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Archive for January, 2015


Chappie police robot

First we saw CNN’s Anderson Cooper reporting in the Black Widow comic book series, now he’s leading up the latest trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s 2015 release Chappie.  Columbia Pictures has switched gears since the original trailer was released, from a quirky preview about a Pinocchio-esque robot trying to be real to a story that looks a lot like RoboCop.

It gets better–this trailer actually may bring in more moviegoers.  It reveals more action, the kind of action that Blomkamp showed us he could provide in his Academy Award-nominated geopolitical sci-fi thrill ride District 9.  And where the first trailer sidelined stars Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver, now they’re front and center.

RoboCop or Chappie

It still looks to be more light-hearted like Blomkamp’s District 9 and certainly less dark than his Elysium, but that might be a good thing, too.  Elysium sorely lacked any heart, and this may be an attempt to re-balance Blomkamp’s movies for a wider audience.

See for yourself–check out this new trailer for Chappie, after the break:

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Now Wait for Last Year classic cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Now Wait for Last Year suffers from those chronic problems that plagued many of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novels: Dick’s obsession with drug-induced fantasies and his misogyny that begins to grate on modern readers after only a few of his novels, despite a clever idea that could net a solid read if only Dick wasn’t his own worst enemy.

Now Wait for Last Year follows a doctor on future Earth who specializes in organ transplants that allow people to live for decades past their historic life expectancy.  He hates his wife and she hates him.  She stumbles into taking a drug that prompts an incurable addiction and then slips the drug to her husband as revenge.  And then they discover that drug has a side-effect: the right dose will make you travel back or forward–or even sideways–through time.  A new spin on time travel is the classic Dick sci-fi hook for this story.  The trouble is that Dick mishandles it–too many deus ex machina rescues, including more than one by a talking cab familiar to fans of Total Recall, as well as too many references to then-recent history, an ugly future and no redeeming characters.  The writer of some of the best science fiction stories of all time produced far better novels than this entry.

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Legenderry trade edition

Compiling the seven-issue mini-series from Dynamite Comics written by notable Fables writer Bill Willingham, Legenderry gets the trade paperback treatment this week as it is released nationwide.  Legenderry is the steampunk–or more accurately “steam noir”–series featuring the ultimate mash-up: Red Sonja joins with Six Thousand Dollar Man Steve Austin, Zorro, Vampirella, the Green Hornet and Kato, Captain Victory, Silver Star, and the Phantom, all to face off in a final showdown with Ming the Merciless, Queen Flor Zora, Kulan Gath, Lydia Valcallan, General Tara, and Doctor Moreau.

It’s as fun as it sounds, and could only happen at Dynamite Comics, which carries the licenses to so many classic titles.  And it’s just the first of several series with these classic characters in their newest and most creative incarnations–a “what if” where they all rub elbows in the 19th century instead of the 1930s to 1970s.

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Ant-Man

In case you missed the first full-length preview of Marvel’s Ant-Man at the end of the second hour of ABC’s Agent Carter Tuesday night, we’ve got it here.  Strangely we almost missed this one, since it was a billed as a teaser and Marvel Studios already released a teaser last week, shown here.  This is no teaser–it’s a hefty preview of the film.  Check it out below, after the break.

Some observations on this first trailer for Ant-Man.

1.  It looks like this is one of those stories where one superhero (Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym) hands the reigns over to the new generation (Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang).

2.  Doesn’t Michael Douglas looks a lot like his dad Kirk Douglas these days?

Michael Douglas in Ant-Man

3.  The likelihood of a movie being good improves when it takes place in San Francisco (Vertigo, Bullitt, Big Trouble in Little China, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Foul Play, Star Trek IV, Time After Time, Dirty Harry, Zodiac).

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Cardassian-Galor-class-starship

The online toy and collectible superstore Entertainment Earth gave us a heads-up on a one-day only sale today on select starships from the official Star Trek starship display model collection.  The collection is a line of detailed ships from the various Star Trek series and movies produced by licensee Eaglemoss, with dozens of ships both famous and obscure set to be released in the series.

We’ve previewed three of the eight ships in the line that are on sale today:  the sphere ship used by The Borg in Star Trek: First Contact, the Ferengi Marauder, and the Cardassian Galor class vessel.  The Sphere was created by Star Trek concept artist John Eaves.  Designed by Star Trek senior illustrator Andrew Probert, the Marauder first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The Cardassian ship was designed by Star Trek illustrator Rick Sternbach, and popular in episodes of Deep Space Nine.  We’ve seen detail of one of the real studio models of the Marauder and think this sturdy, die-cast metal and plastic hand-painted model is a great replica at an affordable price for Trek fans.

Star Trek NCC-1701 Enterprise 2009 SDCC Die-Cast Vehicle   Star Trek Starships Tholian Starship with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Starships Romulan Bird Prey Vehicle with Magazine

Star Trek Starships Ferengi Marauder Vehicle with Magazine   Star Trek Starships Jem'Hadar Bug with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Starships Krenim Temporal Weapon with Magazine

Star Trek Starships Borg Sphere with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Cardassian Galor Class Starship with Magazine   Star Trek Starships Maquis Raider Vehicle with Magazine

Each of the ships come with a display stand and a magazine with content similar to that found in issues of the popular and now out-of-print Star Trek: The Magazine issues from years past, including images from the episodes and films and design details of each ship.

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Tims Vermeer poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether learned or innate, the skill of a master artist is like nothing else.  That is true no less for the understanding of color, light, and shadow exhibited by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. His work is lifelike, so much so that a Texas-based inventor devoted years of his life to try to understand why Vermeer painted in a style so much different from his peers.  The result is Tim’s Vermeer, a masterful documentary by director Teller of Las Vegas magic act duo Penn and Teller fame, in limited theatrical release last year and now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Video On Demand.

Scientists and artists for hundreds of years have speculated what tools Vermeer might have used to achieve his mastery, other than his sheer artistic genius.  He left no notes to this effect to assist scholars.  Tim Jenison, a successful businessman with time to devote to an immense intellectual pursuit, spent years speculating, then he created his own optical device involving a simple mirror that would allow anyone to replicate perfectly any image.  This is an even bigger feat than one might expect, because Jenison is not, and never was, an artist.  Friends Penn & Teller accompanied Jenison on his research, meeting with experts and artists, and ultimately the magic duo decided to film Jenison’s journey of discovery.  Teller directs (and co-produces with Jellette) and Jellette narrates this unusual and enlightening story.

Vermeer and Jenison compared

Which is which? Tim Jenison learns what may be Vermeer’s technique in Penn & Teller’s documentary.

Does Jenison get it right or not?  Penn leaves that question to the viewer, but he and Jenison give an abundance of reasons to support Jenison’s study.  The mission was simple:  Can a layman paint something as well as Vermeer with tools that would have been available to Vermeer in the 17th century?

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Agent Carter image

If you like modern noir or pulp throwback stories, as we did with last year’s The X-Files: Year Zero comic book series, ABC’s new Marvel Universe series Agent Carter is pretty much going to be a sure win.

Actors take note:  When you take on a supporting character role in your next film or TV series and do better-than-expected job at it, make sure you love the part as you may just end up living with the role for a while.  Along with a first film and franchise that also was taking off to parts unknown thanks to it success, Hayley Atwell’s tough 1940s British Secret Intelligence agent Peggy Carter pulled off that rare chance at a second life.  Tomorrow night she gets her own spotlight as her own weekly series beginsAside from the brief return of Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark (father to Tony aka Iron Man), Atwell’s Carter will be forging ahead on her own.

Some of TV’s best characters were the results of a spin-off from one of those supporting characters who, because of great acting and great writing, popped with viewers beyond any expectation of the show’s creators.  Going back to the 1970s whether unintended surprises or gambled backdoor spin-offs, we wouldn’t have seen more Jeffersons or Maude, or J.J. Evans and his family from Good Times, but for their standout performances spun out of All in the Family.  We wouldn’t know Buddy Epsen’s seven years of sleuthing as Barnaby Jones without his guest role on Cannon, a decade of the kids in Facts of Life if not for Diff’rent Strokes, or spend primetime with the cops and firefighters on Adam-12 or Emergency! if not for some cool guest spots on Dragnet.

Agent Carter

What would our TV night fun have been like without years of Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy resulting from guest star bits on Happy Days, or, let’s not forget, our fave Lindsay Wagner’s Bionic Woman took on her own series from the episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man?  Modern genre fans’ reactions helped propel John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who into multiple Torchwood series.  Other coming spin-offs are Breaking Bad’s Better Call Saul and Walking Dead’s in-the-works spin-off (with the working title Cobalt), and we’re still hoping for a Special Operations Bureau spin-off from The Closer’s own spinoff, Major Crimes.

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Ant-Man Paul Rudd

Marvel Studios’ next superhero flick of the second tier character variety is Ant-Man.  Following on the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, this very different story has the potential of similarly grabbing viewers.  Supporting a likely win first and foremost is the casting of comedic actor Paul Rudd as Ant-Man Scott Lang.  Lang is the second character in the classic Marvel Comics universe to play the superhero.  Hank Pym was the original, and multiple Academy Award winner Michael Douglas will play that role in this new version of the story.

The Hobbit star Evangeline Lilly will play Hope Van Dyne, seen briefly in two new teasers released this weekend for Ant-Man.  Hayley Atwell will reprise her role as Peggy Carter from Captain America: The First Avenger and her new mini-series beginning this week on ABC.

Ant-Man poster

The first teaser trailer released this week is a bit on the clever side.  See what we mean here, after the break:

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Weird Al Galavant

If you’re looking for your next fantasy fix, you’ll want to set your DVR for tomorrow night as the four-part musical comedy Galavant premieres on ABC.  From the barrage of previews released you can see several tropes from classic and modern fantasy films will be woven into the series.  From the quirky romance in A Princess Bride to the strange twist on medieval ways in Monty Python’s Holy Grail to the tomfoolery of Shrek, from the humor and debauchery of Tom Jones to the break-into-song of Ella Enchanted, the mini-series looks like it will be a blast.

First, it’s got a holy grail of guest stars with Ricky Gervais, Hugh Bonneville, Rutger Hauer, John Stamos, and even Weird Al Yankovic.

Second, it’s got a catchy theme and classic storybook-style animated credits, albeit with a seemingly raunchy twist on Beauty and the Beast:

It stars Psych’s Detective Lassiter, the very funny Timothy Omundson, as King Richard:

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Star Trek Apes cover

Scott and David Tipton have done it again.  They’re back with a new Star Trek series, but this time it’s a mash-up with Planet of the Apes.  And Issue #1 explains how it all comes together, and we’ve got a preview below.  Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive, Issue #1, is now available at comic book stores everywhere from IDW Publishing.

Finally we get to see Sulu and Uhura on an away mission together, donning Klingon disguises.  It’s the classic Trek–images by Rachael Stott and Charlie Kirchoff of George Takei and Nichelle Nichols as opposed to the reboot actors John Cho and Zoe Saldana.  Yet the circumstances and action are updated and modern–storytelling like you’d see in the reboot series.  It works–great, in fact.

Trek Apes cover

So how does the starship Enterprise (the original, not the bloody A, B, C, or D) find its way into a universe where apes rule Earth’s future?  You’ll have to pick up Issue #1 to find out.  Meanwhile, check out this preview, courtesy of IDW Publishing, after the break.

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