Tag Archives: villain

Star Wars #17 Review

If the recent “Vader Down” crossover served no other purpose than to pave the way for the “Rebel Jail” storyline, it was worth it. Writer Jason Aaron is in top form with his fourth major Star Wars tale, combining a gritty prison break tale with the lighthearted misadventures of a cocky smuggler and his rising star of a partner. It’s a combination that works very well when it comes to channeling that classic Star Wars flavor while simultaneously pushing the franchise in new and unexpected directions.

If this issue simply focused on Leia and Sana struggling to quell a prison uprising and fight off invaders, that would probably be enough. The reluctant bond between Leia and Sana is certainly entertaining, and the addition of Dr. Aphra to the mix only further enhances the characterization. But Aaron has weightier concerns with this arc. This issue explores the all but impossible battle to maintain principles in times of war. Can the Rebel Alliance afford to show mercy to its worst enemies? Will it lose the moral high ground if it executes said criminals? These are questions Leia wrestles with as she encounters an intriguing and very mysterious new villain with apparent personal ties to the Princess.

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Kung Fu Panda 3 Review

Animated sequels don’t exactly have the best track record, but 2011’s Kung Fu Panda 2 was an exception to that rule, in my opinion. Not only did it capture the action and humor of the first movie, but it built on the mythos and told a new and exciting story. Thankfully, Kung Fu Panda 3 follows in the sequel’s footsteps and proves that the series still has plenty “skadoosh” left to offer.

If Kung Fu Panda 1 was Po learning how to become a hero and 2 was him learning to hone his skills, then 3 is Po’s journey to becoming a teacher. In this latest installment (directed by Kung Fu Panda veterans Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni), Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, and the reunited duo travel to the hidden panda village where Po was born. But when a supernatural villain named Kai shows up with the chi of every kung fu master in the Spirit Realm, Po must train his fellow pandas to defeat this new enemy.

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Ip Man 3 Review

Prominently named on posters and in the synopsis of the newest entry in the Ip Man franchise, Ip Man 3, is none other than Mike Tyson. The former boxer is a curious inclusion in the film as Ip Man 2 heavily focused on putting boxing up against Kung Fu. To build the next movie’s big fight around the same concept would be a letdown, but if you’re casting Mike Tyson as a villain in your movie, you’re going to want him to box.

Fortunately, Tyson’s villainous real estate mogul, Frank, is a side-show in the movie and not the main event. Instead, Donnie Yen’s third appearance as the Wing Chun martial artists master who taught Bruce Lee is focused elsewhere.

Taking place in 1959, Ip Man 3 finds Ip Man well established in Hong Kong and raising his youngest child with his wife, Wing-Sing (Lynn Xiong, also reprising her role from the first two Ip Man movies). However, land is valuable and Frank wants the land under the school Ip Man’s youngest son attends. Frank doesn’t know Ip Man’s son goes there; it is simply a coincidence.

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Marvel’s Agent Carter: Season 2 Premiere Review

This is our review of the first part of Agent Carter’s two-hour premiere. Click here for our review of the second hour.

Warning: Full spoilers for the Agent Carter: Season 2 premiere below.

 

Welcome back, Peggy! Agent Carter returned for Season 2 with a fun premiere that brought Peggy to LA and into a much more X-Files-type mystery. The frozen lake, and the body inside it, were a cool (forgive the punk) dynamic, in the midst of the sunny Los Angeles-setting. And it’s exciting to see the Darkforce – which made its MCU debut via the villain Blackout on Agents of SHIELD — introduced into Agent Carter, bringing a more fantastical element into the series after Howard Stark’s inventions and science-based mind control fueled much of Season 1.

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Star Wars #14 Review

Star Wars #14 offers up the penultimate chapter of the “Vader Down” crossover. It’s also a fitting showcase for everything this crossover has done well and failed to accomplish. There’s plenty of fun spectacle to be had as even more parties enter the fray, but it’s also tough to ignore that the storyline is still dancing around the mysteries of Vrogas Vas and its Jedi legacy even this late in the game. This issue leaves the impression that “Vader Down” may not really have that much substance beneath all the noise and frenzy.

Granted, the nonstop carnage is still fun to read. Now that the cybernetic Mon Calamari villain Karbin has entered the fray, Star Wars fans have the closest thing to an answer they’re likely to get regarding the question, “Who would win in a fight between Darth Vader and General Grievous?”. Karbin offers a physical challenge for Vader none of the other characters could manage. He and his troops also significantly shake up the balance of power, to the point where Dr. Aphra and her droids find themselves reluctantly aiding the Rebels instead of trying to kill them. The more chaotic this conflict becomes, the more fun it offers.

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Star Wars: Darth Vader Annual #1 Review

If there’s a common theme linking Marvel’s two Star Wars annuals this month, it’s “Defy the Empire at your own peril.” Whereas last week’s Star Wars Annual #1 focused on an entirely new character, Darth Vader Annual #1 remains centered on Vader himself and his two faithful droids. It reads like a more logical extension of the main series in that regard. And while the story here doesn’t add much to the larger picture, it does reinforce yet again how imposing a villain Vader can be in the right hands.

The plot in this issue is pretty straightforward, as Vader is dispatched to one of the Empire’s many worlds in order to ensure they remain faithful and productive subjects. This allows writer Kieron Gillen and artist Leinil Yu to introduce another new world to the Star Wars galaxy. Shu-torun is unique in that it’s a hellish, resource-rich mining world ruled by a monarchy obsessed with courtly rituals and fashion. This issue is interesting enough just in terms of its exploration of this culture. I only wish the script leaned a little harder on Vader’s disdain for pageantry and his discomfort at being a diplomat rather than an enforcer. There might have even been potential in exploring the similarities between Shu-toran and Prequel-era worlds like Naboo and Mustafar and Vader’s annoyance at being reminded of his past.

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Agents of SHIELD: "Closure" Review

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Well, damn…

There’s a part of me that feels like taking out Ros so soon slightly undercut the impact, as we were just really getting to know her. But it was undeniably effective how it was done, with that sweet, innocuous scene between her and Coulson that opened the episode ending up being her last. Normal TV “rules” might have Ros badly hurt or kidnapped in the opening, pre-credit scene, so it was jolting to realize no, she was actually just immediately dead. Killed by Ward.

And wow on Ward. I mean, he has to die now, right? Because he’s gone too far. The reveal that he was Hydra was one of Agents of SHIELD’s first great moments and I’ve enjoyed him as a villain, while also being so grateful they never gave into any urge (or fan desire) to see him redeemed. No, he’s a bad, bad man. And after this, it really feels like it’s time to begin wrapping up his story. Because the team can’t let him still be out there after all he’s done. He killed Koening. He killed Ros. He tried to kill Fitz, Simmons and May. He tortured Bobbi. He tortured Simmons.

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Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2 Review

While Star Wars: Shattered Empire started off with an impressive opening issue, the follow-up leaves a lot to be desired. The story has two strange time-jumps, which throws off the momentum generated by the cliffhanger from Issue #1. More troublesome is the sudden focus on Princess Leia, leaving protagonist Shara Bey without anything meaningful to do. The first chapter skillfully avoided focusing too much on the original cast, but this time it’s tipped too much in their favor. With Shattered Empire only being a four-issue mini-series, one underwhelming issue is too much.

The issue begins on a high note, that’s for sure. A mysterious Messenger from the Emperor makes a strong, unsettling entrance, demanding blood from a Star Destroyer captain and delivering an Order 66-esque codeword that triggers yet another evil master plan. This setup is foreboding and creepy as can be, from the strange lettering of the Messenger’s dialogue to his red robes resembling the Emperor’s personal guards. Unfortunately, the result of that codeword comes way too quick and feels a little too much like the scheme of a Captain Planet villain.

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Goosebumps Review

Based as it is on the monstrously popular book series from the 1990s, it wouldn’t be surprising if Goosebumps the movie played best to a very specific demo — the Millennials who so cherish the last decade of the last century and were raised on R.L. Stine’s spooky anthology tales as well as the TV show based on the same.

But Sony’s Goosebumps, which stars Jack Black (as a fictional version of Stine) and was directed by Rob Letterman (Black’s, ahem, Gulliver’s Travels helmer), does not require such generation-specific fandom in order to be enjoyed, and is in fact an all-inclusive monster romp that’s fun and spooky and just a little bit touching too.

While a Goosebumps movie has been rumored since the ’90s, one can see the potential difficulties of adapting the books. As a series of anthology stories, there is no set protagonist or villain for a screenwriter to latch onto. (See Twilight Zone: The Movie for an example of a beloved anthology series gone wrong in movie form.) But the notion of making Stine a character in his own series, and pitting him in a single tale against a host of some of his most popular monsters, fiends and ghouls from across the pantheon of Goosebumps books, proves to be the key to unlocking the series’ big-screen potential.

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Batman: Arkham Knight Annual #1 Review

Warning: this review contains spoilers for the events of the Arkham Knight video game!

DC’s Arkham Knight prequel comic has already spawned the Arkham Knight: Genesis spinoff mini-series, and now readers are getting another dose of the Knight in this standalone annual issue. If you’re craving a little more insight into what makes the villain tick and what drives him in his vendetta against Batman, this issue has something to offer. Just not enough to fill an almost 40-page comic.

Like the main series, this issue takes place during the lead-up to the game, as the Knight and Scarecrow continue preparing for their assault on the city. The opening pages are interesting in how they showcase Jason returning to his vigilante roots, even if his motives are far less noble. These pages do sort of beg the question as to how he kept the Arkham Knight’s existence so perfectly shrouded in mystery when he’s running around in broad daylight and interacting with police officers.

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