All posts by JC Alvarez

Writer | Producer | Personality. Pop-Cultural Agent. Music | Entertainment & Genre Enthusiast. I knew comics were cool before primetime. The voice of "Out Loud & Live! with JC Alvarez" on Internet Radio. Visit www.thefanzite.com for more!

iTunedIN | KYLIE MINOGUE “New York City”

The Pop Goddess has made a definitive impression on dance music and returns with a new single — “New York City” an anthem that is sure to mean a lot to Minogue’s stateside fanbase. 

Her career has been among one of the most coveted in pop-music, Kylie Minogue has achieved international stardom that is enviable and unmatched by many of her contemporaries. Since staking her claim to the pop charts in the late 80s with her stateside hit track “The Loco-Motion”, Minogue has kept pace with the biggest dance divas, including achieving as iconic a status as Madonna; by the new millennium it appeared the US had come around as the dance anthem “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” sealed her celebrity.

Kylie Minogue continued to enjoy a renaissance with a string of catchy dance tracks and pop confections that lead to a series of live smaller-venue performances in the states. To promote her next round of full-length albums, Minogue brought her show to New York City in 2008 and opened Pandora’s Box! Although she wouldn’t attempt an arena tour of the scale to which she was so well known across Europe and the UK, she scaled down her shows including her “Les Foiles” Tour to continue her dance floor dominance.

She’s since remained a relevant component of the pop-music lexicon ever since many of her early career hits haven’t transcended or performed as well as the mainstream success of 2001s Fever. Once her again her newest fans will have an opportunity to get reacquainted with Kylie with the release of her latest greatest hits package Step Back In Time: The Definitive Collection which promises to collect the most prominent tracks of her career up to her most recent hits from Golden. The first single, an original track, is already available and pays homage to her US fans.

“New York City” is classic Kylie Minogue. Pure dance and joyfully electrifying; commandeering the best elements of her indicative dance sound, but feeling fresh and contemporary. The track will easily appeal to her stateside fanbase, while still drawing in the most faithful followers of the Pop Goddess of Love, while easily making itself accessible to a whole new audience ready to step back in time with one of popular music’s greatest entertainers.

New York City is the first single from the latest greatest hits package from Kylie Minogue. The 2-disc album is set to release wide on June 28 and his called Step Back In Time: The Definitive Collection.

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iReview | ALIEN 40th Anniversary in 4K Ultra HD

Ridley Scott’s original masterpiece gets a 4K overhaul in this special 40th Anniversary edition that is certain to please fans of the sci-fi franchise that proved in space…no one can hear you scream.

While the world’s fandom reeled from the advent success of George Lucas’ Star Wars space opera, director Ridley Scott was far more focused on taking us from a galaxy far, far away into the deeper and darker realms of the unexplored regions of the galaxy. In the newly minted Alien 40the Anniversary reissue, the sci-fi horror classic gets a proper redux now presented in 4K Ultra HD. With 4K resolution Alien appears more vibrant, sharper and more lifelike — which is as terrifying as you can imagine!

Ridley Scott promised that in space “no one can hear you scream” and undoubtedly Alien remains the most terrifying of the franchise. The film released in theaters in 1979 turned Sigourney Weaver into a star and would inspire a series of three follow-ups featuring her heroic character at the center of a dangerous mission to repel the alien xenomorph, whose origins were further explored Ridley’s two prequel chapters Prometheus and the more recent Alien: Covenant also available in 4K Ultra HD.

4K Up-Rez

With 4K presentation becoming the regular means by which home viewing is enjoyed, films like Alien which is four decades old appear to settle in nicely alongside their contemporary counterparts. Ridley Scott has directed two features in the last decade that serve as prequels to his 1979 feature, and even went back and released a 2003 Director’s Cut of the film, but the resolution in home video offerings has never been closer to the theatrical until now. The high-dynamic range offered from 4K Ultra HD takes Alien to an entirely new level.

The detail is astounding which reinforces the idea that Blu-ray HD presentation, although the most mainstream, is still somewhat lacking in capturing the cinematic experience that many home audiences are pushing to bring into their living rooms. The blacks are far more evident and apply a depth that has been lost even in the most recent Blu-ray releases of Alien. The disc includes both the Theatrical release and the 2003 Director’s Cut, both in 4K Ultra HD as well as several bonus features, most of which have been previously released.

Shorts

In celebration of the original theatrical release of Alien 20th Century Fox commissioned aspiring filmmakers to contribute to the mythology and selected to accompany this reissue are six of the best Short Films that take a fresh perspective on the franchise. The shorts were released as a series on IGN and were all set in the Alien universe. 20th Century selected from over 500 submissions and supported what they felt were the “biggest fans” able to deliver stories that best served the fan enthusiasm for the 40th Anniversary.

Alien 40th Anniversary directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver the reissue is available now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital HD from all major retailers. 

UnBoxing | Star Trek Discovery KLINGON SARCOPHAGUS SHIP

At the center of the dramatic conflict that encapsulated the premiere season of the newest spin-off from the Final Frontier, Eaglemoss Collections releases the “Special Issue” part of its line of Star Trek Discovery Starships Collection

Unmatched in size and scope and now part of the continuing line of releases from Eaglemoss Collections the Klingon Sarcophagus Ship part of the Star Trek Discovery Official Starships Collection is appropriately the first “Special Issue” in the line of high-quality models offered to avid fans. Intricately detailed and measuring 12” in length from stem to stern, the model is an impressive reflection of the warrior races might and dedication to tradition and gives collectors an unparalleled glimpse into the vessel at the center of the first season of the hit show’s conflict.

The model includes a 16-page magazine detailing the vessel’s background and design inspiration.

Appearing to be centuries old, the Klingon vessel also known as “The Ship of the Dead” represented one of the mightiest houses within the Klingon Empire. Restored to its greatest by T’Kuvma, the enormous ship remained hidden from prying eyes as the self-styled leader of the reunification moment worked to bring the warring houses of the Klingon Empire together against what he perceived was their common enemy: Starfleet and the Federation. T’Kuvma fashioned the ship, which measured 2,550 meters in length, with cloaking technology, and honored its dead by attaching their tombs onto its hull as a ceremonious form or armor.

In the year 2256, the vessel would play a significant role in the Battle of the Binary Stars, when it encountered the Starfleet exploratory ship the USS Shenzou and served as the focal battle of a melee between the two enemy fleets that would result in the Klingon/Federation War of the 23rd Century. Although formidable, the Shenzou’s captain and first officer Michael Burnham (portrayed by Sonequa Martin-Green) bypassed the Sarcophagus Ship’s defenses, boarded the ship and engaged the Klingons, including T’Kuvma in hand-to-hand combat. There were many casualties in the battle and the vessel was eventually destroyed by the USS Discovery.

Ship Design

Keeping with the uniquely organic look established for the warrior race for the new Star Trek spin-off, the Klingon Sarcophagus Ship exhibits many of the traditional design specifications associated with the Federation’s longstanding enemies. Determined to enhance audience expectations, the ship’s designer Sam Michlap wanted this particular vessel to reflect the spiritual side of the alien race, as well as inspire awe. The ship was described as being “centuries-old” so Michlap capitalized on the Klingon’s culture and spirituality to exploit a design unlike anything was ever seen, which was far more refined, artistic and tribal.

In the 16-page magazine accompanying the model from Eaglemoss, the designer contextualizes his approach. “From a design point of view they wanted to start with gothic architecture and the Middle Ages,” Michlap explains. “This was going to be as sculptural and tribal and as primary, as primitive and earthy as possible.” The designer explored and presented various silhouettes before the production team settled on the final design, which still had plenty of references to the familiar “bird of prey” feel that has become long associated with the Klingons. The surface texture of the ship would become the biggest departure as he drew inspiration from Islamic architecture.

Working from the outside and then fashioning the interior sets, Michlap’s design gives the impression that the Klingon Sarcophagus Ship could have been crafted from stone or even bone, with stained glass window fixtures, giving it a formidable and still elegant, predatory appearance — a space-faring cathedral, both defiantly beautiful and deadly. The ship at the center of the Star Trek Discovery reintroduction of the Klingons, successfully altered fan expectation of the warrior race and broadened understanding of these characters that have long played a significant role in Star Trek continuity and lore.

Eaglemoss Collections | KLINGON SARCOPHAGUS SHIP Star Trek Discovery The Official Starships Collection is a “Special Issue” release and available through the Eaglemoss website here.

iFeature | Marvel’s Cinematic Universe on AVENGERS Heading Towards the “ENDGAME”

The final curtain is about to drop on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and after “The Snap” heard around the universe, it’s anyone’s guess how it’ll all play out, but invariably MARVEL STUDIOS redefined the superhero movie!

All it may have taken was a single “Snap!” to tragically undercut the growing legacy of the Marvel Studios heroes, in Avengers: Infinity War the big bad that has loomed in the shadows, puppeteering events across a decade of blockbuster films, the Mad Titan Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) altered the course of the history by annihilating half of the entire galaxy’s population — and taking with him some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest stars including Black Panther, Doctor Strange and the newly integrated Spider-Man.

The third installment in the Avengers franchise, crushed under its heel any anticipated hope fans may have had of a new “phase” elaborating on an ever-expanding universe capturing the spirit of the Marvel Comics that many movie goers had been thrilled to see come to life, since the introduction of Robert Downey, Jr in 2008s Iron Man. Studio chief Kevin Feige envisioned a theatrical experience that replicated the serialized episodic world these characters had inhabited in their 2-D incarnations, fleshing them all out fully to properly transition to the big screen.

By the time all the main players converged onto widescreen for the Avengers team movies, the film just couldn’t get any better, the action more dynamic and the stakes always higher, but at its core the players remained rooted to the core of their origins — their creator Stan Lee had always believed in the premise that as extraordinary as the circumstances that were that made these individuals heroic, they were always as “real” as real could get — especially in the case of sharing hall space with a thunder god and a radioactively rage-filled hulk.

The Avengers (2012)
L to R: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)

A Marvel Indeed

When the titular heroes including Iron Man, Captain America and Thor (and arguably The Hulk) were corralled under one umbrella to be featured in the team film Avengers the studio blockbuster would immediately be altered forever! Successful franchise films had become regularly expected, especially with genre-inspired material like the X-Men or Spider-Man films, although by the time those features hit their third installments the narrative often felt stale, leading to the inevitable reboot. Kevin Feige imagined a longer, more linear experience and inspired a universal story arc.

Avengers bent that rule by landing all the separate or anticipatory franchise characters inside of a team roster. The first film released in 2012 introduced the “founding members”, its follow-up 2015s Avengers: Age of Ultron expanded upon the roster, and by the time we’d arrived at 2018s Avengers: Infinity War the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was recruited to take on the larger than life adversary. It was also necessary since the team was essentially disbanded.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo Captain America: Civil War (2016) the third film in that franchise disassembled our core heroes, but introduced Black Panther, initiated the Ant-Man and gave us an amazing Spider-Man: Homecoming. The Avengers may have come to an impasse but movie audiences knew that the real war was infinitely on the horizon, and that when the stakes were raised to upwards of a cosmic scale, it would take all of our muscle to fight back — unfortunately we hadn’t factored in that the bad guy might win in the end!

The Next Phase

So perhaps now would be a good time to catch our breath before the next, and fourth film in the franchise hits theaters worldwide. Avengers: Endgame is not shying away from admittedly letting its audience know upfront — however this plays out, the title should be taken very seriously. Inevitably some of our favorite characters may live, and others might die, and still some others have to determinately crawl themselves back from where ever they may have found themselves after that fateful “Snap!”

Marvel Studios has proven in its premiere decade its dominance over the superhero film franchise, a formula that others have attempted to emulate with mixed results, but never as effortlessly as Marvel appeared to master the medium. With the theatrical experience marking a steadfast transition to the home, the Marvel catalog is now getting the 4K respect that it widely deserves. In the Ultra HD resolution that 4K offers the Avengers franchise especially has never looked or sounded so epic!

Picture quality is unmatched and this is most evident in the heavily CGI moments that often occur when the screen is inhabited by Hulk and an army of Ultron robots. 4K also enhances the environment that these actors exist in, turning their highly futuristic war rooms and battle sites, whether deep on the edges of the earth or on the streets of New York appear all the more textured and tangible. The cinematically profound depths of the audio bombardment is also something to behold! With all three of the current film’s available on 4K, this is the only way to assemble proper!

iTunedIN | MADONNA Introduces MADAME X

For her latest album project, the Queen of Pop is gearing up to present to her fans to her newest incarnation. On Madame X audiences will get a globe-trotting experience and a far more exotic Madonna than we’ve ever had before.

It would appear that even on vacation there’s no keeping Madonna down. While taking some personal time to reinvigorate her creative juices, the Queen of Pop dove into the multi-cultural diversity of Portugal and found the inspiration for her fourteenth studio album. Madonna is no stranger to reinvention, and has taken on several new personas to express herself on the album project entitled Madame X which she promises will highlight many of the spectacular new sounds she has been exploring.

The artist has commented on how homogenous popular music has become; Madonna has said that everything sounds the same, and the idea of releasing a new project that didn’t stand out just wouldn’t do. Collaborating with Mirwais on the new album also provided a creative safety net for the artist. The pair worked together on her Grammy® Award-Winning Ray of Light and its follow-up Music. The premiere single “Medellín” also features Colombian pop-singer Maluma. The controversial singer approached Madonna backstage at the VMAs and insisted they work together.

Intrigued by the invitation, Madonna and Mirwais familiarized themselves with Maluma’s work and found the perfect track bring him in on. The result is the world-dance sounding “Medellín” which immediately sets the tone and pace for what fans can expect from Madame X. Releasing a tease of the album’s themes via social networking, Madonna insists her newest incarnation is many things. “Madame X is a secret agent; traveling around the world — changing identities, fighting for freedom, bringing light to dark places.”

Madonna teaming up MIrwais and Colombian signer Maluma for her latest album project “Madame X” hitting stores in June.

“X” Hits the Spot

The last decade has suggested that Madonna is less interested in commercial success and far more focused on nurturing her creative animal. Her last two ventures 2012s MDNA and 2015s Rebel Heart proved exercises in experimentation. Madonna has always ventured the push the envelope especially when its come to her music, always preferring to take risks. Though critically well interpreted, these most recent offerings are perhaps the artist’s least cohesive explorations. Both albums featured multi producers and ran the gamut of genres, from dance to folk.

Though the details of Madame X have still appeared scarce, with Madonna taking a more reflective approach, perhaps this will be the album to present her best as the constant innovator she has demonstrated over the course of her legendary career. The track list on Madame X also suggests that Madonna still pursuing complex narratives of religion and soul searching, but only time will tell, and fans won’t have long to wait. Madame X will be dropping on June 14 and features guest collaborations with Maluma, Quavo, Swae Lee and Anitta.

A video for the debut single is expected to hit the airwaves the week of April 22 and will be introduced in traditional Madonna fashion. The artist is hosting a record listening and video premiere on MTV to air on Wednesday, April 24 to air live from London.

Madame X | Madonna will be released on June 14. The first single “Medellín” is available now. Check it out on iTunes here.

Trailer | JOKER

The most diabolical adversary in the Dark Knight’s gallery of rogues is about to headline his own motion picture and the trailer reveals this look into the psyche of the Clown Prince of Crime is no joke!

Brace yourself! Although the internet has been permeated with images of actor Joaquin Phoenix in and out of full clown make-up, the Academy Award® Winner is blisteringly more frightening in the first trailer for the upcoming motion picture Joker. Directed by Todd Phillips this stand alone examination of The Batman’s most dangerous arch-enemy is promising to showcase only the man behind the sinister psychopath and not the caped and cowl crusader. The film is an origin story set years before Bruce Wayne’s crusade on crime.

Darkly haunting, the first trailer is meant to evoke a deeper more unsettling narrative, and not necessary inhabits a cinematic universe that includes recent DC blockbusters headliners like Wonder Woman and Aquaman. The since here is that the man who will become Gotham City’s most vile inhabit is living out “the one bad day” that has often been the common denominator of the leading theories behind The Joker’s incarnation. It’s established in the classic graphic novel The Killing Joke and remains much of the character’s motivation in The Dark Knight Returns.

Already many on the internet are seeing parallels with director Martin Scorsese; the filmmaker is known for his skill at humanizing and navigating even the darkest extremes into relatable situations. With The Joker among the DC Universe’s most complex personas, this deep dive into the makings of this monster is evoking familiarities with Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the character which won him numerous accolades and a posthumous Academy Award® for best Supporting Actor.

Joaquin Phoenix will be the latest actor to take on the iconic role in WB Pictures full-length feature “Joker” coming to theaters in October.

Why So Serious?

With The Joker moving into the spotlight with not just this first full-length feature to premiere in the fall, another one is still in the works intended to center on Jared Leto’s take on the villain as he appeared in Suicide Squad, is Warner Bros. opening the door to similarly “Black Label” prestige looks at their DC comics properties? The less than stellar reception of the Justice League movie which was intended to inspire a cinematic universe in the same style as Marvel Studios own, has all-but jettisoned that idea, forcing the studio to course correct.

Perhaps if WB intends on keeping the DC brand afloat within its studio system, the direction may be to apply a more “adult oriented” approach. Recently the publishing imprint, decided on applying a new top title to some of its releases; with “Black Label” branding the idea is to present stories that have a prestige feel or are more graphic properties that exist outside of the DC Universe established continuity. The recent specialty series “Batman: Damned” is an example of fresh material, while a re-release of the best-selling “Watchmen” series has been “Black Label”.

Whatever fan expectations are for Joker it is certain that the film will undoubtedly raise eyebrows as it heads toward an anticipated R-rating, which may be just what the film’s director and Warner Bros. Pictures are hoping for. If the DC heroes can’t work together in a cinematic world, maybe its villains can emerge as the next marquee favorites, at least until another “crisis” appears on the horizon threatening to reboot the properties, simplifying the theatrical multiverse and gauging greater box-office appeal.

Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips will be coming to theaters on Oct 4.