Category Archives: Featured

iReview :: ARRIVAL starring Amy Adams

Regarded as one of the best science-fiction films of the year, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, ARRIVAL, is a uniquely enterprising look at what that first contact experience could ultimately look like.

This year’s selection of films that ran the circuit of the awards season were all similarly themed and executed, especially in their narrative that explored the human condition; you could even say that about the much lauded musical La La Land and this is even more so about the Oscar Winning Moonlight a love story as explored through the perspective of two gay men. The theme of the human condition is given a slightly more universal angle in Arrival the only sci-fi film in the lot nominate for Best Film.

Along the same lines as Contact or 2001: A Space Odyssey, this feature is modeled more from the fact-based science of what an alien first contact scenario would perhaps occur in reality, Arrival is seen through the lens of actress Amy Adams character Louis Banks, a linguist, who is given the opportunity of a lifetime when a series of extraterrestrial vessels arrive on Earth and situate themselves in twelve strategically significant locations. Banks is the not the first expert to meet the new visitors, but is the first xenolinguistic to crack the code in communicating with the aliens.

What happens next is an unimaginable journey as Banks begins to understand the aliens’ intention and interprets the magnitude of the “gift” that they have brought with them. Is there intention to help mankind, or finally undo centuries of mankind’s own strife and deliver a weapon that might lead to the end of days? Arrival superbly maintains the drama and without any particularly huge explosions well extrapolates its narrative which becomes more and more intricate as the alien language is deciphered by the earthbound experts.

Amy Adams own ability to approach her roles from an exquisite purity opens that world of aliens while grounding the fanciful in a very tangible reality. She does this very well in all her roles, but most apparent in her films that are larger than life, as example by her approach to reimagining the DC Comics iconic character of Lois Lane most recently in the blockbuster Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. She delivers Banks similarly authentically. The scientist is extremely relatable and potent — a truly believable and thoughtful heroine.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve the filmmaker is the storyteller behind the recent hit Sicario which is extremely realistic and immersive in its approach. Arrival is very much the same in tone and is rich in its ability to create a very authentic environment. In a season of bombastically explosive alien invasions, without the benefit of full and deep character development Arrival appears to be the film that benefited from all those missing plot lines in those other flicks, and is a thoughtful and very hopeful experience.

I personally did not know what to expect, but once the film began it was impossible to relent to its leading players, and especially imagine the world of Louise Banks and how it had just opened up beyond all comprehension or expectation.

Arrival starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner is available now for digital download on iTunes.

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Cover-to-Cover • Entertainment Weekly’s First Look at THOR: RAGNAROK

The Mighty God of Thunder goes missing during the last major big-screen brawl between his teammates in the Avengers, but there’s a really good reason why this big gun sat our the Civil War, and Entertainment Weekly has got it covered in its exclusive look at THOR: RAGNAROK!

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Imagine how Marvel Films’ Captain America: Civil War would have ended up had the Thunder God, Thor and the Green Goliath, Hulk been asked to pick a side. The entire melee would have ended in under 2 minutes with a slam dunk in favor of whomever decidedly courted either one of these powerhouses. Fortunately for everyone involved, it didn’t have to come to that, but it did leave fans wondering about the whereabouts of these two titans. The question behind that missing time is about to get answered when Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters in November.

For the third chapter in the continuing adventures of Thor starring Chris Hemsworth expect plenty of fresh faces and major changes! Entertainment Weekly put the flick still in production on its cover this week and gave fans their first looks at Kate Blanchett as Hela Goddess of Death, who unleashes chaos on the denizens of Asgard including Thor and his wicked half-brother Loki played once again by Tom Hiddleston. At the climax of the last film, the God of Mischief had assumed the mantle of King of Asgard, impersonating a now missing Odin.

Presumably Anthony Hopkins will return in the role of the mighty High-Father, after all, Thor has enlisted the help of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange (yes, Benedict Cumberbatch) to assist him in the quest to locate the missing as seen in the stinger at the end of Strange’s own film. Though the title would suggest an end-of-days motif, Ragnarok will largely center on a vision quest of sorts for Thor who is seeking answers to the mystery surrounding the forces that may be manipulating the fates of his friends on Earth.

Thor’s journey takes him across several worlds and universes, eventually landing him on the planet Sakaar and in the grips of the Grand Master played by Jeff Goldblum who presides over an intergalactic arena. It’s there that Thor runs into his teammate Hulk (Mark Ruffalo returns in the role) and at the whim of the Grand Master, the two Avengers will come to blows! Directed by Taika Waititi Thor: Ragnarok is a departure from the normal superhero franchise film, as it promises to take full advantage of Hemsworth’s comedic charisma!

Read the full article in this week’s Issue of Entertainment Weekly March 17, 2017 available on stands now and digital download.

FlashBack • DC Animated BATMAN BEYOND

The first “rebirth” of an icon BATMAN BEYOND introduced a Dark Knight for a new generation and set-up a lasting legacy for one of its greatest and longest running characters.

When Warner Bros. Animation introduced Batman Beyond into its syndicated television line-up it had a seriously tough act to follow. Its award-winning predecessor Batman: The Animated Series had successfully run for four consecutive seasons, even daring a complete revamp and redesign that greatly appealed to a diversifying audience that had grown up with the series. Having left a vacuum series creators Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett were already looking to the future and the next iteration of Gotham City’s greatest defender.

They found their muse in one Terry McGinnis, a high-schooler that would tempt fate and find himself inheriting a legacy unlike any other! Stylishly following in the same animated look of the series that helped launch it, Batman Beyond blended in seamlessly with Batman: The Animated Series and its companion spin-off Superman: The Animated Series. Grafting itself firmly in what already worked, the creative team didn’t have to go about “reinventing the wheel” and had complete freedom to enhance a mythology beyond Batman’s own narrative.

Set in an indeterminate future, the series introduced an aging Bruce Wayne (voiced by Kevin Conroy) who has become a recluse after finally admitting his mortality and hanging up the cowl for good. Wayne Manor is a dilapidated version of its former self, and when McGinnis (voiced by Will Friedle) accidentally stumbles into an abandoned Bat-Cave, his entire world explodes and the Batman is reborn! The future is which McGinnis and Wayne find themselves paired up to continue fighting crime is a marvel, but Gotham hasn’t changed very much.

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Batman Beyond heralded a new age in the continuing legacy of the Dark Knight Detective.

Ironically the two-part premiere episode entitled “Rebirth” though it didn’t take its name from the current publishing-wide rebrand the imprint the DC Comics universe is in the midst, immediately gets to work to establish McGinnis’ place as the ambitious protege of Bruce Wayne’s, who finds himself determine to vindicate the murder of his father who gets caught up in some shady corporate conspiracy. The folly leads McGinnis to don a new and improved all-new, future-tech Bat-suit designed by Wayne.

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BATMAN BEYOND, Batman, 1999 – 2001. (c) Warner Bros. Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

It isn’t long before the Batman finds himself in the crosshairs of an entirely new series of rogues, some inspired by the gallery that dared meddle with the original Caped Crusader — Batman’s greatest adversary, The Joker has given lift to an underworld of disciples that terrorize Gothamites — and some clever new bad guys, that prove just as deadly! Batman Beyond had 52 original episodes and would be epilogued in an episode of the final season of its spin-off Justice League Unlimited which was set in the same era as Bruce Wayne’s Batman.

Available now for digital download, the entire series can be purchased on iTunes. The individual three seasons of the show can also be purchased on DVD, including the stand-alone full-length feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker on Blu-ray and DVD from the DC Comics Store.

Cover-to-Cover • Entertainment Weekly features LOGAN

It may be this X-Men’s final fight as HUGH JACKMAN returns to the big screen in the third solo feature starring the clawed loner in LOGAN! How will audience manage to get along without Wolverine?

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All good things must come to an end, even an adamantium-laced mutant with a healing factor that’s kept him looking like Hugh Jackman for close to two decades (while the character itself is arguably about 150 years old)! After appearing as the mysterious Wolverine in 9 films, Jackman is readying for a big send off in Logan the third solo film centering on the most popular member on the X-Men’s roster.

Part of the Marvel Comics franchise, Wolverine was first introduced to readers in an arc that concluded in The Incredible Hulk #181 (Nov. 1974) in a classic brawl with the green Goliath. Soon Wolverine would return in a very big way when he revived the mutant line-up in Giant Size X-Men #1 which was released in 1975. Since then Wolverine has become a centrifugal part of that group’s changing dynamic, and played an important role in the live-action, 2000 X-Men feature.

Jackman was not the original actor cast in the role. The part had been awarded to Dougray Scott, but due to a scheduling conflict, he was unable to fulfill his commitment to the X-Men project and the “second favorite” Jackman was immediately called to set to join the team. The rest is literally as they say “history”! The role of the amnesiac wild man turned heroic adventurer turned Hugh Jackman into a star, and he’s played the part consistently for the last 17 years.

Even now as box-office records are being set Logan came in #1 in its opening weekend and grossed $85.3 million in its domestic debut. After calculating its $152.5 million from oversees ticket sales, the film took in $237.8 million worldwide, solidifying its audience, even though the superhero flick had earned a R-rating — a dubious distinction for a comic book adaptation, but not unrealistic after Deadpool made a killing in ticket sales as well.

Read the full article in this week’s Issue of Entertainment Weekly written by Kevin P. Sullivan @KPSull available on stands now and digital download.

In 2009 I interviewed Hugh Jackman and the rest of the cast including Ryan Reynolds about the first solo run for his mutant hero in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Check out the video here:

Actor BILL PAXTON Dies at 61

The face that launched James Cameron’s TITANIC and rilled the troops in ALIENS passes away at the age of 61 from complications during surgery.

Even as Tinsel Town prepares to take their annual walk down the red carpet at this year’s Oscars award show, many will be mourning the passing of Bill Baxton. The actor known for his subtle ingenuity at playing the “everyman” passed away from complications during surgery. His family has released a statement requesting respect for the family in this time of grieving. Bill Paxton has had a career in entertainment that has spanned four decades.

Paxton became most known for his starring roles in James Cameron’s Aliens as one of the Marines ready to take down the xenomorph infestation of a terraforming colony, and as a dedicated explorer in Titanic. Paxton also appeared in pivotal roles in Apollo 13, Twister and worked again with Cameron in True Lies. Most recently he appeared in a recurring role on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and was on the CBS series Training Day.

iReview :: Star Trek Starships Collection – SPOCK’S JELLYFISH

Eaglemoss Collections releases its latest “special issue” model in their Star Trek Starships line of perhaps one of the more obscure designs to ever be featured in the extensive cinematic mythology.

When film director J.J. Abrams was given the duty of rebooting one of the longest-running science fiction franchises in popular culture, fans were more than a little nervous about how the visionary filmmaker would approach Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry’s “wagon train to the stars” inspired generations, and 50 years later it’s thriving beyond anyone’s expectations. Abrams then elevated the brand by creating an “alternate timeline”.

In his 2009 film Star Trek a Romulan ship from the future travels back to the 22nd Century and effectively shifts reality with its incursion. Another vessel from the future is also caught in the temporal wake, that craft is piloted by a legend and is among one of the most unusual designs ever seen in the Trek universe. Spock’s Jellyfish Ship is recreated by the folks at Eaglemoss Collection as part of their “Special Issue” releases of the Star Trek Starships Collections.

Solidly constructed and slightly larger than the regular line of starships Spock’s Jellyfish measures nearly 6” in length and diameter. Highly detailed and well-textured to evoke the vessel’s uniquely organic looking design. The gyroscopic spokes are on full display, but are not articulated to mimic the movement as seen in the film, but that hardly diminishes the overall attractiveness of this model. The coloring does dull its shine, though amplifies its authenticity.

In the script for the film the vessel is literally described as a “jellyfish” (as revealed in Mark Cotta Vaz’s book Star Trek: The Art of the Film) and was further developed from an original idea by comic book artist/illustrator Bryan Hitch, so it should come as no surprise that the ship itself is one of the most peculiar in recent cinematic mythology, but still maintains a continuity of Vulcan ships. Hitch insists that he wanted “something not like conventional Federation ships,” and with its gyroscopic design, the “Jellyfish” certainly lives up to that dictum.

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Of all the recent releases from Eaglemoss Collections this “special issue” is a bit lackluster. The model builders have been dedicated to producing a high-end subscription line with their Star Trek Starships Collections, but “Spock’s Jellyfish” is simply just a large-sized mock up. Perhaps it would have been asking too much to construct a model that also featured the gyroscope components — which could have been accomplished with just three parts — the Jellyfish is just not as interesting as a solid, non-moving, prop.

The model is also mostly constructed of plastic. Though it feels like it sports some heft, the die-cast may be relegated to a portion at the forefront of the model, which pulls it slightly down on its stand. A seam along the front hull is slightly off and should be something that Eaglemoss should carefully monitor in their quality control. This is often than not an issue with their models.

Given that the modelers have kept the price of their “Special Issues” at about $40 – $45 on the mainland (mostly because of the limited factory release of these larger-sized offerings) it is a bit pricey especially for those of us that mostly display these finds. Eaglemoss Collections can be depended upon for a unique collectible experience, but the sculptors need to be delivering a more sophisticated product, especially with competitors appearing on the market.

Recently they’ve announced the production of larger scale releases, an 11” Classic Series Enterprise NCC 1701 is the first in this new line, fetching nearly $80 for the avid collector. I would suggest that if they are looking to keep or court more fans to their subscription based products, they need to be more less careless. A little precision goes a long way.

Eaglemoss Collections Star Trek The Official Starships Collection – Spock’s Jellyfish Ship “Special Issue”  is available now stateside or by visiting Eaglemoss Collections online.