Saturday, January 26, 2013

Netflix Reviews: Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door

Based on the best-selling book by author Jack Ketchum, The Girl Next Door is a fictionalized account of the death of Sylvia Likens, an innocent Indiana teen who was systematically tortured, raped, and mudered by a suburban divorcee and a group of neighborhood children in 1965.

After losing their parents in a car accident, Meg Laughlin (Blythe Auffarth) and her sister Susan (Madeline Taylor) are sent to live in Indiana with their aunt Ruth Chandler (Blanche Baker) and her three sons, Willie (Graham Patrick Martin), Donny (Benjamin Ross Kaplan), and Ralphie (Austin Williams). Once they arrive in the neighborhood, Meg quickly befriends David Moran (Daniel Manche), the boy living next door. As time passes, it becomes clear that Ruth seems to harbor a strange grudge against Meg, and it isn't long before events in the Chandler house begin to take an disturbing turn.

The Girl Next Door is one of those films that after watching it, I literally felt exhausted and horrible. Now, usually that would lead one to conclude that I hated the film and that it was terrible. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. Actually, I think this is a very dark film that uses an actual event as a metaphor for the darkness hidden within us all and how people can justify any action, even if the action is detestable and downright evil.

It's a film that doesn't shy away from the brutal aspects of this story, but doesn't glorify them either. Each shot is placed perfectly to present just enough to show how disturbing these acts are, but never enough that you would start to become desensitized to it all. Instead of showing the actions in great detail (which would have been impossible anyway because of the age of some of the actors), we focus on the painful expressions of the victim and the delighted faces of those victimizing her, letting the audience visualize everything happening and no doubt picturing it worse then anything they could actually show.

The acting in the film is just as great. Baker does a fantastic job, making Ruth an utterly terrifying character with an eerily calm demeanor. Auffarth is equally fantastic, playing Meg as a believable teenage girl, making the horrible things that happen to her even more horrific.

In all honesty, my words simply can't do this film justice. It's a well-written, well-acted horror film that is truly shocking that I probably will never watch again because I'm not sure I want to experience those feelings again.

I suggest seeing it if you have a strong constitution, like shocking horror films that give you an interesting glimpse at society and the minds of truly depraved people, and want to experience one of the best horror films of the past decade. I'd say skip it if you are disturbed easily and don't like horror films.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Netflix Reviews: Assault on the Sasquatch

Assault of the Sasquatch, obviously, tells the story of an enraged Sasquatch who rampages through a dying city after it is captured by a merciless bear poacher, then transported to the city when the poacher is arrested and his truck is impounded. Now, before the creature returns to its wilderness home, it will hunt down the poacher and take vengeance on him.

Directed by Andrew Gernhard and written by John Doolan, Assault of the Sasquatch is your typical low-budget, by-the-numbers monster movie that really doesn't bring anything new to the table. While I'm a fan of monster movies, I hate it when they just stick to the cliches and don't really present anything new or fun to the situation. Because of this, Assault of the Sasquatch can be a little boring at times (and that's saying something when a movie has a scene where a knife-wielding stripper fights Bigfoot). Also, the use of rather bad CGI for some of the kills and blood really hurts the film and just had me shaking my head. 

The acting, like in a number of low-budget films, isn't that good either. The performances range from passable to down-right annoying. Easily the best performance in the film is Greg Nutcher as ex-police officer Ryan Walker. He does a decent job playing a recently retired officer who lost his wife and doesn't want to lose his daughter as well. Sarah J. Ahearn, who plays his daughter, does a decent enough job as well. 

While this film isn't a good film in any stretch, I hesitate to call it horrible. Mostly, it's just forgettable. I don't feel like I wasted my time watching it, but I probably wouldn't watch it again. If you like monster films and have some time to kill, I'd say give it a watch. If you don't like monster films, can't stand bad acting, bad special effects, and a somewhat mediocre story, I suggest skipping this one. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thoughts on Earth 2 #8

Cover to Earth 2 #8, Illustration by Yildiray Cinar,
Art Thibert, & Gabe Eltaeb
I'll be completely honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the 2011 DC reboot. While I'll probably go into further detail about it at a later date, I just feel like the company missed a lot of potential with the reboot and made a number of really stupid decision over the past year.

With that being said, there are a few of their new series that I absolutely love and remain on my weekly pull list month after month. Earth 2 by James Robinson is one of these series.

I know some people don't like the series (you can't please everybody), but I love it. I think the main reason is because I see it as what DC should have done when they did the reboot: Create a universe that pays homage to the history of the characters, but makes it easy for new readers to approach the series and give old characters a new, interesting spin.

Earth 2 #8 reintroduces the general of the armies of Apokolips, Steppenwolf, and explains where he has been after the defeat of his parademon armies and the death of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman five years ago.

We are also introduced to a new character: Fury. Apparently, she is the daughter of Wonder Woman and is the Last Amazon. During the Apokolips War, Steppenwolf kidnapped her and conditioned her into being his greatest soldier.

From the appearance and the attitude she has in the comic, it feels like they took Wonder Woman and combined her with Big Barda, and I'm rather digging it. I'm really interested in seeing what happened to the character and if she'll remain a bad guy or not. I also really like the little glimpses at the relationship between the two, giving me the feeling the two have a adoptive father/daughter relationship that I find really interesting and can't wait to be expanded upon.

This issue, unlike the others, is not illustrated by Nicola Scott. For this issue, the art is by Yildiray Cinar, and it's pretty good. While it isn't as stunning as Scott's, it gets the job done and conveys the story and action very nicely.

The only real complaint I have with the issue, and it's probably the complaint I have with the series, is that Robinson tends to put dialogue into scenes that actually don't need it. There are a couple of moments in the issue where the art does a good job at conveying the story, but there is a speech bubble placed in the panel and tends to weaken it a little.

However, this is still a great issue and the teaser that we'll get to see Dr. Fate's introduction in the next issue has me really excited for February. If you like Earth 2, I highly recommend going out and picking this issue up. You will not be disappointed.

Thoughts on Superior Spider-Man #1

Variant cover to The Superior Spider-Main #1,
Art by Joe Quesada
The first comic I ever read was an old back issue of Spider-Man. The adventures of Peter Parker were the stories that brought me into comics in the first place and made me the fan that I am today.

However, I stopped reading Spider-Man after they published the One More Day storyline by J. Michael Straczynski (the creator of Babylon 5) and Joe Quesada (the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics at the time). While I liked Straczynski's work on Amazing Spider-Man and likes the things he did with the character and Quesada's artwork for the storyline was good, I felt it was a complete mess of a story and the way they dissolved the marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson was utterly stupid and corrupted the character of Spider-Man for me.

Because of that, I have refused to buy another mainline Spider-Man book until they have fixed the idiocy that is One More Day. So, when I heard about The Superior Spider-Man and saw the preview images of Spider-Man with Mary Jane had me at least curious.

So, while at my local Hastings (which is where I buy my comics now since my local comic shop went out of business), I saw the 1st issue sitting on the wrack and decided to give it a read. After reading it and giving myself a few hours to actually think about it, I have exactly three words that perfectly encapsulate my feelings on this book:

This is weird.

Now, as a fan of comics, I'm used to weird concepts. Hell, some of my favorite stories are rather weird when you really break it down (Atomic Robo is a perfect example of this) and I love them for it. However, for reasons that still remain a mystery for me, the idea of Dr. Octopus' consciousness being inside Peter's body and he now suddenly wants to be a good guy is just...weird to me.

I just don't understand why Octopus would not suddenly want to be a good guy while in Peter's body? To me, it would make a lot more sense if he tried to besmirch one of his greatest enemies by doing horrible things while in his body. Now, if I remember correctly, the reason he's now a good guy (or at least acting like one) is because of the latent memories of Peter Parker that are still possessed by the body. However, that just seems like a really weak explanation to me.

With that being said, I will say the fight scenes with the D-List Sinister Six (and Octopus' reaction to this group) were good and how he ended up defeating them in the end was rather cool. I also like the reveal at the end, giving us a hint to the future of this series.

While it had some good elements, I don't think I'll be adding Superior Spider-Man to my pull list anytime soon. I'll probably give the next two issues a read (I almost always read the first three issues of a series before making a final decision on it), but I doubt they'll actually make me change my mind. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

An Introduction to Me

I have always considered myself to be a rather opinionated person. I've always enjoyed talking about my hobbies and getting into debates about pretty much any topic, whether it be about philosophy or which superhero would win in a fight. 
I created this blog with one thing in mind; to be a place for me to express my opinions about things and just get things off my chest. Because of this, I’m going to try and make at least one post a day about anything. If you decided to give my blog a read, I hope you enjoy it and leave a comment. I always love a good discussion, even if the person doesn't necessarily agree with me.