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Precinct1313’s End Of The Decade Geekstravaganza

Well hi there fellow agents of Precinct1313, and welcome to the majestic mansion of mystery’s infamous Comic Crypts. I hope you didn’t have too much trouble finding your way down through the Precinct’s convoluted and ever changing hallways and chambers, that’s the problem with running a comic blog from a supernatural entity posing as a resplendent residence, oh and the fact that we are located at the edge of  existence also doesn’t help with navigation, as most Sat-Navs don’t appear to cover that… surprisingly!

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And yet here you all are, so welcome, to Precinct1313’s End Of The Decade Geekstravaganza! That’s right, the decade draws itself to a close and we’re here to steer you through some of our favourite geeky moments from the past ten years, so pull up a tombstone (these are the comic crypts after all) and let’s all relive our favourite things of the past decennium…

Our Favourite Comic-Book Series: Mister Miracle 

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Masters of the miraculous – Tom King and Mitch Gerads deserve every bit of praise thrown their way by their peers, critics and fans for this superlative series, a groundbreaking, emotional and touching 12 issue maxi-series that took one of DC and Jack Kirby’s most beloved second tier characters, and thrust him headlong into the deserving limelight. We wrote a review on this tenacious tome recently, so we shall leave you a handy dandy link right here .

Starfire 

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 Though we feel that Miracle was without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest Superhero story released since Watchmen (really!) we couldn’t leave this particular post without mentioning our other comic-book love from the past ten years – Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s tantalising and terrific take on our absolute favourite orange hued alien princess, sizzling Superheroine – Starfire! Conner and Palmiotti are a dynamic duo of some renown in the wonderful world of comic books, a husband and wife team with a wild and wacky sense of humour that light up any character they get their talented hands upon, from Power Girl to their award winning run on Harley Quinn, everything these terrific twosome touch is utter comic-book gold, especially their 2015 maxi-series -Starfire.

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Endlessly endearing and wonderfully witty, Starfire’s 2015 series is a gift that keeps on giving, Conner and Palmiotti (along with the series’ fantastic artist – Emanuela Lupacchino) have bestowed upon us humble comic fans, the greatest take on Tamaran’s lost Princess since she was first unleashed in 1980 by her superstar creators, George Perez and Marv Wolfman. An origin tale, a laugh out loud stranger in a strange place fable, Starfire is a beguiling and winsome take on a beloved DC character. Quite possibly the funniest and most captivating series from DC in many a year, the Precinct unequivocally recommends this touching and hilarious series.

(Favourite Comic-book series runners up – Doomsday Clock, Supergirl: Being Super, Wonder Woman: Rebirth)

Our Favourite Comic-Book Movie: Wonder Woman

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Can you believe it took seventy five years to finally get one of the most popular, significant and important fictional characters of all time onto the big screen, a primary reason for this according to some producers, directors, movie studios and overall decision makers (all of whom were talking nonsense, of course) was that a female led Superhero movie stood little chance of success… well, I’m pleased to say that those negative naysayers were completely wrong in their assertions, because Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s 2017 Wonder Woman movie most assuredly was an exquisite example of, not just a top tier translation of character to silver screen, but a film that also carried a compelling message of love, hope and empowerment.

Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins more than made up for Diana’s seventy five year cinema snub by giving us, not just a superlative and accurate representation of the Themysciran Titan, but also THE greatest Superhero movie of… all… time! 

(Favourite Superhero movie runners up – Batman v Superman, Aquaman, Shazam)

Our Favourite Comic-Book Artist: Amanda Conner

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I have been reading, collecting and immersing myself in comic-book worlds since the mere age of six, my first dalliance with a Superhero was the Batman, from there I went on to discover the thrilling tales of the Themysciran titan Wonder Woman and have, over the decades become a devoted stalwart of DC Comics. Not being content to just absorb these wonderful stories of heroism and emancipation, I was also always interested in the compelling creational process behind the formation of these thrilling and titanic tales, from the literary scripting and especially the wonderful artistic endeavours.

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From an early age some of my very favourite artists included such luminary delights as – Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Nicola Scott, Emanuela Lupacchino, Norm Breyfogle and Adam Hughes. Picking a favourite from these amounted to an impossibly herculean task… that is until I discovered the astonishing art of one Amanda Conner. From that point on anyone enquiring as to who my all time fave artist was would not be able to shut me up as I enthused and rhapsodised over her astounding artwork. Quirky, zany, fun and instantly recognisable, Amanda’s incredible artistic style (for me) stands head and shoulders above her peers.

(Favourite Comic-Book artist runners up – Emanuela Lupacchino, Stanley Lau, Nicola Scott)

Our Favourite Non DC Comics Movie:

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Mmmmm, now this is a difficult one, I mean sooooo many great movies have been released over the past ten years, how in the name of Zeus’ beard are we able to pick just one? We can’t, so here (in no particular order) are a few of our fave non DC Comics based films of the past decade…

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:

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A tremendous movie conversion of the classic French comic-book ‘Valerian and Laureline’ that was first published in 1967, created by the talented duo of Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres. Stunning effects, decent acting (though Clive Owen, who is usually great, was rather uninspiring in this one) and an engaging, wild and zany plot make this definitely one of our top fave films from the past ten years.

Alita: Battle Angel:

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Another comic-book classic given the silver screen treatment, Alita is originally a manga series created by the great Yukito Koshiro in 1990. A post apocalyptic, cyber-punk stylised story that was brought to vivid life at the talented hands of Robert Rodriguez.

Groundbreaking visual effects bring android Alita to the big screen through some jaw-dropping motion capture of the movie’s phenomenal lead actress – Rosa Salazar, who puts in an outstandingly impassioned performance, and with a back up cast that includes such thrilling thespians as Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Maershala Ali, and Jackie Earle Haley, Alita is more than deserving of your free time.

Franklyn:

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British cult movie ‘Franklyn’ is a genre defying delight, part superhero saga,  noir thriller, romance, and horror, it takes great pleasure in flouting any kind of atypical filmic categorisation.

Franklyn is a visually rich movie, set across the dual dystopian parallel dimensions of Meanwhile City and contemporary London. It is within these dark, ethereal realities that we encounter four protagonists, each a lost soul, and on an intertwined and fated path to ultimately affect each others lives, be that for good or ill.

Unfortunately, as is the case with a large number of movies emanating from the UK, Franklyn never achieved the audience or status that it truly deserved. With a standout cast that includes Eva Green, Bernard Hill, Sam Riley and Ryan Phillippe, Franklyn is a film the Precinct heartily recommends. We reviewed the movie at the time, so if you find your interest piqued, then a link to our review is right here  

(Non DC Comics movie runners up: Dredd, Halloween 2018, Super, Solomon Kane)

And there you have it, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, I mean we could go on, but then this post would end up novel length, and I only have so much time to get it published before the end of 2019! With that, may I just say a big thank you to all of the Precinct’s followers and readers for the likes, comments and visits to the site over the past five years, it really is so, so appreciated. Happy New Year to you all!!

Oh, and as ever… Make Mine DC!

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Modern British Cult Cinema: Franklyn

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Franklyn paints a portrait of four lost souls – Jonathan Preest, a masked vigilante who seeks revenge against the overseer of the religious regime of Meanwhile City. Manic depressive Emilia, who concocts suicidal art performances. Forlorn Milo, who is desperately searching for his one true love, and Peter, who is investigating the disappearance of his missing son, an ex military veteran. These four lives intertwined by fate across parallel worlds eventually collide, as a single bullet determines their destiny.

Cast: Eva Green, Ryan Phillippe, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill, Richard Coyle, James Faulkner. Script by: Gerald McMorrow. Directed by: Gerald McMorrow.

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Franklyn is a visually rich and stunning film set across the dystopian landscape of parallel dimensions, Meanwhile City and contemporary London. It is within these dark ethereal perspectives that we encounter our four protagonists, each lost within themselves, and on an intertwined and fated path to ultimately affect each others lives, for good or ill.

Ryan Phillippe plays Preest, a masked atheist vigilante who resides in the religiously fervent Meanwhile City, a multi-faith metropolis that encourages the practice of all forms of religious reverence… except atheism. Cults and sects proliferate the city, and Preest has tasked himself with rescuing the unfortunate souls who have been kidnapped and converted into their nefarious schism. But tonight, on the rain sodden streets of this dark conurbation, loomed over by miles of cathedrals and temples, Preest is planning his revenge on the city’s religious rapture.

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Eva Green gives up an emotionally charged performance as Amelia, a gothic art student who is eternally embedded in a state of manic depression, rage and sorrow. Repeatedly committing attempts of suicide, for what she constantly tells herself is just part of her art project for her course, but each venture into self-sacrifice becomes decidedly more and more risky.

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Bernard Hill plays Esser, a father agonising over the disappearance of his estranged son, an ex military vet with psychogenic problems, with our quartet of protagonists rounded out by Milo, played by Sam Riley, a previously jilted spouse, whose life is thrust into emotional turmoil by the reappearance of his former childhood sweetheart.

When these parallel worlds eventually collide, a prescient bullet will inextricably change the course of these four strangers, linking their disconsolate lives in a single moment of coherence.

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Franklyn is a haunting rhapsody of gothic imagery, fantastic performances from the lead actors and a nonpareil story that slowly weaves itself from from four distinctly separate storylines into one beguiling twist that brings together the protagonists of the film, changing them irrevocably. 

Gerald McMorrow adapts his own script with a promising debut as a director, beautifully shot around various boroughs of London, with a solid and talented cast, and especially noteworthy performances from Eva Green and Ryan Phillippe. Franklyn is an evocative dark fairytale that provides a fascinating journey into life, love and loss. Highly recommended.

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300: Rise Of An Empire – 2014 Review

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(Warner Bros, 2014)

Greek general Themistocles rallies his meagre Athenian forces to stem the tide of the encroaching Persian army, led by God-King Xerxes and the vengeful Artemisia, commander of the Persian navy.

Cast: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell. Director: Noam Murro. Writers: Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad (screenplay), Frank Miller (Graphic Novel “Xerxes”)

300: Rise Of An Empire, the sequel to Zack Snyder’s 2006 film “300” is an interesting beast, the events in this notable follow up take place before, during and after the events of the original film. In fact the storyline is so dramatically and cleverly interwoven, that it almost feels like it’s a chapter of the original film that was removed for time constraints. What helps propel this image is its amazing visual presence that mirrors its forebear in both, gloriously vivid comic-book inspired violence and overtly stylised graphic continuity, and also echoes masterfully, writer/artist Frank Miller’s original graphic novel “Xerxes”.

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The film opens at the legendary Battle of Marathon, which in continuity of the film franchise takes place ten years before the events of the original film. This battle is the catalyst of the upcoming war between the varying Greek city-states and the combined forces of the Persian army, with the heavily outnumbered Athenian shock troops taking the fight directly to the newly disembarked Persian soldiers, catching them off guard and securing an early victory for the Greeks.

During this engagement, Greek hero Themistocles, looses an arrow that will not only set the stage for Prince Xerxes transformation into the tyrannical God-King, but also his eventual march to gain ascendancy over the varying city-states of Greece. 

Themistocles at the Battle of Marathon

Themistocles at the Battle of Marathon

This opening battle sequence sets the precedence and tone for the rest of the film, but where Rise differs from its forebear is in its use of epic naval battles. With the heavily outnumbered but highly skilled and ingenious Athenian fleet, led by General Themistocles, meeting head on, the massive and overwhelming Persian armada controlled by the beautiful but malefic Artemisia, played wonderfully by actress Eva Green. Stunning and deadly, Artemisia takes centre stage as the protagonist of the film, and also the real power behind the throne held by Xerxes.

Epic sea battles abound

Epic sea battles abound

Themistocles is portrayed by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, and though he ultimately is not as memorable as Gerard Butler’s outstanding role as Leonidas in the original film, he still puts in an impassioned and engaging turn as the celebrated Athenian hero. Returning cast members include, Lena Headey, as Leonidas’ grieving widow Queen Gorgo, David Wenham as Spartan elite Dilios, and of course Rodrigo Santoro reprising his spectacular performance as the imposing God-King Xerxes.

Also returning to the franchise is original 300 director Zack Snyder, who shares credit with Kurt Johnstad for both the original screenplay, and as lead producer. Plus writer/artist, Frank Miller returns as executive producer and advisor.

Artemisia and her bodyguard of Immortals

Artemisia and her bodyguard of Immortals

Jam packed with amazing visuals, kinetic action sequences and ridiculously over the top, blood and gore, Rise of an Empire may not quite match its big brother in originality or acting splendour, what it does though is provide the viewer with a fantastically well produced sequel that is in equal measures, engaging, violent and epic in scale.

Special mention must go to the fantastic end credits, that mix the striking visual style of Frank Miller’s original graphic novel and a rousing end piece that is an almost perfect fusion of Black Sabbath’s War-Pig, and the films own main theme tune.

Spectacular end credits mimic artist Frank Miller's visual style perfectly

Spectacular end credits mimic artist Frank Miller’s visual style

Though not critically lauded, the film has a strong and fervent fan base (myself included) that are vocal in their defence of the underrated movie. Its initial opening weekend was successful, with the film regaining almost half of its original budget, and has gone on to surpass this via dvd and blue-ray sales. If you’re a fan of the original 300 but have been hesitant in watching this for fear of it being a poor sequel, dive on in, the film is highly recommended. Sublime visuals, good acting and hyper stylised, gloriously bloody battle sequences make for a fun popcorn movie that is infinitely rewatchable.

Precinct1313 Rating: 4 Hoplite Soldiers Out Of 5