I saw this a few months ago (you know, before you had heard of it, bro), but Bleeding Cool refreshed my memory today. Basically, a gentleman named Gary Shore – a relatively new director who cut his teeth directing some big commercials – took it upon himself to make an incredibly badass Wolverine short-film-cum-faux-trailer out of still images, animations, score and black magic. Honestly, I don’t know how the hell he did it, but it is stunning. Watch it below: Read the rest of this entry »
Remember back in 2007 when the Why So Serious? ARG started, bearing its first fruits in the form of our first look at Heath Ledger? Yeah, I can’t believe it was that long ago too. We’re now two months away from San Diego Comic-Con, and it’s fitting that WB would start up some form of viral for the third film in Christopher Nolan’s franchise. Even though there hasn’t been much official coverage for any of his Bat-films at the annual con, the convention has embraced the viral promotion, and we can expect the same in July, I’m sure.
It went down like this (or rather, up): www.thedarkknightrises.com played a looped .wav file with some weird tribal chanting (presumably something to do with the League of Shadows or lazarus pits); some crafty cats found the twitter hashtag #thefirerises hidden in the audio (that’s some Hackers shit right there); the more people tweeted that hashtag, the more an image would be revealed on the site, very similar to how we first saw the Joker. Now, as of this writing, the image hasn’t fully filled in yet, but somehow every site on the internet has the proper image, in big ‘ol hi-res too. That image: our first look at Tom Hardy as Bane. Check it out (image and sleuthing via Joblo.com): Read the rest of this entry »
We’re two months away from SDCC. No official schedule has been released for the event yet, and already I’ve found my weekend – granted, all after-hours – nearly booked. Well scratch all that, because Tr!ckster has arrived to dominate your Comic-Con. If you’re into all that creative stuff anyways.
From July 19-24, directly across the street from the San Diego convention center, the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center will transform into part gallery, part store and part lounge, with an impressive list of who’s who in comics. The event is also free to the general public. The idea is that you can walk on in, grab some wine (I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot), rub elbows with the likes of Steve Niles and Mike Mignola, buy some small-run creator owned books or merchandise, and even catch a few panels (the panels look really excellent, perfect for those just starting out, or wanting to start in the industry – also, the panels will cost a fee – http://trickstertrickster.com/events/symposia/). Read the rest of this entry »
Hey, hey, hey! Con Season is in full swing, kids. Take a deep breath. Smell that? It’s the smell of freshly printed promo comics, plastic con exclusives and cosplay nerd sweat. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, gang.
So with that, I bring back my personal project Con Artist. My rejection of reality and adulthood where I piss off my coworkers in taking multiple summer vacations in attempt to attend the best of the Comic/Entertainment conventions. My first of 2011: WonderCon.
Few things you might want to know going into this: Ratings are on a scale of 5 fanboys. I don’t rent a car, so most things are done within walking distance. I don’t particularly care to eat AT the convention; I typically eat at surrounding restaurants. I’m usually with my brother, so most of what I do is good for two people. We’re panel people, I don’t really understand autographs and I like to buy toys and statues. Keep that in mind when you read these write-ups; since there’s a bunch of ways to do a con. Read the rest of this entry »
It was a pretty big week for comic book movies, with things being strewn about the internet at lightning pace. The blogosphere couldn’t keep up. I decided to let it all happen; you’d read about it there and get the gist, and then I’d post a recap with some commentary. After all, that’s why you come here, no?
So, in rapid fire succession, here’s my thoughts on the comic-related movie news this week:
Darren Aronofsky quits The Wolverine – I took this one kind of hard. I actually slumped in my seat a little bit and let out a urggh. The official statement from Fox and Aronofsky is that the director was uncomfortable with the long overseas shoot, specifically being away from his family for so long, and therefore passed on the project. I can understand that. Other sources are claiming that Aronofsky simply couldn’t get the full control he requires when making a movie. That I can understand a little more; Fox doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to letting the creators do their thing. Either way, The Wolverine – which is slated to take Jackman’s character to Japan – will still most likely go ahead. One can deduce, however, that with the ongoing tragedy in Japan, the next installment of a big-screen Logan isn’t in a rush to begin. As of now, no names have come up for a replacement director, but I’m sure fanboys everywhere have their fingers crossed for one name: Bryan Singer. Don’t get your hopes up though, he’s hard at work on Jack the Giant Killer. Read the rest of this entry »
Hola lords and ladies! I know it’s been a while since we’ve last chatted, personal commitments and novel work have kept me pretty busy over October and November. Before I hunker back down into novel-mode I thought I’d put out one more e-soapbox rant for you all to enjoy!
We’re quickly heading into the holiday season, oh joy. Nothing fills me with more dread, bile and hatred than the madness of the holiday season. The only real respite is the seasonal movies that can take some of the Xmas rage away. But I’m not talking about ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’, ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’, movies and specials so disgustingly sweet they make your teeth fall out of your head. No, the following list of holiday movies are for those of us that had our hearts shrink five sizes. Lords and Ladies, I faithfully submit for your enjoyment:
The list of Christmas movies and Specials for the cynic!
1) Santa’s Slay – Wrestler Bill Goldberg stars as a Santa Claus that kills people! The story goes that Santa was a virgin birth produced by Satan and Christmas was a ‘day of slaying’ for him until he was defeated by an angel in a curling match in 1005 and forced to deliver presents to children for the next 1000 years. Well, time’s up on the agreement and Saint Nick goes on a killing spree! It’s up to a crafty kid and his smart-assed grandfather to find a way to bring him down. Any movie that has Santa’s sleigh being pulled by ‘hell-deer’ is worth watching in my book!
2) Black Christmas – This proto-slasher film was directed by Bob Clark (Porky’s, A Christmas Story) and starred Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey and John Saxon as a group of college students face off against a deranged serial killer that lurks in the attic of their sorority house. This is the story where the now-infamous ‘the calls are coming from inside the house’ trope in later horror films would come from. It even goes against the much later horror stereotype of the virginal college student surviving to the end, as the lone survivor was pregnant and was considering having an abortion. Watch this one with the lights on people!
3) Jack Frost – No, I’m not talking about that Michael Keaton vehicle about the dad who is reincarnated as a snowman to be with his son on Christmas. This Jack Frost is a serial killer being driven to his execution when he is in an accident involving a truck carrying genetic material, mutating Jack into a killer snowman! Featuring the ‘acting’ debut of Shannon Elizabeth, this heckle-worth film will keep you laughing all night long!
4) Dennis Leary’s Merry F*ckin’ Christmas – This one’s really self-explanatory. Dennis hosts a holiday special featuring Charlie Murphy (Eddie’s comic brother), Carmen Electra asking for donations to ‘Tits for Tots’ and The Barefaced Ladies singing holiday classics. This special is always a must-see for me!
5) Die Hard (and Die hard 2) – Yippee-Ki-Yay motherfucker! Bruce Willis’ star making turns as Det. John McLane are the perfect holiday movies! You have terrorists, guns, explosions and Reginald Veljohnson (Carl Winslow from ‘Family Matters’)! What more could you possibly want out of a holiday film!
There you have it, my list of holiday classics to watch with a nice bowl of popcorn and a hot chocolate. Alright lords and ladies, time for me to get back to novel-writing, so this’ll be it until the New Year.
Happy Holidays from Giant Killer Squid and the Asylum!
We don’t do book reviews here at GKS, unless they’ve got pictures, but having read Joe Schreiber’s Star Wars Death Troopers I felt compelled to break with tradition and write about the best Star Wars book I’ve read.
Death Troopers takes place roughly ten years before Episode 4 in the SW canon, set aboard an Imperial prison barge named Purge, home to 500 killers, rebels and thieves. The barge breaks down in a distant part of space and it’s only hope of salvation seems to lie within a derelict Star Destroyer found drifting and abandoned. A boarding party is sent to the Star Destroyer to scavenge for parts, but only half return. And they have brought something back with them. A very lethal, horrific disease that kills nearly everyone on the purge within hours. But death is only the beginning.
Death Troopers is the first Star Wars horror novel penned, and though we now know it’s not the last (Schreiber has recently completed work on Star Wars Red Harvest), I hope that this fresh take on the SW pantheon continues for many years. It combines two things that are hot commodities in today’s film and literary world; Star Wars and zombies.
Joe Schreiber seems incredibly comfortable within the Star Wars world. His words and descriptions fill the pages with images that fit well within the Universe, creating new characters that would have no problem fitting into future novels set within Star Wars. We have the young brothers, prisoners, who watched their father die under mysterious circumstances aboard the Purge. The surly Barge Commanding Officer, who has become so disenfranchised with his role that he only see’s the evil around him. The Barge doctor who, because of her kind nature and natural disposition to heal, has become friend to some of the Barge’s nastiest inmates, and enemy of every guard on the ship. The caricatures are fairly stereotypical on paper, but the cast of characters become so few by the mid-point of the novel that we really care about these people. I felt a genuine sense of loss while reading when tragedy strikes the major players of the tale.
Where Schreiber excels is at his ‘horror’ story-telling. This is a grisly book. I was shocked at some of the imagery portrayed and had to remind myself that this isn’t your five year-olds Star Wars. This book is definitely aimed at a more mature audience. Descriptions of violence, gore, dismemberment and zombie atrocities would fit in with any of the current zombie genre films. In fact, I would say this book goes further in description and visuals than a lot of the current films I’ve seen.
These aren’t your Night Of The Living Dead lumbering zombies. These are grotesque, transformed, decaying rotting corpses, that move fast and have the ability to learn. And all of this only helps to mount the tension during the third act, which takes place on the drifting Star Destroyers, home to thousands of zombies. Schreibers zombies communicate via screams and shrieks, and as he describes such an exchange it is so vivid in your mind that you have no choice but to shudder. The third act is filled with so many of these horrific creatures, and is paced so frenetically that I literally could not put the book down, and found myself holding my breath during some of the more intense passages.
As I was reading I felt the elements of the best parts of space/zombie thrillers were being utilized perfectly. 28 Days Later, Aliens and Dead Snow all feel like they are getting sentimental nods from Schreiber, as he effectively weaves all the horror, dread and fear from those films into the crafting of this world.
I’ve read a ridiculous amount of books set in the Star Wars Universe and I can safely say that Death Troopers stands among the most original of them all. You don’t have to know anything about Star Wars, hell, you don’t even have to LIKE Star Wars to really appreciate what Schreiber is going for. He has pulled off an amazing feat. He has crafted one of the best zombie-horror novels I’ve ever read, he’s thrown into the Star Wars Universe, a daunting enough task on it’s own, and with all that he has managed to write an amazingly graphic, disturbing and thoroughly enjoyable read.
Read my original review, circa April of this year, here.
Of all the films of 2010 (so far), I’ve probably debated the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street the most. Not because the films is unusually controversial or boundary-pushing, but because I seem to be in the minority. I really liked it.
As with any horror remake, the deck was stacked against this one from the beginning, especially considering the cultural impact Wes Craven’s film had on us and the horror genre. The original – and to a lesser degree its long, bumpy franchise – is considered a classic. And rightfully so; even though revisiting Craven’s 1984 film might show more cheese than you remembered, the Freddy character – his means, his methods and his mouth – is indelible. Did the remake even have a chance?
To me, Samuel Bayer’s re-imagination of the Springwood slasher does what every successful horror remake, as few as they are, strives to do: twist the film to be its own, in some way. Gone are the quips, the one-liners and the PG-13 cursing, and are instead replaced with a vile child-molester. Jackie Earle Haley’s Krueger plays out like the Freddy we all love, mixed in with a little To Catch A Predator.
The story is pretty much the same this time around, with exception to an added sub-plot questioning the validity of Freddy’s guilt; the film goes where the original only hinted, confirming Krueger to have dabbled in the diddling. The origin of the character, and the way he dispenses of the children of Elm St. is intact. Many of the scenes, like the bedroom murder of the post-coital blonde girl, are still in the film, albeit with a slick polish and modern teens (complete with dialogue that no youth would ever really spout). The film has been under plenty of fire for being saturated with unlikeable characters with no depth (or, in this case, Depp… har har). Not to defend this claim, but I ask, did the original? Has any big franchise slasher or remake (the original Halloween excluded) really shown any character development?
Whether you liked the film or not, you can’t refute the film has balls for taking such an iconic character and portraying him in a different way. Whether that’s the right way or not, this is a very different Freddy, both tonally and physically (though the trademark sweater, fedora and glove remains). The film is dark and gritty, with a layer of filth you’ll have to wash off afterwards. But it is also quite predictable and suffers from a rushed and anticlimactic third act. Jackie Earle’s Freddy is worth the watch alone though, if only to see how different the portrayal of one of the most iconic characters in pop-culture.
The Blu-Ray – complete with DVD and digital copy – features a fantastic video transfer with acceptable audio quality. If you enjoyed the film, it’s well worth the extra dollars to pick up in hi-def.
For many last night, the porch lights went out a little early and the last trick or treater received the rest of the candy bowl, for all sets seemed tuned in to AMC’s premiere of The Walking Dead. The series, which has been promoted heavily since this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, has been anticipated more than any other television series, and perhaps more than most film events this year. The wait paid off, and last night was a Halloween to remember, as The Walking Dead premiered a thrilling, tense, expertly crafted feature-length pilot. It’s easy to tell we’re at the beginning of a very special series, quite possibly one of the best of the genre in any medium.
Mild spoilers from here on out…
Episode 1, entitled Days Gone By, starts with quite possibly the most ballsy opening sequence of a series ever aired on television. We follow lone sheriff Rick Grimes as he approached a deserted gas station, only to encounter a little blond girl carrying a teddy bear. Of course she slowly turns around to reveal a mangled zombie face and Rick puts a bullet right between her eyes. Less than three minutes in and we have our first kill, that of a six year-old. Like I said, ballsy. Cue the opening titles, which are gorgeous, boasting the production value and attention to detail on the series.
The episode covers about half of the first trade paperback of Robert Kirman’s acclaimed comic series. Although I won’t regularly compare the tv series to the books, the pilot episode is remarkably faithful to beginnings of the story. Leaping off the page, this time in color, is Rick’s awakening in the hospital to discover his world – including his wife and son – gone with only reanimated corpses lurching about. He’s taken in by a man and his son who catch him up to speed with the status quo. Rick then sets out off to Atlanta in search of his family, and the episode concludes with him in one hell of a mess. The episode takes its time to really get us into Rick’s mindset, and sets the tone for what to expect; a deep character-driven tale of survival.
Showrunner Frank Darabont, who has written and directed the first six episodes of the season, has left his mark all over the show. Beautiful cinematography and a voracious eye for detail makes the show seem more like a movie than a series, boding well for the show. Just like the pacing, the writing is tight and organic, adding an extra layer of believability from the performances. For anyone weary of Andrew Lincoln’s portrayal of Rick, fear not; it’s evident very early that he is Rick Grimes. He’s the fulcrum of the series, certainly, and the pilot episode is all him, though we do get some screen time with some of the rest of the cast, albeit very brief.
More than anything, The Walking Dead appears to take itself and the genre very seriously. In one of the most emotional scenes in the episode, Rick studies a zombie, connecting with its former humanity in his head. It’s great television and great storytelling, and a tremendous way to start a long-running series; we’re becoming rooted in the story and the characters, making nothing superfluous and everything engaging.
I can’t wait for the next episode to air; I’m not a tv guy at all, so it’s unusual for me to have a night of my week booked on the couch. But damn am I looking forward to it.
Jonah Hex. Now here’s a film that seemed to light a fire under fans of the long-running comic series. For the record, I have not read any of the series, my only familiarity with the disfigured outlaw is what I’ve seen on the comic book covers and the fervor overheard from those who hold Mr. Hex close to their hearts. With that in mind, I can’t compare the film to the source material, and a the end of the day nor should I. A film is its own and should stand, or fall, based on what it is.
So. What is Jonah Hex?
I will say this: it’s interesting. It’s not a good film by any means, but it also isn’t as horribly unwatchable as most have painted it to be. There are some redeeming elements and also some very detrimental elements, both of which I’ll get to. The film opens with the most compressed origin story of any comic book movie; confederate soldier Hex (Josh Brolin) betrays Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), his commanding officer, resulting in Turnbull burning down Hex’s house – with his wife and child inside – and branding his face, giving him that oh-so-un-leading-man-ish facial scar. From then we leap right into a brief animated intro, and we’re off to the races with Hex – now much more haggard and surly – trying to stop Turnbull from unleashing a horrific army while clearing his own not-so-savory record.
I like Josh Brolin a lot, and he’s probably the best person to touch the role of Jonah. There’s just something off in this flick. I like how his scar was achieved with practical makeup effects, but it does limit his performance. I can see that he’s delivering his lines well, he’s acting, sure, but the damn scar just makes his delivery look goofy most of the time. Across the board however, the performances – especially from Megan Fox – are close to that of a well done local theatre group. I blame a fair amount of this on poor dialogue. The script is just too typical of a period piece, with the cast not really nailing the nuance of the language. Brolin and Malkovich fit right in comfortable, but several stars, like Arrested Development’s Will Arnet and the aforementioned Fox, stick out like a very sore thumb.
Director Jimmy Hayward tries to do some interesting things in this film, and I’ll give him credit for making this hyper-post-civil-war-reality atmospheric.. kinda. The production ultimately feels cheap. There’s just too much conflicting style at work, and the film feels unguided because of it. It’s pretty clear that the real bad guy in the film isn’t Turnbull, but the screenplay from Crank masterminds Neveldine & Taylor. It’s just all over the place, paced erratically and insincere at every turn.
If you were looking for something to praise the film for, the costume and set design is quite good, lending some authenticity and aesthetic to an otherwise superfluous mashup of genres. And Mastodon’s soundtrack – though entirely unfitting, underused and watered down by Marco Beltrami – is worth listening to.
At the end of the day, Jonah Hex is an unremarkable-yet-on-par entry to the comic book film genre as seen five years ago. It’s the perfect companion to such grey-stained big-screen translations of Daredevil, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four. The real crime here is that there was so much potential for a truly unique film, one that incorporated elements of action and sci-fi within a western.
Paranormal Activity 2 does what very few horror sequels succeed in pulling off…being a worthy entry into the collections canon, staying true to form and style, while introducing new elements just subtly enough to not water-down or tarnish the vision the film-makers initially set out to achieve.
The film is set-up as a prequel to the original smash hit Paranormal Activity which, once we’ve reached the end of the film, actually manages to tie itself into the originals premise effectively enough to have made me want to watch the original as soon as I had left the theatre.
Unfortunately, to give any plot details might spoil the deliberate, and sometimes tedious, build up to the films conclusion. What can be said is that the film takes place 60 days before the death of Micah in the original film. The family of this film is related to Katie, the pro/antagonist from the first film. After experiencing what seems like a random break-in in their family home, they set up a series of cameras as a security measure. ‘Nuff said.
The effectiveness of this film is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. PA2 plays out in a very similar way that it’s predecessor did, with a few noteworthy items that make it stand-out. First, add a dog and a baby. Nothing creeps audiences out more than a crying baby, or a dog barking at nothing. Both plot devices are used effectively and subtly enough to not hit us over the head, and lend a nice level of extra ‘drama’ to the film.
Secondly, the tie-in with the two films. I went into this film with very little research to keep it as surprising as possible (something I would suggest everyone do). Having done that, the film played out before me in the exact way the director and storytellers would like, slowly, deliberately with a sprinkling of confusion peppered in to make the final moments reveals effective and spooky.
Where both films succeed so well is with their acting. I refuse to mention any actors by name, because these people are not actors, they truly are subjects of a documentary gone wrong. In fact, I would say the stellar acting in PA2 greatly overshadows the acting in the first film, no small feat. I especially call attention to the father/daughter combo in the film, both being played with such nuance that I was convinced they were a real life father/daughter. It’s the performances that help elevate PA2 to more than just a ‘tired sequel’.
Where the film does stumble is in it’s pacing. The film at times seems to plod along, especially in the first 20 minutes. It’s obvious every time we are being set-up for a fright, anyone who has seen the first film knows when it’s coming. This time the director, Tod Williams, let’s the leading moments play out too long, with too many lingering camera shots, that diminish the true frights, albeit slightly. The film could have been edited down by 10 to 15 minutes without losing any of the fright factor or aesthetic presence. It’s not a deal breaker, but I found my attention waning slightly when I was supposed to be slowly rising in ‘terror agitation’.
With that being said, there are a few real moments of ‘jump-worthy’ frights that get the heart pumping and make you keep a light on in the house when you get home.
I had low expectations for the film going in, traditionally being disappointed with horror sequels (The Blair Witch Project 2 being one of the worse offenders of all time), but was extremely surprised at the strength of the script, it’s tie-in with the original, and some powerhouse ‘real’ acting. I left the theatre having had a great ‘horror movie experience’ and maybe a little wee in my pants.
From the Academy Award winning director of An Inconvenient Truth comes WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, the intense look at the state of public education in the United States. Early reviews of the film indicate this one is a ‘can’t miss’.
We’re giving away some ADMIT TWO passes for the film, good at The Globe theatre, Calgary, during the film’s theatrical run.
Entering is easy – leave a comment on this page and you’re automatically entered. Winners will be notified via email next Sunday, October 17th.
Waiting For Superman hits Canadian theatres this Friday. Visit the official site for more info.
This Friday, a day that will live in infamy, marks the 3rd big-screen reunion of the Jackass crew and GKS is celebrating by giving away JACKASS 3D prize packs to two lucky readers.
What’s in these prize packs, you ask? Inside each Jackass Party Supply Kit you will find:
• An ADMIT TWO pass to see the film at any Cineplex theatre during it’s theatrical run.
• Two Jackass 3D t-shirts.
• Party blowers.
• Shot glasses.
• Ping pong balls.
Winning one is simple – in the comments section below, tell us the worst injury you’ve ever received. Winners will be notified by email next Sunday, October 17th. This giveaway is for Canadian readers only.
Back in 2005 The Descent hit screens, heralding in a new high for horror. The film was gritty and claustrophobic, preying on a very common, very real fear. The concept, though invoking the supernatural, was still simple: you are stuck in a series of underground caves. Here we are in 2010 and writer/director Adam Green (Hatchet, Hatchet II) has taken the same approach and streamlined it into an inventive little thriller called FROZEN.
So what is that concept? It’s entirely brilliant in that why-didn’t-I-think-of-that sort of way: three friends hit the ski hill for some fun in the snow and take a late night chair-lift up the mountain… where it gets stuck. They quickly realize, after all the lights in the resort are shut off, that they’re are the only ones on the hill, with the resort closed for a week. I won’t give away any more details on where the story goes, but let’s just say it goes from bad to worse many times over.
It’s easy to write a film like Frozen off, especially with such an unusual and intangible adversary – hell, the response I’ve received from telling people about the film is usually along the lines of “really? It’s actually good?!” – but the film is really fun and a terrific thriller. There are a ton of “WTF moments” and scenes that are hard to watch, though not too gory. Frozen is a nightmare. It’s more than enough being stuck up there in the bitter cold with the elements, but the ordeals these three have to go through are truly what horror is made of.
A narrow film like this is all about the characters, and the film doesn’t disappoint. The performances from the three – Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore (this time a literal Iceman) and Kevin Zegers – are believable and emotional. Unlike The Descent, which had a few too many throw-away characters, it’s easy to actually care about these kids. It’s no challenge to become invested in their plight, making the situation that much more frightening. Adam Green knows how to pace a film and make audiences squirm, but beyond that he can write decent dialogue between the three, a feat that’s harder than any other aspect, especially in the genre.
The less you know about Frozen, the better, so with that I leave you to check the film out. I guarantee it will surprise you, leaving you telling your friends to check out ‘this little horror flick about the kids stuck in the chair lift’. The blu-ray, which is out now for $9.99, also has some really interesting behind-the-scenes features chronicling the difficult shooting conditions.