EMPIRE – MAY 2007

The biggest and best movie magazine in the world. Made in the UK. Huge. That’s all you need to know.

This issue’s strong points:

  • Another issue, another goodie basket chock full of greatness. My only complaint is that too much of it is hidden away from the cover, but if you shell out the 10 bucks for this and don’t bother reading it cover-to-cover, you’re a frickin’ fool anyway. Where to start…
  • An ace Chuck Norris piece that doesn’t drown in snark, irony, or condescension. Hallelujah! The guy is a genuinely interesting figure aside from being a pop culture punchline, I swear. And such a conservative, old-fashioned contrast to the other 80s/early 90s action stars who were profiled in these very pages a few issues ago. Good stuff. 
  • The article on the making of Pathfinder and the aftermath was so interesting, I’d almost forgotten about how bland it came off when it actually made it to screen. I kinda want to track it down before it leaves theaters now. I know, I know…  
  • So many great smaller features like "The Top 10 Worst Special Effects of All Time", the piece on actors who invent, and the "Movie Trial" feature wherein they look at a notable recent film and have two writers prosecute it and defend it (this time out: Ang Lee’s The Hulk), complete with evidence and legal jargon.

This issue’s weak points:

  • The Spidey cover story is dull, just like last month’s cover on the Fantastic Four sequel. I’ve come to accept that these will almost always be the weakest part of a given issue.
  • There is so much to love with this issue that it easily merits the hefty asking price. It’ll take you days to fully digest the gourmet banquet of moviewriting here, as opposed to the fast food combos of pretty much every American mag. If movie journalism is going stay alive in print against on the onslaught of Web-based, continually updated sites like us, consistently creative and well-put together mags like this are the way.

Overall: 9.0 out of 10

2. WEEKLY #931-932

Sure, their film reviews are hated by geeks. Yes, they follow trends incessantly. And yes, music coverage is generally an afterthought. But it’s surely the most fun weekly read out there, and they have television on lock. Plus, they’ll surprise you every now and then with a great piece on overlooked entertainment industry plebs like personal assistants and bodyguards. When it’s on, it’s an incredible value. When it’s not…wait a week.

This issue’s strong points:

  • No matter how you feel about this mag, this is one of the few must-buy issues each year. With Premiere gone, no other American mag covers seasonal US release schedules with this much detail and photo-filled goodness. And this preview issue does not disappoint.
  • The Spidey cover story is perhaps the most interesting I’ve read thus far, actually outpacing Empire‘s by a good margin. It does a much better job of putting the entire franchise in perspective and looking at where it can go from here. Plus, Kirsten Dunst’s incessant lunatic ramblings regarding how indispensable she is and her "great" idea for the story for a part 4 are gutbustingly funny. Dame’s about 30 fries short of a value meal.
  • Good reviews, good smaller stories upfront….it’s got it all. 

This issue’s weak points:

  • Not a one as far as I can see. This mag has been on a good streak recently, and it’s capped by a fantastic effort here.

Overall: 9.0 out of 10 GUITAR WORLD – JUNE 2007

You’ll see this baby show up more as their coverage isn’t just nerdy articles on how to do wank-off licks faster than ever, but rather broader coverage of guitar-oriented artists in blues, jazz, and rock (My apologies, country fans….for you being country fans, that is).

This issue’s strong points:

  • A fabulous, Mojo-esque recounting of how Sgt. Peppers was made from the engineer who was instrumental in making it happen. Damn nice stuff that’s not too gearhead-ish or technical for casual fans to enjoy.
  • Lots of good supplementary material to the main piece too, like a look at the Beatles tribute band (The Fab Faux) filled with musicians from the late night shows. Apparently, these guys are about as close to the original as you can get these days, and they do it live. Every night. Too bad it’s not a regular touring gig for any of them.

This issue’s weak points:

  • They dropped the ball on everything else. Tom Morello ducking and dodging questions about Chris Cornell and RATM? Boo. The formation of metal "supergroup" Hellyeah? Yawn. Overrated metalcore group Shadows Fall takes us through their riffs and solos? No thanks.
  • Overall, it’s like two issues in one. You kind of have to have this if you’re a Beatles fanatic or even an aficionado of warm, real-sounding records. The rest may appeal to these goshdarned youngsters buying this crap, but I no want none. 

Overall: 7.0 out of 10