Title: Warrior

Directed by: Gavin O’Connor

Written by: Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman

Starring: Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Morrison

Studio: Lionsgate

Rating: ★★★★★

Review by: Bill Jones

By the end of most fight films, there is a well-defined “good guy” and a well-defined “bad guy.” We know who to root for; we know who we want to see win. We’ve seen the good underdog work to overcome the odds, and we’ve seen dubious deeds by his opponent, cementing him as the oppressing evil that must be stopped in its tracks. In Warrior, this is not the case. By the end, we don’t know who we want to see win. We don’t know who to root for. We can’t fathom what will happen if either man loses. Warrior is, by far, the most distinctive fight film I’ve ever seen.

To even call Warrior a “fight film” doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s a drama, through and through – crafted by Miracle director Gavin O’Connor – though it truly earns the fight genre as well, with absolutely engaging mixed martial arts fights, choreographed and filmed exceptionally well. But at the center of it all we have three characters that we grow to care about – characters who are introduced by the tip of the iceberg. We see these characters first on the surface, and then as Warrior rolls along we learn more about them, about the plights that have landed them where we are today, and by the time it all comes to a head we are fully invested in them, which is as much as any film can ask. (more…)


Title: Wolverine and the X-Men: Final Crisis Trilogy

Format: DVD

Written by: Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson, Chris Yost

Starring: Steve Blum, Jim Ward, Nolan North

Studio: Marvel Animation, Lionsgate

DVD Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Review by: Bill Jones

Lionsgate has strangely offered the first season of Wolverine and the X-Men in segments throughout this year and last, before finally offering a complete set. But the Final Crisis Trilogy – Vol. 6, containing the three-part “Foresight” story – goes to show why it’s not a great idea. One thing Wolverine and the X-Men handles extremely poorly is lead-ins from one episode to the next. The action simply continues to happen, and so to pick up this set after a break from the last is somewhat disconcerting. The plot features the X-Men battling to survive when The Inner Circle captures Jean Grey to harvest her Phoenix powers, while Magneto and Mystique launch a Sentinel attack on Genosha. Emma Frost is ambiguously caught in the middle of things, and Master Mold is using Professor Xavier in an attempt to execute all mutants in a mish-mash of stories taking place in two different time periods. It’s more confusing than fun, though the animation is solid, with audio commentary by Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson and Chris Yost doing more to be silly than offer any real info. The Final Crisis Trilogy is an example of too many cogs turning at once for its own good, and there’s no point in purchasing it out of the context of the rest of the season. (more…)


Title: Planet Hulk

Format: Blu-ray


Director: Sam Liu

Writers: Greg Johnson

Producer: Lionsgate, Marvel

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

Blu-ray Rating: ★★★★☆

Review by: Eric Stuckart

The Film

Based on Greg Pak’s graphic novel of the same name, Planet Hulk goes in a much different direction than most tales of the Incredible Hulk. Alter-ego Bruce Banner is nowhere to be found, for starters, and Hulk shows much more emotional depth than he has ever been known for. Another big difference is Hulk’s more tempered rage, as well as his ability to communicate. (more…)


On Thursday, April 15, 2010, Lionsgate held a red carpet premiere for Kick-Ass at AMC River East in Chicago, Ill. Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) and Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl) walked the carpet. Pads & Panels’ Tom Braaksma got a chance to ask them each a few questions. Bill Jones films and edits.


Thank You, Nic Cage, For Fucking Up Kick-Ass

By Bill Jones


May I have you attention please? Today’s regularly scheduled, even-handed, starred, professional review of Kick-Ass has been pre-empted by pure, unbridled nerd rage in a feature titled “Thank You, Nic Cage, For Fucking Up Kick-Ass (You Horrible Actor, You).” We had every intention of running a standard review today, but after last night’s red carpet premiere in Chicago, nerd rage ensued, and circumstances beyond our control have forced us to replace the scheduled programming. We apologize for the inconvenience, and suggest if you want to remain spoiler free on the movie or steer clear of this nerd rage, you cease to read at this point. Thank you for your understanding. (more…)


Title: The Invincible Iron Man

Format: DVD

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Directors: Frank D. Paur, Patrick Archibald, Jay Oliva

Writers: Avi Arad, Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle

Producer: Lionsgate

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

DVD Rating: ★★★½☆

Review by: Thomas Braaksma

The Film

Iron Man hasn’t always been the most popular character in Marvel’s repertoire. That is, of course, not until his mainstream success in 2008 with Jon Favreau’s live-action film Iron Man. But there are different versions of Tony Stark’s transformation than what most of the world have come to know from this blockbuster, and one of these versions is presented here in animation form as The Invincible Iron Man. (more…)


Title: Wolverine and the X-Men: Deadly Enemies (Vol. 2)

Format: DVD

Produced by: Marvel Animation and Lionsgate Entertainment

By: John Gustafson

The second volume to the piecemeal release schedule of Wolverine and the X-Men has arrived with five episodes continuing the animated tale.

Viewers would be wise to pick up the first volume before watching this release to have the framework of the plot explained and a proper understanding why Wolverine leads the team over Cyclops – which Pads & Panels detailed in the volume one write-up.

Episode #4, “Overflow,” harks back to Storm’s origin story with the Shadow King. Xavier contacts Wolverine from the future to warn him that Storm will lose control of herself and lay waste to the African continent, sending the team on a rescue mission. Emma Frost plays a large role in the episode, being the only member of the team able to fight the Shadow King’s astral realm form. The episode suffers from a “been there, seen that” nagging feeling due to past comics and shows covering this story before, with little variety to make it fresh. (more…)


Title: Wolverine and the X-Men: Heroes Return Trilogy

Format: DVD

Producers: Marvel Animation and Lionsgate Entertainment

Review by: John Gustafson

When news broke that a fourth animated X-Men show would return to the airwaves, inspired and influenced by the current characters in the comics, it was difficult not to get a little excited. Then it was announced that Wolverine would be leading the X-Men. (more…)