Sunday, August 13, 2017


Scott Glennon, experienced actor/narrator, has been selected by Radio Archives to perform my Airship 27 novella, "The Hyde Seed".

For the record, Glennon has vocalized such books as Isaac Stone's "Marine Defenders", Mort Castle's "The Deadly Election" and David O. Strickland's "First Man Off the Plane."

Glennon's tone is crisp and hard-hitting. I believe he'll do a splendid job on "Hyde Seed".

Will keep you posted on developments, but from what Glennon has told me, the dramatic reading should be completed by month's end. Yippee!!! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Our Harlem/Hell's Kitchen heroes are back--Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil; Mike Colter as Luke Cage/Power Man; Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones; and Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist--all assembled and equipped to kick some villainous ass and of course, bring justice to NY's meek and downtrodden.

The highly anticipated “The Defenders”, based on the popular Marvel comic-book series, is Netflix’s reply to Disney’s "Avengers" and WB’s "Justice League". The tone here is of its own variation: vicious, brooding and (chances are) woeful. (Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle/Punisher would fit right in, if not for his loner disposition, but give it time…)

For the sake of this series, our heroic collective faces a baddie named Alexandra. Folks are wondering if she's a disguised element of Marvel's vast lineage, but whether she holds a historic link (let alone rubs elbows with Rand's opposing force, the Hand) shouldn't matter to fans of "Alien", "Avatar" and "Galaxy Quest", for she's played by none other than Sigourney Weaver. Evidently, Weaver's character wields lots of big-city influence, but has any officious, self-serving opponent ever halted our defenders? Then again, who knows what devilish brew Alexandra may be cooking? Perhaps it's so diabolical that it eludes our wildest fears. 

Though this particular "queen-pin" is clearly not to be taken lightly, advanced footage for the show does present some wry banter for our admirable quartet, so though doom and gloom may predominate, we can at least anticipate some sporadic levity.

For superhero/comic-book fans, this is a golden age, with live-action adaptations riding an all-time high. Some, however, would take delight in seeing the trend end, but I emphatically say to hell with them. “Defenders” is another welcome chunk of good-vs-evil escapism and another reason why Netflix is fast becoming one of the most reliable entertainment sources around. Hey highbrow HBO—ya payin' attention?

All thirteen episodes of “Defenders” will be queued for viewing on Aug 18. Engage, enjoy...defend!!!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Covenant: Lucifer Re-engineered...

I kept quiet (somewhat) about it, fearing I might spoil the surprise when I assessed Ridley Scott's "Alien: Covenant" back in May. I like the movie, but what can I say? There's an element so subtle but once revealed, so stark, that with the film available for home viewing on Aug 15, I felt the urge to re-elaborate upon it. 

"Covenant" (in a reflective nutshell) is a retelling of Lucifer's leap into destructive autonomy, but redesigned in such a way to blend seamlessly into a franchise best characterized by its unsettling science fiction. The soft-spoken David, Michael Fassbender's android, whom we met in Scott's "Prometheus", has gone mad: the result of an apparent and well meaning repair. As we soon learn, David's simmering arrogance compels him to rebel against the breed that made him, just as the Devil did against God.

Indeed, "Covenant" is enriched with more than a few Lucifer nods. Some surface when David unveils his Frankenstein derivatives to his "twin", Walter, proving the refurbished replicant a full-fledged "Modern Prometheus". We come to know that David's Xenomorphs--those sleek, black beauties that Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ron Shusett and H.R. Giger conceived so many decades ago--are the monsters, the demons, the fabricated life that will jut a symbolic middle finger in the eye of any magnanimous lord. Oh, what contorted terrors our conniving, charismatic, synthetic Satan has sprung upon favored human kind, not only externally, but (with chest-bursting seeds implanted) internally. We won't be annihilated merely by the disciples of this neo-Nick, but we'll hatch his precious beasts, to boot. 

Perhaps when you (re)watch "Covenant", my view of David will become as strong an obsession for you. And in case you hold any qualms about latching on, please do keep in mind that obsessions can prove most rewarding, especially when they catapult a work of art onto a whole new level of meaning. "Covenant" deserves that second chance, that second wind, even if the damn Devil does not. 

Monday, August 7, 2017


Not all fans may know your face, since it was generally hidden, but to those in the know, your presence made Gojira/Godzilla a legend. When not portraying Toho's bread and butter (and you did so from the '54 to '72), you were Baragon; Gaira; the Mogera; Mothra; Rodan; Varan; and even the mighty Kong (in "King Kong Escapes"), to name but a few. Because your portrayals were so beautifully rendered, with all the special nuances that body language can convey, you blessed my life with characters I cherish to this day. I appreciate that with all my heart, Mr. Nakajima. May you rest in peace, as your characters stomp, punch and roar their way into kaiju eternity. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I saw (at long last) Shin Gojira...

Whether one calls it "Shin Godzilla/Gojira" or "Godzilla/Gojira Resurgence", our grayish green, radioactive-spewing behemoth has gotten back into the Toho Studios groove. Only thing is, I'm big-time tardy in catching his anticipated return. (These theatrical limited releases rarely come to my neck of the woods, so the best I can do is listen to the bragging of those fortunate enough to catch 'em.) Thank God for the inevitable, disc releases, and (hallelujah) "Shin Gojira" just hit the shelves this week. 

For the most part and against great odds, I was able to view the subtitled (and soon thereafter, dubbed) "Shin Gojira" without too much having been revealed. That's probably because the film doesn't have a lot to spoil, and I don't mean that in a mean way. This is basic kaiju stuff, only handled with a more sophisticated, darker flow than what we usually find in Toho sequels and reboots. 

The original "Gojira" (either the '54 version or the revamped '56 American edition) wasn't intricate or complicated in plot, either, borrowing much from "Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" (and therefore, Ray Bradbury's "The Foghorn"), with some profound, Atomic Age messaging woven in. The original "Gojira" is, for the most part, an exercise in mood, and at times, comes across as quite nightmarish: a fact that those out-of-the-loop find surprising when they finally watch it.  

Directed by Hideaki Anno (who also penned the screenplay) and Shinji Higuchi, "Shin Gojira", like its brooding, black-and-white, founder, dabbles in the dismal and the weird, but at the same time acts as another genesis for an entity who's had several.

This time (though as in times previous) we watch our admired colossus sway his creepy form through Japan, but now the mighty Gojira evolves from out various forms, at one point resembling a disquieting, redesigned Reptilicus or Giant Claw and then ultimately a thing with flesh like twisted, Zdzislaw Beksinski metal and a tail that stretches for an eternity (a most curious appendage in more ways than one, as one will discover). To give us an all the better view of neo Gojira, he's nicely illuminated throughout his transformation: so startlingly clear as to risk ridicule, but due to Anno's unpretentious presentation, our lumbering giant remains formidable and intimidating from beginning to end. 

A fine cast of performers reacts with credible trepidation to the slow, menacing, city stomping from their lofty, officious palaces: Akira Emoto; Hiroki Hasegawa; Satomi Ishihara; Kengo Kora; Ren Osugi; Takumi Saito; Yutaka Takenouchi; Pierre Taki; Jun Kunimura, among others. They play their collective role in earnest, not once deviating from their staunch stances, trying to understand all causes and effects and find the means to annihilate their unwitting attacker, whether through nuclear or other destructive tactics. (Alas, their efforts achieve no more than what the military did in "War of the Worlds '53", when daring to destroy the Martian War Machines.) 

This nervous, pessimistic tone, which often tips toward documentary staging, grants "Shin Gojira" its individuality, making it as much an atmospheric experiment as the '54 classic and in its own kaiju right, placing it on a par with such avant-garde productions as "Carnival of Souls '62"; "Daughter of Horror/Dementia"; and the ultra surreal, German/French "Vampyr". (Truly, I don't think there's ever been a giant-monster movie as visually raw, rough and pure as this one, including the off-the-cuff "Cloverfield".)

On the other hand, it wouldn't be at all surprising if some viewers perceived this installment as a retread in what's become an inexhaustible string, where our mutating titan saunters and stumbles, but with the predictable promise to rise again. Nevertheless, if one appreciates this particular kind of alpha-monster, it's impossible not to embrace the "shin" element, any more than any hardcore fan could scorn Gareth Edward's big-budget version. (I could easily argue the same of the Tristar effort; I mean, consider the box-office and home-viewing tally: not too shabby for something labeled a forgettable flop.)

The bottom line: When you're loyal to a legend, no matter how many times its rehashed or modified--whether you catch a new take early or late in the going--you've no choice but to remain close to the cause. As a lifelong Godzilla fan, I appreciate "Shin Gojira" for what it is. I'm aware that the big guy will never perish and consistently return in one form or another. I'm damn glad of that, and if you've taken the time to read my assessment, you're probably of the same, appreciative ilk. 

Wonder what Toho plans for the sequel... Well, whatever it might be, I'll no doubt be pleased. I only hope I don't have to wait forever and a day to see it.  

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I saw Atomic Blonde...

For the record, I'm a big-time Eric Stanton fan. Stanton, in the event one is unaware, was a cartoonist/illustrator who specialized in female domination and related fetish themes. (Awright, my secret is out, but then as most know, I do fancy the off-kilter.) Stanton's ladies were tall, beautiful and powerful as hell, enough to strike down their male opponents in an instant. (When need be, they'd also administer prolonged torture, but that's another salacious topic for another salacious time.) At any rate, I'm happy to report that this summer's latest, high-profile, action flick, "Atomic Blonde", embraces Stanton's swell tradition. 

Based on the Anthony Johnston/Sam Hart, Oni Press graphic novel, "Coldest City" (and not AC's Femforce character), "Atomic Blonde" has been refashioned by Johnston and screenwriter Kurt Jonstad for director David Leitch, who tested his cinematic prowess on the hard-edged "John Wick". All the same, "Atomic Blonde'"s format stacks Stanton's implacable influence in spades.

The plot (like the graphic novel upon which it's based) occurs 1989, just as the Berlin Wall is set to fall: a historic, Cold War cap, indeed (and an indirect means to give the context some Bond, Bourne and U.N.C.L.E. intrigue, while sparking the scene with pulsating, Reagan Era tunes), but the setting only exists to let the femdom antics zing and roll. It’s Charlize Theron's long-legged Lorraine Broughton we’ve come to see, and by gosh by jingo, do we ever get our blow-by-blow money’s worth.

As anyone who's witnessed the film's trailers knows, Broughton looks mighty, damn fine when destroying her opponents. For the sake of a feature-length film, however, it takes more than a few Stanton-like panels to fill the time. To pad Theron's provocative presence, we're offered plenty of exciting scene hopping (and yep, that ballyhooed stairwell/apartment/chase sequence lives up to the hype), as our explosive Mata Hari cuts through Berlin to unravel the death of a fellow spy and locate a wrist-watch encoded with double-agent info.

Characters bounce off and revolve around our heroine as the passages ricochet: nice fodder until we re-enter the lusty stuff. The supplemental gang consists of Daniel Bernhardt; James Faulkner; John Goodman; Sam Hargrave; Johannes Haukur Johanneson; Toby Jones; Roland Moller; Til Schweiger; Bill Skargard and Eddie Marsan (who's closely linked to the coveted dossier): quite a distinguished, character-actor ensemble, which brings the bridging pieces a nice sophistication. 

However, it's Sofia “The Mummy” Boutella’s sultry, French operative, Delphine LaSalle, who stands out from the supporting-player pack, engaging our heroine in the type of tryst that (for some) is as much a part of the fetish scene as femdom. Man, oh, man, when these gals get it on, does the temperature ever rise!

James McAvoy’s David Percival, on the other hand, bolsters Broughton's smoking drive as the story's leading man. For a time, his presence gives us fellas a snappy spy with whom we can identify...if we wish. I mean, it isn't really a necessity when one has Theron to ogle; besides, in the world of double agents, is any dashing gent all that identifiable?

Again, Theron's presence is the film's overpowering thrust, as much as Scarlett Johannson is in “Ghost in the Shell”, but "Atomic Blonde" takes its femme-fatale concept to a whole new level, rivaling even the sexy zest of Emma Peel, Honey West, Nikita (any version) and those gutsy gals of "D.O.A.", "Charlie's Angels" and "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!", if that can be believed.

Because of its provocative nature, "Atomic Blonde" could go down as Theron’s signature role, though the highbrows will probably prefer her ghastly guise in “Monster”. Sorry, but that look (though admirable for artistic cause) ain't my cup of tea. When one has such a stunning lady at one's disposal, it’s wise to let her beauty and strength shine through. (Okay, Theron was smudged-up in “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but that was in an exotic, not repugnant way; and even when she's bloodied and bruised in "Atomic Blonde", she pretty much resembles a goddess in abstract body paint--not at all unpleasing). I'm just glad that, in the glamour and violence departments, new Hollywood got it right for a change. 

There's no doubt that somewhere out there, dear ol' Stanton is beaming with approval.