Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category


BVS4 In the spirit of trepidation surrounding the forthcoming Man of Steel, I thought it’d be best to remind everyone that Superman movies are hard, apparently.

I already talked about J.J. Abrams’ intermittently clever, but mostly dumb as balls treatment. But did you know that at one point, Warner Bros. was considering rebooting the Batman (at that point killed by Schumacher) and Superman (at that point still in post- “Superman Lives!” – turnaround) franchises in one fell swoop, under the pen of one-time David Fincher co-writer Andrew Kevin Walker?

It’s true! And it’s terrible. So why don’t I just walk you through this maze of horrors so you can understand what kind of bullet we all dodged, starting with the fact that the first word to describe Superman is – I am not exaggerating – “dickhead”:   (more…)


Y’know, we always do this – post-game analysis of summer movies that make it seem like we didn’t like them (or, in Braak’s case, make it seem as though Joss Whedon has become his arch-nemesis, which…I mean, it’s a one-sided nemesis-ness? But it’s there).

So let me get this out of the way: Iron Man 3 is a fun movie, not least of which because it is very much a Shane Black movie, down to his very specific Black-isms that, during the stretch in the middle where Tony doesn’t have access to his armor, make it feel a lot like an amusing hybrid of Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

Iron Man 3But of course, once you leave the glamor of the cinema, questions arise. This is a normal reaction, once entertainment-brain shuts down and critical faculties reassert themselves. Sometimes, it’s a harsh and irreversible process – what I like to call the “Signs Effect,” after walking out of that particular movie and going from a feeling of terrified excitement to the realization that that was the dumbest, most insulting motherfucking movie I’d seen in quite some time, in less time than it took to reach the car.

Anyway, Iron Man 3 isn’t one of those. It’s pretty good, there are some flaws, but nothing that’ll stop you from enjoying yourself. All the actors are top of their game, there are a couple interesting twists, it’s considerably funnier than Iron Man 2 (which, even if you’re willing to forgive everything else – which I largely am! – does have some serious groaners). Won’t change the world, and (ideally) won’t even be the best superhero movie this year (Man of Steel and The Wolverine kind of NEED to be very good, to make up for their previous attempts). But worth the money (don’t – DON’T! – see it in 3D. For christ’s sake, 3D adds nothing to a film, it’s just there to get $3 more out of you, seriously, plenty of 2D screenings, don’t encourage this nonsense) if you’d like to catch it in theaters.

Now then! Questions and observations but mostly questions because as I go through it in my head there are a few things I’m not clear on (and from here on out, Spoilers Are Go, but if you saw the movie now is the time to assert your knowledge):  (more…)


(…but still kinda fun.)

Injustice 1The new fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us is the answer to the question, “What if a Mortal Kombat video game starred Superman and Batman?” That is, of course, if you found the first answer, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, to make too much basic sense and also not have hideous costume designs.

It’s fun and pretty easy to play, as Mortal Kombat games tend to be, and the ability to interact with the backgrounds leads to some surprising and often hilarious injuries (seriously, watch out for jet engines, guys). And the two-trigger super-move means you get to enjoy a fatality-style animated finishing sequence without having to memorize a complicated code.

There are a few hinky issues in the battle gameplay – mostly that you don’t automatically win just because you’ve selected Batman, which to me is a glaring and confusing flaw, but I suppose that might be more my problem than the game’s.  (more…)

Cara Blouin

Shakespeare was supposed to have written all of his plays in one draft, each of them bursting perfectly formed into the world like the goddess Athena from the skull of Zeus. I don’t currently know any writers who can do that, but the model that playwrights have access to is either apathetic, disingenuous or expects exactly this sort of miraculous birth.



I saw Oblivion the other day, and will now write about it. This isn’t strictly a review, and it isn’t strictly dramaturgery, but I will review it a little bit, and I will also do dramaturgery on it, so stick around if you like either of those things.

SPOILERS FOLLOW. Serious spoilers, don’t read ahead if you want to be a little surprised.

Considering how ultimately dour the mood of the show is – I mean, it is about the genocide Imageof the human race and all so I don’t blame it, anyway – what nobody really mentions about Battlestar Galactica is how compulsively watchable it is in the early going.

That was a pleasant surprise for me, considering that I found the initial miniseries to be kind of a slog.

But then, the miniseries has a lot to set up, whereas the series can content itself to tell a number of “done-in-one” style stories that are entertaining and move at a pretty good clip. BSG, in the early going, is rarely boring or slow.  (more…)

Arrow 1As Arrow chugs along, banging through the lackluster first few episodes to – where it is now – a pretty solid back-half of a season that’s put some interesting long-term stories into play, some things are becoming clear.

OK, some things other than “Man, they are not spending a lot of money on this show” and “Vigilantes don’t need peripheral vision.”

Perhaps most satisfying is the show actually displaying some interest in examining and reassessing Oliver Queen’s tendency to murder the hell out of people, and how that lines up with his own slowly evolving morality. Throughout the season, he has moved further away from his Island Trauma, received a humbling pummeling at the hands of his buddy’s Barely-Secretly-Evil-Father, and started broadening his mission to include things other than threatening rich people and telling them how disappointed in them he is.

So the show’s getting to be solidly entertaining while also addressing some larger concerns I’ve had, which means I feel more comfortable addressing smaller things the show’s NOT doing well. By which I mean, any time it mentions something from a DC comic.

It wants SO BADLY to play in the DC sandbox but give the concepts a veneer of Dark Knight-on-a-budget “realism,” and as a result kinda fails at both. And the show knows this! Why else would it keep shouting DO-OVER! so often?  (more…)