The more I see the better looking this game gets. I loved playing an early version of it at PAX last summer.
We do a preview of some of the hot games in development, E3, Rumored titles and then do Q&A with the audience to answer their gaming questions.
I want to thank SEGA, Gelaskins, Symbiote Studios, Creation Entertainment, AABC Comics, Accent Inns, Running With Scissors, Konami, Lego Universe, and Barry Bard’s At The Movies for providing items for our charity drive and swag table.
On May 28th and 29th we kicked off Skewed and Reviewed Southwest in style with two panels and two receptions at the Phoenix Comicon. Below is the first panel which is a look at the movies scheduled over the next four years. I want to thank SEGA, Gelaskins, Symbiote Studios, Creation Entertainment, AABC Comics, Accent Inns, Running With Scissors, Konami, Lego Universe, and Barry Bard’s At The Movies for providing items for our charity drive and swag table.
Strolling along the busy and bustling Pacific Beach Park boardwalk, you can gaze out upon the magnificent Pacific Ocean while dodging surfers, skateboarders, rollerbladers and tourists on bikes. It’s a San Diego experience every traveler should enjoy. But when you’re ready to leave the crowds behind and enjoy an unencumbered view of the ocean, Tower 23 offers a spectacular sight lifting you above the suntanned masses. No, not the lifeguard tower of the same number. Tower 23 is a bright gem of luxury in an already vibrant setting. While establishments along the coast know there’s no competing with the majestic ocean to attract its guests, Tower 23 incorporates the best of its surroundings in its architecture, views and decor, leaving guests feeling like they never left the beach when they step into the hotel.
Bright and airy, highlighted with the hues of ocean blue, Tower 23 is sleek and posh at the same time. Accomodated in the Surf Pad, the king-sized Tempur-Pedic Serenity bed, made up with 100% Egyptian cotton linens, was heavenly to sink into. When it got too dark to gaze at the ocean from the balcony, there was a flat screen high-def LCD TV to entertain us. What work we allowed ourselves to do during our stay was aided by the free wi-fi (which is accessible even at the beach). To make your stay even more relaxing, Tower 23 also provides, upon request, in-room massage and spa services.
Walking distance from a variety of cafes, restaurants and bars featuring anything from sushi, curry to burgers, Tower 23 itself houses one of the most popular lounge and restaurants on the beach. No kitschy nautical themes here, JRDN offers relaxed oceanfront dining for a great view of San Diego’s beautiful sunset. A contemporary steak & seafood restaurant, JRDN offers an oyster bar as well as a private wine room. If you don’t feel like traipsing the few steps to their main dining room, Sunset Patio or the Tower Deck for some casual Californian cuisine, 24 hour room service is available.
Smack dab in the center of all things San Diego, Tower 23 puts you smack dab in the center of all things San Diego, whether you want to surf, golf, fish off the pier or just cruise the beach. Baseball caps and visors are availabe in-room for purchase in case you forgot yours (or you just want a memento). When you’re done with all that fun, Tower 23 is there to provide a welcome respite. The roomy step-in rain shower is stocked with H2O products and luxurious bathrobes invite guests to lounge and relax.
From friendly and helpful valet and front desk staff, to the fully stocked mini-bar that includes personal essentials, drinks as well as snacks, Tower 23 makes sure their guests want for nothing. While there are many inns and hotels to pick from in the area, if you’re looking for the complete, luxurious and relaxing San Diego beach hotel experience, Tower 23 is head and shoulders above the rest.
Here is the trailer for the latest Bloodrayne game. What do you think?
Here is a video for the new Klassic Skins pack. Looks good and this is an awesome game, the best Mortal Kombat yet in my opinion.
Recently we traveled to beautiful Hawaii to gather material for future reviews as well as enjoy an island cruise with family members who had flown in from various points on the mainland. Upon arrival in beautiful Honolulu we proceeded downtown to our hotel the Aqua Palms & Spa. After an initial misstep where the airport shuttle dropped us off at a different Aqua Resorts property we proceeded to check into the right hotel and after a long morning of travel and a three hour time change, we were immediately impressed not only with the helpful staff but with the location of the hotel.
Although to us it was late in the afternoon, the three hour time change had us at our hotel prior to the scheduled check-in time. Since our room was not yet available, the hotel took care of our baggage which allowed us to take in the shops and scenic locales adjacent to the hotel. Waikiki Beach was very easy walk from the hotel and there were numerous buses and trolleys which stopped in front of the hotel on a constant basis.
When we finally made it to our room, I was impressed not only with the size and comfort of the room but with the amazing view of Diamondhead as well as a partial view of the beach. The room had a high-def flatscreen which has several channels to choose from as well as foldout couch, desk, complimentary high-speed Internet, microwave, mini fridge & safe.
The shower was very relaxing and complimentary spa products were made available which is a plus (especially after subjecting your skin and hair several days of sun and salt water). The hotel also offers a full spa service and in-room massages are available as well. The hotel has a pool located on a deck on one of the lower floors which gives guests and enjoyable and relaxing private oasis in the heart of the city’s perfect after a long day. On Wednesdays there’s a Manager’s Reception and the concierge desk in the lobby will happily arrange island excursions for their guests. If you happen to be in Waikiki on a Friday night, make sure to catch the fireworks a Waikiki beach.
Check-out was very smooth and we were able to call ahead and have a taxi waiting for us to take us to the pier for our cruise. Upon completion of our cruise we returned to the Aqua Palms & Spa and once again were given storage for bags when we arrived early in the morning. Venturing out in a new direction we found that an extremely impressive and upscale mall is only a 10 minute walk away. The Ala Moana Shopping Center not only offers plenty of shopping options but several dining options as well. The area around the Aqua Palms & Spa is rife with restaurants, convenience stores, and other shopping options and the helpful hotel staff were more than happy to point out and provide directions to area restaurants whenever we asked.
Following a week in a cruise ship cabin it was extremely enjoyable to take in the extremely comfortable AquaBLISS pillowtop bed that the hotel offers as well as enjoy being able to have plenty of space in which to work. Rooms starting at just $90 a night are an exceptional value especially when one considers the location of the hotel. The comfortable and clean hotel and friendly staff truly makes the Aqua Palms & Spa an incredible value and an enjoyable stay for those looking to visit Waikiki on a budget.
It has been two years since writer-director producer Todd Phillips unleashed the mother of all benders on audiences with The Hangover. The film about four buddies on a lost weekend in Vegas was a comedic tour de force that left audiences laughing from start to finish and went on to be the highest grossing R-rated film in history. Naturally when a film does this kind of business, thoughts turned to a sequel and Phillips has returned with the original cast and crew to follow up this comedy classic.
Plot of the film mild-mannered dentist Stu (Ed Helms), who is getting married in Thailand to the girl of his dreams. Undaunted by the fact that his fiancé’s father despises everything about him, Stu convinces his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Doug (Justin Bartha), to take the 16 hour flight to attend the ceremony. When news reaches them that a crestfallen Alan (Zach Galifianikis), is waiting for his invitation to the ceremony, Stu is reluctant because he does not want a repeat of what happened in Vegas.
But despite their misgivings, the friends decide to include Alan in the ceremony and embark to the airport for the long flight to Thailand. They’re joined at the airport by Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee), a child prodigy who was already attending Stanford at 16 and has designs on a future medical career. As Stu’s fiance explains later in the film, Teddy is their father’s “most prized possession.”
Alan takes an instant disliking to Teddy and sees him as an outsider in their “wolf pack” and doesn’t miss an opportunity to try to exclude Teddy. Upon their arrival in beautiful Thailand, the friends get through a somewhat awkward dinner with the future in-laws and relax on the beach for a bonfire and bachelor party. Phil makes sure to be extra careful to avoid any of the issues they had in Vegas and selects bottled beer that was given to them by the hotel staff and makes sure that every one of them only gets an unopened bottle to drink.
Despite these precautions, Stu, Phil, and Alan wake up the next morning in a seedy hotel with absolutely no memory of how they got there and what happened the night before. Stu now sports a fresh facial tattoo while Alan has a completely shaved head. Matters are further complicated when the group realizes that Teddy is missing and that what appears to be his severed finger is found to be floating in a bucket of water.
As if things were not bad enough, matters take an even extreme turn for the worse when a monkey and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), show up and add even bigger complications to the already complex situation. The group learns that Doug is safely back at the resort and waiting for their arrival at breakfast after having left the bonfire early, leaving Stu, Alan and Phil to piece together the forgotten events of the night and locate Teddy before the wedding. Along the way they run into criminals, the sleazy side of Bangkok, upset monks, and much more as they race against time to solve the mystery and locate Teddy.
What follows is a comedic adventure complete with jaw-dropping sequences that leaves the audience shocked at just how far they push the envelope. The cast works well with one another and there are some truly funny moments in the film. The biggest issue with the movie is that it must walk a fine line between using the established formula of friends trying to remember and deal with the consequences of their lost evening while not repeating itself.
This is a very tricky proposition as the film essentially follows the same plot line of the original film: a group of friends are trying to remember the previous night and locate a missing member prior to a wedding. There are also similar jokes such as Stu dealing with a tattoo instead of a missing tooth and Alan’s constant nonsensical bantering and plethora of useless information.
Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel director Todd Phillips instead focuses on the relationship of the cast and allows the unique and exotic setting to be the new character and foil for the comedy. Many times in the film it is established that Teddy must be located before “Bangkok gets him” and as such the city offers endless opportunities for the cast.
The film does drag at the three quarters mark but recovers nicely, leading to a predictable finale. While the film was not as thoroughly funny as the original, in terms of humor and storytelling, but there are still plenty of laughs and eye-popping scenes that make it an enjoyable comedy. There are rumors that Phillips has plans for third film in the series to complete the trilogy. If this is indeed the case I would welcome a third film with the understanding that more care be put into the plot to avoid rehashing previous jokes and situations.
3.5 stars out of 5
Second Review by Charlie Braverman
In The Hangover Part 2, which I think should be named Bangkok Boogaloo, Dentist Stu (Ed Helms) is about to be married to the love of his life, Lauren (Jamie Chung), in Thailand. Of course he invites his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) to be part of his special day. He definitely does not want Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to go but after some begging by Doug even Alan gets invited and then it’s off to Thailand. After the worst rehearsal dinner ever Phil, Doug and Alan convince Stu to join them for a beer around a bonfire on the Resort’s beach and Stu’s soon to be brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee) joins them. Phil, Alan and Stu wake up the next morning in cockroach infested hotel room, luckily no tiger in the bathroom just a capuchin monkey (Crystal, seriously that’s her real name) and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) passed out on the floor. After a quick phone call they discover that Doug is safe back at the Resort but no one knows where Teddy is. Thus begins another epic adventure for Stu, Phil & Alan to find Teddy (while not remembering anything from the night before) and also get to the wedding taking place the next day. Will Stu get married? Do they find Teddy? Where can I get
Many times I have found that sequels are a huge let down, so when I walked in to the theatre to watch The Hangover Part 2 a feeling of unease washed over me. I took my seat, lights dimmed, people put away their cells, there were some previews and then the movie began. I don’t remember the exact time the feeling of unease went away, I believe it was 8 seconds after the opening credits ended and it was replaced with a giggle followed by a laugh and soon there was so much laughter I almost spilled my drink, there was three or five “I can’t believe they did that” and I even covered my eyes a couple of times because… well without giving away any spoilers lets just say I will never go to a strip club in Bangkok and leave it at that.
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis all did equally amazing jobs in their roles, the comedic chemistry they have on-screen is incredible and ladies, if I remember correctly, Mr. Cooper does have a shirtless scene (sorry for not knowing for sure but male nudity is not something I care to remember, even if it is just being topless). Crystal the Capuchin Monkey is adorable and does an outstanding job, I think everyone who sees this movie will want a capuchin monkey of their own. Though the basic premise is the same (don’t remember what happened, must find so-so and get someplace within a set time frame and other objectives arise that they must overcome to find so-so), the story in this film is still just as entertaining to watch unfold as the first and they even spiced it up a notch. WARNING: This is a stereotypical “Guy” movie, like the original movie the humor is crude, rude and lewd (just how I like it) so if you found the first movie offensive then I must ask, why are you expecting something different from this one? Oh and because I heard a couple of people talking about it after the movie I do want to point out that there is some racial humor and Crystal never actually smokes or does any drugs during the film, again this is a “guy” movie and we never want to see our monkeys hurt.
As of this writing I am still uncertain on which of the two movies I liked more, however I can say that when the movie was over I was not disappointed… I may have still been mentally scarred by some of the things I saw but I was not disappointed.
4.5 out 5 Bumps (movie reference)
With the film opening Friday we wanted to share a Press conference with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong and Craig Mazin.
We saw the film last night and will be posting our review Friday in keeping with the review embargo for the film.
When visiting scenic San Diego, travelers can do themselves a favor and stay at one of the more unique and charismatic hotels in the area. The Pearl is truly a textbook example of not judging a book by its cover. The unassuming exterior of the hotel conveys that the building was once an apartment complex as it sits quietly on the corner of a residential neighborhood.
Upon walking a path from the parking lot to the lobby, I noted that the courtyard of the hotel is taken up by pool and patio and had a very lively party underway in the middle of the afternoon. The lobby is essentially a small check in station to make more room for a cozy lounge opposite the bar and restaurant on the other end of the room. The lobby lounge area is essentially a collection of carpeted nooks with pillows and all manner of classic games such as Rock-em Sock-em Robot where guests could entertain themselves while they enjoyed a drink.
Upon checking into our room we were delighted to find a very comfortable room decorated in an artfully retro and unique style. The vintage Art Deco theme works very well and I found the inclusion of our own beta fish to be a nice touch. I learned that each of The Pearl rooms come equipped with its own beta, each with their own introductary name plate. For our stay, Willie contently swam in his bowl offering a homey charm. The bed was extremely comfortable and the high-def flatscreen television offered several channels for viewing enjoyment.
The room made great use of space and offered plenty of storage for extended stays, as well as a couch and table and all the usual amenities. The bathroom was full-size which gave me the understanding that at some point in its past our room had been a studio apartment. The platform bed was extremely comfortable and with a strong AC system, my wife and I slept very soundly during our stay.
As active as the social scene was at the pool it was amazingly quiet in the room even with parties going on. I learned that The Pearl prides itself on being a very active hotel that appeals to energetic adults. This became very clear later in the evening when the hotel started showing its poolside movie. In keeping with the cool Rat Pack-era vibe and motif of the hotel, we watched classic episodes of Get Smart from the bar. While more modern films are shown it is nice to see that the hotel isn’t afraid to mix things up now and then and having the option to either watch a movie from the poolside or from the bar overlooking the pool just emphasized the laidback and relaxed ambience.
The cocktails offered by the bar were highly enjoyable and while we did not get a chance to enjoy the restaurant during our visit I noticed the extremely impressive menu and that the dining options has been cited for excellence in several publications.
The hotel is located near Shelter Island in downtown San Diego and offers unique and value accommodations for travelers. There are several restaurants and convenience stores all within walking distance of the hotel should you choose not to dine on-site. This is good as parking is a bit limited at the hotel but the very friendly and helpful staff does have spots marked off by cones which can be accessed upon check-in.
One does not normally find as comfortable a room in a friendly and energetic place when traveling, especially amongst the higher priced, more sedate hotels. It was refreshing to find such a unique place and friendly staff doing things their way instead of being a cookie-cutter of the larger chain hotels which often dominate the travelers options.
The Pearl was a very unique and enjoyable experience punctuated by a friendly staff that went out of their way to ensure that the guests have a good time. Larger hotels can definitely take a lesson from these folks as they are clearly doing something right and I encourage you to check out The Pearl during your next visit to San Diego.
I am really looking forward to this one. The trailer looks great, I like the series and setting it in Europe should be fun. I thought Black Ops got some bad press as I loved it. Sure it had some online issues but they fixed them as they always do.
November is no suprise as they want the all important holiday shopping season but that early in the month does raise some eyebrows. Must be due to a rumored second developer working on the multiplayer.
CALL OF DUTY®: MODERN WARFARE® 3 STRIKES NOVEMBER 8, 2011
Year’s Most Anticipated Entertainment Launch
Stages World Wide Invasion
Santa Monica, CA – May 24, 2011 – Global warfare is raging and the battle will begin on November 8 when the cultural phenomenon Modern Warfare® returns with the worldwide release of Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the newest installment in Activision Publishing, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: ATVI) #1 first person action series and is being developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games.
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is by far the most epic Call of Duty experience yet. The teams at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games have worked tirelessly to create for the Call of Duty player a scale that is unimaginable with a level of polish and creativity that will push the genre forward,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc. “The passion and energy of our developers is reflected in everything about the title. From the innovative gameplay, to the cinematic intensity, to the most advanced multiplayer ever, Modern Warfare 3 will raise the bar for this already incredible franchise.”
Software developers Splash Damage are no strangers to hit games. As the creative team behind Quake 3 and Quake Wars, many people were excited when it was announced they would team with Zenimax to create a unique new shooter called Brink. In the months leading up to the release the game players have been teased with gameplay videos and promises that the drop-in dropout feature other new innovations would revolutionize 3-D shooters.
The game is set in a futuristic society that is divided into the haves and have-nots following the devastating global flooding that has covered the earth. One side lives in luxury in this modern floating city while the other side is forced to live in the slums fighting for the very scraps they need to survive. When the game opens, players are given the option to customize their character which include such options as the type of hair, clothing, and weapons you wish them to have. As you progress in the game, players will be given new options for clothing and accessories as well is the all-important weapons in which to upgrade their characters.
The game has three basic modes of play: campaign, free play, and challenges. In the campaign mode players will play 8+ missions as either the security or resistance side. Free play mode will drop players randomly into any of the missions on either side of the conflict, whereas challenges mode is simply a series of objectives in which players must work together to compete.
Teamwork is an essential part of the game as players from different classes such as soldier, infiltrator, medic, and engineer need to work together. Each class has their own strengths and weaknesses such as engineers being able to build barricades and weapon emplacements, but are slow of foot. Each mission is assigned during the loading phase via cut scene and players who are familiar with the storyline are given the option to skip the scene and jump straight into the action.
The missions in the game are fairly standard and are broken down into the usual goals such as escort a target, destroy a target, obtain said information or object, and defend. The weapons in the game are very basic as they consist of shotgun pistol and various machine guns. As you go through your missions you gain experience points for completing objectives, helping teammates, and dispatching enemy players. My early efforts with the games weaponry was frustrating as I found the play balance to be way off. I would riddle an opposing player with bullets only to see them continue to come at me. Thankfully around Level V and after some patching enemy players are now going down in a manner to which I’ve become accustomed to after many years of supplying 3-D shooters.
Initially there were numerous server issues when I attempted to play the game. I was unable to get into campaign games and free play games often had high lag, random crashes, and other bugs. Thankfully two weeks after release the game has been connecting and running smoothly whenever I played.
The look of the game is solid, the graphics are good, but I cannot get too excited about them as much of the game strikes me as been-there-seen-that and fails to draw me into the story and action. As I played the game I was surprised at how retro much of the gameplay felt and looked. Because with all the hype surrounding the game I had at least expected some dynamic graphics and features to accompany the action.
The gameplay, while fun, became stale very quickly as the missions were very bland and lacked any real sense of immersion or urgency. While I was trying to complete the objectives it did not matter as much to me whether we were successful because so much of the gameplay and outcome of the mission was in the hands of other players which often required me to adopt a take-charge mentality in order to successfully complete a level.
This is not to say there were not some epic firefights and the ability to change class in mission was a huge advantage as there were times when being a soldier or infiltrator suited the situation better.
The maps in the game are well planned out and being able to fight in locales ranging from an aquarium to transportation terminal were a lot of fun. My only real issues were, as I stated before, the overall blandness of the graphics and the lack of real variety of combat options. There are grenades in the game but I found them to be fairly ineffective and operating with a very long fuse that required me to cook them prior to tossing them. The variety of machine guns while impressive generally played out the same as the differences between them in nearly stages of the game were minimal. While some have higher damage and fire rates when the bullets start flying many of them were pretty much the same. I often thought how awesome it would be to fire a rocket or energy weapon and down the halls and take down the bad guys.
The sound quality of the game is also an area that had a dated quality to it. To be honest, I kept coming back to team Fortress two and thinking to myself I’ve seen much of this game already just with the storyline this time but lacking the humor. There are some nice touches to the game such as the Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain (SMART) control system which allows the AI to anticipate a players moves and eliminate the need for extra pressing of control keys. A prime example of this is one of player approaches an edge they can simply continue moving forward and the control system will intuitively allow them to scale the object in front of them and continue on such as jumping from allege to the ground below.
The command interface and the game is also very easy as players can give commands and locate strategic mission objectives easily from a pop-up mission wheel. Teamwork is also key to survival as being able to upgrade, rearm, and heal your teammates not only help accomplish mission objectives but give you valuable experience points as well.
As much as I really wanted to like the game I have to admit that I am disappointed with the final product. To me Brink had a lot going for it but it fails to live up to its lofty goals and instead gives players a fairly vanilla team-based shooter that does not live up to the enjoyment of other games already on the market.
3 stars out of 5
Here is your first look at the pending Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. We plan to get alot more on this title as part of our E3 coverage.
Here is my Summer Movie 2011 Preview on the BJ Shea Morning Experience on KISW FM in Seattle. We look at some of the hottest films of the summer.
Recently I got the chance to speak to stunt legend Jack Gill. Jack has done stuntwork on many classic films and most recently for Fast 5. Jack was kind enough to talk to us about his career and future projects.
GVK: How did you get your start in the business and what was your first big break?
I was racing motocross professionally in Florida and after the race, I saw a film set nearby and stopped to watch. I was so fascinated that I stayed there for two weeks and got to know the stunt guys pretty well. The director told me if I ever wanted to come out to Hollywood, to look him up. I packed everything I owned and was out in California two months later. That director was Hal Needham, the most famous stunt man in the world.
GVK: What type of prep do you do for each film and how much advance work goes into each stunt?
Each film is different, but in most cases, we are prepping and testing for 4-8 weeks before we shoot. There are some films that require more test weeks and some that require less. Any and all stunts in the film that are tricky or complicated are tested prior to filming so that we can figure them out and work the bugs out.
GVK: How has the digital age affected your work?
CGI has helped and hurt the stunt business. We no longer have large stunt calls of a hundred people or more because CGI can clone 25 stunt men to look like a thousand. There also is a tendency to make the stunt CGI if it becomes too difficult The studios used to be very quick to push the stunt to CGI if there were any problems in the testing phase. That trend is changing with the success of FAST 5. CGI has helped us because we can now use larger safety cables on stunt people that are flying in the air because they can “paint” those cables out easily, whereas before we were limited to very tiny wires on the stunt people that could snap at any second. Lately, the tide has turned and now most directors want REAL stunts with very little CGI. They want the audience to feel the action and that is what we were striving for on FAST 5.
GVK: How do you decide what is digital and what is a real stunt as we loved how much of the work in Fast 5 such as the bridge jump did not appear to have much if any CGI.
98% of that chase is a real Vault and real cars. 2% is CGI – We all decided early in pre production that the real thing, when filmed and designed correctly can be a very captivating sequence to watch. The viewing public are very aware of CGI these days and are not as excited and involved in the movie when they can tell it was not real, so we decided that if we couldn’t do what was written for real, we will re-write the sequence to something that is just as exciting and can be done for real.
GVK: With car chases being such a standard in films, how have you managed to keep the action in the Fast films fresh and original?
I believe the gritty and “in your face” type stunts that we filmed in FAST 5 are what is needed in movies and was lacking in the past. We strived to push the envelope with real physical stunts in FAST 5 and I think it keeps the audience on the edge of their seat all the way to the end.
GVK: What are the most dangerous stunts you have done and how many times have you been injured?
I was blown off of an 85 foot cliff at night carrying a real M-16 assault rifle with 13 gallons of gasoline going off around me and two 8 gallon gas canisters going off as I fell past them in the air. I landed in an air bag and was OK. The movie was called The Exterminator and it starred Robert Ginty. It’s the opening shot. I would not do that stunt again. You can see the shots on my web page at jack Gill in the photos section. I have broken my back twice and my neck once…and 23 bones
GVK: What were your biggest challenges for the film and the greatest triumphs?
The Vault was definitely the biggest challenge of the whole film. The sheer weight of it and the speed at which it was traveling was difficult to comprehend. If the cars were pulling the vault around a corner at 60 mph, it will swing on an arc and be sliding at 90-100 mph…until it hits something, and then it destroys whatever it hits. That was my biggest challenge and my biggest triumph. No major injuries and we destroyed a lot of cars.
GVK: Did working on location in Rio present any new challenges?
We shot all of the 2nd unit Vault sequence in Puerto Rico and they were very accommodating to all of our needs. It rained about three times a day but dried out pretty fast
GVK: Since Fast 5, involved cars, guns, fights, and jumps Which type of stunts do you prefer and which are you least favorite?
Cars and motorcycles are by far my favorite. Horses are my least favorite.
GVK: What do you have coming up that viewers can look forward to?
I have a TV series called STUNTS UNLIMITED coming out on the SYFY channel in 4 months and I am reading a script now that films in Rio for a secret agent type adventure with no morals.
GVK: If you had no restraints what is the one stunt you would love to do?
Strap me in a rocket and shoot me to the moon. I would love to travel in space.
“ Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me. We pillage plunder, we rifle a loot. Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho. We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot drink up me ‘earties yo ho”.
Captain Jack Sparrow is at it again with a map in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other. In the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Captain Jack Sparrow teams up with an old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and her father Blackbeard (Ian McShane) in the hopes of finding the Fountain of Eternal Youth. There are a group of Englishmen captained by Barbossa and a group of Spaniards who are on the quest to find the fountain as well. In order to reap the benefits of said fountain they have to find two chalices that are in the possession of Ponce de Leon and a mermaids tear. With a great storyline from Tedd Elliot and Terry Rossio the summer movie season has started off on the right foot and looks very promising.
Jerry Bruckheimer brings us Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger tides in excellent 3D. Unlike a lot of the other recent 3D movies converted into 3D, POTC is actually shot with a 3D camera providing the audience with better graphics and exciting effects. Unlike the others this new installment is based upon the book On Stranger Tides written by Tim Powers and includes but is not limited to mermaids, Zombie crewmembers, lots of rum, revenge, romance, mystery and a lot of swashbuckling excitement.
Orlando Bloom and Keira Nightly are not missed as Capt. Jack once again steels the show. The 1967 Disney attraction has changed over the years and most recently Capt Jack himself, Capt. Barbossa and coming soon they will be adding Blackbeard to the previous Davy Jones fog projection screen. The future for Jack Sparrow looks very promising as it has been rumored that Johnny Depp is already signed on for more pirate adventures. I loved this movie and is a great kick off to the summer movie season and I plan on seeing it again only this time in “4-D” at the closest D-Box(motion simulation seats) theater.
5 out of 5 stars.
Recently I got the chance to speak with Ryan Lee about his new film Super 8. The highly anticipated JJ Abrams film is getting alot of buzz and Ryan was kind enough to talk with us about his breakout role.
How did you become involved with Super 8 and what can you tell us My Agent, Liz Atherton had me tape my audition in TX and then she submitted it. We went to California a couple of times for callbacks. The film is set in a small, 1979 Ohio town, and is about a group of 6 kids My character is the crazy, pyromaniac of the gang. He loves to blow up What was working with JJ and the Cast like and what were some of your I had a great time working with JJ and all the Cast. We are lifelong How did you handle working with special effects as it can be Special effects were the BEST! Who wouldn't want the chance to run through Did you get to meet Steven Spielberg and what was that like? Yes, I did get to meet Steven. I had the chance to shake one of the world's What can you tell us about the films story and your character as a Super 8 is not a kid's movie. It is a film for everyone who likes Cary is definitely the most easygoing of the group. He treats situations What sort of research did you do for your part? Well I couldn't really do a lot of research since everything was so top Did you have alot of stunts to do in the film and if so, what stood Yeah, there are a ton of stunts. It's an action packed movie for sure. We How did you get into acting and what was your big break? My sister and I both began taking acting classes and went to a summer camp What movies have you seen recently and what do you have on your to Recently I have seen "Limitless," "Arthur", "The Green Hornet", "Buried I am looking forward to seeing so many upcoming movies such as: "Mission What future projects do you have coming up that the readers can look I recently worked on the independent film, "Meeting Evil." My scenes with
about the film and your character?
Having JJ Abrams in the room while I auditioned was a bit nerve-racking. But by the end of
all my auditions, I felt like we were friends. About 6 months after the
taped audition JJ told me face to face "I got the part!" I stayed calm while
we were talking, but when I got home I immediately jumped on the hotel beds
for like 20 minutes. I was so excited!
that are making a zombie movie for a film contest. While we are filming, we
witness a catastrophic train crash and, soon after that things in the town
start to go missing like household appliances, dogs, and PEOPLE! It was
really fun to film a '70s movie. I felt like I was really living in that
time. The sets are so cool.
anything that he can get his hands on. He is also the cameraman who is
filming the zombie movie. Cary is very daring and just always wants to have
a fun time. He acts first and thinks later. When Cary sees the train wreck,
he is pumped up and excited, while everyone else is scared. Cary is funny
and a loyal friend, but he does try to mess with everyone around him for his
fondest memories from filming?
friends. JJ is the coolest guy you will ever meet. He's just like one of
the kids. He always cracked jokes and made us laugh. In between takes, JJ
would beat box on his microphone. It was really awesome. He is one of the
greatest directors that I have ever worked with. He is extremely talented,
kind and patient. We never saw JJ lose his temper the whole time we were
filming. He is very hands-on but he let us bring what we wanted to our
characters and kind of let us make it our own. During the breaks in filming,
all of the cast including some of the adults would play football. We also
rode our bikes on the set lot. We had a lot of fun. On our days off, we
would hang out in each others rooms playing video games or going to the
movies, swimming, or goinh to the mall. We even played laser tag and went
bowling together. We also ding dong ditched a lot of our own hotel rooms.
It was a blast! During Halloween, some of us put scary make up on and played
dead in the elevators of our hotel. We made a lot of people laugh that day,
and some of them even gave us money or candy! Most of us were able to go
Trick Or Treating together, so that was really fun.
challenging for some?
explosions; and to be able to do it in a movie, with real Army tanks, and
real American soldiers and in front of JJ Abrams? It's an experience I will
never forget. I took a stunt class for about 2 years. Just like me, Cary is
a daredevil so I loved every minute of working with the special effects, and
we knew we were always going to be safe. When people go and see the movie
they will love the special effects!
most influential man's hands and it is one of the biggest moments of my
life. He is super nice, and became our friend right away. He would tell us
about what a good job we were doing. We would also just talk about normal
things like our iPhones and what new apps to get. He also gave me advice
about life that I am very grateful for and will never forget.
pyro who proves comedic relief is an interesting character description.
excitement, adventure, suspense, Sci-Fi, romance, action, and mystery. This
movie has a little bit of everything in it. It's really a movie that
everyone can like.
like they happen for his entertainment. Cary maintains the balance between
the humor and seriousness of his scenes. He would most likely be the one
that would get his friends into trouble. He is impulsive and unpredictable.
Cary is always practicing his pyro skills, for better or worse.
secret. Each time I auditioned, we had different scripts with different
stories lines that didn't relate to each other at all. Some of the scripts
were dramatic and some were comedic. So I actually didn't know what my
character was like. But once I was given the role, I just brought Cary to
life through my personality. Honestly, I just took JJ's direction and had
fun with my character.
were really lucky that we were able to do some of our own stunts. The tank
scenes were just like playing Army except in real life! We were running
through explosions as the tanks were driving by us and you could feel the
power of their blasts pumping through your chest. It was such an adrenaline
rush. We did other stunts like running as fast as we could through the
fiery train wreck and hurdling ourselves over fences at full speed and
driving really, really fast in cars. They were all very fun and very, very
where we first met our agent. I started filming a lot with the University
Of Texas Radio, Television and Film Department students. I've also worked
on lots of Independent film projects in the Austin area. I would say my
first big break was a television appearance on Friday Night Lights, "It's
Different For Girls." I played Scott Porter (Jason Street's) neighbor. We
had a bicycle and wheelchair race. I had to ride my bike really slowly to
match the speed of his wheelchair. We had a lot of fun together.
Alive", "The Fighter," "The Kings Speech," "True Grit," "Rango" and "The
Impossible-Ghost Protocol," "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon," "War Horses,"
"We Bought A Zoo," Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows: Part 2," "The Green
Lantern," "Cars 2," "Hangover 2," "Tree Of Life," "Cowboys and Aliens" and
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows." I am especially excited about seeing
"The Decedents" because I have a friend who is a lead in the movie, Nick
Samuel L. Jackson and Luke Wilson are really dark and intense. I like
playing dramatic characters as well as comedic ones. Acting with them was
such an incredible experience. "Meeting Evil" is going to be an awesome
movie. I'm also hoping to record more voiceover episodes as the voice of
"Jack" in the "With You All The Way" DVD series, a USO and Trevor Romain
Foundation collaboration. This series provides resources and support to
military children and their families. As for the future, we will have to
wait and see what else is in store. I hope to keep you on the edge of your
How did you become involved with Super 8 and what can you tell us
My Agent, Liz Atherton had me tape my audition in TX and then she submitted it.
We went to California a couple of times for callbacks.
The film is set in a small, 1979 Ohio town, and is about a group of 6 kids
My character is the crazy, pyromaniac of the gang. He loves to blow up
What was working with JJ and the Cast like and what were some of your
I had a great time working with JJ and all the Cast. We are lifelong
How did you handle working with special effects as it can be
Special effects were the BEST! Who wouldn't want the chance to run through
Did you get to meet Steven Spielberg and what was that like?
Yes, I did get to meet Steven. I had the chance to shake one of the world's
What can you tell us about the films story and your character as a
Super 8 is not a kid's movie. It is a film for everyone who likes
Cary is definitely the most easygoing of the group. He treats situations
What sort of research did you do for your part?
Well I couldn't really do a lot of research since everything was so top
Did you have alot of stunts to do in the film and if so, what stood
Yeah, there are a ton of stunts. It's an action packed movie for sure. We
How did you get into acting and what was your big break?
My sister and I both began taking acting classes and went to a summer camp
What movies have you seen recently and what do you have on your to
Recently I have seen "Limitless," "Arthur", "The Green Hornet", "Buried
I am looking forward to seeing so many upcoming movies such as: "Mission
What future projects do you have coming up that the readers can look
I recently worked on the independent film, "Meeting Evil." My scenes with
Recently we got to speak with Brendan Wayne about his breakout performance in Cowboys and Aliens.
How did you become involved with Cowboys and Aliens and what can you tell us about the film and your character?
The Casting Director Sarah Finn, saw me in an original play I was doing in Hollywood and she called me in for an audition. About 2 months later I was called back for a “horseback riding callback” and I brought my own horse. They seemed to respect that and I think Sarah Finn and the second unit director Terry Leonard pushed for me to be a part of Cowboys and Aliens. s far as the film goes I will just say that it is a classic western with a twist. You will be taken on a journey and it will be exciting and fun. I play Deputy Charlie Lyle and I am a good, simple man who wants the best for our town and its people.
What was working with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Jon Favreau like and what were some of your fondest memories from filming?
First of all it isn’t easy to impress me because of my grandfather and the people I have been in contact with as I grew up because of John Wayne. That said I was incredibly excited to be around these giants of movie making. Harrison Ford is an actor that I waited in line for hours to be the first to see his movies. Watching him work and just learning how important the story telling was from his point of view was inspirational because he could have just mailed it in and people would still watch him. he cares deeply and is very involved. Daniel Craig was incredible. He has such an amazing presence and his ability to light up anywhere he appears is daunting. He is the perfect mixture of Cary Grant and Steve McQueen. He has grace and grit. Jon Favreau is simply a genius. He has a vision but he doesn’t just jam it on you he allows you to wear it as it would fit your character. He didn’t ever have to be the smartest guy in the room by telling you he was, he just proved it through actions every day. My fondest memories include the first days table reading. Jon had all of us sitting at a table and he had each of us introduce ourselves as if we were all equals. I am sitting there thinking Daniel Craig just got up and said his name as if he were a 7 year old boy on the first day of school. I thought that really allowed everybody to feel that we were all on the same level to some degree and we all mattered regardless of our roles size. Jon was also able to get other amazing actors like sam Rockwell, Julio Cedillo, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine and the amazing Olivia Wilde among others. I was surrounded by actors who are at the top of their craft. It was a great learning experience. Another memory was my last day of shooting and Jon said, “You really stepped up. great job.” I was very proud. He is somebody that makes you want his respect.
How did you handle working with special effects as it can be challenging for some?
I relished the obstacle of special effects because it allows you to really “act”. By that I mean you have no choice but to engage your imagination and that is how I approach all my roles. We were able to see some prototypes of the aliens so I was able to imagine what was supposed to be there in the scene.
Did you have any concerns about doing a western themed film due to your lineage as I would think you might have some mixed emotions since your grandfather is a legendary figure in the genre?
Not at all. I love westerns and I grew up on them much like most kids of my generation. I believe it is the mythology of our country and it has served as an incredibly useful tool to tell stories about many different character types. The fact that I could be part of one of if not the biggest western in years was not lost on me. My grandfather would have done this movie if he were alive today. It is that well written.
Did you have a lot of stunts to do in the film and if so, what stood out?
I did all of my own stunts in the movie. I was incredibly lucky to have Terry Leonard take me under his wing and help me do the best I could possibly do. His first movie he ever stunted on was with my grandfather and he wanted to give back to the Duke by making sure I didn’t tarnish the name by being less than I was capable. Terry is the greatest stuntman living today. he has done very stunt in film and he has done it as well as anybody. I have a few challenging stunts in the movie and I am sorry to say that I can’t elaborate because it will give story points away. I will however say that anything you see my character doing I actually did.
What can you tell the readers about the action in the film as mixing Science Fiction and a Western is a great idea?
I think the readers are going to enjoy the action because it isn’t your typical modern day Hollywood faire. We are really riding horses and jumping cactus and on real locations that hold innumerable dangers inherently. Jon really found a balance between telling a classic western movie and mashing it up with an Alien invasion. His courage and vision will keep you on the edge of your seats and leave you wanting more in the end.
What sort of research did you do for the parts and what challenges did each present?
I had just come of a western set in the same time period so I was able to use all of my previous research. I had studied the differences between present day and the history of the time and realized that these people were hard working and if they weren’t they wouldn’t survive. People relied on one another in a communal way because they all served to fill a need the town needed. Everybody had a function that helped you to survive so the sense of community was almost built in to the town. I relied on this approach to create a bond with all the characters in my own way.
What is your take on 3D becoming the new it thing for films?
I believe 3-D has a place because it is a creative way to make the audience more connected to the events that are occurring. The only drawback is simply using it as the story as opposed to enhancing the story that must be told for the audience to really enjoy the whole experience. Jon uses the aliens in this movie not as the story but as a way to propel the story without being ridiculous.
Are you a fan of Horror and Science Fiction. If so, what are some of your favorites?
I love horror and sci-fi. it is really fun to be taken to another world and watch its creation become reality. With Sci-Fi you are able to journey with the characters like a child does when he creates a character whether it be a cowboy or a superhero. I always find it easier to let go in these types of movies because they are not in my realm of experience. I love Alien. Sigourney Weaver is beyond sexy and the story was so human even though the antagonist was not. The fight amongst the crew and how to overcome the threat was delivered so well that it was incredibly effective. I grew up with the Blob and Halloween. I loved when the director was able to set me up and even though I knew the killer or antagonist was there he was still able to scare the hell out of me.
What movies have you seen recently and what do you have on your to see list?
I am the proud father of three little girls ranging from 12 years old to 19 months old so I see a lot of cartoons and anime. I can actually say that the stories that are being told to my kids are very good. Every once in awhile I get to the movies for adult audiences. I saw Black Swan and was blown away by the whole movie. The acting was superb and the story telling was the best I have seen in a long time. I was impressed with Aronofsky and Libatique’s ability to use every facet of filming to tell the story. The camera was an extension of Portman’s character and it was always effective and never gimmicky. They told an original story as well as it could have been told. I also saw Conviction and I thought Sam Rockwell’s performance was the best I saw all year. He took me to so many different places emotionally and never allowed me to rest. He should have won an Oscar.
I want to see Green Lantern and Safehouse. I love action movies and CIA type of thrillers.
What future projects do you have coming up that the readers can look forward to?
I am going to shoot a Sergio leone type western in Spain called Dollars from Hell. I am very excited to get back in the saddle. I am going to do everything in my power to get in on the Bourne Legacy. I think that series of movies is spectacular.
Looking back is there anything you wish you could change or do differently on the film and what do you wish to get from it and hope the audience will take from it?
I have nothing I would like to do differently on this film. I am proud to be a part of Jon Favreau’s vision. I hope the audience is able to enjoy the ride and see the relationships develop throughout the journey as it will only deepen the experience
Everyone has a best friend during each stage of life but only a few have the same one since childhood. In this case we have Annie (Kristen Wiig) who is asked by her very best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be her maid of honor. Although Annie doesn’t think she can handle the stresses and responsibilities of being a maid of honor, she reluctantly agrees.
A failed baker now working in a jewelry shop, Annie is facing a crisis. She is in her thirties and no longer satisfied with “booty calls.” Rooming with two bizarre Brits, Annie also has to put up with a mother who is addicted to speaking at AA meetings yet has never had an alcoholic beverage. However Annie did get the job working in a jewelry store as a favor provided by an AA member that her mother sponsors. Will this wedding be the end of the mess she’s made of her life, or will she continue down this pathetic path?
Meanwhile, Lillian, who is marrying a very wealthy man, has become close friends with Helen (Rose Byrne), the wife of her fiance’s boss. When Annie and Helen meet at the engagement party, tension arises and a battle ensues over the microphone to see who can give the bride the best speech. Annie feels threatened by Lillian’s new “best friend” and declares war against Helen. Her first move is a bridesmaids’ brunch at a sketchy Brazilian restaurant with highly uncomfortable results. Unfortunately the results don’t reveal themselves until Lillian, Hellen, Annie and bridesmaids Megan, Rita and Becca (Melissa McCarthy,Wendi McLendon-Covey and Elli Kemper) are in the middle of trying on bridesmaids dresses in a very swanky high-end bridal shop.
This and other unfortunate bridal mishaps that drive “Bridesmaids” are the products of the writing collaboration of Kristen Wigg and Annie Mumolo (who can be seen in a plane scene as the nervous neighbor). Directed by Paul Feig, “Bridesmaids” is this year’s “Hangover” for women. It is great to finally see a raunchy rom-com that does not leave any room for a dull moment. Some of the funny dialogue was drowned out by the audience who, including myself, were still recovering from the prior funny lines. Kristen Wigg, along with all the actresses in this film, bring a hilarious and seemingly improvised story to the big screen in grand style. This is one of those comedies you don’t want to miss. I give this a 4 out of 5 star rating and will be back in the theater to see it again.
Just got this press release in. Great news, cant wait to see him become fish food unless K.I.T.T. bails him out.
DAVID HASSELHOFF ROUNDS OUT CAST OF PIRANHA 3DD
David Hasselhoff heads back to the water in this year’s PIRANHA 3DD. He joins the previously announced cast which includes Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Scheer, Gary Busey, Katrina Bowden, Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, Chris Zylka and David Koechner.
Trading in the sandy beaches of “Baywatch” for terror at The Big Wet Water Park, Hasselhoff will face off with the flesh eating fish of PIRANHA 3DD.
A Dimension Films release, PIRANHA 3DD opens nationwide on November 23, 2011.
This is shaping up to be a fun romp.
Disney Posted this update today and I cant wait to try it out. 54 different combinations in 3D!!!!
Star Wars™ fans will reel in intergalactic ecstasy when the newly renovated Star Tours – The Adventures Continue attraction storms Disney’s Hollywood Studios May 20 and Disneyland Resort June 3. Lovers of Jedi and Sith lords are in for a double dose of droid-tastic adventure as the first grand opening is scheduled during the first of this year’s four consecutive Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World Resort. Dust off your lightsabers kids … it’s time for take-off!
Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald, who worked on the original Star Tours back in the mid ’80s, talks about re-imagining the new show. “We actually began planning the redesign over 10 years ago … a year before Episode I was complete. Fans were eager to see some changes, but after learning that Episodes II and III were in the works, we decided the update would have to wait. In order to create the ultimate Star Wars attraction for our Parks, George [Lucas] needed to finish his saga so we could include the best of all the films.”
Waiting may have been difficult, but transforming six full-length movies into a four-and-a-half-minute, fully-immersive ride presented other challenges for Tom’s team. “Because of time-period differences (the new attraction is a prequel to the original), we had to reverse-engineer our story, as well as the look of the Starspeeders.” The chronologically correct Starspeeder 1000 (formerly 3000) now features upgraded interior dashboards and onboard monitors so everything looks, sounds, and feels better than ever – even the color scheme was updated.
Technology played a crucial part in all the renovations, but Tom points out some of the most significant advances, starting with the branching storyline. “For the very first time, we utilized technology that selects one of 54 different story combinations so each ride’s really a surprise. Guests never know where they’ll go. We created this approach to keep it fresh for our enormous fan base. It’s a huge change from the original show.”
Two other key differences – the 3D factor and increased range of the motion simulator – were also technology driven, as Tom explains. “We wanted to add 3D for years, but had to wait for projection equipment that was robust enough to make it look state-of-the-art. Advanced visual effects make the world totally dimensional and so much more realistic than before. It’s absolutely breathtaking.” Imagineers worked closely with Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic team, who produced all the video footage for the main show as well as most of the pre-show.
Enhanced motion programming makes for a more unique experience as Guests are whisked off to a variety of new locations, including Tatooine, Hoth, Naboo, Coruscant, the mysterious Wookiee planet Kashyyyk and even a Death Star under construction. “It’ll feel very different from the first show, which only featured space flight. We’ve added a desert pod race, underwater travel, sliding on ice, and careening through forests while smashing into trees. Some adventures will be planet-based, some space, but each ride will feel distinct because Guests won’t know which story combination they’re getting.”
Many more characters have been incorporated into the new show, with appearances by fan favorites like Darth Vader, Admiral Ackbar, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, R2-D2, Yoda, C-3PO and Jar Jar Binks. “Darth Vader’s voiceover was recorded by the original actor. It was also great working with Anthony Daniels and Frank Oz, who reprised their roles as C-3PO and Yoda respectively.”
Tom goes on to tell us how one of the brand-new characters – a spokesbot seen in the pre-show commercials and safety video – was named. “Aly San San came about because we couldn’t think of anything and knew George [Lucas] was amazing with names. When we told him actress Allison Janney was doing the voiceover work, he instantly said, ‘Aly San San.’”
In fact, collaborating with the creator of pop culture’s greatest phenomenon presented numerous benefits. “I spent more time with George than we were able to on the original show, which was absolutely wonderful for me. Meeting with him every few weeks to review the sequences, help us tune up the show, and learn from his experience was priceless. It was like taking a master class from George Lucas.”
Musical history was made when the Imagineers worked with Academy Award®-winning composer John Williams, who wrote the original Star Wars film scores. “John and his music editor found passages from the scores to use in our show. The cabin music is taken from the original recordings!” Composer Michael Giacchino lent his Academy Award-winning talent to create additional arrangements of various Star Wars themes for the commercials and pre-show videos.
With so much to see and hear, Disney and Star Wars fans alike will be thrilled to discover all the little homages hidden throughout the show. Tom says, “We packed as much of the films as we could into the new show. It’s really a salute to the best of Star Wars, so whether you’re a fan of the original or the newer trilogy, there’s something for everyone.”
Mark your calendars and check out Star Tours – The Adventures Continue when it opens May 20 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park and Disneyland Resort on June 3!
Catch Our Movies of 2011 Segment on Undead Radio on KISW FM. We talk Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hangover 2, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Super 8, and much more.
Joe Boudrie, program director of Phoenix Comicon, recently took some time to answer a few questions about the signature pop-culture event of the southwest.
What is the Phoenix Comicon and how did you get started?
Phoenix Comicon is a Pop-Culture Convention built around all things “Geek”. Our mission is to be the signature Pop-Culture event of the Southwest and we’ve been growing steadily towards that goal for 10 years. The Convention was founded by Matt Solberg and we’ve been adding more and more volunteers every year as we’ve grown. Matt started the convention because he enjoyed the shows he went to when he was young and thought that Phoenix should have a fun place for geeks to hang out and share our passions.
How the show has grown and what have you learned over the years from putting on the show?
For the first several years, Phoenix Comicon was a single day event and growth was fairly small, but in 2006 after a presentation at San Diego Comicon given by Dragon-Con organizer Pat Henry, Matt decided it was time to really focus on growing the convention and he put out a call for more volunteers. He booked a bigger facility for a full weekend show and we put together the first elements of what would become the Phoenix Comicon today by adding guests and programming from both Comics and Anime and bringing in Gaming as well.
What are the biggest challenges with putting on your show and your greatest triumphs?
One of the challenges has been keeping up with our amazing growth. We have an exciting and dynamic fan base here and we strive every year to make the event bigger, better and more fun. As we continue to add new guests and develop exciting and unique signature programming like our Zombie Beauty Pageant, Wil Wheaton Rock Band (first hosted at Phoenix Comicon 2009), Steampunk Fashion show and Elegant Lolita Tea Party to name a few-we’ve also found that people are coming from farther and farther away. This year we have attendees from as far away as Belgium and Australia. It’s a lot of work to imagine and organize so many events and to host so many guests, but it’s also the best kind of challenge- one that always keeps our creative juices flowing and generates lots of enthusiasm. Our greatest triumphs are definitely the strong friendships and sense of family we’ve developed from working together. It’s also very rewarding to get such amazing and positive praise from the guests and attendees, many of our attendees enjoy the convention so much, they volunteer and help us grow the team and we have many, many guests who love to return year after year because our event is so enjoyable and because we take such great care of them.
What guests do you have planned?
Almost too many to count. We currently have 135 guests listed on our website and more coming in!
How many people do you expect to attend and how many come from outside the local area?
We are expecting more than 20,000 fans to attend. I’m not sure how many are travelling, but I do know we’re getting close to selling out our host hotel the Phoenix Hyatt Regency.
What is the date of new show and locale?
Phoenix Comicon 2011 occurs May 26th through the 29th at the Phoenix Convention Center with additional programming including all day gaming and evening and late night programming and live bands at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.
How does your show compare and contrast to other comic conventions?
Many of our staff love attending other conventions throughout the country and they all have great features and different flavors. Our show focuses very much on community, the fan experience and having non-stop events and opportunities to get engaged and involved with all the different elements of pop culture. We have dedicated teams that work all year putting together one of the most impressive programming schedules I’ve ever seen. Over 600 hours of programming encompassing Anime, Comic Books, Costuming, Fantasy, Film and TV, Gaming ( both tabletop and console), Horror, Music, Science, Science Fiction, Steam Punk and all the different things in between. Attendees at our convention always have lots of exciting opportunities throughout the event!
What are some of the new features of this show and what is to come?
This year we’ve focused on making fundamental improvements to our infrastructure including vastly more space for our exhibitor hall and programming. We’ve added and reorganized our staff so that we can do an even better job of making the event run smoothly and be fun for all of our attendees. We’ve done extensive planning and preparation to streamline lines and make the registration, autograph and photo opportunity processes as quick and easy as possible. We’ve added even more night time parties and events at the Hyatt and for all the events that filled up last year, we’ve expanded into larger rooms so that fans will be able to get into their favorite events. We’ve invited more guests than ever before and are inviting bigger stars and guests who haven’t been to Phoenix before or who haven’t been her in a very long time. What’s sure to come from all of this planning and preparation is a weekend of unequaled fun and Geek-dom!
The latest Marvel comic based film has arrived and continues a trend of top-notch cinematic adaptations of Marvel characters. THOR stars Chris Hemsworth as the brash and bold Asgard warrior who is next in line for the kingdoms throne. His father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), has ruled the kingdom for many years and as such has been responsible for maintaining the peace for Asgard and all the other known realms. After being surprised by an incursion by an ancient enemy previously defeated by Odin, the God of Thunder leads a group of warriors on a mission of retribution against his father’s orders which soon has the Asgard people facing the spectre of war.
Instead of his planned coronation, Thor finds himself cast out of Asgard and forced to live as a mortal on Earth. Truly a fish out of water, the brash and arrogant Thor is befriended by scientist Jane Watson (Natalie Portman), the first person Thor encounters upon his arrival. Unsure of his true identity, Jane and her colleagues are drawn to the mysterious stranger despite his tales which, to the humans, are the stuff of ancient Norse legends.
While initially dismissed as a drifter, Thor soon gains the respect of Jane and her colleagues when he stands up to a mysterious government organization that has seized her work. Thor soon finds himself battling enemies on multiple fronts on both his present and former home where he must battle to regain his lost honor and status and prove himself the rightful leader of his people. What follows is a highly entertaining mix of action, comedy, and a touch of romance that sets the film apart from many of its peers.
Director Kenneth Branagh fleshes out the characters from their two-dimensional origins and paces the film well never allowing the elaborate effects or action sequences of the film to overshadow the characters or the story. J. Michael Straczynski used many of the lessons he learned as the creator of the Babylon 5 and in his recent work with Marvel comics to provide a character-driven story that is true to the source material while providing interweaving storylines and ever-changing characters.
The supporting cast was strong, especially Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s younger sibling Loki. The visuals of the film match the action perfectly as Asgard and some of the other realms are truly breathtaking. The only issue I had with the film was that, sadly, Paramount felt the need to use a post filming 3-D conversion on the film which in my opinion offered very little to the finished product. Had the film been shot with 3-D cameras it truly would’ve taken it to the next level but as it was actually done, the 3D conversion offers little to the visual experience.
Hemsworth commands the screen in every scene in which he appears. He is a charismatic presence that deftly walks the line between brash warrior and leader seeking redemption, who never lets his performance become cartoony or forced. I absolutely loved every part the film from beginning to end and in my opinion Thor has set the bar very high for the next series of comic book themed movies to aspire to and is not to be missed.
4.5 stars out of five
“Sometimes good people do bad things!”
Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a successful New York City lawyer, the ever-loyal and perpetual good girl, who, on the night of her surprise 30th birthday party, sleeps with Dex, her old study buddy and secret crush from law school. Unfortunately, Dex happens to be the fiancé of Rachel’s egotistical best friend Darcy’s (Kate Hudson). Throughout the movie you find Rachel conflicted with the thought of hurting her best friend because she has just realized she is in love with Dex (Colin Egglesfield). Dex feels equally guilty for having fallen for Rachel but would rather do what everyone expects him to do, as opposed to following his heart.
As Rachel tries to assist the self-absorbed party girl Darcy plan her wedding, she finds it difficult to to hide her feelings for Dex. Rachel and Darcy’s childhood friend Ethan (John Krasinski) figures out that Rachel and Dex are more than just friends. He lends a shoulder for Rachel to lean on as well as some very harsh criticisms to help her realize that she does deserve to be happy.
Based on the novel written by Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed is a romantic comedy that explores the true meaning of friendship, love and ethics. Always a fan of Ginnifer Goodwin, she does a decent job at playing our heroine/doormat, Rachel White. Kate Hudson was spot-on with the role of self-centered, always-gets-her-way Darcy. And let’s not forget the Tom Cruise look-alike, Colin Egglesfield, who for some reason didn’t impress me much as Dex. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was definitely something missing there. Plug in some weekend getaways to the Hamptons, some awkward drinking and partying moments, some flashback moments of Darcy and Rachel’s childhood as well as flashbacks to Rachel’s law school days when she was swooning over Dex and voila! A mediocre, very predictable movie. I’d have to say if it wasn’t for the sarcastic comedic stylings of John Krasinski as Ethan, this movie would have been a major flop.
This film is definitely a twist on My Best Friend’s Wedding, but not in the best way. If nothing else, it’s worth seeing as a “girls night out” kind of movie!
3 out of 5 stars
A few years ago I wrote an article about my concerns over the number of films that were not being screened in advance for the review press. Prior to 2004 only a couple of movies would not screen in advance for critics and they usually made a quick departure from local theaters and ended up on DVD in late-night cable shortly thereafter.
In recent years a growing trend emerged of not screening certain types of films for the press. Usually horror films, certain teen sex comedies, and certain independent films were the biggest culprits. The idea behind not screening films for the press is that a studio believes that a film is destined to take a critical drubbing from the media to the point where the amount of negative press will drastically affect the opening box office.
The strategy is to get the film into theaters and get as much money as you can during the opening weekend and then recoup their investment with the foreign box office, DVD sales, and cable and television revenue.
Since many reviews run on Friday which is opening day for most movies, the thought is that even if a review outlet chooses to see the film on opening day any subsequent review they post will likely not be seen by many until after the all-important opening weekend.
While in the past not screening the film and advances been the kiss of death for the box office, recent films such as the”SAW” franchise, Tyler Perry’s Medea films, and PG-13 horror remakes such as “Prom Night”, and “When a Stranger Calls”, have opened very well or even in the number one position without screening for the press.
Lionsgate has been a studio at the forefront of not screening their films for the press as in many ways box office revenue as a bonus as they do a very brisk business in the DVD market.
As a reviewer, this trend has a very negative impact upon the industry. I can tell you of numerous situations were studio reps and PR agencies contacted us in advance to promote an upcoming film only to tell us they would not screen it for us after we had already completed all of the promotional activities for the film.
Needless to say this trend did not sit well with me or other reviewers who equate this type of behavior is not only disrespectful from the studios would basically free advertising as we are expected to take up valuable banner and page space to promote a movie that a studio does not even have the courtesy to allow us to screen and review.
There have been recent attempts to remedy this situation such as allowing sites to distribute promotional passes for a film but always with the understanding that if we choose to attend we are not there in any official press capacity nor can we post any review for the film until later in the day of the film’s opening such as a few hours after the first matinee showing completes.
I think that that both studios and critics need to take some responsibility for this problem. Critics need to be far more tolerant of the source material. If you are screening horror film, you cannot go in expecting great acting and original storytelling. The film must be judged based upon his genre and a good guideline that I have often used is “is it scary or entertaining”? If the answer is yes then the film has achieved its goal and should be judged against other films in its genre.
Far too often critics attempt to make a name for themselves by being overly savage in critical in their reviews of certain genre films. Not everything is nor was intended to be Oscar caliber art. There is a place for the teen sex comedy, the horror film, and various action films in today’s cinema. This has nothing to do with the dumbing down of America it simply providing an audience some simple entertainment. If a critic cannot be fair and objective than they simply are not doing their job and should not attend the film in my opinion.
Studios on the other hand need to understand that audiences deserve to get the best possible entertainment for their money. If the film is so bad that studios have decided not to screen it in advance for review then perhaps this should be a giant warning sign in big red letters that film should not be released in theaters. I know this is difficult to say when millions of dollars have been invested into a project but, trying to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers is not the way to go.
A recent example would be the movie “Priest”. I began to see trailers for the film several months ago which touted its pending release and 3-D presentation. As the months passed the release date for the film remained in a nebulous status which was then upgraded to a mid-May release in between the release dates of several big Hollywood films.
We then learned that the film would not screen for critics who in all honesty was not a big surprise considering the subject matter of a vampire hunting priest and a post filming 3-D conversion. I’m not here to say it’s a bad film because I have not seen the film. However, one a studio does not screen the film in advance for members of the press; it does make me wonder what they’re hiding and just how bad the film could be to take this drastic step.
The recent study of 16 films not screened for the press, only one “Crank 2 High Voltage”, had a fresh rating on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomato Meter. It used to be that only a couple movies a year would not screen in advance now the trend pushes over 40 films a year. Jeff Katzenberg DreamWorks told me that the 3-D techniques of the past were used to prop up bad movies that studios knew needed something to draw people to the box office. Sadly with the trend of post filming 3-D conversion, which is so prevalent studios are using this dishonest technique to enhance their opening take.
“G.I, Joe The Rise of Cobra” was the most expensive movie ever not screened in advance for the press. Despite this it went on to a large box office and a sequel which is currently in the works. It brings to mind the old Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey adage of a sucker being born every minute. I believe that audiences and critics deserve better and studios should offer full disclosure. Let film stand or fall based on its own merits not through playing a shell game with critics, post 3-D conversion that is touted as a proper 3-D movie, and better quality films. As in the end a better quality product will often result in a greater quantity of revenue.