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Beowulf (2007)

“The time of heroes is dead”

To be honest, it was the idea of a proper 3D film that got me into the theatre, opening night, to see Beowulf. To my great surprise and unwavering delight, the film proves itself to be more than pokes the eye, if you catch my drift.

The premise: The oldest English language poem turned into a movie using state-of-the-art motion capture technology and digital 3D. The film could have easily been an empty exercise in computer generated wizardry, but the filmmakers did not sell themselves short. They made a film of great depth and significance. Which despite its glossy, 3D paint job, stands up as a genuine cinematic experience.

At its core, Beowulf is about heroism. Throughout the film, the audience is presented with various notions on the nature of ‘heroism’. When we are introduced to Beowulf, he is gripped to the mast of his Viking vessel, standing, as it plows through wind, waves, and rain–He exclaims to his concerned friend Wiglaf, “The sea is my mother! She would never take me back to her murky womb!”

Beowulf is fearless.

When he and his fellow warriors strike land, Beowulf announces to its people, “They say you have a monster here. They say your lands are cursed. I am Beowulf and I’m here to kill your monster.”

Beowulf is courageous.

These are standard definitions of heroism. The character of Beowulf, however, is far more complex than a series of adjectives. As the narrative progresses, the layers of Beowulf’s proverbial armor are stripped, and what we are left with is a man whom the audience may or may not call heroic. This is the genius of Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman’s script; What could have been a conventional, badass, take on Beowulf purging evil from the lands, it choses to examine his heroism in relationship to the evil he is fighting. As you’ll discover, evil is not necessarily a hideous monster, but human fallibility. And so:

Beowulf is human.

Making use of legends, tall tales, folklore, and myths, Beowulf’s character, and the concept of heroism, is dissected before your eyes. While it is an unquestionable triumph in terms of digital cinema, it’s remains a visceral examination of the myth of hero. It is not only a breath-taking, visually stunning masterpiece of action cinema, it is legitimately thought provoking. A feast for not only the eyes, but the brain as well. That’s always nice.

I tell friends: I came for the 3D and stayed for the story. In fact, as proven by its DVD release, Beowulf is a film which could have been released without the 3D gimmick. In fact, I wish it had been, as people tend to remember it as some digital experiment rather than a proper film.

Beowulf doesn’t poke at your eyes, it pokes at your brain, and this is the reason Beowulf transcends its genre, into a meaningful piece of art.

– Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.


Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 27, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Posted in action, fantasy

Strange Girl vol 1 – Girl Afraid

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Strange Girl vol 1 – Girl Afraid

Strange Girl is a fast-paced, action oriented, bloody, and funny story about a girl left behind by her pious family following the rapture. The speed at which the story is told is astonishing. The main character Beth Black, is established as a, get this, strange girl who is brash and independent. This quickly collides head on with her ultra-pious family which is shown to be all judgemental and disapproving of Beth and her “gang of roller-blading hooligan friends.” The Rapture has arrived.

Skip ten years: Beth has a job as Belial’s bar wench, she has a little blue dwarf demon for a pal, and she can perform magic through demonic incantations.

Through the action, witty banter, and countless SHRA-KOOMS, FA-BOOMS and SHOOOOOMS, Beth’s story is played out: escape Belial’s fiery grasp, get halfway around the world to the heavenly portal at the Vatican to see if Beth is worthy to get into Heaven after 10 years of demonic servitude. This of course will be no easy task, as the world as once known is long gone. Earth is now ruled by the legions of Hell, and neither God nor Satan are anywhere to be found.

While Strange Girl delivers some decent comedic moments, and enough action to keep the pages turning, there is another more obvious overtone: Religion. The writing is obviously very personal to Remender, as it seems that sometimes Beth will rant, questioning religious belief, life’s purpose, and God’s intentions. The nice little twist to this type of dialogue in Strange Girl is that all this dialogue is made with the ultimate knowledge that God does exist in that universe. It is one thing to discuss the value of faith versus non-belief, but it is interesting to see a character ponder the subject with the knowledge that the man upstairs is indeed upstairs.

Remender has a way of trading off palpable material for action in a way truly pleasing to the audience. Eric Nguyen’s kinetic and funky style compliment the tone and pacing of this story. Every panel almost looks to be in total motion, and each issue seems to speed up as the pages turn.

Strange Girl is its following. Although what the book has to say is not presented in any sort of subtle or graceful way, it speaks loudly. Strange Girl expresses itself with enough humour, explosions, and car chases to be heard. If you haven’t figured this out yet, the message is simple: dive into Strange Girl.

– Dillon Taylor

Dillon Taylor is a born-again atheist with very few qualifications to do much of anything. He graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a degree in Kinesiology, and currently lives in Korea where he splits his time between: eating, drinking, eating, sleeping, drinking, and shallow attempts to expand his mind. Oh, he teaches English too.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 25, 2009 at 4:20 AM

Posted in action, comedy, fantasy

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Planetary vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

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PLANETARY Vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

Written – Warren Ellis
Art – John Cassaday
Colours – Laura Depuy

Planetary is one of the best structured concepts that has graced contemporary comics.

The story kicks off as The Planetary Organization, a team of “Archaeologists of the Impossible” recruit Elijah Snow, a man of cold-temperament and abilities, as head investigator of unexplainable phenomena drawing back through one hundred plus years of manufactured super-hero history.

The actual layout of Planetary is as unique as the premise. Each chapter tells a stand-alone story, putting the team into a different genre and setting. From Pulp Adventures to Japanese Monsters, each chapter is a uniquely designed and presented case study of the Impossible events of history, warped by the super powered principles of the Wildstorm Universe. Concepts and ideas not limited by genre or age – new and old – have the dirt wiped off them and are inspected closely to create a wholly new feel of things. A new, vibrant atmosphere for a new age of information.

With the book’s origin in the pulps, the reader is lead deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the book. Elijah Snow joins the Planetary Organization without any knowledge of the Fourth Man or his/her intentions or any modus operandi to Planetary. So as we travel around the world, from Hong Kong to contested Japanese islands to the very edge of the multiverse, Planetary threads the mysteries of the book – What is the purpose of the Planetary Organization?

Also included in this volume is the introduction of the Four, the antithesis to the Planetary organization. Four adventures mutated by a trip in a stolen rocket ship – their intelligence secret, their abilities overpowering and their purpose a secret. As the Four become the backbone of PLANETARY’s purposes, building a story that crests into the high concept competition that Planetary, like all pulps, is drawn to.

Planetary is not just smart comics; it’s unique, original and rolls with more than a hundred years of created history that plays off all the genres, each with unique pay-offs and highlighting their unique substances with a uniquely styled cover.

Let it be said, far and wide, than when Warren Ellis is good, he’s the best. And when he’s got a talent like John Cassaday working with him, the results are incomparable.

Planetary is one of those books. One of the unsung, true giants of the medium. Impossible to transfer, unnecessary to try. Each story is the juiciest fruit or oldest whiskey, each from a different side of the world with its own taste and colour you’ve never glimpsed before. Planetary really, really is that good.

– – Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 11, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Locke and Key vol 1 – Welcome to Lovecraft

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Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

Typically, I’m not a fan of horror comics. It’s become something of a rule that I don’t associate with horror comics because they’re usually, generally speaking, light on story, and heavy on gore. Sure, blood and guts are nice, but after two blood-splattered pages, I’m no longer impressed. I enjoy pretty pictures, but no matter what medium, I crave story above all else. Thankfully, Locke & Key manages to overcome its genre’s handicaps and delivers an exceptional tale about a family recovering from a tragedy, trying to make a new life in the town of Lovecraft.

Written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key revolves around a mysterious New England mansion known as Keyhouse, and its new guests: A family disrupted by a horrific tragedy.

Locke & Key strikes a glorious balance between horror and story. I was genuinely terrified at certain moments because creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez made me care for the characters – their innocence and grief shining through from the stark terror of the attack done onto them. There is plenty of axe-to-the-face action, but when the blood flows, it comes at an emotional price. This book uses violence to inform the story, and not the other way around. To this, I say Bravo.

A chilling, atmospheric, and suspenseful tale, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft is an intelligent horror comic which transcends its genre. While being terribly gruesome, it manages to engage the reader emotionally, which for contemporary horror comics, is exceptional in itself.

Keyhouse Mansion awaits your entry.

– – Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 5, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in fantasy, horror