Saturday, June 30, 2007

McClane is Back, Baby!

I've enjoyed the entire "Die Hard" series. Don't get me wrong, the first was a classic and created a whole new sub-genre of action movies. I also enjoyed both of the sequels. "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" wasn't as good as the original, but it was still a whole lot of fun. "Die Hard with a Vengeance" again wasn't as good as the original, but still entertained. I figured that "Live Free or Die Hard" would be about as good as the two sequels.

Boy, was I wrong. It was better! [Spoilers below]

The Good: Bruce Willis is John McClane. He's a little older, but tougher than ever. Maggie Q. as Mai Lihn is pretty lethal. That is, she's pretty and lethal. She puts a good butt-whooping on Willis. I loved how the movie sets up the characters, the situation and then BAM! it is off and running. The action sequences and stunts were great. Loved the wise-cracks. Really loved how McClane was relentless in telling Thomas Gabriel [Timothy Olyphant] that he was coming for him. I liked how they had a man of color in charge of the agency trying to catch the terrorists and there was never ANY question of his loyalty to our country. Kevin Smith's scenes didn't bother me, in fact I enjoyed them. Two scenes [mainly] were a bit over the top, but I accepted them... the jet scene where Willis jumps off the crumbling overpass onto the tail of the hovering fighter plane and then leaps to another section of overpass and slides aways from the explosion and the scene where Willis shoots through his own shoulder to kill the bad guy. Yeah. I know, but I ain't complaining!

The Bad: No complaints from me.

The Ugly: The terrorist who fell into the grinder -- but since this was PG-13 [which also didn't bother me],the death wasn't too ugly!

"Die Hard" rates an A+
"Die Hard 2: Die Harder" rates a B+
"Die Hard with a Vengeance" rates a B+
"Live Free or Die Hard" rates an A

Friday, June 29, 2007

"Shoot ' Em Up" X 3

The Latino Review scored three new posters for "Shoot 'Em Up" which premieres September 7th at a theater near year. Click HERE to cop a look.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Join the 300

Longtime ZONErs know how much I loved "300." It's hard to believe, but I first started talking it up "300" over 3 years ago. Of course I've been a Frank Miller fan for nearly 30 years and jumped on the Zack Snyder bandwagon after seeing his take on "Dawn of the Dead." I was sure that "300" was going to rock and I continued to talk it up more and more as we got closer to it's big screen release. Click HERE and you'll see what I mean.

The cool thing is that now you can help promote the dvd release of "300" and maybe win a trip to Comic-con or even a set visit to hang with Zack Snyder on the set of "Watchmen". How great is that?

For full details, just click HERE. SPARTANS, you'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A New Space

I never got into MySpace or FaceBook or any of those other sites, so it surprises me that I jumped on board at It's a site for folks that are interested in comic books, comic book art and just about anything else related to the art form. I've only been on it a couple of weeks, but I'm really enjoying it. If you have any interest in comics, you should check it out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Odds Are the Zombies Would Get Me!

Actually my survival odds are better than I would have guessed! What about yours?

Monday, June 25, 2007

AFI Ain't Got Nothing on CJZ

Last week The American Film Institute updated it's list of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time. I tried to avoid weighing in since everything except my top two choices are subject to change, but the temptation was too great not to at least sort out my top 25. Everything after my first and second choices are in alphabetical order. There are other films that would make my top 25, but I limited myself to the AFI's Top 100, so here it is...
  1. Rocky, 1976.
  2. The Wizard of Oz, 1939

  3. Ben-Hur, 1959
  4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969
  5. Casablanca, 1942
  6. Double Indemnity, 1944
  7. Dr. Strangelove, 1964
  8. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982
  9. Godfather, The 1972
  10. Godfather Part II, The 1974
  11. Jaws, 1975
  12. King Kong, 1933
  13. Maltese Falcon, The 1941
  14. North by Northwest, 1959
  15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975
  16. Pulp Fiction, 1994
  17. Raging Bull, 1980
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981
  19. Saving Private Ryan, 1998
  20. Searchers, The 1956
  21. Sixth Sense, The 1999
  22. Spartacus, 1960
  23. To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
  24. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The 1948
  25. Unforgiven, 1992

    Comments are welcome!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Heroes Con 07 Report

Heroes Con 2007 was a blast. Rather than go into a lengthy con report, I thought I'd post up some pictures and my thoughts. Hope you enjoy them half as much as I did the show...

This is the crew that I hung with for most of the weekend. Starting at the left and working around the table, my oldest son Mike, "The James", Raf Kayanan, John Beatty, Andrew Robinson, Matt, Lazenby and Hal. Getting together with these guys is always a blast. Raf, Beatty and Andrew were set up at the con next to each other [Bob McLeod, Derec Donovan and John Dell were also within reach] so it was a pretty hopping spot. Originally Dave Johnson was supposed to be set up in the same area, but unfortunately he couldn't make it this year.

That's Matt Fraction pictured above. He's about to autograph my copy of Last of the Independents which I highly recommend! It was my first time meeting Matt who also writes the popular Casanova comic series.

Rick Remender not only autographed my Doll and Creature graphic novel [review coming soon], but did an amazing piece for my Stallone gallery. I'll post it once it's scanned. Rick said that The Last Days of American Crime is in the works. I can't wait. Rick has so many irons in the fire with Fear Agent, Sea of Red, Strange Girl and more that I was starting to think that he'd never get to it.

Another first was meeting Kyle Baker. I'm a huge fan of Kyle's work. You Are Here is one of my all time favorite graphic novels. Kyle signed mine and told me his an idea for a sequel. I truly hope that someday he's able to do it. I also picked up Kyle Baker Cartoonist Volume 1 & Volume 2 and Nat Turner Volume 1 & Volume 2. I was also lucky enough to get a Rocky sketch from Kyle [which I'll post later]. Kyle Baker is an amazing talent and it was a pleasure meeting him.

One of the best parts of each Heroes Convention is watching artists create pieces for the auction. That's Craig Hamilton working on his "300" piece. Craig's an amazing artist who puts some much thought into everything he does. One of the cool things about Craig's painting is that it works both horizontally [as seen above] or vertically! Tony Harris worked on a wicked "Phantom of the Opera" piece, while Phil Noto brought Batman, Batgirl and Catwoman together as Andrew Robinson started "After the Parade" .

That's Gus Vasquez and his lil cousin Rosario Dawson. [Yeah, Rosario Dawson as in "Sin City", "Grindhouse", "Clerks 2", and a whole lot more!] Rosario and Gus were back as special guests of the show and also the auctioneers! They did a great job and a new record was set when Adam Hughes' Star Wars painting topped out at $5K!

It was so cool just to spend the weekend among friends, many of whom happen to be talented artists. Andrew Robinson definitely falls into both categories. The drawing above and this one are just two pieces that Andrew had created for his latest sketchbook. I was also lucky to see an advance copy of Andrew's new art book that will be coming from Alberto Ruiz's Brandstudio Press. Andrew's book is going to be a hot seller and I can't wait to get my copy!

Raf and Alberto spoke and Raf may have an "art of" book coming soon. I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of any of the sketches Raf produced. I was just too in awe of his work since it had been so many years since I'd been able to sit and watch him draw. I did get this shot and this one of two Punisher sketches that Beatty worked up for some lucky fans.

I guess I was just too busy actually talking to friends [Gary McKee, Jason Walker, and Eric Layton to name just three] and saying "hi" to artists [Jeff Parker, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner, Adam & Alison, Casey Jones, Cliff Chang, Tommy Lee Edwards and so many others] that I didn't take many pictures. I promise I'll do better next year... but please understand, no one does it as well as Pat Sun.

I was able to get some great additions to for my Stallone sketch collection. That's Mike Wieringo pictured above. Mike's blog is regular reading for me, not only because of his great sketches, but because of his thoughts about each sketch. When I contacted him about a Rocky sketch he posted after seeing "Rocky Balboa", he said I could pick it up at Heroes. Mike was also selling a sketchbook and with each book purchased fans got a free sketch. Talk about a great deal! I picked up a sketchbook and got Mike's take on Jack Carter as a bonus. [I'll post it soon.]

In addition to the two sketches I got from Mike Wieringo, I also was able to get one each from Rick Remender and Kyle Baker. Andrew Robinson did a cool Rocky for me before arriving at the show. So did Andy Smith. Megan Ruiz [Alberto's daughter -- a true prodigy] came through with Rambo. I also was able to get on Robin Mitchell's sketch list and come home with The Art of Robin Mitchell, Volume 1 and his take on Cosmo Carboni from Paradise Alley. I'll post all of these sketches once I get them scanned.

If you've made it with me this far, then you know a good time was had by all. Thank you and good night!

Ultimate Fighter & Kimbo

Last night The Ultimate Fighter Finale took place. There were several very good fights including Manny Gamburyan Vs. Nathan Diaz for the "title" and Jens Pulver fighting BJ Penn to settle an old score. Before we look at those fights, let's check out the under card.

Cole Miller easily beat Andy Wang by a TKO at 1:10 of the first round. Miller is one of those guys that doesn't look tough, but is.

Joe Lauzon is another kid who doesn't look tough, but he proved otherwise when he beat Brandon Melendez with a rear naked choke at 2:09 of the second round.

Although Doug Evans seemed to easily win the first round, Roger Huerta won by a TKO in the second.

In the most controversial fight of the night, Gray Maynard and Rob Emerson's bout was labeled a "No Contest". Maynard dominated the first round and looked to end things in the second when he picked Emerson up and slammed him to the mat. Emerson was already in pain and the slam was sure to end it. When they hit the mat, Emerson tapped and the fight was over... except for the decision... which was ruled a no contest. Here's why: when Maynard drove Emerson to the mat, he also slammed his own head into it and knocked himself out! The decision was that since neither man was able to continue, the fight was ruled a "No Contest".

In a post fight interview Maynard tried to argue that he wasn't out, but simply tired. This was patently NOT THE CASE. Maynard was knocked senseless by his own slam and to argue otherwise [especially as the video of him with his eyes rolled back and then waking up and trying to raise up but instead falling over] was ridiculous. I do think that an argument could be made that since Emerson tapped before it was clear that Maynard was out, he should have won. Maynard was dominating and had he not knocked himself out would have won.

Manny Gamburyan Vs. Nathan Diaz was somewhat anti-climatic. Gamburyan won the first round despite repeated efforts by Diaz to gain a submission. The second round ended abruptly when Gamburyan shot in for a takedown and dislocated his own shoulder! [At least he didn't knock himself out.] Diaz was awarded the "title" of the Ultimate Fighter for season five and a six figure contract with the UFC.

The final fight of the night was Penn vs Pulver. Penn had won in their previous meeting five years ago. There had been bad blood between them since. That all ended when BJ Penn submitted Pulver with a rear naked choke at 3:12 of the second round. Both Penn and Pulver congratulated each other on a tough fight and even agreed to work together in the future. I was glad to see that their feud had ended. I like both of these guys and couldn't decide who I would pull for. Ultimately, I like that Penn won and things were settled.

Season Six of the Ultimate Fighter is set to have Matt Serra and Matt Hughes as opposing coaches and we can be sure that they'll fight in the finale.

In other MMA news: last night Kimbo Slice easily won his mixed martial arts debut against 46-year old former heavyweight boxing champion Ray Mercer. Kimbo submittd Mercer with a guillotine at 1:12 into the first round. Kimbo then issued a post fight challenge to "Tank" Abbott to fight on September 14th. Kimbo is best known for his extremely popular "underground" fights that began appearing on You-Tube. It will be interesting to see how Kimbo does when he meets an real MMA fighter.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Simmons Doesn't Kiss Up

Although I wouldn't call The Henry Rollins Show a favorite, I do find myself occasionally tuning in to listen to his rants and his guests. Rollins is extremely opinionated and vocal. The episode today, which featured Gene Simmons of Kiss was particularly interesting because Rollins and Simmons came off as polar opposites.

Rollins gives off a working class vibe. Each week he is dressed in t-shirt and jeans and his set has the abandoned warehouse look. It's obvious that Rollins cultivates the "I'm just an everyman" appeal. Simmons on the other hand, never backed away from how rich he is and that he doesn't care about how Kiss is perceived. He was cocky, but honest in all of his responses. When Rollins questioned him about how Kiss has merchandised everything from Visa cards to caskets, Simmons stopped him short with his response. Simmons said that ALL bands sell t-shirts and once you cross that line into merchandising it's no longer about the music. It's about making a few extra bucks. So why do people get upset that Kiss has optimized their merchandising power? LOL!

Now I'm not a Gene Simmons or Kiss fan [although I did like their song "Beth"], but I have to admit that I found Simmons and his "this is who I really am attitude" interesting. I know that Simmons has his own show on A&E and I'm not intrigued enough to start tuning in. I just wanted to give him props for his honest answers and not "kissing up" or coming across as another "everyman."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Meet Ed Brubaker

I recently discovered Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. I loved their work on Criminal: Coward. Their second story arc, Criminal: Lawless is on pace to be just as good if not better! I'm also digging their work on Sleeper [more about that soon]. Until then, here's an interview with Ed Brubaker thanks to the good folks at

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Talkin' Up "Shoot 'Em Up"

Two years ago I first mentioned how cool "Shoot 'Em Up" sounded. Then last November advance word said it was definitely a great ride! These folks confirmed it. Now, thanks to Ain't It Cool News we get to hear directly from Michael Davis, the writer and director of "Shoot "Em Up".

Trouble is Their Business

Variety has announced that Frank Miller is set to adapt Raymond Chandler's "Trouble Is My Business" for the big screen with Clive Owen taking on the starring role of Phillip Marlowe. The hope is that this will kick off a series of films with Owen returning in each as the classic PI.

Miller and Owen worked together on "Sin City" and so their re-teaming seems a natural. Owen was quoted as saying: "Frank Miller knows more about noir than anyone I have ever met, and clearly the writing of Raymond Chandler has been an enormous influence on his life and his work. Miller adapting Chandler seemed like a perfect match." I couldn't agree more.

Back in the ZONE

Ah, it's good to be back home again from a well-needed family vacation. Part of the trip was spent at Heroes Con where I was able to hang with friends I see way too rarely, pick up some new Stallone sketches and relax. Heroes Con is always a great show and I'll post up my con report later this week... but now on to other blogworthy topics!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

That Cold Ain't the Weather

ZONErs are going to love this trailer. Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith's "30 Days of Night" looks like it's getting a worthy silver screen adaptation. I can't wait.

No Sleep for Nicole

I loved the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and enjoyed the 1978 re-make. From the looks of this trailer the latest take with Nicole Kidman will be a welcome addition.

HERE is Crimeland

Crimeland is a graphic novel by writers Felipe Ferreira & Ivan Brandon and artist Rafael Albuquerque that you might want to pick up. I'm putting in my order for a copy. If the story seems familiar it's because I first told you about the comic HERE and then HERE and even provided a link to a preview of the book HERE.

Friday, June 08, 2007

First the Poster & Now the Trailer

Yesterday we saw the poster and today we see the trailer. Looking better all the time!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Will Smith is NOT Alone

I usually enjoy Will Smith's movies. I definitely like the idea of him in "I am Legend." If the movie is a cool as this poster, we're in for a fun couple of hours.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up American Gangster

The trailers for "Shoot 'Em Up" and "American Gangster" became available today. Enjoy!

Jericho to Rise Again

It looks like CBS will bring back the recently canceled "Jericho" thanks to thousands of calls, messages and even shipments of nuts from fans of the show. "Jericho" fans arranged for a delivery of 50,000 pounds of peanuts to CBS's New York offices. In the season finale, a character replies "Nuts!" to a demand that the town of Jericho surrender or be slaughtered. Since the show was canceled, fans of the show joined together and created a concentrated effort to bring the show back. There efforts look to have paid off since a source close to the production has been quoted as saying a decision to bring the show back at least for a midseason run, is imminent.

So Chad, is it ok to stop calling shenanigans on CBS?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Rate Yourself

I know that all ZONErs are intelligent, perceptive and alert. Want to see just how intelligent, perceptive and alert you are? Watch the amazing color changing card trick and rate yourself!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Ringo's New Digs

Mike Wieringo's blog is a daily stop for me. Truth be told, I stop by his internet club house as much for his thoughts as his art [ok... maybe a bit more for his art... but just a bit]. Mike regularly posts up a daily sketch and his thoughts about it. You can never tell what will be Mike's inspiration. Sometimes it's a tv series, a movie or even something that he drew because no one would expect it from him. His rationale for the daily sketch is the icing on the cake. Drop by his newly redesigned and updated site, my guess is you'll bookmark it and be back often.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Carrie Meet Jessica

I don't have a lot of music posts on the ZONE because most of what I listen to is older stuff. I'm especially fond of 70's music, but my tastes run all over the board.

Today I'm linking to a popular video/song by Carrie Underwood. It's called "Before He Cheats." What's surprising to me is how enjoyable I find the song. It's not surprising because the song is country, it's surprising because the song is about an obsessed, vengeful, hard-drinking, law-breaking woman who is not only out for revenge, but gets it. Kind of reminds me of Jessica Walter from "Play Misty for Me." Still it is a catchy tune.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lost in Space Found

From time to time I enjoy surfing YouTube to see what gems I can find from my childhood. Today I present the opening to Lost in Space. I can remember being in first grade and Lost in Space was THE show to watch. The show might not hold up as well as I remember it, but I'd still take the Lost in Space robot over R2D2 and C3PO!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Heroes More Than Ever!

I'm always ready for Heroes. It's my favorite comic con of the year due to it's laid back atmosphere and the amount of talent that the show attracts. I didn't think that it would be easy for Shelton to top last year's guest list, but this year's is mighty impressive! And I just found out that Dave [100 Bullets] Johnson, Rafael [Conan] Kayanan, and Andrew [Dusty Star] Robinson will be sharing table space alongside my best bud, "Big" John Beatty.

Yeah, I'm always ready for Heroes... and now more than ever!