Movie Review – Payback Director’s Cut

I remember watching Payback when it came out in theaters in ’99, and not being terribly impressed. I don’t recall it being bad at all, just… unsatisfying. It’s been well over a decade, and now I’ve finally gotten around to watching the Director’s Cut. I kind of loved it.  Helgeland is one of my favorite screenwriters (L.A. Confidential, Conspiracy Theory, Man On Fire), and while I’m not the biggest fan of his other directing efforts (Knight’s Tale… ugh), this is one hell of a good looking movie.  In particular, the opening sequence featuring Porter’s return to town is just a great bit of cinema.

4 out of 5

Movies I Watched This Week

So, I think I’m going to try and do short reviews of every movie I watch. Nothing terribly long, just a few sentences, and a flat 1 thru 5 rating.

5 = Loved It

4 = Liked It Lots

3 = Good, But Probably Won’t Get A Rewatch

2 = Not Too Good

1 = Turrible

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

To start things off though, I’m going to do a slightly longer review. I saw a movie this week that I would give a 6 out of 5 if I could. It’s genius and awesome. That movie is Rare Exports.

You already want to watch it, don't you?

Here’s the elevator pitch:

Archaeologists in Finland dig up the grave of the original Santa Claus. Something evil escapes and it’s up to a little boy, his father, and his father’s friends to contain it.

This movie is not only suspenseful, funny, and incredibly innovative, it’s also beautiful. The scope of some of the shots, set against the Finnish mountains are absolutely amazing. It’s also, in spite of being a dark film that takes place mostly at night, incredibly vibrant and colorful.

Seriously. It's the dead of night, but look how vibrant and crisp that is.

That depth of field is astonishing.

Rare Exports is incredibly well crafted, and the story takes several twists and turns that will leave you amazed. You seriously need to check out this flick.

5 out of 5

The Thing (2011)

Jeremy, Aaron, and I went to the theater for the first time in a long time to see this one. I must say, this is probably the best prequel I’ve ever seen. I’m a huge fan of the John Carpenter movie, and this really seemed to capture the feel and look of the original to a T. While I’m not the biggest Mary Elizabeth Winstead supporter, she also does a pretty decent job here.

While there is one spot where my suspension of disbelief was stretched to the breaking point, this was still a quality flick that fits wonderfully into the continuity of the original.

4 out of 5

The Last Circus

A Spanish film from the awesome Magnet Releasing (Check out the trailer for Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil), this movie was not at all what I was expecting. I thought this would be a madcap kind of romp about a crazy, house of horror style circus side show, but it’s actually a really intense thriller involving a bizarre love triangle. Also, the opening sequence with a machete wielding clown in a dress is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen in my life.

4 out of 5

Machete Maidens Unleashed!

That's a killer poster right there.

This documentary about the Filipino film industry of the 70s was thoroughly fascinating. I love the schlocky horror fests, women in cages, and jungle adventures that came out of this era, and seeing the film makers discuss their experiences was a real treat. There’s also a butt-ton of clips from the various movies, which is super sweet, and must have been a licensing nightmare for the film makers. This is a super solid documentary with great interviews, and an excellent array of archival footage. Highly recommended.

5 out of 5

That’s it for this week, folks. If I can, I’d like to do a separate post for every movie I see in the future. We’ll see how that works out.


Pilot Season: The Beauty, by myself and the amazing Jeremy Haun, hits stores today, and to celebrate, we’re giving away free stuff!

Here are the rules-

5 random people who tweet #TheBeauty or reply and share this link on Facebook before midnight tonight CST, October 26th, will win a signed copy of THE BEAUTY and the PSA poster (featured below). Repeat as many times as you want.

A Welcome, And A Few Words About New York Comic Con

Hello all, and welcome to my new blog.

I recently attended the New York Comic Con. It was my first time in New York City, and it was also my first time attending a convention as a creator. In case you’re unaware, I’m the co-writer and co-creator of the new Pilot Season book from Top Cow, The Beauty. Here’s some preview pages!

Jeremy Haun (co-creator, co-writer, and artist of The Beauty) and I spent 8 days in the city, and had a great time. If I tried to list all of the awesome stuff that we were able to do on our trip, this would be an incredibly long post, so I’ll just hit some highlights.

  • First and foremost, I was able to hold a copy of The Beauty in my hands. This isn’t my first comic work (I wrote a short story for a Troma Films anthology that Jeremy illustrated a few years back), but it is the first time I’ve had my name in print on the cover of a book. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see that.
  • I actually hand sold and signed copies of the book. I’ve never signed books for fans before, and thanks to the awesome people at Image Comics and Top Cow Entertainment, I had that opportunity. It was a real thrill, and it was awesome to hear just how excited people were about the book.
  • I was on my first panel. The “Top Cow: We Create… Franchises” panel featured a short segment about this years Pilot Season books, and I was able to get on stage, and pitch the book to a room full of strangers. It was a pretty surreal experience, but I got a few laughs, and people seemed to dig the idea, so I’m calling it a win.
  • I was on a podcast. We were invited by Pete, Justin, and Alex to be guests on their show, Comic Book Club along with James Asmus. It was a ton of fun, and I think the show ended up being pretty listenable.
  • We did an in-store signing, another first for me. The folks at Jim Hanley’s Universe had us come by the Tuesday after the show, and sign some books. It’s a great store, and Jeremy and I had a hell of time while we were there. The highlight of the evening was meeting the legendary Paul Levitz, who was also signing. He was super gracious to both Jeremy and I, and gave us tons of excellent advice. He’s definitely one of the good guys.
  • I met the man with the most interesting stories about the comic industry I’ve ever heard. Gabe Sauro, of Avenue 4 Communications, has been working as a printer in the comic book field since the early 80s. He’s full of hilarious stories about an aspect of the industry that almost no one knows about, and he’s a hella-nice guy to boot. Meeting Gabe was a true highlight of my trip, and I really hope to see him again at future shows.
  • Then, of course, there was the food. New York is chock full of simply amazing restaurants. If you want a full list of every single thing that we ate, with pictures, (and you have an iPhone) I recommend checking out Jeremy’s Instagram Feed. However, here’s a quick rundown of some of the most awesome eats and drinks: Spotted Pig – the best burger I’ve ever had. Seriously. Blue Smoke – Not only was the food here great, but we got comped a bunch of appetizers and a round of drinks! Katz’s Delicatessen – Hands down, the best Reuben I’ve had in the history of EVER. This is coming from a guy who friggin’ loves Reubens folks. Pommes Frites – A restaurant that serves nothing but french fries, with an insane variety of sauces. Also, Poutine. My favorite eatery of the whole trip. The Flatiron Lounge – Insanely good cocktails. Magnolia Bakery – Cupcakes, scones, brownies, and really good coffee.
  • We went to a screening of Flatliners that was followed by a Q&A with Joel Schumacher, an emergency physician, and a neurological specialist from DARPA. Our buddy, Rick Loverd, got us an invite to this presentation by the Imagine Science Films Festival. It was a very cool, very informative, very entertaining evening, and I can’t thank Rick enough for getting us in.

I also met a ton of great people, both in and out of the comics industry, and had meetings with collaborators on upcoming projects. All in all it was a fun productive trip, and I can’t wait to make it to NYCC again next year.