Concert Review: Reel Big Fish “Turn Off the Radio 20th Anniversary Tour”

“Turn Off the Radio 20th Anniversary Tour”
Reel Big Fish, Masked Intruder, Stacked Like Pancakes
Monday, November 14th 2016
The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Punk-Ska veterans Reel Big Fish brought the first leg of their “Turn Off the Radio 20th Anniversary Tour” to Ithaca, NY on November 14th where they performed to a near capacity crowd. The tour which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the bands monumental 1996 release “Turn the Radio Off” also featured Madison, Wisconsin pop-punk band Masked Intruder and Stacked Like Pancakes a 7 piece Ska-Rock band from Baltimore Maryland. All three bands were at the top of their game this evening which was packed with plenty of energy and fun for the college town crowd.

You never know what you are going to get with Monday night show performances. Questions like will the band be into it? Or, what will the crowd be like? Began to flood my mind as I made my way to the small lake side venue for a night of reliving my teenage years. Both of these were answered almost immediately as I could tell by the looks of the parking lot that I was going to be in for something special. Things kicked off promptly at 7pm with Stacked Like Pancakes taking the stage first. The group wasted no time at all launching in to their energetic performance which was a mixture of Ska infused rock which ignited the dance floor almost instantly. The groups 30/40 minute set was highlighted by a spot on big band infused rendition of the classic Blink 182 song “Dammit” which was unlike any other version of that song I have heard. Taking the stage next would be the masked hoodlums known as Masked Intruder. The group who’s sound is reminiscent of early Ramones with a twist seemed to be having some issues with the venues PA system at first as the vocals were getting lost in the overall mix however after a song or two everything came together and the band settled in as they poked fun at the crowd and themselves while delivering their unique high energy brand of punk rock. Having first been made of aware of this band this summer during the Warped tour is was great to be able to catch them again in a smaller setting where they seemed to be at home. Reel Big Fish would follow to close out the night by performing the entire “Turn Off the Radio” album from front to back. They even included the albums hidden track “I’m Cool” complete with a brief break before starting back in to close out the night. Though the group with the exception of front-man Aaron Barrett are different from the band that played on the album the latest incarnation of the Reel Big Fish sounded just as good if not better than the album they were celebrating making for a great overall concert experience.

When a band that has been around as long as Reel Big Fish has it’s great no matter what to be able to still them live. When it really becomes special is when all the bands on the bill bring their A game which was definitely the case in Ithaca, NY on November 14th. I highly recommend catching this tour when it resumes in February. Though it will feature a different lineup I feel pretty confident in saying that it will surely be just as good of a concert experience making a show you won’t want to miss.

Reel Big Fish Setlist:
1.) I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too
2.) The Kids Don’t Like It
3.) Another F.U. Song
4.) Your Guts (I Hate’Em)
5.) Sell Out
6.) Trendy
7.) Join the Club
8.) She Has a Girlfriend Now
9.) Snoop Dogg, Baby
10.) 241
13.) Skatanic
14.) All I Want Is More
15.) Nothin’
16.) Say “Ten”
17.) I’ll Never Be
18.) Alternative, Baby
19.) The Impression That I Get (Mighty Mighty Bosstones Cover)
20.) Beer
Encore:
21.) I’m Cool
22.) Everyone Else Is an Asshole
23.) Where Have You Been
24.) Take On Me (A-Ha Cover)

John Doe discusses his new album “The Westerner” and his book “Under the Big Black Sun”

(Photo Credit: Jim Herrington)

John Doe is a singer, songwriter, poet and actor. He is probably best known for his work with the seminal Los Angeles punk band X which formed in the mid 1970’s. 2016 has been a busy for year for Doe as earlier this year he released his first solo album in five years titled “The Westerner” along with a book chronicling the L.A. punk scene titled “Under the Big Black Sun”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with John recently before his performance in Ithaca, NY about the idea behind his new album and what it was like revisiting the stories contained in his book.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “The Westerner”?

John Doe: My friend Michael Blake who wrote “Dances with Wolves” and several other books was like a brother to me. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and over time couldn’t remember anything. It bugged the hell out of him but we remained close through everything and I would always go up and visit him. We influenced each other a lot in art and writing. Howe Gelb and I were reconnecting around the same as I was writing songs about Michael and using him as a character. I like what Howe has done with different peoples sound as well as his own in Giant Sand. He has really refocused the sound coming out of the Tucson area. I wanted the songs to have space and reverb so working down there seemed like the natural way to go. I had the title “The Westerner” sort in my mind as someone sent me a Doors record. The Doors were also Michaels favorite band so I began looking up stuff on them and my connection with that band goes way back. I was searching the internet and found an image done for one of their record store day releases. Shepard Fairey is the artist who did the piece and he and I have been friends for some time so I asked if he would redo the piece for me and he said yes. The original photo was shot at the Rose Bud Reservation by Aaron Huey who has an organization called “Protect the Sacred”. This was one of Michael’s main charities so it was great to be able to tie all this stuff in with the album. The album is a tribute album but it’s not sad.

AL: Was the idea to do a new solo album already in your thoughts prior to Michael becoming ill?

JD: Everything happened very organically. These days I sort of sit back and look at my watch and say “Holy shit it’s been 4 years since I made a new record” (Laughs). I always am writing bits and pieces of things but it just so happened that Michael was on my mind and I started to see how things were happening and I began tailoring things with what was going on. I loved the song Exene wrote called “Alone in Arizona”. It seemed to be kind of about Michael even though it really wasn’t. I am a big fan of Chan Marshall especially her albums “The Greatest” and “Sun”. I started doing the song “A Little Help” and realized it was similar to “The Greatest” and asked Chan if she would sing on it with me. With the song “Go Baby Go” I reached out to Debbie Harry as X had toured with Blondie and I had asked her before that if I ever had something I thought she would be good for would she do it. That song is a fun rock song and it worked out great. I am very fortunate that I am still around and that people want to come and play.

AL: Having been in the music industry for some time now aside from digitalization and the internet what has been the most notable change?

JD: MTV was really big when it first came out. All the other stuff out there I don’t really concern myself with. I have Instagram and my manager does Facebook so I have a small to moderate presence with social media but if people really want to see me then I think they should come out to show as I am generally hanging around. There is so much great music out there these days that it’s hard to rise above the static. Think of the old music business like an hour glass. You had the music at the top, at the pinching point was the business at the bottom was the public. Over time the shape of the industry changes to where now it’s square. There is just so much stuff flooding people ears these days.

AL: What can you tell us about your new book “Under the Big Black Sun”?

JD: Tom DeSavia who is the co-author and my sweet heart were both telling me that I should write a book. I thought it was going to be just too much work so I didn’t really pay attention to them. One day I had this brilliant idea about how the scene in L.A. was about community and collaboration. With that I knew that I wouldn’t have to write this book all by myself or suffer the pain if people didn’t like it I could just blame it on somebody else. (Laughs) I didn’t have to be the authority on things. I liked book such as “Please Kill Me” and “We Got the Neutron Bomb” however there is not a lot of fact checking that goes into oral histories. Los Angeles was sort of a romantic place in that era so I thought it was important to have it be its own character. I really feel that everything that is Los Angeles from the weather to the cars affected the way the music sounded. After Tom and I decided to do it we got a book deal and things became real. We got paid a pretty good advance and then we knew we really had to go through with it. We started getting people together and selecting topics based on what was important to that scene and what would make people care. The big one was it was that what happened was a cultural revolution. That was Exene’s big part of the book. Dave Alvin was part of the roots scene which got pulled into punk rock so he is the expert there so, that’s where he tells his story from. Robert Lopez was in a Latino band called The Zeroes. He was not out at this time but he was obviously gay so he was able to talk about that aspect of things. Jane Wiedlin talks about where people lived and how that played a role. By doing things this way we were able to give the book a much broader perspective.

AL: The book shines a light on the L.A. punk scene as it was/is often overshadowed by what was going on in New York and London around the same time. Can you tell us a little about that?

JD: I think at some point the media picked up on The Sex Pistols and few other bands that were young and/or un-experienced who said “Fuck You”. The media then said “Ok, Fuck you” which caused them to not cover things as much. When the L.A. scene finally came around about a year and a half later they possibly had enough images and maybe had made up their mind that we weren’t going to play ball. I think bands like Blondie, Talking Heads and The Ramones just wanted to be part of music and have a career. That’s what we wanted also. It wasn’t until the hardcore scene that people felt like they had been abandoned leading to bands doing things on their own. That’s when labels like SST started popping up. Everyone had sort of a chip on their shoulder and over time L.A. punk has started to carve out its own niche which has been good. Twenty or thirty years ago I would have probably been pretty bent out of shape about how the L.A. scene was looked upon but these days I couldn’t care less.

AL: Was there a present rivalry between the two coasts/scenes because of this?

JD: Sure. I think there was a healthy rivalry between New York and L.A. and L.A. and San Francisco but it wasn’t anything to wild. I do remember Exene getting into a fight with Handsome Dick from The Dictators once. (Laughs) What we loved about the whole thing was that almost all of those bands came out to Los Angeles to play at The Whiskey. We saw The Ramones, Blondie, The Damned, Television and a few others who played out our way regularly.

AL: What was it like for X when they would travel to the east coast?

JD: It was rough at first. Exene’s sister got us three shows in NYC in 1978 after we put out our first single. We basically drove from L.A. to New York with all of our gear, played three shows and then drove home. There is a little of that in the book but it was sort of a lukewarm reception. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein came to the shows at Studio 57 and later on we got to be pals with The Ramones. It took a little while because everyone thought L.A. was just swimming pools and Farrah Fawcett. You weren’t just given a Mercedes when you moved there. It was a pretty hard scramble. It was cheap to live there at the time though so there were a lot of young people with nothing to do but create stuff.

AL: What was it like revisiting a lot of the memories from that time period, especially the ones around the time of the death of Exene’s sister?

JD: That specific event wasn’t hard to dig into as I had experienced it so deeply in the beginning. It changed everything for Exene and by relation me too. It wasn’t too hard to look back. I don’t necessarily wish I had kept diaries or anything. It might have been good? You sort of start channeling towards a certain direction and things start to come back. I think it’s all about the details. I worked with everyone who wrote for the book and I always asked for more details. I think everyone was happy to tell their story and I was surprised by quite a few of them.

AL: With your current solo tour coming to end do you have planned for the coming year?

JD: The fortieth anniversary of X is coming up next year. We have the initial schedule which consists of around one hundred shows! Usually we do between thirty and fifty shows a year so this is quite a bit more. I think it’s great! Forty years ago we put a big investment into the bank of punk rock. At the time everyone though it was bullshit but we all have been able to make pretty good careers out of that initial investment. We are one of the few remaining punk bands from that time with its original members. Everyone is healthy now which is really great. We also will be looking to put out some live material and if Exene will write some more lyrics will put out some new songs as well. (Laughs)

Blu-Ray Review: “T.A.M.I. Show and The Big T.N.T Show”

“T.A.M.I. Show and The Big T.N.T Show”
Shout Factory
Producer: Brian Blum
2 Discs
Runtime: 205 Minutes

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Fans of classic rock and soul can now own the legendary concert film “T.A.M.I. Show” along with its long -lost and much requested follow up “The Big T.N.T Show” which is being released via Shout Factory on December 2nd. The two films are available together in standard DVD and High Definition Blu-Ray and will both come packaged with a special 36 page booklet containing rare photos and detailed essays written by Don Waller.

If the music of the mid 1960’s is your thing then the great folks over at Shout Factory have a stellar two disc package for you. The “T.A.M.I. Show and The Big T.N.T Show” will be available just in time for Christmas and will a welcome gift under the tree of any music fan. Together all on two disc watchers are treated to classic performances by the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Ray Charles to name just a few. Mastered from a new High Definition transfer the show looks and sounds amazing No-where else will you be able to see such early footage from acts that would go on to define a generation. Not only do you get to see the likes of Chuck Berry and many others but they are back by none other than “The Wrecking Crew” one of if not these best studio/backing band every assembled!

From beginning to end the “T.A.M.I. Show and The Big T.N.T Show” collection is a hit. Not only are the performances spot on but so is the audio and video as well. After all the decorations and excitement of the holidays are gone these films will be a great thing to put on and enjoy some peace and quiet with the family as they will instantly transport you back to a generation and world that unknowingly was on the cusp of great change.

“T.A.M.I. Show” Performances
David McCallum- (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (instrumental
Ray Charles- What’d I Say
Petula Clark- Downtown
The Lovin’ Spoonful- Do You Believe in Magic, You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice
Bo Diddley- Hey Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley
Joan Baez- 500 Miles, There But For Fortune
Ray Charles- Georgia On My Mind, Let the Good Times Roll
Joan Baez w. Phil Spector- You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
The Ronettes- Be My Baby, Shout
Roger Miller- Dang Me, Engine Engine #9, King of the Road, England Swings
The Byrds- Turn!Turn!Turn!(To Everything There is a Season), The Bells of Rhymney, Mr. Tambourine Man

The Big T.N.T Show” Performances
Jan and Dean- 9Here They Come) From All Over the World
Chuck Berry- Johnny B. Goode, Maybelle
Gerry and the Peacemakers, Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying, It’s Gonna Be Alright
Chuck Berry- Nadine
Gerry and the Peacemakers- Like It
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles- That’s What Love is Made Of, You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, Mickey’s Monkey
Marvin Gaye- Stubborn Kind of Fellow, Pride and Joy, Can I Get a Witness, Hitch Hike
Lesley Gore- Maybe I Know, You Don’t Own Me, You Didn’t Look Around, Hey Now, It’s My Party, Judy’s Turn to Cry
Jan and Dean- The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena) Sidewalk Surfin
The Beach Boys- Surfin’ USA, I Get Around

Tagslyvania in Big Flats, NY returns for its 7th season

Tagsylvania in Big Flats, NY returns for its 7th season

The ghoulish residents who reside in the mysterious fog covering the sprawling grounds of Tag’s in Big Flats, NY came alive for their 7th fright filled season on Friday September 23rd.
Included in Haunted Attraction Magazines top 31 must see haunts Tagsylvania is bigger and better than ever for the 2016 scaring season. Along with the haunts staple attractions “Jerkus Circus” an over the top nightmare inducing 3-D journey through a circus gone terribly wrong, “Lecter’s Lair” a multi floor adventure which put you face to face with some of your deepest and darkest fears and “Psycho Swamp” a twisting and turning maze which holds you captive by your creepy surroundings.

Along with several upgrades to the haunts existing attractions is the newest member of the family “Escape the Precinct”. You and the members of your group are wrongfully accused of multiple murders and are being detained for questioning. In the Precinct are the items you will need to collect to prove your innocence and possibly reveal the actual person who committed the murders. You have 60 minutes to uncover the clues, solve the puzzles and collect enough evidence to gain your freedom. If one of these terrifying adventures isn’t for you haunt manager Jesse Reib says Tagsylvania has plenty of other things to offer including carnival games, concessions, psychic and tarot card readings along with a few other surprises that will keep you on your toes during your visit to Tagsylvania.

Tagsylvania is open at 7pm on Friday’s and Saturdays starting September 23rd and runs through October 29th.

For more info visit http://tagsylvania.com/

Book Review: Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”
Author: John Doe w/ Tom DeSavia and Friends
Da Capo Press
Hardcover: 227 pages

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” was written by X vocalist/bassist John Doe along with help from Tom DeSavia and laundry list of who’s who from the late 70’s and early 80’s L.A. punk scene. For the first time in one place the true story of a scene often overlooked is told in all of its gritty and grimy detail by none other those who experienced it and by those who helped create it. This is not your typical memoir however as this book tells not only of how the scene began and developed but also how it went on to change music forever.

Before I get into my review of the book I want to point out that if you are unfamiliar with the scene this book documents or the bands that appear grab a copy of Penelope Spheeris film “The Decline of Western Civilization” as a majority of the people’s names and a lot of the places featured in the film coincide with those who are also in the book. After a very brief forward by Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong we are quickly whisked back to the not so glamorous side of Los Angeles. Just a few brief years before hair metal would dominate the sun set strip bands like X, Black Flag and the Minute Men were the bands to go see. John Doe does a great job recounting his stories from this era with vivid detail and truthfulness that make you want to keep turning the page. As an added element to Doe’s story there is often even more colorful commentary provided by other musicians or friends who were there to experience everything as well. Not only does this add different angles to a previously told story but it fills in gaps with intricate firsthand accounts. For me this only pulled me further into the already captivating story. To go along with the stories there are several black and white photo sections which are chocked full of rare photos that by themselves are worth the price of the book.

From cover to cover Doe and DeSavia and crew nail it. Aside from actually being around during this specific time I don’t think you could get any closer nor could it be anymore real. There were a few times when I wished Doe had kept going from his perspective as sometimes when the story teller switched you were in a sense re-reading some of what was just told however, that aside “Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” is a great book for not only punk rock fans and music but for those wanting to learn about a period of time in Los Angeles that isn’t sugar coated with all the normal glitz and glamour LaLa Land is often associated.

Film Review “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”

Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett and Michael Constantine
Directed by: Kirk Jones
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hr 34 mins
Universal

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

In 2002, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” came out of nowhere to become one of the most successful, and beloved, romantic comedies of this young century. The film told the story of Toula Portokalos (Vardalos) and her search for love. The film ended with her marrying the very handsome Ian (Corbett) and living happily ever after in the house next door to her parents. 14 years later she’s still there.

If I had to sum up this film in one word it would be “familiar.” With most of the same cast doing a lot of the same things, the film depends a lot on the fact that you have seen the original. If not you won’t understand family patriarch Gus’ penchant for using Windex for everything, or why the hilarious Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula is the film’s comedic highlight. The story, in a nutshell: Toula and Ian have a teenage daughter. Her name is Paris (Elena Kampouris) and like other kids her age she’s looking for someone to go to prom with. School is hard because Ian is the principal. Toula continues to help out at the family restaurant, run by her parents. While Gus appears to be in charge, it is his wife, Maria (Lainie Kazan) that runs things. Proud of his Greek heritage, Gus is convinced that he is a direct descendent of Alexander the Great. In researching his family tree he finds his wedding certificate and notices that the priest that performed the service didn’t sign it. Does this mean he and Maria are not married? I sense a wedding in their future. Perhaps a big, fat Greek one.

If the film has anything going for it it’s the cast. As I said, many of the cast are from the first film and your familiarity with them is a plus. As a big fan of both Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine, I enjoyed most of the film. As a couple they are perfectly matched, and even when they are fighting it’s easy to see the love. And the film is filled with everything Greek. From John Stamos, who is wasted in a cameo as the local weatherman married to Rita Wilson (who in real life is a full seven-years older than Stamos). The film also features a nice montage with the Billy Idol song “White Wedding” blasting out on a Greek bouzouki! Opa!

Adventure Games That Made It Big in Vegas

Video games (as your Nan used to call them) have crossed over into many other genres in popular culture. There was a time – if you care to remember the days of Atari’s and ZX Spectrum’s – when games were just games; standalone titles with their own original plots, and let’s be honest here, generally basic gameplay.

How times have changed. Complex storylines, online play, 3D graphics and vast budgets have made gaming unrecognisable compared to those glorious and innocent early days (I’m still fond of Pacman!). It was way back in 1976 when the first game to be based on a movie was released – Death Race was an arcade game based on the cult 1975 film of the same name – and by the early 1980’s developing games from movies was all the rage. The likes of Tron, Alien and King Kong were all given the treatment for the Atari 2600, with Raiders of the Lost Ark becoming the first officially licensed game-from-a-movie in 1982. It was quickly followed by Star Wars and E.T., although the latter became an infamous flop and the subject of an urban legend.

The line between the two industries has become progressively blurred over the years, and the release of the Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993, heralded a new era where all of a sudden video games started to become the inspiration for films. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat quickly followed, while classic games like Doom, Resident Evil and Tomb Raider were developed into movies in the early 2000’s. This trend shows little sign of stopping, with an eye-watering 30 plus games currently being made into movies. These include Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, and if they’re as good as movies as they are as games, I can’t wait!

However, it isn’t just the film industry that has borrowed inspiration from gaming, and some of these well-known adventure titles have also made their way to the bright lights of Las Vegas. The Arcade and slots industry has always overlapped with the gaming industry (some software firms such as Konami actually develop both slot machines and video games), and it made perfect sense for slot-makers to latch onto the popular themes.

Better graphics and faster software have made today’s video slot machines much more of ‘gaming-like’ experience rather than a simple ‘one-armed bandit’ style slots experience. Animations and high-quality graphics have drastically changed the look of slots, and bonus games can take on a much more complex nature than ever before. Some of these games get pretty close to playing the real thing, and what’s more, you can win money playing them! It just doesn’t get much better than that, and below you can find five of the best adventure games that made it all the way to Vegas:

  1. Dungeon and Dragons

A classic; it’s as simple as that. A classic franchise of cartoons, books, toys, movies, and of course games. The Dungeons and Dragons: Fortress of Fortunes slot machine by software house, IGT, took the theme to Las Vegas in 2009 and it’s proven to be one of the most popular slots at land-based and online casinos.

It features five reels and twenty pay lines, and gives you the option to play as one of three warrior heroes. The background and sound effects behind the slot provide an air of fantasy, and wins are accompanied by mystical music. A free spins bonus game takes you into a dungeon with up to five levels where you can earn extra multipliers by defeating enemies with the roll of a virtual dice.

It’s an iconic game, but could be surpassed in the next few years, by an officially licensed slot from Konami Gaming Inc. The software giant and its Las Vegas subsidiary, KGI, signed an agreement with Hasbro to develop a Dungeons and Dragons game using the original cast of characters. The slot is aimed at land-based casinos and attracting a younger generation of players, and will feature two games – ‘Conquests and Treasures’ and ‘Enchanted Riches’ – in pods of 2, 3, or 4 machines. The pods will include high quality chairs, custom logos and a themed bezel with authentic designs.

  1. Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider was an iconic game of its time, and Angelina Jolie made the movie equally as iconic when it was released in 2001. The franchise has spawned books, comics, toys, and several sequel games, as well as a classic Vegas slot machine.

Microgaming is the software giant behind the slot machine, which features five reels, 15 pay lines and a max. bet of 75 coins. The Graphics are crisp and sharp, with symbols such as a tiger, gadgetry and Lara Croft herself earning the wins. There is a ‘Tomb Raider’ wild symbol which can substitute for other symbols to create winning combinations, and the game features two different bonus rounds. The scatter symbol is a gun-toting Lara Croft, and if she appears on 3, 4, or 5 of the reels she will launch the free spins round. There is also a bonus symbol, which is signified by a golden idol, and launches the tomb bonus round – a pick ‘em style game where you get to choose three from a number of idols to reveal three cash prizes.

The franchise is one of the most popular of the last 15-20 years, and changed the face of video gaming. It has taken Vegas by storm too, and become one of the most popular slot machines out there.

  1. Worms

Yes, that’s right. Worms. The brilliantly addictive game that is so simple in style but so engrossing to play. Well it’s also been made into an online slot, and it will come as no surprise to learn that it is incredibly popular.

Everything about the slot is as colourful and humorous as the original game, and it features many of the classic sound effects too. It has five reels and a whopping 50 pay lines, with some great animated symbols of the crazy worms with ridiculously large weapons. Remember waiting for supply crates to parachute down from the sky with new weapons? They’re here too, and are used as a bonus symbol to launch the feature round when three or more land on the reels. The bonus round lets you select one of three crates to win one of the three different bonus games. These are a ‘space trail bonus’, a ‘crate escape’ game, and a ‘free spins battle’ bonus; each of which could earn a top jackpot of $500.

There are other great little quirks like a hand grenade which drops onto the reels and explodes, turning another symbol wild; and the infamous shout of ‘incoming’ when two crates land on the reels and you await the third. With equally addictive gameplay, it’s no wonder this slot has become so popular among video gamers as well as casino regulars.

  1. The Dark Knight Rises

The Batman franchise has been around since video games and online slots were the vision of a distant future, with his first appearance coming in a 1939 comic book. However, the caped crusader has been the subject of numerous video games over the last twenty years on a huge variety of platforms, and he deserves a mention here as he remains one of the most popular figures in Las Vegas (on the slot machines, at least).

The Dark Knight Rises is an adaptation of the final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s dark trilogy, starring Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman. The game is a cutting edge video slot, which does away with standard reels and features 243 ways to win. The Graphics are superb and include real footage from the movie; while a bonus feature where Batman fights Bane rewards players with free spins and multipliers.

This is part of a new wave of slot machines which are moving away from the traditional ‘fruit machine’ style gaming, and incorporating much more interactive gaming features. It’s naturally popular in bricks-and-mortar casinos due to the popularity of the films, and it’s also made a big splash in the online world. It’s an absolute visual treat, and well worth checking out.

  1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Well, if we’re talking about popular games it would be remiss not to mention the behemoth of the gaming world that is Call of Duty. It has arguably become the single most popular gaming series of all time, and continues to captivate the soldier inside all of us the world over. It should come as no surprise then, that there is a movie in the offing. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has sold over 13 million copies, and the slot machine by Cryptologic has proven to be just as popular in Vegas and online.

The game itself features amazing graphics and animations that are true to the original. Symbols include grenades, gas masks, and assault rifles, across the five reels and 25 pay lines. An animated marine scurries across the front of the reels on some spins, and plants a timed explosive which blows up various symbols, turning them wild and creating winning lines. On other spins a grenade rolls in front of the reels and the explosion causes the same effect. The wild soldier symbol is a nice touch as after the explosion it shows video footage from the game. All of this is before the excellent bonus game which features some great gameplay. It’s launched by landing three of the Call of Duty scatter symbols, and allows players to gain extra wins by targeting and shooting enemies on the battlefield. Up to four free games can be earned by hitting enemy soldiers, with bonus prizes for headshots; and a five-in-a-row kill streak earns an airstrike which rewards players with a multiplier for the free games.

Various other symbols also include game footage, and there is action on practically every spin in this game. Sound effects are perfect for the game, and there is that tense silence between spins before an explosion sets off a hail of gunfire – just like the real game when I play it!

Video Gaming Vegas Style

As seen on VegasSlots.co.uk, a recent change to the laws in Vegas means that casinos can now introduce more skill-based games alongside the archetypal slot machines. This is the industries attempt to convert ‘millennials’ from video gamers to casino goers; and it might just work. The aim is to introduce the skill element and link it to the prizes on the game, so a fast lap or a long kill streak will result in a bigger pay out. Rather than playing a game of chance, players will be able to use their skill at gaming to earn money – and that sounds like a perfect combination to me!

Film Review “The Big Short”

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale
Directed by: Adam McKay
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 16 mins
Paramount Pictures

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

They said it could never happen. That any financial institution could do so poorly that it could affect the world. But that is what happened in 2008 when the housing industry imploded. Thousands of people lost money and even thousands more lost their homes. Yet, even in the toughest times, a fortuitous group of investors bucked the odds. Such is the story of “The Big Short.”

The year is 2005. We meet Dr. Michael Burry (Bale). Burry is not your typical money guy. He spends days in his office, sans shoes, and is more apt to have a pair of drumsticks in his hands then a prospectus. However, his uncanny ability to read upcoming trends in stocks and banking has made him a valuable asset to his firm, where he is given carte blanche to invest the firm’s money as he sees fit. And he’s seen fit to invest $1.3 billion in home mortgages. Rather, in home mortgages that will fail. Is he a genius? Or did he just blow a lot of people’s college fund?

Smartly written and skillfully directed, “The Big Short” is the last film you’d expect to see from Adam McKay, best known for his long association with Will Ferrell. But McKay delivers here in spades. He is helped by an amazing script, based on the book by Michael Lewis and co-written by McKay and Charles Randolph. Here we are introduced to the key players, headlined by Bale, Carell, Gosling, Brad Pitt and others. The dialogue is sharp (“who the hell doesn’t pay their mortgage?” one character asks early on) and the actors are up to the challenge. Characters sometime break the fourth wall to explain things and the film also contains some very funny cameos who also keep the audience up to the minute on the events unfolding. As the film progresses we learn more about the characters and what motivates them. Each has a reason they’ve arrived at the same conclusion and no two are the same.

To say any more would equate to “spoiling” the film so I’ll leave you with this: make an investment in “The Big Short”…it’s a sure thing!

Blu-ray Review “Big Game”

Actors: Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman, Ted Levine
Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
DVD Release Date: August 25, 2015
Run Time: 87 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Samuel L. Jackson playing the President of the United States?! Sounds like a winner! “Big Game” is a fun film but it is also a very simple film. It is a straightforward tribute to 80s/90s adventure movies. It is definitely predictable and the a bit generic but at the same time it is fun due to its simplicity. Other than Jackson, the film posts an impressive cast including Onni Tommila (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale), Ray Stevenson (Insurgent, Starz’ “Black Sails”), Victor Garber (Argo, Starz’ “Power”), Ted Levine (Shutter Island, American Gangster), Felicity Huffman (Cake, Transamerica) and Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas). All together this makes this film worth checking out as a rental.

Official Premise: In the rugged countryside of Finland, a young thirteen-year-old (Onni Tommila) embarks on a traditional quest to prove himself by spending twenty-four hours alone in the wild, armed with only a bow and arrow. After witnessing a spectacular crash, he discovers the escape pod from Air Force One, containing the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson). When they realize a group of kidnappers is hot on their trail with the intention of taking the president, this unlikely duo must escape their hunters as they search for the American Special Forces team sent out to find them.

The Blu-ray itself both looks and sounds great. The 1080p transfer really highlights all the films beautiful shooting locations and action scenes. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also works well with the big scope of the film. The only “special feature” included is an unrated cut of the film (not really a special feature though). The PG-13 cut runs just over 86 minutes while the unrated version runs about 90 minutes, so there is a little more there but nothing life changing plus the unrated cut features only a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, so it is definitely not the ideal way to view the film.

Concert Review: Breaking Benjamin “Dark Before Dawn Tour” Big Flats, NY

“Dark Before Dawn Tour”
Breaking Benjamin, Starset
Date: Tuesday, July 14th 2015
Venue: Tag’s Summer Stage, Big Flats, NY

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Breaking Benjamin kicked off their summer tour run in support of their most recent album “Dark Before Dawn” at Tag’s Summer Stage in Big Flats, NY on July 14th. Despite torrential down pours which prompted flash flood warnings mixed with heavy periods of thunder and lightning the show seemed to go off without a hitch.

Razor & Tie recording artist Starset would open the night hitting the stage performing their unique blend of techno infused rock. Clad in spacey lighted costume the members of the band laid a solid foundation for vocalist Dustin Bates who split his time behind the microphone and a giant touch screen control panel that seemed to be straight out of an “Iron Man” film. The group performed a variety of songs of their debut album “Transmission” including the hit single “My Demons” prior to the conclusion of the set. After a rather lengthy set change and still under foreboding skies the members of Breaking Benjamin would hit the stage to instant applause as they performed the song “So Cold”.

Throughout the bands 22 song set the band took time to show their appreciation for the crowds support throughout the numerous bouts of bad weather leading up to the bands performance. The nights set list was a combination of both new and old material with a handful of covers including Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” and Tool’s “Aenima” to name just a few. The addition of the covers made me questions the bands decision as with 5 albums worth of material to choose from why not give the fans a little more of your own material as opposed to someone else’s. Either way all the hits were still there including the group’s 2002 break out hit “Polyamorous” which certainly was one of the songs garnering the night’s biggest applause.

With this being the bands first night of the tour I was a bit skeptical as you never know what to expect as things are generally still being worked out 2 to 3 shows into a tour however the band sounded great and right out of the gate seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Breaking Benjamin did not let bad weather hinder their performance and the sizeable crowd was very gracious. The tour runs through August so if you haven’t gotten tickets yet for the show closest to your area what are you waiting for?

Breaking Benjamin Set List:
1.) So Cold
2.) Angels Fall
3.) Follow
4.) Break My Fall
5.) Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen Cover)
6.) Unknown Soldier
7.) Sooner or Later
8.) Blow Me Away
9.) Failure
10.) Breath
11.) AEnema (Tool Cover)
12.) Phase
13.) Away
14.) Give Me a Sign
15.) Shallow Bay
16.) Imperial March/ Schism/ Smells Like Teen Spirit/ Walk
17.) Polyamorous
18.) Evil Angel
19.) Until the End
20.) I Will Not Bow
21.) Lights Out
22.) Dance with the Devil
23.) Intro
24.) The Diary of Jane

Howie Fields and “Big” John Wallace discuss music and Harry Chapin

As much as I admire many of the actors, musicians, ball players and others that I’ve grown up watching, I’ve only cried at the death of four of them:  John Lennon, because it was so senseless; Roy Scheider, because he was my friend; Ron Santo, because he was my first “idol” and Harry Chapin… just because.

When I was 13, Chapin’s song Cats in the Cradle came out.  It struck a chord in me that I never forgot.  It was almost like Harry was singing about my father and me.  My son is going to be 31 later this month, and that song still rings true.  Where I was once the little boy that wanted to spend more time with his dad, now I’m the father who has to accept that my son now has a family of his own.  As I got older I became a fan of Harry Chapin’s music and I was crushed when he was killed 34 years ago today, July 16, 1981.

Today, Harry’s music is still being played, the torch being carried by his brothers Tom and Steve and the members of Harry’s band.  I recently asked drummer Howie Fields and bass player “Big” John Wallace a few questions about Harry Chapin and his music.

Mike Smith:  What were your musical backgrounds before joining up with Harry?
Howie Fields: Drum lessons at age 15 followed by a parade of teenage basement and garage bands playing Beatles, Stones. Rascals, Dylan, Kinks, Hollies, Who, etc. Better bands WITH PAY in my college years leading up to my entry into Harry’s band in 1975.
John Wallace:  I started out as a vocalist in the Grace Church Choir in Brooklyn, New York, where I met Harry and the other Chapin brothers.  I dabbled with the bass guitar in my teen years and my first public appearance on bass was in my teens when Harry asked me to perform his songs with him in people’s homes in Brooklyn. Fast forward approximately 10 years when he asked me to join his band.

MS:  When did you join the band?
HF: 1975
JW: I was a founding member, 1972.

MS: How was Harry to work with – was he open to collaboration when working out his songs with the group?
HF:  That ran the gamut. Sometimes Harry would run down a new song or two and ask us to come up with some ideas during concert sound checks (which he rarely attended) and at other times he would come in with a song and have very precise ideas. The rest of the time it would be pretty equitable collaboration in the recording studio.

MS:  Is there a favorite song you enjoyed playing live?
HF:   “Mercenaries,” “Odd Job Man,” “The Mayor Of Candor Lied”
JW:  Too many to choose from.

MS:  Do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share?
HF:   Quite notably for me, within the run of the show (NOTE – in early 1975 Harry and the band performed on Broadway in a show titled “The Night That Made America Famous” with words and music by Harry.  The show went on to earn two Tony Award nominations), was the night of March 1, 1975. Both Saturday performances were completed and Harry entered the band dressing room and asked Big John if he would come with him to attend the Grammy Awards ceremony at The Uris Theater for which he had one extra ticket and for which he had been nominated as Best Male Vocalist for “Cat’s In The Cradle”. He was also performing the song that night but John politely declined. Harry then put the ticket up for grabs and only after it appeared no one else was taking, I found myself in a cab with Harry, his wife Sandy, and his dad Jim, rushing over to the Grammy’s which had already begun. We entered the building and as we approached the doors leading from the lobby into the actual theater, a young usher (about 20) noted that Harry was overburdened with a guitar (not in its case), a leather bag, and one or two other items. He offered to take the guitar which Harry gladly gave up and then, somehow, as the usher was holding the guitar and at the same time attempting to open the door to the theater for us, he simultaneously dropped the instrument and tripped in such a way that one of his feet came down right on the guitar. So…there the guitar lay…smashed on the ground. It happened in a nano-second and it wasn’t pretty. All I remember at that point was Harry putting his arms around this devastated and horrified kid, saying “Don’t worry about it bro”. He could be like that.

MS:  Harry was killed on his way to perform at a benefit concert.  Did that show ever go on?
HF:  No, that show did not occur but one year later the band plus Tom Chapin did a memorial show on the same stage in Eisenhower Park in Long Island.

MS: Are you amazed that, three decades after he passed away, Harry’s music continues to gain new fans?
HF:   I am, as it’s pleasantly remarkable to me that Harry’s music has endured AND in many circles/families has been passed down to younger generations. The variety of age groups are evident at many of our concerts.

Rock and roll fans take notice:  I first “met” Howie when I was working on a screenplay about Harry’s life.  I contacted Howie and asked him if he had any idea what the set list was at Harry’s last show.  He sent me a copy of it.  Not a list of the songs, but a copy of the actual set list.  Howie runs a web site called “Rock Paper” and I’ll let him tell you about it:

HF:   Rock Paper is a business I have had going for over 20 yrs. It’s an archives of rock music and its two main entities are a complete archives of Rolling Stone magazine, whereby ANY article, record review, concert review, advertisement EVER published in the magazine can be located. Rock Paper has over 10,000 back issues o the magazine going back to the issue #1 (1967). There are also thousands of other back issues available of other classic rock magazines….Crawdaddy, Circus, Creem, etc, etc, etc,

It also has an archive of concert ads cut from newspapers from NYC & the UK.

You can search for whatever you’re looking for at www.RockPaper.net.

All photos copyright www.harrychapin.com

 

Blu-ray Review “Big Hero 6”

Actors: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Jr. Damon Wayans, Genesis Rodriguez
Directors: Chris Williams Don Hall
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Run Time: 102 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When I first saw “Big Hero 6”, I had high expectations from the film since Walt Disney Animation Studios has been really delivering some hits recently with “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph”. After a few viewing though (and quickly becoming one of my daughters favorites) “Big Hero 6” and the lovable Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit) has won me over. This film won the Oscar last night for Best Animated Film and looking back on the year, I couldn’t agree more. I did love “The LEGO Movie” but all around this was the best animated film of the year.  If you haven’t seen this film yet, I highly suggest it since it will definitely will you over! Fist bump!

Official Premise: With all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Big Hero 6” is an action-packed comedy adventure that introduces Baymax, a lovable, personal companion robot, who forms a special bond with robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to Baymax and his diverse group of friends — adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred — who transform into a band of unlikely heroes. Bring From Walt Disney Animation Studios (“Frozen,” “Wreck-It Ralph”), Disney’s “Big Hero 6” introduces you to a lovable robot who will change your world. Join Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit)home Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” featuring comic-book-style action and hilarious, unforgettable characters — it’s fun for the whole family!

Disney is releasing this film on a Collector’s Edition combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy included. The 1080p transfer is beautiful but Disney is still slacking with neglecting to including a 3D Blu-ray of their films. I wish they would smarten up and start releasing 3D Blu-ray’s again. This film looked amazing in 3D and I would love to watch it in 3D again. Still though, I love the colors in this film, The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is outstanding. The action sounds amazing. Why Hiro and Bayamax are souring through the sky, it was a thing of beauty.

In terms of special features, Disney delivers here. First we have the Oscar Winning Theatrical Short “FEAST”. “The Origin Story of “Big Hero 6”: Hiro’s Journey” is hosted by Jamie Chung, voice of Go Go Tomago and takes us behind the scenes. “Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind the Characters” features the film lead animators talking about their creation. There are a few deleted scenes including two alternate openings with intros from Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams. There is also an Easter Egg included called “Big Hero Secrets” which tells you about the film’s secrets.

The Rods’ Dave “Rock” Feinstein and Carl Canedy talks about new song “Great Big Fake Ones”

Media Mikes had the great pleasure recently to speak to not one but two legendary heavy metal musicians. Dave “Rock” Feinstein and Carl Canedy make up 2/3rds of the band The Rods a band which has been carrying the flag for heavy metal and hard rock since the late 1970’s. Both members have new solo albums out along with a newly released Rods single titled “Great Big Fake Ones” and we spoke with the guys recently about these new releases and their plans for the coming year.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the decision to re-issue “Heavier Than Thou” and
“Hollywood”?
Dave “Rock” Feinstein: “Heavier than Thou”, and the “Hollywood” albums have been albums that wanted by the fans for a long time.  We felt that now was a good time to re-issue them.  They are both slightly different than a traditional RODS album, so I think that’s what makes them so interesting to the fans.
Carl Canedy: We’ve been in the process of re-issuing a lot of our back catalog that we own the rights to. These two CD’s in particular were something the fans had not had a chance own in a re-issued, re-mastered format. Fans have been emailing us for years asking when they’d be available. So like Dave said it simply was time.

AL:  What can you tell us about the newly recorded Rods track “Great Big Fake Ones”?
DF: There are many words that have been used to describe the song, but when Carl brought the song in, the three of us just felt that it was so funny, and just different enough to make the fans want to hear it.  You have to take it for what it is.  It’s not a traditional RODS song, but it is a very catchy tune that should make you laugh.
CC: The guys have been really cool about doing a song this since I initially brought it to them. It’s clearly a “one-off” type of song. The fans who’ve heard love it. I think as long as you realize it’s “tongue-in-cheek” you can enjoy it for what it is. Personally I love it and think it’s quite amusing. I gave it to the guys and when it came time to record it was done quickly. Rock and Garry really nailed the vocals.

AL: You both recently released new solo albums. Can you tell us about those and some of the guests who appear on the albums?
DF:  “Clash of Armor” is my forth solo release now and was done mostly by myself and Nate Horton. On my previous releases I have had quite a few guest performers. In the past guys like John West, Michael Butler, Jeff Howell and Matt Barnes have all come in to help me on various tracks as has Nate. On the song “Bitten By the Beast” from my 3rd solo release I had Carl and Garry come in. I played guitar and Ronnie James Dio did the vocals.
CC: On my CD, I have John Hahn, a Leviathan artist who is a Mike Varney discovery. I’ve known John for quite a few years as I played on his first solo CD in the “90’s. Mark Tornillo has 3 vocals, Joe Comeau has 2 vocals and David Porter has 2 vocals. Chris Caffery came in and did some soloing on 2 tracks as well as several other artists who graciously brought their talent to this project.

AL: With a career spanning multiple decades what do you find these days to be the most rewarding part of being a musician?
DF: It’s rewarding to still be able to create new music.  Of course playing live is the ultimate rush, and to know that there are still fans around the world checking out our music and wanting more.

AL: Are there any plans to perform this new material live and what type of
plans do The Rods have in place for 2015?
DF: I think I can speak for the three of us that we love to perform live, and if a song of ours merits being performed live, then we will do so.  Right now for us we take every request to perform seriously, and try to do as much as we can to make these live appearances happen, For us and for the fans as well.
CC: We do have a few dates in the works that are not yet confirmed and we have confirmed the Defenders of Old Festival in March with Exciter. We’re excited about this show as it’s the first time in years we’ve been to the NY area. Also, I love the band and the guys in Exciter so I’m looking forward to the reunion.

Nintendo 3DS Video Game Review “Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay”

Release Date: October 23, 2014
E10+ for Everyone 10 and older: Cartoon Violence
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Game Mill Entertainment
Developer: 1st Playable Productions

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Right from the start, “Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay” was off to a bad start. I thought there was something wrong with my 3DS and it turned out the game isn’t presented with 3D effects. I mean come on, there are indie games that are coming out in 3D and a big game like “Big Hero 6” is not. Very disappointing. The game difficulty is extremely easy. The bad guys are no challenge at all, in fact I beat the first boss while checking my email on my phone. You play as each of the five main characters mixed up throughout the game’s 20 levels, which will take the average gamer about an hour or two to beat. The other main issue is that Baymax, who is the best character in the movie is merely background noise. Big miss here for sure.

Official Premise: Following on the heels of their super hero debut, the Big Hero 6 team has targeted a dangerous gangster named Yama and his legion of out of control fighting robots! Take control of the stars of the film in this action packed combat platformer! Send robot’s flying across the screen as Hiro with his electro-mag gauntlets! Zoom through levels at top speed as Go ! Slice and dice as Wasabi with his plasma blades! Smash and burn as Fred in his Kaiju monster super suit!

“Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay” features no spoken dialogue or cut scenes at all along with bland and repetitive sound design. One thing this game does have though to add slightly more game play instead of jump flying through each level is that there is some in-game collectibles. You can collect various hidden items in each level including a cat, a plus symbol consisting of five cubes and the word HERO spelled out. Finding these items will provide health upgrades as well as trophies, art work and more. Unless you are completely obsessed with “Big Hero 6” and need to have everything from the movie, this is a definite pass.

 

Film Review “Big Hero 6”

Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, T.J. Miller,
Daniel Henney, Maya Rudolph
Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 108 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

For those that do not know “Big Hero 6” is inspired by the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, which was released back in 1998. In fact, “Big Hero 6” is the first Disney animated film to feature Marvel Comics characters. They aren’t well-known characters like “The Avengers” but still Marvel characters nonetheless. I have to admit, I was expecting a little more from this film. I enjoyed it overall but I didn’t walk away screaming “WOW!!” like I did with recent past Disney animated films like “Tangled”, “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frozen”. I absolutely loved those films but I only liked “Big Hero 6”.

Official Premise: “Big Hero 6” is an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax (Scott Adsit), a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter). When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung), neatnik Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), chemistry whiz Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and fanboy Fred (T.J. Miller). Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.”

Let’s start off with the fact that I love Baymax. I love him. He is literally the main star of this film. He steals the show. Other than him, I really wasn’t in love with any of the other characters at all. It all felt a little generic to me. Luckily, the film had a lot of heart to it and it ended up winning me off in the third act. There was some quite intense moments in the film as well that I questioned “is this really a kids film?”. I have a two year old daughter and she has seen “Tangled”, “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frozen” numerous times each and I will NOT be showing her this film for many years. There are also some parts that are downright creepy with the Kabuki-faced villain.

I loved the fictionalized created city, San Fransokyo. It is very bright and quite beautiful especially during the flying scenes. The animation is great and no complaints there at all. Viewing the film in 3D, there are some great epic scale shots for the effect but I wasn’t very blown away with it anyway. There are no in your face gags either. If you want to see it in 3D though, check it out in theaters since Disney doesn’t release 3D Blu-rays anymore. The score is epic by Henry Jackson but nothing too memorable. I don’t really see myself listening to the score after seeing the film unlike “Tangled”, “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frozen”, which are all on my phone still today.

The voice cast is good but not filled with an all-star cast. Hiro is voiced by Ryan Potter, who is only known for the TV series “Supah Ninjas”. His older brother Tadashi is voiced by Daniel Henney (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine). The inflatable nurse robot turned superhero, Baymax, is voiced by Scott Adsit, known best for “30 Rock”. Tadashi’s college friends are voiced by T.J. Miller (“Transformers: Age of Exinction”) , Jamie Chung (“Sucker Punch”), Genesis Rodriguez (“Identity Thief) and Damon Wayans Jr. (“Let’s Be Cops”). Fun fact, co-director Chris Williams, voiced the fan-favorite character Oaken from last year’s “Frozen”.

While “Big Hero 6” is not one of my favorite films of the year, it is still a fun time to be had. Like I said it has a lot of heart and even might be able to get a few tears out of you if you are feeling emotional. The visual effects are great. Baymax is easily one of the coolest and most lovable characters. I liked it but I do not see it being very memorable. In my house, we must watch  “Tangled”, “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frozen” each at least one a month at the least, I do not see many repeat viewings of this film. Be sure to get to the theater early to catch the short film “Feast”, which is nothing short of outstanding and easily outshines the film it precedes.