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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Comic Book Villians
Comic Book Villians
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // September 3, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Earl Cressey | posted August 13, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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For the exception of Kevin Smith's movies, I've seen or heard about very few films about comics. Having been a reader of comics for nearly a decade, I was surprised to discover that James Robinson, a professional comic writer whose most notable claim to fame is Starman, both wrote, and in his debut, directed Comic Book Villians. He assembled quite a cast for the film, including: DJ Qualls (Archie), Donal Logue (Raymond), Michael Rapaport (Norman), Natasha Lyonne (Judy), and Cary Elwes (Carter).

When news spreads around town that a fifty-something comic collector had died recently, the owners of both the town's comic shops are instantly hopeful of discovering a collection worth thousands, if not millions. Raymond runs the "fanboy" shop and loves to engage the customers in heated battles of comic trivia – if he deems them worthy of his time. One such customer is Archie, a teenager who is on the verge of giving up comics for "the real world." Raymond's competition is the shop owned by Norman and Judy, who have a slight appreciation for comics, but are mostly in it for the money. Upon inspecting the collection, they both discover it to be everything they've dreamed about and immediately offer to buy the comics from the deceased's mother, Mrs. Cresswell. However, she's not interested. Thus begins a heated battle between the two stores, one that involves greed, theft, betrayal, and murder.

What I enjoyed most about Comic Book Villains was the set-up. I've been in stores like Raymond's and Norman's, and each was portrayed quite accurately in the film. Upon entering a comic store, you can immediately tell which you're in and the same is true in the film. However, one thing that nagged me throughout the film was that Raymond incessantly smokes a pipe in his store, which, as any comic "collector" knows, is very taboo, as the smell sticks to the comics. Who wants to buy comics that smell like tobacco smoke? That aside, I did enjoy Comic Book Villians, as it is a decent dark comedy, though those not into comics might not appreciate it as much.

Video:
Comic Book Villains is presented in approximately 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer fares well throughout, with only a few specks and marks appearing infrequently. Colors throughout are natural, with accurate flesh tones, and rich blacks.

Audio:
Comic Book Villains is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English. Mainly dialogue-driven, the 5.1 track is anchored firmly in the front soundstage, with the rear channels only employed for ambient effects and the film's music. Surround effects, even in the front channels, are rare. Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Extras:
Trailers for this film, Vulgar, Dead Zone, and Rules of Attraction are included, as well as a bio for the comic-esque character "Orion the Hunter." I have no clue why its here, as I've never heard of the comic or the character, and he isn't featured in the film.

Summary:
If you're looking for a dark comedy and you're into comics, certainly give Comic Book Villians a look. Lion's Gate has provided the film with an above average audiovisual presentation, so fans might want to consider picking it up, though the MSRP is a tad on the high side.

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