All posts by Matt

Editor in Chief of NerdNewsToday.com. Primary video producer, shooter, editor, and purchaser of too many toys... although there is really no such thing as "too many toys".

Michael Bay’s “Ninja Turtles” reboot delayed

Following a few other big budget pics of nerdy franchises, another film has just been pushed back for a long period of time. This time, it would be Michael Bay’s hideous abomination of a TMNT adaptation (which he re-titled to just “Ninja Turtles”, the blasphemer).

Paramount says it has pushed back the film’s starting date by 10 weeks in order to cut the budget down to $125 Million (originally the film was budgeted for around $20 million more). This also means that the release date will be pushws back from Christmas 2013 to May 16, 2014.

Initially, Paramount hired the Iron Man writing team of Art Marcum and Matt Holloway for close to $1 million to revamp “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for a fast-tracked live action feature film to be released in summer 2012. At the time, the studio was looking at this as its next huge franchise like Transformers. Then the Jonathan Liebesman-directed live action-CGI combo’s release date was pushed to Christmas 2013, and now it’s pushed again to May 16th, 2014 — presuming that the studio’s cost target is achieved.

Not much else is known about the film, but let’s all hope it continues to be delayed – indefinitely.

Image by BiggCaZ

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“Trigun” DVD Review

What can be said about “Trigun” that already hasn’t? The groundbreaking space western anime that changed the industry, featuring top notch animation and a fine American dub, this 26-episode series has inspired countless franchises since then. Funimation has recently released Trigun: The Complete Series Box Set, featuring the entire run of the show in a convenient thin-packed DVD set, so it seems that the time is right to talk about it once more.

For those of you living under a rock for the past decade, “Trigun” was based on a manga by the same name in the late ’90’s, and was quickly adapted into an anime series only two years into the run of the comic. Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, a pair of Insurance agents, have been given the task of evaluating the damage and claims of one “Vash the Stampede”, also known as “The Humanoid Typhoon.” Wherever this elusive outlaw goes, major destruction and chaos follows. When the two field agents meet Vash, they are shocked to see how aloof and simple he is, and think they have found an imposter. The Vash they have met whines, complains, eats donuts, and is bullied constantly. But as they quickly learn, wherever Vash goes, trouble follows, and the man in the red jacket with the 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head constantly has trouble tracking him down, no matter where he goes.

The cartoon series was animated by Madhouse, who have been responsible for numerous excellent animes, many of which have been equally high-risk taking in genre and breaking from the average stereotypes. There were not too many “space westerns” in that era, but after Trigun took off, plenty more followed in its footsteps. Directed by Satoshi Nishimura, this show took desolate deserts and merged them with futuristic steampunk machinations from the days of the wild, wild west. Think about Mos Eisley from “Star Wars”, but without the aliens and more crazy Japanese characters roaming the plains, and there you have it.

The animation is smooth and fluent, with unique character designs that have since become iconic, especially for cosplayers. You can not go to a comic con without running into a Vash or Wolfwood! What makes the series work so well is the character development, and how even the most seemingly goofy episodes can turn into a meaningful way to explain more about the origins and personality of Vash, and why he is the so-called humanoid typhoon. Much like “Cowboy Bebop”, small bits of his past are explained, but eventually we do get a serious flashback that introduces Knives, the exact opposite of Vash who you will see much more of towards the end of the series.

Speaking of Wolfwood, the supporting characters are all fleshed out, especially the ones that appear for just one episode. Like many old western TV shows, the episodes are often a one-shot around a single story. “Trigun” has a running story and continuity, but it thrives on these one-shot stories, and these characters deeply interact with our protagonists to tell the tale of Vash, Meryl, Millie, and Wolfwood, explaining their motives by showing and not just telling.

And thank goodness they do show, as their is plenty of high-octane shoot-outs to show in this series. Vash might often be hesitant to draw his gun, but when he does, you better not blink. A pacifist by nature, Vash does his best not to cause violence, but violence has a nasty habit of finding him on his ronin-like journey. Each episode, Vash battles some bizarre-looking and highly memorable villains, often augmented by some mecha parts. These characters are still some different looking baddies, and continue to stand out amongst other animes with their distinct looks and weapons.

Special features on this set include textless songs and original Japanese trailers, as well as the option to see this in English or the original Japanese dialogue.

It is quite disappointing the series finale was so finite that producers have said there could never be a sequel or continuation of the series (no spoilers here), but you will be happy to know that there is an OVA called “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” that is pretty spectacular, but we will talk about that another time.

You can order Trigun: The Complete Series Box Set on Amazon.com for under $25 new, which is less than a dollar per episode! “Trigun” is simply one of the best, an instant classic that will surely survive the test of time and continue to inspire new fans and new series as it grows older. Thanks to this new funimation value-pack, you can own the entire series in a very compact container and enjoy it whenever you want, and you will definitely want to have a marathon of this show at least once a year.

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Hot Toys teases Joker 2.0 12-inch figure

Following the announcement from last week, Hot Toys sends us a new image for their upcoming Joker 2.0 figure from “The Dark Knight” line, this time showing off the tailor made costume. Finely customized by the extraordinaire 1/6th scale figure costume artist Kato, the Joker 2.0 costume fits the new advanced body to a T, with well tailored movie-accurate cutting and materials to create the threads that Heath Ledger wore during the film.

Check out the new image below and stay-tuned for more updates on this figure soon.

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Pine and Quinto lend voices to Namco’s new “Star Trek” video game

Paramount Pictures and leading video game publisher and developer NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. today announced that actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto who starred as Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock in producer and director J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) film reboot, will reprise their roles in the Star Trek™ video game. The highly anticipated co-op game is set to release in early 2013 on Xbox 360®video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC.

“We are thrilled to have these incredible actors, lending their voice to the legendary characters of Kirk and Spock in the video game realm,” said LeeAnne Stables, Paramount Pictures’ President of Consumer Products and head of the studio’s video game unit. “Players are in for a truly authentic experience with the combination of talent we have assembled bringing this action adventure game to life.”

In addition to Pine and Quinto, other actors from the 2009 film are depicted in the game including actress Zoe Saldana, in the role of Lieutenant Uhura, Simon Pegg as the benevolent Scotty, Karl Urban as the beloved Dr. “Bones” McCoy, John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov.

“There are certain elements at the core of Star Trek – insurmountable odds, exploration, villains like the Gorn and heroes like Kirk and Spock,” said Carlson Choi, VP of Marketing and NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. “Our goal is to pull gamers as deep into the Star Trek universe as possible and an integral part of that is the talent that make these characters their own.”

The game’s original story is being penned by BAFTA award winner and God of War writer Marianne Krawczyk in collaboration with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, writers and producers for the upcoming Star Trek film. Built from the ground up as the ultimate co-op experience, the Star Trek video game lets players control both Kirk and Spock in a sweeping journey of epic proportions across unexplored planets and enemy battleships with the latest 23rd century weapons and gear. Kirk and Spock’s complementary personalities result in the most fully realized and varied co-op experiences for this console generation.

Under a license from CBS Consumer Products, Star Trek is being developed by Ontario-based developer Digital Extremes (Bioshock 2, Unreal Tournament, Dark Sector, The Darkness II) with production being overseen by Brian Miller, Senior Vice President at Paramount Pictures and Game Producer.

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“Iron Man 3” villain and actor revealed – “The Iron Patriot”

“Marvel’s The Avengers” is still tearing it up at the box office, raking in over $527 million to date, but that doesn’t mean Tony Stark gets a break from saving the world. “Iron Man 3” is currently filming in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photographers caught the first look at one of the new villains in the movie, the Iron Patriot, who is sporting armor that could give Stark a run for his money. First introduced in the comic “Dark Avengers #1,” the Iron Patriot might have a suit of high-tech armor with a Captain America paint job, but the man inside is not a hero.

That’s actor James Badge Dale (“The Departed,” TV’s “24”) as Eric Savin, one of the villains of “Iron Man 3.” In the comics, Savin is a soldier who is gravely injured in a land mine explosion and reanimated as a cyborg called Coldblood-7. It looks like the movie merges his character from the books with the Iron Patriot armor (which was worn by Spider-Man’s nemesis Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin).

You can spot in the photo that Dale only wears the armored suit from the waist up. He wears motion capture sensors on his legs, which will be used to create CG legs later on.

“Iron Man 3” is expected to be released in theaters next year, with a Thor and Captain America sequel to follow. Check out bigger versions of the pic in the gallery spot below!

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NECA shows off glow-in-the-dark Robocop figure

NECA has proudly unveiled their latest Toys R Us exclusive: Night Fighter Robocop!

Not only does the glow-in-the-dark Night Fighter Robocop directly reference the look and feel of the original toy line, but the packaging on this TRU exclusive couldn’t be more ’80s if it was wearing Madonna’s coned bra. It’s like they

imported Officer Murphy here directly from that most confusing decade of capitalist expansion and bizarro pop culture, and we wanted every aspect to fit the bill.

So while your friends are pulling up their legwarmers in the 100-degree heat and teasing their hair out to look like Olivia Newton John, all you gotta do is head over to Toys ‘R’ Us to get a load of Night Fighter Robocop and out-retro everyone. Whether or not you ever watched the animated series in your pajamas on a Saturday morning, you won’t want to miss out.

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Hot Toys teases new vehicle for 1:6 scale figures

Hot Toys, makers of amazingly realistic 1:6 scale action figures, sent out a photo this week of their next great undertaking, and what a project it will be. Coming straight from the new Christopher Nolan blockbuster, “Dark Knight Rises”, Hot Toys unveiled the initial working shots of the new Batwing plane to be seen in the upcoming film.

Hot Toys has said this will be their largest project ever, dwarfing even their 1:6 scale Tumbler from the last Batman movie and their soon-to-be-released Batmobile from the 1989 Tim Burton version of “Batman”. As to just how big this vehicle will end up being, keep in mind that what you see in this photo is purely the cockpit section, which is nowhere near representative of the epic wingspan this beast will surely have.

What will the price point be for this massive toy? Your guess is as good as mine, but considering the cost of their previous enormous vehicles, this is definitely going to be mighty close to $1,000 USD, if not being that much. The big question collectors have to ask themselves now is how are they going to display such a lofty collectible, and how many arms and legs of themselves will have to sell just to be able to afford it?

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“The King of New Orleans”, Biography of pro wrestler Junkyard Dog – Book Review

Sylvester Ritter is a name that all old-school pro wrestling fans must be aware of, although chances are they know him better by his stage name. “The Junkyard Dog”, or sometimes just JYD, won multiple single and tag team championship in his career during the 70’s and 80’s, and broke racial barriers along the way. Greg Klein, a student of the civil rights era, grew fascinated with Ritter, enough to write “The King of New Orleans: How The Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling’s First Black Superstar”.

Released by ECW Press, this 180-page paperback tells the biography of Ritter from his early days all the way to becoming the first Black champion in a Southern pro-wrestling company, a big accomplishment in the 70’s. Living in New Orleans, Louisiana had passed many laws to keep Black people from competing in various sports, especially in interracial environments where they might mix with White folk. At the time, the majority of gimmicks given to Black men in pro wrestling were flat-out racist, and the wrestlers were always “heels” (or the bad guys for my non-smark readers).

After graduating from Fayetteville State University with a degree in political science, Ritter had dreams of becoming a pro football player. Fate intervened, as an injury forced him unable to join a team, and he instead was introduced to pro wrestling by a friend. Ritter debuted in the Tennessee territory, and eventually worked with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling in Canada and Mid-South Wrestling in America, which is where booker “Cowboy” Bill Watts gave him his famous moniker.

During this time period, Ritter had matches with men like The Dynamite Kid, The Fabulous Freebirds, Ernie Ladd, Ted DiBiase, Kamala, King Kong Bundy, “The Natural” Butch Reed, and a young Jake “The Snake” Roberts before his DDT dropping days. In the mid-1980’s, JYD headed to Vince McMahon’s WWF, where his character grew in popularity and wrestled with some of the top stars before heading to WCW in the 90’s to feud for the world title there against Ric Flair.

Success was not an easy road for a Black man in that era, and Ritter had to battle against all sorts of racist promoters and unsavory characters to get to the level that he ultimately achieved. His hard work paid off, and opened the way for future Black wrestlers such as Booker T, Ron Simmons, Ron “The Truth” Killings, and many more who compete today.

Ritter sadly passed away in 1998, but Klein felt that his story was important enough that it must be remembered in this book, and what a great job he does of commemorating this superstar. Klein conducts interviews with many of the people that knew or worked with JYD, be they wrestlers, family members, friends, or even just admirers of his wrestling who inspired them to fight the good fight in a time where civil rights were still not accepted nationally. His writing style invites the readers in and offers every player a specific voice, and while this book is intended for wrestling fans, one does not need to be to enjoy this story. Klein weaves together these stories into one cohesive and fascinating biography that all wrestling fans should read, along with any history buffs who are interested in the civil rights movement. Entertainment was one of, and still is, the most powerful forms of political change, and JYD is an easily overlooked aspect of the struggle.

You can order The King of New Orleans: How the Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling’s First Black Superhero for $13.43 on Amazon.com, and I definitely recommend it. I am glad that Klein wrote this book to cement JYD’s place in history, as I would have passed up on this book since before reading it, I simply took Ritter for granted. Professional wrestling has always thrived on racially-heated angles in their booking, and JYD was one of the first Black athletes to overcome stereotypes and cliche booking, to be treated just as a human being and not as a color. Pro wrestling fans will not be disappointed with this quick read and will be in for quite an unsuspecting treat and history lesson. Klein has ensured that future generations will not let this barrier-breaking, “thump” dropping, larger-than-life superstar become a forgotten hero.

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“Mushi-shi: The Movie” DVD Review

Directed by the anime genius that is Katsuhiro Otomo (who gave us such gems as “Akira”, “Domu: A Child’s Dream”, and “Steam Boy”), “Mushi-Shi” is the live-action adaptation of the anime series from 2006 of the same name. Released by Funimation for American viewers, this supernatural thriller has wowed audiences worldwide, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Taking it’s source material from a 26-episode long anime series, “Mushi-Shi: The Movie” had its work cut out for it from the start. Condensing that much of a plot into one movie is no easy task, but not having any knowledge of the series before seeing the movie, I never felt lost or that I was missing some crucial information from the original. After reading about the anime later, however, I am even more impressed with what this film has done for this unique story.

Taking place between the Edo and Meiji periods in Japan, a white-haired traveler named Ginko wanders the countryside, accepting offers to solve paranormal problems with mystical beings called “mushi”. These parasitic mushi come in a variety of forms, along with a mix of troublesome ways they feed off their hosts, and Ginko, being a mushi-shi, has the ability to see all of these beings and dispose of them. The first half of the film sees us learning about Ginko and his abilities to help a troubled village, and after that we dive into the story of who Ginko really is and to what extent these mushi will go to feed.

Ginko, played by Joe Odagiri, is a subtle character that reminds me of a cross between John Constantine from DC Comics “Hellblazer” and Osamu Tezuka’s “Black Jack”. Subtle is truly the word to describe all of the acting here, with each character feeling different from one another and truly immersing the viewer into their world. The backdrops and exteriors seamlessly push you in more and more with each scene and make you feel like you are part of this strange place where bug-like spirits wreak havoc only because they are hungry.

Otomo uses a very documentary-feel to the film in terms of photography and lighting, relying much on natural light to evoke the moody and dreary feel to the film. There is an isolating loneliness that this world has, which seems to softly fade away when more than one person is around. Most shots in the film rarely contain more than two people in the frame at once, and purposefully so to keep this feeling so powerful. Being a mushi-shi is a dangerous and lonely line of work as we learn, one not cut out for most people, and the cinematography reinforces how it must feel to be a character like Ginko and those who have similar abilities to him.

The mushi themselves are mostly CG, aside from some fish and snails, but are not fully-rendered apparitions. Most are white or black mist-like vapors that float around and consume things, and blend in like physical effects. Once again, subtlety is what rules the day with this movie, and the handling of the mushi was done to make them seem harmless in the beginning, and threatening by the end, all while looking like parts of nature.

In terms of being a horror anime, there is not much gore and zero jump scares. This is more an ambient film that methodically builds pressure with each scene, which ultimately culminates in the last act of the film where all mysteries are solved. There is a pretty gross scene where someone gets their arm stabbed, and I would normally not give out spoilers but this is one of those warnings where I feel I should, since most of the movie has very little violence whatsoever. This is not a slasher or killing movie, but an intriguing thriller and a journey for two characters.

One warning I will give to all viewers is that this movie is a long journey, clocking in at well over two hours long. “Mushi-shi” is a very slow-moving film that requires patience to get through, especially with the slow first act. Does the movie drag? Not necessarily, but it takes it’s time to set up the world and characters within it, giving you spoonfuls of each until the bottle is emptied. The second half of the movie does take some major turns from how it starts, and the conclusion can get a little trippy, but it’s still worth a watch.

The DVD that Funimation has released includes an additional ten minutes of deleted or extended scenes, some of which are not super necessary to the plot, but you can be the judge of what is relevant or not. There is also a short feature about the film’s premiere night that speaks with the cast of the film on the red carpet, and the original theatrical trailer for it.

You can buy Mushi-Shi: The Movie from Amazon.com for around $9 and is worth a shot if you enjoyed the anime series, or just want to see a very stylish movie with some impressive acting and effects. The beautiful imagery makes this very watchable, along with the expert performances from the entire cast and a captivating plot, so even if you are not familiar with the anime, I recommend it. It’s definitely something you won’t see everyday, but will be one of the more interesting movies you will get based on a Japanese cartoon.

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Win a blu-ray of new thriller, “The Aggression Scale”

Hey, militia of the NerdNewsToday – want to win some sweet swag? Of course you do!

Thanks to the fine folks at Anchor Bay, I am giving two lucky fans each a copy of “The Aggression Scale” on blu-ray. The movie is coming off a successful buzz-creating midnight world premiere at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival. The Aggression Scale is a unique take on the home invasion thriller with two teenagers confronting some heavily armed bad guys who are looking for stolen cash, leading to a bloody battle of wits and will. Directed by Steven C. Miller (Scream of the Banshee), the film stars, Dana Ashbrook (“Twin Peaks”), Derek Mears (Friday the 13th, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks,” “Reaper”).

When out-on-bail mob boss Bellavance (Ray Wise of ”Reaper”) discovers that $500,000 of his money is missing, he sends four hardcore hit men to send a ”loud and messy” message to the suspected thieves’ families. But when the killers invade the Rutledge home, they’ll meet the household’s emotionally disturbed young son Owen (Ryan Hartwig). Owen has a history of violent behavior, knows how to make lethal booby-traps and is about to teach these thugs some deadly lessons in extreme vengeance. Fabianne Therese co-stars in the savage thriller that stunned midnight audiences at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival and IndieWire called ”like HOME ALONE with more death!”

So, how do you win a copy of The Aggression Scale on blu-ray? Simple, all you have to do is tweet to your friends on Twitter to follow my Twitter account to win, using the hashtag #NerdNewsToday to make sure I see your entry. Here is an example:

“Follow @NerdNewsToday for the best video game, comics, movies & toy news. Join the #nerdvolution”

Feel free to get creative with it too, as long as you have my account and hashtag, you are entered to win! If you want to increase your chances, have those same new followers tweet me back and let me know who sent them to join me. You can enter as many times as you want – the more, the merrier. The contest begins now and goes until June 3. As Picard would say, engage!

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