic characters. No stories about heroes fighting villains (unless those villains are Christians, conservatives or businessmen—those evils exist at Marvel to be killed or beaten vociferously).

Diversity & Comics is one of the many YouTube Channels run by an unhappy fan who, like me, detests this new SJW Marvel. The host is a talented artist and insightful commentator with excellent judgment and a refreshing sense of humor. He is fighting for Marvel to bring back intelligent stories with no agenda and no ax to grind. That’s all we ask!

One of the running jokes on Diversity is about Marvel’s new Iron Man, RiRi Williams. For those who haven’t heard, RiRi is a teenaged black girl who stole materials from MIT to make her own version of the Iron Man armor. She is immediately feted by the world for being a savior and genius, the most heroic heroine who ever lived, despite having no real accomplishments except theft and good technical knowledge. RiRi is an obnoxious, clueless character who actually asks other people to denounce her so she can claim racism. While SJW Marvel lifts her up as a heroine, Diversity has a running gag that she is really meant to be a super-villain. To this end, Diversity’s host has commissioned a satirical comic story about RiRi as villain. It’s only ten pages and is hilarious. 

Here is the video where Diversity explains the project: 

And here is the actual comic, which anyone can read free of charge:

Diversity has other such stories planned tweaking different books and characters at SJW Marvel. Fans have been fed up for years that our characters are killed or replaced and our beliefs are mocked by a company we used to love. It’s about time someone struck back. And the way they do it is delicious. This isn’t just about mocking SJW Marvel. It’s about returning sanity and the characters we love to the company. Check it out. Again, this and all subsequent stories will be free to readers.

Rating: ***** out of 5