December 2011

The 11 Best Films of 2011

by Alan Rapp on December 30, 2011

in Top Tens & Lists

2011 was a year centered firmly on both endings and beginnings, returns to greatness, nostalgic looks back, and terrifying looks forward. The year gave us stories centered on stars and filmakers of the past, the first silent film of the new millennium, and treatises on life, death, mental illness, and the end of the world.

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Glee: The Concert Movie

by Alan Rapp on December 29, 2011

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Glee: The Concert Movie
  • IMDB: link

glee-the-concert-film-blu-rayConcert films are tricky beasts. Not only do you have to make hard decisions in how the performances are shot, especially when you have a stage full of performers to showcase, but there’s also the question of how much behind-the-scenes and backstage footage to show. For Glee: The Concert Movie there’s the added challenge when dealing with characters from a popular television show as to whether you allow the actors to be themselves or stay in character throughout the entire performance.

With footage taken from the concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey, during the group’s Glee Live! In Concert! tour the movie includes 24 songs (including several numbers chosen just for the concert series) performed by the Glee cast as well as backstage moments with the show’s cast (in character). Sprinkled throughout the movie are short interviews and mini-documentaries of selected Glee fans.

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Paula Patton Sexes Up GQ

by Alan Rapp on December 29, 2011

in Books & Magazines

In the January issue of GQ actress Paula Patton discusses her new role in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, joining the franchise, life as a spy, doing her own stunts for the film, and her marriage to Alan Thicke. You can read a little more of the interview in GQ here and take a look inside for video and stills for Patton’s GQ photoshoot.

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Catch .44

by Alan Rapp on December 28, 2011

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Catch .44
  • IMDB: link

catch-44-dvdI’m not sure if writer/director Aaron Harvey is attempting to give us nothing more than B-movie along the lines of 2 Days in the Valley or (God help us) Smokin’ Aces or if he aspires to something more like early Tarantino. Whatever his intentions, what Catch .44 delivers is a trio of attractive actresses, short skirts, a couple loving butt shots, and a movie not nearly as smart as it wants to be.

Our story begins with a theft of a drug shipment gone wrong. Our would be robbers are a trio of women working for a local drug trafficker (Bruce Willis). After the opening shootout the movie resets to the beginning of the night as Tes (Malin Akerman), Kara (Nikki Reed), and Dawn (Deborah Ann Woll) while away the hours together before their job goes horribly wrong.

Tes is the leader of the pack, or “the smart one.” A waitress in a seedy strip club who gets kicks by stealing customers wallets, she takes the job as a drug runner as much out of boredom as anything else.

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Birds of Prey #4

by Alan Rapp on December 28, 2011

in Comics

birds-of-prey-new-52-4-coverIt takes more than half the issue but Batgirl finally joins the team. The addition of Batgil may mean good things for the future of the comic but it doesn’t do much to help out here as the story is still stuck in neutral with invisible ninja assassins and super-secret scientists planting bombs in peoples heads.

Birds of Prey is a comic I want to like but now for four months it’s given me little reason to do so. The addition of Batgirl isn’t the only change that needs to be made on this title. We still know next to nothing about Starling, Katana remains a one-note character, and I don’t see how Babs sticks around for a team that includes Poison Ivy as one of its members.

The good news is Batgirl works well here, especially with Black Canary. It’s good to see the Babs/Dinah team back together. Now if we can just figure out a way to get Zinda Blake and the Huntress to replace Poison Ivy and Katana we might, might have something. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $2.99]

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Nightwing #4

by Alan Rapp on December 28, 2011

in Comics

nightwing-new-52-4-coverAnother of DC Comics New 52 titles goes off the rails. We know we’re in trouble from the very start when the comic is opened to find a that Trevor McCarthy has replaced Eddy Barrows as artist for this issue. Aside from not knowing what age to draw Dick Grayson (a common problem in Bat-books this month) McCarthy’s art is certainly slick, but he seems to be suffering from the same affliction of Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane in wanting to draw characters in awkward angles in big splash pages regardless of whether it helps tell the story (or makes sense).

The story is also confusing as Batgirl comes to town asking for Nightwing’s help (after telling him to stay away just one month ago). I don’t know if the writers’ were going for a Buffy/Angel homage here, but it’s impossible not to see the similarities with “Sanctuary” and “The Yoko Factor.”

The villain is an undeveloped stand-in for Clayface that comes off disappointing that the pair deal with without too much trouble. The more looming threat of a villain who knows Nightwing’s secrets is mentioned but instantly discarded.

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Justice League #4

by Alan Rapp on December 27, 2011

in Comics

justice-league-new-52-4-coverI’ve enjoyed the New 52 version of the Justice League, but this latest issue from writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee is a complete trainwreck. For the issue that introduces Darkseid, one of DC Comics’ biggest and baddest villains, to fumble the ball this badly is simply inexcusable.

Almost everything goes wrong here as the characters speak in nothing more than clipped plot and character points, Lee’s art finds the characters in more and more ridiculous poses, and even the action shots don’t make sense from panel to panel.

The humor and character interactions that worked well in previous issues are missing (except for Green Lantern‘s comment about Batman‘s reaction to GL touching Wonder Woman‘s lasso of truth). Darkseid is imposing, but I’m not really sure we needed a centerfold of the character, and the layout of the sequence is bizarre as the League is starring at the villain emerging from a Boom Tube yet, in close-ups, the Boom Tube is to the back of every character. How is this possible? Pass.

[DC, $2.99]

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Leverage – The Lonely Hearts Job

by Alan Rapp on December 27, 2011

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Leverage – The Lonely Hearts Job
  • tv.com: link

leverage-the-lonely-hearts-job

The Leverage team takes a case from an unlikely client when a millionaire (David Ogden Stiers), the sort the team usually takes down, begs Nate (Timothy Hutton) to find his missing wife. What starts out as a missing persons case, or a possible kidnapping, turns into something completely different when the team uncovers a ring of grifters running a complex sweetheart scam on several unsuspecting marks.

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Young Justice #11

by Alan Rapp on December 27, 2011

in Comics

young-justice-11-coverWith so many Bat-titles out right now imagine my surprise in finding the best Batman and Robin story of the month in Young Justice. The rest of the team is given most of this issue off as Robin helps Batman track down Ra’s al Ghul and foil his latest diabolical plot to rid the planet of humanity.

The action is great. We get Batman and Robin battling several assassins as well as Ubu, Talia, and a final showdown between Batman and Ra’s al Ghul.

Writer Greg Weisman makes good use of Talia’s torn loyalties and her feelings for the Dark Knight Detective as well as Batman’s more understated feelings for her in return (who knows Talia isn’t going to be pleased by Robin being responsible for the latest “death” of her father).

The rest of the Bat-books have been a little shaky this month, but I’ll give credit for Young Justice for delivering a fun Bat-story on all counts. And the best part is we’ll get even more as the story concludes next month! Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

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  • Title: Doctor Who – The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe
  • IMDB: link

the-doctor-the-widow-and-the-wardrobe

The Doctor (Matt Smith) literally crashes into another unsuspecting human’s life on Christmas when he plummets from space to land in a crater at the feet of Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner). Despite being stuck in the suit, The Doctor is able to return to the TARDIS with Madge’s help and three years later he returns to repay the favor.

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