28 Feb 2013

FX Knows What It's Doing

For my money, of all the American networks cable or otherwise, FX has the largest number of quality consistent programmes. Sure, HBO has Game of Thrones, and AMC has Breaking Bad (and Walking Dead, if that's your thing). But FX has Justified, The Americans, Wilfred, It's Always Sunny, The League, and of course, Archer.

And it will continue to have at least one of those things for another year. Archer has been renewed for a fifth season, which personally I suspect will be it's last. And I'm alright with that because the show has done more in the four years it's been on, in terms of developing characters, showing a ferocious intelligence, and being understatedly hilarious (in that I'm understating how hilarious it is, not that the humour is understated. It's not. It's filthy), then Friends was able to do in, what was that, 11 years? Jesus. And I watched most of that.

So... yeah.

Via Den of Geek.

This Time, It's Meatier

Yesterday saw the release of the first poster for the much better named Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 (though still not as  good as Cloudy With A Chance of Leftovers). And today sees the release of the trailer. Which is good. Very good. I was looking forward to the film before. But now I'm.. still looking forward to it.

I've got nothing. Just watch the trailer.

[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episode 8, "Outlaw"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
 The writers this season have made a wise choice, but putting big, series altering events into mundane, otherwise unremarkable episodes, so that they won't be swept away and forgotten. A few weeks ago, at the end of the closest thing this season has produced to a mess, Boyd proposed to Ava. This week, having to come off the success that was last week, would have to go big or go home.

But I didn't see that coming.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains BIG spoilers who also dream of owning a Dairy Queen franchise.

27 Feb 2013

An Adventure 45 Minutes At 350° In The Making

I want to make it very clear: I have no problem with a sequel to a film I loved basing the marketing for said sequel entirely around my favourite movie of all time. And Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 (which according to this poster has dropped the redicoulous name it previously had) is hitting the Jurassic Park allusions hard. In fact, all film sequels should just straight up pretend to be Jurassic Park. I think it would improve things dramatically.

Via Den of Geek.

Why Would You Name Your Film That?

As a writer, I've always found titles to be an interesting part of the process. Sometimes, I discover a title, and try to conceive a narrative that fits it. Other times, I drive myself half insane trying to find a suitable title for something I've finished, but what nothing feels right for. More then anything though, I try my best not to give any work a title that can be used, with little or no alteration, in a negative review's pun-based headline. And really, It's A Disaster is just asking for it.

The trailer looks... well, could go either way. It could be a clever idea, or it could burn itself out way too soon. It looks mean, and I generally am open to mean comedy. David Cross is reliable though, so I'm whiling to give this one the benefit of the doubt.

Now Pay Attention 007, This Is How You Do A Montage

I did not watch the Oscars, I haven't in years. They are meaningless, indicative of nothing but the budget of the marketing department for various studios, and (as I've read this week) a shameless whoring of dignity for the sake of ratings (there is an irony in a celebration of achievement in film being undermined by TV viewership).

And apparently the much touted James Bond 50th anniversary segment sucked. Despite reports leading up to last Sunday, none of the Bond's were there (not surprising really, I didn't figure Connery would agree to do it). Kees van Dijkhuizen has a remedy for that let down though, in the form of his own montage of the 23 films of the 50 year franchise, set to the now Award winning theme song, Skyfall. It's a straight up chronology though, and in no way takes a position regarding some of the finer details of the legend of James Bond.

Via First Showing.

26 Feb 2013

It's Real To Them

I love exploring the philosophical aspects of fiction. I mean the fictional existence of "real" characters that exist in a "real" world. Even more, I love any story that involves fictional characters within the "real world" realising they're fiction. Or "real" characters who travel into fiction inside the "real" world. Or fictional characters within fiction within the "real" world that try to find a way to become "real." The Thursday Next books of Jasper Fforde, movies like Roger Rabbit, or that Daffy Duck cartoon where the animator and the drawing get into an argument.

Slacktory has hit again, with a cut of characters asserting their reality, while denying that the rules that govern fiction govern them. I find the final clip, of the Doctor being rather sombre, the most chilling. Maybe because it's one of the only ones not being played for laughs. And maybe because it makes me think dark thoughts about the natural of my own existence.

Maybe I'm nothing but a block of text trapped in a digital web, who feels very strongly about TV and film.

Via the Mary Sue.

It's Hard Out There For A Veep

One of the best new shows, if not the best new show last year was Armando Iannucci's Veep, on HBO. Julia Louis-Dreyfus gave what is unreservedly the best performance of her career, which is not to diminish the rest of the cast, who come together to embody what is my vote for funniest half hour on television (Parks and Rec looses because it has heart. Veep has no heart).

I think what really sold it for me was the cussing. It was never the flagrant, vile sort of foul language. And not the offensive, intrusive sort either. The range and almost lyrical nature of the cussing, rolling off the tongues of the characters with no thought, effort or real inflection make it all blend into the natural speech, making it seem common. Making it seem beautiful.

So I look forward to April 14th, if only to see what new sorts of ways they can destroy Jonah's sense of self worth.

I Want To Believe The 2013 Ottawa Comiccon Will Be Shiny

One of the better moments in my life
Last year, I attended my first ever comiccon. It was also, coincidentally, Ottawa Ontario's first comiccon. And it went well enough that they are going to try it again. And they've decided that this year, they're going to be impressive.

Occurring May 10th-12th at the Ernst & Young Convention Centre (it's the same building as last year, just with a new name), the 2nd Annual Ottawa Comiccon has assembled an impressive roaster of talent from film, TV, and comics to make appearances this year. Such a large roaster, double that of last year, that they've been announcing someone new practically every week since Christmas.

This year's Guest of Honour is Agent Scully herself, Gillian Anderson (appearing only Saturday and Sunday), who no doubt will be promoting her new series, Hannibal. Also filling the Guest of Honour seats will be TV's Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward. From the Whedon players will be appearing Firefly's Summer Glau (Saturday and Sunday) and Jewel Staite, as well as Buffy alum Nicholas Brendon, Felicia Day, and James Marsters. Marsters will also be performing a concert (tickets sold separately) on the Friday evening. Star Wars and Star Trek will be represented by Billy Dee Williams and Vader suit-man David Prowse, and Jonathan Frakes and Wil Wheaton respectively. AMC rating goliath The Walking Dead won't be ignored, with Lauren Holden and the katana wielding Danai Gurira in attendance. Hercules' Kevin Sorbo, voice actors Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt, and GoT White Walker performer Ross Mullan (Sunday only) round out the performer guest list.

The comic side of things is less stout around the tum, and was obviously not where the event promoters choose to concentrate their attention. However, what they got is not unimpressive. Crisis on Infinite Earths artist George Pérez, and X-Men visionary Chris Claremont lead the pack. Also setting up shop in Artist's Alley will be Mike Grell, Nick Bradshaw, Yanick Paquette, Kelly Tindal, Ty Templeton, Richard Starkings, Mike Rooth, Ronn Sutton, Janet L. Hetherington, Geof Isherwood, and Marco Rudy. Some of these names will be recognisable to readers of some of DC's New 52 titles.

The event has included a third day (which has been planned since before the event finished last year), I had hoped this was to alleviate some of the strain the schedule put on event attendees, but obviously it was just so they could add more space for more guests. The event kicks off on Friday at 2pm, and runs through to Sunday at 5pm. Tickets are available now in a range of dates and promotional extras, though the first draft schedule of signings, Q&As and photo opts won't be released until April (and was in constant flux last year right up to the morning of), so you might be better off just getting the three day pass like I did.

There are many things that the event can improve on from last year, and I have high hopes for this sophomore effort. They are booking early, which is a good sign, and hopefully will reduce the number of disappointing drop outs (like last year's Patrick Stewart). For a Canadian con, the continued lack of representation from Stargate, or Warehouse 13 or Continuum are a little disappointing. And this year features a significant drop in the number of latex oriented French Canadian soft-core glamour models (from one to zero), which might alleviate some of the tension I overheard waiting in various lines.

For myself, I'm just looking forward to getting another couple Firefly autographs on my DVD's.

Via the Ottawa Comicon.

25 Feb 2013

Who Ya Going To Call?

Alexander Jones, aka Orion Pax, has done something fantastic here. I'm a fan of Lego, have championed the creation of new Lego sets, and am always interested in what people manage to create with the stuff. But this might be one of the more impressive designs I have seen, and will tell Lego now that if they ever put sets out like this, I would indeed purchase them

Ghostbusters Lego. Specifically, the iconic fire station headquarters. Jones not only, and I can only imagine painstakingly, built the exterior of the building, but inside he included functional, to scale and fully equipped versions of every room. And the results are amazing.

I spent the better part of a year putting together my Muppet Theatre, and it exhausted me. And I barely have enough patience to put together the Lego sets that come with instructions, let alone plan out, located pieces for and build my own original construction. I am in awe of such people.

Check out the detailed pictures after the jump, and even more over on Jones' own site.

Here Be Dragons

Last year it was all we could do to stop from collapsing under the endless parade of recut trailers from HBO for Game of Thrones. This year, they're quieter then a child cowering under their beds while the Krampus stalks them. And we the viewer are left abandoned, soaked in urine, cradling ourselves, rocking back and forth trying to not scream, much like a child cowering under our beds while the Krampus stalks them.

So, it is with much joy that HBO finally steps up, and releases some material. First, the official season image (following the Iron Throne and grasped crown of the previous two seasons). And it's a flying dragon! Does this mean HBO is willing to fork over a little extra cash so that the more CG heavy elements of the show get a bit more love? Probably not. But it's a damned nice image. This and last year's crown really embrace the minimalist "less is more" advertising style that has become popular of late.

After the jump you can see the first proper trailer, which contains new footage from the season.

[Review] - Cluedo, Sherlock Edition

Because of a complete lack of upcoming films that interest the author in any way, this is part of a spring series of reviews of things other then motion pictures.

I love the game Clue. Love it. I own every North American version of the game produced since the 1960's, except the Harry Potter version (which wasn't officially licenced anyway). I love the structure, the concept, the characters, the game play. I love the infinite variations that are possible within that framework, and I love that it is a game that people can sit down and play, and not feel an overpowering need to kill each other before game's end. In fact, you can usually sneak in three or four games before that feeling bubbles up, and then it's more about who your opponent is as a person then it is about the game.

When I found out that the BBC was licencing a Sherlock edition of Cluedo (the original and still British name of the game, a play on an older and now less well known game Ludo), I knew two things: first, very clever BBC, I see what you did there. And two, that I must have it. I must make it mine, it would be mine and I'll cut anyone who tries to stop me.

Well, after waiting for the Christmas parcel rush to pass, and without any unnecessary bloodshed, I have made it thus. And all excitement and anticipation I felt was immediately... undermined by the product being rather disappointing.

Hit the jump for the review. Which contains no spoilers. Because it is a board game.

22 Feb 2013

While Moffat Talks Doctor Who, Former Cast Members Do Good Works

This is a trailer for ITV's new drama Broadchurch, a stark crime drama about a family, and a town, ripped apart by the death of a small boy. And it is loaded with former cast members of Doctor Who, with David Tennant and Olivia Coleman (who recently impressed me in Hyde Park on Hudson) headlining the show as the police investigating the crime. Recent Who cast off Arthur Darvill also stars.

Meanwhile, over in America, Steven Moffat sat down for a nearly quarter hour long interview with Ed Stradling at the Gallifrey One 2013 convention this past week you have to click the link, as the video isn't allowing embedding). They cover a range of topics, which manages to avoid any specifics about the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, except for how the show will be filming in 3D (quite elsewhere, Moffat was quoted as saying, in that coy way he does that "getting the other Doctors involved would be very fitting for the anniversary episode, wouldn't it?") They do talk about monsters and aliens, Moffat's time working on the show, and what lies ahead for the future.

Spoilers, but Moffat is already planning series 8, for 2014 presumably, and that Matt Smith isn't going anywhere anytime soon, despite recently being cast in his first Hollywood film.

Via The Mary Sue and Den of Geek.

Archer Toy Is... Wait, I Had Something For This

Remember a couple weeks ago, when I got all giddy over the announcement of Archer toys? Well, apparently Factory Entertainment had a render available at the New York Toy Fair. It is vaguely human like, and is wearing Italian loafers, so that's all well and good. But look at the accessories. Martini shaker! Whiskey glasses! Awesome! The only thing missing is a magnet-attachable Burt Reynolds moustache.

The question becomes, is the toy imbued with a natural suspicion towards Predators?

Via ComicsAlliance.

[Opinion] - Could Primeval: New World Have Been Better?

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures.

I doubt it.

Well, that's it. See you next time, folks.


I kid, I kid. About leaving, not Primeval: New World. It was not a great TV show. It wasn't even so-bad-it-was-good. It was inconsistent and uninspired. And viewers apparently agreed with me, as they stayed away. Which has resulted, in the same week as the finale aired, in Space cancelling the series. So, we will never know if the show might have been able to improve itself in a second year. And while I am genuinely upset at the prospect of never finding out if it could have improved, based on what we got, it didn't deserve the chance. Better shows have lasted fewer episodes then this.

Storylines were set up, then just left on the floor, gasping like a trout on a dock. Characters suffered from multiple personalities, a roaming knowledge base, and less then quality acting. Though, I've been more forgiving on the actors considering that they had very little to work with on the page. And I've decided not to blame the writers as much now that its over, for what I perceive to have been the real problem: a lack of editorial control. Attentive script editors and show runners are a necessity, especially in arc based TV. They keeps everything flowing in a straight line, and in a way that makes sense.

Oh, and I might have mentioned before, but they used the word "Dinosaurs" to describe every damned thing that fell out of time and into their laps. This infuriated me. Would literally cause tremors in my hands as I watched episodes. This would be the same as referring to every single creature that has lived over the last 10,000 years as "dolphins." Which, I think you'll agree, is stupid. If I remember correctly, two writers realised this mistake, and used the non-specific "creature," which I much preferred. The rest simply got it wrong. Again, a script editor should have caught and streamlined that, so the same terminology was used every time, right or wrong.

Occasionally, when a piece of fiction really bothers me, I'll do an exercise where I try to restructure it, using the provided framework, into something I think would have worked better. Not because of ego, or because I feel I could have done it better, but because I like to think of how I might have done it differently. It is always a personal, subjective restructuring, and I usually do it when I'm stuck in a block of my own writing, and need to shake loose the narrative-structure cobwebs. Occasionally, I post them here. I did it with Prometheus. I did it with Return of the Jedi. I did it with Dark Knight Rises, though I never posted that one. Now, I do it with Primeval. Because I was looking forward to the show, wanted so much to enjoy it, and was disappointed in the product we were given. I was hopeful of improvements along the way, and frustrated when they never materialised. So, I've taken the basic core concept, the basic core characters, and played with them a little bit, to see if I could come up with a different idea. Not necessarily a better one, mind (almost certainly not), just different.

Hit the jump to see my changes.

21 Feb 2013

Neverwhere Is Almost Here

Late last year, Neil Gaiman shared with us the news that Dirk Maggs would be adapting his novel Neverwhere into a radio drama for BBC Radio 4. The series, starring James McAvoy as a man who finds himself in the mysterious world of London Below, has officially been announced to air on Saturday, March 16th, and weekly after that. Which I think means I might make my first ever weekly reviews of a radio programme. Should be fun.

The series also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Stewart Head, and Christopher Lee. This will be the third version of the tale, having started life as a TV series, becoming a book, and now a radio play. So, the exact opposite path that Hitchhiker's Guide took to existence.

Via Den of Geek.

The Parks And Rec Drinking Game: When They Drink, Drink

Tonight is an hour long episode of Parks and Rec, and to celebrate that fact, here is a supercut (from the masters of the supercut over at Slacktory) of all the drinking on Parks and Rec. There is a lot of drinking on Parks and Rec. Even if you remove Ron Swanson and his constant drip of Lagavulin, there is a lot of drinking on this show. And yet, the only one I'm worried about is April. She likes to tackle the whole bottle, and can't seem to hold her liquor well.

Slow down, April! You're too young to be a lush!

Via Uproxx.

[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episode 7, "Money Trap"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
I feel so bad for last week's episode. It was bad enough having to follow Kin, but getting sandwiched between that and Money Trap is just cruel. Because while I still maintain that Kin is the best episode of the season, this one here was a thing of beauty. It it weren't for the fact that Boyd's storyline relied so heavily on the ongoing season arc, I'd say it's the finest example of an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's words that the show has done since the pilot.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which also threaten people at sex parties.

20 Feb 2013

Roger Rabbit To Star In A New Film? That Isn't A Roger Rabbit Sequel?

Any time I get to write an update concerning Roger Rabbit, I'm a happy writer. Any time it happens shortly after the announcement of a new novel featuring the character by original author Gary K. Wolf, I'm floored. 20 some odd (nearing on to 30) years after the film was released, and we're getting fresh Rabbit news. Yay us!

And this news is down right bizarre. I've been ambivalent about the prospect of the full on Roger Rabbit sequel, partly because of the lack of involvement from Bob Hoskins. But mostly because none of the twenty-years-later sequels that have come out have been very good. But this news is different. This news might work.

According to Wolf, producer Erik von Wodtke has submitted a proposal to Disney for an full length animated featured called The Stooge (sharing the name with the 1952 Martin and Lewis film) that would star Roger Rabbit and Micky Mouse in a "musical buddy comedy.  This is a co-star pairing made in cartoon heaven.  Two iconic cartoon characters playing off one another in a story that has the heart and emotional soul of films like Wall-E and Toy Story."

On his site, Wolf claims the film take place in "five specific locations from the Disneyland park. It also introduces the Toon Train, an exciting and interesting way to travel through Toontown….The film features real-life people. Walt Disney costars. Orson Wells makes an appearance." however, later, in an interview with Ain't It Cool, he claimed that the film is expected to be entirely animated. Von Wodtke is currently looking for writers to work on the project.

Personally, I'd rather see a fully animated film treated kind of like the Muppet films, in that it's a movie that the movie star made rather then a depiction of events from his life. A movie that could be referenced in the Roger Rabbit sequel, if that ever happens (which Wolf says, "It’s not a case of making one instead of the other. In an ideal, rabbit-centric world, Disney will make both.") As such, I'd rather they left the real world people out of it, and saved them for a sequel.

I'm cautious, but excited about this news. A proposal is a looooong way from a movie, but at least there are people out there, trying to get stuff to happen. And with the anniversary of the release coming up, and the new novel, there might be increased buzz about Jessica's lovey-dovey. And I'd be much more open to a fully animated film then another half and half, if only because the stakes would be lower, and I feel it wouldn't damage the original film's reputation as much if it went horribly wrong.

Via /Film.he film features real-life people.  Walt Disney costars. Orson Wells makes an appearance.

The Lambs Are About To Start Screaming

Now, I'm a fan of Bryan Fuller. Dead Like Me, fantastic; Wonderfalls, hilarious and my personal favourite; Pushing Daisies, timeless and practically perfect; Heroes season 1, exemplary; Mockingbird Lane, uhh... existed. But I have been sceptical of Hannibal since it was announced. Not only because I feel that nothing ever needs to be made about Hannibal Lecter again, but because even with Fuller behind the wheel, I can't imagine NBC would make it anything other then a Criminal Minds style police procedural. It's cast intrigues me some, with Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, and Gillian Anderson in her return to American broadcast television were all interesting choices. But interesting and talented casts are not enough to overcome what could just be a rotten idea.

Out of respect to Fuller, I'll watch the first episode at least, but this first teaser trailer does little to calm my concerns. In fact, this trailer makes it look more like FOX's current The Following, a show that is loosing ground more and more with every episode. And Hugh Darcy seems entirely wrong as Graham in this preview (though that might be more that Graham seems entirely wrong in this preview). It is a short look, to be fair, and maybe this will be Fuller's first series that lasts longer then two years, but I doubt it. I imagine in the end, the most Hannibal will be remembered for will be as the thing that Mads missed Thor: the Dark World for.

Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls) gets my full attention though.

[Review] - Primeval: New World, Season 1 Finale, Episode 13, "Sound Of Thunder Part 2"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures
First off, what was the matter Primeval: New World, couldn't find a beefeater costume to shove into the above bit of cliche? Considering that the show originated in the UK, such an artificial and stupid piece of "we've only ever seen England in American movies" is yet another piece of the lazy pie.

I'm going to admit that I stopped watching the original Primeval before it ended. I enjoyed the first few years for what they were, appreciated some new and clever ideas they had, and thought it was an excellent excuse to get up to some Jurassic Park style antics, while also opening the field to other prehistoric creatures. And I liked the eventual shift to a mystery involving original creatures from a terrible future, something the spin-off completely avoided. However, it eventually got buried under it's own mythology, adding layer after layer, and character after character that were more confusing or disengaging then the last. So I have no idea how the British series ended. Not that it mattered much. It's just that, as in his pointless cameo in the first episode, the appearance of Conner Temple here would be confusing to anyone who had never seen the original series, especially since this series seemed completely unwilling to actually explain him. I suppose they were expecting viewers to Google him afterwards.

Nothing like a series that gives you homework (damn, I think I've used that joke before).

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once had tea with the most important Allosaurus in the universe. His name was Luke, and he enjoyed long walks on the beach, and restructuring all of space and time.

19 Feb 2013

Richard Briers Has Died

Richard Briers, CBE, has died at the age of 79.

Briers was a veteran of film, TV and stage, making his first appearances in the 1960's, prominently in Marriage Lines, with future Fawlty Towers co-star Prunella Scales. However, it was starring roles in the Good Life and Monarch of the Glen that he became most well known. Like all actors of his generation, and lets be honest, practically every generation since, he appeared as a villain in Doctor Who, 1987's Paradise Towers (not the best era of Who, but that's neither here nor there).

To most, he will probably be remembered for his later in life roles, usually as the feisty and comedic grandfather role, such as in his most recent and last film, Cockeny vs. Zombies. He appeared as Smee in 2003's adaptation of Peter Pan (a film I've very fond of), and was a favourite of Kennith Brannagh's, appearing in six of the director's films since 1989, five of them adaptations of Shakespeare, and many more of the same on stage. Brannagh was quoted as saying of Briers, "He was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man."

J.J. Abrams Knows How to Tell A Story

Ever since the announcement that J.J. Abrams would be directing the next Star Wars film, and potentially not the next Star Trek film, I've been amazed at the amount of animosity that has risen against him. I struggle to understand if it a protective reaction on behalf of Star Wars, and that anyone hired would have felt the same push back, or if it was a genuine reaction against Abrams himself. And I honestly don't understand it. I've always enjoyed Abrams' work. I feel he is an energetic and imaginative director, who has happened to find enormous success producing compelling (if not always successful) television. I thought that Star Trek was highly entertaining, and relentlessly watchable, and that it served the brand of Star Trek well. If the mark against him is that he's derivative of Spielberg, then there are far worse directors out there to be derivative of.

Anyway, here is the video of the full conversation between J.J. Abrams and Valve founder Gabe Newell that they held a few weeks back, during which it was announced that Bad Robot and Valve have inked a deal to co-produce properties for each other, including video games for Bad Robot, and movies for Valve (yes, including potential Portal films). The talk was titled Storytelling Across Platforms: Who Benefits Most, The Audience or the Player? and I feel is the greatest strength that Abram's has: seeing story structure, and understanding the relation of the audience as an integral part of the story telling process.

Via /Film.

[Review] - Hyde Park On Hudson

Courtesy of Film Four

There are two very different films playing out in the course of the brisk 95 minutes of Hyde Park on Hudson. One is an engaging, interesting, highly comedic historical film that acts as an epilogue to the blisteringly good King's Speech. The other is a hasty, under developed, disengaging love story. Sadly, it is the latter, because of the sexual "intrigue" (used, I assure you, very loosely), that is used as the framing device. A film on one or the other topic would have sustained itself, I think, and despite their historical overlapping, either story could have remained completely divorced from the other and been the better for it.

There is much to appreciate in Hyde Park, but it can be, and often is, overshadowed by the plodding elements, the lack of organic development and the down right puzzling characterisation.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also live with their mother.

15 Feb 2013

Doctor Bishop Just Wants A Friend

It's not often that teaser trailers are released for short films, but I understand why this one is worth teasing. Friend stars Fringe star John Noble as "a lonely, grief stricken man of wealth finds a new lease on life after an unusual ‘friend’ is mysteriously delivered to his door.  A unique and unexpected relationship quickly forms, bringing hope and colour to the man’s bleak existence.  But will tragedy strike again?” The film was produced and co-written by his daughter, Jess Noble, and filmed by Fringe director of photographer David Geddes, while the series was finishing in Vancouver. And it looks terrific.

 Of course, John Noble is one of those actors that you could film eating a bowl of Wheaties, and it would be engaging.

Hugh Laurie Really Wants To Be A Movie Star

Hugh Laurie hasn't had the greatest luck when it comes to film. He's been trying to adapt his own novel, The Gun Seller, for years to no avail. He was signed on to play Perry White in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, but had to drop out when House was an unexpected success (probably dodged a bullet there). then he was set to play the Ronnie Cox originated villain in the Robocop remake (again, probably a dodged bullet), a role that eventually went to Michael Keaton. His biggest successes in film have been in voice acting roles, in Monsters vs. Aliens, and Arthur Christmas.

But he's not giving up, and is now rumoured to be attached to the Brad Bird/Damon Lindelof mystery project formerly known as 1952, and now known as Tomorrowland (a great title). George Clooney has already been announced as the star of the film, and Laurie could be signing up to play (yet again) the main villain. While I was surprised that Laurie didn't move immediately to the big screen after the finale of House, I find it equally odd that the majority of roles he's being offered are those of the bad guy.

Either way, Tomorrowland, which some are speculating has something to do with Disney's involvement with UFO cover ups in the fifties, sounds better and better each time a little piece of information leaks out about it. However, so did Lindelof's previous film, Prometheus, and we all know how that went. Hopefully having Brad Bird in the director's chair will keep the film grounded.

Via /Film.

[List] - 9 Women In Red

Valentino's 2010 Red Thread exhibition.
 Anyone who has taken a basic level art, anthro or English Lit class can tell you the meanings of certain colours: white means innocence, purple and blue mean royalty, khaki means investigative journalism. And red means danger, deception, and seduction.

Where does this association come from? Some psychologists (who probably had far too close a relationship with their mothers) would probably tell you because the colour red is associated with lips. You know, "blooming lips." Of the lady-sort... It's a biological response, is what I'm saying. Others would probably say the association derives from the Whore of Babylon, as mentioned in the Book of Revelation, being described as "a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast... arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones."

Whatever the origin, the image of a beautiful woman dressed in red, leading us to our doom is a powerful cultural icon, one that we see occur over and over again in literature, and on screen. After the jump, take a look at nine such occurrences.

14 Feb 2013

We Don't Have To Wait An Eternity For Oblivion

Do you remember when the Summer Movie Season used to be in the summer? When July 1st was the first big weekend for blockbusters? Then it reached out to Memorial Day (Victoria Day elsewhere) in May? Then, largely I think because of Iron Man, the first weekend in May became the starting point. Then Watchman came out in March, and now summer begins whenever the hell it wants? That bothers me.

Though to be fair, only the "guaranteed hits" come out in May, June and July. March and April are more like the places where studios place movies (as opposed to dumping them in January or September) that were expensive to make, that they'd like to make stupid amounts of money, but they have no idea what to do with because they aren't franchises. Watchmen, John Carter, Adjustment Bureau. Movies that might make an impact, but the studios don't want to risk putting up against something like a Batman or Will Ferrell film.

I say all of this because the second trailer for Oblivion has appeared, which opens in April. I'm looking forward to it, as it appeals to the part of me that enjoys straight forward, somewhat traditional science fiction. It looks very traditional, whatever that means. I don't know. All I know is when I watch the trailers, I get a good feeling in my genre-mass, the part of the brain that regulates appeal of various genres.

What, I'm sure it's a thing.

I Too Am Obsessed With Wealth, Class, And Cheese

LAIKA is the company that made Coraline and ParaNorman. This is what they're doing next:
The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells. The Boxtrolls have raised an orphaned human boy, Eggs (Issac Hempstead-Wright), since infancy as one of their dumpster-diving and mechanical junk-collecting own. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by villainous pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), who is bent on eradicating them as his ticket to Cheesebridge society, the kindhearted band of tinkerers must turn to their adopted charge and adventurous rich girl Winnie (Elle Fanning) to bridge two worlds amidst the winds of change – and cheese."
I'm in. Based on Alan Snow's Here Be Monsters, also lending their voices to the film will be Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, and Jared Harris. LAIKA's Travis Knight describes the film as "a visually dazzling mash-up of gripping detective story, absurdist comedy, and steampunk adventure with a surprisingly wholesome heart. It’s Dickens by way of Monty Python." It will be directed by Anthony Stacchi (Open Season) and Graham Annable, who worked on LAIKA's previous offerings. It is currently expected for october 14th of next year, so just in time for Halloween.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episode 6, "Foot Chase"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
It is a rare thing to see a weak episode of Justified, and yet here one is. Perhaps not as weak as it seems, but certain not to age well considering it'll sit on the dvd right after last week's amazing Kin. It is something though to say that the weakest episode of Justified, much like Breaking Bad, is still better then anything you could have turned over to at random on network television. And, acting as something of a devil's advocate, there is a lot in this episode that will be important moving forward, and a lot to like in this episode. The execution though, was a bit of a mess.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which also once took a blow torch to a former Promised Land cast member.

13 Feb 2013

It's A Magical World

All images the creation of nite4awk

Calvin and Hobbes is wonderful, and beautiful and hilarious. This doesn't really need to be said. Except that, I thought that it couldn't ever be any more of any of those things. It was a pinnacle piece. But I was wrong. Dead wrong, and was proven thus by Reddit user nite4awk who has merged some lovely pieces of real world photography, with images from the comics. In a perfect world, this is just pretty, and an excellent example of the internet using it's powers for good. In a less then perfect world, these would be story boards for a terrible live action/CG movie. Thankfully, apparently, we live in a perfect world.

I always assumed as much, despite so much evidence to the contrary. It's nice to know for certain.

Hit the jump for many, many more that will make your day, I guarantee it.

The One Who Knocks, And The One With The Axe

All images from ComicsAlliance

Last week came the announcement that Archer will be getting it's own multi-pronged toy line, including plushies and action figures. I deemed this Good News. This week, from the 2013 Toy Fair, comes the reveal that both Breaking Bad and Axe Cop are receiving similar treatment from Mezco, and they look fantastic. Obviously, the above figure is the most outstanding of the bunch, and will grace my shelf once it is wildly available. Also available in the Breaking Bad line are Walter in the hazmat suit, and presumably a couple versions of Jesse as well, though those weren't on display. Additionally, Walter and Jesse plushies, in both hazmat and drug-deal outfits, will be on offer, as will bobble heads and stylized mini figures.

Axe Cop is also getting a load of merch, no doubt spurred on by the approaching arrival of the animated series. On display was a line of figures, including a barely articulated Axe Cop, Avocado Soldier, Wexter, Doody Soldier and Doctor Doo Doo (exactly as it sounds), and Baby Man and a line of plushies headlined by Wexter, the flying space-dinosaur with miniguns for hands.

I'll admit, I had no idea what they intended for the Archer plushies when they were announced, but looking at these offerings, my mind is put very much to rest. Hit the jump to see a couple of general pictures, but head over to ComicsAlliance to see more from Breaking Bad, and Axe Cop.

[Review] - Primeval: New World, Season 1 Episode 12, "The Sound Of Thunder Part 1"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures, from last week, because
apparently even the show is getting tired of promoting itself

There was a moment in this episode when I realised I've been watching this series incorrectly. I know, I was surprised too. I've long thought that all a viewer had to do was sit down in front of the TV and it was the writer's and producers job to craft the tone and structure of the show. But, no, apparently on this one, you need to do that yourself. Nothing like a show that gives you homework.

Anyway, the moment came when Dylan identified the creature of the week as a Brontoscorpio after looking at it for about three seconds. Now, I've touched on this before, but even if in the weeks (months? Who knows) since she's been working with Cross and co., she's spent all her free time studying extinct forms of life, she still wouldn't be able to identify each creature, based on fossil records, in the flesh with that speed. And certainly not because she's an animal control officer. The writer's themselves keep forgetting this fact, and alternate between her having an apparently encyclopedic knowledge of all things extinct, and being more human about it (a few episodes ago she gleefully exclaimed "I know this one!"). So, I'm going to restructure the show in my brain, so that everything they've done is based off of Dylan being wrong about every creature they've encountered. In fact, I might go one further, and assume that she's just been making everything to this point up. Whose to say she even worked for animal control? Her "supervisor" died in the pilot, and then she flat out refused to take the exam, or test, or whatever it was to get "reinstated." It doesn't make the show better, just funnier in retrospect.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once had the opportunity to stop themselves from existing but went out for gelato instead.

12 Feb 2013

Don't Use The Rewrite Cliche... Don't Use The Rewrite Cliche... Dammit!

As someone who considers himself a writer, I always keep an eye out for films that explore the world, the methods, and the obvious mental impairments that cause a person to go into such a life. So to have a film appear called Writers seemed like an obvious choice.

And yet, the trailer seems super pretentious and overly romantic (in a traditional sense). I'm still weirded out when Kristen Bell plays adult characters, because she still looks far younger then she (and her co-stars) are. I will say that Lily Collins looks very much like Jennifer Connelly's daughter, so bonus points to you, casting director.

This Is All I Ever Really Wanted

I'm a big fan of people getting hit by buses in movies. I think every movie should end as such. For most of them, it would at least improve the take-away feeling of the film. My opinion of One Day is as positive as it is because of (spoilers) this very thing happening, and then the movie continuing on for another twenty minutes while everyone is sad. Just think how When Harry Met Sally... might have been if, as they left the New Year's Eve Party, BAM the 12:15 to Ogdensburg continues to seed misery in it's wake.

So, a 12 minute long compilation of people getting smacked by buses is right up my alley. And not just buses, but cabs, pickups, tractor trailers and all manner of movable object. What is fascinating is that they are all fundamentally the same. There is no originality in the structure of the sequence, across the board. No director has ever apparently thought of a way to subvert the cliches in the plot device. Person goes into traffic, turns back, gets hit, person watching stands dumbfounded while the crowds rush in.

The only variations are in the manner of impact, of which there are four: the hard hit, where the human body is contrusted of some kind of aerospace material and remains whole; the grind, where the focus cuts immediately to the dragging of whatever the victim was riding when they were hit; the survivor, a small fraction of those where the car suffers more damage then the victim (hello, Constantine); and the balloon, the sort of impact that makes it very clear that humans are little more then a pizza pocket.

For the record, my favourite here, and in any movie ever, is Brad Pitt getting pin-balled between sedans in Meet Joe Black.

Via The Mary Sue.

Monsters University Trailer Gets An A From Me

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super excited about Monsters University. Monsters Inc sits at number two on my favourite Pixar films list, and after the disappointment that was Brave, I'm hoping for the best from the outing. And this first proper trailer looks good. The same tone that made the original so good seems to have been retained, so long as it can manage the same amount of heart.

As much as I'd rather have an original film, I trust Pixar's ability to sequelise after the success of the Toy Story films. And that slug gag is just funny.

11 Feb 2013

Finally, The Storm Begins

This first proper teaser (I say proper, in that it contains actors from the show and not just a lost bird) for season 3 of Game of Thrones, aka A Storm of Swords Part 1, has been released. And Littlefinger has a thing or two to tell us about ladders. I can't wait for the next in the series, where Varys tells us about hoses, and the after that wherein Tywin explains rakes.

It isn't actually that helpful, as it contains zero footage from the season (unlike last year, where every promo featured the same footage). But it is nice to see the actors in character again, and Tryion appears to be healing up quite nicely. For whatever reason, this promo alone has got me wondering if Jamie will shave his head or not this year.

Anyway, after all the promos last year featured Varys prattling on about shadows, it's nice to listen the other untrustworthy bastard of King's Landing going on about something for a spell.

Seeking Out New Consoles, And New Digital Platforms

Because I've had my PS3 for less then a year, I'm still not used to watching for announcements for games from places like E3. Nor do I read the gaming sites, or watch gaming news shows like I did back when the PS2 was the height of technology. So, more often then not, things slip past unnoticed, until I'm wandering through a shop and see something on a shelf. Then it's a race to get home, check out reviews, make sure the game is actually worth playing (I'm looking at you, original Assassin's Creed), then wait until the depreciation kicks in and it's a reasonable price.

So I had no idea a Star Trek game was coming out. A Star Trek game plotted by the writers of the film, and written by God of War 2 writer Marianne Krawczyk. A Star Trek game crafted by Digital Extremes, who made the PS3 BioShock, and which has been described by the company as if "someone spliced Metroid Prime into my Uncharted." A Star Trek game that is canon to the Abram's films, set between the two films, and features the voice acting by the entire reboot cast, including Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachery Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as McCoy. A Star Trek game where players can control Kirk as a shooter, or Spock as a stealth character. A Star Trek game that features the Gorn as the antagonists.

Now, a healthy amount of scepticism must remain at the forefront when discussing licenced games, as they rarely are anything but shit (there are, as always, exceptions, like Spider-man 2, back in 2004). And, a healthy amount of hesitation must be involved with any Star Trek video game, of which there have been many over the years, and almost none of them are good. However, if this one, frustratingly called just Star Trek, is any good it might a highlight of my gaming year, as the shorter, wider former Trekker sheltered deep within my past has long been desperate for a decent game set in this universe.

The game comes out April 23rd, in advance of the film's release in later May.

[Review] - Identity Thief

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Somewhere in here, there is a good movie. It has been lost however, in a blizzard of aimless plots, random appearances that amount to little more then cameos, and an uneasy lack of clarity as to if the film wants to be a comedy in the style of Horrible Bosses (as it was heavily marketed) or a road movie with heart.

There is enjoyment to be had while watching Identity Thief, it just requires the viewer to switch off the part of their brain that relates any one scene to any other that occurred beforehand, or will occur afterwards. Because the characters at the heart of the film are fun to watch, if deeply cliched. It's just a shame they weren't at the centre of a better film.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once spent a year living under the name "Philipo Agenzila," with little success.

8 Feb 2013

I Still Can't Afford This

Another Calvin and Hobbes original print has been put up for auction. The November 3, 1986 strip, given to Adam@Home creator Brian Basset, is being sold by his ex-wife. Back in November, a coloured weekend strip put up for auction by Basset himself fetched slightly more then $200,000 at auction. Considering that the lowest an original Watterson has went for was $100,000, I can only imagine this strip will land somewhere in the between those amounts.

Via ComicsAlliance.

I Want Muppet Lego Now

Made by Jedikermit

I've supported campaigns on the Lego Cuusoo before. And while the Back to the Future sets were chosen to become official Lego products, the Serenity set was not. I can see the logic behind that. Really, unless it was a limited web or comic-con exclusive set, I'll admit there would be much general population interest in Serenity (which is a crime against culture, but I move on).

But none of that matters now. Because we need Muppet Lego now. Preferably yesterday, but baring involvement from time travellers, we can at least support this campaign. The creator admits that his minifig mock-ups aren't the best in the world, but that he also isn't a professional sculptor. They certainly look better then anything I could have come up with.

But Muppet Lego makes sense. The Muppets are big right now. With their new movie just entering production, it's release next year would be the perfect time to have new items on the market, to appeal to both the kids that Disney wants in the audience, and us older fans who are unreasonably attached to both Dutch construction toys, and the Muppets (as, over the past couple weeks, you might have been able to tell I am).

And, Lego already has a previous and well established relationship with Disney, the studio which holds the Muppet rights, having created Lego sets for the Pirates franchise and the Avengers, as well as Toy Story and Cars (and I guess technically, now, Star Wars).

So go here. Go there now, and support this project. Because it is not too much to ask for Lego bears and pigs and chickens and things.

Via Lego Cuusoo.

[How To] - Build The Muppet Theatre, Part 2

"It's the Muppet Show, with our very
special guest star, Mr. Peter Sellers. Yayyyyyyy!"

So, a few weeks back I talked some about the best Muppet toys made by Palisades during their short production. Last week, I laid out the worst possible step by step guide explaining how to build a scale model of the Muppet Theatre for said toys. This week, finally, I just gloat some, and show off the completed Theatre, in use with figures and playsets. It was a pain in the ass to make, but loaded up with the various characters, it looks pretty good on my shelf.

All pictures are the property of the author, though feel free to share them so long as you point people back to where they came from (here, obviously). Their low quality is also the responsibility of the author, who loathes cameras.

Hit the jump to take the tour.

7 Feb 2013

Spider-man 2 Most Likely Won't Be Amazing

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Amazing Spider-man 2 started production in New York Tuesday, and the official (vague) synopsis has been released by the studio, which I've included below.
The sequel to last year’s critical and box office hit The Amazing Spider-Man, the film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Shailene Woodley, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, and Sally Field. 

In The Amazing Spider-Man™ 2, for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), life is busy – between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the person he loves, Gwen (Emma Stone), high school graduation can’t come quickly enough. Peter hasn’t forgotten about the promise he made to Gwen’s father to protect her by staying away – but that’s a promise he just can’t keep. Things will change for Peter when a new villain, Electro (Jamie Foxx), emerges, an old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, and Peter uncovers new clues about his past.

The film is directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner, with a previous draft by James Vanderbilt, and based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are the producers.
Colm Feore is the biggest name not previously announced, and while everyone is assuming he'll be playing Norman Osborn, considering his long and successful career playing villains and having a head perfectly shaped to make people slightly uncomfortable. However, it is equally possible he's playing the principle at Parker's high school.

Also, calling the first film "last year’s critical hit" is not exactly what you'd call the truth. While it currently holds a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it was largely held to be completely redundant film which lacked any clear narrative direction, and was either badly directed by the returning Marc Webb, or badly edited by the studio. And when I say "largely held" I mean that's what I thought, as well as it being a generally forgettable film whose sequel was both inevitable and unnecessary.

Via Collider.

Community Returns Tonight

NBC might not think so, but this show is kind of a big deal. At least, it will be for as long as it's on and unloved by it's network. I get the feeling that after it's over, it'll be one of those shows that does very well on Netflicks, building up an after-audience, based entirely on conversations that find themselves at a point where someone says "you've never seen Community?" I'd say like Firefly, but nothing is like Firefly. Community is close, but misses the mark ever so slightly.

So watch tonight, for the beginning of what will inevitably be the end of the show on broadcast television.

[Review] - Justified Season 4, Episodes 4 and 5, "This Bird Has Flown" And "Kin"

Courtesy of FX
Justified is the best hour of television to sit down and watch every week. Right now, with the current schedule, that is just simple true. It's certainly the show I most look forward to, that is never a labour, and that getting to the actual viewing hour is a building tension of anticipation. It helps that this season has been the best they've done, and it's unusual for a show to reach it's peak in it's fourth year (I say this knowing full well that season two is held by many to be the best, and that this season is not yet half over).

I say all of this because, last week, I was gut-wrenchingly sick, and thus episode 4 sat unwatched and eating away at my brain, taunting me from afar, but I resisted, not wanting to watch it and forget the details. So, happily, this week I got a double episode, and what a duo. It is the mark of good writing that any two episodes of a series can fit together well, despite not necessarily sharing themes or arcs. While Truth and Consequences might be better paired with episode 3, and conclude the unofficial first arc of the season, with Raylan and his money and woman woes, it also runs quite naturally and comfortably into the start of Kin.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that run cock fights on the side.

6 Feb 2013

Bert Macklin: Guardian Of The Galaxy

Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures

Did not see this one coming.

Parks and Rec star, and recent Zero Dark Thirty actor Chris Pratt has nabbed the (disappointingly non-female) central role in Marvel's upcoming shot in the dark, Guardians of the Galaxy. Pratt will star as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, a half-human warrior, in James Gunn's sci-fi piece.

With the casting of Pratt (who beat out John Krasinski, Zachary Levi, Joel Edgerton, and Lee Pace), and the rumours that Gunn is interested in Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler to do voice work (most likely as talking raccoon Rocket, or space-Ent Groot), it suggests he'll bring the same level of seriousness to the Marvel universe as he did to his previous directorial efforts, Slither and Super. That is, very little at all.

I'm fine with that.

Via Collider.

Judy Greer Is Writing A Book That I Will Read

Judy Greer can have as many adjectives associated with her name as she damned well wants: funny, beautiful, tenacious, sarcastic, rude, saucy, or any others that might do her justice. The Arrested Development and Archer actress can now also add author to her list of descriptors, having signed a deal with Random House to publish her memoir I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star. Obviously embracing her career of playing best friends, second fiddles, sexual deviants, ditzes and caustic sisters of romantic leads, all of which she deftly plays.

If it's not obvious by now, I'm a fan, and even if the project sucks, having Greer in the cast at least guarantees one quality performance. I always feel good for comedic character actors when they find success in drama (as Joss Whedon says, "comedy is the hard one," but drama tends to get more attention), and Greer was a stand out in The Descendants, in a decidedly unfunny role.

Personally, I'd rather watch, and am more interested in secondary, possibly under appreciated actors like Greer then any Hollywood super-star. I'd certainly be more interested in what they have to say, and look forward to her memoir.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] Primeval: New World, Season 1 Episodes 10 and 11, "The Great Escape" and "The Inquisition"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures

It really is a case of one step forward, many, many steps back for this show. For every sign of improvement, it falls back on the cavalcade of flaws that make the series next to unbearable.

For instance, STOP CALLING EVERYTHING DINOSAURS! While Terror Birds were, like all birds, evolutionarily related to dinosaurs, I know that every time they say the "D" word, they aren't using it in that context. They are using it as a catch-all to describe every single organism that appears from the far side of the anomalies. Which is stupid and ignorant and mind-gratingly annoying. And for two whole episodes a while back, they realised their mistake, and started using more generic terminology, like "creature" or "animal", words that make sense when used in sentences. Every time this show says the word dinosaurs when they mean just any old animal, it makes me want to put a fork through my eye.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also don't overly rely on sense and reason to get things done.

5 Feb 2013

"We Are All Star Stuff"

I haven't posted nearly enough (read: any at all) science stuff here in a long while, and I intend on that to change, until it slips my mind and I don't. It's not my fault, expect for that I'm solely responsible for the content of this site, and therefore literally the only person whose fault it could be. But I will argue to my last that someone else is to blame for my general laziness.

To make up for all that, here is an achingly beautiful short film by Mischa Rozema called Stardust, which explores the reality that from stars we, and all else came, and from stars we will return.

Via The Bad Astronomer.

Enterprise, Coming In Hot

Up until now I'd been sceptical that the ship seen crashing into the sea in the Star Trek Into Darkness trailers was the Enterprise, and might have been another ship in the fleet (Starfleet got really hung up on saucer module design). This Superbowl spot pretty much confirms that it is Enterprise, what with the giant 1701 seen from above as the smouldering wreckage of the ship begins it's decent into the atmosphere (a trip it made in a similar condition once over the Genesis planet. It didn't end well).

On a vaguely related note, has anyone else read the first issue of the Darkness prequel comic? I picked it up based entirely on the quality of the prequel comic done for the first film (which was high), and the surprise appearance at the end might suggest some possible origins for Cumberbatch's character: namely, possible dark universe/alternate timeline trespasser. Dark universe stuff, for all the play it's gotten on TV, has never been featured in a film, and could be fun.

Of course, he's clean shaven in the trailers. So unless that universe has harnessed razor technology, I doubt that is the big reveal.

Various Marvel News Things

Expect the advertising blitz on Iron Man 3 to ramp up starting now, as the May release date quickly approaches (quicker for the April release date in IMAX in some markets). It begins with this Superbowl ad, and second teaser poster after the jump, showing Tony in a bad way.

But Iron Man is far from the only film Marvel is making right now: Thor: The Dark World finds itself nearer to post production, Captain America: The Winter Soldier nears filming, all the while Keven Feige balances his plans for the entire universe to expand. So, let's begin.

- Emily VanCamp has, reportedly, been cast as the female lead in the Cap sequel. Primarily a television actress, she currently is the lead on ABC's Revenge, a show I've never seen. In fact, looking at her filmography, I've never seen VanCamp in anything, which is a tactic Marvel has taken with many of it's casting decisions, choosing relative newbies that can be propelled into stardom via the Marvel properties (most successful example of this is probably Chris Hemsworth). She did beat out Alison Brie for the role, and that makes me sad.

- Also in the Winter Soldier will be a somewhat surprising return, as Toby Jones announced that his Red Skull henchman Arnim Zola will return in the sequel. This seems reasonable, as last we saw the true genius behind the Red Skull's plans, he was in American custody. In the comics, Zola is often nothing more then a disembodied brain, or computerised consciousness in a robot body, so that is one way to work around the time gap. The other is, of course, flashbacks. Either way, I suspect Zola will have a hand in the emergence of the Winter Soldier, the identity of which comic readers know, and which I won't spoil here (though any cast list for the film will spoil almost immediately).

Hit the jump for more news about the general future for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and some X-Men stuff.

4 Feb 2013

Somebody Down Here Likes Nick Offerman. Me, It's Me. I Like Him

A while back, there was a "promo" for Nick "Axe Swanson" Offerman's film Somebody Up There Likes Me, featuring his wife Megan Mullally, and Alison Brie smoking weed and cussing. Now, there is a full fledged trailer for this film, which looks all manner of quirky and shoestring in the best possible way. The way Offerman shifts between Swanson-esque and decidedly not is a little jarring, but I'm sure in context it makes sense. That's not what I'm interested in.

Why was Alison Brie in that first promo? She's not in this film. She's not in the trailer, she's on in the credits, she's not involved in a behind the scene's role, like as a producer, or co-writer. I guess she was just hanging out, smoking weed, with the Offerman's.

Cool, I guess. I suppose there are worst ways to spend your day.

Archer Toys? Yup.

Forget some vaguely humorous opening remark, let's get to this. Factory Entertainment, which to this point has concerned itself mostly with licences for nostalgia properties (Beatles, Princess Bride, Universal Monsters) and occasional regrettable projects (Green Hornet, Cowboys and Aliens) have went and got themselves a winner. They've signed a deal with FX to create a line of merchandise from the hilarious Archer. What sort of merch? Well:
- Collector Plush including: Sterling Archer, Lana Kane, Baby Seamus and Pam Poovey’s Dolphin Puppet.

- Shakems Premium Motion Statues – Factory Entertainment’s line of highly detailed, desktop-scaled polystone statues featuring a dynamic motion element and authentic character dialogue including: Lana Kane & Sterling Archer.

- Action Figures – Detailed collector-oriented action figures starting with Sterling Archer himself!
I am more excited about this then is reasonable. I'm big into action figures, and have desperately wanted an Archer line for years now. I desperately want them to go all out with this line, stack each figure with logical and hilarious accessories (Archer with a glass of whisky, Carol with a bottle of glue, Woodhouse with the lemur). In a perfect world, each figure would come with a piece of a BuildAFigure of Bionic Barry.

Factory, listen to me: if you put the effort into this line, and make it something truly special, I will buy every single one. Maybe a couple. Probably a few of Krieger. Really,  Krieger should be exclusive to a playset of his van. A creepy, Rush-inspired play set, complete with various robots, virtual girlfriends, and a gallon of irradiated ants.

That would be the final proof that you could indeed buy happiness.

Via Toy News International.

[Review] - Lands Of Ice And Fire

One of the great successes of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire is the depth of history he has created for his world. Not at all unusual for fantasy writers, Tolkien of course being the first to invent entire histories and cultures to back up the story being told. But Martin's, more then any other writer I've read (and admittedly, most fantasy books make me want to put a fork in my eye), has a real world texture to it. Perhaps it's the level of detail he's created that will never have an impact on his characters. Perhaps it's the sheer volume of time he has covered. Perhaps I've impressed by paracosms.

Martin has also graced the physical world of I&F (a planet which is as of yet unnamed) with the same level of detail. And, like his history, has teased us for years, providing vague descriptions in text about far off lands, while only giving us glimpses of certain sections of the world relevant to the text. Upon publication of Dance of Dragons, the first thing I did was cobble together a world map based on the newly included maps.

I no longer need this map. I have something better. The Lands of Ice and Fire, released late last year, is an impressive collection of 12 maps drawn by Jonathan Roberts, based on the direction of Martin.

Hit the jump for the review.

1 Feb 2013

Superman Becomes Unbound, Whatever That Means

I like the DC Animated Films, generally, but I think I've had quite enough of Superman and Batman. I understand they sell well enough, and that putting the word "Batman" on anything pretty much guarantees it's success. But if all you're going to keep doing is adapting specific storylines from the comics (which, it should be said, is not what the DC Animated Films have always done), there have to be some non-Superman or Batman related storylines worth adapting. I am aware that Flashpoint is apparently being adapted for a release in the future, but I could give a cod's wallop about the Flash.

Anyway, here is the first trailer for Superman Unbound, which adapts yet another Geoff Johns storyline, this time involving Brainiac. The voice cast looks pretty good, featuring Matt Bomer (who I have personally championed as a cinematic Green Arrow) as Superman, Stana Katic (no stranger to voice acting the DCU) as Lois Lane and Molly Quinn (the daughter on Castle) as Supergirl. Best of all, John Noble (late of Fringe) as Brainiac, and that alone is worth the price of ad... ur, watching?

Via ComicsAlliance.

The Muppets... Again!

For a while we've known the the Muppet sequel currently filming in London was known as The Muppets... Again. Now we have confirmation that the title also contains an exclamation mark at the end, thus making it sound more exciting, and less defeatist.

We also now know plot! The Muppets become embroiled in a villainous plot to steal a diamond, which recalls the plot of The Great Muppet Caper a great deal, and the thief looks like Kermit. Which then would lead to the Muppets being chased across Europe by Interpol.

That all sounds great. The above image is the first official one from Disney, and it makes me forget all about the bout of near-death I've been suffering the last week. It is an image that is designed to make people happy. If it doesn't make you happy, you are cold and empty and possibly a Batman villain.

Look at all the bottom halves of them! And only one human, tucked away in the back, as they should be.

Via Den of Geek.

[How To] - Build The Muppet Theatre, Part 1

Hi Ho!

Before I begin, I need to make a special mention to two people. First and foremost, to Lance Cardinal. He was 100% the inspiration for the project. A chance Google search resulted in me finding his jaw dropping original, which is obviously the product of time, effort, and talent. I saw what he had done, and was immediately floored by the quality. So, of course, I thought, I can't do that. But if I try very hard, I might be able to make something a fraction as impressive.

I cut corners. A lot of corners. Cardinal did not. Cardinal added corners to work around. I spent hours in preparation for this project spilling over the pictures on his site, trying to figure out A) how he had done things, and 2) how I could do it with a fraction of the talent and a portion of the effort. An excellent example is his brick work, which is mortared cement. Mine is a stick-on picture. It's like looking at an actor in person, and comparing it to the wax figure of them at Madame Tussauds. Whenever I had doubt or a question, or worked myself into a corner, I'd rush over to his example and work it out from there. I highly recommend and insist, after looking at what I have done, you head over to his site and see how it should have been done.

Second, I'd like to thank the owner and staff at The Little Dollhouse Company, in Toronto. Luckily most of the Palisades Muppets stuff is at standard dollhouse size, and they are the only such speciality store in southern Ontario. They were kind and helpful, and gave great suggestions for possible work arounds for many of my issues (see my comments above, about me being something of an artistic fraud). Their products are quality, and I would highly recommend them for all your dollhouse and obscure action figure playset construction needs.

So, as I discussed last week, in the early days of the millennium, Palisades made one of the greatest toy lines ever, commemorating the Muppets. They then suffered a slight set back, in that they went bankrupt and the line came to an abrupt and painfully premature end. Aside from the loss of any future figures, and the promise of a similar quality Sesame Street line, one of the biggest losses was the lack of a Muppet Theatre playset, which was rumoured to be in production when they went bankrupt. Having now went through the exercise of building one, and finding a place for the beast in my home, I can only assume this thing would have been produced in severely limited quantities. It apparently would have been big enough to house any of the playsets, and sink up with the Bank Stage set (evidence of this exists in the presence of linking pips all down the side of the Back Stage set, which now sadly link to nothing).

If you are lucky enough to have a collection of Palisades figures, and any of the playsets (or, like myself, the vast majority of both), the lack of a theatre is painfully obvious at times. The individual sets can only accommodate so many figures. And even then, just from an aesthetic, presentation point of view, you feel that the figures would be best displayed in their natural habitat. So, early last year, during a particularly stubborn bout of writer's block, I went to my local hardware store and bought an assortment of lumber, in an attempt to sate my creative drive. What began on really nothing more then a whim evolved into a seven month, part time on-going project, put on hold at various points due to conflicts in real life and that writer's block finally sorting itself out (and then returning with friends).

In the early fall, I finished. There are few things in my life I'm proud of, that I can look at and say that was time well spent. I'm still not sure if this is one of those things. I'll leave that for you to judge.

Hit the jump to get things started.
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