May 12 2016

Trailer Jive: ASSASSIN’S CREED

 

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I’m not a gamer, but I love the concepts of many games that are out there. I don’t really know much about Assassin’s Creed, but all my game buddies seem to love the series.  And now we have the first trailer of the film that Michael Fassbender is starring in.  It looks pretty good, though I don’t know how it comes off to you gameheads out there.  I do like the Sci-fi element of traveling back in the ancestor’s memories.  I also hope the film keeps the music from the trailer because that would give a nice feel to the film with the old and new.  Look for ASSASSIN’S CREED in theaters this December.

 

May 05 2016

GSB Podcast – MICHELLE LOVRETTA, CREATOR OF KILLJOYS

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In this episode we were overjoyed to have Michelle Lovretta stop by the show. She is the creator of Lost Girl and the current Syfy show Killjoys. Michelle talked about her writing process and how she comes up with her characters and the worlds they live in.  She also talked about creating female leads like Bo and Dutch, and writing what interests you rather than writing what you think will sell.  You can watch the first season of Killjoys on Syfy.com and look for the second season coming soon.

May 01 2016

Frisky Business: The Cool Cats of Cinema

The premiere of Key and Peele’s Keanu has started a global dialogue on the dearth of kitten-centered films. As a self-professed ‘cat person’ I couldn’t be more thrilled! Okay–maybe ‘global dialogue’ borders on hyperbole but Keanu certainly should give us cause for paws (see what I did there?) to reflect on the moments furry thespians worked that old cat magic on the big screen.

Here is a Top 9 List (see what I did there…again!) of “picture purrfect” cats in movies:

9. Keanu (2016)

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The newest kitty on the Hollywood block is the titular Keanu. Gangstas, stoners, and cops all love Keanu in this buddy comedy. He’s just Adorable with a capital Awww. According to professional animal trainer April Mackin, it took seven kittens to portray this LOLcat. Who wouldn’t want to run lines of yarn with these furry cuties on set?

8. April and the Extraordinary World (2015)

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In this steampunk animated actioner, Darwin the Talking Cat not only had your back, but would have been the ideal book club bestie. A literary soul, Darwin was the delightful combination of wit and whiskers.

7. Pet Sematary (1989)

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Before there was Grumpy Cat, there was Church the Cat! In Stephen King’s horror story, Church got even friskier after he was resurrected.

6. Cat’s Eye (1985)

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Remember this: Stray tabby > Breath-sucking troll. After seeing this film as a kid, I really wanted to trade my night light for a watch cat!

5. The Uncanny (1977)

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This 1970s British anthology film had everything, from cats eating people to cats witnessing murders and refusing to report the crimes. It was true ‘catsploitation’. But just like Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” “The Uncanny”  made you think twice the next time you saw a cluster of cats glaring back at you!

4. Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951)

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The Cheshire Cat perfectly embodies what every cat owner knows about their feline’s outlook on life: it’s their world, we are merely living in it for them to play with us!

3. Puss in Boots (2011)

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Antonio Banderas flexed feline fierceness in the Shrek spin-off we were all hoping for! But more than anything this film put on blast that super power all cats have…you know, that thing they do when they get super cute, melt your heart, and never end up in the dog house!

2. Milo and Otis (1986)

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A pug (Otis) and a tabby (Milo) walk into a barn and end up becoming fast friends! This movie endures and endears with the unlikely animal friendships trope.

1. Alien (1979) and Aliens (1981)

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Remember this: Jonesy the Cat > Some Random Xenomorph. The feline companion of Ripley, Jonesy was no scaredy cat! After all drama on the ship ensued, the fate of Jonesy is somewhat of a mystery. I’d like to believe this tough tabby is still holding its own out there for independent cats everywhere in deep space!

 

That’s my list, but it’s certainly not the whole kitten caboodle! So don’t get your dander up–just reach out and let us know which furry and fierce creatures would make your cool cats of cinema list using  #PicturePurrfect #GSBPodcast

The Shadow Scout

 

 

 

Apr 27 2016

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Film Review: Wintry Mix Up

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“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” picks up seven years after the events of the first movie while providing backstory on the Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and her sister Freya, the Ice Queen (Emily Blunt). It is neither sequel, nor prequel, but something awkwardly in between (a post-midquel?). A movie in story arc limbo, “Winter’s War” is more of a winter wonderland, leaving you to wonder not only if a follow-up to the 2012 movie was even necessary but if this was indeed the movie you thought you were going to see in the first place (Spoiler Alert: It’s not!).

 

By now, moviegoers are pretty well-versed in the “3 Rs” of Hollywood–Remake, Reboot, Reimagine. We might look upon these efforts with a jaundiced eye, but we understand these things happen. Indeed, the studios are banking on our ability to forgive and forget (hello, 2013’s “The Wolverine”…goodbye, 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”). In “Winter’s War” there are cutaways and flashforwards to a “present-day” Snow White to explain away Kristen Stewart’s absence from the film, as well as the omniscient POV and voiceover to introduce Freya the Ice Queen and her legions of child warriors, who eventually grow up to include The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain). It is all very convenient!

I was willing to put up with convenience as long as it ultimately connected to why I was motivated to see the movie: to witness an engrossing battle fueled by sorcery and strategy between two powerful women. Finally, a “versus movie” that made sense and didn’t negate the agency of its female leads…unlike that other versus movie I saw in March! A girl can dream, can’t she? Sadly, “Winter’s War” had more in common with the loosely constructed world building of “Batman v Superman” than it did with the taut political and familial drama of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. No time was given to explore the complexity in Ravenna and Freya’s relationship as sisters and as rulers. And certainly no time was given to their final showdown–if anything, the showdown did more to display Hemsworth’s “Thor” fighting skills.

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On a positive note, the film is visually appealing. Like the tundra, the cinematic landscape is bitter cold and painfully beautiful. Charlize Theron looks every bit the part of the Evil Queen and literally oozes wickedness even as she smolders. Hemsworth hunks it up per usual and soldiers through sequences despite an uneven accent. Jessica Chastain takes to the physicality of her role–reminding me of an adulting Disney Princess Merida if she had a less stable home life. And as the Ice Queen, Emily Blunt displays her patented ‘vulnerable strength’ (which she carried to perfection in last year’s “Sicario”); in one eye-catching scene Blunt rides in triumphant on a fantastic polar bear-like beast that would make even Peter Jackson cower and blush.

Alas, a good movie is only script-deep and looks alone cannot save “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” from being an icy hot mess! 1.75 out of 5 Cosmic Afros

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Apr 24 2016

ComiGamAni Interview: Russ Emanuel, A Curious Creative

For April’s episode of ComiGamAni, The Nerdy Venoms interviewed filmmaker Russ Emanuel.

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I first met Russ at 2016 FarpointCon in Baltimore where I saw his genre-blending film Occupants. This scifi/horror story of parallel worlds kept me on the edge of my seat (and for all of you familiar with my film reviews, you know this is quite the feat!). I was also impressed with Russ’s take on the found footage aesthetic and his world building around one…well…two strong female characters!

After the Q & A, I took a moment to talk with Russ about the big ‘what next’ for Occupants. When Russ shared that he was working on a comic book tie in for the film, my blerdy sense alerted me that Russ was not only a filmmaker, but also a ‘curious creative.’

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The ‘curious’ of curious creative signifies not only the intellectual curiosity of an artist, but just how intriguing it is for that artist to break into a new medium. In previous ComiGamAni shows, we discussed curious creatives like Erika Alexander (acting to comics), Christy Marx (animation to game development), and Ta-Nehesi Coates (journalism to Black Panther!). In fact, the very first interview on ComiGamAni was with Legend of the Mantamaji‘s Eric Dean Seaton, who is best known for his work as a writer and director in television.

So check out Episode 273–our interview with Russ Emanuel and get inside the mind of a curious creative. Hear Russ describe his creative process and collaboration with comics artist Dave Beaty in a different type of visual storytelling. And while you’re at it check out the details of Russ’s very successful IndieGoGo for the Occupants comic book tie in.

Stay curious!

The Shadow Scout

Apr 13 2016

The DOCTOR STRANGE Teaser Literally Bends Reality

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Wow! If you ever want to impress me with a trailer, this is how you do it.  I don’t know how the overall film with be, but from this we do know that DOCTOR STRANGE will be a visual mind bender.  The city on multiple dimensional surfaces reminds be of Inception.

I’m also glad this teaser gives us a feel for at least two of the main characters.  We all know Cumberbatch will kill the role of Stephen Strange as he slays all the roles he’s in.  But Tilda as The Ancient One is an interesting casting choice and one I think that will bring some originality to the performances. Well, that’s if you disregard the erasure of an East Asian character.  In cases like this, and Kingsley playing The Mandarin (he’s half South Asian but you know), I do empathize with my brothers and sisters of Asian decent that have been raising a voice on how Marvel has handled their images on screen.  And I could even side-eye how Chiwetel is playing an evil guy. But really, how many Black lead super-villains have we gotten? We fiiiinally have two Black lead superheroes on the way, and Ejiofor will do a great job as Baron Mordo. Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, and Rachel McAdams round out a great cast.

I still don’t understand how the guys that wrote and directed Sinister got this gig.  But Marvel must have seen something in their pitch to hand over the story of the Sorcerer Supreme to those dudes. At least this trailer gives me more confidence.

 

 

Now what you really need to look at is the 1978 TV Movie DR. STRANGE.  Yes it was awful, but what TV movie wasn’t in that era.  Awful was good and I applauded Marvel for trying to put their characters on the small screen back in the day. You’re going to laugh and cringe at the same time, but check it.  In fact, you all might have to sit through it with me for a November #SaturdayNightSciFi before the MCU film comes out. Just be ready.

 

 

Apr 12 2016

GSBPodcast: Marc Okrand – Man of Many Geek Words

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Who doesn’t love a good geek holiday? (October 21, 2015–Always and Forever!). For Star Trek fans, “First Contact Day” is observed on April 5th. According to Trek lore, Efram Cochrane became the first human to pilot an aircraft at warp speed and make first contact with an alien race (Vulcans!) on April 5, 2063. So it was only logical in this milestone year for Star Trek that Geek Soul Brother and The Nerdy Venoms interview linguist and Klingon creator Marc Okrand.

From Marc Okrand’s Bio:

Marc Okrand devised the dialogue and coached the actors speaking the Klingon language heard in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Star Trek Into Darkness. He also created the Atlantean language heard in the Walt Disney animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In addition, he created the Vulcan dialogue for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III, and both Vulcan and Romulan dialogue for 2009’s Star Trek.

He is the author of The Klingon Dictionary (Pocket Books, 1985; revised edition, 1992), an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of the language; The Klingon Way: A Warrior’s Guide (Pocket Books, 1996), an annotated compilation of Klingon proverbs; and Klingon For the Galactic Traveler (Pocket Books, 1997), a guide to the finer points of the Klingon language, including specialized terminology, slang, idioms and dialects.

Our interview with Marc was not just a deep-dive of fascinating aspects of Star Trek history, but also a geek’s eye view of the field of linguistics, particularly on the subject of constructed languages, or conlangs. Marc pioneered conlanging for the Star Trek film franchise over 30 years when he created both the Klingon and Vulcan language. In today’s film and TV, conlangs are a critical part of world building (think Na’vi in Avatar, Elvish in Lord of the Rings, or Dothraki in Game of Thrones). We also learned about Marc’s role as an associate producer of the new documentary Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues, an insightful love-letter to the conlang community.

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Representing for the conlang community on our interview–and doing it well–was Kennedy Allen a.k.a. Storm Tribble of The Black Tribbles. The studious Storm, having studied Klingon, was on Cloud (Deep Space) 9 making her own first contact with Marc. She even taught the Nerdy Venoms how to say the universally crucial question “Where is the bathroom?” nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa”e’ (Pro Tip from Kennedy: Say it from your chest!). Marc also talked about the Klingon Language Institute for those who want to take their Klingon proficiency (and geek credibility) to the next level!

Truly, Marc’s story illustrates that having an inclusive mindset, intellectual curiosity, and passion for what you do can take you to some fun and fascinating places–including Atlantis!.

So be prepared to be enlightened and inspired with this special First Contact Day episode of the GSBPodcast! Check out the storify play-by-play of this podcast episode as well.

Qapla‘,

The Shadow Scout

 

 

Apr 07 2016

GSBPodcast: LEGEND OF THE CIPHER – THE GAME OF HIP-HOP

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Episode #269 Legend Of The Cipher: A Game Of Hip-Hop.

As a former gamer and nerd, I’ve always had a love of gaming. From my early years spending afternoons in the arcade to my first time beating Super Mario on my Nintendo; nothing can match the rush of adrenaline when you master a level that had for days made you it’s monkey.  When tabletop games became the rage,  I was at a loss. As a writer the idea of intricate universes and bylaws intrigued me. Until I actually played.  I got lost amid the rules, the delicately balanced point system,  and the playing cards I would stare at, hoping in vain to make some sense of them. After a few half-hearted attempts with friends I threw in towel and decided I had enough punches on my geek card. That card gaming was “just not my thing.” I’ve held onto that excuse for years until I heard about Legend of the Cipher. It is an in-depth tabletop card game but unlike it’s predecessors this one is based entirely on the hip hop culture.  I was immediately intrigued when it popped up on my twitter feed. A card game that reflected the elements of hip hop with the rules and playing style of Magic the Gathering? Someone had heard the cries of anguish from geeks like me!  The brain child of Todd Anderson and Benjamin Sanchez, it infuses the real life struggles of an emcee. It starts out with a basic deck and using money, skill, etc. you are able to build your self up level by level using battles, performances and other emcees as allies to become a “Legend.” What I like most about this game is it meshes two cultures that don’t often run in the same circles in public. Most hip hop heads wouldn’t dream of saying out loud that they are table top card gamers. Hip hop is considered for the cool kids,  full of swag. This game focuses on the reality of the culture though.  For example, one main way to build your deck according to Todd Anderson is by “doing shows.” A little known fact in hip hop is that artists don’t actually make most of their money off of record sales. The bulk of their income is from doing tours, and shows so it pays to have experience and a great stage show.  Legend of the Cipher reflects these truths,  in fact educating by dispelling myths and using the same point system most table top games use. It’s gotten great reception at various conventions with teachers even singing its praises as a classroom tool. Now they are attempting to bring the game to the masses using crowd funding to get it in the hands of fans and geeks alike. This is the sort game that can bridge the gap and give the public an even bigger love affair with nerd culture than the one Marvel has already has in bloom. If you’d like to help put Legends of the Cipher in every home,  please contact them @Cipher_Legend on Twitter and support the cause through their Gofund Me page at: https://www.gofundme.com/Cipher_Legend.  Also check out their Facebook Page.

Here’s a video of the Legend Of The Cipher being played at PAX 2013.

 

We also did a little Daredevil non-spoiler review. Enjoy.

 

 

Apr 01 2016

New Trailer – “LIGHTS OUT”… Nah Yo! I’ll Pay the Electric Bill

This is a bold statement I’m about to make, but I think James Wan is close to being my new John Carpenter.  Wait, you don’t know who John Carpenter is?  Halloween, The Fog, They Live?  He was a master horror and quirky film director that blew up in the 80s.  He’s one of my all time favorite filmmakers and Justin Wan seems to be walking steadily down Carpenter’s path.

Carpenter wrote and directed Halloween and introduced an iconic character into the world of horror. Heck, he almost invented the modern slasher genre. And decades later we have James Wan also introducing a new character into the world of horror with SAW, and basically helping to invent a new sub-genre – Torture Porn.  JC created the horror masterpiece called THE THING.  James created a memorable horror film called THE CONJURING.  Carpenter dived into the quirky side of things with ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.  Wan gave us the over-the-top FURIOUS 7.  And now CONJURING 2 is coming out later this year and he’s going to be working on DC’s AQUAMAN.

But for now I’m focusing on this trailer. Wan didn’t direct or write it, but I think his fingerprints are on it.  LIGHTS OUT isn’t the most original concept, but the execution looks like it’s working. The first 30 seconds can have you shook.  Look for the lights to go out in theaters July 22, 2016.

 

Mar 29 2016

GSB Film Review: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

 

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Well, it seems the sequel to Man Of Steel has people polarized in their opinions as much as the initial Snyder film did. But I think many fans are weighing more on the side that Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice was even less satisfying. This was the case for me as I left the theater feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I didn’t hate the film, but some aspects bothered me. There were two saving graces though.

So the questions that everyone had on their minds were – Did Ben Affleck ruin or respect the role of Batman? And the other question – How was Wonder Woman a.k.a. Gal Gadot? I’m reflecting the feedback of many who have seen the film in saying that not only did Affleck respect the role, but he did justice to the Dark Knight. Bat-ffleck brought a certain charm to Bruce Wayne while convincingly expressing the caped crusader’s determination we all know to overcome all threats; including his assessment of Superman being a global one. I have to give it to Affleck seeing that his acting has matured since his dry and stiff portrayal of Daredevil. Or maybe stiff just fits the character of Batman better than other heroes. Either way, Big Ben did such a good job at Batman that some fans are calling for more solo films lead by him. Way to make us all eat crow Sir.

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On to the role of Wonder Woman. I’m still peeved that Gadot received criticisms over her body type not fitting everyone’s idea of what Wonder Woman looked like. First of all, WW isn’t here to be your Playboy girl of the Month. Yes, Gadot is a slim girl, but I was convinced that she could gain some muscle as she stated many times that she was preparing for the role with special training. And if you think back to Man Of Steel, Feora El wasn’t all that big either and yet she was kicking Sups butt all over the place. It was to my delight when I saw the reactions to Gal as Wonder Woman and how many of us movie goers loved her in the film and wanted to see much more, both in battle and as Diana Prince. There was a point where WW comes in gangster style to save Batman from being charcoal-broiled, and when her warrior theme music blasted through the speakers, I was cheering her on. All this goodness in the film and I still left with lackluster feeling.

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There were three reasons for this. The first was that the film took a while to get to some action. Kind of like Man Of Steel, but Zack Snyder included that Krypton story arch which helped with the pacing. The first half of BvS was subtextual conversations between Clark and Bruce, zany Lex moments and governments trying to decide how to handle an alien demigod. Look, I don’t need physical action all through a film, but give me some emotional content I can sink my teeth into. But this wasn’t the worse part. The true sin of this legendary comic book story was that it failed in the most basic storytelling element. It didn’t give you any villain you could love. Eisenburg as Lex Luthor was anything but. His take on the powerful industrialist was a weird neurotic sociopath with no apparent motivation other than to get Batman and Superman to fight each other. And also to play with mutating Kryptonian genes. What was it all for Lex, What was it all For? Jessie’s version of Luthor reminded me of all the comic book cut outs of the 70s Superman films. Lastly, the Doomsday fight should have been longer and well known villain should have said a word or two. Instead he reminded people of the Trolls right out of Lord Of The Rings. So yes, major fail in the villain department.

On the bright side, I’m looking forward to the Wonder Woman film, and seeing Cyborg and Aqua-Momoa-man show up in Justice League. Not so much Flash though.

This could have been a great film. Unfortunately it missed a few marks. I personally don’t mind a darker Superman, but the characters have to resonate in some way. Geek Soul Brother gives Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice 3.25 out of 5 COSMIC AFROS.

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