mark millar

Kingsman: The Golden Circle review

Kingsman the Golden Circle posterBack in 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service came out, based on the comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, and really surprised me by how much I enjoyed it.  It was a ridiculously fun spy movie.  Sure, part of the appeal was seeing Colin Firth in an action role, but the movie was more than that.  Kingsman: The Golden Circle is more of the same.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a fun continuation of the previous movie.  However, it is not without it’s own slew of problems.  First off, we’ll start with non-spoilery stuff.  The camera work was dizzying at times during hand-to-hand fight scenes.  Remember how the Bourne movies made the “shaky cam” popular in fight scenes?  Remember how awful it was to try to follow a fight scene with that “shaky cam” going?  Well, here they step that up a bit.  (more…)


Comic Book Movie Review: Kick-Ass

I didn’t have a chance to see Kick-Ass in theaters and had to wait until I could get it through Netflix, which is why you’re seeing this review now, instead of back in April.  Well, honestly, I wasn’t really interested in paying $7 to see this movie in theaters.  I didn’t really like the series, so I suspected that I wouldn’t really like the movie.  And after watching the movie, I was pretty much right.  I enjoyed watching the movie more than reading the series, but that may be due to my laziness.  Watching is always easier than reading.  In my analysis, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there might be a few small ones.

As far as translating Mark Millar’s work into film, Matthew Vaughn did a fine job.  Unfortunately, doing a very faithful adaptation brings the bad parts of the story along with the good.  In a nutshell, Kick-Ass is about a powerless Peter Parker deciding that even without great power, or any power, there is still great responsibility.  So, he decides to fight crime, and gets his ass kicked.  Eventually, he runs into Frank Miller’s Batman and Robin as they are chasing after the Kingpin.  I kid.  Peter Parker equals Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski played by Aaron Johnson, Batman equals Big Daddy played by Nic Cage, and Robin equals Hit-Girl played by Chloe Moretz.

The acting was actually pretty good, for the most part.  All 3 of the main characters played their parts well.  Also Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist and Mark Strong playing Frank D’Amico (Kingpin) played a pretty good villain.  Where the acting hurts the movie is with the supporting cast around Dave.  When he’s talking with his friends, it is completely boring.  The dialogue is boring, the delivery is boring, and none of the characters are the slightest bit interesting.  It also didn’t help that Dave’s moments as himself with his friends often contained one of my major annoyances with the story.

And so I’ll explain this annoyance.  This story takes place in the “real world.”  As in, the world you and I are living in.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the issue comes with how they establish this fact.  To show they’re in the real world, they mention real comic book writers and stories over and over again.  Even to the point where the actual issue of Kick-Ass #1 appears in the comic store.  (I half expect Mark Millar to appear as himself in the second story, and offer advice to Kick-Ass, trying to be Morrison-esq.)  It wouldn’t bother me if these stories were used to further the story, but they don’t.  They are nothing more than name dropping.  And it gets annoying, quickly.

There’s also the issue of the tone of the story.  Sometimes it’s fun violence, sometimes it’s emotional drama, and other times it’s a teen comedy.  I kept wanting to tell the movie to pick a tone and stick with it.  Sure, it’s possible to have multiple tones in a movie, but here, they kept tripping over each other.  When you jump from a very emotional moment, and go back to fun violence, it takes away from the emotion.  A lot of this could have been fixed with the soundtrack selections.  For instance, perhaps “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett isn’t the best choice of music when building up to the climax of the movie.

In conclusion, I know I’m very critical of the movie, but it is worth a view, just try not to pay to much for it.  Also, the biggest thing I walked away from this movie thinking was, “Why isn’t Aaron Johnson playing Spider-man in the reboot?”  I mean, this movie was pretty much a long audition tape, and he was pretty good in the role.

Taking a look at Kick-Ass

With the Kick Ass movie premiering on Friday, I decided to take a moment and read the eight issues that made up the first “book” of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass.  With its movie rights optioned before the first issue even hit shelves, I was expecting something incredible.  What I got was interesting…in both good and bad ways.

Kick-Ass is the story about a high school kid who decides that he wants to become a real life hero and quickly gets his ass kicked for his aspirations.  It’s a realistic view of what could happen with comic book heroics in the real world…until the 10 year old begins the book’s first bloody massacre…and certainly not the last.

That’s the real defining feature of Kick-Ass.  It’s quite possibly the bloodiest comic I’ve ever read…up there with the likes of Invincible and Walking Dead.  In eight issues, we get guys getting limbs hacked off, hit by cars, shot in the testicles, shot through the head by way of the testicles, and far too many others to mention here.  I’m familiar with artist John Romita Jr., and I’ve never seen this kind of stuff come from him.  This doesn’t just feature gratuitous amounts of violence – it defines it.

But despite some twists and turns that are actually quite shocking, I didn’t come out of the first book thinking about the story.  I was thinking about all the twisted images I had witnessed in those eight issues.  If the movie does the comic justice, it will be a veritable bloodbath.  After all, that’s the main focus of the story.

So what do I think overall of Kick-Ass?  If you’re not squeamish about overly graphic comic book images, then give it a read.  It’s perfectly entertaining.  Just don’t expect it to live up to the lofty claim on the cover of its first issue.  And don’t expect it to have too many future installments either.

Millar to launch Ultimate Avengers, making Ultimates as useless as it is bad

Next year, Marvel will be launching a new title – Ultimate Avengers – written by Mark Millar who is credited by many to be pretty much the co-father of the Ultimate universe, with Brian Bendis (think My Two Dads). According to Millar in a CBR interview, the new title will be six issue stories in which Nick Fury gathers heroes to fight threats to the Ultimate universe.

Now I know what you’re thinking – isn’t there already an Ultimate Avengers of sorts in The Ultimates? Why yes, yes there is. But don’t worry about that book – it’s terrible and it looks to remain terrible for the near future.

I find it…intriguing that Marvel would bring back Millar and put him on a book whose concept is so much like an existing title…when that book seems to be losing the direction that originally made it such a hit. I, for one, am excited. After all, I dropped Ultimates 3 after three issues. I would love to get Millar back to the Ultimate U.

And it starts

Don’t say I wasn’t optimistic of the ability of Fantastic Four to stay on schedule. So sure, creators Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch weren’t exactly reknowned for their ability to put out Ultimates in a timely matter, but this is Fantastic Four! One of Marvel’s big books!

Okay, so I actually wasn’t too optimistic – so when I saw that issue #557 has slipped a week, I chuckled a bit. Let’s see how close of a schedule they can keep.

Other books I collect seem to be having some scheduling woes as well. Criminal has been pushed back from the end of April to the beginning of June (not its first slide), and I’m not even going to go into Giant Size Astonishing X-Men. It’s still solicited for May 28th. Let’s see if that happens.

What surprised me was that the Powers Encyclopedia seemed to have been pushed up a month, from July 5th to June 4th. Then I realized the July 5th date was 2007. Whoops.

Debut Issue

Kick-Ass #1

When I walked into the comic shop this week I had no intention of picking up a new book, even one with as snazzy a title as Kick-Ass. (I actually got two new books, this one and Ed Brubaker’s Criminal #1.) But it’s action packed cover and bold title caught my eye. When I saw that it was written by Mark Millar and drawn by John Romita Jr., I thought I’d give it a shot. Millar wrote some of my favorite stories including Civil War, Ultimates 1 & 2, and the amazing “Enemy of the State” arc in Wolverine. Romita Jr. has been a Marvel mainstay for years and always done quality work.

Kick-Ass is an Icon book, which is Marvel’s creator owned imprint. That means it doesn’t take place in the Marvel universe. In fact, it happens in a world not unlike our own. Kick-Ass asks a question: With all the crazies in the world why has there never been anyone to put on a costume and fight crime? In this book, Dave Lizewski does just that.

What’s so special about Dave Lizewski? Nothing at all. He’s a high school student. He loves comic books. Other than that, he’s a pretty nondescript guy, just sort of fading into the background of life. He decides to become a costumed hero not because he has any special ability or anyone to avenge, but just because he’s bored. He spends a few weeks in the gym then buys a wet suit and a ski mask and heads out to fight crime. He has no combat training, no name, and no idea what he’s getting himself into. Needless to say, it does not end well.

The main character doesn’t seem particularly smart or likable, but he’s the right kind of crazy to make you wonder what he’s going to do next. And when the first issue ends with the hero bleeding to death in the middle of the street after being stabbed in the chest and hit by a car, you have to wonder what issue two will bring. I’ll stick around for that, at least.