Comic Book Review “Metabarons Genesis: Castaka” by Alexandro Jodorowsky

Author: Alexandro Jodorowsky
Illustrator: Das Pastoras
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Humanoids, Inc.
Release Date: March 26, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Not only a few months ago, I discovered and got to dive into the comic series “The Metabarons Ultimate Collection” and fell in love with it. It is really a fantastic blend of amazing storytelling along science fiction. Well, of course as a fan I was hungry for more, well my prayers were answered with “Metabarons Genesis: Castaka”, which is a prequel the first series. Like “The Metabarons”, it is a not an easy series to just pick up and read, it is deep like the work that Jodorowsky is know for and that is what makes it exciting and very interesting read. A must if you are a fan of “The Metabaron”.

Official Premise: “The Metabarons” recounted the extraordinary saga of the genealogy of the galaxy’s ultimate warrior. But his ancestors also had ancestors. And far from being noble warriors with an inflexible code, one will discover they were in fact disloyal, vengeful pirates born out of brutality and war. From legendary creator Alexandro Jodorowsky and artist Das Pastoras, and for all of those who dreamt of a sequel to “The Metabarons,” comes instead the origin tale of their first ancestor, Dayal de Castaka.

One thing that I did some a small problem with was that this did feel a little shorter than Jodorowsky other comic series but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. I was not widely familiar with the work of Das Pastoras but I did really enjoy the illustrations from this book. The colors were vibrant and it was well drawn. I have to admit though, after reading this I did go back and re-read the Ultimate Collection of “The Metabarons” and “The Incal” Complete Collection again. I warn you though, this book is definitely relient on your having read both of those books previous to this to really get the full effect.

Book Review “The Colony: Genesis” by Michaelbrent Collings

Author: Michaelbrent Collings
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Release Date: August 16, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love zombies right now? With the success of films like “World War Z” and TV shows like “The Walking Dead”, they have never been hotter. Michaelbrent Collings is bringing us his latest novel, “The Colony: Genesis”, which is a volume one of a new series. I have to admit, I have no idea how this guy releases so many books in one year, all which are extremely different than the next…and all actually good. I read his been “Darkbound” and “Strangers” earlier this year and they are so engaging and entertaining that I literally couldn’t put them down. The exact same thing happened with “The Colony”. In fact, I finished the entire book in less than 24 hours, which is a new record for me personally. I do not think that I have ever been drawn in by a book in the last few years. Michaelbrent taps into the zombie genre but really adds his own style to it that really keeps the genre fresh and exciting.

Ken Strickland is a high school teacher, who is in school on an average day…until something happens that changes everything. It starts with insects filling every inch of his windows on the outside of the building to then planes falling out of the sky to his students turning into monsters attacking everything in sight. And that is only in the first couple of pages. Ken sees the entire world crashing around him and he only has one thing on his mind, which is to find his family, who are across town. He meets up with a few other sole survivors along the way as they try to stay alive, while trying to figure out what is happening around them. But do they have what it takes to survive in a world that is crashing around them?

Normally when a book starts, it gives you time to meet the characters and get settled in before the madness starts, but that isn’t that case here. Michaelbrent literally jams on the gas and hits a 100mph before the second chapter…and doesn’t let up until the end. “The Colony: Genesis” is fast, intense and in-your-face. If you think you know everything about zombies, think again because Michaelbrent changes the rules. Shoot them in the head? Nope just pisses them off. So definitely not your typical zombie book. What I love about Michaelbrent’s writing is that it is tight and very sharp. His chapters are short and literally each one packs a punch. I am not sure how he does it but he does not allow you to put the book down after each chapter, you need to keep reading to find out what happens next.

What also thrilled me was the fact that it is the first volume in the series. Michaelbrent was very smart in splitting this book into volumes because it ends leaves himself plenty of time to slowly to develop the story and its characters without having to rush through it. There are tons of questions in the book that will leave you screaming for answers. But he sets it up so well that you will literally have your finger ready to turn the page and at the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens. Like I said, I finished this book in practically one sitting since I couldn’t put it down. I cannot wait to see what he planned for volume II, “The Colony: Renegades”. Keep them coming man, I will be anxiously waiting.

DVD Review “[REC]3: Genesis”

Starring: Leticia Dolera, Javier Botet, Diego Martín
Director: Paco Plaza
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: November 6, 2012
Run Time: 80 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

I was a huge fan of [REC], before the crappy US remake and sequel. I thought the idea of the film was so scary and very ballsy. [REC] 2, I was not that big of a fan of. I thought it was too much of a tag-along to the first film. “[REC]3: Genesis” is believe it or not, one of my favorite films of 2012, so far. It is such an improvement over the last film and the franchise. The film is a nice plenty of horror and comedy and comes packed with some amazing gore and kill scenes.  The film also takes a different approach from the whole hand-held shakey aspect, which I really dug.  But most importantly, Leticia Dolera looks beyond hot as a vengeful bride with a chainsaw.  I mean come-on that is a no-brainer!! She needs to be in every movie that I see!

Official Premise: Koldo and Clara are about to celebrate the most important day of their lives: their wedding. Everything appears to be running smoothly, and the bride and groom and their families are enjoying a wonderful day-that is, until some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding. Amidst the chaos Koldo and Clara become separated and begin a desperate search for one another. What started off as an idyllic day quickly descends into a nightmare of the worst kind

I am very disappointed in this series, Sony is to blame this time, for not releasing this on Blu-ray.  I am not sure what the hell is going through their minds, since the series is available on Blu-ray everywhere but the US. To top it off, the special features are lacking a bit overall.  There are 12 deleted scenes included, some are pretty good and could have been put into the film…others are a big no.  Lastly there is a blooper reel included, which is definitely worth checking out.  But that is it, I was hoping for a little more.  Maybe the foreign market’s Blu-ray release will have some more goodies.  Heading to eBay now… Thank God this movie is completely awesome! This is a must for all horror fans!

Blu-ray Review “Phil Collins: Live at Montreux 2004”

Starring: Phil Collins
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Blu-ray (1 disc) & DVD (2-disc set)
Total Running Time: 231 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In the beginning…there was Genesis. And they had a drummer. And he was a good drummer.

Yes…it’s easy to forget that the drummer for Genesis – throughout their Peter Gabriel-fronted early progressive rock era and the subsequent trio-based years – was Phil Collins. In fact, it’s easy to completely forget that he’s a drummer at all, given the incredible number of pop hits he managed to dish out over the course of his decades-long solo career in which he was primarily known for his singing voice and the slew of MTV-era music videos that rarely showed him behind a kit.

“Phil Collins: Live at Montreux 2004” immediately seizes the opportunity to remind us that the guy is a powerhouse percussionist. Instead of starting the show by jumping into the role of the chart-topping solo vocalist, he takes a seat on the drummer’s throne and bashes away at a solo that’s impressive in its own right. But wait…there’s more! Another drummer joins in to make things more rhythmically complex.  And by the time a third drummer joins in, the whole affair has become a joyous bombastic escapade that leaves Phil covered with sweat and a beaming smile.  And he hasn’t even sung a single note yet.

As soon as the drumming circle concludes, Collins takes center stage and the journey through his greatest hits begins. Even though his solo career often produced some corny clunkers (you know the wer-HERRRRD: sus-sus-sudio!) and sappy ballads, it’s undeniable that so many of his hits are damn good songs. (Go ahead. Just try to not get into the groove of “I Missed Again” and “Easy Lover”. I dare you.)

Of course, the delivery of the 24-song live set has a lot to do with a 16-member backing band that is comprised of some truly amazing musicians – some of whom have been with Collins for quite some time. They’re quite a versatile lot that knows how to propel energetic songs and recede during quieter ballads such as “A Groovy Kind of Love” and “Against All Odds”. Collins has a little trouble hitting the highest of highs that were present on the original studio tracks, but he and his musical crew have such a command of solidly delivering the material that it doesn’t matter. Phil’s dynamic energy is invigorating and his ability to jump from being a smooth crooner to a jump and jiver is so effortless that it’s hard not to get engrossed in his performance. But, above all else, it seems like he’s still having a grand time singing songs that he’s performed countless times over the decades.

Even though the 2-hour plus 2004 show easily provides more than enough material to satisfy, a 13-song 1996 show that was also recorded at Montreux is also included. Looking at the track list, it seems that the vast majority of the tracks from this gig are redundant with the ones that are included in the 2004 concert.  This immediately begs the question “Why even bother including it at all?” But, from note one, it becomes quite clear why it has been added: all of the songs are big band-style reinterpretations of Phil’s solo songs along with some Genesis and classic jazz covers thrown in for good measure. As a result, many songs are performed sans vocals and, because it’s a Montreux Jazz Festival show, special guest appearances by legendary performers happen throughout. David Sanborn lends his supreme saxophone skills to handle the vocal line of “In the Air Tonight”, Quincy Jones conducts a group of orchestral musicians and the one-and-only Tony Bennett adds his unmistakable swagger to the jazz standard “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”. Sure, some of the instrumental versions of the slower ballads might better suited for the confines of an elevator, but everybody onstage – including drummer Phil – seems to be having such a blast transforming Collins’ songs, that the program manages to be a lot of fun even during its sleepiest moments.  The audio quality of the entire 1996 show, however, has some MAJOR problems.  But we’ll cover that soon enough…

“Phil Collins: Live at Montreux” is available as a one-disc Blu-ray and a two-disc DVD set. The 2004 show was filmed in high-definition (1080i), so the Blu’s image quality is far superior to the DVD’s. The 1996 show was recorded in standard definition and, as such, there’s not much of an appreciable visual difference between the two editions for this segment of the program. Unfortunately, even though the big band show should be presented in 4:3, it defaults to 16:9 during playback which makes Phil and his cohorts appear short and wide. Be sure to pop your TV/monitor into 4:3 to correct this technical error: those “annoying black bars” on the left and right of the screen help to make the show look more like a concert and less like an Oompa Loompa outtake from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.

The audio options for the Blu-ray and the DVD are pretty much what we’ve come to expect from live concert discs: Dolby Digital 5.1 for both, DTS-HD for the Blu and standard DTS for the DVD. All are sufficient for the 2004 show, although the drum track (especially the low-end of the kick drum) seems a little less defined and present in the mix than one would hope for and expect and the bass track is rather heavy and is frequently somewhat muddy. On the whole, it’s quite listenable and will probably only bug audiophile listeners. The audio for the 1996 show,  for any set of ears, leaves a lot to be desired as it gets jarringly compressed and distorted – even on the Blu-ray – when the band’s dynamics reach a loud fever pitch.  Just because Phil himself states at the beginning of the 1996 show that “We’re going to play my shit…but differently” doesn’t mean that it should sound like shit. How a glitch this major made it past Eagle Rock Entertainment’s mastering engineers and quality control department is beyond comprehension.

Despite these technical shortcomings, the 2004 part of “Phil Collins: Live at Montreaux 2004” is easily the best Phil Collins greatest hits collection on the market and should please long-time fans as well as those two or three living beings in the animal kingdom who aren’t familiar with his music. Given that Collins retired from performing soon after this show, it’s great to have a most-filling (although not always aurally satisfying) retrospective that showcases a truly talented singer and – lest we forget – one hell of a drummer.