Hitting comic book stores on September 20th will be a very cool and incredibly interesting new series from AfterShock Comics called “Dark Ark“. It combines all of the elements of myth, lore, and alternate history into a deliciously dark tale set during the Biblical time of The Great Flood. Written by the always exceptional Cullen Bunn and smoothly drawn by Juan Doe, “Dark Ark” presents us with the idea that Noah may not have been the only one to build an ark to ride out the 40 day and 40 night deluge of the Earth. In this tale, a dark wizard by the name of Shrae takes two each of the demons & dark creatures (I.E. vampires, manticores, harpies, etc) aboard his own ark to survive the flood. But when a gathering of these monsters inhabit such a small space for so long, trouble is bound to happen. This is a fascinating look at a plot that runs tangent to a story with which we are all familiar. The scenes set by Bunn’s narrative and Doe’s accompanying art make for a compelling read that will make you hunger for the second issue as soon as you’ve finished the first! Comics like this are the reason independent publishers like AfterShock should be celebrated. “Dark Ark” is due out on September 20th so hurry and let your local comic book store know that you want them to put it on your pull list! You may even want to get 2 copies to make sure you get the alternate cover drawn by the phenomenal Phil Hester. On a scale of 1 – 10, I give “Dark Ark” a strong 8.5.
‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard‘ shoots into theaters this weekend starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Elodie Yung, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek. If those names alone aren’t enough to pique your interest, then perhaps my review may persuade you further. The best way to describe this film is to say it’s like ‘The Odd Couple‘ meets ‘Lethal Weapon‘. Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a triple-A rated personal security operative who is at the top of his game until he loses a high value client. Fast forward 2 years and Bryce is on his own, providing security for drug-addled attorneys. Samuel L. Jackson plays Darius Kincaid, a professional & experienced hitman, who has been offered a deal by Interpol: testify against Belarus’s feared dictator Vladislov Dukhovich (impeccably played by Gary Oldman) and his imprisoned wife, Sonia Kincaid (delightfully portrayed by Salma Hayek) will go free. After accepting the deal, Interpol begins the transfer of Darius Kincaid to the International Court Of Justice hearings in Amsterdam under the watchful eye of Agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung). Before they can make it out of London, the transfer caravan is hit by agents of Dukhovich who will stop at nothing to keep Kincaid from testifying. With no choice left, Roussel calls in ex-boyfriend Bryce to insure that Kincaid makes it to Amsterdam in time for the hearing. If Kincaid doesn’t appear in court to testify, Dukhovich will go free.
The film is laced with the typical Ryan Reynolds‘ humor and Samuel L. Jackson‘s signature swearing. There is also a LOT of violence, but then again, the title IS “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” so one SHOULD expect quite a bit of the rough stuff. Action is the order of the day and both Reynolds and Jackson are easily up for the task. Their chemistry on-screen is fantastic and all of the supporting cast are also superb in their roles. (Honestly: When has Gary Oldman ever NOT been superb?) The plot itself is not particularly inventive and the story is rather predictable, but it moves along at such a great pace from the beginning that you never really have a chance to stop and think about this flaw until after the film is over. The fight choreography and stunt work throughout the movie are also exceptional and I think this is a project that should afford a great deal of pride to all of those involved with the entire production. For best action flick of the year, I’d say that this one comes in right behind ‘Atomic Blonde‘ for me as the most fun offering of the summer. On a scale of 1 – 10, I’d give ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ a solid 7 with just a few points off for the aforementioned predictability. If you get the chance to see a film this weekend, I would certainly recommend checking this one out. If for no other reason than this: You get to see Elektra hire Deadpool to keep Sirius Black from killing Mace Windu. Now THAT’S entertainment!!
Horror movies are generally quite bankable. People LIKE being scared. The last time a horror movie truly lived up to its name for me was 2013’s ‘The Conjuring‘ which is now in my “Top 10 Scary Movies of All Time” list. That movie had a side story featuring an incredibly creepy doll named Annabelle that was possessed by evil. I clearly was not alone in my fear of this gruesome creation because the doll got a spin-off movie in ‘Annabelle‘ which came out just a year after ‘The Conjuring’. Now, we get the origin story of the world’s creepiest doll with this weekend’s release of ‘Annabelle: Creation‘. This film stars Anthony LaPaglia as Samuel Mullins, the doll maker who, after suffering the loss of his young daughter, unknowingly allows a demonic force to possess his latest creation in an attempt to bring his daughter back. Twelve years later, Sister Charlotte (played by Stephanie Sigman) brings a group of young orphan girls to the Mullins’ large home to live until they can be adopted. But when young Janice (played by Talitha Bateman) unknowing finds the doll and takes it out of it’s hidden prison, the malevolent spirit is unleashed and takes its revenge on the Mullins and everyone else living under their roof in horrifying ways.
This film succeeds in delivering genuine frights along with a compelling narrative where many other horror films tend to do either one or the other. For me, supernatural tales are generally more frightening than slasher flicks and ‘Annabelle: Creation’ is no exception. There is something universally frightening about making a seemingly innocent doll or child the focal point of evil. It’s been done well in other films throughout the years and is something this movie does even better than it’s predecessor. All of the acting solidly delivers to keep the audience engaged with the characters throughout the lean 1 hour and 49 minute run time and the pacing never drags. While there was a moment or two when my suspension of disbelief was tested, it wasn’t enough that I couldn’t thoroughly enjoy the overall film. For everything ‘Annabelle: Creation’ gives us, I’d rate it a strong 7.5! I predict that this movie will be #1 at the box office for it’s opening weekend and I would certainly recommend seeing it to any of my fellow horror movie fans out there. Just make sure you leave a light on for when you get home. And maybe make sure any dolls you have in the house are put away. Just to be safe.
After a slow start with Episode 1 to re-establish the main characters, Episode 2 starts off with Matt Murdock perched on the roof of his apartment listening to the various sounds of Hell’s Kitchen after an apparent earthquake has shaken the city. He reacts to a problem he feels can’t be ignored but is immediately upset by his decision to intervene. He is clearly still torn by his decision to stop being Daredevil. Meanwhile, Colleen and Danny continue to investigate the presence of The Hand in New York and follow their only lead in an attempt to get closer to their goal of stopping The Hand once and for all. Jessica Jones continues with her investigation into the suspected disappearance of a seemingly ordinary businessman who looks to be wrapped up in something far more complicated than Misty Knight and the police seem to think.. Luke Cage does what he can to help take care of the damage done to Harlem by the tremors from the night before and works a lead given to him by Turk in order to find out why young men in Harlem keep ending up dead after the working for a man by the name of White Hat.
Whereas the first episode of this new series was a little slow and felt disjointed, we can see a more cohesive series being formed in the second episode as the various characters’ stories begin to slightly overlap. The overall style also seems reflective of that in this episode as the first seemed to be trying to keep each character’s scenes locked into their own show’s style of filming. Now that the interaction between some of the key characters is beginning to happen, I am completely invested. The acting was as solid from all of the players assembled as it was in their individual series. I am giddy about the possibilities of where the show goes from here. Given that this particular series is only 8 episodes long, I am sure the pace will pick-up dramatically and the complaint heard from some regarding the solo series about being a bit slow in some instances will not be a complaint that ‘The Defenders‘ will receive past the first episode. For only being the 2nd episode with all the occurred, I would rate it a solid 7.
Buckle up, Friends! ‘Atomic Blonde‘ hits theaters this weekend and it hits hard!! Are you an action movie fan? You’ll love it. Do you enjoy films with a strong female lead? This is for you. Perhaps you can’t get enough of movies based on comics and graphic novels? Done! You love all things 80’s? Check! Perhaps you just enjoy spy movies with a bit of a twist at the end. Again… you’re covered. Of all of the summer releases so far this year (and we’ve had some doozies), ‘Atomic Blonde’, for my money, may be the best one yet! Set against the backdrop of Berlin during the final days of the Cold War, this highly stylized and masterfully shot film stars Charlize Theron as MI6 Agent Lorraine Broughton who is tasked to bring back the body of a fellow agent and complete his assignment by getting a microfilm that could tip the balance of world power.
Throughout the movie, there is the typical spy fare including double agents, car chases, dizzying fights, glamorous settings and action aplenty. James McAvoy is lovably despicable as the Berlin station chief who uses his position to further his own desires and goals. It’s always a delight to see Sofia Boutella on screen and she perfectly plays the still somewhat green French agent assigned to Berlin. The cast is rounded out by the always outstanding John Goodman as CIA liaison Emmett Kurzfeld, Eddie Marsan as Spyglass, Toby Jones as MI6 head Eric Gray and Roland Moller as KGB chief Aleksander Bremovych. Beautifully filmed by director David Leitch, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a slick and stylized roundhouse kick to your senses. The soundtrack featuring such 80’s gems as “Voices Carry“, “Under Pressure“, “Der Kommissar” and “99 Luftballons” fit seamlessly into the action and help propel the film’s 1 hr 55 min run time along at an effortless pace. Speaking of effortless – Charlize Theron makes the incredibly choreographed and downright brutal fight scenes look like a perfectly practiced dance from which even Jason Bourne could learn a thing or two.
The casting of this movie couldn’t have been better and Charlize Theron demonstrates, yet again, how suited she is for playing the role of total badass. I can only imagine the delight from Antony Johnston and Sam Hart (who created the graphic novel “The Coldest City” on which the film is based) when it was announced that Charlize would be playing the lead role. As a fan of all things 80’s, the movie was a delight for me and I probably would have reviewed the film favorably just on those merits. The fact that it was breathtakingly beautiful, brilliantly acted and buoyantly fun means that I cannot, in good conscience, rate ‘Atomic Blonde’ anything less than a 9.5 with a half point taken off for some incredibly slight cliche tropes of the spy genre. If you are wanting to see some exciting thrills this weekend on the big screen, then ‘Atomic Blonde’ is just the woman for you!
It was a whirlwind of a day! Stan Lee was honored during an Imprint Ceremony at The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood amid a day of fanfare that concluded with an epic party at “The Tony Stark Mansion”high in the Hollywood Hills. Legion M, the world’s first ever fan-owned film company, put together the whole event which was also sponsored by The Nerdist, TCL, IMAX, Audible and many more. As an investor in Legion M, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the day’s events and am able to tell you first hand what a truly amazing time was had by all in attendance. The event began at 10am with artist Rob Prior deftly crafting a custom art piece featuring Stan Lee’s face surrounded by images of Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Spider-Man. Afterwards, the celebrities began to show up including (from L to R below) Todd McFarlane, Kevin Feige, Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Chadwick Boseman and Clark Gregg. ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy‘ director James Gunn was also in attendance but did not speak at the ceremony.
Following the event, all in attendance were invited to a screening of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming‘ on the giant IMAX screen at the TCL Chinese Theater. After that, it was time to clean up for the big party at “The Stark Mansion” up in the Hollywood Hills later that evening. The venue was gorgeous and was decked out with all sorts of Marvel-ous decor including a life size Iron Man statue, a giant poster of Stan Lee that was specially designed for the event, vintage comics under glass display cases, a TCL gaming lounge featuring a wide array of Marvel Comics themed video games and more. A few hours after the party got underway, the guest of honor made a fashionable entrance and then took to the stage to say a few words to the crowd of fans and celebrities who had come to celebrate his career and legacy.
There was live music, a tribute video featuring congratulations and well-wishes from the likes of Mark Hamill, Sir Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Tom Hiddleston and many more. This was followed by a champagne toast, a huge Marvel themed cake, more art by the amazing Rob Prior and plenty of fun that lasted well in the wee hours of the morning. There were no strangers at this party. Everyone was glad to be there, very friendly and a good time was had by all. Did I mention the cosplay? Professional cosplayers were all over and each one of them brought their A-game to honor the man who invented the characters to whom their costumes paid homage. Some of the Marvel mainstays represented included Invisible Woman, Hercules, Black Panther, Phoenix and even Loki himself (who tried to eat the entire cake by himself). For more images and video from the Imprint Ceremony and the Hollywood Party, check out my YouTube page! (Feel free to subscribe while you’re there.)
It was a day that will always be remembered and a night that will be impossible to forget. Once in a great while, a man like Stan Lee comes along who is an inspiration to many, a champion of us all and a true icon to the world. He gave us thousands of larger than life characters and so many classic tales to entertain generations upon generations of readers. I listened to many people tell me what Stan Lee meant to them and how he and his work changed their lives in so many unique and special ways. That is why he is being honored. That is why he is being celebrated. His life wasn’t always easy, but his determination coupled with his imagination fueled the way for him to become the person who, at the age of 94, is recognized by a grateful public for leaving the world better and richer than it was before he came into it. His is a legacy that will stand the test of time and for me, personally, will always be seen as a super hero greater than any of the ones he created in his lifetime. So, from this fan: Thank you, Stan Lee, for teaching me how to be a better person, how to think big and how to never give up on your dreams. Excelsior!!!
After much anticipation and rampant speculation on the big reveal of just who would be Peter Capaldi‘s replacement when he departs ‘Doctor Who‘ during the show’s upcoming Christmas Special this December, it was finally announced earlier today that the role of The Doctor would be taken over by accomplished actress Jodie Whittaker. You may have seen her in such series as ‘Broadchurch‘, ‘Black Mirror‘ and ‘The Smoke‘. Now she will be taking on her biggest role yet as the 13th Doctor in the longest running sci-fi series in history. The new show runner who will be coming aboard beginning with the upcoming Series 11, Chris Chibnall (who worked with Whittaker on ‘Broadchurch’), called her “our number one choice” and said her audition “blew us all away.” The reaction to the casting of a woman in the role has been met with both applause as well as anger with some fans even stating that they would no longer watch the show. Addressing the backlash, Erica Lear, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society‘s social secretary stated that it’s now the job of the new series to change the minds of people who are unhappy with this decision.
Whenever a new Doctor is announced, there are the typical tears from those who have grown accustomed to the current Doctor (I will personally admit to shedding a tear or two during 10th Doctor David Tennant‘s final episode.), but everyone who is a fan of the show has been through it now as many as 11 times now. Change is inevitable and change can be good. Whether or not people accept change is up to each individual person. Arguments can be made both ways and even those connected to the show admit a certain… trepidation regarding this latest regeneration. Sebastian J. Brook, who is Doctor Who Online‘s site editor, acknowledged this by saying: “I must admit, I’ve always been of the opinion that the Doctor is and should be a man. He has always identified as male in the series, and after 50+ years, it’s certainly going to take some getting used to, but I support the show and Jodie is a fantastic actress, so she gets my full support, too.” I myself wonder how much of this “backlash” in regard to Whittaker’s casting is less about gender and more to people just not liking change. After all, there was a lot of vitriol directed Daniel Craig’s way after it was announced that he would be taking over the role of James Bond back in 2005. Luckily, many in the Doctor Who community have been very supportive of the announcement with several previous Doctors taking the time to weigh in on the casting.
7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy took time to congratulate Jodie on her winning the coveted role of everyone’s favorite Time Lord (Time Lady?) and 6th Doctor Colin Baker also tweeted his approval by way of paraphrasing HIS Doctor’s first words upon regeneration. He then went on to tweet admonishment towards those fans of the show who threatened to no longer watch due to the casting of a female Doctor:
Several companions from throughout the show’s history have also expressed their support for Jodie Whittaker after the announcement was made. Tweets from Katy Manning (3rd Doctor’s companion Jo Grant), Louise Jameson (4th Doctor’s companion Leela), Janet Fielding & Nicola Bryant (5th Doctor’s companions Tegan & Peri, respectively) and Karen Gillan & Arthur Darvill (11th Doctor’s companions Amy & Rory) all show the support for this changing of the guard that many feel has been a long time coming.
Many fans, however, are not at all pleased with the result and tweets have ranged from displeasure to decisions to stop watching to just downright nasty. But again, as Colin Baker suggests: perhaps they were never true fans after all. To me, ‘Doctor Who‘ has always been about change and understanding. For my part, I am excited to see what dynamics and quirks Jodie Whittaker will bring to the character just as I am intrigued by the direction in which new show runner Chris Chibnall will take the stories. As long as the series stays true to it’s core of being an absurdly fun and outrageous sci-fi adventure show, then no one should truly have any reason to complain. Not that it will stop some people. But for those who insist that The Doctor MUST be a male, I would remind them of the words of the 7th Doctor when he said: “I’d hate to live my life by some boring old rulebook like you do.” Allons-y!!
A new horror movie hitting theaters this weekend is ‘Wish Upon‘ from the director of ‘Annabelle’ and starring Joey King as Clare Shannon who, as a young girl, saw her mother hang herself in the attic. Now, as a teenager living with her father (played by Ryan Phillippe), she has to deal with being an unpopular outsider besieged by the “cool kids” at her school. But all that changes when her father finds an unusual antique while out dumpster diving and brings it home to his daughter as an early birthday present. Soon, Joey begins realizing the object’s power to grant wishes only to later find out that each wish comes with a terrible price.
The premise itself sounds ominous and worthy of a good horror movie, but the execution of the plot is rather lacking. While the film has one or two truly gut-churning moments, the overall story never delivers any real scares and thus falls short of hitting the true “horror movie” benchmark. The acting is fine throughout the cast and Joey King solidly delivers her role as the girl who finally fits in and then, maddingly, is unable to relinquish her newfound status even when faced with the consequences of her actions. Ki Hong Lee also delights as the ersatz suitor who attempts to help Joey find out more about the mystery of the device’s origin and to keep her from becoming another victim of its frightening legacy. The ending of the film should leave most audience goers feeling satisfied by the outcome but the rather lackluster steps taken along the way to get there will probably make the total trip feel less than worthwhile. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m sad to say that ‘Wish Upon’ only receives a 5.5 from me, based mostly on poor execution of an otherwise solid idea.
Monday evening, I attended the press screening of ‘Transformers: The Last Knight‘. Now, I grew up with Transformers. I watched the cartoon series every weekday when I came home from school, I had the toys, I saw the 1986 movie when it came out in the theaters and I still, to this day, own the entire run of Marvel Comics 1 – 80 with all of the specials, crossovers and 3-D issues. When a live-action film was announced back in 2002, I was intrigued. When I finally saw it, I was crestfallen. And each time a new installment of the franchise comes out, it’s like Michael Bay himself is stripping away another layer of my soul. With all of that said (because I believe in full disclosure) this latest entry of the franchise may be the very worst ‘Transformers’ film yet. I wish I was kidding. And BTW: I would say that this review might contain spoilers if not for the fact that nothing I tell you could possibly spoil this movie any more than the studio already has. Let’s begin:
The story opens during Medieval times with a epic, fierce and fiery battle. I was hoping this would be a story involving possible time travel like the comics did in issues #33 and #34 and perhaps even lead into a Hasbro Cinematic Universe by bringing in ROM The Space Knight in some fashion. The always fabulous Stanley Tucci shows up again (just a cameo this time around) as the “wizard” Merlin begging a Transformer for help in battling the enemy army of King Arthur. The Transformer gives him a staff that will allow him to control a Transformer dragon. We then jump ahead to present day and the whole movie quickly devolves into what can only be referred to as “explosion porn”. I won’t give you the blow-by-blow but we are introduced to some new characters (Isabella Moner, Laura Haddock, Anthony Hopkins, Santiago Cabrera) sprinkled in with the familiar faces (Mark Wahlberg, Glenn Morshower, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro). All of these actors are phenomenally talented people and do as good of a job as they can within the film, but sadly, the writing and dialogue are such that they merely insist that “this person cares about this person” and “a bond is now formed between these 2 characters” and “this group are now uneasy allies”, etc, without ever letting it happen or even giving the actors time to emote anything which translates to the audience never truly being invested in any of it. The film hurries along during it’s 2 hour and 30 minute run time but because everything is so rushed and jumbled you get the impression that a lot was left on the cutting room floor including a coherent plot. If you can overlook ALL of that and just decide that you want to spend nearly 3 hours of your life on mindless “fun” and watching stuff get blown up, then this is the film for you. Allow me to go full “Stefan” on you for a moment and tell you all the things you’ll see in this movie:
Knights, Vikings, Submarines, Nazis, Aston Martins, robotic ninja butlers, jet fighters, abandoned churches, drones, poor attempts at humor, car chases, pyramids, bullet time, space battles, zero gravity environments, secret passages, Anthony Hopkins giving people the middle finger, children being sassy and the love child of BB-8 and Wall-E. Oh, and did I mention that Earth is Unicron? Yeah… Just to give you an idea of how bad this movie is, Cybertron is moving towards Earth with the intention of merging with it. Mind you, according to the film, only the final event of the merge will be what kills people. No mention is given to the fact that a large celestial object being in Earth’s atmosphere would cause massive cataclysmic damage as gravity goes haywire and the tides sweep over the land, etc. Heck, even the 80’s cartoon episode “The Ultimate Doom” took basic physics into the equation when this same thing occurred. But nope! It’s a bright sunny day as the military fighters attack the focal point of Cybertron’s energy transfer just a few miles above Stonehenge.
In one of the more ridiculous scenes (which is saying something), Josh Duhamel and Megatron meet with a group of lawyers to negotiate which of the Decepticons the U.S. Government is willing to release to help them track down Mark Wahlberg’s character. We end up getting a ‘Suicide Squad‘-esque ripoff as an introduction to these Decepticon characters, one of whom was imprisoned for bank robbery. <eye roll> Basically this movie resembles something that a group of 14 year-old boys made while hopped up on Red Bull and Fun Dip in order to entertain a group of 10 year-old boys. Of the films I’ve reviewed so far this year, I’d actually put this one below ‘Baywatch‘ and only give it a score of 3 out of 10. If you’re somehow invested in this franchise, if you’ve sat through the last 4 and want to continue your streak or if the A/C in your home isn’t working and you just need someplace cool to sit for a few hours without the need to think about anything, then please, go see this film. Otherwise, you may want to give this one a very:
Another con in the books! MegaCon Orlando 2017 was a success. It was well attended and had a great variety of vendors, artists and guests. The main draws for me this year were actors Brent Spiner (‘Star Trek: TNG’, ‘Outcast’), Nicholas Brendon (‘Buffy’, ‘Criminal Minds’) Caity Lotz (‘Mad Men’, ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’) & Tom Cavanagh (‘Ed’, ‘Royal Pains’, ‘The Flash’) and comic creators Bob Layton, Scott Snyder, Greg Rucka and Howard Chaykin. But the guest list had a very impressive number of celebrities including the always popular Stan Lee and the cast of ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard‘ just to name a few. There was a lot to try and get to this time as I was only able to be there for Friday and Saturday of this 4 day event but I was determined to make the most of my time.
Knowing Saturday to always be the busiest day of any convention, I went to the celebrities to try to grab interviews that I could use for Saturday’s live broadcast of my radio show (follow me on Twitter @GeekToMeRadio for details on how to listen each week). I was able to get a brief interview with Nicholas Brendon as well as Greg Rucka and Howard Chaykin. Saturday was significantly busier and there were a great number of celebrities in attendance (some can only do Saturday and Sunday). The staff was very helpful but information wasn’t readily available and some volunteers could only offer educated guesses instead of solid answers to some of my questions beginning with “Where do I go for my press credentials?” to “Where do I find Bob Layton?” Another thing I noticed was the lack of signage in the line-up area for the celebrities. Most other cons have some sort of stand-up sign detailing when the celebrities would be at their booths and what the prices were for autographs and photos. These were not to be found anywhere on the floor and the program did not have pricing listed either. This caused some confusion for a few guests who made it up to near the front of the line before being told they had to pay money for a selfie (granted, they should have known this, but still…).
Another surprise I had not expected was being told that all of the press and interviews were already done. Considering I was emailed and asked for my “wish list”, I assumed that I might get the chance to interview one or two of the 12 celebrities I had inquired about in my reply. Finally I found the set up a little wonky. There seemed to be more room than needed in the autograph area for the celebrities but a little cramped in the vendor area and at Artist Alley. The need to walk around the entire building to enter in the nearly empty back area rather than using the ample room in the front hall also seemed to be a waste of space and I heard several other con goers voice the same complaint. Overall, I’d have to rate MegaCon Orlando a 6 out of 10 compared to other cons I have experienced this year. There was great potential, but seemingly a lot of missed opportunities and hiccups as well. Hopefully next year will be better.