Saturday, December 31, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: All-Star Superman (Review)

All-Star Superman
2011 - Warner Home Video
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on February 22, 2011.

# of Dics: 2 (Blu-Ray, DVD)
Runtime: 76 Minutes

A near disaster instigated by Lex Luthor (Anthony LaPaglia) on a ship exploring the sun that was saved by Superman (James Denton) gives Luthor the victory he was craving, as the intense exposure to solar radiation has mortally poisoned Superman.

With his time living running out, Superman seeks to fulfill his dreams including revealing the truth to his love from afar, Lois Lane (Christina Hendricks). But a couple of Kryptonian visitors and the overzealous Luthor keep Superman from going out quietly, instead requiring one more heroic battle to save Metropolis.

After revealing his identity to Lois, Superman takes her back to his Fortress of Solitude where she gets an up close view of the marvelous items inside, including the weapons he has taken from his enemies, a pet Sun-Eater he feeds with small suns he creates with a hammer and anvil, his crew of robot helpers, the Bottle City of Kandor and some relics, like the statue of his parents.

But Superman's secretive nature and Lois' exposure to alien chemicals leads to her paranoia and attack on Superman with a deadly kryptonite laser. But that did not put a hamper on Superman's gift for Lois, a 24-hour liquid dose of his powers, turning her into Superwoman. That of course led to an unwanted adventure with Atlas and Samson, and an encounter with the Ultra-Sphinx. This film was a nonstop roller coaster of serious, funny, and action.

And of course Clark's visit to Lex in prison gave the story that dose of intellectual discussion, a clear vision of Luthor's psychosis and his anger even in the midst of a rampaging Parasite and prison brawl. The parallel of a confident Luthor boasting in prison, and a weakened Clark continuing to fool him right in front of his eyes.

DC and the WB did a great job as always packing their animated film with a bundle of extras, including two featurettes with Grant Morrison, the writer of the comic series ALL-STAR SUPERMAN was based off of. The Morrison featurettes fully explore his vision for the Superman character, one going into the sketches he developed over the years that became the eventual story and the other more on how Superman was revamped for a contemporary audience.

The rest is a usual package for DCU films: commentary, digital comic, a preview of the next DCU film, and two cartoon episodes selected by Bruce Timm. A fun treat for animation, comics, and DC fans.

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is a masterful stroke of storytelling. While it is not an all out action bonanza, the methodical pace to the story helps illustrate the emotional weight carried by Superman now that he is seeing his end coming. What does a "super" man do when death approaches? An inspiring story of spreading love, peace and happiness from the big red blue hope.

Look to buy the ALL-STAR SUPERMAN Blu-Ray disc exclusive version on Amazon for $25.99

Thursday, December 29, 2011

FILM: The Hobbit Trailer + Poster (News)

It is never too early to plan for the end of the year, even when it is a year away. With 2011 ending, it seems just as well that for Warner Bros, MGM and New Line Cinema it was the perfect time to show off the trailer for next December's big release, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY.

Returning to J.R.R. Tolkien's world is director Peter Jackson (KING KONG), who after masterfully crafting The Lord of the Rings trilogy looks to follow it up with some familiar faces and some new ones.

Ian McKellen (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) is back as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER) reprises his role as Elrond, and Elijah Wood (FREE WILLY) as Frodo. The main star in this one however is Martin Freeman (SHERLOCK) as a young Bilbo Baggins.



THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY travels to theaters on December 14, 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

FILM: The Dark Knight Rises Trailer + Poster (News)

2012 brings with it the next installment of Warner Bros. juggernaut, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. And as 2011 comes to a close, the WB is making sure everyone remembers this by releasing a new trailer and poster this month.

Directed by Christopher Nolan (MEMENTO), THE DARK KNIGHT RISES stars Christian Bale (THE PRESTIGE) as Batman, Gary Oldman (HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX) as Commissioner Gordon, Anne Hathaway (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) as Catwoman, and Tom Hardy (INCEPTION) as Bane.



THE DARK KNIGHT RISES into theaters on July 20, 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

SPORTS: NBA 2011-2012 Predictions (Commentary)


Another league, another lockout. However the NBA took its time getting things in order and as a result this season is only 66 games long and jammed together in a very short amount of time to have the season end in somewhat the same time of year. Little to no training camp and preseason means this is going to be one very unpredictable year.

Last year was the first go-around on the blog and GP had the eventual NBA Finals representatives losing in each team's respective conference finals (close but no cigar!), predicted 6 Eastern Conference playoff teams & 6 Western Conference playoff teams. Now this year's picks, first up team projections:

Western Conference:
1) OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - 48-18
2) PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS - 45-21
3) LA CLIPPERS - 43-23
4) SAN ANTONIO SPURS - 38-28
5) LA LAKERS - 38-28
6) MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - 36-30
7) HOUSTON ROCKETS - 34-32
8) DALLAS MAVERICKS - 33-33

WC First Round: THUNDER over MAVS 4-2, BLAZERS over ROCKETS 4-0, GRIZZLIES over CLIPPERS 4-3, LAKERS over SPURS 4-2
WC Semi-Finals: LAKERS over THUNDER 4-3, GRIZZLIES over BLAZERS 4-1
WC Finals: LAKERS over GRIZZLIES 4-2

Eastern Conference:
1) MIAMI HEAT - 50-16
2) CHICAGO BULLS - 48-18
3) ATLANTA HAWKS - 44-22
4) ORLANDO MAGIC - 40-26
5) NEW YORK KNICKS - 37-29
6) BOSTON CELTICS - 35-31
7) INDIANA PACERS - 35-31
8) PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - 34-32

EC First Round: HEAT over 76ERS 4-2, PACERS over BULLS 4-3, HAWKS over CELTICS 4-2, MAGIC over KNICKS 4-1
EC Semi-Finals: HEAT over MAGIC 4-2, PACERS over HAWKS 4-2
EC Finals: HEAT over PACERS 4-0

NBA Finals: LAKERS over HEAT 4-3

Individual Awards:
MVP: Kobe Bryant (LAKERS)
Scoring Title: Kobe Bryant (LAKERS)
Defensive Player of the Year: LaMarcus Aldridge (BLAZERS)
Rookie of the Year: Ricky Rubio (TIMBERWOLVES)
Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra (HEAT)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

FILM: Into the White Trailer (News)

With the Harry Potter films now squarely in the rear-view mirror, its talented cast of actors are beginning to show up on new projects. Tom Felton appeared in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES this summer, Emma Watson had a role in last month's MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, Dan Radcliffe stars in THE WOMAN IN BLACK due out in February, and now Rupert Grint finds himself in the World War II drama, INTO THE WHITE.

Directed by Petter Næss, INTO THE WHITE is about a group of English and German soldiers that shoot each other down and find themselves surviving the harsh winter in the Norwegian wilderness together in the same cabin. Outside of Grint, the cast is filled with actors that American audiences would find it difficult to recognize. David Kross (WAR HORSE) and Stig Henrik Hoff (THE THING) play German soldiers.



INTO THE WHITE flurries its way into theaters in Norway on March 9, 2012. No U.S. release has been set.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

FILM: John Carter Trailer (News)

Disney has been looking for their next big live-action film franchise to follow in the footsteps of their Pirates juggernaut, and have already released the likes of PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME and TRON: LEGACY in 2010. Now they are stepping back into the fantasy realm with one of the biggest stories in terms of scale, JOHN CARTER.

Directed by Andrew Stanton (WALL-E) and based off the epic novel written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, JOHN CARTER stars Taylor Kitsch (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) as the title character, Lynn Collins (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) in the equably timeless role of Princess Dejah Thoris, along with the likes of Mark Strong (GREEN LANTERN) and Willem Dafoe (FANTASTIC MR. FOX) also amongst the cast.


Synopsis:
The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter, who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris. In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

JOHN CARTER wanders into theaters on March 9, 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition (Review)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition
2009 - Warner Bros
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on June 14, 2011

# of Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray x 2)
Runtime: 153 Minutes

The sixth installment of the epic series, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE turns up the dial on comedy and romance as Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), find themselves in the middle of teen relationships.

Outside the trials and tribulations of being a teenager, not all is hunky-dory in the Wizarding World as Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) wrecks havoc and spreads his reign of terror, transforming the busy and vibrant Diagon Alley into a bleak and fairly empty place. And the suspicious actions of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) catches Harry's notice.

One of the new characters in this film would be the returning Hogwarts professor, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), who has a penchant for making connections and has become interested in Harry as he fills the now vacant Potions Professor position. But his most memorable moment may be his introduction to Harry and the audience, when he is disguised as a purple armchair in a wrecked house only to be found out and have to transform back into his regular body.

Sticking out of this film's bleak version of Diagon Alley would be the wacky store of Fred and George Weasley, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Colorful and loud, much like its owners, the store breathes defiant life into the street and the movie that had so far been in less than pleasing times. The imagination and magic of the world that has been somewhat diminished as the films have gone on returns with a fervor inside the shop, a visual masterpiece with all of the intricate creations that lasted maybe only a handful of moments on screen. A reminder that magic can be fun and good, even in the darkest of times.

Action takes a back seat for the most part in this film but it would not be a Harry Potter film without some adventure and the cave scene with Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Harry is a visual delight, perfect for Blu-Ray watchers. Between the vastness of the cave and its waters, the horde of Inferi that come after them and the maelstrom of fire that Dumbledore produces to save Harry and himself from the danger that literally envelops nearly the entirety of the cave.

Extras come in droves when it comes to these Ultimate Edition releases. Besides a 44-page book with photos from all the films and limited edition character cards featuring Dumbledore and Draco, this one comes with Part Six of the eight part documentary series that covers the creation of the film series that has a chapter paired with each Ultimate Edition release. Part Six covers Magical Effects, and goes into the visual effects in the movie both through CG and techniques used to accomplish things right there with the actors.

There is also 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Behind the Magic' TV special included that has host Ben Shephard explore the film set, talk with the actors and even be cast as an extra in a scene for the movie. Not only that but a special on the author of the series filmed around the time she was finishing the final book in the series is on the disc titled, 'J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life'.

Add in the holdovers from the previous HBP Blu-Ray release of deleted scenes, cast questions, a peek at the Wizarding World theme park and Deathly Hallows and the Maximum Movie Mode and the Ultimate Edition is literally overflowing in special features nearly doubling the time of the film itself. Fans of the Harry Potter movies and are looking to move into the Blu-Ray way of things would be smart to get the Ultimate Edition release over the previous one. If extras are your thing, the Ultimate Editions will ruin you for all other releases.

Look to buy the Ultimate Edition Blu-Ray release of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE on Amazon for $38.99.

Friday, December 9, 2011

FILM: Journey 2 - The Mysterious Island International Trailer (News)

If you are looking for a sequel to watch that is also a family fun adventure film, you are in luck. From New Line Cinema comes the sequel to the 2008 film, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3D that starred Brendan Fraser (THE MUMMY) and Josh Hutcherson (ZATHURA) as a scientist and his nephew in search of his missing brother.

Now in JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, Josh Hutcherson reprises his role as Sean Anderson, this time in the company of his stepfather Hank played by Dwayne Johnson (FAST FIVE) as they look for Sean's grandfather, played by Michael Caine (THE DARK KNIGHT), who is thought to be missing on a mysterious island.

Brad Peyton (CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE) is directing and Vanessa Hudgens (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL) is also in the film as Kailani, their tour guide and the girl that catches Sean's eye.


JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND floats into theaters on February 10, 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

FILM: Mirror Mirror Trailer (News)

As forewarned a few posts ago, 2012 is the year of Snow White, and here comes a look at the other film in production on the fairytale character, MIRROR, MIRROR.

From Relativity Media and director Tarsem Singh (IMMORTALS), MIRROR, MIRROR stars Julia Roberts (LARRY CROWNE) as the Evil Queen, Lily Collins (ABDUCTION) as Snow White, Armie Hammer (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) as the Prince, and Sean Bean (GAME OF THRONES) as the King.


MIRROR, MIRROR reflects into theaters on March 16, 2012.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Review)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
2011 - Warner Bros
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on November 11, 2011

# of Discs: 4 (Blu-Ray x 3, DVD - Target 4-Disc Exclusive comes with additional Blu-Ray disc)
Runtime: 130 Minutes

The final chapter in the story of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his battle against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 continues right where the last one left off.

Harry, and his friends, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), are recovering from their ordeal at Malfoy Manor and looking towards breaking into Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley where they believe another Horcrux is hidden. Soon enough the trail leads them back to Hogwarts and a final battle with Voldemort and his dark army for the survival of the Wizarding World as they know it.

While the first film had more of a methodical pace as Harry and his friends struggled to find the way to defeat Voldemort, the second moves with a purpose. Harry's journey heads to Gringotts Bank where with the use of the Polyjuice Potion to turn Hermione into Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), and the Invisibility Cloak to hide Harry, along with the help of the goblin, Griphook (Warwick Davis), they gain access to the labyrinth tunnels in the bank that lead to the vaults. Things do not go smoothly though, with a booby-trapped Lestrange vault and a double-crossing Griphook leaving the three to jump on the back of a dragon they break free to escape from certain doom. The visuals of the trip down to the vaults, the multiplying goblets in the vault and the terrifyingly fierceness of the dragon are all must sees.

Another visual marvel is the scene that takes place in the Room of Requirement, as Harry is finding the next Horcrux and is confronted by Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and his cronies. The vastness inside the room and the power it has is really apparent at this point, as the room has taken the shape of the place where everyone hides/stores things inside, a place that goes on and on. Yet it becomes truly terrifying once Goyle's fiendfyre spell goes haywire and the whole place becomes ablaze in flames, leading to a maddening run and flight on brooms to escape harm.

But in the background for the majority of the film is the final battle that takes place on the Hogwarts Grounds and literally shakes the foundations of the castle. The walkway bridge is purposely blown up by the students to cut off an access point in an exhilarating way for Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), the Quidditch stadium is razed by the Death Eaters, the teachers and members of the Order of the Phoenix help with putting up a magical shield around the castle that only the power of the Elder Wand in Voldemort's hand is able to break. Each moment is brilliantly filmed and a pleasure to watch on Blu-Ray, a real immersing experience.

I had my hands on the Target Exclusive release of the film that features an additional Blu-Ray Disc that has a near hour long documentary titled, 'When Harry Left Hogwarts', that covers the final days on set for the principle actors of the film and the film itself. While I would not be surprised to see it find its way into the eventual Ultimate Edition release it was well worth the extra few dollars to see it. Along with featurettes on The Women of Harry Potter, The Goblins of Gringotts and a Conversation between author J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe, there are so many extras that will literally double the amount of time you spend with this release.

A fantastic movie deserves an equally fantastic media release, and Warner Bros. has achieved this with HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2. More so than even the first part, this film appeals to movie fans of all kinds and is a perfect wrap up to a decade-long series. Buy it if you have not, Try it if you have never seen it. It is worth seeing this epic in Blu-Ray.

Look to buy the 3-Disc Blu-Ray release of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 on Amazon for $24.99.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FILM: Snow White and the Huntsman Teaser Trailer + Poster (News)

Fans of fairytales, be it by Disney or elsewhere, should get ready for a few live-action reimaginings in 2012 surrounding the story of Snow White. First up is Universal's entry, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN.

Directed by Rupert Sanders in his first gig helming a feature film and starring Kristen Stewart (TWILIGHT) as Snow White, Chris Hemsworth (THOR) as the Huntsman, and Charlize Theron (SWEET NOVEMBER) as the Queen.



Synopsis:
In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman dispatched to kill her. Sam Claflin joins the cast as the prince long enchanted by Snow White’s beauty and power.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN finds its way into theaters on June 1, 2012.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GAMING: Grand Theft Auto V Trailer (News)

Video game fans have reason to be excited as Rockstar Games recently unveiled their next game of the GTA franchise, GRAND THEFT AUTO V.

The trailer for the officially labeled fifth game, not counting the various spinoffs that have come out over the years (Vice City, San Andreas, etc) reveals that the game is set in the fictional Los Santos, a previously featured city in the San Andreas game that is based off modern Los Angeles.


GRAND THEFT AUTO V looks to be headed toward a 2012 release.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Cars 2 (Review)

Cars 2
2011 - Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on November 1, 2011

# of Discs: 5 (3D Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray x 2, DVD & Digital Copy)
Runtime: 106 Minutes

Star race car and four-time Piston Cup champion Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) finds his time at home in Radiator Springs away from the race track cut short when his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) gets him involved in an international racing series, the World Grand Prix.

However the race to the championship is not the only thing on their minds as Mater finds himself mixed up with international espionage, meeting two British secret agent cars, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), who are investigating a plot to sabotage the race.

While the trailers focused on the spy action of the movie, I was happy to see some time spent in Radiator Springs and its residents, albeit briefly. The global span was really felt as the movie went along, further developing the world of Cars and the real world translations that comes with it. Tokyo, Japan was the location of the first race and the assortment of cultural traits came along for the ride, from drifting cars to geisha cars and the bright lights of the city.

Then a shift in environs comes as the second race of the World Grand Prix is staged in Italy, and again in the third race that is located in England and each culture is clearly represented with scenes at villas and an inclusion of a few royal guards amongst the assortment of inclusions.

Blu-Ray is put to great use when it comes to animation, and action-packed films, and for Disney Pixar to combine the two lead to a non-stop visual bonanza that really sucked you into the story and the characters without a struggle.

CARS 2 was not only packed with great visuals, exciting action and fun comedy, but also plenty of special features a viewer can get lost in. Throw in the Toy Story short 'Hawaiian Vacation', where the toys create a vacation experience for a left behind Ken and Barbie, and a Cars short 'Air Mater', that continues the tradition of short, funny Cars shorts and helps introduce the world of Planes along with the teaser trailer that is also a part of the extras.

This movie surpassed my expectations and renewed my trust in Disney Pixar making quality films above anything else and the Blu-Ray release is the perfect way to watch the movie. The visual quality leaps above the previous Cars film and the tone is different as well but the nice blend of action, drama and comedy help push Lightning McQueen and Mater across the finish line once again. Give it a chance if you have yet to.

Look to buy the CARS 2 3D 5-disc Blu-Ray combo over at Amazon for $41.94.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

FILM: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol Trailer (News)

A fourth foray into the espionage world with MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL brings back the character of Ethan Hunt to the big screen, once again with a mostly new set of faces on his team to fix what has gone wrong.

Starring Tom Cruise (WAR OF THE WORLDS) as Hunt, the film also brings back Simon Pegg (STAR TREK) as Benji Dunn from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, and introduces to the series Jeremy Renner (THOR) as William Brandt and Paula Patton (PRECIOUS) as Jane Carter. Also this is director Brad Bird's (THE INCREDIBLES) first live-action film.


MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL opens in IMAX screens on December 16, 2011, with preview footage of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in front of it on 70mm screens, and then hits regular theaters on December 21.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FILM: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Trailer (News)

Next in line for movie adaptation from the vast library of Dr. Seuss, following the likes of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, THE CAT IN THE HAT, HORTON HEARS A WHO! is DR. SEUSS' THE LORAX, a cg animated film from Universal coming out in early 2012.

THE LORAX stars Zac Efron (CHARLIE ST. CLOUD) as the voice of Ted, an idealistic young boy living in Theed-ville who the story centers around. Taylor Swift (VALENTINE'S DAY) gives voice to the girl of Ted's dreams, Ed Helms (THE HANGOVER) plays the reclusive Once-ler and Danny Devito (LA CONFIDENTIAL) is the Lorax and the film is being directed by the team of Chris Renaud (DESPICABLE ME) and Kyle Balda.



Synopsis:
The 3D-CGI feature Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope. The animated adventure follows the journey of a boy as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

DR. SEUSS' THE LORAX illuminates theaters on March 2, 2012.

Monday, November 7, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Booster Gold #45 (Review)

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
Cover: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

The second week of June brought several contenders for the top of my weekly comic stack. DC continued its Flashpoint presence and had a few intriguing titles like several Green Lantern movie prequel books and FLASHPOINT: FRANKENSTEIN CREATURES OF UNKNOWN #1, which gave off heavy Hellboy vibes.

I am not a fan of Marvel's direction with Ultimate Spider-Man but the newest issue of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, #624 continued to deliver superb story and art. And from the smaller companies, I thought MEGA MAN #2 from Archie Comics was another solid issue.

But in the end it was the presence of Flashpoint that seduced me and led to BOOSTER GOLD #45 being the book that finished on the top of my stack. The great Dan Jurgens has been the main creative force behind the book for now his second issue after being away from the title for awhile.

As Booster Gold learns more about the new world he has found himself in, he has unfortunately been labeled as an Atlantean by the military and continues to be attacked by the controlled monster Booster remembers by another name, Doomsday.

What I enjoyed about the issue was the detective work Booster did and the conclusions he was able to come to on his own about Professor Zoom and the time stream being why the world is like it is. And to end on the situation created when Booster got help from his Greek lady friend, who unknowingly disabled the military's control of Doomsday, leaving Booster to face a monster unleashed in the next issue.

Jurgens has been connected to Booster Gold for a long time so seeing his art on the book and character again feel like this is how the character is meant to look and read. The action scenes looked great and there was a constant variation in the use of angles to present how the story was unfolding for Booster and the rest.

I have been encouraged by how this title has embraced Booster's role as the unsung hero, and I am looking forward to finding out how he looks to solve the problem of Flashpoint or at least play a part in how it wraps up. A solid issue.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

FILM: Star Wars - Episode I The Phantom Menace 3D Trailer (News)

The era of remastering films into 3D for a re-release run in movie theaters really begins to hit its stride in 2012 as one of the big film franchises, Star Wars steps into the 3D circle with the scheduling of STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D.

Directed by George Lucas, the 1999 film has an all-star cast: Natalie Portman (BLACK SWAN) as Queen Amidala of Naboo; Liam Neeson (TAKEN) as the wisened Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn; Ewan McGregor (BIG FISH) as the loyal Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi; Samuel Jackson (PULP FICTION) as authoritative Jedi Master, Mace Windu; Ray Park (X-MEN) as Darth Maul.

And there are some returning Star Wars actors from the first trilogy: Ian McDiarmid (RETURN OF THE JEDI) as Senator Palpatine, Anthony Daniels (A NEW HOPE) as C3PO, Kenny Baker (A NEW HOPE) as R2-D2 and Frank Oz (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) as Yoda.


STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D hits theaters in a galaxy far, far away on February 10, 2012.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Thor (Review)

Thor
2011 - Paramount
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 13, 2011

# of Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray, DVD)
Runtime: 115 Minutes

In the cosmic realm of Asgard lives the headstrong warrior, Thor (Chris Hemsworth),the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and brother to Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is about to ascend to the throne. The ceremony is disrupted, leading Thor to recklessly seek justice and in the process reignite a cold war between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants.

His actions lead Odin to strip him of his powers and banish Thor to Earth. While Thor is gone, his trickster brother Loki finds himself unexpectedly with the throne of Asgard. Can Thor find his way back before Loki's machinations bring down Asgard?

The epic story in THOR literally spans the entire universe, starting out in Asgard with its magnificent design of the world there, with grandiose architecture, jaw-dropping landscapes and elaborately styled outfits befitting those living in such opulence. But the most awe-inspiring location on Asgard would be the rainbow bridge, where the Asgardians go to when they are set to travel to the other realms in the universe using the Bifrost under the watchful eye of its gatekeeper Heimdall (Idris Elba).

The filmmakers clearly thought enough about the location to use it for multiple pivotal story points, first the confrontation between Odin and Thor where Thor is stripped of his powers and banished from Asgard was inside the Bifrost, and then the it was the perfect setting for the final confrontation between Loki and Thor at the end of the film.

To contrast Asgard with the desolate small desert town in New Mexico, along with their own set of unique characters in astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and her colleague Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) that crash into the banished Thor and come to his aid. Much of the humor in the film comes between Thor interacting with these characters and the New Mexico environment.

Throw in a trip to the land of the Frost Giants early on in the film that sets the bar for epic battles and an amazing visual surroundings, and the true power of Blu-Ray comes in handy for the film.

Quite a few extras come along with the movie, including several behind the scenes featurettes that give a revealing look at the process of making the film, deleted scenes that flesh out some of the characters that might have had their time shortened to smooth out the film, a short focused on Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. that helps to connect the Marvel movie universe and a teaser for Marvel's upcoming The Avengers film.

By far the movie had a high risk, high reward factor when it came to being made and in the end it is clear that Marvel hit a home run with their first outing with Thor. Blu-Ray is a perfect complement to the high quality visuals of THOR and makes it an easy recommendation of not only fans of superhero or summer movies but also those just looking for an entertaining two hours. If you haven't checked it out yet, get this movie now.

Look to buy the THOR Blu-Ray over at Amazon for $26.12.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FILM: Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chip-Wrecked Trailer (News)

The animated film franchise starring three adorable chipmunks is returning with its third installment of family fun in ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIP-WRECKED.

Jason Lee (MY NAME IS EARL) returns as Dave Seville, the father figure of Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Along with the Chipettes, they take a trip on a cruise. Hijinks ensue and the chipmunks find themselves stranded on an island with Dave left behind to search for them.

Each Chipmunks film has had a new director and this one is no different, with Mike Mitchell (SHREK FOREVER AFTER) helming the film.



ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIP-WRECKED lands in theaters December 16, 2011.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

FILM: Voltron Fan Film 'VOLTRON: The End' (News)

There are generations of fans familiar with the animated franchise Voltron with the many iterations that have spun out from the initial 1980's series. And now they can enjoy a taste of live-action with a new short film that was released online that is generating quite a bit of buzz.

Starring Timothy Omundson (PSYCH) as Lance, pilot of the Red Lion, and directed by Alex Albrecht (DIGGNATION), VOLTRON: THE END focuses on the awakening of Lance after a space battle only to discover the rest of his team is gone, his lion's power is running out with only just enough time to send out a message of what happened if he so chooses.

Excellently crafted and acted, VOLTRON: THE END is a must see for fans of Voltron or of either man.


Synopsis:
When a man regains consciousness in a Voltron battle lion after an "accident" he has to decide does he live a few more minutes or try to tell the world what happened... the end is only the beginning.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FILM: The Avengers Teaser Trailer (News)

Five years in the making and five movies later Marvel is finally bringing its heroes together on the big screen in THE AVENGERS coming out next summer.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. thread that weaved through the Marvel films will be what brings together the big characters into this team movie. Reprising their roles from the individual films are Robert Downey Jr. (SHERLOCK HOLMES) as Tony Stark, Samuel L. Jackson (IRON MAN) as Nick Fury, Chris Hemsworth (STAR TREK) as Thor, Chris Evans (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER) as Steve Rogers, Scarlett Johansson (IRON MAN 2) as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner (IRON MAN 2) as Hawkeye.

Newcomers to the Marvel Universe are Mark Ruffalo (SHUTTER ISLAND) as the third film attempt at casting Dr. Bruce Banner and director Joss Whedon (SERENITY).



THE AVENGERS start protecting theatergoers on May 4, 2012.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Despicable Me (Review)

Despicable Me
2010 - Universal Studios
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on December 14, 2010

# of Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray, DVD + Digital Copy)
Runtime: 95 Minutes

Gru has earned the title of the world's no. 1 supervillain but when a new upstart named Vector steals the Pyramid of Giza, Gru falls out of favor with the Bank of Evil that funds his schemes putting his plan to shrink and steal the moon in doubt.

Even with the help of his army of Minions and the elderly Dr. Nefario, it takes the adoption of three young orphan girls to get Gru's plan off the ground. But what starts as a means to further his evil plan, becomes a new life direction for Gru: being a dad.

The entire film is 95 minutes of gorgeous animation but the moments that show it off best would be the discovery of the stolen pyramid from the very beginning of the film where the young boy falls on the inflated disguise and seeing what seemed like a gigantic stone monument deflate like a popped balloon.

Only the scenes surrounding the possession of the crucial shrink ray top the pyramid scene with first Gru and his Minions stealing it from a laboratory only for Vector to steal it from them and shrink their ship with them inside it. That leads to Gru's attempt to get it back which involved cookie robots and a very angry shark. Hysterical entertaining and visually captivating, a repeating theme in the movie.

DESPICABLE ME is packed with tons of special features, including three mini-movies featuring Gru's Minions: Orientation Day, Home Makeover & Banana. There are also a look at the voices from the movie, how the world was created along with the music made. There are also a few small games that are included that are a bit tricky to operate well with a remote but gives several moments of entertainment.

Yes, this might not be an animated film from Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks, but do not let that keep you from giving DESPICABLE ME a look because it is a film that can rival any from those other studios in terms of a quality story and great look and feel to the world it takes place in. There has not been any other animated film to put the parenting element of life into the crux of the story like this, giving a heartwarming feel that might not have been expected at first glance. A must get in my book.

Look to buy the DESPICABLE ME Blu-Ray over at Amazon for $14.99.

Monday, October 10, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Transformers - Dark of the Moon (Review)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2011 - Paramount
Released on Blu-Ray & DVD on September 30, 2011

# of Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray, DVD)
Runtime: 157 Minutes

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) returns for his third foray into the world of giant robots, now out of college, looking for a job and with a new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). He is drawn back into helping the Autobots protect the planet from the evil Decepticons, who this time around have a secret plan involving the moon. Joining Sam once again is former government agent Simmons (John Turturro) and Lt. Colonel Lennox (Josh Duhamel) along with the U.S. military.

New robots debut in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, on the Autobots side is the introduction of the legendary Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), the former leader of the Autobots and for the villainous Decepticons is the debut of Laserbeak and a true appearance of Shockwave.

Like the previous Transformers films, most of the highlights of the movie are the jaw dropping visuals during the robot battles. First, however must be mentioned before the battles is the various scenes dealing with the Ark, the Cybertronian spaceship carrying an invention said to be capable of ending the war between Autobots and Decepticons, that crash landed on the far side of Earth's Moon. It was brilliant to weave history into fiction with having the crew of Apollo 11 investigate the ship crash and then to see the intricate designs of the Ark when the Autobots make their voyage to the Moon to recover what they can from the wreck and find Sentinel Prime still functioning.

But the goldmine of visuals comes once the story hits Chicago, where the Decepticons have their controlling Pillar for the Space Bridge they plan to use to bring Cybertron to Earth and where Carly has been taken by her Decepticon controlled boss. Between buildings being brought down while the characters are inside, to Carly going face to face with Megatron and Optimus taking out Sentinel and Megatron putting a possible end to the robot conflict, the film is filled with mesmerizing moments.

Unfortunately it was not clearly advertised that this release of TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON would be only bare bones discs, meaning that only the film was released without any of the special features included. Instead there are plans for a feature packed release in the near future. This was not done with the previous films but is something that is starting to pop up more frequently with films but I hope it does not become a disturbing trend.

If you enjoyed the previous Transformers films, there is no reason you will not enjoy this one. The lack of Megan Fox's Mikaela Banes character is jarring but the non-stop action and Sam's heroic acts are more than enough to push past the absence. A near perfect execution to this final leg of Michael Bay's Transformers trilogy, worth seeing it in the beauty that is Blu-Ray.

Look to buy the bare bones TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON Blu-Ray over at Amazon for $26.99

Saturday, October 8, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Adventure Comics #527 (Review)

Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Geraldo Borges & Marlo Alquiza
Cover: Eduardo Pansica & Eber Ferreira

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

It was event week to start off the month of June with the releases of FLASHPOINT #2 and FEAR ITSELF #3, but neither title wowed me and it was actually an event side book that gave the most competition for top of the stack with FLASHPOINT: THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT #1 and its star Traci 13.

In the end however it was ADVENTURE COMICS #527 that won me over with its spotlight issue on one of the Legion Academy's residents, Comet Queen.

Veteran DC creative staple Paul Levitz has been the series writer for awhile now and his presence on the book is one of the reasons I have continued to read the book since its relaunch as a Superboy title to its transition to Legion of Super-Heroes stories because of his take on the legendary team is laced with fun, adventure and excitement. In fact, this he may have written his best issue yet this time around.

The story surrounds the character Comet Queen and her entire life, from her origin to how she landed in the Legion Academy in her own words as she tells the story to another star seeking character Her days as a child falling in love with space and gaining a crush on the Legionnaire, Bouncing Boy. And then her plan to become a Legionnaire by learning the origins of every Legionnaire and figuring out which would be a feasible path to follow - fate choosing for her to go through a comet like Star Boy.

Mix in a present time training scene at the academy where Comet Queen helps Glorith followed by an explanation why CQ is still at the Academy explaining her time with the League of Substitute Heroes, then Titanfall and what Saturn Queen did to her leading to a lot of her memories being gone for good. It was a well-rounded story that really had me as a reader connecting to this character that I knew very little about before the issue and now after the issue wanting to see her character around a lot more.

Geraldo Borges did the pencils for the issue and Marlo Alquiza was on inks, and the art inside the pages was solid. Drawing a Legion book can be a tough task given the wide variety of characters that might come up on a panel given the enormity of the group even for a team book but there was no drop off in quality with all these characters on the page. Each had their unique look and feel and never was there a moment when the identity of a figure could be confusing to the reader.

I find ADVENTURE COMICS to be one of the underrated series in the DCU and I will continue to be a faithful reader of the title as I find it slowly teaching me about the Legion Universe, an aspect of the DCU I was never terribly familiar with. Others is the same seat that I once was should give this series a shot.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

FILM: The Muppets Poster (News)

THE MUPPETS movie is fast approaching and Disney wants to make sure you are aware of it. During the summer there were a bunch of trailers made inspired by films that were coming out and now that it is fall the time has arrived to unveil some posters for the movie.

Several have hit online but my favorite has to be the group one included in this post.


THE MUPPETS hit theaters on Thanksgiving, November 24, 2011.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TV: Glee - 3.02 I Am Unicorn (Review)


Episode: 3.01 "I Am Unicorn"
Network: Fox
Airdate: September 27, 2011
Writer: Ryan Murphy
Director: Brad Falchuk
Description: New Directions faces a shake up when Shelby Corcoran comes to McKinley High and Rachel has to deal with the return of her biological mother. Meanwhile, Kurt starts his run for class president with the special help of Brittany.

The ramifications from Will Schuester's (Matthew Morrison) decision to deny Sugar Motta a spot in the glee club last week show up immediately in this episode when Will runs into former Vocal Adrenaline glee coach Shelby Corcoran in the staff room and finds out that Sugar's rich father gave McKinley High a blank check to have a glee club that would take his daughter.

Sue Sylvester's (Jane Lynch) campaign against the arts finds a face in the scared and confused Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Unfortunately for Sue - but luckily for Quinn - her convincing Quinn to portray her sob story as the fallout from participating in the arts leads to frank conversations with Mr. Schuester and Shelby, who adopted Quinn's baby Beth at the end of season 1. Along with the visibly maturing Puck, Quinn seems to come around and makes an effort, but her words to Puck suggest she is pretending in an attempt to get her daughter back.

Mr. Schue has the glee club's less able dancers attend a "Booty Camp" to improve their dancing. Mike Chang helps teach the sessions with the likes of Kurt, Mercedes, Blaine attending but the focus is on Finn and his lack of dance moves.

Kurt Hummel gets some advice for his campaign from Brittany to embrace who he is and be a unicorn but his early disagreements with her ideas leads Brittany to decide to run for herself instead of helping Kurt run.

The school musical begins auditioning with Coach Beiste, guidance counselor Emma Pilsbury and glee club member Artie Abrams running it while Mr. Schue focuses on Nationals. Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) auditions for Maria and seems to be the early favorite but Kurt's audition for Tony did not seem to go over well and Blaine's (Darren Criss) audition for a lesser role wowed the judges enough for them to ask him to try for Tony.

--

It was great to see Finn get some character development, at times it feels like he gets shafted to the side for other characters despite being the lead of New Directions. The conversation with Rachel in the auto shop was great to get both of their perspectives on the future and Rachel continuing to try to push Finn to fill out his potential. Then to see him persevere in the "Booty Camp" and adequately perform the steps was a nice top off for him in the episode.

Something that is going relatively under the radar is that despite being co-captain of the Cheerios and being kicked off of New Directions, Santana has been a lot less bitchy and insulting overall and more of a supportive friend to Brittany. It also looks like the beard relationship with Karofsky is over since he has been nonexistent this year.

And my favorite part of the school musical is that it gives some of my favorite GLEE characters screen time. I am talking about Coach Beiste, Emma and Blaine. Also if the casting goes the way the episode hints I will not be adverse to seeing some more Rachel/Blaine interaction after absolutely loving that episode last season where Rachel crushed on him.

While there were those that disliked GLEE season 2 for the move to more produced performances away from the character songs that were heavy in season 1, I enjoyed those times like the "Singing in the Rain" bit with Gwenyth Paltrow or the Britney Spears episode and I am hoping there will still be some of that this season and less of Kurt moving around on a metal scaffold.

I am worried about the direction Quinn's character is going, every season it has felt like there is a goodness to her that gets ignored for the more vindictive, selfish, catty version. In season 1 it was cheating on Finn and the baby fiasco with Terri. Season 2 was cheating on Sam and trying to keep Finn and Rachel apart. Now in season 3 it looks like she is going after Beth without any regard for what's best for her or the baby, something I refuse to believe Quinn is all about.

--

Assuming Quinn is accepted back into New Directions, that leaves two spots open in the glee club that needs to be filled. Will Santana be far behind? And what of Sugar Motta? She seems to be a constant presence for someone not in the glee club, will she eventually find her way into that last spot? All yet to be answered questions and I expect Mercedes will be auditioning as well for Maria and how will Kurt and Blaine's relationship be affected by the musical? Plenty of fun left to be had this season without focusing on Quinn's less than positive motives.

Monday, October 3, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: X-Men - First Class (Review)


X-Men: First Class
2011 - 20th Century Fox
Released on Blu-Ray & DVD on September 9, 2011

# of Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray, DVD + Digital Copy *Target Exclusive version comes with DVD disc of the movie*)
Runtime: 132 Minutes

Fox's fifth journey into the X-Men part of the Marvel Universe takes the audience back to the very beginning of the story. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS covers the years skipped over by the first X-Men movie from the time young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) discovers his mutant ability in a German concentration camp to the meeting of Erik and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the eventual formation of the first team of X-Men to the inevitable taking sides between the professor and Magneto.

Along the way they cross paths with the global meddling Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his Hellfire Club, saving the world in the 60's and facing the truth that homo sapiens fear the homo superior (mutants) too much to trust.

The recreation of the concentration camp scene from the first X film was a definite visual highlight of the early part of the film and seeing young Erik's anger awaken his latent mutant ability for magnetism. Then the film takes it to the next level by connecting that moment to the villain of this film Shaw, putting him in a position of power in the German force under the alias Schmidt and immediately displaying his evilness as he tries to figure out what triggers Erik's magnetic ability.

Following Erik's revenge journey globetrotting across the world hunting down those connected to the camps in his search for Shaw could have been a film on its own. The director's decision to channel James Bond with Erik really came through in these moments like when he went to the bar and took down two former German soldiers who had escaped punishment.

And as a nod to the previous films in the franchise, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS included cameos from two stars from the films. When Erik and Charles are going around recruiting mutants, they stop in at a bar where they come upon a drinking Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who tells them rudely to go away which they promptly do. And when Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is in Erik's bed trying to get his attention she turns into an older version of herself (Rebecca Romijn).

In the special features included with the movie was the "Children of the Atom" documentary that covered the entire production of the film from behind the camera, to the conception and the casting to the locations and the sets, it is a thoroughly entertaining and informative peak into the film that is just as worth watching as the film is. There is also a bunch of extended and deleted scenes that help flush out some of the moments of the film that might have felt too brief in the final cut.

If there is an X-men movie to watch, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS is it. While it may be confusing to someone not familiar with the X-Men movie universe and the changes that have been made in comparison to the source material in the comic books, the spirit of the world and its characters is right there in the film. And those that liked the previous four X films will definitely fall in love with this one, as it takes the best of those films and pays tribute to them by building the foundation for that world. This Blu-Ray is worth adding to your collection for the film alone, the special features put it over the top. A must buy.

Look to buy the X-MEN: FIRST CLASS Blu-Ray over at Amazon for $21.99.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

FILM: Despicable Me 2 Poster (News)

Film studios more and more seem interested in preparing their customers for not only the next summer releases but also the summer after that. Universal is no different and after the success of their Summer 2010 animated feature film, DESPICABLE ME, it is no surprise that a sequel is in the works but not on the immediate horizon, Summer 2013.

That does not deter from the first poster of DESPICABLE ME 2 to get released, featuring one of the lovable Minions from the first film.


DESPICABLE ME 2 is scheduled for release into theaters on July 3, 2013.

Friday, September 30, 2011

FILM: Snow White and the Huntsman's New Look Princess (News)

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is an upcoming live-action film set for release next summer and is currently in production in the UK. This interpretation of the fairy tale puts a twist on the story, this time around the Huntsman is ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed but instead winds up being her protector and mentor in the fight against the Evil Queen.

Newcomer director Rupert Sanders is behind the camera for the film and the cast includes Kristen Stewart (TWILIGHT) as Snow White, Chris Hemsworth (THOR) as the Huntsman and Charlize Theron (HANCOCK) as the Evil Queen.




And now set photos have appeared online of the production filming in Wales with Kristen Stewart showing different sides of Snow White in the film, one in armor and another in a dress. The latter possibly being part of a chase or escape scene given the beach-like area and Kristen's wet appearance.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN arrives in theaters on June 1, 2012.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

FILM: The Dark Knight Rises Catwoman on the Prowl (News)

At the beginning of September came set photos from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES of Anne Hathaway looking very stylish as Selina Kyle's public face and now at the end of the month new set photos have appeared online showing Anne Hathaway in the same catsuit from the summer released promo photo as Selina Kyle's more private, Catwoman-esque side.



From the photos it is clear that scenes involving Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Christian Bale as Batman were part of the filming, as was the Bat-Pod that was in the Catwoman promo photo giving some credence to the rumors swirling that Selina's extracurricular activities may be supported in some way by Batman. Next summer is quickly approaching.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES into theaters on July 20, 2012.

Monday, September 26, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Star Wars: Legacy - War # 6 (Review)

Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Jan Duursema
Cover: Jan Duursema

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $3.50

The last week of May brought a sizable stack of comics with over twenty titles in it, a quantity that is quickly becoming the norm when it comes to my reading list. Unfortunately this was also one of those weeks where very few of the comics actually stood out and it was tough going for awhile getting through the titles and finding one worthy for the top of my stack.

If one thing has come out with all these comic reviews I have written it is that I am a sucker for all-ages books and that made MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN #14 with Spider-Man and George Stacy battling Mysterio a contender but in the end it was the climactic showdown between Cade Skywalker and Darth Krayt in STAR WARS: LEGACY - WAR #6 that put the final issue of the mini-series at the top of the stack.

Writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema have been involved with the characters and time in the Star Wars universe for awhile now, being the creative team on the mini-series and having worked together on the ongoing title that preceded it. They have the spirit and style of the book down pat as this mini is more of an extension of the previous ongoing and a fitting wrap up to this era of Star Wars if this is indeed the end.

In this final issue Darth Talon unintentionally leads Cade right to Darth Krayt and the final showdown between the two commences with the attack on Coruscant ongoing. Roan Fel finds his advisors opinions to be unsatisfactory and not loyal leading to a fight between he and Antares Draco. But it is Krayt trying to push Cade to the dark side that is the real climax to the story as the full vision helps guide Cade to his true discovery, his destiny to be a Jedi like his forefathers before him.

Of course not even Cade can go away quietly, deciding that Krayt had infected his body so he needs to plunge himself into the sun as well to truly eradicate any trace of Krayt. It is Cade's family that steps up in the end, Morrigan getting word to the Mynock and the spirit of Luke Skywalker giving sage advice as Cade stands on the precipice.

Having a STAR WARS: LEGACY title to read month in and month out the last few years has been a joy and now I hope that I will find a new Star Wars title to fill the hole that now needs filling. Something I am sure Dark Horse will accomplish with ease looking at the track record of Star Wars titles and my reading of them. Here is to the next adventure in a galaxy far, far away.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TV: Glee - 3.01 The Purple Piano Project (Review)


Episode: 3.01 "The Purple Piano Project"
Network: Fox
Airdate: September 20, 2011
Writer: Brad Falchuk
Director: Eric Stoltz
Description: It's fall and that means back to school for the students and faculty at McKinley High. The New Directions clan returns after a devastating loss at Nationals, so Mr. Schuester assigns a project to get them back on track. Meanwhile, Sue Sylvester starts her congressional campaign.

For the premiere of season 3 of GLEE, change is the name of the game. The glee club is down three members: Trouty mouth Sam moved away, Lauren Zizes quit and broke up with Puck, and no one had heard from Quinn for months. Mercedes has a new boyfriend and Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is now living together with Emma. Then Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) shows up at school with new hair (pink!), a nose ring, a new tattoo (of Ryan Seacrest), a new attitude and a new group of friends called The Skanks.

Yet with all this change, some things stay the same. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) needed a hook for her struggling campaign and found it after destroying a purple piano and getting praise from a fellow teacher, the arts in schools must die! And just like that Sue vs Will round three begins.

Sue makes Becky and Santana co-captains of the Cheerios and starts to drive a wedge between Santana and the glee club that quickly becomes a chasm when Mr. Schue blames Santana for the purple piano bursting into flames thanks to the Cheerios and bans her from New Directions.

Kurt and Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) begin the journey to their Broadway dreams by going to a mixer for NYADA (New York Academy of Dramatic Arts) and get a shock to their system by the performances of the other attendees. After a good cry in the car, this leads them to look towards expanding their horizons, with Kurt deciding to run for school president and Rachel seeking to star in the next school musical.

And the drive for new members starts with Mr. Schue's idea of planting three purple pianos throughout the school and directing the glee club to burst into song when they come upon one of these pianos with the hopes that these performances would help attract the type of person that cannot help but sing.

Last season their attempts attracted the interest of Sam and Sunshine (who Rachel drove away by directing her to a crack house), but this year the New Directions was not as lucky only getting one audition by the girl that cannot sing a tune, Sugar Motta. However, the newly transfered Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) joins by the end of the episode.

--

The songs are still the highlights of GLEE and the episode makes good use of the entire school with New Directions performing "We Got the Beat" in the school cafeteria, Kurt and Rachel performing "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead!" in the auditorium and Blaine's solo of "It's Not Unusual" in the courtyard. Throw in a mash-up of "Anything Goes" and "Anything You Can Do" at the NYADA mixer and a Rachel Berry-led "You Can't Stop the Beat" to cap off the episode and GLEE has itself a great musical start to the new season.

Coming off a slightly subdued finish for Sue in season 2 it is nice to see the show get her back to what makes her so deliciously entertaining - trying to take down Will Schuester.

I was also worried that taking Blaine away from Dalton Academy and the Warblers would mean a diminishing role in musical performances but to get a solo right out of the shoot in season 3 gives a good sign for the rest of the season.

--

I do wonder if the new assertive Will Schuester that showed up in this episode will be sticking around because it just did not feel right, at times it was like he was yelling and ordering around the glee club in a way that was reminiscent of the advice Jessie St. James gave last season when New Directions was heading to Nationals.

And what of Quinn? Mr. Schue's hard stance on Santana should carry to Quinn if she tries to rejoin the club right? It was her cigarette that finally put the purple piano ablaze.

Either way, it is clear that GLEE is hitting the ground running with season 3 and with the high bar the first two seasons set, that can only mean viewers are in for many more memorable moments this season.

Monday, September 19, 2011

TV: Catching Up for Glee Season 3 (Commentary)

With the season 3 premiere of Glee airing this week, how about a recap of the characters of the hit musical Fox dramedy that gets you ready to jump on for the new season in case you've missed out on this fun series and do not want to go through 44 episodes to catch up like I did this summer.

Will Schuester is a spanish teacher at William McKinley High School and in season 1 he takes over the school's glee club, renaming it New Directions. He finds himself attracted to the school's guidance counselor but news of his wife's pregnancy changes his focus back to his home. When his wife's lying comes out, Will erupts and files for divorce. Single, Will tries to start up a relationship with Emma but is rebuffed.

A brief make out session with Rachel's mom, the coach of Vocal Adrenaline helped illustrate that he was not ready for another relationship. In season 2 he hopes to try again with Emma but finds out she is dating her dentist. Undeterred he continues to be a presence around Emma but does start a relationship with super substitute Holly. When Holly breaks it off, he begins to reach out to Emma especially after her relationship with her dentist ends.

Sue Sylvester is a champion cheer coach at William McKinley High School with her team, the Cheerios. Used to being the dominating presence at the school, Sue feels threatened by Principal Figgins' support for the glee club and decides to undertake the mission to destroy Will Schuester and the glee club. Several times Sue comes close to accomplishing this goal but sometimes it is Sue's hidden softer side that lets the glee club stick around.

During season 2 Sue goes through a bit of an identity crisis when her Cheerios abandon her and stop her run at consecutive championships. Sue decides to marry herself, and her sister dies, shaking her core beliefs. By the end of the season Sue has decided to move past her feud with the glee club and looking towards running for political office.

Finn Hudson is the star quarterback and male lead of New Directions. During season 1 he was in a relationship with Quinn and when she became pregnant he believed he was the father because of a hot tub incident that did not include sex. The more time spent with the glee club, Finn begins to be drawn towards Rachel and when Quinn's cheating is revealed it paves the way for Finn and Rachel to come together just before their Regionals performance.

In season 2 it comes out that Finn lost his virginity to Santana, leading to his and Rachel's breakup and his reuniting with Quinn after they kiss and realize the chemistry they have. Finn also gains a brother in Kurt when Finn's mom marries Kurt's dad. The season finale saw Finn kiss Rachel during their performance at Nationals in New York, bringing them back together.

Rachel Berry is the female lead of New Directions with aspirations of Broadway for her future. During season 1 she discovers that the coach of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline is her biological mother thanks to a brief relationship Rachel has with Vocal Adrenaline's Jesse St. James. When season 2 starts Rachel and Finn are in a relationship but he breaks it off with her when Rachel makes out with Puck to try to make Finn jealous. She also tricks new girl Sunshine into going to a crack house instead of the choir room to audition for glee club. Eventually she reunites with Finn during Nationals in New York, where she also solidifies her dream for Broadway with Kurt.

Quinn Fabray is a part of New Directions and was the head cheerleader of the Cheerios for most of two seasons. During season 1 she discovers she is pregnant with Puck's child and for a time tries to make it seem like Finn is the father. Quinn spends some time going between the boys before deciding neither were good father material and that she was not ready for a child, deciding to give up the baby. There is much drama involved with the baby and Will's then wife, Terri, wanting to take the baby as her own to cover her fake pregnancy. In the end however, it is Rachel's biological mother who adopts the baby after realizing how much she missed in not having Rachel in her life.

For season 2 Quinn comes with a renewed attitude to stay out of the boy drama but soon finds herself wooed by the clumsy new student Sam, who also happened to be the new star quarterback of McKinley High. Unfortunately her regrets came back to bite her as a newly single Finn set his eyes back on her and coaxes a kiss from Quinn. She still had feelings for Finn and the sparks from the kiss overruled her best intentions and she makes out with Finn behind Sam's back. This eventually breaks off her relationship with Sam and she picks back up with Finn and starts looking towards being prom queen. Finn however leaves her for Rachel and Quinn is sad that she does not seem to be enough.

Kurt Hummel is an openly gay member of New Directions and he frequently has to fight through perceptions to get to sing the roles he wants even if they are intended for females. In season 1 he joins the football team and dates Brittany for a brief time to try to impress his father. A continual thread through the two seasons is Kurt's insecurity with his relationship with his father and his inability to be the son he thinks his father wants him to be.

In season 2 starts a very dramatic, borderline abusive bullying by the football player Karofsky who takes offense to Kurt's gayness despite actually finding himself to be gay as well. It leads to Kurt transferring schools and meeting Blaine, another gay student that he immediately crushes on. By the end of the season Kurt is together with Blaine and has returned to McKinley High once the Karofsky business was straightened out.

Emma Pillsbury is McKinley High's guidance counselor and has obsessive compulsive disorder problems in regards to cleanliness. There is an attraction between she and Will but for most of the two seasons there are barriers between them with Will being married in S1 and her agreeing to marry Coach Tanaka. Her inability to commit herself to the relationship and her feelings for Will doomed things with Coach Tanaka but when Will is free and single in S2 Emma had found a suitable boyfriend in her dentist, Carl. Again Will is the reason the relationship falls apart and by the end of the season, Emma and Will seem to be heading in the right direction together.

Noah "Puck" Puckerman is a part of New Directions and the McKinley High football team. During season 1 it comes out he is the father of Quinn's baby and it ruins his friendship with Finn. While trying to seem like a good potential father for the baby, Puck continues to wander and sees Santana on the side. In season 2 Puck seems to have lost his lady mojo as well as his status in the school due to his glee club participation. For awhile Puck pursues Mercedes when she is part of the Cheerios to try to return to his prominence in the school. They do not mesh well and Puck leans towards his religion to find his way and chases Rachel. Again he is unsuccessful and spends the rest of the season wooing Lauren after she rescued him from a porter potty.

Santana Lopez was on the Cheerios before joining New Directions. Her public persona is a bitchy one, as she makes the effort to insult her fellow students on a daily basis. For most of the first two seasons she is seeing Puck and gets into confrontations with both Quinn and Lauren when they acquire Puck's attention. During season 2 her emotions bubble over when she realizes her feelings for Brittany but struggles with the ramifications of it.

Artie Abrams is wheelchair bound and a member of New Directions. During season 1 he dates Tina and for a time believes walking is right around the corner. His dreams are tempered by Miss Pillsbury's guidance, and his relationship is broken when Tina and Mike get together during the summer. In season 2 he joins the football team and dates Brittany but messes things up when he calls her stupid.

Brittany Pierce was on the Cheerios before joining New Directions. She is one of the best dancers in glee club and often shines in dance numbers with Mike. It might seem like naiveté but Brittany does not judge harshly and is open to new things. Brittany dates Artie for most of season 2, all the while finding time to make out with Santana, someone she loves.

Principal Figgins is the principal at McKinley High and the victim of several blackmail opportunities by Sue because of an embarrassing commercial he did in the past and when he woke up in bed next to Sue who claimed they had sex. For awhile in season 2 he is removed as principal but he returns when Sue gives up the position.

Coach Shannon Bieste is the new football coach for McKinley High when season 2 starts. She is the victim of hazing from both Sue and Will who feel threatened when their budgets are being reduced for the football team. Will eventually turns around and apologizes to Shannon and the two eventually become very good friends.

Tina Cohen-Chang is a member of New Directions and dated Artie during season 1. For a short time Principal Figgins interpreted Tina's fashion style as her being a vampire and she has a bit of an identity crisis when her clothing choices are banned. During the summer at Asian Camp, she gets together with Mike Chang and continues that relationship through season 2.

Mike Chang is on the football team and a member of New Directions and the best male dancer of the group. He however cannot sing and puts his all into dance to make up for it. During season 2 he is in a relationship with Tina after spending time together at Asian Camp the previous summer.

Blaine Anderson is the lead singer of Dalton Academy's glee club, The Warblers. He quickly takes Kurt under his wing when Kurt transfers to the school and they become the best of friends. For a brief time a party at Rachel's house leads to Rachel having a crush on Blaine and her infatuation helps Blaine determine his confidence in his sexuality. After a failed attempt at wooing a boy working in a department store, Blaine opens up to Kurt and the two eventually get together.

Mercedes Jones is a member of New Directions and throughout the two seasons of the show deals with the frustration of not getting as many solos as she feels she deserves when compared to Rachel. During season 1 she approaches Kurt to date and is the catalyst for him revealing to all that he is gay. In season 2 she briefly dates Puck but knows quickly that it just was not working. At the end of the season she is holding hands with Sam in a coffee ship, something they are hiding from the others.

Lauren Zizes joins New Directions in season 2 when the group is down a member. She saves Puck and unintentionally gains his attention for the rest of the season. Slowly she begins to soften her stance against dating Puck throughout the season as he woos her.

Sam Evans is the new kid in school and for a short while is the star quarterback of McKinley High before getting hurt. He eventually joins New Directions after deciding not to in the premiere and he chases after Quinn before finally convincing her to date him. He breaks it off with her when it becomes clear that Quinn is into Finn and he dates Santana briefly before she moves on just as fast. For most of the first half of the season Sam challenges Finn's alpha male status in the glee club but when tough times hit his family, Sam fades into the background. The glee club finds out and seeks to help Sam however they can and in the season 2 finale he is seen holding hands with Mercedes with whom he went to prom with.


And that is the gist of what has gone in on GLEE. Hopefully now you can start on season 3 and not feel like you are completely lost.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

FILM: A Change Star Wars Should Make (Commentary)

With the release of the Star Wars Blu-ray sets yesterday there has been a buildup in discussion between fans and blogs about the changes made within the series from the days of the special editions in the late 90's to now these Blu-ray sets. While some may be overly dramatic about the changes, I fall in the camp that embraces the continual perfection seeking vision of George Lucas.

And in that spirit there is one scene in A NEW HOPE that I would like to see perfected in a future version release (definitely too late for the Blu-ray release). I am talking about a scene that was re-added with the release of the special editions, when Han Salo and Jabba the Hutt have a discussion at Mos Eisley Spaceport in the hanger where the Millenium Falcon was parked.


Back when it was originally filmed in the 70's, Jabba was played by a human actor and as a result Han Solo interacted with the character that was the size of a human. This made the reinclusion of the scene in the special edition version slightly awkward as Jabba was changed to his proper form of a Hutt but because of Han Solo's movements around Jabba, it was turned into Han stepping onto Jabba's tail as he circled him.

For a long time there did not seem that a way to fix this scene existed outside of reshooting the scene with someone else standing in for Han Solo considering Harrison Ford is now 30 years older and not exactly in the same condition to do the role. And I think if the scene was reshot with someone else, the crazed fans that resist every change made in the Star Wars Universe would probably become murderous.

But then TRON: LEGACY happened, and the technology used in it caught my attention. They were able to create a young Jeff Bridges so that the actor could play once again a character he had played nearly 30 years before. There was a little bit of an uncanny valley effect with the generated younger version but for being a breakthrough technology in film, it came off quite well.


If George Lucas got his hands on the same technology I think it would be possible to reshoot the scene with Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt with Harrison Ford and this time take into consideration Jabba's slug mass. I think they could even just use it for wide shots and Han's movements in the scene and possibly merge it with some of the original footage that was acceptable.

Will it ever happen? Probably not, but it would be nice to clean up the one glaring problem I have had with the changes over the years.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TV: The Walking Dead Season 2 Poster (News)

The newest show in AMC's stable of hits, THE WALKING DEAD, is returning for its second season this fall and the promotion for the new season is beginning to ramp up now that it is little more than a month away from air. Here is a promotional poster featuring the show's hero, Rick Grimes, running down the lane with gun drawn.


THE WALKING DEAD creeps onto television sets on October 16 at 9pm/8pm central on AMC.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TV: Returning Favorites to be Excited About (Commentary)

The new fall television season is about to start and here are some returning shows worth tuning in to.

Hawaii Five-0. CBS. Mondays. 10PM. Premiere Sept 19.

Last season saw the Five-0 team get disbanded as McGarrett was arrested for the murder of the governor, Chin Ho returned to Hawaii PD, Kono was being investigated and Danno had reunited with his ex and seemed ready to move back to New Jersey. This season sees a new recurring character make his presence felt around the Five-0, Lt. Commander Joe White, McGarrett's Navy SEAL training officer who comes to Hawaii in the season 2 premiere to help clean up the mess McGarrett has found himself in.

Glee. FOX. Tuesdays. 8PM. Premiere Sept 20.

Last season saw New Directions make it to Nationals in New York only for Finn to spontaneously kiss Rachel in the middle of their performance, a possible reason the glee club does not even place and Sue Sylvester has set her sights on the US Congress.

CSI. CBS. Wednesdays. 10PM. Premiere Sept 21.

Last season saw the CSI team and specifically Ray Langston face off against Nate Haskell, with Ray killing Haskell and the team having to decide if it was murder or self defense. This season sees an addition to the team, DB Russell, the new night-shift supervisor for the Las Vegas crime lab.

Bones. FOX. Thursdays. 9PM. Premiere Nov.

Last season saw the death of one of their own bring together Booth and Bones and a pregnancy will soon make 3.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

FILM: The Dark Knight Rises Fashionable Selina Kyle (News)

Perhaps the most talked about decision going into the last part of Christopher Nolan's Batman film trilogy was the casting of actress Anne Hathaway for the new female lead role, Selina Kyle. With the female lead of the first two films Rachel Dawes being a new character created just for the films, played by two different actresses and having died in THE DARK KNIGHT it was big news that Nolan was going to use the signature female character of the Batman mythology, Catwoman to finally play opposite Batman in his movies.

Now the Catwoman character has had a shaky existence in films, with Michelle Pfeiffer's excellent performance in BATMAN RETURNS taking a different (read: Tim Burton) approach to Selina Kyle and there was also the Halle Berry's forgettable try in CATWOMAN where the character was loosely based on the DC Comics character. So it is interesting that with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in production, Hathaway's role as Selina Kyle has taken the forefront over any mention of her Catwoman alias.



And here we can see from shots earlier this week of Anne Hathaway filming scenes for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in Los Angeles that Nolan is going with a much more stylish, sophisticated looking Selina Kyle than has been seen before in films. Comic readers are familiar with seeing this side of Selina when it comes to crossing paths with Bruce Wayne, and I am sure the films will use this for them to cross paths outside of the capes and cowls as well. The duality of the relationship between Bruce/Selina and Batman/Catwoman is one of the unique aspects of their relationship and it would be a smart direction for Nolan to follow.

Breathe easy fans, Christopher Nolan is weaving another masterpiece ... like there was any doubt?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SPORTS: NFL 2011 Predictions (Commentary)


It is that time of year again, fall is approaching and the football season is about to begin. That also means that it is time for GeekPlate's annual predictions for the upcoming year of the National Football League.

Last year was the first go-around on the blog and GP predicted the Super Bowl champions, Green Bay Packers, picked 4 AFC playoff teams & 2 NFC playoff teams. Now this year's picks, first up team projections:

AFC East: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - 13-3
AFC North: BALTIMORE RAVENS - 11-5
AFC South: HOUSTON TEXANS - 12-4
AFC West: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS - 11-5
Wildcards: CLEVELAND BROWNS - 10-6, BUFFALO BILLS - 10-6

Wildcard Round: RAVENS over BILLS, BROWNS over CHARGERS
Divisional Round: PATRIOTS over BROWNS, RAVENS over TEXANS
AFC Championship: PATRIOTS over RAVENS

NFC East: WASHINGTON REDSKINS - 11-5
NFC North: GREEN BAY PACKERS - 14-2
NFC South: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - 11-5
NFC West: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS - 8-8
Wildcards: CHICAGO BEARS - 11-5, NEW YORK GIANTS - 10-6

Wildcard Round: REDSKINS over GIANTS, BEARS over SEAHAWKS
Divisional Round: PACKERS over BEARS, REDSKINS over SAINTS
NFC Championship: PACKERS over REDSKINS

Super Bowl XLVI: PACKERS over PATRIOTS

Individual Awards:
MVP: Aaron Rodgers (PACKERS)
Offensive Player of the Year: Matt Schaub (TEXANS)
Defensive Player of the Year: Brian Urlacher (BEARS)
Coach of the Year: Mike Shanahan (REDSKINS)