The Wolverine

Directed by: James Mangold Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Famke Janssen Rating: 3.5 stars (of five) The latest installment of the X-Men movie franchise may be the best action flick of the summer.  This is bound to seem like an indefensible position, but I’m prepared to make the argument. James Mangold (Knight & Day) directs a film with an actual script, which makes it immeasurably superior to the bigger-budget, bigger-effect “roller coaster” blockbusters that chase international box office at the expense of dialogue, coherence or restraint. Interestingly, the three credited writers are credited...

Interview: Greg Rucka

Eisner Award-winning author Greg Rucka is know for his gritty noir-influenced style, his critically acclaimed runs on mainstream titles like The Punisher and Batwoman and for his proclivity to write multi-faceted, bad-ass female protagonists We recently sat down with Rucka as he ends a decade-long collaboration with Marvel and DC and throws himself full force into his creator owned projects, including Queen and Country and LAZARUS. Who or what were your influences as a writer? That’s not a short-answer question. There are honestly too many to count. I can go from Joyce Carol Oates to Raymond Chandler, Hemingway to Douglas Adams,...

The Dark Knight Rises

Director: Christopher Nolan Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman Review: 2 stars (of five) Did it ever occur to you that if The Dark Knight had not had the hypnotically intense presence of Heath Ledger, it would’ve just been a too-long, too-loud mess? Well, the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Bat trilogy doesn’t have Heath Ledger. Whereas the second film really went off the rails at the end (pretty much as soon as Ledger’s Joker had been dispatched), The Dark Knight Rises is a mess pretty consistently. There’s the outline of...

The Amazing Spider-Man

Director:  Marc Webb Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen Stars: 2.5 (out of five) It’s a little soon to be rebooting the Spider-Man series. Despite its flaws (mostly in the third installment), Sam Raimi’s trio of spider-flicks captured the character pretty well.  Marc Webb’s revamp of the origin has some new twists, deviating from Raimi’s closer following of the comic legend, and the supervillain of the piece is an interesting take on a classic foe only hinted at in the previous series.  He’s got good actors, and mostly brings a more somber, realistic tone to movie. Yet the film...

The Avengers

Director: Joss Whedon Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johanssen, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Todd Hiddleston Review: 4 stars (of five) The Avengers is the ultimate comic book movie. No previous superhero film has so perfectly translate the bombast of a big superteam comic to cinema. If I had to illustrate what superhero comics are like without using an actual superhero comic, I would show you this movie. There are arguably better comic-book films (ones with smaller casts and a better character-to-violence ratio), and there are many, many worse ones (at least 70% of the Batmans and 60%...