Ridley Scott’s quasi-prequel to the classic ALIEN is lovely to look at, but ultimately falls under the weight of overacting, frequent plot holes, wearying contrivances and waaaay too many huge, unanswered questions. It smells of laziness and studio-dictated compromise (fear of offending religious groups, maybe?). A major summer letdown.

Batman: Death by Design

BATMAN: DEATH BY DESIGN by Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor (DC Comics)
Batmaniac Kidd’s Bat-scripting debut is a loving ode to art deco design and architecture as well as the Golden Age Dark Knight. Dave Taylor’s pencils are perfectly lush and evocative, but the un-inked artwork begs for a crisp finish suitable to its detailed subject matter.

Fringe, Season 4

FRINGE Season 4
The Fringe universes become even more muddled in a season that’s often confusing and/or frustrating to even the hardcore. Still, the ensemble cast remains one of TV’s best, and I’m curious to see what happens in the next, presumably final year of a rich sci-fi tapestry.

Creepy presents Bernie Wrightson

This lavish, beautifully printed collection of everything the Bronze-era master of the macabre did for CREEPY and EERIE deserves a spot on the shelf of every horror comics fan of the 1970s—or any era, for that matter. Poe, Lovecraft, monsters and goopy zombies never looked better.

Remember Me

A brooding (what else) Robert Pattinson evokes every tortured dreamboat cliché in the book in an overwrought, predictable slab of juvenile melodrama that goes from forgetttable to despicable when a vile exploitation of 9/11 pops up at the end for no reason other than an ironic twist.


The Book of Drugs

THE BOOK OF DRUGS by Mike Doughty (da Capo Press)
Does the world really need another Junkie Rocker Memoir? Well, yes, when it’s as engaging, poetic and non-proselytizing as ex-Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty’s, which simultaneously peels the shiny wrapper off the rock star mystique, laying bare the story of his own addictions and a band that never really was.

Tuba Skinny: Garbage Man

Tuba Skinny, GARBAGE MAN
Tuba Skinny’s third album continues their reign as the most entertaining, rollicking slice of Dixieland-era blues and jazz in darn near a century. Erika Lewis’ commanding vocals anchor the effortlessly authentic brass and strings, while Robin Rapuzzi’s fun, but restrained washboard ices the cake. No ironic posturing here, just love.

The Tree of Life

The most amazing thing about Terence Malick’s ode to laundry flapping in the breeze is how it’s a pretentious examination of the meaning of life that ultimately feels like nothing more than a very expensive perfume commercial. A tangle of muddled messages and meandering visuals lead to a gaping yawn.

(for more, see here)