Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cinematic Excursions: Film Releases For March 31st

This is kind of an odd movie weekend seeing as how there are films coming out today, tomorrow and Friday.  So listed are the films being released for Wednesday, March 31st.....

The Last Song
Release Date: March 31, 2010 
Studio: Touchstone Pictures (Disney) 
Director: Julie Anne Robinson 
Screenwriter: Nicholas SparksJeff Van Wie 
Starring: Miley CyrusBobby ColemanLiam HemsworthHallock BealsNick LashawayCarly ChaikinNick SearcyKate VernonKelly PrestonGreg Kinnear 
Genre: Drama 
MPAA Rating: PG (for thematic material, some violence, sensuality and mild language) 

Plot Summary: Based on best-selling novelist Nicholas Sparks' ("A Walk to Remember," "The Notebook") forthcoming novel, "The Last Song" is set in a small Southern beach town where an estranged father (Greg Kinnear) gets a chance to spend the summer with his reluctant teenaged daughter (Miley Cyrus), who'd rather be home in New York. He tries to reconnect with her through the only thing they have in common—music—in a story of family, friendship, secrets and salvation, along with first loves and second chances. 
Watch The Trailer!

The Sun Behind The Clouds
Release Date: March 31, 2010 (NY) 
Studio: White Crane Films 
Director: Ritu SarinTenzing Sonam 
Screenwriter: Tenzing Sonam 
Starring: The Dalai LamaWoeserLhadon TethongTsering ShakyaTenzin TsundueJamyang Norbu 
Genre: Documentary ***
MPAA Rating: Not Available 

Plot Summary: "The Sun Behind the Clouds" updates the struggle for Tibetan independence, focusing upon the March 2008 demonstration against Chinese rule, the largest ever since the 1959 take-over of that nation. The Dalai Lama, living in exile in Northern India, is interviewed extensively and given the opportunity to explicate his "middle way," a compromise position he has to date been unsuccessful in getting the Chinese to accept. Supporters of Tibetan independence who are devoted to the Dalai Lama, but who nonetheless feel "the middle way" is an ineffective solution, appear in the film, detailing their more militant position.  Watch The Trailer!!!

Comic Book Review: Supergirl #51

Book Information
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle

Brainiac has sent his army of killer robots down to Kandor as a distraction while he prepares to, once again, bottle up the city.  With the Legion of Superheroes under arrest by order of General Zod, Supergirl and Superboy, who is also under suspicion, must now face the terrorizing robotic army and Zod completely alone. 

My Thoughts
Kara Zor-El is an interesting character.  Thanks to the efforts of Sterling Gates, Supergirl posses all of the powers of Superman, but all of the emotional baggage that comes along with being a teenager in the states.  Because of this, Supergirl has become one of the most realistic superheroes to come around in comics next to Batman.  As a teenager whose leadership abilities go beyond her years, she always seems to carry more weight on her shoulders than most others.  Combined with the fear of loosing her loved ones and conflicted as to whose side she is on, Kara is at that defining moment in her life where she’s discovering who she is but unsure if she is doing the right thing or not.  In this issue, Kara takes big strides in not allowing her emotions to dictate what she must do.

Gates brings out the best in Supergirl, portraying more emotions than one person should be able to handle at one time before going insane.  His ability to get at the heart of a character is unsurpassed only by Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.  Gates gives Supergirl her most shinning moment ever as she persuades her mother to release the Legion of Superheroes as there are bigger things at stake and is not worth risking the lives of her fellow Kryptonians.  But none is she most loyal too than that of her mother...

Talk about funny moments!  Instead of Conner being caught seemingly sleeping with his best friend’s girl, he’s caught seemingly trying to pound Kara’s mother face in. 

As far as comic book romances go, I think I can live with Supergirl and Mon-El hitting it off.  I know that kiss was nothing more than a “good luck” kiss, but the suggestive nature of that moment is nothing less than intriguing.  Truly, this makes me ask “what if?”  Superman’s return to Earth inevitable so I want to know what will happen with Mon-El?  Is the plan to send him back to the Phantom Zone to suffer even more, or will he stick around as another addition to the incredible large Superman family?  My vote, keep Mon-El around and give Kara the much needed companionship she’s been lacking ever since the start of this run.  (Power Boy doesn’t count!)
Jamal Igle holds nothing back with his ever so emotional approach to this character driven title.  If there is anyone more talented on giving comic book characters a visual presence, it would only be Aaron Lopresti.  Igle, not impressing me when he first came in on this title, has forced me to reexamine his art quality and the quality of comic book art in general.  This panel certainly shows what type talent Igle brings to the table and shows that the smallest of panels in a comic can be the most moving…

A great issue.  Not perfect, but does beat out a lot of the comics I’ve read so far this month.

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming April 21st, 2010
Continued from ADVENTURE COMICS #10! Supergirl meets Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Super-Heroes for the first time! But Brainy has not only already met Supergirl, he's already loved and lost her. Confused? Not as confused as Supergirl! Plus, Brainiac unleashes a weapon that spells the end for New Krypton and only Superman and the Legionnaires can stop it!

Wonder Woman Wednesday #4

This is an amazing sketch, I might have to try and draw this one!  Happy Wednesday...Happy new comic book day!!!

Heretical Jargon: Jerry Lewis Is Superman?!?!?

Interesting, though quite hilarious!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Superart: An Amazing Piece Of Artwork!

I have no idea where this is from, but wow is it an amazing artistic piece!  I was doing a google search for comic book art and found this.  If anyone knows where this comes from, please let me know so I can credit it properly.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie News: Construction Site For Hobbiton...

Yes, this is the new Hobbition, and yes it is once again being filmed in New Zealand.  It'll looked great once finished!  Apparently the film release date, according to, has been delayed again and again due to financial reason on the part of MGM.  The studio is undergoing a sell and it may take a little while longer to get going yet again.  We still have a long wait ahead of us as the new release date is set for December of 2011.  Hopefully MGM and Warner Bros. can work out all the kinks in the financial area of thing sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, check out these great photographs of the construction site for Hobbiton...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon

Directed by Dean Debois & Chris Sanders
Screenplay by Dean Debois
Based on the children’s story by Cressida Cowell
Duration 90 Minutes 
Rated PG

My Wonderfully Majestic Opinion
When it comes to animated films, my unacceptability of predictable plotlines diminishes about 50%.  The target audience is obviously children, but with the current popularity of animated films among adults, a secondary audience is kept in mind during the screenwriting process.  To write a completely predictable script is good for the kids, but not so good for the adults. (Unless you like that sort of thing) In turn, something else must be added in order to meet the adult’s entertainment needs.  How to Train Your Dragon combines children and adult appeal for a unique and interesting approach to the typical dragon adventure tale.

The set up isn’t anything we are unfamiliar with.  We have our main character, Hiccup (who’s probably the same age as your middle school child who sat next to you) who doesn’t quite fit in much to the dismay of his father, Stoick who indecently is the leader of this Viking tribe.  Within a mere ten minute segment, we are shown Hiccup’s desire to achieve his father’s approval and to win over the acceptance of the whole tribe through a blood thirsty dragon battle in the village.  Hiccup’s adventure begins as he accidentally takes down the most feared dragon of all, a Night Furry.  Hiccup develops a relationship with this beast and begins to realize that the Viking hatred towards dragons is unfounded and begins his self-appointed task to show the rest of his Viking comrades the error of their ways.  Thus we have the tale of the outsider taking a stance against the norm and becoming the hero at the climax of the story.

Somewhere in the middle of the film, Hiccup claims to see a lot of himself in his new found dragon friend, whom he has named Toothless.  A series of events occurs to help support this claim where, ultimately, both characters have lost something which is essential to their mobility.  I wasn’t convinced in the actuality of Toothless and Hiccup being connected in this way; rather I saw it as Hiccup looking for something within the Night Fury that he could relate too.  Whether it be an actual relatable trait or something Hiccup unconsciously made up in his own mind is what I question.  Never the less, the point is still made clear that this film is all about facing yourself, or to coin the phrase “to face your dragons.”  Since Hiccup saw a lot of himself in Toothless, he sought a way to help the injured creature, which in turn gave him an unconscious reason to help himself.  The title, “How to Train your Dragon,” does not actually refer to the literal and the obvious.  This film is all about facing oneself and holding true to your moral convictions and your goals in life, despite the fact that everyone around you holds no faith in what you wish to achieve.  While this concept is quite over played in the cartoon movie world, it is portrayed better in this film than any animated film I’ve seen to date.

The animation quality in this film could be compared to that of Pixar. There was a definite attention to detail that DreamWorks Animation Studios has lacked in previous films.  The variety in atmospheres and landscapes was incredibly impressive as we went from a small hometown Viking village, to falling through forest landscapes,  flying through cloudy blue skies, sailing across beautiful oceanic scenery, and finally battling at a fiery volcanic island where plant life is replaced by rubble and ash.  The attention to those specific details went above and beyond what I’ve come to expect from a DreamWorks animated film.  But even on the much smaller scale, the attempt at making each and every dragon uniquely different was fantastically achieved.  There were dragons that resembled, fish, dogs, cats, insects and amphibians and this cannot be thrown out as an easy task, giving every featured dragon its own defining features and recognizable attributes, including specific voice inflections.  These detail oriented aspects of the dragons are clear cut reminders that each animal species is very diversified and unique in every way, while at the same time maintaining a unified set of instincts.

Now with all the greatness that this film brought to the screen, there was one minor distractions that made me chuckle.  Take for instance that no one had ever seen a Night Fury, yet for some reason the Vikings knew exactly what the creature looked like once Toothless appeared to them for the first time.  I thought back to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast during this moment, how in the world did they know the Beast lived up in the castle on the dark and gothic hill when that moment when Belle returned was the first they had heard of the Beast?  I can only assume that, like most fantasy tales, this is one of its unexplainable attributes that the audience is supposed to accept and forget about…but I can’t.

There was, of course, the very formulaic plot progression that I actually laid out for my wife prior to seeing the film, it’s that predictable.  This led to a conversation about the predictability of all feel-good, family oriented animated films which caused me to ask myself why I go see cartoon movies when I know exactly what’s going to happen.  The answer…it’s the animation.  Having grown up wanting to be a Disney or a Pixar artist/animation technician, the artistry of animated films is what grabs me.  This film did a masterful job at creating visually likeable characters, emotional and recognizable faces, beautiful sceneries, and amazing special effects.  The story itself was applied very well to the film, but the events throughout the story were annoyingly predictable.  It’s the artwork that is worth its weight in gold here.

My Awe-Struck Conclusion
Most dragon films have to deal with the simple fact that, due to their size, demeanor, and unrelatable characteristics, they aren’t the most successful films to be made.  Human characters have to be brought in that serve no purpose accept to be there for the climatic final battle with the “ultimate” dragon.  Even in the film “Dragon Heart,” there is an ineffective message due to the exceptionally difficult task of making a film about dragons.  “How to Train your Dragon” does something that no other dragon film has done before.  Despite the fact that the dragons cannot speak, this film gives the dragons a voice in the story.

Rating 8.5 out of 10 stars

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Geeky Nostalgia: Alec Baldwin And The Shadow

You can actually never go wrong when it comes to an Alec Baldwin film.  I recently decided that I hadn't seen The Shadow in a VERY long time, so I put it into my Netflix Queue.  My wife had never seen it and boy did she get the thrill of her life.  Next to being completely winded by the hilarity of the film Labyrinth, she was slapped in the face again by the sheer awfulness that the Shadow brings to the history of Hollywood.  She was extra excited since she's probably Alec Baldwin's biggest fan, so to have him playing the part in a campy, cheaply made film noir, she was ready for anything!

I on the other hand knew this film was bad, I just couldn't remember HOW BAD!  I was in middle school when this film came out and I of course loved it.  Being very ignorant of what makes a good and bad film, I thought this movie was the cat's meow.  After seeing this movie for this first time, I immediately went on an internet search for anything related to "The Shadow."  I even created a Superhero that resembled him, which I still hold as my best superhero creation to date.  But I was happy to find, in audio cassette form,old radio broadcasts of the original show.  I got them in the mail and listened to them non stop.

But now, watching this forgotten film has caused me to wonder about my film tastes  of my childhood and reminisce on how silly I was.  But it's still fun regardless huh?  And just a side note...Tim Curry is a FREAKY actor!  I love him!

Comic Book Review: Batman and Robin #10

Book Information
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Andy Clarke

Dick Grayson begins to follow the trail which will hopefully reveal the whereabouts of Bruce Wayne.  But while Dick continually looks for clues, Damian Wayne has a mission to fulfill which involved him and a sword, sneaking up behind the unsuspecting Dick Grayson.  Why would Damian try to kill the one man who could bring back his father?  Dirty work may be afoot.

My Thoughts
I feel like I was playing the Batman version of clue, and I picked Damien Wayne, in the armory, with the sword.  As much as the cover completely gives away where this issue is going, overall it was a lot fun and exciting to read.

It was nice to have more mature looking artwork thanks to the efforts of Andy Clarke.  While he isn’t the best artist to come around, he certainly created the much needed visual that Batman & Robin has been lacking since Frank Quietly left a few months ago.  During the “family history” segment if this book, I was in awe of how detailed the candle lit hallways were and how little work is needed to create the full affect of a dark, gothic-like atmosphere.  I’ve never read R.E.B.E.L.S., but I know I was always impressed with the covers by Andy Clarke, which makes me believe this was a good artistic choice on DC’s part.

Morrison delivers a fine script, filled with angst, suspense and mystery.  With the exception of the first three issues of this title, this might very well be the best issue that Morrison has written for Batman & Robin.  As annoyed as I am with Damian Wayne, Morrison is certainly doing a great job at bringing out the conflicted and emotional personality of the newest red, yellow and green avenger.  I enjoyed the little segment learning about the Wayne family tree and the twist that came along with it.  Are these portraits actually of Bruce Wayne as a way of helping Dick find him?  As much as I hate the whole “Bruce Wayne caught in time” ordeal, I do like the approach Morrison is taking in this mystery.

I appreciated Morrison addressing the seriously confusing take from last issue where Dick Grayson some how knew Bruce Wayne to still be alive based on finding his clone. 

How can we be sure?  That is the question isn’t it?  There is no real evidence pointing to the fact that Bruce Wayne is still alive, yet Dick Grayson seems to be utterly convinced by this.  Why?  I don’t know, but at least Morrison realizes his faulty plot device and is at least trying to make up for it.

As the Return of Bruce Wayne draws ever so closer, I find myself excited and disappointed; disappointed because Bruce Wayne will most definitely be returning, which means he may readopt the Cape and Cowl, but excited because it looks as if the duo of Damian Wayne and Dick Grayson is coming to a close!  The story is set up showing Damian attempting to fill his father’s shoes as boss of Wayne Enterprises and attempting to murder Dick Grayson.  Based on the reaction Damian has when he discovers his mind has been manipulated by his mother, he runs away not sure what to think.  I have a feeling Damian is going to discover he can’t handle the superhero life style and give out up, or become one of Grayson’s arch nemeses.  I won’t care either way; I just want Damian out of the picture!

A very good issue.  It contains a few little frustrations due to the over arching story, (the return of Bruce Wayne) but the mystery is pretty darn good.

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming April 7, 2010
“Batman vs. Robin" part 2 of 3! The Dynamic Duo fight it out in the ultimate duel to the finish. Meanwhile, Robin's mother, Talia al Ghul, sends an old adversary of Dick Grayson's to complete the job that her son may not be able to stomach!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Nerditude Book Club: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

Apparently Seth Grahame-Smith has another book currently for sale in book stores everywhere after his highly successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies novel.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is in stores and selling like hotcakes!

The book's premise is quite interesting apart from the fact that Lincoln hunts and kills Vampires.  It seems the entire story is a symbolic approach towards the historic view he "held" on slavery.  It's and interesting idea since slave owners, like vampires, feed off the blood of their slaves.  But this book isn't just some insertion of random zombie jargon within the original storyline by Jane Austin, this book appears to be completely written by Mr. Grahame-Smith based on in depth research and study of the father of America.

Speaking of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, has anyone else heard about the film based on said novel starring Natalie Portman?  I don't know about you but that'll be a movie I'll be seeing with eager anticipation.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cinematic Excursions: Movie Releases For March 26

There are lots of thrillers and R rated films out there.  So for your parents who shelter your kids from everything, don't go to the movies.  But for you college kids, hop every theater!  However, I guess seeing as how "How To Train Your Dragon" is out today, families might be enjoying a night at the movies....

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics 
Director: Atom Egoyan 
Screenwriter: Erin Cressida Wilson 
Starring: Julianne MooreAmanda SeyfriedLiam NeesonMax Thieriot 
Genre: Drama, Thriller 
MPAA Rating: R (for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue, nudity and language) 

Plot Summary: Atom Egoyan's remake of the French thriller "Nathalie..." The project centers on a married woman (Julianne Moore) who hires a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to find out whether her husband (Liam Neeson) is cheating on her. The prostitute, however, cons her about the nature of her husband's fidelity, a move that puts the family in jeopardy. 

Dancing Across Borders
Studio: First Run Features 
Director: Anne Bass 
Screenwriter: Not Available 
Starring: Sokvannara Sar 
Genre: Documentary 
MPAA Rating: Not Available 

Plot Summary: "Dancing Across Borders" chronicles the intimate and triumphant story of Sokvannara Sar, who was discovered by Anne Bass on a trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, in 2000 and brought to the ballet stage in America. A longtime patron of dance in the U.S., Bass arranged for Sy to visit New York and audition for the prestigious School of the American Ballet (SAB). What unfolds is a tentative negotiation between Sy and the world of American ballet and culture—from the serene countryside of Southeast Asia to the halls of SAB, to the stage of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. The film follows Sy's unusual development as a dancer and offers a remarkable behind—the—scenes look into the world of American ballet. At its heart, "Dancing Across Borders" is an extraordinary story of growth, adaptation, and belonging as well as of the development of talent and the mastery of an art form. 

The Eclipse
Studio: Magnolia Pictures 
Director: Conor McPherson 
Screenwriter: Conor McPherson 
Starring: Ciaran HindsIben HjejleAidan QuinnJim NortonEanna Hardwicke,Hannah Lynch 
Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller 
MPAA Rating: R (for language and some disturbing images) 

Plot Summary: Michael Farr (Ciarán Hinds) is a widower living in a misty Irish seaside town who is struggling to adjust to his new role as the sole caretaker of his two children. Still reeling from the death of his wife, he has been plagued by terrifying apparitions. When he volunteers at a local literary festival, he finds he finds himself drawn to Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), an empathetic author of supernatural fiction. While Lena tries to help Michael with the mystery of his nightmarish visions, she must contend with problems of her own—she’s being jealously pursued by a self-obsessed novelist (Aidan Quinn), her one-time lover. As the three adults’ lives converge, the turbulence of the phantom world will soon have nothing on that of the living. 

Studio: Not Available 
Director: Robert Saitzyk 
Screenwriter: Cory KnaufRobert Saitzyk 
Starring: Joseph McKelheerCory KnaufCourtney HalversonEd Lauter,Jessie WardHallock BealsLynn Adrianna FreedmanBen Loosli 
Genre: Drama, Thriller 
MPAA Rating: Not Available

Plot Summary: Winner of the Special Jury Award at the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival, "Godspeed" is an intense, dramatic thriller set in the lingering light of the Alaskan midnight sun.

Charlie Shepard (Joseph McKelheer) is a modern day faith healer whose young son and wife are brutally murdered by unknown assailants for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Six months later, Charlie has abandoned his former life, moving through the days' slow existence more like a ghost than a man. A young, mysterious girl named Sarah (Courtney Halverson) appears in town, and seeks out Charlie, pleading for help with her own grief-stricken father after her mother's death. It's here on Charlie's journey to Sarah's remote home, buried deep in the Alaskan wilderness, where he must eventually confront Sarah's troubled brother Luke (Cory Knauf) -- a dark journey that will ultimately reveal the truth of his family's killing and lead to tragic, violent consequences for all. 

Hot Tub Time Machine 
Studio: MGM 
Director: Steve Pink 
Screenwriter: Josh HealdSean AndersJohn Morris 
Starring: John CusackRob CorddryCraig RobinsonClark DukeCrispin GloverLizzy CaplanChevy Chase,Sebastian StanLyndsy FonsecaCollette WolfeCharlie McDermottKellee Stewart 
Genre: Comedy 
MPAA Rating: R (for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language) 

Plot Summary: "Hot Tub Time Machine" follows a group of best friends who've become bored with their adult lives: Adam (John Cusack) has been dumped by his girlfriend; Lou (Rob Corddry) is a party guy who can't find the party; Nick's (Craig Robinson) wife controls his every move; and video game-obsessed Jacob (Clark Duke) won't leave his basement. After a crazy night of drinking in a ski resort hot tub, the men wake up, heads' pounding, in the year 1986. This is their chance to kick some past and change their futures – one will find a new love life, one will learn to stand up for himself with the ladies, one will find his mojo, and one will make sure he still exists!

How To Train You Dragon
Studio: DreamWorks Animation 
Director: Chris SandersDean DeBlois 
Screenwriter: Dean DeBloisChris Sanders 
Starring: Jay BaruchelGerard ButlerAmerica FerraraJonah Hill,Christopher Mintz-PlasseCraig FergusonKristen WiigT.J. Miller 
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Fantasy 
MPAA Rating: PG (for for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language) 

Plot Summary: From the studio that brought you "Shrek," "Madagascar" and "Kung Fu Panda" comes "How to Train Your Dragon." Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, the action comedy tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe's longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup's world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges he and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view. 

Studio: Strand Releasing 
Director: Catherine Breillat 
Screenwriter: Catherine Breillat 
Starring: Dominique ThomasLola Créton 
Genre: Drama, Fantasy 
MPAA Rating: Not Available 
Plot Summary: Based on Charles Perrault's grisly fairytale, "Bluebeard" tells the story of young Marie-Catherine, child bride to an aristocratic ogre with a reputation for murdering his wives. A classic tale, a favorite of good little French girls since the 1950s. Princess Marie-Catherine must employ all her cunning to outwit her husband and escape the most unpleasant of fates. 

Waking Sleeping Beauty
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures 
Director: Don Hahn 
Screenwriter: Not Available 
Starring: Not Available 
Genre: Documentary 
MPAA Rating: PG (for some thematic elements and brief mild language) 

Plot Summary: "Waking Sleeping Beauty" is no fairytale. It is a story of clashing egos, out of control budgets, escalating tensions... and one of the most extraordinary creative periods in animation history. Director Don Hahn and producer Peter Schneider, key players at Walt Disney Studios Feature Animation department during the mid-1980s, offer a behind-the-magic glimpse of the turbulent times the Animation Studio was going through and the staggering output of hits that followed over the next ten years. Artists polarized between the hungry young innovators and the old guard who refused to relinquish control, mounting tensions due to a string of box office flops, and warring studio heads create the backdrop for this fascinating story told with a unique and candid perspective from those that were there. Through interviews, internal memos, home movies, and a cast of characters featuring Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Roy Disney, alongside an amazing array of talented artists that includes Don Bluth, John Lasseter, and Tim Burton, "Waking Sleeping Beauty" shines a light on Disney Animation's darkest hours, greatest joys and its improbable renaissance.