I Am A Hero Omnibus 1, a Japanese Manga book (2016)

The Walking Dead is returning to your television screens in October with it’s seventh season to date. One would almost forget that this fantastic television series all started with a comic book created by Robert Kirkman. Even more impressive is that it has just reached issue number 158, and there is no end in sight yet. Not bad, considering that this a series that tells a story about a Zombie Apocalypse. Not that stories like that are bad, mind you, but to keep it interesting for 158 issues is nothing short of amazing. Ofcourse as is always the case with things that are a succes, we get copycats. Most of these are just poor substitutes for the real thing, but occasionally something arrives that truly impresses. And that, in a roundabout way, brings me to the I am a hero manga. This also tells a story of a Zombie Apocalypse, but that is where the similarities with the Walking Dead end.

I am a hero, tells the story of the aspiring Manga artist Hideo Suzuki. Now Hideo is not your typical guy. For one thing he is plagued by hallucinations of varying degrees. He also likes to talk to himself: a lot. The only person who seems to accept him is his girlfriend Tekko. Hideo has been struggling for years to break through in the Manga world and not for lack of trying. Unfortunately he is just not very good, even though he thinks so himself. But then things in the real world begin to change. At first it is hardly noticeable, but when there are increasingly more people acting strangely, Hideo is beginning to realise that this is not another hallucination. People are actually starting to change into zombies. With the world heading slowly to an Apocalypse, Hideo has to find a way to make himself survive, and care for the girl he loves.

I am a hero, is being released by Dark Horse Comics into omnibus editions, which contain two volumes of the original manga. This is definitely a story for a mature audience. There are some seriously bizarre and adult situations that pop up from time to time, and this can sometimes for a casual reader be distracting. However once you get past these, this makes for a very entertaining read. This Manga starts very, very slowly. It takes it’s time (one could argue for too long) to set up the characters and the storylines. However the art of this Manga is so incredibly beautiful that I did not mind this at all. Every frame is almost like a painting, and that alone makes it worth the purchase. I do think that this Manga won’t be for everyone. Even if you like zombiestories, this is not your usual Zombie Apocalypse epic. However, if you want to read something other than the Walking Dead, and are willing to take a chance, you might definitely be surprised. I for one loved it, and am looking forward to the release of the 2nd omnibus in October.

I give this Manga a 9 out of 10 score.

Another, Anime tv series (2012)

Sometimes a cover of a book or a poster of a movie draws your attention. At times you can’t even explain why or find a reason for it. It just holds power over you in some mysterious way. This does not always mean that because a book has a cool cover, or a movie has a neat poster, that the book or movie itself are good. You do know you can’t judge a book by it’s cover right? Why am I even talking about this you ask? Well, when browsing for a new Anime I came across the picture that I put above this review. For some reason it drew my attention….and boy am I glad it did. Because Another has been one of the best animated shows I have ever seen. Not only that, it also featured one of the most intriguing stories I have ever come across, in either live action or anime.

It is 1998 when the 15 year old boy, Kouichi Sakakibara returns to his hometown of Yomiyama. His father has to work abroad, so he now lives with his grandparents. Before going to school, he unfortunately has to spend a whole month in the hospital. A few of his new classmates of the 9 th grade class 3 eventually come to visit him, but they act very strangely. When Kouichi finally has recovered enough to go to school, he is beginning to experience some very weird things. He meets a mysterious girl with an eyepatch, called Mei Misaki. But why is it that at times it seems only Kouichi can see her? When people in his class begin to die, it is beginning to dawn on Sakakibara that there is a terrible curse on class 3. A curse that apparently no one in class 3 can escape from….

Now I know there are some people out there who might not even try to watch this. It is animated, and so it must be for kids right? Wrong….this is definitely not for kids. It is one of the best horror/mystery shows I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Another is based on the novel of the same name by author, Yukito Ayatsuji. (A novel I have now immediately ordered online after concluding this series). The best way to describe it is a mix between one of the best Agatha Christie novels and the Final Destination horror movie series. It draws you in with the first episode, and keeps you in suspense right up until the end. Everything about this 12 part series is simply put: awesome. The animation is spot on, the music is fantastic, and the voice acting is superb. This has been one of the best things I have seen all year, and yes it is animated but it almost doesn’t feel like you are watching an Anime. It really is that good. Now please don’t take my word for it, but just give it a try. I dare you not to get drawn in right away and try to figure out what is going on. Be careful not to get caught up in the curse though…

I give Another a 10 out of 10 score.

The Avengers, American Movie (2012)

Marvel has enjoyed a lot of succes these past few years. Nearly every superhero movie they have brought out has been a massive succes, and generally received postive reviews. And there is no end in sight. This year we still have dr. Strange to look forward to, and in the coming years there are so many movies lined up, that it might almost be a little too much. But what can I say? I love these movies, and as long as they maintain the level of quality they currently have, I am not complaining. Today I found myself seeing the original Avengers movie again, the first time a group of Marvel heroes banded together on the big screen. It was a movie that broke box-office records at the time, and that has been lauded as the best superhero movie of all time.

The Avengers is the culmination of the event that Marvel called, Phase One. The groundwork was laid for it with the movies Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: the first Avenger. And in the Avengers all those storylines come together, and are brought to a satisfying conclusion. The evil brother of Thor, Loki, arrives on Earth in attempt to bring forth an alien army called the Chitauri. For this he needs an ancient artifact called the Tesseract. An artifact that is currently in the possession of S.H.I.E.L.D. But as S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to tamper with it, they inadvertently bring Loki inside their base, and as such he is able to steal the Tesseract. With the faith of the world hanging in the balance, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury, decides to assemble earth’s mightiest heroes. But before they can take the fight to Loki, they will have to deal with their own differences, in order to become a team. And that is easier said than done….

The Avengers is a great movie. However it is not my alltime favorite superhero movie. That spot so far remains reserved for Captain America the Winter Soldier. There is also much to enjoy in the Avengers as well, though. I love it how every major character gets just enough screentime to satisfy every fan of that particular hero. Joss Whedon, director of the movie, has done a great job pulling that off, which might have been the most difficult part. The fightscene in New York is truly spectacular and pulls out all the stops. The part in the middle however, is the part that at times tends to get a little boring. It takes a bit too long to bring all the heroes together, but that is just a very minor complaint I have about this film. Overall though, this is a highly entertaining movie, with fantastic special effects, a decent enough story, and a joy to watch for every Marvel comic book fan.

I give the Avengers a 8 out of 10 score.

 

From Dusk Till Dawn, American Movie (1996)

Vampires. Besides zombies, I don’t think there is a single monster that has been featured in so many movies and tv series as this creature of the night. The fun thing is that each movie or show has it’s own set of rules for them. One basic fact, however, almost always stays the same: simply put it is a monster that feeds and lives on human blood. There is a certain fascination we keep having for these mythical beings, and that is probably why they keep making movies and tv series about them. I have recently started watching the series From Dusk Till Dawn, (you can find my review for season 1 here ) based ofcourse on the classic movie from 1996 starring George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino. And as such I thought it was a nice opportunity to watch the original again.

The criminal Seth has been freed by his brother Richard from police custody. Richard is a bit on the crazy side (and that is putting it mildly) and leaves a trail of destruction behind. Seth always tries to be cool in things, but also has to deal with the antics of his brother. Trying to get away from the police and escape to freedom, the brothers search for a way to get across the border to Mexico. As fate would have it, they stumble across a family travelling in a big motorhome. Seth takes advantage of this and hold the family hostage. Jacob Fuller, the head of the family, is a priest that has lost his faith after the death of his wife in a car accident. In order to keep his children safe, he agrees to take the two brothers across the border. Eventually they arrive at their destination, an enormous strip bar called the Titty Twister. (Sorry folks, I did not come up with this name). Thinking themselves safe, they soon find out that things are not what they seem in this bar. As their hosts don’t have a particular love for liquor, but a very different form of drink. A substance that is red and often found inside a human body: blood……

Having rewatched this classic, I can honestly say that when compared to the tv version, this is definitely superior. Sure the televised version has it’s own charms, but this is so much better. For one thing there is the acting. I had forgotten how good George Clooney was in this movie. His portrayal of Seth is nothing short of astonishing and has been one of the best roles in his career. The fun thing about this film is how this movie changes halfway through. In the beginning you are watching a gritty crime thriller, only to end up with a hardcore horror movie, with blood and guts flying everywhere. This definitely makes it a movie that is not for everyone. I for one do think this is an absolute classic, and should be seen by every horror fan at least once.

I give from Dusk Till Dawn a 8 out of 10 score.

Big Trouble in Little China, American Movie (1986)

John Carpenter is a legend. The man has directed so many of my favorite alltime horror movies, that it is almost impossible for me to pick one that I like the most. There are ofcourse some of them that have become absolute classics, like for instance Halloween and the Thing. But a few of them are probably not as well known to the general public as those aforementioned movies. This year marks the 30th anniversary of his cult classic Big Trouble in Little China. This technically might not even be classified as a horror movie, but it is one hell of a fun ride. Having recently purchased the cardgame Legendary Big Trouble in Little China ( A review of which you can find Here ) based on this film, I thought it was a perfect time to revisit this incredibly fun movie.

Kurt Russell plays Jack Burton, who is a truckdriver about to have a very bad day. Visiting his friend Wang in Chinatown, Jack is going to get mixed up in something way above his head. Wang tells Jack that he has found the girl of his dreams called Miao Yin, and is heading for the airport to pick her up. Jack decides to give Wang a lift, but only because his friend owes him some money and he doesn’t want to let him out of his sight. When the two of them arrive at the airport, Wang’s girl gets kidnapped by a bunch of Chinese thugs. Jack and Wang give chase all the way back to Chinatown, only to there be confronted by an ancient Chinese Sorcerer called Lo Pan. It soon becomes clear that Lo Pan is the one behind the kidnapping of Miao Yin, and needs her for an evil ritual. With ancient and mystical forces set up against him, Jack has to become a hero in order to save the world. However Jack is just a man, and not a very bright one either….

I had not seen this movie in quite some time and it was just a delight to see it back again. There are so many things in this movie that make it such a worthwhile watch. For one thing Kurt Russell is absolutely fantastic. Jack Burton is just your basic macho man, who is absolutely clueless about what is going on around him, but still ends up being the hero. Some of his oneliners in the movie are just so incredibly funny, that they still crack me up after all these years. Even though this movie is now thirty years old, it has withstood the test of time in my opinion. The special effects might be a little outdated, but are also part of it’s charm. This is basically a comedy, but a very fun and exiting one, and at times feels kind of like an old Indiana Jones movie. Needless to say I absolutely love this movie, and if you have never seen it before, track it down. It is absolutely worth it to see it at least once, if only for the incredibly fun oneliners that spew forth out of Jack’s mouth.

I give Big Trouble in Little China a 9 out of 10 score.

Deadpool & Cable Omnibus, A Marvel Comics Book (2014)

The Marvel Universe is full of superheroes that are widely known. With the succes of the movies based on these comics, Marvel has a chance to experiment with characters that are relatively unknown to the general public. As such, last year we got the first Marvel R-rated superhero movie based on the anti-hero Deadpool. The movie was absolutely hilarious and became an enormous boxoffice success. Strangely enough, before the movie I had not even heard of this character before. Despite the fact that he is now one of the most popular Marvel heroes.

I love comics, and after seeing the movie I decided to catch up a bit on Deadpool. I bought a couple of collected editions, but also a massive tome called the Deadpool & Cable omnibus. And oh boy is this last book a treat. Those of you that stayed for the after credits scene of the Deadpool movie know that (minor spoiler upcoming) Cable will be making an entrance in the sequel. Cable is an X-man from the future with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. This omnibus contains all 50 issues of the Cable & Deadpool comic book series,  that ran from 2004-2008.

Where to begin? Well let’s start with the humour. Deadpool is nuts, no let me rephrase that, he is completely insane. Having him paired up with the serious Cable makes for some incredibly funny situations. There are so many things in these comics that are absolutely hilarious that I can not describe them all. But to name a few: In later issues, we get a recap page in which Deadpool talks to the reader of the comic what happened in a previous issue, together with other heroes that are going to appear later on in the story. This gag becomes even more hilarious when Deadpool gets his own talkshow, and recaps what came before. The book is full of crazy one-liners, and in almost every issue something happens that will make you laugh.

The stories themselves are great and offer a wide range of variety. We ofcourse get great battles, some more serious issues, a story that will occasionally bring a tear to your eye, but above all it is just a delight to read. Also included are numerous guest appearances from other Marvel Heroes, ranging from Spiderman to Wolverine. Last but definitely not least is the art, which except for a couple of comics, is seriously well drawn. And that last part is ofcourse very important when reading comics.

If you are a fan of Deadpool, or comics in general this is an absolute must buy. Yes, it has a hefty price tag, but in my opinion it was definitely worth it. This book is a great introduction to Deadpool, but also to Cable, and if you want to catch up on this great duo, this is the place to start. I myself could not find any negative points, and that means that the score I am going to give will not be much of a surprise.

I give this book a 10 out of 10 score.

Homeland Season 5, American Tv series (2015)

Television these days is all about the ratings. It is a brutal climate that sometimes causes your favorite tv shows to be cancelled without notice. This can be very frustrating for fans of a good show, especially if they end it on a cliffhanger with no hope whatsoever of ever coming back. For a television show to last well past a first season these days truly is an accomplishment. Homeland will start it’s sixth season next year, and has even been extended for a seventh and eight season. Which is truly amazing, especially seeing as to how this show has changed over the past few years. Having just finished season five, all I can say is if it maintains this level of quality, bring it on!

Season five takes place two years after the events of the last season. A lot of things have changed in the life of Carrie Mathison. Now living in Germany, she has started a new life in the hope of never having to deal with the horrors she has been through in her previous one. However, it is not long before she gets pulled back in, as there are certain things you just can’t avoid even how much you would like to. Saul, in the meantime has his own problems to deal with back at the C.I.A. With a database hacked in a Berlin field office, some crucial and highly sensitive documents have been released to the public. This eventually will threaten the entire national security. With a terrorist attack imminent in Berlin, the paths of Saul and Carrie eventually cross again. However, the level of mistrust between the two is big, and the question soon becomes if they can overcome their differences in time to stop the threat…

This season of Homeland has a very dark atmosphere. Starting with the first episode you feel a sense of doom creeping up on you, and it does not release you until the very end.  The start of the season is a bit slow, and with the many changes that have occurred, you might have trouble with keeping up on what has happened. Stick with it though, as this season truly reinvents the term “Bingewatching”. I dare you to not finish this season in less than three days. It is really that good. I do have to say that this season at times felt more than a season of 24, than Homeland. Is that a bad thing? Well certainly not for me, as 24 is one of my alltime favorite shows. Some people might be upset by it however, as Homeland has truly changed from what it was in the earlier seasons. The driving force behind this show is still Carrie Mathison though, and as always she is played brilliantly by Claire Danes. I can’t help but wonder where they are going to take the story in season six, as this season felt like the closing of yet another chapter in the life of Carrie. Whatever they come up with, I will be there regardless.

I give season five of Homeland a 9 out of 10 score.

The Forest, American Movie (2016)

I can still remember the first time I saw the original Japanese version of the Ring. (Or Ringu if you prefer). It truly scared the living daylights out of me, and to date I still find it one of the best horror movies I have ever seen. It also proved that the Japanese can create an intense and utterly creepy atmosphere with very little means. Although the American version is in no way a bad movie, it just failed to create the same scary vibe I had when I watched the original. This year we have an American horrormovie set in Japan called the Forest. Does it have the ingredients to make us jump out of our seats?

The Forest tells the tale of the  American girl Sara, who gets a call from the police in Tokyo, telling her that her twin sister Jess has gone missing. The place where she was last seen was entering the Aokigahara forest better known as the suicide forest. Sara does not hesitate for one second and takes a plane to Japan in order to find her sister. After a long journey she finally arrives at the entrance to the forest. It is there she meets a stranger who introduces himself as Aiden. Being a journalist Aiden is fascinated by the story Sara tells of her sister, and he agrees to help her. Together they enter the forest in search of Jess. When darkness is beginning to fall it begins to become apparent that Aokigahara forest is no ordinary forest. What begins as a search soon becomes a struggle for survival.

The interesting thing about this movie is that Aokigahara forest exists for real, and is truly a place where a lot of people have committed suicide. I had first heard of this place in the novel the Three written by Sarah Lotz. (If you haven’t already: read it, it is a truly interesting and frightening book). As such this movie had my interest when I first saw the trailer for it. This film manages to create a pretty creepy atmosphere throughout it’s runtime. Apart from a few scenes it does not become really scary though, and that is a bit of a shame. The acting is very decent and both Natalie Dormer and Taylor Kinney play their roles convincingly. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and did not manage to bring the movie to a satisfying conclusion. This wasn’t a truly bad movie, and the setting in Japan as well as the overall atmosphere, still make for an okay watch. And that is especially the case if you have an interest in Japanese mystic folklore. Don’t expect too much from it though.

I give The Forest a 6 out of 10 score.

From Dusk Till Dawn Season 1, American tv series (2014)

It sometimes amazes me how much television series have changed over the years. I remember way back in the nineties I used to watch the television series of Highlander, which continued the story of the movie of the same name. Highlander featured Immortals that fought against each other until there would be only one of them left. The only way they could kill one another was by cutting of each other’s heads. In the movie we saw the heads roll, but in the tv series the camera always cut away just before the killing blow. It was ofcourse deemed to violent to show on television. And now we have shows like the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones which take violence and gore up to a completely new level. We can add another show to this list now, with the arrival of the tv version of From Dusk Till Dawn.

Seth Gecko is a violent bankrobber who has just escaped from prison aided by his brother Richie. On the run and pursued by the relentless Texas Ranger Gonzalez, they soon encounter the Fuller family. Jacob Fuller is a priest who has lost his faith and has taken his two children on a roadtrip with a motorhome, to start a new life. However as soon as they cross paths with the Gecko brothers they become kidnap victims, and are forced to take them across the border to Mexico. Seth is beginning to realise that Richie is not the brother who he used to know. As Richie begins acting ever more strangely, they eventually seek refuge in a seedy strip bar. This refuge soon becomes a nightmare though, as beings appear that seem to have come straight from hell. The battle for survival begins…

A show based on a succesful movie, always has some large shoes to fill. From Dusk Till Dawn was ofcourse a cult hit, and starred a young George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino. This series takes the story of the film, and retells it over the course of ten fortyfive minute episodes. What is a good thing is that the original director of the movie, Robert Rodriguez is also the mind behind this television show. The first few episodes of the series did not really do it for me. We are introduced to the characters, get some of their backgrounds, but basically the story plots along without really getting interesting. It pays off to keep watching though, as the show truly does get better further along. It all explodes in episode 7, the best episode of the season. This show is definitely not for you if you faint at the sight of blood and gore, as this series features plenty of it, especially in the later episodes. The cast is pretty good, especially Robert Patrick in the role of the wayward priest Jacob Fuller. Apart from the first few episodes I quite enjoyed this series, and I wonder where they are going to take the story heading into season 2. If you are a fan of the original movie, this series might be worth checking out.

I give From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,  a 7 out of 10 score.

The Boy, Canadian/American Movie (2016)

Throughout the years there have been many horror movies about dolls and supernatural spirits. The most noteworthy of these are ofcourse the Child’s Play movies, and more recently Annabelle. In Child’s Play it was the doll Chucky that gave us a few scares ( Well in the first movie at least, it all went in a completely insane direction as more sequels were made). Child’s Play definitely featured some gory moments, where Annabelle gaves us more subtle scares. This year we have the Boy, which is also featuring a creepy looking doll, although that is where the comparisons end.

The American girl Greta Evans has come to England to take on a job as a nanny. Arriving at a big English mansion, she meets an elderly couple who take her to meet the boy she is supposed to take care of. To her big surprise the boy in question is a porcelain doll. At first she laughs at the absurdity of it all, but when the couple appear to be dead serious about it, she finally accepts the job. The elderly pair give her a strict set of rules to follow in taking care of Brahms, the name they have given to the doll. When Greta is left alone with Brahms she begins to relax, and leaves the doll pretty much to himself. But when not following the rules, all of a sudden strange things begin to happen around the house. Soon Greta realises that Brahms is not an ordinary doll….

The Boy is a bit hard to classify. It is a horror movie, but more in the style of a thriller. The movie starts off a bit slowly, but I do think it works in this case. Greta is being played by Lauren Cohan, who most people will know as Maggie from the Walking Dead. She plays a very different role here, but it suits her and she plays it in a convincing way. The twist at the end of the movie is done quite well, and I for one did not see it coming. This movie was okay. It will not become a classic in my opinion, but there is enough in it to keep you entertained. Whether or not you will like it will depend on the style of horror movies you are used to. If you like them gory with lots of blood, then you can pass on this one. But if you like slow burning movies with some creepy jump out of your seat scares, you might want to try this one out.

I give the Boy a 7 out of 10 score.

Michels Book/Boardgame/Movie review Blog

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