Monday, July 26, 2021

STEVE SHIPLEY'S DRILLBIT! #1: ROBBIE'S ROBOT

Ultra-talented artist/writer Steve Shipley presents another dynamic, comic title: DrillBitDrillbit is a personality-pumped robot built by a trailblazing, young chap named Robbie.

In Part 1, "Robbie's Robot", we witness our boy genius on the run from not only the government, but a villain named Mr. Boss, who enlists a bizarre, super-henchmen to squash the tech whiz.

Drillbit! #1 overflows of cool, sci-fi fun, and it appears that things will get even more exciting in the inevitable Issue #2.


To order the introductory installment, send a check or money order of $2.50 to Steve Shipley at 1160 S. Mccord Road, #J-2, Holland, Ohio, 43528; or send via PayPal to steveshipley@gmail.com. No matter how you pay, you'll be mighty pleased you did!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

I saw Old...

M. Night Shyamalan's Old is like other productions by the writer/director: Twilight Zone-ish. That means it's experimental, outside the mainstream.  

The story (based on a novel by Pierre Oscar-Levy and Frederick Peeters) deals with the Cappa family (Gael Garcia Bernal as the dad, Vicky Krieps as the mom, Thomasin McKenzie/Embeth Daviditz as the sister and Alex Wolf/Emun Elliott as the brother) on an island holiday, immersed in the beach's alluring minerals. It's all nice and simple at first, but circumstances soon go awry, with the advent of a young woman's corpse. As the clan (and other vacationers) ponder her cause of death, they grow older in a stark, visible way, to the point where it becomes clear they'll perish within a day. 

As one might infer, Old is a symbolic/compact journey in the James Joyce's Ulysses vein, but served as a weird, thought-provoking Shyamalan/Zone parable: profound but frightful in its mysterious ramifications.  

Seizing all that life can offer when there's so little time to live is the movie's motif. This thought-provoking angle even references Star Trek's "the Deadly Years": One hopes to reverse the accelerating disease, but all one can do is see it through. As in real life, one does one's best to rationalize the ongoing damage, even though it's impossible to avert the outcome. (BTW: An explanation as to why the folks age so rapidly does surface, more or less, and yes, it does graze upon pandemic paranoia. Perfect timing, eh?) 

There are times, however, when the tale adapts a meandering stream (if only to throw one off), rather like Shyamalan's Lady in the Water, but as with the latter, Old's performers keep the offbeat atmosphere in check, drawing the necessary empathy to make the surprises crisp and memorable. (Supporting cast members Aaron Pierre, Rufus Sewell, Kathleen Chalfant, Abbey Lee {who incidentally looks amazing in a bikini}, Eliza Scanlan, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Gustaf Hammarston {an ersatz Mr. Rourke}are also convincing throughout the fretful venture.) With this said, Old does, indeed, mirror the stories of Rod Serling and company, in which fanciful fiction becomes credible because the characters are worthy of identification. 

There are many decent imagi-movies now in circulation, but most abide by established formulas: stuff we know like the back of our hands. Old isn't original on all counts, but still impressive for the way it manipulates its variables. That's not an easy task to achieve, and Shyamalan deserves credit for attempting what most are too timid (or limited) to essay. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

I saw Snake Eyes' Origin...

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is a pandemic-postponed prequel to the Hasbro/Larry Hama/once-Marvel/DIC Entertainment ("A Real American Hero"), cinematic franchise, or as some dare claim, a reboot. It's directed by Robert Schwentke and written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, all of whom achieve success by giving the concept a scrupulous spin with a spirited heart. 

In previous, cinematic Joe lore, the titular, anti-Cobra commando was performed by Ray (Darth Maul) Park, but is now represented by Henry Golding within a coming-to-be phase. Golding adds tiers to the cryptic, action-figure persona, depicting the Joe favorite as a revenge-ridden man who must press hard to attain his mythic categorization.  

We learn that Snake Eyes, who doesn't sport an attribution beyond the evident alias (btw: the name springs from a moment of childhood trauma), is a super-skilled martial artist, who ascends to an even higher level while training with the Arashikage, a bygone ninja sect. That his crackerjack mentor, Storm Shadow (Andrew Koji), is also his pal (and a man whose life he saved, or so circumstances seem to convey) helps the progression, but friends can sometimes turn adversarial, as Joe aficionados well know.  

In the process of the leads' predestined clash, a distinction of good and bad is drawn, not only through the movie's many melees (some of which overflow with immense mysticism), but by the aesthetic inclusion of Cobra's cunning Baroness (Ursula Corbero) and Snake Eyes' rising ally, Scarlett (Samara Weaving): converse staples who, to say the least, are pleasing to behold and more than hold their own with the guys. (They'd fit without a hitch in Black Widow or for that matter, any Bond epic.

The overriding beauty, however, is Akiko (Haruka Abe), who brings a voice of reason to the often perplexing proceedings, which in turn complements the graceful path of the Blind Master (Peter Mensah), who combines a little of Gandalf with Yoda for his lesson plans. 

These two, in turn, stand in stark contrast to the evil Kenta (Takehiro Hira), a suave, scary opponent with the self-serving need to throw all balance asunder. Indeed, balance, or the admonitory lack of it, is Snake Eyes' recurring theme.

As Snake Eyes finds his way, choosing one side over the other, visceral visuals keep viewers enthralled (the mega-anaconda sequences are gripping as hell), and Bojan Bazelli's opulent photography and Martin Todsharow's potent score augment the pulse-pounding exploits from start to mid-credits finish.

In the end, Snake Eyes becomes the cloak-and-dagger emblem that Joe fans desire, but with a build-up that gives the icon an unprecedented buckle. Will some purists feel betrayed by this backdrop dimension? Perhaps, but for the sake of leading the charge for an intended string of origin chapters, depth is more practical than presenting a constant, spectral figure. The latter might click to create the proverbial, stoic teammate, but as a headliner, Snake Eyes works better when he reveals what lurks beneath his steely stealth. Kudos to the conscientious filmmakers for hitting that right (ahem) balance.

FILMFAX #159: A NEW FIVE-OUNCE TON OF INTELLIGENT FUN

 

Holy Cheesecake, Batman! Filmfax #159 is a Bat-tastic one, highlighted by a Yvonne Craig/Batgirl salute, featuring a racy rundown of the actress' stand-out episodes and all the melodramatic ups and downs that go along with her classic role. 

And get this! Issue #159 even presents the first part of an interview with Brett Halsey, star of such fan favorites as Return of the Fly; Twice Told Talesthe Atomic Submarine; Revenge of the Creature; and High School Hellcats; plus there's an overview of reviews for Bela Lugosi's Dracula: the Play; unearthed Ed Wood fiction; Buck Rogers in print; Cold War scares; and the third chapter of Son of Kong's construction, including Willis O'Brien's woeful trials and tribulations, buffered by the movie's amazing, comic-strip publicity. 

Lots of bonus additives round out the issue, establishing Filmfax #159 as another grand, nostalgic gem. 

Purchase #159 at your nearby book shop, comic store or online hub. You're guaranteed a rapturous time!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

SUPERBABES #7: COSMIC/ISLAND ADVENTURE

AC's Superbabes #7 has hit print and what an action-packed, all-color rouser it is.  

This time She-Cat pilots a Rurian starship after she and her Femforce friends flee the evil Proxima, but not before some perplexing psychedelia intervenes, thanks to a mind-warped Synn. 

To balance the crazy, cosmic hi-jinks, we're also served a terrestrial jaunt with the ravishing Rad in "Shutter Island", where deft, military intrigue dominates. 

This issue's stimulating contents are brought to life by Mark and Stephanie Heike, Jeff Austin, Josh Rodriguez, Dave Matsuoka and Bobby Ragland: a great team that knows how to hit all the right, creative buttons. 

Nab a copy of Superbabes #7 at your favorite comic-book shop or online source. (I got my issue at Comic Relief, on Quakerbridge Road, Lawrenceville, NJ: a terrific hub to fulfill one's superheroic needs.) 

Oh, and by the way, Superbabes #8 is in the works. Yippee!