Monday, August 25, 2008

TALES FROM NETFLIX - Starship Troopers trilogy?


With the recent release of a third Starship Trooper movie (direct to DVD), it was time to revisit the 1997 original, and it's 2004 follow up. I'd really enjoyed the feature when it came out, for the mash up of Paul Verhoeven's stylings, and Heinlein Sci-Fi bug warfare, but was ultimately disappointed by it's anti-climatic ending. Over a decade later, how would it hold up, was it as fun and well polished as I remembered? Would it age well? Would I still hate the ending??
The answers were yes, yes, and sort of.
It does hold up really well, with the cheeky "would you like to know more" military adverts coming off just as fresh and fun as they did way back in the 1900's, along with the special effects, I always really loved those nasty Arachnid bug designs! Hell, even the cast, the much maligned Denise Richards, where is he now Casper Van Dien lead (why he's in Starship Troopers 3), and Melrose Place cast off Rico rival, are all really fun here regardless.
Sure the story, as broad and epic as it is, gets too cute with the circumstances of our three school chums crossing paths (again, and again, and again), but hey, it's NPH! (back in the day it was Doogie, but now he's made a name on his own dammit!) Plus, fuck yeah, Jake Busey was never better as a chip off the ol insane block!
I still really enjoy this film, and riding along with the cadets as they enroll in the war against the bugs (cause the only good bug is a dead bug, that'll never change!), the cool in-your-face sci-fi warfare, and all the winking and nodding along the way, that is til we get to our Brain Bug ending, and things kinda fall apart for me. It's not that it was too much to buy, with everthing played loose all along, it just feels off to me, rushed.

But hey, Starship Troopers is a great, an almost perfect sci-fi movie, despite it's flaws! It may be goofy, but I love it!


Years later we got a decidedly different follow up, gone were the original cast, along with most the themes of the first film. Sure we still had the Federation recruiting feed bookend, the trademark arachnids, and titular troopers, but this time, things were decidedly more focused, and of a much more horror nature. This film, which I really like and enjoy, is more of a "Tales of the Starship Troopers" than a proper sequel. It doesn't feature any of the first movies characters, or advance the overall story much, but it is a fun and cool side story, in the same universe.
The only cast member to carry over is Brenda Strong, which is a bit confusing, because her smaller supporting role in the first film is of a starship pilot who's killed, and here she's a bad ass infantry Sargent??? But anyway, doesn't matter, the key to Trooper 2, is to be prepared for a bit more gore and horror, than just in your face sci-fi war fare...

However, the story, centered around an abandoned infantry post on a bug world, and all it's cool anti-bug defenses, as well as a mysterious Captain that may be a real life hero, or a murderous decenter, is a pure sci-fi horror gem. Well, gem might be a bit strong, but it is very solid and a lot more fun than you might expect, and all with the trappings of the Starship Troopers universe. Just don't get this anticipating a true sequel, but a darkly fun movie!
Also of note, the under appreciated Richard Burgi (24, Hostel 2) stars as the no nonsense titular Captain, and the Nip Tuck siren, Kelly Karlson, appears as an (SPOILER WARNING) often nude bug-controlled private!


Now, this is a proper sequel in all but budget.
Here, we have the triumphant return of Lt. Rico, now a Colonel, and a wider focus back on the entire federation forces and their efforts against the bugs. New bugs, new leadership, and eventually new advanced "marauder" tech are showcased! However, the whole thing is uneven production wise, as it's clearly hampered by it's limited direct-to-dvd finances. Whereas with 2, the story turned inward to offset the reduced made-for-dvd budget, here, the original film's writer returns to both write and direct, and restore the scope to a more epic scale, regardless of the diminished effects capabilities. The effects aren't terrible (most the time), they're just more in line with television sci-fi than feature film.

The story and acting are also uneven, so there's nothing about this effort that's superior in any way to the original (that just keeps it on par with the first movie doesn't it?), but despite all of that, once the dust settles, it is a fun story, with plenty of cool stuff to make for an enjoyable watch. At the mid-point, I'd written it off as a loss, but they won me back by the credits.

Other key notes on this one, is the addition to the cast of Jolene Blalock (the vulcan from Star Trek: Enterprise), and the return of the captured brain bug (sans NPH)!

It's kooky, and a bit of a mess at times, so just don't expect too much and you'll do fine.RECOMMENDED (for fans of the series, or sci-fi fans only)

Starship Troopers, sex, bugs, and violence, for fans of low grade sci-fi!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I SAW IT ON TV: Generation Kill SHOCKS N AWES!

The latest HBO TV masterpiece, GENERATION KILL, the love child from the creator's of the networks critically lauded THE WIRE, and the ROLLING STONE writer's articles and book based around being an embedded Iraqi war journalist, is about to reach it's 7 episode mini series conclusion Sunday night. To say the show has been entertaining on many levels simply scratches the surface, but certainly, Generation Kill is a huge accomplishment, even for a network as rich in breakout success as HBO. Generation Kill is quite simply, amazing.

Even as we pass five year's since the invasion of Iraq, and the much maligned "mission accomplished" charade, very little in entertainment (or even straight up news) focusing on the war has found a resonance with our society. Many are frustrated, and increasingly fed up with the war and subsequent occupation, but there's generally not much Iraq war fair that has resonated in pop culture, pro con or otherwise. And while Generation Kill doesn't seem to have captured the buzz other recent HBO sensations like Entourage, or even The Flight of the Concords have, it's certainly on par in terms of production brilliance, with any effort the network has put together, Sopranos to Sex and the City.

A seven part series, each episode clocking in at over an hour apiece, Generation Kill is the true story of the Marines of First Recon Battalion and their journey into Iraq during the first 40 days of the war. It is massive in scale, and truly puts you riding along with the Marines, dozens of them, all captured with skill by a sharply chosen cast, and production values that have you question how, just how the fuck are they able to pull this shit off?!? From base camp, to moving out in country, and all the skirmishes and engagements that follow, across Iraq countryside and towns. The vehicles, the weapons, the settings, it's all of a scale and realism, that never has you question it's validity, but only how they're able to pull it off. It's visceral, it's engrossing, and it's damn funny!

The cast here are awesome, from the inept leadership, to the brilliant Sargents, and the myriad grunts we come to know, along with their colorful leader "Godfather" (named such since, a victim of throat cancer, he gives out the companies orders in whispered voice a la Brando), they all shine in their roles. Of course the credibility, heart, and truth to the effort all hang on the notes Rolling Stone's Evan Wright, a character in the series himself, took as an embedded journalist for the magazine, and subsequent book. Sure GK has all the hallmarks of the best military films, but it has another level of connection being utterly based in reality. These are real people, brought to life by those who were there (two of the people featured from First Recon were also brought in to help craft the show, and a third stars as himself), going through the utterly maddening paces that troops on the ground had to deal with, botched orders, improper gear, officers ego's and ambitions, all much more deadly than the ill prepared Iraqi resistance.

We all know how the war turned out, we all know Saddam's forces didn't put up any epic resistance, and we've all heard stories of the efforts, but we've never seen them, or any war, brought to life in such stunning and shocking detail. Generation Kill is unbiased, unflinching, and utterly genius. One can't help but come away with sheer respect for the soldiers that put their lives on the line here, and in the service of their country, when all they ultimately can trust in, is each other. Because the President, the country, or even your superiors may not be in your corner, but you've got a job to do, and a war to survive. It's amazing that journalists would throw in to this equation, and it's incredible that such a great work of art could be made from it!

Give Generation Kill a look if you haven't, either while it's still playing on HBO, or once the inevitable DVD hits, just be sure and...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


My buddy Howie Noel started up a new webcomic recently, VINCENT: THE PAINTER OF DEATH (his comic MR SCOOTLES is collected in a trade paperback and currently orderable in the August Previews catalog for October shipping, I think).

I know nothing about it, but it looks very cool (and very Sweeney Todd)! Aside from that, Howie is a unique voice in comics, and worth checking out if you haven't!

It's just underway at HERE

Check it out if you dare!


Well, I know I heard a bit back that Robert Rodriguez and Rose McGowan were potentially working on Red Sonja, but they'd been previously linked to a Barbarella remake... and frankly, I'd much rather see that. But, that's kind of like picking between a large sum of money, and a really large sum of money, either is cool by me!

So anyway, the ever cool had up these incredible Red Sonja teaser posters, so enjoy!

Hadn't heard any new developments on this, but my AICN following has been pretty spotty since SDCC, so not sure if this is actually moving forward or what...
RR has been a rather prolific man, so hopefully he can crank out both of these!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Marvel Masterpieces 2 ARTIST PROOF Sketch Cards available

I recently got my 10 artist proof sketch cards back from Upper Deck, these are the rarest cards of the set, the ones they send to participating sketch card artists for the Marvel Masterpieces 2 card set.

I have 8 of these currently available, and am offering them to fans/friends of the blog for $100ea for a full color card, as opposed to the normal $125 (plus shipping).

You can pick any Marvel character as long as they aren't licensed (GI Joe etc) or based on other media (movies, TV) and adhere to the rules (no nudity, smoking etc), and the cards must also be approved by Marvel before shipping.

If you're interested in getting one of these cards, send me an email with the subject TSL proof card to:

Here are some samples from the apporxamitley 200 cards I did for the set:

You can also view most the cards from the set HERE

There's also a commission card up for grabs on eBay too if you prefer that route HERE

Friday, August 15, 2008

PERSONAL SKETCH CARDS - Star Wars The Clone Wars on eBay

Haven't seen STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS yet, but got the bug to do some quick sketch cards yesterday...
They're up on eBay now (well most of them are still there).
I've got a cool fan art that I've been meaning to do, roughed out, but haven't found the time, maybe after I see the movie...

I wish it could be as cool as most of the Genndy Clone Wars cartoons, but it likely won't. I've tried to avoid reviews, so we'll see. Can't wait regardless!

Monday, August 04, 2008

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Wolves on Newsarama!

With such an exciting new book coming from my new publishing line, Super Real Graphics Presents, home of the debut book Gnome, the upcoming book The Wolves of Odin from creator Grant Gould has a nice interview/feature on the blog@Newsaram...

Check it out HERE