Profile for Joel R. Bryan > Reviews


Joel R. Bryan's Profile

Customer Reviews: 83
Top Reviewer Ranking: 11,842,997
Helpful Votes: 706

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Joel R. Bryan RSS Feed (Athens, Georgia United States)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
Nexus Archives Volume 1 (v. 1)
Nexus Archives Volume 1 (v. 1)
by Steve Rude
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $44.53
25 used & new from $3.89

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ylum's Favorite Son, January 5, 2006
Horatio Hellpop, the man known as Nexus, comes to life in this deluxe hardcover volume collecting the first 7 issues of... well, "Nexus" by Mike Baron and Steve "The Dude" Rude.

The first issues (first published starting in 1981!) are in b&w, the way they were originally printed, but you do get the nice color covers (some are by Paul Gulacy) and then the four-color series kicks in. Along the way Baron's erudite writing style starts to flow and the Dude's art coalesces into something resembling his gorgeous mature work. These are two creators in their formative days coming together to tell the thrilling, philosophical and sometimes hilarious stories of Nexus as he wrestles with his destiny as a man doomed forever to kill mass murderers.

You'll meet Nexus himself, then watch as he pursues killer freaks like Zeiffer Meird and the decapitation-obsessed Clausius. As the story progresses, Nexus encounters the reporter Sundra Peale, who will become his lover, and then the nefarious and compelling Ursula X.X. Imada (plus he learns what the X's stand for). It's a sci-fi superhero tale that quotes William Blake and visually references everything from Dr. Seuss to "Star Trek." All those influences (Baron lists a few in his intro), and yet it's like nothing else.

"Nexus" was one of the indie greats of the 80s, and some of these stories were later retold more fluently by Baron and Rude, but it's worth it to have them in their original, somewhat rougher, form. Wonderful work that only improves along the way.

Battlefield Earth
Battlefield Earth
DVD ~ John Travolta
Offered by Kyle's Corner
Price: $26.95
98 used & new from $0.01

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Barbarinofield Earth!, December 17, 2005
This review is from: Battlefield Earth (DVD)
John Travolta turns into a sci-fi Rasta-man from the Planet Psychlo in this absurd film version of L. Ron Hubbard's equally ludicrous book series. Set in the year 3000, Travolta and Forrest Whitaker are the oversized overlords of a ravaged Earth, and Barry Pepper is the one man who can unite the humans and lead a revolt.

Which is what this movie does... revolts. From Pepper's stealing of Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" hair extensions to Travolta's dreds, noseplugs and raver boots ensemble there's not a moment in this movie that convinces you it's anything other than a really bad movie. Whitaker manages to look thoroughly embarrassed by his part here as a Psychlo with a conscience, while Travolta rolls his eyes and relishes his part as the corrupt Terl, a signal that he's too far gone to expect redemption at this point.

The sad thing is, after triumphing in "Pulp Fiction," Travolta committed what amounted to career suicide by championing this flick, which seems to have been his lifelong dream of a project. Wow, what's next? A feature-length adaptation of the blurb from the back of the Cap'n Crunch box? Go for it, Johnny! Live out your dreams in celluloid finery!

Airplane! (Don't Call Me Shirley! Edition)
Airplane! (Don't Call Me Shirley! Edition)
DVD ~ Robert Hays
Offered by Blue Moon Discounts
Price: $9.82
188 used & new from $0.01

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jokes about airlines? No way!, December 15, 2005
"Airplane" is a manic parody of airplane disaster epics that alternates between the absolutely hilarious and the merely silly. It features an all-star cast of manly men poking fun at themselves, including Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Chuck Connors, Peter Graves and the inimitable Leslie Nielsen. In fact, this film made Nielsen the Pope of Movie Silliness, leading to his "Police Squad" tv show and movies, plus various other comedy roles in films not nearly as inspired as this.

Oh, there's a story in there somewhere too. Robert Hays plays a broken, shell of a pilot complete with a drinking problem who tries to rekindle his romance with flight attendant Julie Hagerty onboard an airliner where the crew (which includes Kareer Abdul-Jabbar!) comes down with food poisoning. But who really cares about the story when all it does is serve as a springboard for frenetic comedic riffing on everything from Ethel Merman (playing herself) to classic films ("Casablanca," "From Here to Eternity") to tv commercials and beyond?

There's a little something for everyone here, and if you don't think one joke is funny wait a moment or two because another one will be along shortly. My favorites involve Robert Stack as an uber-macho pilot who whips off a pair of sunglasses to reveal... another pair of sunglasses, and Beaver Cleaver's mom Barbara Billingsley as a woman who can translate jive.

Moment for moment one of the funniest movies ever made. Director Jim Abrahams went on to direct the "Hot Shots" movies and "Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael" (Oscar winner for Best Picture for the years 1986, 1987 and 1992) while co-writers David and Jerry Zucker (no relation) went on to craft such classics as "BASEketball," "First Knight" and "Ghost."

Insert requisite reference to the Shirley joke here and now... we're DONE!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2008 5:34 AM PDT

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (Widescreen Edition)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Ewan McGregor
Offered by Garots Media
Price: $44.00
212 used & new from $2.91

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They Misspelled One Word in the Title..., December 14, 2005
George Lucas concludes his prequel trilogy (Wow... I want to punch the phrase "prequel trilogy") with "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." It's better than the first two, but baby, that ain't saying much!

Things also better than "Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" include doing laundry, eating a Hot Pocket with pepperoni, watching "Just Shoot Me" in syndication, and reading a "People" magazine with a cover story on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. We're talking lowered expectations and the Law of Diminishing Returns.

In "Revenge," after two movies of flailing around pointlessly, we finally get to the actual story. Here, Anakin Skywalker (this time played by iHayden Christianson, a computer-generated creature that almost manages to convince us of its humanity) turns to the Dark Side in what would've been an operatically tragic fall from grace... if he'd ever been graceful in the first place. Meanwhile, his space-diplomat girlfriend Natalie Portman regresses into a weepy, hand-wringing nag (from Portman's consistently bored performances in the prequels you can tell she just wants to cash her Lucasfilm checks and get back to making real movies with Mike Nichols).

If you thought their love scenes in "Attack of the Clones" were cartoonishly laughable, be prepared for more snickering as romance novel-haired Anakin preens shirtlessly and Padme wails "You're breaking my heart!" with all the conviction of a Nintendo princess.

While they're trying to out-wooden each other, Obi-Wan is flying through space, working his Jedi backside off trying to save the galaxy from one of the many i-characters, wheezy General Grievous, yet another "Wars" denizen doomed to villiany because his parents picked a name out of the "Big Book of Evil Baby Names" book instead of just calling him Joshua like everyone else did that year.

Meanwhile, iYoda hangs out with his new best friend Chewbacca (didn't see that one coming), and a lot of iJedi people lose very important body parts. Oh, and droids and other intergalactic weirdos cavort across your screen in numerous dance numbers and/or video game levels.

Unfortunately, most of the story exists only in the tv cartoons or various novels, comic books and magazine articles. It's amazing how this scant an idea has grown where it can no longer be contained in the actual running time of the movie itself, but has to be spread out over all the biographical blurbs on the backs of action figure packaging.

But this third one does have its moments, especially right at the end when lightsabers ignite and Darth Vader starts killing people and familiar characters finally appear. Plus, Ian McDiarmid delightfully chews the scenery as Palpatine, giving the material the tongue-in-cheek menace it deserves. And long-suffering Ewan McGregor continues actually to act in his role as Kenobi, almost as if he were in a real movie.

If you endured- er- saw the first two, you owe it to yourself to see this one if only to flush out the bad taste. The DVD is full of extras about how meticulously the crew worked on all the planets and creatures. No one works harder at this stuff than the ILM elves and their Santa-like boss Georgie anyway, so maybe you should just watch them in their quest to make the perfect CGI alien texture, or the perfect CGI image of an exploding droid general's billowing cape and skip the feature.

More effort went into that than into either iHayden's or Natalie Portman's entire performances and the cape acts rings around them anyway!

DVD ~ Peter Strauss
Offered by Definitive Discs & Collectibles
Price: $79.95
19 used & new from $28.88

26 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spazz-hunter..., July 24, 2003
This review is from: Spacehunter (DVD)
Three years after "Facts of Life," but a year away from her triumphant role in "Sixteen Candles," Molly Ringwald finds herself the prisoner of some tricked-out bum named Overdog on a junk planet that looks like Fred Sanford's backyard. Peter Strauss, the poor man's Richard Chamberlain, plays the poor man's Han Solo (or Lone Starr, if you prefer) and tries to rescue her.

Yes, "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" is low-budget fun directed by Lamont Johnson. According to the IMDb, Johnson once played Tarzan on radio. With this movie, he shows a keen radio performer's eye for cinema. Ripping off "Star Wars" and "Road Warrior" and featuring more rickety metal garbage than any four episodes of TLC's "Junkyard Wars," this flick has a spunky little heart but little else to offer.

Ringwald would go on to become John Hughes' teen muse and the undisputed 80s teen comedy queen, usually playing upper middle class girls dating sexless, nonthreatening gimps like Andrew McCarthy. Here, she's a punky little spitfire who needs a bath and a shave. Come to think of it, she IS the spunky little heart of this movie. The rest of it can go to hell! But I kid "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone." It's a silly movie with a clumsy title, yet worth watching with friends some drunken evening. But please- try not to confuse "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" with "Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared Synn." They both have colons in their titles, and promise things like "adventures," "destruction" and "Jared Synn."

But only "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" has Molly Ringwald being tortured by Michael Ironside. Ask for it by name!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2008 12:27 PM PDT

Heavy Metal (Collector's Edition)
Heavy Metal (Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Richard Romanus
Price: $14.96
80 used & new from $4.30

5 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavily muddled..., May 6, 2003
Why is it so much so-called "adult" animation concerns itself with stunted adolescent themes of misogyny and violence? From Ralph Bakshi's paeons to self-loathing to this disjointed rubbish, these movies give lie to the notion that getting your cartoon an R rating means it's for grown-ups. The childish "Heavy Metal," produced by Ivan "Ghostbusters" Reitman, pretends it's a story of the neverending struggle between good and evil, but is really a colorful tribute to maladjusted suburban teenaged boys, their fear and consequent hatred of women, and love of loud, stoopid music.

Okay, so there's this stupid orb called the Lochnar that's pure evil, and for some reason, it's terrorizing this little girl (the same way this movie nauseates the audience) by telling her some inappropriately sexual stories. If Lochnar were her uncle, he'd be in jail. First we visit New York in the future and meet a filthy cabbie, then there's Richard Corben's tale of a skinny geek who becomes a muscular freak who gets to get it on with brainless bimbos (pimply kids rejoice!), then there's the one amusing segment, "Captain Sternn." It's designed by horror comic great Bernie Wrightson, and pokes fun at pompous space heroes. "Futurama" would rip it off years later.

Eventually, the Lochnar or some blasted thing causes a B-17 crew to mutate into zombies, a Pentagon secretary is kidnapped into space where she makes love to a robot, and a strange warrior-woman battles evil barbarians on a distant planet. The end. Yes, it's very episodic, in keeping with the short attention spans of the stoners who are the few remaining people in the audience by the halfway point.

So, is good versus evil really the point? Nah. The main point is, women are scary, terrible creatures and if you never interact with them and instead hide away in your room with "Heavy Metal" magazine, you can imagine yourself as a brawny hero who gets the completely mindless female. In this way, that which is feared is reduced to a simple object of ridicule and debasement.

With a completely overrated soundtrack featuring overblown music by Black Sabbath (Ozzie rulz!), Journey, Grand Funk Railroad, Stevie Nicks and a lot of other heavyhanded, pompous 70s and 80s rockers. Oh yeah, the dvd's loaded with extras that will only interest the movie's fans. You know, storyboards, deleted scenes, tons of artwork from the movie. Trust me- it's not worth it. This movie was not revolutionary or evolutionary by any means. All it adds up to is the feeling you've found a soiled "Penthouse" down at the playground.

Speed Racer: The Official 30th Anniversary Guide
Speed Racer: The Official 30th Anniversary Guide
by Elizabeth Moran
Edition: Paperback
67 used & new from $0.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "If we crash, I can't win!", April 30, 2003
Good ol' Speed. Forever stating the obvious in his trademark excitable tone. Speaking of which, this book is perfect for "Speed Racer" fans to get excited about.

Author Elizabeth Moran hits the track with infectious enthusiasm and leaves in her backdraft plenty of fun info on all the various iterations of "Speed Racer," from the original manga and Japanese series to the imported version I grew up with... to the newer versions, including a proposed live action film that never got off the ground. Moran includes the requisite episode guides (and rates them!), plus interviews with both the Japanese and American creative teams, racing terms, a complete dictionary guide to Speed's world and transcripts from the ESPN "Nascar" commercials. And wait until you read the original Japanese lyrics to the now-classic theme. Yep, even master auto-designer Pops Racer couldn't have done a better job, because this book has more features than the Mach 5!

What's especially neat about this is that it's all in glorious full-color! The design matches the vibrant and vigorous animated series. A fun package, and highly recommended for any "Speed Racer" fan. Go, Speed Racer, go!

Uzumaki, Volume 2 (v. 2)
Uzumaki, Volume 2 (v. 2)
by Zyunzi Itou
Edition: Paperback
43 used & new from $1.28

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unwind with "Uzumaki, Vol. 2", October 22, 2002
Poor Kirie Goshima. With her large eyes and delicate features, she's probably the prettiest girl in town, but all that earns her is a lot of unwanted attention. And in Kurozu-cho, where Kirie and her boyfriend Shuichi Saito live, where the malevolent power of the spiral holds sway, even a little attention can lead to revulsion and horror.

In the second book of "Uzumaki," writer/artist Junji Ito again takes his readers to a nightmarish place, a seaside town where crematory smoke swirls in the sky, where water spins in a vortex and even the grass grows in curls. And in the eye of this malignancy, Kirie must deal with an obsessed boy who revels in frightening people, classmates who transform into grotesque mollusks, the town's lighthouse, mosquitos, expectant mothers and their mutant offspring and finally, nature itself as personified by the typhoon season's first hurricane.

Like the first volume, this collection begins with several pages of beautiful yet haunting full-color art, setting the stage for the terrors to come. But be warned- while Kirie's narration is almost lyrical, like the eye of Hurricane 1, Ito's vision never blinks. He has no problem with disgusting his readers as he depicts all sorts of nauseating, yet baroque, imagery. The art becomes even more disturbing in its contrast of the spiral's horrors with Kirie's doll-like fragility. Certain panels imprint themselves on your consciousness: a corpse trapped in a car's tirewell, the fleshy smile of a mollusk-person, a lighthouse lamp melted into a distorted eye, a room full of unearthly fungi, a child returned to his mother's body, the inexorable approach of a hurricane. Unflinching stuff, in creepy black and white.

Early in the series, Ito established a pattern of rising dread, where the simplest things would soon swirl out of control into dark places where innocence might not survive. Here, Ito builds on this foundation, and as you read, you begin to expect the worst in even the most innocuous details. The spiral corrupts everything, and even a schoolboy's crush can give rise to a moment of shocking violence. If an overweight boy seems somewhat sluggish, it's only a matter of time before the spiral changes his body to match his spirit. And if certain insects behave strangely, then bite pregnant women, the results must become particularly nightmarish for a hospital-bound Kirie. Through it all, the spiral remains inscrutable, inpentetrable, and merciless in its alien designs on Kirie and her friends.

Beautiful and sick, completely twisted. And highly recommended.

Uzumaki, Volume 1
Uzumaki, Volume 1
by Zyunzi Itou
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from $0.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vertiginous horror, October 18, 2002
This review is from: Uzumaki, Volume 1 (Paperback)
I don't think I'd care to visit Kurozu-cho. See, it's not an ordinary town. Just ask Shuichi Saito, who's convinced his father is going insane. It doesn't help that Shuichi's girlfriend, Kirie Goshima, found the man gazing intently at a snail in an alleyway. When Shuichi tells his girlfriend his theory that spirals have gained a malignant hold over the man, her reaction is to giggle. But together, this young couple faces a horrifying realization- that everyone and everything in their town has fallen under the spiral's monstrous influence. The results are shocking, creepy, even disgusting at times as Kirie opens her eyes to the growing madness around her and suffers a loss of innocence.

It begins with several pages of gorgeously moody, full-color art, but "Uzumaki," by Junji Ito, wastes little time unwinding its mysteries. From a man's obsession with, and possession by, the spiral, to crematory smoke that swirls in the air and reveals the faces of the deceased, to grotesque transformations and sudden violence, Ito frames it all with an unflinching eye, and depicts it with atmospheric linework reminiscent of Edward Gorey crossed with H.R. Geiger.

The stories themselves proceed with the inexorable logic of dreams, and once you've read the first, 2-part story, each set-up will fill you with dread. Two lovers, separated by their feuding families? What happens to them would never have occured to ol' Bill Shakespeare. A classmate believes her crescent scar enables her to ensare men's hearts? Well, she's going to learn that the spiral has powers beyond her moonshaped beauty mark. And what about the girl who becomes jealous of all the attention Kirie's suddenly curly hair receives?

Despite the gore, Ito never sacrifices mood, and if his female characters seem overly doll-like and fragile (especially Kirie herself), it only serves to heighten the horrors they encounter. This is one of the few horror comics... or books, for that matter... I've ever read that truly disturbed me. After all, Dracula has a mind, and the Wolf-man succumbs to silver. But how does one negotiate with, or defeat, a shape? Highly recommended.

The Simpsons - The Complete Second Season
The Simpsons - The Complete Second Season
DVD ~ Dan Castellaneta
Offered by Another Brick in the Wall
Price: $25.00
135 used & new from $0.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Simpsonerrific!, August 13, 2002
Okay, that was a terrible title for this review. Fortunately, the same can't be said about this spiffy, super-deluxe DVD set. It's called "The Simpsons- The Complete Second Season," and that's what it is. But there's more!

The second season consists of 22 brilliant episodes. This is the real thing, when the show began to gel, but before so many episodes centered on yet another whacky occupation for Homer. Sure, you get to see Home-boy as a baseball team mascot in "Dancin' Homer," but the other family members get spotlight time, too. Marge takes on cartoon violence in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge," Lisa gets her most poignant storyline in "Lisa's Substitute" (heartfelt, and with excellent guest vocals by Dustin Hoffman, plus a hilarious B-story featuring Bart), and Bart battles his friends and the darker side of comic collecting in "Three Men and a Comic Book."

This is your chance to own a full 22-episode season. Your opportunity to learn Mr. Burns' full name, to feel superior to your peers as you recognize sequences lifted from classic movies ("Psycho" and "Citizen Kane" come to mind). You'll gasp as Homer displays shockingly drunken behavior at a party, belch as you enjoy a giant tub of Duff beer during "Nuclear Plant Employees, Spouses, and No More Than Three Children Night," then tremble as Bart and Lisa trade horror stories up in the treehouse. Plus, you get episodes featuring Ringo Starr and Phil Hartman, Danny DeVito, George Takei, Tracey Ullmann, and Larry King.

Like the "Season One" set, you also get a Springfield-sized load of extras. The commentary alone would be enough, but you also get music videos (did anyone actually DO "The Bartman?"), Simpsons appearances outside the show (commercials and award ceremonies), a documentary on how a show is made, and interviews. The only negative is the annoying animated menu where you'll have to swap everyone's heads a three times before you're allowed to get on with the show. You can avoid this by pressing "menu," but that's documented nowhere on the DVD itself.

But that's a minor glitch in a top-notch set. Each episode is beautifully presented, looking better than they did when originally aired. And minus the commercials. For a Simpsons fan, this is definitely the ultimate (so far!) need-to-own item. This is one of tv's greatest shows, on the cusp of gaining its full satirical powers, and I can't recommend this set highly enough!

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9