Thursday, May 31, 2012

Men in Black 3 Review: Not Quite Back in Black

After many years of watching films from all genres, I've come to the conclusion that making sequels to comedies are much more difficult to make than sequels to films in any other genre. It's not that good comedy sequels are impossible, it's just that comedy films (at least in the U.S.) don't seem to lend themselves to serialized storytelling, a crucial element in the making of a worthwhile sequel.

With that in mind I saw Men in Black 3 this last weekend, which returns Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones to their roles of MIB Agents K and J a decade after Men in Black 2. MIB 3 was better than I expected it to be and it's a better sequel than its immediate predecessor. However, it suffers the same problem as most comedy sequels--namely, how to keep the humor going while providing a story that meaningfully expands upon the first film. Read on for my complete review.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hasbro's Warrior Alien and Newborn Alien Action Figures Review

From what I can remember of the Alien quadrilogy, only two of the films in this franchise had action figures released around the same time as the film's run in the theaters: Alien and Alien Resurrection. (Aliens had its own action figure line too, but that line wasn't launched until almost a decade after the film's release.) The Alien Resurrection action figure line by Hasbro consisted of six figures, and two of them are the subject of this review: the Warrior Alien and the Newborn Alien. I purchased these two figures shortly after their release because they were the only movie-accurate Alien figures in the line and I purchased each figure for less than $15 each. While these figures have some problems, they are both good examples of what an Alien franchise collectible should be. Read on for my complete review and photo gallery.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

McFarlane Toys’ Alien Queen and Scar Predator Diorama Review

After Dark Horse first published its Aliens vs. Predator (AvP) comic book miniseries in 1989, it was hard to predict where this crossover idea would go next. Over the following decade, it would spawn more comic books, a few novels, dozens of video games, and a short-lived line of Alien and Predator action figures from Kenner. While it was exciting to see this crossover in miniature form, the figure selection was poor in detail and goofy in variety (including a Predator with swinging dreadlocks). It wasn't until McFarlane Toys picked up the licenses for Alien and Predator in 2002 that fans could get their hands on some high-quality Alien and Predator figures for a reasonable price. This review will cover a two-part diorama that McFarlane Toys produced in 2005 under the license of the 2004 Alien vs. Predator movie. Read on for my complete review and picture gallery, which includes some pictures from McFarlane Toys.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The New Bad Blood Predator Statue from Sideshow Collectibles

Even though the Predator movie franchise appears to be dormant at the moment, Predator collectibles keep showing up everywhere and Sideshow Collectibles' latest is a doozy. It's a statue named "Bad Blood Predator", and it depicts a Predator who has been hunting, killing and decapitating members of his own space-faring, big-game-hunting race.

The statue’s name is a nod to a 1994 Dark Horse Comics' Predator miniseries of the same name. The Predator: Bad Blood miniseries was the first story to feature a Predator who hunts and kills other Predators. This kind of rouge Predator character would appear in several other Predator comics (including the 1995 Batman vs. Predator II: Bloodmatch crossover miniseries) and in some Predator-related video games. I also suspect that it influenced Robert Rodriguez's creation of the "Super Predators" that appeared in the 2010 Predators movie, even though he has said in interviews that he drew no inspiration from the Predator comics when writing his script. The complete Bad Blood series can currently be found in Dark Horse's Predator Omnibus Volume 3.

The Bad Blood Predator statue looks like a great piece of gruesome, gory Predator fun. (I just wish that Hollywood would finally grow a Predator-ready spine and deliver a Predator sequel that's as deliriously violent as this statue.) Click here to learn more about statue pricing and pre-order details.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Coming in 2013, by Popular Demand: Lou and Yana's JawsFest 4!

I just heard this news a few days ago and I have to pass it on: Lou and Yana's JawsFest 4: Revenge of the Finatics will be shooting this summer, with the intended release on DVD in late 2013.

The original trilogy of JawsFest DVDs were made by Lou and Dianna "Yana" Pisano (read my JawsFest DVD reviews here and here), and their original plan was to cease production after the third film. Yet fans of Jaws and the JawsFest videos have persuaded the Pisanos to shoot a fourth and final JawsFest film, which will feature footage from the upcoming JawsFest: The Tribute event that will be held in Martha's Vineyard from August 9 - 12 of this year.

In addition to the JawsFest: The Tribute event, JawsFest 4 will cover some more Jaws-significant locations and items that remain to be documented on video for fans everywhere to see. There will also be some exclusive Jaws-related footage that won't be available anywhere else. The cast of Jaws fans from the previous films will be returning (including Mike "Quint" Hadji), as well as some new faces adding to the fin-tastic fun. From what I've heard, an official JawsFest 4 poster is in the works and a number of musicians and bands have expressed interest in writing a song for the film.

Personally, I think that this is great news. I won't be able to attend JawsFest: The Tribute (my geeky heart says yes, yes, but my bank account says hell no) so I'm looking forward to having video footage of this event to add to my Jaws collection. Furthermore, any media that's produced by the Pisanos is a treat to have. They are still doing their Lou and Yana's TalkFest online talk radio show--an excellent radio show that just keeps getting better--and they'll be discussing JawsFest 4 on this week's episode. Click here to go to their show's page and listen to new and past episodes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Disney XD Debuts Tron Uprising Pilot and Aliens: Colonial Marines Casting News

Even though the animated series Tron Uprising won't officially begin until June 7, Disney XD has just released the pilot episode "Beck's Beginning" on YouTube.

Tron Uprising takes place between Tron and Tron Legacy, and the pilot episode picks up shortly after Clu banishes Flynn from The Grid and defeats The Grid's main protector, Tron. In one area of The Grid, a mechanic program named Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood) decides to rebel against Clu and his army by assuming the persona of the presumed-to-be-derezzed Tron. "Beck's Beginning" details Beck's initial efforts to undermine one of Clu's henchmen, General Tesler (Lance Henriksen), and the many challenges he faces along the way. To give anything more away about the pilot would be a disservice to the fans, who should be seeing this for themselves in the window below.

What I can tell you about the Tron Uprising pilot is that looks amazing. This is one of the best looking cartoons I've seen since Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and I hope that they can keep this level of animation going throughout the series' run. Everything from the densely layered neon blue cityscapes to the numerous chase and fight scenes are absolutely astonishing to watch, and I can only imagine how much better they'll look after they are taken off of YouTube and are put on high-def flat screen TVs.

Of particular note is how much more of The Grid we get to see just in the pilot alone. Beck's profession as a mechanic allows him to repair various vehicles and machines; yet because the vehicles are machines are made out of data and not physical parts, Beck "repairs" them by breaking them down to wire frames and adjusting the data by hand. Beck does this on several occasions in the pilot, and it provides tantalizing example as to how The Grid is so similar and yet so different to our own world.

It's hard to tell from the pilot as to what kind of show Tron Uprising will be, if it will consists of stand-alone adventures, multi-episode arcs, or a combination of the two. I also have no idea if the show will refer to the characters and events in the original Tron movie and the recent Tron video games, Evolution and Battle Grids. Nevertheless, Tron Uprising is brimming with potential, and I can't wait to visit The Grid again soon.

In addition to lending his vocal talents to Tron Uprising, Lance Henriksen will also be voicing an android named Rook in the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines video game, which is being developed by Gearbox Software. In a recent interview with Gearbox Software head Randy Pitchford, Henriksen's return to the Alien franchise is part of the game's attempt to bridge some of the gaps between Aliens and Alien 3. (Henriksen previously did vocal work for the last Aliens vs. Predator video game that was released back in 2010.) According to Pitchford, Rook is of the same model as the Bishop android Henricksen played in Aliens and Alien 3, and he accompanies the marines in the game on their mission to LV-426.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Coming This Weekend: The Sci-Fi Valley Con In Ebensburg, PA

For sci-fi fans who live in central Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas, check this out: The Sci-Fi Valley Con will be held in Ebensburg, PA this upcoming weekend from May 18 - 20 at the North Central Recreational Center.

The Sci-Fi Valley Con bills itself as a "Speculative Fiction" themed convention that focuses on more than just science fiction. The con will cover a wide range of fantastical fiction genres--including fantasy, horror, supernatural and superhero fiction--in literature as well as related static, motion, and virtual arts.

Nearly a dozen guest panels and over 60 dealers and artists are scheduled for the con. There will also be tournaments for Magic: The Gathering, HeroClix, and Warhammer 40,000 during all three days of the con. On Saturday, there will be a costume competition for cosplay fans, and a charity auction will be held to benefit Angels of East Africa. Throughout the con, free merchandise such as Sci-Fi Valley Con T-shirts, iPhone 4/4S cases, comic books, posters, and DVDs will be given to lucky fans. One-day admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 6 - 12; three-day passes are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Children under 5 are admitted for free.

As a native of Pennsylvania who spent a few years in Ebensburg, I think it's great that the local fantasy, horror, and sci-fi fan community has taken the initiative to hold a con in its neck of the woods. Organizers of the Sci-Fi Valley Con hope to draw thousands of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and anime enthusiasts from all around Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. Click here to visit the official Sci-Fi Valley Con for more details about guests at the con and travel accommodations.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Homemade, Life-Sized Monsters for Sale

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, even for a Virginia Beach area monster maker such as Georgette Gaynor. I’ve covered Gaynor’s previous monster mashes for charitable causes (see here and here) but after seven years of Halloween fundraisers, she’s turning in her mad monster making license and selling her horrific horde to anyone monster fan who is interested.

Gaynor’s collection consists of over 70 life-sized monsters and other Halloween props. All monsters are self-standing on a ten pound weighted base, and individual monster prices range from $45 to $100. The monsters are durable and have been crafted from quality materials, with a wooden base and an iron pole that supports the PVC-molded monster body. Both the heads and the upper chest are hard foamed, and most monsters have arms that can be posed to hold other objects. These monsters have been used in Halloween events such as the Foodbank Monster Walk in 2008 Seton House Masquerade Ball in 2009, and they’d be ideal for display in local haunted house events and in shops that specialize in horror-friendly merchandise (such as comic books and costumes).

Gaynor is selling the monsters individually, but discounts can be applied to the purchase of multiple monsters or the entire inventory. If you are interested, you can contact Georgette Gaynor at 757 467-5684 or at Click below to see a picture gallery of some of the monsters that you can add to your own collection.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Avengers Movie Review: Come for the Amazing Action, Stay for the Large Cast of Super Characters

It has finally arrived. The Avengers, the ultimate live-action superhero crossover movie that Marvel has been setting up since 2008, has taken the box office by storm during its debut weekend. With its smart script, balanced direction, capable cast and breathtaking action sequences, The Avengers is the summer blockbuster to see this summer. Here are a few of my thoughts about the movie, along with some speculation about what this movie means in terms of future superhero cinema. Read on ....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Public Education: Keeping Fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi Alive and Well for Our Emotionally Fragile Youth

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7 through 11) so, like last year, I thought I'd devote a post to the devoted educators who keep our public schools running for the benefit of our youth--and in particular, the benefit of up-and-coming fantasy, horror and sci-fi devotees.

For this post, I decided to turn my attention to a news story that made headlines last March about the New York City Department of Education's decision to ban certain words and topics from standardized tests. The Department has since rescinded this decision but it still stuck with me because the words that were proposed for banning were common, mundane words such as "birthday" and "celebrities". From what I've read, the motive behind the word ban was to improve student test scores by removing any subject matter that could upset the students and thus hinder their testing performance. Yet after found the complete list of words that the NYC Department of Education, it occurred to me that had this ban been enforced, it would not bode well for teachers, students, and the genres of fantasy, horror and sci-fi. Read on ....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hasbro’s Alien Warrior Drone Figure Review

With the Alien prequel Prometheus almost a month away, I’ll be devoting a few posts in the next few weeks to some of the more unique items that I have in my personal Alien franchise collection. (I would have done the same for Avengers, but my Alien collection greatly dwarfs my Avengers collection.) This post is a review of the 12-inch Alien Warrior Drone figure that was released by Hasbro under the Alien Resurrection name. Of the many Alien figures that have been released over the years that you can buy for under $50, Hasbro’s figure ranks among one of the better plastic renditions of the classic space monster. Read on for my complete review.