Sunday, October 30, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Thor (Review)

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.

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.