Hitting comic book stores on September 20th will be a very cool and incredibly interesting new series from AfterShock Comics called “Dark Ark“. It combines all of the elements of myth, lore, and alternate history into a deliciously dark tale set during the Biblical time of The Great Flood. Written by the always exceptional Cullen Bunn and smoothly drawn by Juan Doe, “Dark Ark” presents us with the idea that Noah may not have been the only one to build an ark to ride out the 40 day and 40 night deluge of the Earth. In this tale, a dark wizard by the name of Shrae takes two each of the demons & dark creatures (I.E. vampires, manticores, harpies, etc) aboard his own ark to survive the flood. But when a gathering of these monsters inhabit such a small space for so long, trouble is bound to happen. This is a fascinating look at a plot that runs tangent to a story with which we are all familiar. The scenes set by Bunn’s narrative and Doe’s accompanying art make for a compelling read that will make you hunger for the second issue as soon as you’ve finished the first! Comics like this are the reason independent publishers like AfterShock should be celebrated. “Dark Ark” is due out on September 20th so hurry and let your local comic book store know that you want them to put it on your pull list! You may even want to get 2 copies to make sure you get the alternate cover drawn by the phenomenal Phil Hester. On a scale of 1 – 10, I give “Dark Ark” a strong 8.5.
‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard‘ shoots into theaters this weekend starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Elodie Yung, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek. If those names alone aren’t enough to pique your interest, then perhaps my review may persuade you further. The best way to describe this film is to say it’s like ‘The Odd Couple‘ meets ‘Lethal Weapon‘. Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a triple-A rated personal security operative who is at the top of his game until he loses a high value client. Fast forward 2 years and Bryce is on his own, providing security for drug-addled attorneys. Samuel L. Jackson plays Darius Kincaid, a professional & experienced hitman, who has been offered a deal by Interpol: testify against Belarus’s feared dictator Vladislov Dukhovich (impeccably played by Gary Oldman) and his imprisoned wife, Sonia Kincaid (delightfully portrayed by Salma Hayek) will go free. After accepting the deal, Interpol begins the transfer of Darius Kincaid to the International Court Of Justice hearings in Amsterdam under the watchful eye of Agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung). Before they can make it out of London, the transfer caravan is hit by agents of Dukhovich who will stop at nothing to keep Kincaid from testifying. With no choice left, Roussel calls in ex-boyfriend Bryce to insure that Kincaid makes it to Amsterdam in time for the hearing. If Kincaid doesn’t appear in court to testify, Dukhovich will go free.
The film is laced with the typical Ryan Reynolds‘ humor and Samuel L. Jackson‘s signature swearing. There is also a LOT of violence, but then again, the title IS “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” so one SHOULD expect quite a bit of the rough stuff. Action is the order of the day and both Reynolds and Jackson are easily up for the task. Their chemistry on-screen is fantastic and all of the supporting cast are also superb in their roles. (Honestly: When has Gary Oldman ever NOT been superb?) The plot itself is not particularly inventive and the story is rather predictable, but it moves along at such a great pace from the beginning that you never really have a chance to stop and think about this flaw until after the film is over. The fight choreography and stunt work throughout the movie are also exceptional and I think this is a project that should afford a great deal of pride to all of those involved with the entire production. For best action flick of the year, I’d say that this one comes in right behind ‘Atomic Blonde‘ for me as the most fun offering of the summer. On a scale of 1 – 10, I’d give ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ a solid 7 with just a few points off for the aforementioned predictability. If you get the chance to see a film this weekend, I would certainly recommend checking this one out. If for no other reason than this: You get to see Elektra hire Deadpool to keep Sirius Black from killing Mace Windu. Now THAT’S entertainment!!
Horror movies are generally quite bankable. People LIKE being scared. The last time a horror movie truly lived up to its name for me was 2013’s ‘The Conjuring‘ which is now in my “Top 10 Scary Movies of All Time” list. That movie had a side story featuring an incredibly creepy doll named Annabelle that was possessed by evil. I clearly was not alone in my fear of this gruesome creation because the doll got a spin-off movie in ‘Annabelle‘ which came out just a year after ‘The Conjuring’. Now, we get the origin story of the world’s creepiest doll with this weekend’s release of ‘Annabelle: Creation‘. This film stars Anthony LaPaglia as Samuel Mullins, the doll maker who, after suffering the loss of his young daughter, unknowingly allows a demonic force to possess his latest creation in an attempt to bring his daughter back. Twelve years later, Sister Charlotte (played by Stephanie Sigman) brings a group of young orphan girls to the Mullins’ large home to live until they can be adopted. But when young Janice (played by Talitha Bateman) unknowing finds the doll and takes it out of it’s hidden prison, the malevolent spirit is unleashed and takes its revenge on the Mullins and everyone else living under their roof in horrifying ways.
This film succeeds in delivering genuine frights along with a compelling narrative where many other horror films tend to do either one or the other. For me, supernatural tales are generally more frightening than slasher flicks and ‘Annabelle: Creation’ is no exception. There is something universally frightening about making a seemingly innocent doll or child the focal point of evil. It’s been done well in other films throughout the years and is something this movie does even better than it’s predecessor. All of the acting solidly delivers to keep the audience engaged with the characters throughout the lean 1 hour and 49 minute run time and the pacing never drags. While there was a moment or two when my suspension of disbelief was tested, it wasn’t enough that I couldn’t thoroughly enjoy the overall film. For everything ‘Annabelle: Creation’ gives us, I’d rate it a strong 7.5! I predict that this movie will be #1 at the box office for it’s opening weekend and I would certainly recommend seeing it to any of my fellow horror movie fans out there. Just make sure you leave a light on for when you get home. And maybe make sure any dolls you have in the house are put away. Just to be safe.
After a slow start with Episode 1 to re-establish the main characters, Episode 2 starts off with Matt Murdock perched on the roof of his apartment listening to the various sounds of Hell’s Kitchen after an apparent earthquake has shaken the city. He reacts to a problem he feels can’t be ignored but is immediately upset by his decision to intervene. He is clearly still torn by his decision to stop being Daredevil. Meanwhile, Colleen and Danny continue to investigate the presence of The Hand in New York and follow their only lead in an attempt to get closer to their goal of stopping The Hand once and for all. Jessica Jones continues with her investigation into the suspected disappearance of a seemingly ordinary businessman who looks to be wrapped up in something far more complicated than Misty Knight and the police seem to think.. Luke Cage does what he can to help take care of the damage done to Harlem by the tremors from the night before and works a lead given to him by Turk in order to find out why young men in Harlem keep ending up dead after the working for a man by the name of White Hat.
Whereas the first episode of this new series was a little slow and felt disjointed, we can see a more cohesive series being formed in the second episode as the various characters’ stories begin to slightly overlap. The overall style also seems reflective of that in this episode as the first seemed to be trying to keep each character’s scenes locked into their own show’s style of filming. Now that the interaction between some of the key characters is beginning to happen, I am completely invested. The acting was as solid from all of the players assembled as it was in their individual series. I am giddy about the possibilities of where the show goes from here. Given that this particular series is only 8 episodes long, I am sure the pace will pick-up dramatically and the complaint heard from some regarding the solo series about being a bit slow in some instances will not be a complaint that ‘The Defenders‘ will receive past the first episode. For only being the 2nd episode with all the occurred, I would rate it a solid 7.