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In the latest trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, released today during ABC’s Good Morning America, we have even more teased scenes that make it impossible not to get excited for this incredible looking film.  Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) is tapped to lead a dangerous mission, and Forest Whitaker never looked better as an old rogue.  And check out the new movie poster.  Count the good guys.  Is this going to be another The Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai inspired film?  The original Star Wars was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress.


And Darth Vader, no longer hidden as another villain to the new story of Star Wars’ past.  But something tells us that appearance is going to be similar to Mark Hamill’s brief return as Luke Skywalker in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


But be warned:  The newest Star Wars entry fills in the remaining plot points, gives a clear look at Mads Mikkelsen’s key role in the story, provides more looks at costumes and landscapes, and introduces a few new characters, including what appears to be Eunice Olumide as a Rebel leader, more AT-STs, Death Star shots, and more Vader.


Check out the latest trailer for the next big Star Wars flick:

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Georges MŽlis

Prestidigitation–quick magic tricks or “sleight of hand” was the subject of one of more than 500 films of cinema pioneer George Méliès that was thought to be lost forever.  Match de Prestidigitation, or The Conjuring Contest, like many of his works from the first days of the 20th century, was thought to be lost through the simple act of film deterioration and the failure to preserve early works soon enough.  That is, it was presumed lost until this week.

The Czech Republic National Film Archive located the two-minute silent film from 1904 on a reel given to the archives by an anonymous donor.  A researcher analyzing the film labeled Les Transmutations Imperceptibles, another work by Méliès, realized it was actually the missing Match de Prestidigitation.  This is an incredible, historic find for historians of film and the man known as the father of cinema.  In the film, a magician divides himself into two selves, performs some magic tricks as the duo and then merges back into one.  Méliès was famous for his early special effects.


Méliès’s best known film is, of course, the 114 year old film Le Voyage dans la Lune, previously discussed here at  Back in 1993 the sole remaining color copy of A Trip to the Moon was discovered in Barcelona.  As of last year it had been restored to its original glory–believed to be the first science fiction film.  The next film he released was his Les Aventures de Robinson Crusoe–The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe–similarly discovered and revealed at a cinema festival in Northern Italy in 2012.  What other Méliès films could be out there?

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The Jungle Book.  The Hobbit.  Winnie the Pooh.  The Last Unicorn.  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  The Dark Crystal.  Mouse Guard.

There is an exclusive royalty of fantasy tales featuring non-humans in fantastical realms.  These books and movies should be on the bookshelves of everyone with an imagination.  Strange worlds familiar and yet unfamiliar.  Steeped in tradition, filled with myths and legends and populated by extraordinary creatures.  These are fantasy masterpieces that make us look beyond our humanity.

Based on a world of characters he created in college in 1996, in May 2005 artist and writer David Petersen self-published the first of several stories of his micro-universe called Mouse Guard.  In 2006 Archaia started publishing Mouse Guard issues  books.  Petersen earned the 2007 Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer, and in 2008 he earned Eisner Awards for Best Publication for Kids (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 & Winter 1152) and Best Graphic Album – Reprint (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 Hardcover).  We at have been bragging up Petersen’s Mouse Guard series from the beginning.


This month Archaia is releasing the first Mouse Guard Coloring Book, and we have previews of the book below.  It is a fantastic book to go crazy with crayons or pencils.  But it’s even more.  The more than fifty black and white illustrations in a format larger than what is printed in the Mouse Guard series shows the intricate detail of the environments, cities, and characters from across the Mouse Territories.  Although some images are printed smaller than the original artwork behind these previously published works, this is the closest you may come to getting your hands on an affordable gallery of Petersen’s original pencil and ink drawings.  At a convention commissioned inked 7×7 works from David Petersen go for $500.  Original Mouse Guard pages sold for that amount a decade ago but would sell for at least triple that today.  So this coloring book serves also as a look at what Petersen sees with his original art pages, as well as a great convention sketchbook.  And costs less than $15.

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The first entry in Insight Editions’ new Hidden Universe Travel Guides series will prompt you to book your next vacation early, and a bit better informed.  Dayton Ward provides his take on the Lonely Planet and similar travel guides with the target of our first Final Frontier pleasure trip–not to Risa–but to Spock’s home planet Vulcan.  Don’t worry, it’s not just shrines, volcanoes, and caves.  You’ll find Vulcan the planet is more fun than most Vulcan people you know.

This in-universe book works because of Ward’s humor and his creative choice of content, tapping his extensive Trek expertise from his decades of producing Star Trek novels.  Ward’s travel guide is loyal to the format of Earth destination books (I compared it to my travel guides to Jamaica), which to some extent requires repetition.  But Ward makes that work, too, coming up with clever examples derived from Star Trek canon that will test your knowledge of the planet, the people, and the culture.  So you’ll see for each of eight selected regions how to get around, sights and activities, shopping and entertainment, dining and nightlife, and lodging, but you’ll find a broad variety of events to keep each chapter fresh (try Spring Break at Lake Yuron, orbital skydiving at Vulcana Regar, or re-enactments of prison life at the Veklar Prison Museum), plenty of different bars and (primarily) vegetarian cuisine to choose from (I crave some plomeek soup, but no Whataburger?), including the familiar now-franchised Quark’s Bar (but don’t try to steal the menus!).


Like Earth guides, you’ll learn helpful information about local culture and customs (want to try out a lirpa at a Vulcan marriage ceremony?), etiquette, warnings (how to get rid of an unwanted katra), and safety information like tourist traps, and souvenirs to avoid (buying fake Vulcan ears is tacky).  I particularly like the idea of the B’jinglan Air and Space Museum, including the displayed starship Ni’Var, now suspended in the same drydock in which it was built.  Definitely some detailed thought went into this book.

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In comic books featuring decades old characters, years of monthly stories stack up, build up to allow characters to get fleshed out, defining plots ironed out and redone until they are synonymous with the characters, and those stories sculpt characters and worlds that fans feel they know very well.  Well enough to defend the characters if a modern adaptation doesn’t get it quite right.  Although Marvel Studios adaptations have done well at the movies, its television shows haven’t measured up so well.  Until now.  The Netflix series Marvel’s Luke Cage is full of so many elements that make it a quality series you can expect it to be a contender at next year’s Emmy Awards.  And the successful 13-episode Season One of the famous Power Man of Marvel Comics’ past is readying us for the next Marvel series, featuring Luke Cage’s martial arts partner Iron Fist.  We’re previewing the first trailer for Marvel’s Iron Fist here at below.

Marvel’s Luke Cage succeeds in two unique ways.  First, Luke Cage is completely loyal to its 1970s origin.  Carl Lucas, played by Mike Colter (reprising the role he began in Marvel’s Jessica Jones), is a man from Harlem, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.  A very Stan Lee-style, comic book experiment gone bad much like that found in the origins of The Incredible Hulk, Spider-man, and Deadpool results in Carl gaining incredible physical strength, cellular changes in organs that allow his skin to deflect bullets, and rapid body repairing, all thanks to a mad scientist named Dr. Noah Burstein (played in the series by Michael Kostroff).  Lucas escapes and changes his name to Luke Cage.  Key characters from the comic books fill in the blanks of his life, including Dr. Claire Temple (a role reprised from the other Netflix Marvel series by Rosario Dawson), Reva Connors (Parisa Fitz-Henley), Misty Knight (played brilliantly by Simone Missick), nemesis Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey), and a mobster named Shades (played by Theo Rossi).  The story hails from the Blaxploitation era, with Cage similar in cool toughness to Richard Roundtree’s John Shaft, and female characters that could all have been portrayed by Pam Grier if this were a contemporary adaptation.


The other indicator of success for this adaptation is the ability to update the story to today, for today’s viewers, and to make the story timely.  Set in a New York City neighborhood with a gritty tale like Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (with Harlem swapped for Bedford Stuyvesant), the rough-and-tumble Harlem of the series encounters the same class warfare, the same friction between police and minorities, and the same political corruption that is, as once professed by the original Law and Order series, “ripped from the headlines.”  Luke Cage is a mix of plenty of good genre moments we’ve seen before, yet, thanks to the likeable and believable series star Mike Colter, it succeeds on its own merits.  It is at once a mix of the M. Night Shyamalan hooded superhero played by Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, and yet its first season follows a modern mobster-based story much like that of Fox’s current DC Comics-inspired television series Gotham.  And it all starts with that local barber shop we see in so many inner-city-based stories-unlike the typical superhero story the hero is not trying to save the world, he’s trying to save his neighborhood.


Luke Cage is dark, darker than other Marvel properties, just as it was when the comic book first appeared.  This New York City is not a sparkly comic book Metropolis or even a Batman-grim Gotham City.  It was rough like real life is rough.  And where this adaptation could otherwise land in the PG-13 realm since it lacks the volley of F-bombs from most pay channel series, because of some nudity, Deadpool-level violence, and prevalence of the N-word in street talk, this is one for the adult audience.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t some great fun here, to be found in the viewers’ empathy for this anti-hero/vigilante as he takes his lumps and their subsequent cheers as he “gains justice” from those who wrong both him and those he cares about.  The throwbacks to the original are also quite fun, throwbacks like those used in the G.I. Joe movies, like Cage’s tagline profanity replacement “Sweet Christmas,” a phrase Colter gets exactly right and somehow makes work completely in 2016, plus references to his “Power Man” comic book title as well as his “hero for hire” tagline, and in one scene he disparages his outfit when he finds himself in one of his comic book era outfits.  Woven into the series are Easter eggs to listen for, including many indirect cross-references to Netflix’s previous Marvel series Daredevil and Jessica Jones that are relevant to this story.  This adaptation of a 1970s comic book series reveals the producers can stick to the original elements and still make this story relevant in 2016.

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Where DC Entertainment has been limping along in its efforts to bring superheroes to the big screen in recent years, it has ruled the airwaves on network television thanks to the CW Network and the creative team of Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg.  What Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan have failed to capture–the same interesting, exciting, rich stories, character development, action, and fun of comic books–these guys have delivered, tapping into what fanboys and fangirls want most.

Are their shows perfect?  Definitely not.  The budget for television series doesn’t allow the freedom of big budget movies.  The stories adapted to the small screen have also changed many things from the comics and when the characters themselves have fans of multiple versions of each character… well, you can’t be all things to all people.  Yet, DC on TV has fared better than on film.  We’d all rather see the relationships build between superheroes, even if they are the B-team superheroes, than costly explosion-filled disaster movies posing as superhero stories.  Yes, we’re talking about you, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and The Dark Knight Rises.

The CW Network has cornered the market on the best of DC on TV.  And this Fall with the addition of Supergirl from ABC, we now will have a superhero series every night from DC and Warner Bros.  If DC really had its act together it would see that Fox’s Gotham switched from Monday nights to Fridays, for a full weekday schedule, but that doesn’t look like it will happen.


This past week, to preview the new season and what characters we can look forward to, including–at last–Martian Manhunter (the last remaining key Justice League character to make it to the modern live-action DC Universe) the CW released a follow-up to last year’s Superhero Fight Club video.  Check it out:

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The third installment of the reboot Planet of the Apes movie series now has a teaser to go with its name.  The wordy-but-consistent with the franchise title War for the Planet of the Apes was featured at New York Comic Con today, with star Andy Serkis, director Matt Reeves, and producer Dylan Clark revealing the teaser plus a scene showcasing Serkis’s lead character Caesar taking on a new nemesis.

Woody Harrelson plays an aggressive ape leader referred to as Colonel.  The film pits the Colonel against lead protagonist ape Caesar, with plenty of sparring over the course of the film.  In the brief clip shown to Con attendees, Caesar and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) lead a group of armed apes to raid a village of humans.  The story continues two years after the events in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also directed by Reeves, the sequel to the first of the reboot series, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dylan Clark was a producer on that film, too).


Matt Reeves, Andy Serkis, and Dylan Clark before the release of the teaser in Times Square Thursday. (Andy Serkis, Twitter)

War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World), Chad Rook (Timeless, Supernatural), Ty Olsson (Continuum, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica) and Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do!, Sahara).

Here is the teaser for War for the Planet of the Apes:

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Time travel.  It’s a fun sub-genre of science fiction when it’s done right.  NBC and the CW have dueling sci-fi series entering the Primetime line-up beginning this month.  On Mondays, NBC airs Timeless, a story about a historian, a computer expert and a soldier acting as timecops as they try to correct changes in history via a time machine in pursuit of another–stolen–time machine.  On Wednesdays the CW airs Frequency, based on the 2000 sci-fi sleeper and cult movie starring Dennis Quaid.  Both are from the creative minds of Supernatural showrunners, and both series began this week with powerful openers.  We think both are worth adding to your weekly watch list.  The challenge will be maintaining their respective concepts for a full season.

Timeless hails from Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan. Abigail Spencer leads the cast as a historian much like you’d find in a Connie Willis novel, pulled into a secret time travel project.  Someone (Goran Visnjic) kidnapped a scientist played by genre favorite Matt Frewer, and Homeland Security, including a smartly cast agent played by Sakina Jaffrey (Sleepy Hollow, Mr. Robot), enlists Spencer’s character, an insider IT guy (Malcolm Barrett) and soldier/protector (Matt Lanter) to find them–in the past.  Compared to Star Trek and Doctor Who this show is Time Travel Lite–no complex knowledge or thought required.  The time travel prime directive seems to be that the timecops cannot travel into a time in which they previously existed.  So no do-overs.


You can’t beat a nicely done re-creation of the Hindenburg disaster.  Even better, a re-imagining revealing the disaster never occurred.  Timeless didn’t waste any time, starting off with a single episode story focused on a historic event and it appears that will be the draw of each episode.  We saw elements of TimeCop, Timeline, Continuum, Quantum Leap, Doctor Who, Terminator, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow in the first episode alone.  It works and it’s fun.  There’s something adventuresome about Timeless in a Young Indiana Jones vein. Timeless did miss one opportunity here:  Why not begin with the Hindenburg crashing on a false historic date and then land on the real date of the disaster for the ending?  That would have been a heck of a trick, but it shows much more can be threaded into this series.  We know from Star Trek and Doctor Who that time travel is twisty and full of possibilities. Timeless needs to embrace what its savvy audience already knows–and keep the focus on the fun.

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Universally acknowledged as one of the best comedy, parody, science fiction, and monster movies of all time, Young Frankenstein is back tonight for one showing in theaters across the country.  Following on this past August’s news of Gene Wilder’s death, this month’s release of the first major behind-the-scenes look at the film (previewed here at, and being the prime month for monster movies, it’s the perfect time to view Young Frankenstein like audiences did when it premiered back in 1974.
Even as a young kid I laughed out loud at the Mel Brooks classic, whether I knew the meaning of all the jokes or not–it’s one of those films with clever writing that results in good fun for all audiences.  Five years ago this month it made my top 10 list of best films for Halloween viewing.  My own nephews are big fans as well–the humor still holds up more than four decades later.  And, heck, Peter Boyle’s monster is even in our own Hall of Fame!
If you go, be prepared to witness a dream team of comedy: Actors no longer with us including Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and Boyle, and those still with us, including the great Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr, all at the top of their game.  Plus a bonus–one of the best cameos ever–by Gene Hackman.
So what are you waiting for?


If you haven’t seen the Sideshow Collectibles line-up of premium 1:6 scale figures, then the below gallery is for you.  In the past twelve months Sideshow Collectibles and its Hot Toys brand has released some of the best sculpted figures we’ve ever seen for the Star Wars franchise, beginning with a superb line of Star Wars: The Force Awakens figures.  In the past month we’ve seen even more great figures previewed for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

These movie-accurate collectible figures are specially crafted for the new films, featuring new body designs and armor, highly polished helmets and accessories, sophisticated tailoring of costumes with detailed textures, premium accessories like utility belts with LED lights, lightsaber hilts, character-specific weaponry and poseable add-on hands, and themed figure stands.  And the human figures reflect the actors’ likenesses quite well.

shoretrooper   star-wars-rey-bb-8-sixth-scale-set-hot-toys-902612-01

These previews are a great way to get a first look at the varieties of Stormtroopers coming soon in Rogue One.  Rogue One takes place just before the original Star Wars, so it’s interesting Disney/Lucasfilm included so many new Stormtrooper designs.  Does it add to the film (Star Wars has always been about new, out-of-this-world characters) or is it because fans are going to be wanting to collect them all?

It doesn’t matter because they turned out great.  We’ll see updated Stormtroopers and TIE Fighter Pilots, plus the new Shoretroopers and Death Troopers.  Check out all these figures from Rogue One and The Force Awakens:

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