Category Archives: Movies

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“Linsanity” Documentary Review

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Jeremy Lin did not fit the mold of what an NBA player was supposed to look like. He excelled at basketball wherever he went, but never got the credit he deserved and worked so hard to earn. After making it to the big leagues, and days away from the chopping block, a miracle happened that allowed him to prove his mettle not just to his team, but to the entire world. And thus, “Linsanity” was born.

It also happens that “Linsanity” became the appropriate name for Evan Jackson Leong’s documentary about one perseverant basketball player’s story. Lin’s tale is not just hoop dreams, as Jeremy battled against expectations of other people, stereotypes, and keeping his faith whole while being tested during his journey.

As a young child, Jeremy was always interested in basketball, in part thanks to his father becoming addicted to it. Jeremy and his brothers would constantly play, mimicking the moves they would see during televised games, and Jeremy quickly rose through the ranks in school, coming out on top at the end of his time in High School. However, it seemed few schools were interested in him despite his abilities, and Lin ended up playing ball for Harvard University. As time went on, Lin climbed through the ranks, and eventually made it to the NBA, a tumultuous period for him with much time spent wandering from team to team, praying that he would find a team that he could call his permanent home.

Lin soon found himself on the NY Knicks, where he spent the majority of his contract sitting on the bench, even during team practice. Sleeping on his teammate’s couch and then his sister-in-law’s, Jeremy was running out of options, but never ran out of his faith in God. You could call it a convenient coincidence or an act of a higher power, but Lin found himself pushed into a game with days before his contract expired, and Lin played the game of his life, breaking out and finally proving to the rest of the world what he already knew – that he could not only hold his own with the best of the best, but that he was one of those best in the world. From there, Jeremy began a craze and started to change the way people saw not just him, but Asians in the pro sports world.

This inspiring look at Jeremy Lin effectively transcends its own expectations, making it a documentary that is as human as it is about race and religion. Jeremy is incredibly down to earth and a guy that has left more sweat in the gym in a year than most do in a life time, but his humility and openness make him a great role model to viewers of all ethnicities. What might be my favorite thing about this entire doc is how it does not linger on the negativity of racial stereotypes in the sport, nor Lin’s Christian background and how important it is to him. While these topics are absolutely discussed and are critical to the doc, it’s the fact that anyone can be inspired by this story, because it’s the tale of the underdog who refuses to give up, no matter who says he should. Lin never stopped moving forward, even when he was pushed down, and came out on the top and will forever have a legacy as something more than a short-lived crave.

As someone who is not a basketball fan, I still greatly enjoyed the film and the story told and quickly got into it. You barely need to know anything about the sport to appreciate and be affected by it, making it a universally watchable story. Lin overcomes his adversity through his strength in God, as well as hard work, and it is a story that resonates in all of us. The cinematography feels like the viewer is a bystander in a story that even the film makers did not expect to turn out the way it did. I did find it odd that Jeremy himself does not talk as much as I expected him, especially in the first hour, with most of the film being talking heads discussing Lin with footage of him in various games to support them. Once we get into the meat of Jeremy’s rise with the Knicks, we get a more consistent amount of him, but for the first two-thirds, it’s other people telling us their stories about him.

Special features on the DVD include a “Behind the Scenes” feature that is under two minutes long and shows the green screen process of him doing certain interviews and some of the special effects scenes, such as where he is walking on water. That has a quick interview with Jeremy talking about being part of the documentary, which is not too much to write about. You also get the two-minute long pitch video that was part of the director’s Kickstarter campaign, and the trailer for the film.

You can order “Linsanity” from Amazon.com for about $20 and is worth picking up. I found myself very into the narrative by the end of it, and it reminded me with a great quote from Sergio Aragones that I felt was appropriate to share here. During an interview he did with Stan Lee in his “Comic Book Greats” series, Stan asked Sergio about his cartoons, and he responded with something to the effect of that he has to use certain stereotypes with his drawings to make them easier to understand, such as a nurse being a woman and a doctor being a man (nothing necessarily racial). The cartoonist said that he hopes that one day he will not need to do that, but it is up to us as the viewers to begin to make those disconnects of what we expect from a certain person so that drawings, and anything else, can open to being about the topic and not about who is doing it. This documentary is a great step in that direction, and is a great doc to watch and learn from.

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“The Amazing Spider Man 2” Video Game Debuts at NYCC 2013

Look out! Here comes the Spiderman! Only this time, it’s his movie counterpart and his brand new video game sequel.

Developed by Beenox, “The Amazing Spiderman 2” will be out just before the theatrical release of the movie it is based on, and is just as much a sequel for the first game. Expanding into a wider open world environment, the game will now feature more RPG elements, including a “Hero or Menace” mechanic that either rewards or penalizes players depending on how well they keep up with crime.

In an interview done at Polygon, the designers revealed that there will be plenty of new features:

“Webs are a big part of Spider-Man, so the cool things we’re doing differently this time is that we have different types of webbing,” he said. “We have your typical impact webbing, your regular vanilla webbing. We are also going to have cryo-webbing. It sort of adds an RPG-like element.”

The webs will also now attach to buildings, and players can use the left and right triggers to have more control of their web slings.

“The Amazing Spider Man 2” will be available next year for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and Windows PC.

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Square Enix debuts Robocop figures in old and new styles

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Dead of alive, you’re coming with me… even though your price is more than I want to spend…

Square Enix was at NYCC 2013 with plenty of items that I am looking forward to, but my favorite had to be their trio of Robocop figures. Based on the original 1987 version with Peter Weller and the upcoming 2014 version with Joel Kinnaman, the company is releasing nine-inch figures to make every Robo fan happy. Each figure will come with multiple hands and his infamous gun and will most likely debut around early February to tie in with the release of the new movie.

While they all look amazing, even the new movie version (surprisingly), it is worth noting that the figures were accompanied with a small placard warning potential buyers that these figures were pending licensor approval. In other words, the plug could still be pulled on the figures, or their likenesses may change from what you saw at NYCC 2013, but most likely everything should be fine, just like the Hot Toys Robocop figure was.

Expect the price point to be around $80-90 for these immense figures. Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to the potential release date.

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Images courtesy of Comics Alliance (since mine came out really bad)

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Transformers 4 Optimus Prime revealed at NYCC 2013

One of the biggest reveals that came out of New York Comic Con this year was for a movie, but not exactly a movie. Rather, Hasbro showed off a sneak peek of a new Optimus Prime action figure, which is based on his appearance in the upcoming fourth transformers movie, “Age of Extinction”.

The figure, which is part of their Leader Class line, does in fact transform, just not as much as other figures can due to the intricacy of the sculpting, and comes with a sword (for some reason) and a bizarrely shaped gun that Rob Liefield would love. No price point has been revealed yet, and an exact release date is not certain, but at the very least we know what we are getting ourselves into now when the next Michael Bay movie comes out. What other characters will be getting makeovers? We can only wonder, but this new Optimus does not look so horrible… for a Bayformer, at least.

Check out more pics of this figure, as well as other new Transformers from the Hasbro Party over at Seibertron!

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James Spader Cast as Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron

James Spader will face off against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the villain in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the sequel to 2012’s record-breaking “Marvel’s The Avengers.” The Emmy Award-winning actor will play Ultron in the Avengers’ much anticipated return to the big screen from writer/director Joss Whedon. The film comes to theaters on May 1, 2015.

Spader earned three Emmy Awards for his role as Alan Shore on “Boston Legal” and “The Practice,” and will return to television this fall in NBC’s highly anticipated series “The Blacklist.” Most recently Spader was seen in the critically-acclaimed film “Lincoln” directed by Steven Spielberg and has previously worked with a long list of accomplished film directors including David Cronenberg, Curtis Hansen, Sidney Lumet, Mike Nichols, Tim Robbins, Robert Rodriguez, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone.  David Mamet also directed Spader in the Broadway play Race.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” will bring the Marvel Universe’s biggest heroes together again to face one of their biggest villains, with “Marvel’s The Avengers” director Joss Whedon returning to write and direct the sequel. “Marvel’s The Avengers” was released in 2012 and went on to earn $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the third-largest grossing movie of all time.

For more info, head over to Marvel’s Official Website
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Ubisoft and New Regency partner for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Film

Ubisoft Motion Pictures announced today they’ll be developing the Splinter Cell movie in close collaboration with New Regency. Ubisoft also recently announced it attached award-winning actor Tom Hardy and up-and-coming screenwriter Eric Warren Singer to the film.  This deal is separate from but builds upon the recent partnership between Ubisoft and New Regency to develop the Assassin’s Creed® film.

Tom Clancy’s™ Splinter Cell® is an award-winning stealth action video game series that has sold more than 23 million copies since its debut in 2002.  Splinter Cell follows protagonist Sam Fisher, a highly-trained special operative in a fictional black-ops sub-division, “Echelon”.  Sam Fisher and the agents of Echelon utilize combat skills, weapons and cutting-edge gadgets to neutralize international terrorist threats and rogue forces in modern, realistic stories ripped from the headlines.  Development for the next installment, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell® Blacklist™, is being led by the Ubisoft Toronto studio, and the game is set for release in Spring 2013.

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DVD Review- Nitro Circus: The Movie

Nitro Circus: The Movie is a DVD released today and something that is very difficult to explain. Anyone who is in touch with the Xtreme Sports culture, dating back to the 90’s when “extreme” began with an X, is probably already familiar with the Nitro Circus. The contemporary stunt show is populated with well known Xtreme athletes, including X-games household name and Nitro Circus poster boy Travis Pastrana. Nitro Circus also had a TV show that people familiar with this niche type of entertainment have no doubt seen before.

For people unfamiliar with the kind of things done in Nitro Circus: The Movie, no words are going to impart a full understanding. The members of Nitro Circus use objects with wheels and/or motors to do very dangerous things. The type of entertainment is very spiritually close to Jackass, except that the Nitro Circus team have the requisite skills to make the stunts work, sometimes. In fact, many of the Jackass cast and crew make some kind of appearance in the film, including an interview with Jackass front man Johnny Knoxville about the Nitro Circus.

The frame story of Nitro Circus: The Movie that’s supposed to separate it from any other video that the team records is that it plays itself up to be a documentary, following the Nitro Circus on its way to its first live show in Vegas. This documentary structure is thin and the movie seems to care about it even less than the audience will. After a brief introduction this movie is nothing but a solid hour or so of stunts with 15 second blocks of bad acting to set up each new feat.

The stunts featured range from grinding a rail with a car to being pulled down a giant slip in slide ramp by a motorcycle mounted on a boat. Long jumps are made between skyscrapers on a modified big wheel. There is a lot of flipping cars, property damage and severe injury. If it involves wheels and stupidity, it’s featured.

Continue reading DVD Review- Nitro Circus: The Movie

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DVD Review- Outpost: Black Sun

Outpost: Black Sun is a European horror movie recently released on DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack in the US. The movie is about a young woman Nazi hunter named Lena who, in pursuit of the last of a group of aging war criminals, is reunited with a theoretical physicist friend Wallace in Eastern Europe. Together they discover a group of former SS members who’ve turned themselves into immortal monsters using the power of electromagnets.

No part of the above paragraph is made up nor embellished for comedic purposes.

The plot of Outpost: Black Sun makes exactly no sense, as the above synopsis would indicate. The film is actually a sequel to the 2008 horror Outpost, which also makes no sense. I had actually seen Outpost previously, but the plot of both movies in the franchise are so disjoint and random that I did not mentally connect that they were part of the same story, in spite of the fact that they share very memorable Nazi-monsters. The indecipherable plot of the original turns out not to be a problem because Outpost: Black Sun assumes early on that no one watching could possible piece these movies together.

Within the first 15 minutes of the film, Lena is reintroduced to Wallace and the physicist explains the entire back story of the first movie using information he could not possibly know and footage he could not possibly have access to. Wallace makes no effort to explain how a Nazi hunter and a theoretical physicist became friends or accidentally ran into each other so often during the course of their world travels, but at least he brings the audience up to speed on all the crazy baggage from the last movie.

After the recap, however, the Outpost universe turns around and again drives off the insanity cliff with no hope of returning. As is expected in this kind of film, the plucky scientist/hunter of war criminals duo run into a rag-tag group of soldiers tasked with shutting down and securing the Nazi magnet machine that makes the SS soldiers immortal. Continue reading DVD Review- Outpost: Black Sun

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Blur Studio’s “The Goon” Movie Kickstarter Enters Final Week

David Fincher, Blur Studio, Eric Powell and Dark Horse Entertainment have come together to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the award-winning comic series “The Goon.”

Learn more about the effort and watch Fincher, Blur Studio and Eric Powell introduce the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/624061548/the-goon-movie-lets-kickstart-this-sucker

For over 12 years, Eric Powell’s comic book “The Goon” has amassed fans around the globe with its fantastic world of mobsters, zombies, killer robots, giant fish-men and mayhem. Two years ago, David Fincher and Blur Studio optioned “The Goon”, developed a feature film script written by Powell and created a proof of concept clip to show Hollywood studios the incredible potential of a Goon animated movie. While the clip generated lots of enthusiasm, the movie still isn’t green-lit primarily because PG13 animation is a challenging concept for studios.

After investing hundreds of thousands of their own money and countless hours of effort, the team has opted to reach out to “The Goon” fanbase, comic book lovers, the movie industry, and frankly anyone with a pulse willing to donate, with a Kickstarter campaign to take their development efforts to the next level.

The proof of concept short featured the voices of actors Paul Giamatti as Franky and Clancy Brown as The Goon, both of whom will reprise those roles for the film. Slated to co-direct are Blur Studio co-founder Tim Miller and Jeff Fowler, a director who has been with Blur for ten years. Miller was creative director on the “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” opening title sequence and is also on board to direct “Deadpool” for Fox and “Gravel” for Legendary Pictures; Fowler directed the Academy-Award nominated animated short “Gopher Broke” and has helmed many commercials and projects at Blur Studio.

Blur Studio is an award-winning production and animation studio in Venice, CA made up of Oscar-nominated artists who have created stunning story-driven CG work for feature films, commercials and games for over two decades. Executive Producer David Fincher is the critically acclaimed director of Seven, Fight Club, The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

“I admit it—I came to this party late. Chinatown, and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker was—regrettably—my introduction to The Goon and the incredible world created by Eric Powell. I thank Tim Miller—who snapped me out of my Goonless existence when I was looking for material to possibly make into an animated feature, and he suggested I peruse a copy he had (suspiciously) nearby. Of course I marveled at the characters and was smitten with the mise-en-scene, but it was the language—that uncategorizable: Dead End Kids Meets Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummies—that unlikely Powellian patois that absolutely hooked me. If this is your first time, you are in for a treat—if not, you already know how lucky you are.” – David Fincher

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“Five Lines at NYCC 2012” – VIDEO

From October 11-14, New York Comic Con 2012 was held with a record 116,000 people flooding the Jacob Javits Center. With the entire convention center filled with comic book & entertainment companies, video game booths, cosplayers, vendors, and general comic nerds like myself, it was a busy weekend to say the least. One of my favorite parts of NYCC, and any comic con, is visiting Artists Alley, where all of the illustrators hang out and do their thing. This year, I decided to celebrate the artists and creativity, all while playing a little game with them.

“The Five Line Game” is simple; one artist draws five random lines on a piece of paper, and then another artist finishes those lines (using as many more lines as he needs) to complete the drawing. After that, that artist turns the page and draws a new set of five lines, and we pass it down to the next artist, and so on and so forth. All the while, we spoke with these illustrators about their creative process and what the words “creativity” and “inspiration” mean to them.

Big thanks to all of the artists that helped us out and played the game with us! While you are here, go check out their sites!

Jerry Ma
Amy Mebberson
James Silvani
Jesse Rubenfeld
Tyler Crook
Dan Khanna
Tim Chamberlain
Jordan Kotzebue
Carla Wyzgala
Todd Nauck
Jennifer Pastecchi
Matt Triano
Anthony Marques
Scott Cohn
Rodney Ramos
Cliff Chiang
Brian Kong

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