Category Archives: Film

The Summer Has Too Many Damn Conventions.

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So basically it’s been a huge mash of traveling from one convention to the other this summer, in between trying to work periodically so I won’t end up on the streets with my Disney/Star Trek merchandise in a shopping cart.  So far, I’ve been to E3, WonderCon, Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet, Disneyana, SDCC, SIGGRAPH, and Star Trek Las Vegas. Consequently I haven’t had a huge amount of time to blog, although I do have up some of the Disney SDCC panels over at AllEars.Net here, and what Marvel content I could get into, along with the Once Upon A Time panel here.

I am however, slowly going through my photos of the last…month or so, and may start dumping some out here for posterity.  As a side note to the one blog I did get up on the Star Trek Beyond premiere, here are some more photos of the event that I didn’t get to put up then:

(They get bigger if you click on ’em.)

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More to come!

San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Day 1

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So we’re back again at SDCC.  It’s like we never left, except for the part where we usually indulge ourselves in activities like “sleeping” and “eating.”

Having attended the Star Trek Fan Event a couple months ago, I had guaranteed tickets for it, which was an amazing stress relief.  It did mean that I missed Preview Night, but like I needed more merch, right?

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When we were let in, we were told that general admission could sit anywhere in the first 14 rows.  This apparently was not true, as some 2 1/2 hours later, we were told that other people had reserved tickets for our seats.  After some negotiation, they were relocated and we continued in peace.

Entering, we were given light-up bracelets and a ticket for a Subway meal box with a turkey sandwich, cookie, and chips.  Water and soda were out in iced tubs which was a relief as the heat combined with standing in line forever was dehydrating.

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To kill time while the sun set, they showed “The Corbomite Maneuver,” had a costume contest, and did red carpet interviews with the arriving cast.

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Then, Nichelle Nichols came out and answered a few questions and said some nice words about Roddenberry.  After that, she was shown to her seat which was about 1 row back from hours which was both awesome and frightening, as a hoard of fans descended on our area.

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The night’s host Conan O’Brien came out and introduced the major cast and crew of “Star Trek Beyond” each of which said a few words.  J.J. Abrams held a moment of silence for recently departed Anton Yelchin.

So then we figured the movie would start since the cast was seated and the orchestra was starting, but no!  Star Trek fireworks!

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Finally, the film started and we got to see it in IMAX, outdoors, with a live orchestra.  It was a great presentation and a fun movie–the plot is a little flash-and-dash, but the character bits more than make up for it.  Karl Urban in particular is terrific in it.

Afterwards, we were given a premiere swag bag, along with a commemorative seat cushion.

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In all, a great start to SDCC 2016!

 

 

Star Trek Fan Event: Recap

So May 20th, Paramount held a one-night-only “Star Trek Fan Event” celebrating the upcoming film “Star Trek Beyond.”

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Invitations were largely won through a variety of sweepstakes (how I got in,) although there were the usual assortment of media and industry types.  They gave somewhat conflicting information about what you could and could not take into the event–I was told that I couldn’t take so much as a purse in, whereas other people walked in with large bags, cameras, etc.  After the usual check-in procedure, we were ushered through a mock-up of an Enterprise corridor into a circular bridge-like area for a series of presentations.

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The MC for the evening, Adam Savage from “Mythbusters,” started off with a quick discussion between “Star Trek Beyond” producer J.J. Abrams and director Justin Lin.

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Some of the topics discussed:

  • Abrams said that the lawsuit against the “Axanar” filmmakers will be dismissed, partly due to Lin’s insistence that it was a bad way to treat Star Trek fans.
  • Lin announced that “Star Trek Beyond” will premier at San Diego Comic-Con this year, July 20th, with outdoor IMAX and a live orchestra.  All the fans in attendance at the Fan Event will be given tickets.
  • Abrams hated the chair he was sitting in.

They then played some behind-the-scenes footage reminiscent of the behind-the-scenes footage Abrams brought from “Star Wars:  The Force Awakens” last year to SDCC.  This was followed by the introduction of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban.

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The three stars then fielded some questions from the Savage, the audience, and Twitter.

  • On whether they would be attending SDCC:  Pine–“I haven’t gotten an invitation.”  Urban (as McCoy)–“are you kidding? Comic-Con is full of disease and and danger and darkness!”
  • Bones and Spock end up spending a lot of time together in the movie and end up with a better understanding of each other.
  • Quinto’s favorite aspect of filming is getting together with the rest of the cast and crew which he considers family.
  • Urban liked that they filmed in Vancouver, which forced them all to hang out together and get closer.
  • Quinto says the theme of the movie is all of the characters trying to get back together and understanding the power of their unity.
  • Pine notes that past films have dealt with Kirk trying to live up to his father, while this film sees him searching to define himself on his own terms.

After they finished up, TV Producer Scott Mantz conducted a short trivia game in which audience members won props from the film for answering questions such as “what was the name of Edith Keeler’s mission in ‘City on the Edge of Forever?'”  (Answer:  21st Street Mission)

The entire room then adjourned to bleachers outside the soundstage for a short ceremony renaming the street after Leonard Nimoy.

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It was a particularly nice touch, given that it was right outside the soundstage where they shot ST: TOS back in the day.

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Then, a bevy of Orion Slave Girls sealed our phones into green pouches, and we went inside to watch the new trailer and a couple scenes from “Star Trek Beyond.”

Some thoughts:

  • The trailer looked much better to me than the initial one, but still seemed pretty similar to the action-filled trailers of the last two films.
  • The additional scenes they played really sold it to me, however.  Some quiet moments with Kirk and McCoy made it feel much more like a movie than a video game cutscene, and the obvious mirroring of a similar scene in ST: TWoK seemed much more respectful than the last time these movies referenced ST: TWoK.
  • The plot mechanics appear to be setting up one of those tried-and-true character development devices where unusual groups get marooned and isolated together and have to take their relationships to a different level to survive.
  • Karl Urban is terrific.

After getting our phones unlocked, one of the walls to the screening room opened up to reveal a party complete with DJ, open bars, appetizers, desserts, custom printed t-shirt stations, and costumes and props from the movie.

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Kirk’s suit
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Transporter photo op
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Krall’s throne
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I want Kirk’s coffee cup so bad.
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Spock’s uniform
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Krall’s…body suit? Armor? Skin?
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Kirk’s other uniform. He gets a pretty good wardrobe for a guy essentially in the military.
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Med kit and tricorder. I like how the tricorder went from the cassette player look back in the 60s, to the iPhone look in the 10s.
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Go on. You know you want to sit in it.

At the end of the evening, everyone (or at least everyone until they ran out) received a swag bag with limited edition poster, tribble, Spock ears, and premiere credential!

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In all, it was an amazing event–way more than I had imagined it would be when I showed up for it.  Probably one of the best parts was knowing that I’ll get to see the Star Trek premiere at SDCC without having to resort to homicide and espionage, as I almost certainly would have otherwise.  Thanks J.J.!

Live-at-the-Time Blog: “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • I don’t think I’ve watched this since it came out in the theaters the first time.
  • These Trade Federation aliens always seemed suspiciously Asian to me.
  • Cowards, eh?  Qui-gon seems a little dismissive.
  • Oh hi Padme, downfall of the Republic.
  • Man, Padme is pretty determined not to see the writing on the wall here.
  • Her white-haired advisor is all “WTF?!”
  • 11 minutes. That’s how long we were able to go Jar-Jar-less.
  • Those were some nice 11 minutes.
  • You know, I hope that theory that Jar-Jar was going to be the Dark Side Yoda is true. Because otherwise, you’d have to think that everyone connected with this film was too afraid to point out his resemblance to a caricature from a minstrel show.
  • Ugh, the Gungans are kind of a repugnant race in general.
  • The scene from Star Tours!
  • I can’t understand half of what Jar-Jar is saying. Not sure that this is a disadvantage.
  • Well that was the fastest planetary takeover in history.
  • I mean, those two trade dudes literally conquered the whole Nabooean government in the time it took two Jedis to get there. And they came on the same ships!
  • Maybe this planet would have been better off with the Trade Asians.
  • R2:  MVP in any age.
  • I think you’ll be sorry if you land on Tattooine. Just saying.
  • What in the name of Yoda is Qui-gon wearing?  It doesn’t even look like a poncho, as much as a blanket with a hole cut in it.
  • Like those Jedi robes weren’t style-y enough.
  • Thus begins a long history of me never being able to tell Natalie Portman and Kiera Knightley apart for the rest of their careers.
  • Damn it, why would they take Jar-Jar with them?  What possible help could he be here?
  • Why doesn’t Qui-gon just mind trick some other poor sap on this God-forsaken planet into exchanging his credits, and then give those to Watto?
  • Qui-gon is not so stealthy, given that he can’t hide who he is from a five year old.
  • Glad they don’t feel bad about coming in and eating all the food these poor slaves have.
  • These are kind of fatalistic folk.
  • This seems like a pretty poor bargain. Qui-gon might not be the best ambassador ever.
  • Huh. For some reason I had totally forgotten that Anakin was a product of parthenogenesis.
  • You’d think people would be more excited about Vader being born Jedi Jesus.
  • Ah, the Ben-Hur scene. Little more impressive when there was more than one real person in it.
  • This is a really long race for something that we have almost no doubt of Anakin winning.
  • If I had any clue as to what he was doing when he’s flicking the switches, it might be more meaningful.
  • Even the Hutt didn’t care about that race.
  • “Why do I sense we’ve picked up another pathetic life form?”
  • Obi-Wan could tell even then that this was a bad deal for him.
  • Poor C3-PO. The true martyr of Star Wars.
  • Meanwhile, Darth Maul has been standing around on a sand dune for like, a day.
  • Maybe if any of the other senators did anything, Palpatine wouldn’t have had such an easy time. He’s the only one out there hustling.
  • That is one young-looking Samuel L. Jackson.
  • While Padme is looking like a sap here, she has been pretty much backed into a corner.
  • Well ok, if she wasn’t going to wait around for their help, then she really was kind of a sap to just show up, do Palpatine’s bidding, and then leave.
  • Glad Qui-gon’s going to take this kid that he’s not allowed to train on this dangerous mission.
  • No, I think this kid is kind of dangerous. Qui-gon might not be the best Jedi.
  • 95 minutes in, and he’s going to explain midichloridians now.
  • Actually, it sounds sort of like Scientology.
  • Even Anakin doesn’t look like he’s buying this.
  • Oh freaking Jar-Jar.
  • If I knew Padme’s plan was to recruit the Gungans, it wouldn’t be the Chancellor for which I’d be voting no confidence.
  • Serious. There was literally no safer place Qui-gon could leave this kid?
  • Glad Padme doesn’t even look back to see if the kid who just saved her bacon was ok.
  • Well that could have gone better.
  • Man, don’t you hate it when people keep blowing up your stuff from the inside?
  • Oh Darth Maul. That was not your finest hour.
  • Geeze Qui-gon. Nothing like “bye” to the guy you’ve been training for years.
  • Holy Moly, it’s an actual Jedi thing that you have to have a mullet and a side braid?
  • I see Padme went all the way to Spencer’s Gifts for the static electricity globe she gave the Gungans.

Review: “Crimson Peak”

“When the time comes, beware of Crimson Peak!”

Sage advice from her Mom, that Mia Wasikowska’s Edith Cushing would have been wise to follow.  As she doesn’t, we’re treated to Guillermo del Toro’s latest creation “Crimson Peak.”

Edith, a would-be-writer, is shown to be independent in both mind and fortune, as she eschews balls and matrimony in favor of social reform and novel writing.  All this is abandoned, however, with the introduction of baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and Thomas’ sister, creepy dominatrix  Lucille (Jessica Chastain) into her life.  Despite the misgivings of both her father (Jim Beaver) and her Ophthalmologist suitor Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam,) she is quickly married and packed away to Sharpe’s estate named “Allerdale Hall,” and learns only too late that the red clay in the earth gives the place its alternate nickname “Crimson Peak.”

The movie plays out much as anyone would suspect, who is a fan of the gothic/horror/noir genres–no dramatic “Sixth Sense” plot twists here.  What one gets is more a sense of a long homage to the seminal works clearly loved by the filmmakers:  Edith and Thomas’ whirlwind courtship and marriage is reminiscent of “Rebecca,” with their big romantic scene ripped almost verbatim out of “Jane Eyre.”  Crimson Peak itself, in its dilapidated state  mirrors “The Fall of the House of Usher,” sinking into a blood-red tarn, while cinematic callbacks to “Notorious” and “The Shining” make up much of the third act.

Where the movie falters a little is in trying to eat its cake, and have it too.  del Toro clearly loves a strong female protagonist, and Edith is a good example of one…until she isn’t.  Unfortunately, the cornerstone of most traditional gothic tales is a helpless (and hapless) heroine who endures a frightful situation largely because she has no other options–no friends or family, no money, and no progressive ideas that she can live independently.  While we can understand the bright and stubborn Edith getting charmed into a hasty marriage, there really doesn’t seem to be a good reason why she would consent to stay in a house that is clearly uninhabitable.  Unlike the usual shrinking violet gothic victim, she has a man who would marry her, a solicitor who can wire her all the money she needs, and a strong will of her own.  She’s clearly been brought up wealthy–why on Earth would she allow herself to be put up in a house that doesn’t even have a roof over a large part of it?  (For that matter, how is it that later, the snow is so dense you can barely see outside, yet we only see a handful of flakes floating down from the huge gaping hole in the roof inside?  How can Thomas stomp on the floorboards when they first enter, causing red clay to exsanguinate up between them, when there is an entire floor beneath them?)  Edith is too strong in the beginning for us to understand why she becomes so weak in the middle–staying in this house where both supernatural and natural elements are clearly threatening her, when she could easily leave.

But the main reason to see the film is for the gorgeous visuals.  The costumes are lovely and ornate, and will no doubt be recognized for awards at some point.  Wasikowska is constantly in white or yellow, and is lit so she almost glows amongst the darker palettes of the Sharpe siblings, like the omnipresent dead American butterflies being consumed by the British moths.

The House itself is the most successful character in the film, with del Toro reportedly having spent over half a year to build the three-story set practically.  Ornate and designed to unsettle in every possible detail, it is a virtual living thing, that both captivates and captures everyone in it.  By the end of the film, while motives are revealed and reversed, we get the sense that everything that has transpired–from the telling of the tale to the events therein–has all been in service to The House, which is ultimately as transfixing as a poniard through a butterfly.

 

Tomorrowland, Everybody!

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So…How about that “Tomorrowland,” huh?

Whether you liked it, or were disappointed in it, or were somewhere in-between, there’s no denying “Tomorrowland” entertained some interesting concepts.  Whether or not they actually asked those concepts in to stay awhile, or just booted them right out the door, is a little more debatable.  Want to read more about it?  Check out some of the articles I have on it over at AllEars.Net:

Press Conference with the major Tomorrowland cast, along with Director Brad Bird, and writers Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen.

The cast and crew of Tomorrowland walks the carpet at the World Premiere.

Review of Tomorrowland

See you in the Future!