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POLARIS watched 300: Rise of an Empire

15 Mar

300_Rise_of_an_empire_Banner_Int_Inedito_b_JPosters

300:  Rise of an Empire….and blood….lots of blood….

themistocles

“Blah, blah, blah, blah FREEEEDOOOOOMMMMM!!!”

So it’s finally happened.  For years now we’ve been hearing about how there was going to be a sequel to the surprise hit 300.  Which, of course, begged the question of what was left to tell.  We already got the Battle of Thermopylae in all its gory glory and the very last shot is that of the Battle of Plataea which finished off the Persian invasion once and for all.  For this installment we get what was more or less going on at the same time, but on the water elsewhere.  And it is GLORIOUS.  This movie easily falls into the category of “historical fiction,” and fiction it is – because while they do hit the major points of what was going on, they take some generous liberties for the sake of streamlining the story and making an entertaining film.  Not that I’m complaining.  I actually really enjoyed the movie, and while it’s not as game-changing as the first one was, it was a worthy successor.

300-rise-of-an-empire-12-alkhall-bar-none-booze-revoze

“I am a God-King! You’d better believe it’s this big!”

First of all, if you enjoyed 300, you’ll enjoy this film.  If you hated it, you’ll probably hate this film for much the same reason.  It’s clear that the filmmakers looked at what was most loved about the original and said, “more, more, more!”  Innovative camera shots, color schemes and lighting…More!  Slow-mo action sequences so as to not miss a single frame of swords slashing through flesh and blood…More!  A man buffet of six-pack abs…More!  Gushing Continue reading

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Tolkien expert POLARIS is back with her look at THE HOBBIT 2!

15 Feb

The Hobbit….Take 2 or 2.0

"Wait a minute, I don't remember this scene in the book..."

“Wait a minute, I don’t remember this scene in the book…”

Another year, and another Hobbit movie has come to remind us why we love Middle Earth so damn much.  Which is great, because this is one hell of a fun ride and The Two Towers it is not.  I am at times torn over what to think of the film.  And while ultimately I will need to see the third installment to decide my final opinion of this film, that doesn’t mean that I’m about to let this one sit by the wayside and not review it until the third one comes out next year.  For me there’s a lot to love, a little to wonder about, and just a smidge that makes me sit back and go, “really?”  So on with the show.

See this movie….on a giant screen…IMAX if you can.  As with the other 4 movies, the shots are breathtaking, the scenery gorgeous, and Peter Jackson’s attention to detail unreal.  I’ve always enjoyed how he doesn’t just show you New Zealand in all its glory masquerading as Middle Earth.  He shows it in such a way that you could really believe that you were watching this take place in some otherworldly realm.  The surroundings are such a part of the story and fit so well that at times it’s very hard to believe that CG didn’t create the wondrous landscapes displayed before us.  The setting is as much a part of the stories as the actors and it is something that deserves to be watched on the biggest screen possible.

"Is it my turn to talk yet?" "NOT YET, BIFUR."

“Is it my turn to talk yet?” “NOT YET, BIFUR.”

The actors very much continue to inhabit their characters rather that just perform them on screen, but as with the first one, with a cast so large there are those that get shortchanged, more so for the dwarves in this one that the last one (which is saying something).  Little more than half of them seem to speak more than one sentence, and the bulk of the dwarf screen time appears to be split between Thorin, Kili, Balin, and Dwalin, with just a sprinkling of Fili and Bofur.  Oin gets a bit of a promotion in that he actually gets something to do this time around, but as it was I’d had to look up which one he was once I got home because I don’t recall his name being mentioned at any time.  The others are relegated to once again having single lines, background group speaking, and generally crazy hairstyles in a vain attempt to keep them memorable as they do little more than fill a space in the company.  It’s a difficult conundrum when dealing with thirteen dwarfs who even in the book only had a couple standout members, though Peter Jackson does try to remedy this somewhat with some changes to the story (more on that bit later). Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen continue their awesome streak, and Richard Armitage gives great depth to Thorin Oakenshield as we see his character go from semi-brooding dick to caring leader to greedy asshole.  It’s great seeing Orlando Bloom crop up as Legolas once more (who at this point if I see him in a movie in normal clothes it just seems wrong), and the inclusion of Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, Thranduil’s Captain of the Guard, makes for some fun fight scenes and some….interesting twists (again, more on that bit later).

"KHAAAAAAAAN!"

“KHAAAAAAAAN!”

Then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch.  Holy fuck.  The more I see this guy the more I fucking love him.  Giving voice to both Smaug and The Necromancer, he brings those characters frighteningly to life just as Andy Serkis did with Gollum.  He’s actually managed to gain entry into that rare group of actors for which if they’re in a movie, even if it looks terrible, I will watch it at least once because I’m willing to bet that even if the movie sucks balls said actor will not, making it worth a watch.  He’s a talent to behold, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.  But “what of the story?” you may ask, well…

Continue reading

A Very Special Thor Poster

6 Nov

by Mike Hansen

Seen in China:

Thor The Dark World chinese poster

They look adorable together, don’t they?

Source

I saw The Wolverine

11 Aug

by Mike Hansen

The Wolverine argentina

Probably my favorite of the international posters, even if the tagline is as cheesy as U.S. posters: “Fugitive, Hero, Legend.” Really? “Inmortal,” indeed…

They finally got the claws right.

Every X-Men film has its nitpicky moments, giving long-time comics readers like me something to complain about (in the right company). The first couple of X-Men films get a pass, because they were at the very beginning of the superhero-film wave that didn’t really get going until the first Spider-Man movie. Both of them have a lot of good visual and character moments, but watching them now reveals a lot of stuff that would make me cringe if they were made in 2013. The near-franchise killer (despite its initial box-office success) X-Men: The Last Stand is still nearly unwatchable for me, with its odd and pointless creative choices. Likewise X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which clearly owed its limited success to the last bit of goodwill fans had for the material (not to mention the rough cut’s leak, marking the beginning of the end for MegaUpload and making it really damn tough for me to complete my AC/DC bootleg collection – but I digress…).

The Wolverine japan flag teaser

I usually like teaser posters more than later ones. For me, less is more.

X-Men: First Class was a big step back in the right direction, with its bold and ballsy 1960s Cold War setting and the kind of reboot no superhero franchise in any medium had seen yet: nailing down the premise’s origins in a specific time in history, despite the unofficial Marvel “ten-year rule” for its oldest characters (i.e., as of 2013, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man got their powers in 2003 – even though their first appearances were in 1961-1962). This kind of thinking has also led to creative disasters like DC’s New 52 reboot (although one of its few good ideas was Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics featuring the early days of Superman), so it can be a fine line to walk between respecting and adapting source material, and just doing overpaid fan fiction. First Class also had that great, super-brief scene with Wolverine, one of the few times I’ve seen a scene designed as fan service really work. (Will its other choices, like an early furry Beast and using Cyclops’s brother, make sense in the long run? Time will tell…)

The Wolverine samurai

I think this poster was for the Japanese market. I dig it, especially its similarity to the new X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser posters.

The Wolverine has none of the problems of previous X-Men films. It’s a tight story set (mostly) during just a handful of days, some time after the events of The Last Stand (none of which are directly referenced, other than that Wolverine killed Jean Grey and is now haunted by this). The story is mainly Continue reading

POLARIS reviews Star Trek Into Darkness

28 May

Star Trek II:  The Darkening…

by POLARIS

Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX shipsSo after months of production shots, secrets, teases, and (eventually) trailers, the latest installment of the beloved Star Trek franchise from J.J. Abrams darkened theaters around the world…with the exception of those pesky lens flares, of course. And my reaction? Well – it took me some time, research, and soul-searching to finally conclude that it was pretty good, not just as a film overall, but as a Star Trek film as well. However, this does not mean I loved everything about it, or that I’m going to overlook certain Very Weak plot devices that Abrams should really be past at this point in his career. It also does not mean I’m going to give into the bit of Nerd Rage that came over me and let it ruin the whole movie for me.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Shall we beginThe movie looks AMAZING.

Star Trek Into Darkness Sulu bridge

Hey, look at the unnecessary, distracting reflective light! LOOK AT IT

Not only are the effects crisp and clear, but many of the shots are set up in innovative and even beautiful ways. You’ll find very few talking heads here, and it’s a relief. At one point, we go to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos, and everything from the twisted metal of downed buildings, to the ash in the air, works to not only set the mood for what is going on, but also do so in such a detailed manner that you could tell what the weather would be like in a week. Many of the settings are more than just pretty window dressing; they’re living, breathing representations of the story itself, rather than just a setting for it to take place. This is truly one of Abrams’s strengths, and I always look forward to seeing what he’s going to do with not only where a scene takes place, but how the scene is shot.

Kirk tron

The one example of reflected light that makes sense in this movie. And looks like Tron.

Of course, there’s still one big problem…Everyone together now…LENS FLARES. Yes, as expected, they make their triumphant return. After counting two dozen in the first ten minutes, I admitted defeat and turned off the running tickertape in the back of my mind. I realize this is kinda Abrams’s thing, but much like “bullet time” shots need to be taken away from Paul W.S. Anderson, Abrams needs to be given a strict quota of no more than (say) a dozen lens flares in a two-and-a-half-hour film. I’d call for a ban on his use of them altogether, but I’m worried that going cold turkey might destroy him. So we’ll bring him down nice and slow.

tar Trek Into Darkness horizontal action 4-shot

Running! Guns! Explosions! Action! This IS Star Trek, right?

On to the story…

Overall (key word), there’s a lot here to like. One of Star Trek’s strengths has always been its ability to give people a way to deal with real-world issues in a safe, if at times heavy-handed, manner while going through one hell of an action-packed ride, and this movie is no exception. At the character level, we have Kirk needing – and eventually getting – a dose of much-needed humility. He’s still that rash, young buck from the last film determined to do things his way (because – rules be damned – he knows what’s best, and nothing bad could come from that).

Spock & Uhura

“Your cold, emotionless dickishness makes me SO HOT.”

At the same time we have Spock, who is utterly determined to let the Vulcan in him win, never letting out those pesky human emotions he inherited from his mother. (It’s not like he needs to understand them to make lasting meaningful relationships with people, and it’s certainly not straining things with Uhura at all…)

So Kirk goes on his vengeance-fueled quest to bring bad guy John Harrison’s head back to Starfleet on a silver platter. Thanks to a minor (not to mention convenient) hiccup in the plot, Kirk goes from being busted down from a starship captain to an academy cadet to first officer back to captain again in the span of about ten minutes, just in time for him to go on said quest.

Spock hot

“Me too, baby. Me, too.”

Spock, meanwhile, spends most the movie trying to understand human emotions without experiencing them, much to the frustration of Uhura and Kirk, leading to a rather uncomfortable yet funny shuttle ride. Fortunately, he lets his own emotions run loose just in time for a climactic chase scene.

Kirk & Spock

That’s “BRO-mance.” Just because Zachary Quinto is gay doesn’t mean the tension between the characters is gay.

I’ve condensed it down, but these two characters really seem to learn and grow into the Kirk & Spock we know and love, or just shy of them anyways: there’s still room for growth. Thanks to all the shit that is thrown their direction, it genuinely feels as though they’ve earned that wisdom by the end. This also serves to cement their own relationship as one of the greatest bromances in sci-fi, as it’s very apparent they recognize their need for one another when it’s all said and done.

The problem is that they’re the only characters who get to do so. Everyone else is relegated to secondary roles in this film, and it’s sad.

McCoy worried

Bones is crying because he has so little to do in this flick.

Doc McCoy, who’s usually the common sense to Kirk’s gut and Spock’s logic to form the all-important trifecta, is left pretty high and dry in this film (though he does get to experiment on a dead Tribble, and who wouldn’t want to do that?). He, like much of the cast (Checkov, Sulu, even Uhura), does little more than show up at just the right time and place to move some important aspect of the plot along, though (usually) not participate in it. It’s frustrating, to say the least, especially when the last film was fairly balanced when it came to giving each character their due.

torpedo

“My God, it’s eating my legs! How am I supposed to do a pub crawl now?!”

But, hark… “What about Scotty,” you ask…?

Well, that leads to the bigger issues being looked at in this movie. After Harrison orchestrates the destruction of a building in the middle of London for a terrorist attack (thanks, Mickey!), he then kills much of Starfleet’s senior staff because nobody thought to think that maybe getting that many brass together in one spot could be a bad idea. Kirk’s given the go-ahead to execute former Starfleet officer Harrison, who they now know is hiding out in a supposedly deserted area of Kronos using cool, new super-proton torpedoes.

John Harrison on Kronos

He’s a bad guy, you say? Well, then OF COURSE he deserves to be killed without a trial…

If you’re not seeing the issue, don’t worry: Spock brings it up for you by asking Kirk how it’s legal for them to kill someone without due process from afar. See it now? If not, we also have Scotty show up just long enough to resign, when he refuses to allow the fancy new torpedoes on the ship because he’s not being told anything about how they work or what exactly they are. Before making his exit, he begs Kirk not to use the weapon and takes his leave to the nearest bar, like any good Scotsman should.

Kirk kissing gun

An eye for an eye! Right, gun? You’re my only friend, gun. >MWAH.<

Still not getting it? Well, Uhura and Spock convince Kirk to bring Harrison in to stand trial, and so the three of them and a couple of Red Shirts go on a field trip to Kronos, where they find that the supposedly deserted region they were about to unleash unmanned drone strikes on – I mean, new fancy proton torpedoes on, actually has Klingons on it… Huh, funny how those would-be unintended casualties pop up where they’re not supposed to be…

John Harrison captured

We’re just taking him to the gas chamber… right? Right?

In case you’re still not getting it, we’re now looking at not only the legality, but also the morality, of using Flying Killer Robots to snipe people from afar, without due process, while accepting that innocent people may likely be killed in the process! It just wouldn’t be a Star Trek film without at least one heavy-handed message about some important issue we’re facing today! Fortunately, this allows Simon Pegg to cut loose as Scotty in a bar before he goes on to save the day later on in the film. See, sometimes it pays to not give in to those knee-jerk, blood-lusty reactions!

As for the rest of the film…Well….

SPOILERS!!!

John Harrison pose

KHAAAAAAAAAAN

John Harrison is… Wait for it… Khan!!!! Yes, that thing that we all hoped wouldn’t happen…well…it happened. My initial reaction to seeing this on screen was to bite my tongue so as to not scream,”Come the fuck on!” at the screen. (I was moderately successful.) To bring such an iconic character out so soon, I don’t know what the fuck Abrams was thinking.

Khan & McCoy

“Yep, blood test confirms it: he’s EVIL.”

But after going home and immediately watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually prefer Benedict Cumberbatch to Movie Khan. Hold on a second… Stay those pitchforks and torches… I said Movie Khan. It seems that while I fondly remembered Star Trek II as awesome, the problem I found upon watching it again was that as far as the movie goes, Khan goes from being a great, semi-complex character in the TV show to a one-note, evil genius bent on Kirk’s destruction. He’s reduced to a plot device to service the overall themes of that movie, which are facing death, growing older, regret, and the cost of past mistakes. He’s certainly bad-ass, but they lessen the character to make it fit the narrative needed for the story.

Khan in action

He may be evil, but he makes it look GOOD.

At least with this most recent version, Cumberbatch plays a very complex, slippery villain, and his screen presence dominates. You know there’s more to him, you just don’t know what – but you know it’s not good, because God Damn if his lilting voice doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Alice in Trek-Land

“I can’t wait to fall in love with Kirk… and then die tragically.”

However…while I do love his Khan, this doesn’t detract from my disappointment of the character being used in the new film. Moreover, it actually makes me a feel a bit let down, because this is supposed to be a new timeline where things can (and theoretically should) happen differently.

While it’s true that Khan’s origin doesn’t change (300 yr. old genetically engineered superhuman popsicle who once ruled as a warlord over part of the Earth), we’ve seen him be “dastardly evil” before. Hell, we’ve seen him be “full-blown crazy evil genius evil” before. I’d expected something more original. We see in the film how much Khan cares for his crew, his “family.” I actually thought this scene was meant to be his sincere feelings, and truly, what wouldn’t you do to protect your family? But whereas he decided to go all Evil Villain-y on Kirk once Admiral Marcus was dead, it would have been much more interesting if he had just gone all evil and vengeance-y on Marcus and then said to Kirk, “Hey, I just did you a solid.”

Alice Eve underwear

“I swear, it’s absolutely necessary for me to slowly change clothes right now.”

There would still need to be some sort of fight to bring him in and whatnot, but it would be better than the “I’m evil because I must be evil!” that we got. Hell, you could even throw Marcus’s daughter in as a reason why he doesn’t completely write off humanity – it worked for the TV show. Instead of having her just sneaking aboard the Enterprise to find out about the one weapon her Daddy wouldn’t let her see, it could be instead that she snuck aboard to find and help Khan because she knew him and worked with him to develop said weapons and was aware her Dad’s been blackmailing him with the lives of his crew. If nothing else, it would have given the character something to do besides look hot in her underwear for a couple of frames. Just really, anything but the old “I must be evil for evil’s sake!” would have been a refreshing take and would have further distinguished this as Not Your Father’s Star Trek.

Chekov

“TWO Spocks? Why am I always the last to know?”

Now for what I hate…two words…Old Spock. This was just shameless. We didn’t need Leonard Nimoy to show up and remind us once again that this is a different timeline. And when exactly did it become common knowledge that Spock had an older version of himself from an alternate timeline living on New Vulcan? Spock is on the fucking bridge of the ship and brings up his older self on the screen for everyone to see to say, “’Sup! I know there’s no logical reason to think you would, but just in case, do you know a dude named Khan?” Seriously? Even if you’re going to have him make that call, shouldn’t he do it in another room or on some futuristic iPad from the Apple Store bridge? And how exactly do you explain that to Uhura? “Sorry, hon, did I forget to mention there’s two of me?”  But it’s all good, because despite Old Spock reiterating that this timeline is different, with things happening differently than in his, he still goes “Khan? Oh fuck yeah, that dude’s evil. I died saving the ship from him.” So…that happened.

Kirk & Spock hands

“I wish I was in your place…” “You were. Over THIRTY YEARS AGO.”

And then, of course, because there aren’t enough parallels with the other Star Trek II, we have to play out that whole Radiation Death Scene again…only reversed…because it’s different…see?… See…? We’ve even got Spock yelling out “KHAN!!!” because at this point, why the fuck not? Spock gets in touch with his feelings in time to Hulk out and go after Khan, but thankfully his girlfriend shows up just in time to help him/keep him from killing Khan…yeah… This is what forced me to do a lot of soul-searching about how I felt about this movie. For something that seemed to strive to be different and new, it just rehashed a bunch of stuff that was best left where it belonged in the franchise’s past.

Alice Eve scream 2

Not my final reaction to this film.

But again, after that soul-searching (and time to cool off), I did come to see the movie had far more positives than negatives (no matter how egregious those negatives may be). It should be noted that the only people who appear to have a negative reaction are fans of the previous films and TV series. I think anyone coming into it knowing only the last Star Trek film will be just fine, and that’s how I had to look at it. It doesn’t excuse the bad, but with any luck Abrams has now gotten it out of his system. Which he fucking better have…I don’t wanna see any of this shit popping up in Star Wars, the prequels were bad enough…

popsicle pods

KHAN WILL RETURN…probably. In the meantime, enjoy the Enya we’ve pumped into his Popsicle Pod.

Tolkien expert POLARIS reviews The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

7 Jan

The Hobbit

The Unexpected Movie

The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThat’s right, folks: The movie many hoped Peter Jackson would make as we watched the end credits roll on The Return of the King has indeed been made….into three movies.  I initially was overjoyed at the prospect of three more movies.  Then, the dread set in and I wondered what the fuck Jackson was thinking taking a story as short as The Hobbit and breaking it into three.  Even with material from the appendices that seemed a bit of a stretch.  Much to my pleasant surprise, it appears he may well have pulled it off.  At least the first little bit of it.

Any way you look at it, The Hobbit had a lot of high expectations put on it, setting it up to fail gloriously as most things do when such is the case.  However, this first installment manages to hold up very well.  It’s doesn’t evoke the same jaw-dropping awesomeness Fellowship did when it came out, but then I don’t think anything ever will, and that’s OK.  One of the big challenges with making this movie was what had already come before.  The Lord of the Rings was epic on a massive scale whereas The Hobbit, while still having a huge nasty fucking dragon to kill, is about a small group trying to take back their homeland and riches for themselves.  Which brings in the challenge of taking a quaint, adventuring, kids’ bedtime story and giving it the epic treatment while still staying true to the book.

Hobbit going on an adventure

I’m going on an adventure, so tell your kids to shut up so everyone can enjoy it!

On a whole, I very much enjoyed the movie and would put it in my top ten of 2012.  The level of detail put into even the smallest of items perhaps glanced at for mere moments on the screen shows how much love was put into making this film.  The soundtrack sets the mood perfectly for every scene as we move through new unexplored areas of Middle Earth.  The visuals are top notch and the locations are so damn amazing that it makes you wonder how the hell all these different zones exist in one small-ish island nation.  Though there have been changes made for the sake of making a more compelling story, the vast majority of it works giving you a fun movie that is new but at the same time feels just a little familiar.

Hobbit dwarves

Click to embiggen. There will be a test.

I’ve seen some complaints about the pacing of the movie and how too much time was spent in Hobbiton for the set up and I couldn’t disagree more.  We’re already familiar with Gandalf and Bilbo but there are still thirteen new characters to introduce and the time spent with them at that beginning dinner party helps give the audience an idea of who each of these new people are.  That way we see and remember these new characters as opposed to just going “which dwarf is that again”.  There is more growth as the film moves on, but that first impression is very important to making each member of the company and individual and memorable.  That said, even with spending additional time throughout the movie with these characters there are a few that stick out in my mind as “which dwarf is that again”.  These are Oin, Bifur, Dori, and Nori.  If I didn’t know any better I would think that they were aware of this going into filming because these are the coincidently the ones with craziest hair/beard styles as well.  Not to mention that Gloin is only memorable because he’s been made to look like his son Gimli who we’re all familiar with from the trilogy.

And that is perhaps the biggest fault of this movie….the original trilogy.  I understand throwing in a couple nod and a wink moments for fans of those films, but some of it is just fucking ridiculous.  Showing them Continue reading

A few good links

5 Jan

by Mike Hansen

Superior Spider-Man 2 cover

Spidey’s gettin’ grabby.

Several websites have reported on a Connecticut group’s plan to hold a public burning of videogames, CDs, and DVDs in the wake of the Newtown massacre. Here’s the best writeup: the CBLDF’s take on the situation.

For many others, however, the impending destruction recalls the past incineration of all kinds of creative works, from Beatles records to — of course — comic books, that some adults thought had a negative influence on youth. In reality, there is no proven link between gun violence and video games, but that has not stopped lawmakers and media commentators from trying to blame them for virtually every mass shooting by a young male since the Columbine massacre in 1999. Of course, this requires ignoring the fact that millions of people around the world, of all sexes and ages, play and enjoy a wide spectrum of video games that some would consider violent without embarking on real-world killing sprees.

Remember when Harry Potter books all went away after a few loonies burned them? Yeah, me neither.

The Hollywood Reporter talks about the settlement of one lawsuit between the producers of the TV show Smallville and Warner Brothers, after the judge ruled that the case had enough merits to warrant a jury trial:

The case touched upon a sensitive issue in Hollywood: so-called “vertical integration.” The producers contended they were deprived of significant profits when WBTV allegedly undersold the series to affiliates the WB Network and then The CW instead of licensing the series to outside companies.

This reminds me of the problems reported by several Vertigo series creators, who complained that DC cockblocked media offers that would have made them good money because Warner Brothers wanted to give the media rights to its own production companies (which never produced anything). Not cool.

And finally, a verdict in a California rape case involving an outdated law and impersonation to trick a partner into sex:

“A man enters the dark bedroom of an unmarried woman after seeing her boyfriend leave late at night, and has sexual intercourse with the woman while pretending to be the boyfriend,” the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeal said in Wednesday’s ruling. “Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes.”

So now that Doctor Octopus’s mind is in Peter Parker’s body, does that mean every time he has sex it’s rape? I hope Marvel clarifies this, and soon…

Unseen TMNT art by Kevin Eastman from the new (dead?) film

14 Dec

by Mike Hansen

UPDATE: These weren’t from the new Michael Bay film; they’re from an earlier unproduced film. Oops!

Awesome! Here are some designs that, sadly, were never used from a fourth 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action film:

Evil AprilKirby bwSuper ShredderFootKaseyLawsonNano Spyder colorKirby color

Many more HERE.

I watched The Dark Knight Reborn documentary

5 Dec

by Mike Hansen

The Dark Knight Rises (Best Buy Blu-Ray) In case you didn’t know, the Best Buy edition of The Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray set comes with a free bonus downloadable documentary, The Dark Knight Reborn. (I’ve read that this is also on the Blu-Ray disc itself for Best Buy editions, but my copy won’t show up for a few days.)

Here’s the trailer:

Overall, it’s a bit uneven, but there are a lot of fantastic moments from the making of all three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. Nolan is featured heavily in the interview footage, and it’s nice to see one of my favorite directors reflect on his journey of creating the ultimate Bruce Wayne story.

There’s an amazing unused shot featuring Heath Ledger as the Joker – very little happens in the scene, but it highlights just how incredible Ledger’s presence was in The Dark Knight. This moment alone made watching this worth it for me.

This “documentary” is only 38 minutes long, and it’s structured more like a string of unrelated featurettes than as a fully formed behind-the-scenes story. There are way too many talking-heads shots – I understand the need for these during the initial promotional process for a film, but a lot of the dialogue here would have worked better as narration. Speaking of which – there’s a really cheesy narrator talking over a few segments who seems to think he needs to sell the Batman trilogy (hey, guy, we’ve already bought it!).

In order to download/watch it, I had to set up a (free) CinemaNow account, which was a bit of a hassle and required going back a few times to get it to download properly. But once it was fully downloaded, I got myself a .WMV file that can be played/burned however I want.

So was it worth it? Continue reading

In honor of today’s big Disney/Star Wars news

30 Oct

by Mike Hansen

If you haven’t heard the BIG NEWS, read this first.

Here’s a feature from 1990’s Marvel Age Preview #1, a preview of Star Wars: Dark Empire, the Star Wars project that (even before the Timothy Zahn novels) brought the property back to life. Unfortunately for Marvel, Dark Horse ended up with the Star Wars license and published Dark Empire, creating one of 1991’s biggest hits in comics and Dark Horse’s biggest license scoop since the Aliens/Predator/Terminator trifecta.

(click to embiggen)Marvel Age Preview #1 p 21 Star Wars Dark Empire preview

Back when I worked at Dark Horse, I was Assistant Editor on several Star Wars titles for a couple years. I got my first professional writing credit on a Star Wars Handbook, too, giving me my first taste of creative freedom (I got to invent a lot of material for the project) – and POWER… I still get shivers thinking about the many days I was stuck at the color photocopier, making confidential reference copies for all of the Episode I creators.

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