Category Archives: Reviews

Movie Review: Self/Less

selfless_ver4_xlgThere are trailers of movies which tend to have a likable cast and successfully makes us think – ‘thats an interesting concept’, but when you actually watch the film you are totally disappointed to know the film is everything you were hoping the film would not be. Another reason to add my interest to watch this film was the feel of the 90s type sci-fi action, similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Total Recall. A sci-fi plot just to give our hero enough motive for some action. It’s not that it’s a bad idea, (the old switch the brain into someone else’s body which has been done numerous times) it’s just that it doesn’t seem to go anywhere and the actors don’t seem to care what is going on (except for a former wife, whose husband has been replaced). All they have added here is that the switching is done in an underhand way which I’ll leave the details out to those who haven’t seen it. The movie doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Dramatic like Blade Runner? No. Action packed like Minority Report, where the agent also goes underground to right a wrong?. Not really. He goes rogue but then meets associates throughout the film and they hardly even care. Paradoxical, unpredictable and intriguing like Edge of Tomorrow, within an existential threat? No, just a couple of people running some sort of identity scam. I just sat down wondering what was the point of all this.

With a budget of $26million and a visually effective director Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Fall, Mirror Mirror, The Cell) at the helm, what could go wrong right? A lot it seems! For a film which had some great potential quickly turns into a B movie. The story follows Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley), a billionaire dying of cancer and thinks he deserves a longer life. He takes on the mortality gamble through a questionable procedure developed by Dr. Albright (Matthew Goode). The procedure that will end his life, but place his soul into a new and improved body. After his death, he wakes up as a younger man (Ryan Reynolds), but soon realizes that there are some issues. Damian has visions that seem to imply that the body he is inhabiting may have been used before. As Damian asks for clarification from Dr. Albright and his organization, they begin to challenge his decisions and manipulate his new existence. With this comes the awareness of the man’s previous alter ego and his life attempting to take over. Both of the men who indwell the same body have to come to terms with the sacrifices that they both must make for the sake of living this new life. If the film’s description sounds convoluted, the viewing experience twists and turns beyond comprehension.

Selfless-Movie-Natalie-Martinez-Jaynee-Lynne-KinchenThe film looks like a fresh spin on the fountain of youth narrative, but suffers from an identity crisis. Frankly, I liked the characters and I appreciate the effort put into developing them. Nevertheless there are definitely numerous scenes that could’ve been trimmed and still hold that level of character development. As for the mystery, the very first hallucination sequence gives it all away. The memory suppression medication doesn’t gradually fail in order to let in flashback-type clues, but instead floods the screen with all the pertinent information. The guesswork is immediately finished. And, while the film hopes to be a thinking man’s science-fiction piece, with the moral complexities of assimilating minds and reconnecting with estranged figures, many moments go straight for action-packed shootouts or fistfights. The scientific stuff is subtle, the adventure and familial drama are intermittent, and the pacing is casual or deliberately unhurried, marking a balancing act that is far from cohesive. There’s a surprising amount of good ideas lurking in this routine sci-fi scenario, but the assembly is conflicted at best. We get a very little taste of that with memories that seem to force themselves on the new “person” taking over the body but they really side step all that with magic red pills that they seemed to have developed before knowing really that they would need them. So you really do not get a struggle for control because if you continue to take your little red pills then the memories will dissipate. The only reason this is an issue in this movie is because the company doesn’t bother telling the people that they are moving into the new body that they body really isn’t brand new but slightly used. And that brings me to the outside portion of the struggle I wanted them to show more. The existential wrestling match is not new. The rich buying eternal life. There are urban legends of the rich striving for similar immortal opportunities in the real world. Yet, for it to work on the silver screen, the story does not have to be believable, but it does need to be probable. The audience has to consider if the experiment could potentially work if people are given enough money and find the right technology. It has worked in other films, but the disjointed feel of this film undermines the probability of this consideration. This is a story that was meant to be about acquiring eternal life, but ultimately is dead on arrival. Even with it’s failings, the film does redeem itself through the range of topics to consider about the human experience.

self1Showing that money can provide all the world has to offer, even the unbelievable, but mankind cannot find all it needs from life in mere material things. As both men go through the process of finding out what is important in their lives or life and they are confronted with an overarching theme of the ultimate sacrifice. Specifically, both central characters have to come to a point of how far would they go to sacrifice their life. Even though the story line had an identity crisis, it does manage to touch on some of humanities deepest queries. What it lacks in entertainment value, it does offer in engaging discussion points. Among the performances, Ben Kingsley does a great job as always with what he had in a small role. Matthew Goode is creepy good as always. I love Ryan Reynolds, I like the guy as an actor, and even though he’s made some poor career choices (what is with him failing in action movies) over the last few years, he always breathes a bit of life into the whole proceedings. But here, he’s totally autonomous as young Damian, and he hasn’t put an ounce of effort into copying Kingsley‘s traits for effect (that’s why Face/Off worked so well). Natalie Martinez is a complete miscast. Tarsem Singh isn’t the greatest director in the world, by a long-shot, but his previous films have shown us that he is a visionary. The Cell was a load of dumb ideas, but when we went into the mind of the killer, it was gloriously awesome. The Fall is his masterpiece, beautiful, subliminal, but a little slow on pace. The Immortals was a horrid affair, but it’s set design was beautiful. Mirror Mirror was enjoyable. But its clearly obvious to see Singh struggling with the same multi-personality crisis of his central characters. It starts off as a contemplative quest then moves to family drama then becomes a Bourne-like action adventure. Then it tries to go back and forth between each genre, but is unsuccessful in delivering a satisfactory result. Each of the potential story lines has appealing elements that would have made for fascinating considerations, but as a mix they develop a schizophrenic experience.

On the whole, Self/Less‘is an disappointing experience! Despite the presence of stars and all the elements for a great sci-fi thriller, the film proves to be a dud.

Overall Rating: 4.3

Director – Tarsem Singh
Starring – Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 117 minutes

Review: Aliens/Vampirella #1

AliensVampi01-Cov-A-HardmanThe quest for a good story is what drives all readers and writers to buy books, comics and magazines by the truckloads every year. As the human mind, yearns for distraction and entertainment, and with so many avenues to get to it, the possibilities are infinite. Through it all, comics have stood the test of time, ultimately proving that it will be the premiere medium for storytelling. Case in point, this event series, Aliens/Vampirella, from Dynamite Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics, is a story that only could have existed in comics.

As the only time that Vampirella, made it to the silver screen, it was box office flop, back in the 80s, coming of more like a running joke. While, the many incarnations that Aliens, have existed on the big screen, have yielded mixed results. So no matter how good this story sounded, this would have never made it as a movie. Thankfully, for comics’ readers, this story has perfect execution and gorgeous art.

The comic opens up with Vampirella, being sent to a base colony on Mars, to handle the threat from the Aliens, who have been hunting vampires. She is assisted by the base colony staff, where she finds a trail of vampire bodies sodomized by the Aliens and a nest of alien eggs. Before long, Vampirella and the base colony staff are attacked by those famous Alien parasites form the Alien movies. The first issue ends with a re-creation of one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time

This first issue is a nice start to what seems like what would be a very interesting miniseries. The story by Corinna Bechko, is off to a great start, melding the two worlds into one, and what looks almost like the Batman Vs Aliens series, in the best ways. The art by Javier Garcia-Miranda, pops off the pages and feels as though it was meant to be animated. Overall, a solid first issue in what promises to be what everyone loves about alternate history in the tradition of Marvel’s What If?!.

Story: Corinna Bechko Art: Javier Garcia-Miranda
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: BUY

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Sons of Fate: Legacy TPB

sons of fate legacyBlack culture and Asian culture in America have more in common than either would care to admit, as they have shared similar struggles and history which actually has created more connections than separations between the two. This connection was explored through many of the exploitation movies of the 1970s, the most notable being Enter the Dragon, which featured a very diverse, cast for its period. More recently, this connection was explored in Samuel L. Jackson’s Afro Samurai which harkened back to the great Japanese samurai films with some futurism thrown in there. Now, enters Jean Paul Deshong’s Sons of Fate, which tethers itself to history more intimately than most comics in recent memory.

Within the first book, Origins, Deshong describes it as :”(a) story is set in the Tokugawa period of feudal Japan ,Gen. Daiki Jinjaku is commissioned by the ruling Shogunate to command a small fleet of ships in order to acquire trade routes and charter new passages to foreign lands. But, the mission is a catastrophe, with most of the fleet lost to sea. The lone survivor, Daiki reaches the mainland — however it’s the shores of Africa, a complete land of mystery for him. He meets a young boy named Kamau and together they form a master/apprentice relationship where Daiki realizes his purpose in life is not to serve his country but to teach the ways of honor to others.” The first book more than exceeded expectations, as it proved be more than a coming of age story but also a parable for being the master of your own fate

The story delves into the Japanese period of history, when they start involving themselves with foreigners, and the first time Japanese had ever heard of Africa or dealt with black people, which leads to the arrival of Kamau onto Japanese shores via a slave ship, where he meets Daiki’s son, Omo. He delivers Daiki’s journals, to Omo, who adopts Kamau, and trains him to fight in the ways of Bushido. who is combating a rebel war, against the Shogun, while unbeknownst to him, a colleague is moving against him for personal gain. The climax of the story, when the rebels attacks Omo’s village, where Kamau skills are put to the test in a battle royale. The story ends, very much in the spirit of the ideals presented in the Book of Five Rings, where the honorable man, ultimately prevails.

Overall, this story, reminds me of the first book of Game of Thrones and the original 47 Ronin, in premise alone, but is an excellent installment to this trilogy of the making of a warrior. The story by Deshong, is a gem, as he clearly has a master plan to this odyssey, and provides a strong chapter to this epic. The art by Deshong, remind me of the manga, I read growing up, while bringing a style all his own. Ultimately, an excellent read from start to finish, and much like Empire Strikes Back, makes one yearn for the next episode.

Story: Jean Paul Deshong Art: Jean Paul Deshong
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: BUY NOW

The creator provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Godzilla in Hell #2

'Hell is other kaiju'. - 50-foot tall radioactive SartreThere’s something really entertaining about properties whose titles describe them perfectly. Snakes on a Plane, Alien vs Predator, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians…if you know the 90s-era British phrase ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’, these titles are the perfect embodiment of that saying. What you see is what you get – the description sums up everything you need to know. Godzilla, King of the Monsters, has found himself in Hell (the actual, real hell, complete with a swirling cloud of lost souls that threatened to overwhelm him in issue #1) and is wandering the abyss, trying to find a way out.

The thing about comics is that as a medium, you can get away with just about anything as long as you sell it convincingly. Batman being shot with a time-traveling bullet that sends him back to prehistoric times, Superboy punching the walls of reality itself, Deadpool’s fourth wall breaks: if you really sell it, you can do anything you want. So Godzilla ending up in Hell, while causing some serious confusion to me as a lifelong Godzilla fangirl, is a concept I’m capable of rolling with as long as the writers make it work.

And do they ever. The first issue of Godzilla in Hell was interesting in how experimental it felt: with no speaking characters at all and no narration, all we saw was wordless panels as Godzilla tried to get his bearings and did battle with some monsters that would have fit right in on the set of John Carpenter’s The Thing. 

Where the first issue felt looser due to the more cartoony art style, the disorienting imagery of Hell and its denizens, and the lack of explanation as to what was happening and why, issue two feels more like an adaptation of some ancient fable. The narration is going for the sort of gravitas and solemnity you expect to hear from a voiceover at the beginning of a blockbuster fantasy film, and the art… wow.

So here’s the main thing that caught me about this issue: while Bob Eggleton‘s writing is strong, and moves the comic in a much more clear narrative direction than James Stokoe‘s wordless panels in issue #1, Bob’s art is phenomenal and lends the proceedings an almost Biblical feel. This is the recounting of an epic from generations ago, a story told by a wizened priest to awestruck students. Every page and panel of issue #2 is an actual painting by Bob, and it pairs with the narration to make something that I initially thought of as very silly feel serious and intense. In this issue Godzilla faces some of his classic foes, either demon-possesed or being impersonated by demons, and then – as the narration tells us – he runs into the reason he’s been brought to hell in the first place: his old nemesis King Ghidorah.

We’re only on issue #2 and we have a basic idea of why Godzilla is in Hell now, and we’ve seen his mortal foe either masterminding this whole thing or being used as a pawn in some greater scheme. We’ll probably have to wait a few more issues to get all the details, but I will definitely be there. Issue #2 of Godzilla in Hell ups the ante considerably, with a major upgrade to issue #1’s excellent art and a tighter plot now that there’s an unseen narrator setting the stage. I do still have my concerns that this is going to end up being all a dream or something equally frustrating and I always find myself wishing for more because these issues seem to end way too quickly for my tastes, but seeing Godzilla fight his way through Hell the way he’s already dominated planet Earth is incredibly fun, and the paintings that show us three amazing kaiju fights through one fast-paced issue are more than worth the price of admission. If you love Godzilla, you’re probably already finished reading your copy of this comic book, and if you aren’t or only have a vague interest in kaiju, you still owe it to yourself to check this comic out.

Story: Bob Eggleton Art: Bob Eggleton
Story: 7 Art: 10 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

IDW provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review. Daphne bought her own copy anyway.

Review: Of Stars And Swords #1

IMG_0195After witnessing the death of her family at the tender age of 5 and spending 11 years in an orphanage, teenage Seren decides to embark on a journey of revenge and self discovery.  In doing so, she is confronted with challenges that allow her to reflect upon her morality and discover more about her roots.  However, whilst thirsty to avenge her late family members, Seren is repeatedly in two states of mind of vengeance and saving the world from the evil which lurks upon it.

Of Stars And Swords is written in crystal clear detail by Graham Johnson.  We recieve a thorough backstory of Seren through consistent internal monologue captions.  So we’re really in the protagonists head and aware of her true thoughts and feelings throughout this graphic novel.  Not only do these captions demonstrate her thoughts and feelings, they help to set the scene and introduce characters.  However the captions were overpowering at first as it’s easy to get lost in reading them and you forget to appreciate the majestic artwork designed by Caroline Johnson.  Nevertheless the panels flow more fluidly after that.

C. Johnson is responsible for the pencil, ink and colouring.  She has beautifully created a fantasy world which well conveys the fantastical locations and beings in Of Stars And Swords, whether it be dwarf, human or elf.  Her take on the fantasy world makes reading it all the more enjoyable.

Overall, Of Stars And Swords well immerses you into the fantasy world with its entertaining storyline and enchanting artwork.  If you like fantasy, this is definitely for you.

Story: Graham Johnson Art: Caroline Johnson
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read

The creators provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: This Damned Band #2 (of 6)

tdb2Perhaps the best way to describe this series would be to liken it to a comic version of  This is Spinal Tap. The band Motherfather is starting to wonder if maybe the whole “pretending to worship Satan” thing wasn’t such a good idea, especially after it turns out that there may have been more truth than they realized behind the pretense.

Mixing classic rock with black magic, Paul Cornell captures the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle as they have been romanticized them with hindsight, and tales from the autobiographies and interviews given by those rock stars who survived through that time period. The way in which this story has been told thus far is reminiscent of the fly on the wall style of filming that filmmaker’s use when following musicians around, and it continues to work to great effect here again.

Tony Parker has drawn the panels in such a way that when combined with how Paul Cornell is telling the story it puts the reader into the comic; not as a reader who is really enjoying the story, but as a participant within the story itself. Several scenes take place with characters either just entering the frame beginning a conversation, or being halfway through the discussion until the notice you standing there and stop talking. Whether that’s because the fictional reader is holding a camera or microphone, Tony Parker has drawn a couple of scenes from our perspective. Doing this allows Paul Cornell to have the characters voice their thoughts about what has been happening so far into the series by having them talk to the camera; without talking to themselves, as it may seem at first, they’re actually talking directly to you, the character, and not you the reader. It’s a fantastic device that works very well without breaking the fourth wall.

As a stand alone comic, you could read and enjoy This Damned Band #2, but when read as it is intended to be – the second part in a six issue series – the comic really shines, and that’s what the scores below are based on. Yes, you can still enjoy this issue by itself, but if you can track down the first issue, then do so; this is a refreshing take on the excesses of rock music that continues to be an absolute delight to read.

Story: Paul Cornell  Art: Tony Parker
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9
Recommendation:  Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review

Review: Wonderland #39

wonderland039In the publication history of Wonderland there have been more or less only two general outlooks for the series.  The first dealt with the Liddle family, and specifically Calie, trying to battle against the maddening influence of the horror dimension.  This led her into conflict with the various rulers of Wonderland – the Jabberwocky, the Queen of Hearts, the Queen of Spades – each of whom she destroyed, until she eventually became the White Queen of Wonderland, which changed the outlook for the first time in her stories.  In these stories she was recast as a force trying to clean up Wonderland from the myriad of insanities which plague it.  For her character, this has been a natural evolution, and a clever one under the hand of Erica J. Heflin, but there was a difference between her new and the old.  While she still dealt with problems on Earth from time to time, her main focus became Wonderland, and the series changed from that of a psychological horror, to something more like a fantastical one.

Issue #39 of this series represents the first time that the two different outlooks are presented in the same issue.  The story is told in a bit of a non sequitur to what has been playing out in recent issues, though this is also briefly touched upon.  Instead a mysterious person is stalking Calie, someone from both her past and her mother’s.  This touches on the earliest moments in this series and touches more so on the madness that used to play out in these stories.  It is revealed that this man used to be the butcher in the neighborhood where the Liddles lived, although he harbored a secret love for Alice which led him to the dark dimension.

While there is a decent setup for this new nemesis in Calie’s life, his introduction is also somewhat of an x factor.  He is built up well here, but his place in the overall story is a mystery as there is essentially no context for his appearance.  The same general level of performance is here for the series as Heflin manages another engaging story, but it remains to be seen exactly how this fits into the bigger picture, as it is still somewhat undefined.  At the very least it proves that she has an understanding of what made the series so popular to begin with and can channel that same concept into her own version of the series.  The only issue is that it is somewhat non sequitur, it will likely be incorporated into the story line in a meaningful way in the coming issues, but for the moment it is an outlier in terms of its placement in the series, and so while engaging it takes a way a bit from the overall narrative of the series.

Story: Erica J. Heflin Art: Marc Rosete
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7  Overall: 8.7  Recommendation: Buy

Review: Star-Lord And Kitty Pryde #3

starlordandkittypryde003

The stories of the Guardians of the Galaxy have not always contained a comedic undertone, nor do they all presently, but the influence of the surprise hit movie from 2014 made it so that comedy is a necessary ingredient for readers, especially those that started reading only because of the movie.  Whether or not this comedic approach is necessary it has nonetheless been present in a few of the spin-offs from the main series, and as it been present in the Secret Wars tie-in to the Guardians stories, in this case the Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde series.  The series has also been one that is very different from what has come before, or at least that was established in the relatively short Star-Lord series, the romantic attraction of Kitty Pryde to Peter Quill.  As has been presented in the series, one of the alternate versions of Peter and Kitty have crossed paths, Peter being lovesick over her death long ago, and the alternate version of her being somewhat too serious to ever consider something like romance.

The fourth and final issue follows the two of them as they attempt to retrieve the object that Kitty is after, a specific artifact deemed important enough by those who follow Doom.  Peter is drawn into helping her because of his love for her, even if that love is not entirely genuine in this case.  They have to overcome the scenario in which they are depicted on the cover, as Gambit has them trapped and ready to kill after they have failed to retrieve the object from him.

The issue plays out as a not-so-serious take on the pre-Secret Wars world.  While there was some comedy in their stories before, it never came off quite as screwball as it does here.  Problems are solved not necessarily by the ingenuity, skills or powers of the two heroes, but rather by plot developments which are set-up to provide a humorous end result.  While it doesn’t hit as hard as it could, it is not really the point either, as the relationship between these two is what has been the special find in the past year.  Where the story is basic and the humor is somewhat lacking, this issue still puts the right focus on the two of these characters together, and the result is satisfactory if not noteworthy.

Story: Sam Humphries Art: Alti Firmansyah 
Story: 8.1  Art: 8.1  Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Read

Movie Review: Broken Horses

brokePeople used to watching Indian movies, may be familiar with the name of Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the producer and (one of the) writers behind Bollywood blockbusters such 3 Idiots, PK & the Munna Bhai series. While his directorial work sparring a few films (Mission Kashmir, 1942 A Love Story) have not met the proposed success. They are quite decent on their own. Hence, as a fan of his work I was quite rejoiced to know about his English language debut. Right from the earlier (possibly rumored) casting of Mickey Rouke, I have awaited the release of this film with patience. While, the movie works in bits & pieces on its own, to the Indian film audience, this film comes comes across as nothing more than uncalled for reworking of Vidhu Vinod Chopra‘s very own seminal 1989 crime saga, Parinda starring Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Madhuri Dixit. While Parinda was a path-breaker in 1989, giving the first gritty portrayal of the underworld in Bollywood, his first Hollywood venture is doubtful to make any waves on those well-trodden shores. Particularly as Parinda itself drew comparisons with a classic crime film that preceded it by three decades – Elia Kazan‘s Marlon Brando starrer, On the Waterfront. The similarities between the two films (Broken Horses and Parinda) are so prevalent and irrefutable – motifs, characters, the plot, even scenes – that to a person who has watched Parinda, this film feels the same just with a different cast, and therein lies the biggest glitch with the veteran filmmaker’s Hollywood debut. Basically twenty six years later the film has returned, with Mexico’s dust bowls replacing Mumbai’s mean streets, a ranch on a lake replacing a crucial boat, two brothers joined by love and circumstances now also tied by a slight mental disability, and a lot less blood and a lot more conscious style.

As for a person who hasn’t watched Parinda – and most of Chopra‘s Hollywood audience would fall in that category – this film feels rocky, with certain parts of the story not quite adding up. What could have been acceptable in a 1989 Mumbai, is not quite so on the 2015 Mexico border. Vidhu Vinod Chopra and writer Abhijat Joshi seem to have taken the drafts of Parinda and ran them over the barren landscapes of crime- infested US-Mexico border and to be fair did not make a complete mess out of it. There are enough things to appreciate here. The performances are impressive and so is the cinematography. The movie does not fail due to the want of acting chops or production quality. What it lacks is plain, strong storytelling. The story follows two brothers Buddy (Chris Marquette) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin). Fifteen years ago when their father, Sheriff Heckum (Thomas Jane) is murdered right in front of Buddy, an upcoming local mobster Mr. Hench (Vincent D’Onofrio) seizes the opportunity to utilize young Buddy’s need for revenge. In order to keep his younger brother Jake away from the blood shed, Buddy quits school and joins Hench’s gang in order to provide for his little brother, a musical prodigy. Jump ahead 15 years, and Jacob is engaged to Vittoria (Maria Valverde) and living in New York City as a classical violinist. Buddy (Chris Marquette) entices Jakey to come visit after being away for eight years plus he has a gift waiting for him. Jake isn’t in town very long before he fully understands that Hench, now has a grip on Buddy, who is now a full-fledged hit-man engulfed in the various border gang wars. Here is where the brotherly bond kicks in. Watching it play out against the manipulative power of Hench provides the meatiest conflict within the film. The brothers admit to living on “different planets”, but it’s clear that their traumatic childhood has connected them in a manner that time and distance can’t break, even though one of them more readily identifies “bad men”. Chopra keeps the film short and crisp at around 100 minutes, and its violence precise and clipped, a welcome break from similar films that thrive on their glorious celebration of blood. However, with a wisp of a backstory and an embarrassingly simple front one, its largely solid acting can only get it accolades it for its ambition. It had all the makings of a strong, moody tale with sparse characters and dusty landscapes of a Western. It could have even aimed somewhere between Unforgiven and A History Of Violence but unfortunately ended up way off-the-mark. The tension and mood that Chopra tries to build could have worked so well had it not been for the predictable turn of events and all too familiar tropes of brotherly sagas. It’s not that Vidhu Vinod Chopra has done a bad job but he just hasn’t done enough with the job at hand. What’s there on the screen looks half-baked and incomplete and the movie lacks that punch and tension that you expect from a drama like this.

broken_horses_stillOn the technical front, Tom Stern‘s (long time Clint Eastwood collaborator) cinematography is par excellence, and is among the stronger points of the film – shots of the Mexican countryside are beautifully captured. A scene that particularly stands out is the one where the extraction of orange juice is interspersed with goons being killed. Lost in translation would be an understatement. The original story of Parinda, two brothers in the edgy midst of the underworld, trying to break free from a mercurial Mafia king pin, is intact in its Western retelling. Twenty six years ago, Parinda was a game changer, this one is just a shoddy revisit of that memorable film. Worst part is, it’s left out all the good parts of the original. The ensemble cast does a commendable job, with Vincent D’Onofrio, Chris Marquette, Anton Yelchin, and Maria Valverde all coming across as believable. Nana Patekar‘s psychopathic Anna Seth of Parinda sees a parallel in D’Onofrio‘s Hench, who has an irrational nervous breakdown on seeing a burning candle in a church. Marquette, an actor known mainly for his comic supporting roles, is convincing in his role as Buddy, a man who is somewhat slow, but impeccable with the gun and his fists, and is easily brainwashed. Anton Yelchin is likable as the violinist who needs to dirty his hands to save his brother. Maria Valverde‘s Vittoria deserves admiration for the composure and resolve she displays under trying circumstances, regardless of the minimal screen time she gets.

On the whole, Broken Horses, is nothing but Parinda with western actors and without the same impact. While Parinda was a brilliant gangster movie and way ahead of its time, this one doesn’t impress as much. That isn’t saying Broken Horses is a bad film; it’s more than a decent crime story, and can even be enjoyed to a moderate extent. But the fact that it’s an adaptation of what could easily be considered among Indian cinema’s 10 finest films ever, and the very same Director – an ace filmmaker no less – who helmed that film comes up short in this adaptation; stirs a level of frustration within you, especially for those who loved Parinda. Watch it if you’re keen on seeing what the first Hollywood film written, directed, and produced by an Indian filmmaker is like. Else, just treat yourself by re- watching Parinda all over again. Broken Horses ends up as a job half done but not for the lack of resources at hand. Chopra’s attempt deserves attention, if only he can learn from it and deliver the next time.

Overall Rating: 5.8

Director – Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Starring – Anton Yelchin, Chris Marquette, Vincent D’Onofrio
Rated – R
Run Time – 101 minutes

Review: Green Arrow #44

Green Arrow #44 CoverThe secret mythology of Green Arrow’s new pet wolf is revealed—plus Oliver’s women troubles escalate as Tarantula bullies her way into his life, demanding his help in the battle against the skeletons.

Some folks might see a dog and an archer and immediately think writer Benjamin Percy and DC Comics are attempting to create their own Pizza Dog. For those who have read this comic, you know that’s far from reality.

Green Arrow #44 gives us the story of the dog who has become a friend of Oliver Queen, giving us the dog’s origin tale. It’s very interesting mixing in some mysticism, Native culture, it’s kind of cool aspect that will blend well into the character of Green Arrow, and move him away from the “urban” feel a little. I do wish Percy spent more time on the abuse leveled on the dog, if nothing else to maybe give some more depth as to his behavior and also to shine a light on such a horrific treatment of an animal. Making the story completely silent with that as a big focus, a psychological story about a dog, might have been stronger.

Percy also weaves in Oliver Queen’s personal relationships, which plays well into the dog’s backstory (which in a way is about relationships too). The little it’s brought it, it still is very affective and adds a solid humanizing layer to the story.

Artist Patrick Zircher continues his gritty style which feels like a great look for the nature of this story (no pun intended). The violent tale is told with some pretty ferocious panels and Zircher captures it well.

Overall, we’re seeing the next step for the Emerald Archer, and while the first story of this new arc didn’t have me pumped with excitement, it did have me very intrigued to see where it all goes from here.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Patrick Zircher
Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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