BREAKING: U.S. show of force against N. Korea after latest missile test.

The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The U.S. also said it conducted a successful test of a missile defense system located in Alaska.

The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they performed a low-pass over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.

The United States often sends powerful warplanes in times of heightened tensions with North Korea. B-1 bombers have been sent to South Korea for flyovers several times this year in response to the North’s banned missile tests, and also following the death of a U.S. college student last month after he was released by North Korea in a coma.

REVIEW: No Country for Old Men

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By COLLIN MAINES

 

In 2007, The Coen Brothers released what many people consider their masterpiece.

No Country For Old Men was nominated for eight Academy Awards; it won four of them including Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, and Director. Starring an ensemble cast including Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Kelley Macdonald, and Woody Harrelson; No Country For Old Men has stood the test of time and ten years later is still considered a classic. It follows a Texas Vietnam veteran in the desert of Texas in the 80’s being pursued by a ruthless killer after finding two million dollars in drug money. This film is a classic cat and mouse thriller and is the Coen brother’s most violent film.

 

The Coen Brothers will go down in film history as one of the greatest directing duos that cinema has ever seen. I have yet to see a Coen brother’s movie that I disliked. Much like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarintino, Wes Anderson, and David Fincher; the brothers have their own form of style and writing. The thing I personally like most about the brothers and the directors I listed above, they are able to get the best performances out of their cast.

 

The cast of this film gave stand out performances, with Bardem’s performance as the ruthless Anton Chigurh being the films biggest stand out. Still the rest of the cast give fantastic performances that should not be forgotten. There are times when casting or a role is tailored made for an actor.

 

The Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones and this is a perfect example of a role that was tailored made for an actor. This is my personal favorite of all of Tommy Lee Jones’s performances that I have watched. Jones’s Sheriff Bell is very similar in many ways to Paul Newman’s John Rooney in Road to Perdition. Bell is an old man who has been at his job for way too long. Jones gives a moving, yet somehow funny portrayal of a man’s confusion and exasperation in face of a violent world. He plays into the role a bit as Bell is almost like as one reviewer put it an “Andy Griffith” type figure stuck in this dark story. The film and Jones leave Bell on a cliffhanger, an appropriate ending for the character.

 

Javier Bardem portrays Anton Chigurh, for his performance he was awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and it is not hard to see why. Bardem turns this weirdo with the world’s worst haircut into an unstoppable ruthless killing machine. The way Bardem portrays Chigurh is almost inhuman. A hitman with few words and yet every time he spoke, the audience listened!

This is a performance that could have been over the top or one dimension, but Bardem manages to avoid this by adding a good amount of subtle dark humor to his performance as well.  Everything about Chigurh is odd, the way he walks, talks and acts towards people. What I find is particularly strong in his performance are his few moments where he shows more to Chigurh, as well as when Chigurh acts “normal”.

There are small moments that show Chigurh enjoying what he does a little bit, I particularly like for example when he sees one of his old acquaintances (Woody Harrleson’s character). Bardem manages to both create a chilling psychopath with a seemingly unlimited ability to create a reaction in the viewer, as well as turn Chigurh into simply a fascinating mystery as well. When people look back at fantastic movie villains, Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh will be in that category. After ten years, people still look at this performance with fascination.

 

Josh Brolin portrays Llewellyn Moss, a Vietnam veteran and welder who stumbles upon two million dollars of drug money. Josh Brolin had been acting for many years before this, however I believe it was this film, along with Ridley Scott’s American Gangster that made people take notice of him.

Moss is the classic blue-collar worker who works hard but gets little in return. Moss, in many ways reminds me of a lot of people I know and work with. He is an everyday guy, working with his wife to make ends meet. When Moss comes across the two million dollars, Brolin is very subtle in showing the excitement that Moss has.

After he finds the money, you can hear the pride in his voice when he tells his wife (Kelly Macdonald) she can quit her job and to consider herself retired. Brolin makes Moss out to be a simple man who just wants his share of the good life. Personally I would have done the same exact thing and taken the money. I think Moss is a simple but effective character. There are hints through Brolin’s actions that suggest Moss’s military background. Mainly when avoiding or fighting off Bardem’s Chigurh. I feel his co-stars overshadowed him at times, but Brolin still turns in one of his best performances.

 

Kelly Macdonald plays Carla Jean Moss. Macdonald is one of those actresses that I have never seen give a bad performance. Here she plays Carla Jean Moss, Josh Brolin’s wife. Macdonald is fantastic in the part and there is a sense between the two actors that a once loving marriage has been beaten down by life. Even though she doesn’t fully show the love, there was never a doubt that Carla Jean did not truly love and trust her husband. Her best scene comes at the end of the film when her husband’s killer, Anton Chigurh, confronts her. By this time Carla Jean has lost her husband, mother, and is up to her neck in financial debt.

Chigurgh gives her a chance to live by flipping coin. This is where the audience truly sees who Carla Jean is. She denies the coin flip and for a brief moment stuns Bradem’s Chigurgh. She says the choice is yours and not the coins. By the end of the film we see a woman who doesn’t want to die, but also has nothing left to lose. What happens to her is left ambiguous, but it is heavily hinted on what her fate was.

 

Woody Harrelson plays Carson Wells, a bounty hunter who is hired to find the same money that Chigurh is trying to find. When I first saw this film, I had no idea Woody Harrelson was even apart of it. I was however shocked by how quickly he entered and exited the film. Watchmojo.com has stated in one of their videos that they think “Harrelson’s Wells is underdeveloped.” I agree and disagree with this statement.

Personally I would have loved a little more back-story about the character but yet with so many good characters already, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Harrelson does make the most of his limited screen time and at first comes of cocky and a little to confident. That all changes real fast when Wells is confronted by Chigurh. All the confidence and charisma suddenly disappears. This is a wonderful scene between two brilliant actors.

It is in this moment you truly see who Wells really is. This moment adds a lot of character, not only to Wells, but to Bardem’s Chigurh and it makes him that much scarier. Chigurh sits there like someone playing with their food before they eat, terrifying.

 

Overall: This film is a classic. A fantastic story faithfully adapted by two of the greatest directors/writers in Hollywood. This is my favorite of the Coen brothers filmography and if anyone has the opportunity to sit down and watch this film, you will not regret it. It was one of those times that the right source material, directors/writers, and actors fell right into place. Please go and watch this film. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Review: DARK NIGHTS: METAL, is the hype legitimate?

20424610_816945665138657_1023196076_o    By RUSSELL BERGER

 

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Art by Greg Capullo

There was one truly irrefutable truth out of DC Comics’ reboot – the “NEW 52” – roughly seven years ago, which was that the BATMAN title written by Scott Snyder and penciled by Greg Capullo was the benchmark for comics. No matter if it were DC, Marvel, Image or Dark Horse. If you were writing or drawing a comic it was measured up to BATMAN. The duo did roughly fifty-one (give or take a few) issues together, and it will surely stand the test of time.

 

Now flash forward to DC’s “DC REBIRTH,” which many took to be another reboot despite DC themselves advertising it as “not a reboot,” where they brought back aspects of characters that were lost during the NEW 52 and even lost characters like Wally West/Kid Flash. This “awakening” injected hope and optimism back into the DC Universe, which many fans had felt was a bit lost back in 2011. The line of books has been selling wonderfully, and you can see the change in titles like GREEN ARROW (by Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra,) SUPER SONS (by Peter J. Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez) and HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS (by Robert Venditti, Ethan Van Sciver and Rafa Sandoval.)

 

Despite Scott Snyder remaining with DC through REBIRTH writing ALL-STAR BATMAN, Greg Capullo left to do an amazing book with Mark Millar out of Image Comics called REBORN. The lack of the “Commander-and-Chief” of the “Capullo Army” – what he calls his fans – through the first year of REBIRTH gave a feel of something missing in the DCU. His art had always pumped DC’s line to another level. It also seemed from solely an observation as a fan that his hard work ethic and next level art pushed other artists working at DC to give every issue they did their A-game.

 

Then, like the sun’s bright rays shining through the clouds after a bad storm, DC announced their upcoming event… DARK NIGHTS: METAL. A massive event, which the main attraction of was putting back together the band, the OG BATMAN team, of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

 

The event would start with some lead-in issues – one-shots – DARK DAYS: THE FORGE and DARK DAYS: THE CASTING. These two one-shots’ purpose was to be a “hype train,” and they did it beautifully as THE FORGE gave us the basic set up by focusing on Hawkman, Hal Jordan, Duke/The Signal and a surprising character… the Joker. Then with “THE CASTING” we got our first glimpse at what foes our heroes would be facing in METAL.

 

Now, the question out of THE CASTING was, “is the hype that is ‘DARK NIGHTS: METAL’ legitimate?” The answer is undoubtedly YES. Over SDCC we were given our first look at six of the seven “Dark Knights” (a.k.a. “Knightmare Batmen,”) and boy-oh-boy did they seal the deal that everyone should be picking up DARK NIGHTS: METAL.

 

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Art by Riccardo Federici

In the above picture we see the “Dark Knights” who are (from left to right) the Murder Machine, the Red Death, the Devastator, the Merciless, the Drowned and the Dawnbreaker. Now, many would say that a badass drawing isn’t enough to say that the hype a comic book company is building behind its product makes it legitimate, and usually that’s accurate, BUT here is a different story.

 

Most of the time when a comic company starts to build an immense amount of hype, and they release the “hype train” it fizzles out in the second issue. Here, we’ve technically had the second issue – THE CASTING – and it was an overall great issue. It answered questions from THE FORGE while also giving us a million more. But if one needed more proof that METAL’s hype is legitimately deserved, look back when DC did “Futures End.” They did a weekly series for it, and a September full of one-shots that “showed us what the DCU was to look like in 5-years.” No sooner that was over, they ditched it. Here, DC is giving us a whole line of comics that spawn out of METAL.

 

DC DARK MATTER” is the final installment and the very product to live on in the DCU after METAL is over. The line consisting of six titles by amazing creative teams: SIDEWAYS (by Dan Didio, Justin Jordan and Kenneth Rocafort,) THE SILENCER (by Dan Abnett and John Romita Jr.,) IMMORTAL MEN (by James Tynion IV and Jim Lee,) DAMAGE (by Robert Venditti and Tony S. Daniel,) NEW CHALLANGERS (by Scott Snyder and Andy Kubert) and lastly but not least THE TERRIFICS (by Jeff Lemire and Ivan Reis.)

 

Being a reader of comics for nearly 20-years, I believe that when a company pulls together some of the currently greatest names in comics like Greg Capullo, Jeff Lemire, Robert Venditti and Justin Jordan, you have to feel that what they’re doing is going to be amazing. That what is coming will definitely raise the bar at least five notches from where they’ve been raising it since the NEW 52 and REBIRTH. And I believe with one hundred percent certainty that DARK NIGHTS: METAL’s hype is definitely legitimate.

 

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1 will be out on a shelf in a comic shop nearest you August 16th.

Review: The long awaited SDCC Justice League Exclusive Trailer

20424610_816945665138657_1023196076_o   By RUSSELL BERGER

 

For well over two decades we’ve had the likes of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy,” Joss Whedon’s “Avengers,” the Russo brother’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman,” and of course Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” All amazing movies, and of course in my comic book geek opinion, some leaps and bounds better than others, but there’s been one movie that everyone (no matter where you line up on the comic book spectrum) who loves comic books has been waiting for… Justice League.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

Zack teased us to it back during the filming of “Batman v Superman” when he released the first photo of Jason Momoa as Aquaman – or as we fans like to call him, Aquamomoa – with the caption, “Unite the Seven.” Then, during the movie with Diana watching video files from a flash drive Bruce had used to steal information from Lex. The video files showing Barry Allen/Flash stopping a robbery, Arthur Curry/Aquaman attacking an underwater drone, Vic Stone being saved and “born again” as Cyborg, and even Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in a photo that ties directly into the “Wonder Woman” movie.

Now sure, we had a Justice League trailer already, and as amazing as it was, it was out done by the one we just got at San Diego Comic Con 2017. You could say the heartbreaking story involving Zack and his family played into it, or the grandeur of SDCC, but in my opinion (and many others) it was that they truly out did themselves on delivering an amazing trailer.

WATCH THE FIRST TRAILER HERE

The trailer starts with a group of mercenaries from what I can gather, and plays very vague to who they are as it only shows waist high angles and back shots. No music. Just the sound of their footsteps on the marble floor, and the terrified screams of those they’re seemingly taking hostage. This build up a bit of suspense in the manner of wondering whom they would show us first, and then busting in to “save the day” to an instrumental version of “We come together” from the first trailer is Wonder Woman. She’s elegant and powerful just as in her solo movie, and we’re off. It’s a great start. Zack strategically started it off with a bang, and played to the recent success of the “Wonder Woman” movie, which in my opinion was very smart.

The action of that scene was then countered by a bit of organic comedy when it cuts to a scene showing Diana working on a sculpture. “What did you do this weekend, Diana,” which she answered in a nonchalant manner that seemingly blew it off, “Me? Nothing very interesting.” Moments like these are why I love the DCEU so much, and why Zack knows how to craft such a great movie. It plays like real life. Not forcing anything, and allowing the situation to unfold as if Gal’s Diana is a real person who answers like only she would.

Something that flows through the veins of the trailer is that this is a post-Superman world. Batman has been missing, which we can assume is from him searching for the other supers who will be apart of the League. The world seems hopeless. A line that echoed that was, “the world remains in morning after the death of the Superman,” and you can see, and feel, that his sacrifice is what’s going to be driving our Leaguers.

The trailer kicks up a notch, as we come upon Themyscira; the magically hidden island of the Amazons. We hear Queen Hippolyta saying, “Something is coming,” and then BOOM! A boom tube – a portal used to get from one location to another via a Mother Box – opens up from the Mother Box the Amazons had captured during the world’s first scuffle with Apokolips. When I say I’ve been waiting most of my life for a moment to accurately and perfectly capture the comics I love, this was it. From the boom tube comes the commanding general of the Parademon hordes, Steppenwolf.

 

He’s magnificent. And he’s a monster in size. Though the shot of him is brief, we get a glimpse of his iconic helmet and what his armor is like.

 

Now comes the narration by who everyone is thinking is Steppenwolf, but in my opinion, I think it’s Darkseid, the God of Apokolips. “No protectors here,” the deep and gravely voice ominously notes over shots of Aquaman underwater, Diana in Paris, Cyborg looking up through a broken window and Bruce analyzing a hologram of what appears to be Superman, “no LANTERNS, no Kryptonian.” Now, to me, that is an obvious foreshadowing of what’s to come. For that observation to be proven wrong when push comes to shove, as Superman rises and we’re introduced to my favorite character of all time, Hal Jordan (a.k.a. the greatest Lantern of them all.)

Again, we’re given a moment of comedy to even out the dark grittiness as Alfred points out the good ol’ days to Bruce, “this is the days when one’s biggest concerns were exploding wind-up penguins.” Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is singlehandedly the best we’ve seen (no offense to Michael Caine,) and his sassiness just plays so well to Ben Affleck’s quite serious (and comic accurate) Bruce Wayne/Batman. That line also does well what DC does the best, Easter eggs. It teases Penguin, one of Batman’s most constant rogues and one I hope to see in a future Batman solo.

We then get various shots of the Leaguers, and one of Steppenwolf on a ship with Parademons flying around. It’s systematically setting up that he is in fact the big bad that they’re going to fight, and need to fight as one, which is echoed by Wonder Woman telling the four others, “Don’t engage alone. We’ll do this together.”

Then in a single moment they show us a sense of true fear at what is upon them, as we hear Flash tell Batman, “It’s really cool you guys seem ready to do battle and stuff, but I’ve never done battle,” and you can hear the uncomfortable sense of realization in his voice, the fear. They break that up, though, in true Flash fashion by having him make a quip like you’d expect to see in the comics, “I’ve just pushed some people and run away.”

 

That’s something that the DCEU has been doing in spades, capturing their characters to the “t” as their respective actor portraying them seems to truly embody the character whether it was Michael Shannon as General Dru-Zod or Ezra Miller as the “Scarlett Speedster.” They hit it out of the park.

The trailer then kicks it into another gear as we’ve given truly phenomenal shots of Steppenwolf battling our characters. Cyborg controlling a “Bat” robot as he’s bombarded, Wonder Woman parrying the general and even knocking him back with a similar tactic she used in “Batman v Superman” to thwart Doomsday, Aquaman again underwater but now dodging Steppenwolf’s axe and all to Bruce saying, “Superman was a beacon to the world, he didn’t just save people, he made them see the best parts of themselves.” It’s as I had said before, that what’s fueling the Leaguers is what he and his sacrifice stood for.

Something that Zack has continued through his “trilogy” (“Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman” and “Justice League”) is the religious symbolism and imagery. We’re not let down here as we get a few glimpses of it in the form of Aquaman stopping a raging flood, representing what I can only imagine to be call back to THE flood. Then we see a tower that’s falling with the skies red, I took this to be two-pieces of biblical imagery with the tower representing the Tower of Babel, and the red skies being Matthew XVI: 2-3. I, from what I can remember, have never seen such amazing use of biblical imagery in a comic book movie except from Zack Snyder. He’s a master at giving us something beautiful, and layered deep with mind invoking imagery and story.

Wrapping up the trailer, we’re then given a montage of what seems to be the table turning a bit. They’re working together with Flash using his speed to help Wonder Woman catch her sword, the Amazons riding to war and taking out Parademon after Parademon, and Aquaman literally surfing one at free fall speeds through a building where he comes out like it was just a Tuesday to him. And then we see our five (of the seven) Leaguers on a rooftop in Gotham talking to Commissioner Gordon. “How many of you are there,” he asked with Batman answering him in yet what to me is blatantly another foreshadowing of Superman’s return and Hal’s introduction, “not enough,” and in classic Batman fashion, Gordon turns around to find Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg gone but Flash still there none the wiser. I know I’ve really hammered in the point of organic and to character comedy, but again that’s what we see with Flash instantly looking around to find the four gone, and he says before zipping off himself, “Oh wow, they just, they really just vanish, huh, oh that’s rude.”

And lastly, but not least is the ending and possibly most controversial part of the trailer. We’re brought in on Alfred as he’s working in the garage on the engine of Bruce’s DB Mark III. It’s quiet, and there’s what looks to be a full moon in the sky overhead. It’s overall a completely different tone from the rest of the trailer. Peaceful. But then, the glass of scotch that he’s surely drinking begins to tremble in a VERY “Jurassic Park” like manner, which catches and shifts his attention to an individual to his right. Now, here’s where the controversy comes in; half think that it’s Superman because you can make out what looks to be a red cape when you see the person’s silhouette and the other half think it’s Hal because in Alfred’s glasses there’s an emerald glowing dot like a Green Lantern’s Power Ring. My bias opinion is that it’s Hal, and I would love nothing more than it to be him, BUT taking into context Alfred’s line to the said individual, “He said you’d come. Now let’s HOPE you’re not too late.”

Superman’s whole character, and especially so in the DCEU, is predicated on “hope.” He had a line in “Man of Steel” when Lois had asked what the “S” on his chest stood for, and he told her, “It’s not an ‘S.’ On my world it means hope.” Now, if Alfred’s line was meant to play us into thinking it’s Superman and it does turn out to be Hal, I’ll be ecstatic, but if not, I’ll love seeing the “Man of Steel” return in fashion to help his brothers and sister in arms take down Steppenwolf.

This trailer to me was everything and more than what I was expecting. It gave a jolt of hope and optimism to the DCEU (doubling down on “Wonder Woman”) while keeping that base line of a dark and gritty reality based universe. I for one cannot wait for November 17th, and you can bet I’ll be one of the first in lines for tickets.

 

I give the SDCC “Justice League” trailer a 9.6 out of 10. One of the best comic book movie trailers I’ve ever seen.

 

After deadly attack, Islamic Committee still makes demands of security removal

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The Associated Press

A military wing of the Fatah movement, hold their weapons during a parade against Israeli arrangements in a contested Jerusalem shrine, along the streets of Gaza City, Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

By SIDNEY PERALTA

After placing cameras and railings in response to the deadly shooting of two police officers at a a contested shrine in Israel, the Supreme Islamic Committee is demanding the security measures be removed.

Head of the committee Ikrema Sabri has called for mass prayer protests until the metal railings, iron bridge and newly installed cameras are taken down at the Jewish Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. This comes after Israel had already removed metal detectors from the site which were installed to try and restore calm and a sense of safety.

According the Associated Press report, Sabri said that Muslims “will not enter the mosque until these things are implemented,” and that they are awaiting a response from the police.

Although the security measures were placed as a rational response to the tragic attack at the site, The Islamic Committee as well as other Palestinians saw it as an attempt to expand control over the site by Israel.

Israel was forced to respond and remove the original security measures after mass protest and civil unrest ensued, with members of the Muslim community clashing with those of the Jewish community that threatened to expand into conflict with other Muslim nations.

Israel installed the security cameras and railings instead as a compromise, but it was not enough for the Islamic Committee as they are demanding the cameras be taken down as well under the claim that Israel is seeking to take full control of the site, a claim that Israel has vehemently denied.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have doubled down on his measures of security, with instructions of thorough inspections at the site by Israeli police officers.

Netanyahu and Israel may find itself in a tough spot in the coming days as other Muslim nations and authorities chime in on the matter with all claiming the security measures as an attempt by Israel to take over the site.

According to the Associated Press, Israel’s foreign ministry responded by calling the comments delusional, baseless and distorted. They followed up by saying “The days of the Ottoman Empire are over. . . He who lives in a palace of glass would be better off not throwing stones.”

With Pence breaking tie; Obamacare set to be repealed

 

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By SIDNEY PERALTA

Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to open debate on repealing Obamacare, dramatically reviving an effort that many GOP lawmakers left for dead just a few days ago.

The vote is a huge political win and turnaround for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans who’ve promised for seven years to repeal Obamacare if voters gave them control of Congress and the White House.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), recently diagnosed with brain cancer, entered the chamber to a standing ovation and cast the 50th Republican vote. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski ofAlaska broke ranks to oppose the measure, forcing Vice President Mike Pence to break a 50-50 tie.

All Democrats opposed the measure. Underscoring the significance of the vote, many senators sat at their desks for the vote.

The vote is no guarantee that the fractured Republican caucuses can coalesce around a single health care plan. Now that debate has officially started, Republicans in the Senate lack 50 votes on a policy. Moderates oppose repealing Obamacare without a replacement, and conservatives don’t like the idea of significantly replacing it.

The leading idea now is to repeal only a small portion of the health law just to get a bill to a conference with the Senate.

After a series of votes on amendments, Republicans would aim to enact a bill repealing three parts of Obamacare: the individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax, according to Republican sources. It could be expanded or altered depending on where the bulk of the conference is.