Sunday, 28 November 2010

WHITEOUT (2009)

Based on the awesome Oni Press graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, Whiteout is the chilly story of US Marshal Carrie Steko as she is pitted against a killer at a research base in Antarctica, just before the sun is about to set over the whole place for six months. It got mixed reviews upon release, but is a solid piece of action-packed entertainment for the discerning viewer.

It's a million miles away from your average comic book film, and that's one of its strengths. It's gritty, violent and gripping, and the sub-zero setting evokes The Thing and 30 Days of Night. There are no aliens, vampires or monsters, but there's a lot of tension, a lot of running, and a lot of edge-of-the-seat moments as Carrie and her colleagues fight against the elements as well as the villain.

The film is relentlessly bleak, much like its setting, which is maybe why it has its detractors, but those things work well in its favour. The setting adds a huge amount of atmosphere, I mean, that place is terrifying in itself without a killer trying to pick you off.

The plot is twisty enough to keep the grey matter bubbling away (although one particular twist is visible from about five minutes in), and the action sequences keep the adrenaline going. The limited locations add claustrophobia to proceedings, which are already very tense for much of the film's running time.

Beckinsale is on top form as Carrie, and is a little less predictable than other characters she has portrayed in other genre films, and her American accent is pretty level throughout it. There are faults here and there, mostly involving pacing issues around the midway mark, but it's a decent thrill-ride with some very striking visuals, and well worth checking out on one of these long winter nights.





General- Sideshow Collectibles

Christmas Gifts For Your Movie Geek

General- Sideshow Collectibles

Look, people like us are hard to buy Christmas gifts for. We know this. We're picky and we have high standards when it comes to the festive season. Movie geeks, while ultimately the coolest people alive, are notoriously hard to buy stuff for. I know this, as I'm just like that myself. For the discerning movie geek you really can't go wrong with pretty much anything from the incredible Sideshow Collectibles. Whether your geek is into Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, comics, video games or whatever, Sideshow is the place to go for the very best collectibles around. Click below for their holiday gift guide!

Holiday Guide 2010

Batwoman - Issue Zero (DC Comics)

This is an interesting look at things to come for the Batwoman series which is getting underway soon. Told in the form of an investigation by Batman into the identity of Batwoman. It basically lays the groundwork for the character and brings new readers up to speed before the ongoing series debuts. As a trailer for that, it works very well.

The two art styles that are used represent the two identities superbly, and really give you a sense of the duality of these characters' lives. Batwoman is the most high-profile gay character DC have published, and her orientation is dealt with in a very subtle manner rather than in your face.

One thing I really like is how Batwoman is rendered, as there are some shots where she looks positively demonic and unhinged. On the strength of this preview issue alone, I'll be checking the series out, and I don't say that lightly ass I'm more a Marvel guy. The issue is backed up with a preview from Detective Comics #871, drawn by Jock, which is always a good thing.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Diary: Post Alcohol Viewing

I'm drunk so I probably shouldn't be near a keyboard. Weird how I get the urge to watch a bunch of Lucio Fulci stuff when I get back from clubbing. I wonder if this has anything to do with wanting to set about the dribbling masses with a chainsaw.

I don't really, but it'd make a great flick. Heh.

Black Widow 8 (Marvel Comics)

Kiss or Kill Part 3 ups the ante of the Black Widow title with a brilliant mix of action, intrigue and highly kinetic art. The first two parts were a little lacklustre, with scratchy art and some pacing problems, but this one makes up for those episodes with a ton of style.

Natalia in this issue is everything the Black Widow character should be- determined, sexy, intelligent and formidable. Her chemistry with the Nick Crane character finally falls into place, and the inclusion of super-powered lunatics is a boon after two issues of straightforward espionage action.

Manuel Garcia's pencils and Lorenzo Ruggiero's inks bring Swierczynski's fascinating script to thrilling life, and on the whole it's a very satisfying package. A very cool issue of a rapidly improving series, and well worth slogging through the first two parts of this story to get to!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Stan Lee's The Traveler - Issue 1

BOOM studios and Stan 'The Man' Lee have teamed up to present a bunch of new superhero titles, and the first issue of The Traveler (written by none other than Mark Waid) found its way into my comic pile this week thanks to the superb cover art. It's a good, fun read, and throws you straight into the action of the Traveler an his time-twisting abilities.

The villains, known as Split-Seconds, are pretty cool but a tad one dimensional. Actually, everything about the comic is a bit one-dimensional, but it's just the first issue, and it does its job of setting the scene very well.

It's great to read a superhero title that is son unashamedly a superhero title, and while this one is all style (and bright colours) over substance, it's entertaining enough. Here's hoping issue 2 carries a bit more depth.

Now, I shall go and wash my hands after having to use the US spelling of 'Traveller'.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Ice Queen (2005)

Yes. Oh yes. This is the stuff. This is the sort of thing I started this site for. The low budget horror quickie known as Ice Queen came into my life as a trailer on another DVD, and about ten seconds into that trailer I knew I had to have this in my life. Not long after that, my copy arrived and I was ecstatic to find out that the film is every bit as silly as the trailer makes it out to be.

The film tells the story of an ancient creature (conveniently in the form of an attractive young woman) is discovered perfectly preserved in ice. She is flown away for tests and experimentation when the flight goes awry, crashing into a ski resort, right in the middle of a massive avalanche. Naturally, once the resort is cut off from the rest of the world, the creature wakes up and turns all demonic. Carnage ensues.

There's very little in the way of budget to speak of, but there are some sequences of Ice Queen that are really impressive. The avalanche scene is one of those moments, formed from miniature work, CGI and stock footage to create a convincing and thrilling sequence. After that we're in low budget horror potboiler territory, with airheaded characters being picked off (and indeed ripped to pieces) one by one by the Ice Queen.

Quite frankly, it's a rubbish bit of brainless schlock, but it's also ridiculous enough to be funny and cheap enough to make me cringe with delight. The Ice Queen herself is the star of the whole thing, and is played with no small measure of evil glee by Ami Chorlton (who made appearances in Die Another Day and, erm, Relic Hunter). She roars, bites, tears and terrorizes her way through a cast of vapid nonentities in a farcical orgy of blood, gore and running.

After the somewhat large-scale opening, the film fizzles out into a typical monster romp by the twenty minute mark, but it's entertaining enough to maintain your interest for the running time even if for most of it you're shouting at the screen in a blind rage, praying that the cast are going to start acting at some point.

It doesn't happen, but the delightfully stupid ending (which is alarmingly original, along with daft) sort of makes up for that. Don't expect a great film. Expect cheese, a weak script, some great gore, a cool monster and some delightfully brainless late-night entertainment. Just don't try to take it seriously, or you'll melt.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Crusade: Revisiting the Excalibur

For some unknown reason I've had the urge to watch a bunch of Babylon 5 and related stuff lately. This has included the short-lived sequel series Crusade (aka Babylon 5: Crusade), which I've been watching an episode here and there for the past week, and am most of the way through the 13 episode run now.

I watched it the first time round, and remember being extremely stoked for it after watching the frankly brilliant Babylon 5 movie 'A Call To Arms'. Crusade was set up by the end of that movie, where an alien plague is spread on Earth which will kill humanity within five years. Crusade follows the mission to find a cure.


It's a curious series, which feels like a completely different universe much of the time, while still carrying over a large number of B5 staples (including visits to Babylon 5 itself and cameos from B5 regulars). Watching it again now, Gary Coleman's character of Matthew Gideon is a bit of a cookie-cutter starship captain character, equal parts Captain Kirk and Buck Rogers, but there are some characters that really stick in the mind, such as the Techno Mage character Galen (Peter Woordward) and the thief/badass Dureena Nafeel (Carrie Dobro).

The series looks a little cheap and dated now, but that doesn't stop you enjoying some very fine science fiction. It's a little hokey sometimes, and J. Michael Straczynski's scripts sometimes contain dialogue that comes across a little too theatrical for the onscreen action, but Crusade is well worth a repeat viewing. The effects may have dated, but they still look cool and give the series a unified aesthetic, which is very sleek and clean. It's brighter in tone than Babylon 5 and less complicated by a long way, but it's also more than just a curio.

I would have liked to have seen much more than one series produced, but as it is, those 13 episodes are a fine legacy. And yeah, when you watch the final episode, 'Each Night I Dream of Home', I defy any long-term B5 fan not to be moved by the performance from the late Richard Biggs as Dr. Franklin. Great stuff. Now, if only the music for the series had been created by B5 legend Christopher Franke rather than whoever came up with the (frankly infuriating) beeps, clicks and whirrs that pass for a soundtrack, then it would have been even better.

The original Crusade opening (check out the awful theme tune!)


...and a version with a Christopher Franke theme which works so much better...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A note from your Genre Addict

I've not given up on this place, I'm taking part in NaNoWriMo for the third year running and writing 50,000 words of a novel during November. In addition to this I've had a load of fantastic magazine work and thus for the time being this place has had to go on temporary hiatus. I'm gonna post a review soon, and will keep the flow of new content coming whenever I'm able to. Thanks for your patience, and for visiting Diary Of A Genre Addict!