Outcast: 'A Darkness Surrounds Him' Review

Robert Kirkman's latest show gets off to a flawed start.

Confirmed: John Boyega to Star in 'Pacific Rim 2'

Boyega joins the sequel hot off the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Box Office: Ninja Turtles 2 Suffers in Anti-Sequel Summer

TMNT 2 is the latest sequel to bring in some disappointing numbers.

Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood's military drama is an impressive achievement.

Monday, 25 February 2013

UK Top 10 Games: 25th February 2013

There were two major releases out in the UK this week in the form of Crysis 3 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but it was Crysis that managed to steal the top spot leaving Metal Gear settling for No. 2, and sending last week's No. 1 Aliens: Colonial Marines down four places to No. 5.

The only other entry into the Top 10 this week comes from Hitman: Absolution which re-enters at No. 10. Outside the Top 10 however there's a new entry from Persona 4 Golden, the critically acclaimed Playstation Vita exclusive which makes a respectable debut at No. 32.

Here's the Top 10 in full (All Formats, All Prices):

1. (-) Crysis 3
2. (-) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
3. (3) FIFA  13
4. (4) Call of Duty: Black Ops II
5. (1) Aliens: Colonial Marines
6. (2) Dead Space 3
7. (5) Far Cry 3
8. (7) Need for Speed: Most Wanted
9. (6) Assassin's Creed III
10. (11) Hitman: Absolution

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

US Box Office Top 10: 19th February 2013

This week at the box office, despite very poor reviews, A Good Day to Die Hard comes in at the top spot with a solid $25 million made. It knocks last week's No. 1, Identity Thief, down one place to No. 2.

There were many other new entries into the Top 10 this week, with the second-highest new entry being Safe Haven - a romantic drama starring Josh Duhamel - it enters the chart at No. 3 with earnings of just over $20 million.
The next new entry is Escape From Planet Earth, an animated kids adventure with the vocal talents of Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Alba. It has a fairly underwhelming debut of $16.1 million.
Finally, Beautiful Creatures is the last new entry. The fantasy romance stars Emma Thompson and looks like it could be another financial disappointment with less than $7.5 million made.

Here's the Top 10 in full:

1. (-) A Good Day to Die Hard - $25 million
2. (1) Identity Thief - $23.4 million
3. (-) Safe Haven - $21.4 million
4. (-) Escape From Planet Earth - $16.1 million
5. (2) Warm Bodies - $9 million
6. (-) Beautiful Creatures - $7.46 million
7. (3) Side Effects - $6.31 million
8. (4) Silver Linings Playbook - $6.09 million
9. (5) Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - $3.47 million
10. (7) Zero Dark Thirty - $3.1 million

Monday, 18 February 2013

I, Vampire: Volume 1 Review

Way back in September 2011, I, Vampire was among the titles launched as part of DC Comics' New 52 initiative. It was a title that many people, including myself, missed out on in its original run. So now that it's out in Trade, should you give it a read? Definitely. I, Vampire is an under-appreciated gem that all comic fans should have in their collection.

I, Vampire revolves around the character of Andrew Bennett, a vampire who for many years has been trying to stop his former lover Mary (also a vampire) from rising up with her army of vampires and killing all the humans. However, in the events of the first issue of this collection he finally loses control of her, and so after years of peace between the vampires and humans a dark time begins. The first volume follows the story of Mary and her army mass-murdering humans across America and Andrew's desperate attempt to stop her, with the help of his friend John, the not so friendly Tig, and Batman himself. And it is a blast to read.

It's also great for new comic readers wanting to dip their toe into the DC pool, as I, Vampire has a very self contained story. You don't need any knowledge of the DC super-heroes to love this book, so if you want an easy jumping-on point, this should be it.

Joshua Hale Fialkov writes a variety of great characters: some are likeable, some are insane, some are just plain badass - but all of them are interesting and character's I'd like to see more of in the future. Whether we will or not is a different story seeming as I, Vampire is being cancelled after it's nineteenth issue! *sad face*

Fialkov manages to write Andrew as a good vampire - but not in an annoying Twilight way - he's a good vampire, but still a total badass. He may still love Mary, but he doesn't sit around staring at her, instead he actively tries to kill her which is a lot more entertaining to read.
Meanwhile, the supporting cast is also good. John, Andrew's oldest friend, comes across as an intelligent character and one that - despite being a lame human - can hold his own against the vampires.

And then there's my two favourite character's in this book: Tig, a vampire hunter who forms an uneasy alliance with Andrew, and Mary herself. I know it sounds strange to say the villain is one of my favourite characters in a comic, but Mary's attitude and behaviour is just so deliciously evil that it's hard not to like her.
Then there's Tig, who I'm particularly interested in after reading the end of Volume 1. No spoilers, but what I will say is after that twist of an ending there's going to be tough times ahead for Tig!
Click to Enlarge
Then, there's the art by Andrea Sorrentino. Before I, Vampire, it's fair to say he was a relatively unknown creator. Now though, I'm happy to say that this book has led to him being discovered (he was recently bumped up to the much higher profile book: Green Arrow). Sorrentino's art fits perfectly for a book like this.
The darkness of the art works well in making you feel immersed in this darker side of the DC Universe, and most of the time looks absolutely beautiful. However, there were a few panels in the book where I thought things got a bit too dark, and too much detail was sacrificed as a result. On the whole though, Sorrentino's art fits this book perfectly and I hope to see more from him in the future.

One other flaw that also holds I, Vampire back is that some pieces of dialogue feel a little out of place, and move the story on a little too fast. Not a huge problem, but it did take me out of the story a couple of times throughout the book.

UK Top 10 Games: 18th February 2013

This week, despite bad reviews, Aliens: Colonial Marines manages to take the top spot knocking Dead Space 3 down one place to No. 2. The game has been in development hell for the last six years, but still hopes were high that it could be the first truly excellent Aliens game. Aliens fans will just have to keep waiting I suppose...

Elsewhere, Assassin's Creed III re-enters the Top 10 climbing from No. 12 to No. 6 and Halo 4 manages a similar jump climbing from No. 13 to No. 10.

This week's biggest drop came from Studio Ghibli and Level 5's Ni No Kuni which after a strong debut falls 19 places this week from No. 6 to No. 25. Still the title seems to be doing fairly well for a Playstation-exclusive.

There were no other new entries this week, however the DS's Super Scribblenauts does re-enter the Top 40 at No. 29 due to a price drop - it can be found for under £10 at some retailers. So if you're running out of things to play on Nintendo's last-gen handheld, that could be a bargain to see you through for a while.

Here's the Top 10 in full:

1. (-) Aliens: Colonial Marines
2. (1) Dead Space 3
3. (2) FIFA 13
4. (3) Call of Duty: Black Ops II
5. (4) Far Cry 3
6. (12) Assassin's Creed III
7. (7) Need for Speed: Most Wanted
8. (8) Just Dance 4
9. (10) Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed
10. (13) Halo 4

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Marvel NOW! Secret Avengers #1 Review

Secret Avengers was a series I always wanted to get into Pre-Marvel NOW! but never quite found the right jumping-on point, so when I saw it would be getting a new #1 as part of Marvel NOW! I was excited to get hold of it. After the first issue, I'm happy to say I'm still excited about this series. Secret Avengers #1 is a cinematic, exciting read which should please old fans and newcomers alike.

Secret Avengers #1 sees Agent Phil Coulson recruit the talents of Black Widow and Hawkeye to be part of a new SHIELD-controlled Secret Avengers team, however there's a catch. The missions that they'll be working on are so top secret that even they aren't allowed to know about them! And so, a memory implant has to be fitted into the brains of the pair so that the knowledge of these missions can be removed once they're accomplished.
This is a cool concept, however it's strangely handled in this issue. When the pair first hear about it they're completely against it, but then Agent Coulson tells them something, and suddenly they can't wait to get out in the field. It was a strange decision to not let the reader know about why the pair joined the team, but as long as we find out why in the next few issues then perhaps I'll understand the decision. Still, it's a move that isn't going to please everyone.

That small gripe aside, the story of this issue was very good. Nick Spencer uses the first issue almost as a one-shot tale, to set the tone of how this team is going to work and what the story is going to be like - and it's not as honourable as you may think. Straight away Spencer makes it clear that SHIELD has some ulterior motives, and it makes for a tense team dynamic. This is best shown at the end of the book with a nice twist that took me by surprise and got me interested in the next issue.
Plus if you're new to the Marvel Universe you have nothing to fear jumping into this book. It features characters from The Avengers movie and requires little background info, making it perfect for new readers.

The art in this book by Luke Ross and Matthew Wilson works well with the title: it has a dark feel to it which is great for the darker story. But, it does drop in quality a little when the action stops and the talking begins. It's in these panels where the art loses some detail and becomes less impressive. Overall though, there are few complaints I can make about the art.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Batman #17 Review

There are spoilers in this review.

Batman #17 marks the end of Scott Snyder's second big story on the title: Death of the Family. Unfortunately this story goes out with more of a whimper than a bang, with all the build-up and tension of the last four chapters never quite paying off.

Batman #17 is meant to shock, but I just found it very anti-climatic. All this time Snyder has been teasing about how awful the Joker's plan was, but really I didn't feel like there was much that differentiated it from any other Joker story. The Riddler's response to seeing what Joker had planned was shock, but all he really did was kidnap the Bat-Family, pretend he'd cut their faces off, and become the cause of mistrust in the family. Am I the only one who doesn't find that very shocking?
I'm not saying that in order for this story to meet expectations it had to live up to its name and kill off a character, but I wish something a little more ground-breaking happened than this. The Joker will be back within a few years for another scheme, and the Bat-Family will just move on.

What burns me most about this is that this is the second arc in Snyder's Batman title, and also the second to disappoint me. I'm not going to go into too many details on the Court of Owls but I will just say I found it to be stretched out too thin across eleven issues, and another tale with a very disappointing ending.
Criticising Snyder seems to be blasphemy in the comic-book world at the moment, but I've got to say I'm really not understanding the hype and acclaim.

Now, this book wasn't all bad. There were some cool moments, and I did feel a sense of despair at the end with the idea that no matter what happens the Joker always wins. Additionally, the art remains well done by Greg Capullo who remains a great fit for Batman. But this just wasn't enough in the end for me to call Batman #17 a satisfying end to Death of the Family.
It pains me to say it after such a strong build-up in previous issues, but Death of the Family is a huge disappointment.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Movie 43 Review

Well how very embarrassing! It's been just over a week since we wrote our feature - 13 Movies to Watch in 2013. Since then two of the films on that list have already been released: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Movie 43. Hansel and Gretel has been getting panned by almost everyone whose reviewed it and Movie 43...well, it's disappointing.

Movie 43 is basically a compilation of sketches written by a large group of writers and starring many famous faces, all strung together loosely on a very weak plot.
Now it should be said that American audiences have a slightly different version of Movie 43 to those of us in the UK. All of the sketches are the same in the two versions, however the plot tying the sketches together is different. The American version focuses around a struggling scriptwriter played by Dennis Quaid pitching the sketches to a film-maker played by Greg Kinnear. However, the UK version focuses on a group of three teenage boys searching for the most awful, shocking movie ever: Movie 43. On their way through the shady corners of the Internet they find the sketches that make up the majority of the film.

Really though, it doesn't make a huge amount of difference as neither versions of the film have impressed critics, not just because the plot isn't good, but because the sketches just aren't that great.

Now you can find a lot of critics out there who are completely destroying this movie in their reviews, and while I agree it isn't a good film, it's not as awful as some are making out to be.
Being a sketch comedy it's bound to be hit and miss, but it's just a shame that there's quite so much miss with all the talent attached. Anna Faris is excellent at what she does - comedy - but her sketch where she longs to be pooped on by her long-term boyfriend just isn't funny at all.

Then there are the sketches that are more middling in quality. The sketch starring one of the most talented new actors around, Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Hugo) being ridiculed about her first period has one or two funny lines but overall just isn't very funny.
Meanwhile, the sketch "Veronica" starring Emma Stone is also disappointing. Stone is one of my favourite actors at the moment and capable of some great comedic moments as proven in Easy A, however her sketch in Movie 43 again provides a few funny lines before just getting pretty dull.
Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet's scene also disappointed with the whole "Hugh Jackman has testicles growing out of his neck" gag getting old pretty quick.
In fact, this is something that happened with most sketches and was possibly the biggest problem - most of them only really had one joke, and just kept repeating that one joke until it dies painfully.

However, that's not to say there's no laughs to be had in Movie 43. Each sketch typically had at least one or two lines that were funny - although, whether its a good thing that some near-20 minute long sketches only had one or two funny bits is yours to decide.
Plus, there were some sketches that I really did like. "Homeschooled" starring Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts I found genuinely funny all the way through! "Super-Hero Speed Dating" also provided some solid laughs, albeit not quite as many.

The parody adverts inserted between sketches were also very funny, including an appeal from the society for the prevention of cruelty to children inside machines. It is just as weird as it sounds.

Overall though, it's fair to say that Movie 43 doesn't make the most of the talent attached to it at all. The stars involved do seem surprisingly enthusiastic about their parts in the film and do the best they can with the script they're given. Unfortunately, it can't stop the fact that Movie 43 is a very disappointing comedy.