Reel Talk: End of Watch

End of Watch (2012)


Director: David Ayer.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, America Ferrera Frank Grillo, Maurice Compte.

Run Time: 109 minutes.

Rating: 15.

End of Watch, written and directed by David Ayer, is an unconventional cop film, using a documentary style to capture life for the police in South Central Los Angeles. The two cops we follow, Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Peña) record their patrols for Taylor’s film school project, resulting in many shaky-cam chases, officially recorded in-car POV shots, and inane ‘banter’ (God, how I hate that word). At first glance, it’s an interesting premise, helmed by a director with pedigree for gritty and real cop thriller/action films (Ayer wrote Training Day and directed Harsh Times), and given a fresh slant in the ‘home movie’ filming style.

They’re no Jules and Vince ©RottenTomatoes

The best phrase I can use to describe End of Watch is ‘close, but no cigar’. An episodic, almost vignette style plot could have been a real revelation as a postmodern critique of modern American policing, but is let down by the weak plot, characters and dialogue. The main strand is introduced far too late for it to work, allowing the plot to meander its way towards a really enjoyable action packed final act. By then of course, it’s too late to recover.

United States National Law Enforcement Agencies Dance champions 2012 ©ScreenRant

The documentary style jars after the interesting opening, becoming a pointless novelty. The ‘film school project’ execution of this idea is ridiculous and never mentioned again. The idea would be better suited if the two officers weren’t the documenters, then the techniques (like the in-car police camera footage) could then be used to accentuate the gritty plot and frantic bursts of action, and capture the natural conversation between the patrolmen. Instead, by using it as a plot device, too much focus is placed on it, which culminates in the frankly baffling decision to have the Hispanic drug cartel and African American gangbangers film their exploits too. The explicit idea of the cops filming themselves would have been better left in the beginning, while implementing these techniques afterwards as a purely stylistic choice.

The two leads do have good chemistry, but there isn’t really anything to write home about here. There is nothing spectacular on display. The dynamic does work and there are genuine moments of warmth and humour (actually I laughed a fair bit), but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. I think the reason for this is down to the glorification of the police and an oversimplification of the characters. It’s all a bit 80s, full of gung-ho bullshit that largely passes without consequence for Taylor and Zavala. This bravado lacks any real emotional depth for most of the film, leaving us with quite one dimensional characters. It paints the two as ‘the good guys’ and everyone else as ‘the bad guys’, which is not always the case, as police procedural dramas such as The Wire shows us. This feels quite at odds with the gritty and postmodern approach, and also at odds with Ayer’s past work on Training Day and Harsh Times.

Shotguns and briefcases ©AtlasClubbed

In essence, End of Watch is a great idea poorly executed. It could have been a solid addition to the cop film canon. You have a solid lead in Gyllenhaal to put bums on seats, and Peña plays his foil ably. The grit and realism of Ayers’ past work displayed in an exciting and new format also could have made End of Watch an instant classic. What we are left with however, is a film that felt quite bland and pedestrian, with a lack of any real direction. The poor plot is pretty much condensed into the trailer (an unforgivable trend which has been sweeping through cinemas for a while now), and would have only needed tweaking slightly for it to work. The individual parts of the film failed to cohesively create something greater than their sum. This isn’t to necessarily say that I hated it (in the way I did with Argo and Lawless), just that it was a little bit ‘meh’, and could have been miles better. You’d all just be better off finding a copy of Training Day and watch that instead. Or Weekend at Bernie’s II. Fucking love that film.

These guys ©I’mGross

If you liked this, check out: Training Day, Harsh Times, Street Kings, S.W.A.T.

Score: 6 out of 10.

I enjoyed this video a million times more than End of Watch, and as the trailer ruins the best bits of the film thought it would be best to show you it instead

The Black Library Reviews: Daemonslayer (Gotrek and Felix Book 3)

Fresh from their adventures battling the servants of the rat-god in Nuln, Gotrek and Felix are now ready to join an expedition northwards in search of the long-lost dwarf hall of Karag Dum. Setting forth for the hideous Realms of Chaos in an experimental dwarf airship, Gotrek and Felix are sworn to succeed or die in the attempt. But greater and more sinister energies are coming into play, as a daemonic power is awoken to fulfil its ancient, deadly promise.’

Here we go again! It is Warhammer time. (Apologies for that joke, I bet it has never been made before.) I have to say, Daemonslayer is the best Slayer book YET.

Anyone who has read my previous Black Library reviews  knows how little I know about Gotrek Gurnisson, the titular Slayer. You will also know how much I have longed for his character development and backstory and, in Daemonslayer, WILLIAM KING FINALLY DELIVERS!

For those who don’t know, the Slayer series is narrated by Felix Jaeger, to whom Gotrek is as alien as he is to us. In the two preceding books, Felix has tried to understand Gotrek with little success, until the arrival of The Courier (not that one). Then the shit turns, looking speculatively at the fan. We come face to face with the elusive dwarven race and their true creative capacity and we see Gotrek in a previously unseen dwarven context, which results in some fantastic character development- notably when Gotrek calls another dwarf a ‘maniac’. I genuinely laughed out loud when I read this. If Gotrek can call someone a maniac, what the fuck has this guy done?

Getting back to the matter at hand, however, I found Daemonslayer to be an ambitious sequel to the previous books, Trollslayer being a linear set of short stories and Skavenslayer being a much larger narrative, set in one major city. Daemonslayer takes the reader across cities, sweeping plains and into the very heart of the Chaos Wastes. It would be easy to call it predictable, as it is essentially another narrative of Gotrek’s death-and-glory quest but you really couldn’t second-guess this story. Knowing as I did that there were several sequels in the series, I was still convinced that Gotrek and Felix were going to die. There was a character I was convinced would not die (because I didn’t want him to) and he totally did. It was grim, dreaded (and simultaneously unexpected) and very evocative. The standard of the description in the series has dramatically improved in my estimation- to create such a powerful scene as this guy’s death takes some skill. Just don’t read this scene on public transport as I did, because people don’t take kindly to their fellow passengers squeaking with horror.

Speaking of which… Luckily for me, we still see a little of Grey Seer Thanquol and the snivelling Lurk Snitchtongue. They are by far my favourite characters in the series. They are without doubt the most back-stabbing, self-serving, cowardly and villainous of the skaven I have met yet but they are so likeable that I love to read about them. Take Lurk, a coward and traitor stowed away on the dwarven airship. He is given, for a moment, all the power and strength he needs to fulfil his most violent fantasies and Lurk, being Lurk might do it… later. If the numbers are on his side. At moments like these, I cannot fault King’s characterisation and sense of comedy. He gives his readers a better knowledge of the characters than they have of themselves and I think it is probably the fact that we can see the skaven with all their nature and failings that makes them such an entertaining read.

Oh, those lovable skaven…

This is a series that I really enjoy reading and I thoroughly recommend. They were originally written as young fiction, so don’t expect Ice and Fire levels of character and plot but they are really good fun and compelling reading when you get into them. At least until we know what Gotrek did.

Exclusive Preview: All-New X-Men #5

What will happen when the original five X-Men come face to face with their current counterparts?! One thing is for sure, at the end of this issue, one of the original X-Men will be forever changed! – That’s the promise from Marvel Comics on issue five of All-New X-Men from the team of Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stuart Immonen. Issue 2 hit the stands today and picks up with Beast having traveled back in time to ask the original younger X-Men to help the future. After almost a decade on the Avengers it was finally time for the X-Men to get the Bendis treatment and two issues in I’m loving what he’s doing so far.

The preview pages look amazing, you can see them below;

EVENT: Throne of Atlantis

Aquaman #14 marks the prelude to ‘Throne of Atlantis’, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier, a crossover with Justice League.

With two half brothers at war and a kingdom’s throne at risk, expect powerful idols to take up arms in what’s being described as an epic battle.

“This winter, it’s not safe to go in the water”.

In an interview with USA Today Geoff Johns states “it’s the Justice League going up against Atlantis” and the complexities of that – “what Atlantis is, why they attack…is really the heart of the story”.

Johns promises “we’re about to get answers…and Aquaman’s going to have to make some decisions that the League won’t necessarily agree with”.

Jim Lee departs as Justice League artist, Ivan Reis and colourist Joe Prado take over, who worked with Johns on Green Lantern.

Expect many a change to the relationships within the Justice League, establishing plot points which will lead into ‘Trinity War’ in the new year.

Aquaman #14 is released today, Wednesday November 28.

The checklist:

  • November – Prelude: Aquaman #14
  • December – Part I: Justice League #15 and Part II: Aquaman #15
  • January – Part III: Justice League #16 and Part IV: Aquaman #16
  • February – Part V: Justice League #17

Interview with the Organisers of the London Super Comic Convention

This was the first year for the London Super Comic Convention which brought Stan Lee to the UK and hasnLondon super comic con‘t appeared at a UK Comic Convention in over forty years. They also housed many UK, US and European names and more comics than you could ever read! The LSCC returns February 23rd & 24th, 2013 at the Excel Centre in London. Last week I spoke to Brett Uren on what it’s like to be an indie comic book creator at a convention and today I’ve got the chance to speak to the organisers of the LSCC with only three months to go before the big event to find out more about what we can expect from them.

Geeks Unleashed: Firstly, would you mind telling us a little about yourselves? Not much information is available on the creators of The London Super Comic Con besides one of you being a Doctor, what are your backgrounds and how much have you been involved in the comics world before last years first LSCC?

We are a group of comic fans who believe that the U.K. deserves a different caliber of show. The group’s makeup consists of both American and U.K. individuals, whose convention experience ranges from putting on a yearly creator driven show in the States, to being an integral part of the early 90′s then largest ever U.K. show (Alexandra Palace). Others like myself are just comic book fans who have been collecting and reading ‘funny books’ for 30 years.

The business side of things is also a crucial factor here as putting on a show of this magnitude requires not only the desire and willingness to make it work but also the ability to ensure that it is run like an event of this caliber deserves.  The group, therefore, includes individuals from the world of high finance. Crucially though, we feel that a show of this type should not just be run with a vision generated from a few people, therefore we reached out and secured help from some of the U.K.’s top Comic Retailers, Publishers and Mail Order dealers, to ensure that the comic fans and the comic exhibitors receive an experience that they deserve.

Geeks Unleashed: Last year was the first of the LSCC, what have you learnt from last year that you’ll be putting into practice this year?

Putting things into practice always indicates areas where the theory could be fine tuned.  There were two areas where we think we can enhance the attendee experience:

  • The entry queuing process will be quicker in 2013 as we have determined a method by which we can scan tickets and provide passes outside the show hall.  We can therefore begin the ticketing process before 9.30am.  As we had attendees queuing for tickets at 6.30am in 2012 we can process their ticket purchases quicker.  Attendees once they have received their ticket, will be able to take advantage of the Excel Centre’s facilities rather than queuing.   They can then enter the hall at the relevant show time (10am for Weekend, Saturday and Sunday tickets and 9.30am for Weekend Early Entry tickets).

  • The Exhibitor area was designed based on our experience of UK and US conventions.  Our exhibitor area included a blend of comic dealers from the US and UK not seen previously in a UK convention.  Demand from attendees was such that the corridors in the dealer areas were crammed with people.  To ensure that there is a more efficient flow of attendees through the exhibitor area we have redesigned the Exhibitor area.

Geeks Unleashed: What were some of the highlights of last years convention?

There were many highlights.  Attendees indicated to us that their highlights were:

  • The wide variety of creators present who had worked across the Silver, Bronze and Modern Ages.  We had over 50 creators attending.  They included:  Stan Lee, George Perez, Brian Bolland, Bernie Wrightson, Bob Layton, Bill Sienkiewicz, Howard Chaykin, Mike Norton, Phil Jimenez, David Petersen, Mark Buckingham, Jamal Igle, Jim Cheung, Kevin Maguire, Kieron Gillen, Simon Furman, JK Woodward and Mike Deodato Jr.

  • The opportunity to meet over both days the creators from both the UK and US.  Each creator had their own table for the entire show.  If an attendee was not able to meet a creator during the scheduled show signing periods they could still meet them at their tables.

  • The wide availability of comics available at the show.  From small press to the attendance of publishers such as IDW, 2000AD, Panini and Markosia there was something available for all readers.  For collectors the blend of US and UK dealers ensured that there was everything from major keys to 50p books.

  • ….and of course Stan Lee.  In his first scheduled appearance at a comic convention in the UK for 40 years he met as many attendees as physically possible.  At 89 years old his energy levels were beyond any of our expectations.

London super comic conGeeks Unleashed: With a lot of Comic Conventions around the world and even a lot in the UK, do you have any interaction with other Conventions and do you attend other Comic Conventions?

We have always enjoyed attending both US and UK conventions.  Each convention has its own personality and it is interesting to see how they differ.  New York is as different from San Diego and Chicago as LSCC is as different from Thought Bubble and Bristol.  LSCC has given us the excuse to attend even more shows this year, and we have attended C2E2, Chicago Comic Con, New York Comic Con and every major UK comic convention

Geeks Unleashed:  What is it like to see everyone come together for common interests and know that you had a major hand in helping that along?

We were very fortunate to have a team that understood our philosophy and aims for the show and were able to execute their tasks in a manner consistent with those aims.  No matter how much you plan the event it is not until you see the reactions of the attendees and the atmosphere created on the show floor that you can confirm the work put it has been validated.

The buzz during and after the show from attendees, creators, publishers and press was greater  than our expectations and encouraged us to set up LSCC 2013 on the same basis.

Geeks Unleashed: Thought Bubble has their own anthology comic which is published through Image Comics. Are there any plans for the LSCC to bring their own comic to the rack?

At this point in time our thoughts are just centred on making our show the best it can be. In the years to come, no doubt we will begin to look at different ways of bringing the London Super Comic Convention brand, to the masses.

Geeks Unleashed: With just over three months till the London Excel opens its door for the second year of the London Comic Con and we’ve already had a string of big name US creators announced by are there further announcements on the way? 

Our next update will include another 20 or so more creators, and the final tally looks to be at least 70 at this stage. Look out for a couple of surprise exhibitors in the weeks to come and our announcement of our VIP package.

Geeks Unleashed: Obviously you’ve been giving the American market a big push but how much of the convention will be dedicated to UK creators?

We have focused on the American market as the UK convention scene had lacked a concentration of US creators at any given show.  As we wanted to bring the US convention experience to the UK we needed to focus on bringing US creators to the UK and blending them with UK and European talent.  There is a large pool of UK creator talent working in the American market (e.g. Brian Bolland, Andy Lanning, Mark Buckingham, Ian Churchill etc) and the blend was pretty much 40% US to 60% UK last year.  We would expect it to be similar this year.

We also wanted a strong UK small press presence at the show as this area represents the diverse and comprehensive universe of comics.  We want attendees to have the opportunity to read comics that they have never experienced before.  As many of today’s creators came through the small press ranks we view LSCC as an important opportunity for small press to display their ideas and meet publishers, to that end we have increased the space allocated to small press and encouraged applications from Europe and beyond.

Geeks Unleashed: Last year you managed to get IDW to make their first appearance at a UK Convention, can we expect to see any others making appearances this year?

Yes.  One of our main focuses this year was to bring more US publishers to the UK.  We will be announcing the publishers attending over the coming months.

Geeks Unleashed: Last year you didn’t hold an after show parties, can we expect this to change this year?

Funny enough we have been discussing this recently.  We may be announcing something soon………

Geeks Unleashed: With LSCC at the beginning of the Comic Con calendar and the tight economic times we live in why should people choose this convention over the others? Sell it to us!

Our main selling point is that LSCC is the UK comic convention that provides the attendee with the opportunity to:

  • meet more US creators than any other show

  • meet more US publishers than any other show

  • buy a wider variety of comics than any other show

  • share your love of comics with more like-minded attendees than any other show

and do this in a dedicated convention centre, with all the facilities that they bring.

Geeks Unleashed: Thank you for your time today and we really look forward to attending next year.

Looking forward to seeing you too.

The London Super Comic Con with be at the London Expo on the 23rd and 24th February 2013. You can buy tickets here. Stay tuned to Geeks Unleashed for news on the LSCC.

Valiant Comics Slashes Trade Paperbacks

Valiant Comics have announced that they will be slashing the prices on all of their first trade paperback volumes X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot, and Archer & Armstrong to $9.99, each to be released in every month through till March. The Valiant Universe has been one of my highlights of the year and if you didn’t get a chance to join in on Valiant’s “Summer of Valiant” then now’s your chance and to persuade you here’s the covers:

X-O Manowar Volume 1 © Valiant Comics
Harbinger Volume 1 © Valiant Comics
Bloodshot Volume 1 © Valiant Comics
Archer and Armstrong Volume 1 © Valiant Comics
$9.99/Rated T+/112 pgs.
ISBN: 978-0-97964094-0-5
$9.99/Rated T+/128 pgs.
ISBN: 978-0-97964095-7-5
$9.99/Rated T+/112 pgs.
ISBN: 978-0-9796409-6-4
$9.99/Rated T+/112 pgs.
ISBN: 978-0-9796409-8-8

PREVIEW: Nowhere Men #1

“Science is the new rock n roll.” So says Thomas Walker at the start of Nowhere Men #1.

Walker is part of the science super-group Worldcorp, together with his genius colleagues Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw and Emerson Strange. They changed the world for the better, but what happens when it all goes wrong? Who will ultimately pay the price?

This is the start of a brand new series written by Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson, with art by Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire. It is the latest in a raft of cutting-edge comics with science fiction and science fact at their heart, a lot of them coming from Image.

The preview pages look fantastic – you can see them below – and it seems Image is sure to have another hit on their hands with this title.

Wednesday Watchlist

Stephen, Jo and I each week take pick three comics out of this that weeks comics and recommend them to you as ones to watch out for. Some are well-known and others not so much. This is this weeks ones to watch out for:

Stephen – American Vampire #33

With this issue comes the conclusion of the epic current story arc “The Blacklist”. This issue is also the penultimate one before Snyder and Albuquerque take a break from the award-winning Vertigo series. This arc, focusing as it does on Hollywood and the shadowy vampires running it, has been hugely entertaining. The interaction between Pearl and Skinner is fascinating and I think it’s safe to expect a bloody conclusion. Snyder’s writing is at its most vibrant on this series and Albuquerque’s artwork has never looked so gorgeous, even when depicting scenes of violence and horror. Get your vampire fix while you can!

American Vampire #33 © DC Comics

Jo – Thor: God of Thunder #2

Written by Jason Aaron, with artwork by Esad Ribic, Marvel NOW!’s Thor: God of Thunder’s first issue was part action adventure and part murder mystery, with the gods of the Marvel Universe being murdered and Thor, along with his younger and older self having to face down the threat. Will he/they be able to defeat the God Butcher? I can’t wait to see what Aaron has in store for his readers – his writing has been stellar throughout his career, particularly impressive when you consider the range of books he has worked on from the tour de force Scalped, to Wolverine and the X-men. And I cannot think of a better artistic style than Ribic’s for Thor – grandiose and beautifully rendered. The Marvel NOW! highlight so far.

Thor: God of Thunder #2 © Marvel

Mark – Uncanny Avengers #2 

Back in October I made the first issue my comics of the week and have been chomping at the bit to see Havok and Captain America side by side again. The team of Rick Remender and John Cassaday bring you the second issue in a new chapter for the Avengers and the X-Men; in the wake of Charles Xavier’s death Captain America has realised that he needs to do more for the mutant population and begins to build a new Avengers team which will be lead by Havok. The first issue gave a great introduction to the main team. I’m also looking forward to what the Red Skull has planned.

Uncanny Avengers #2 © Marvel

What are you picking up this week?

PREVIEW: Fatale #10

Selected by Stephen as our ‘Comic of the Week’ back in October, his review prompted me to return to the series – it’s every bit of the “rewarding reading experience” he claimed.

Therefore, we’re delighted to bring you a 5 page preview of Fatale issue 10, written by Ed Brubaker (Scene of the Crime), with artwork by Sean Phillips (Criminal, Incognito) and Dave Stewart (The Massive), scheduled for release this Wednesday November 28, published by Image Comics.

In the epic and brutal conclusion to the second arc, secrets are revealed “as our Femme Fatale foes from victim to hero!”

However, expect the mystery only to deepen.

PREVIEW: MacGyver Fugitive Gauntlet #2

Back in September, Mark brought you the news of MacGyver’s return and then in October interviewed creator Lee David Zlotoff with our very own Ashley Elizabeth.

Now, we delighted to bring you a six page preview of issue 2, written by the aforementioned and Tony Lee, with artwork by Will Sliney and Ciaran Lucas (cover by Andie Tong), published by Image Comics:

“Trapped in Cairo and hunted by both Chinese Intelligence and an army of hitmen for a crime they didn’t commit, MacGyver and Kari race against the clock to find a traitor before their time runs out!”

MacGyver: Fugitive Gauntlet #2 (of 5) is released this Wednesday, November 28.


%d bloggers like this: