CD Review: Royal Blood “How Did We Get So Dark”

“How Did We Get So Dark”
Royal Blood
Warner Bros.
Tracks: 10

Our score: 2 out of 5 stars

The UK Duo Royal Blood are back with their sophomore release via Warner Bros. Records titled “How Did We Get So Dark”. As the follow up to the bands successful 2010 release “Royal Blood”, the new album features 10 fresh tracks which were produce by the band along with Tom Dalgety and Jolyon Thomas.

Having caught Royal Blood when they opened for the Foo Fighters on their “Sonic Highways” tour I was instantly amazed at the sizeable sound these two guys were able produce. Needless to say I was instantly hooked. The band’s latest offering “How Did We Get So Dark” is a bit of a departure from the group’s self-titled release as I found it lacking the punch and grittiness of its predecessor. Tracks like “How Did We Get So Dark” and “Hole On Your Heart” feature much more robust instrumentation and production which I felt took away from the group’s signature bass, drums sound scape. Thankfully tracks such as “Where Are You Now” and “Hook, Line & Sinker” brought back some of the sound that originally appealed to me.

Though not an outright bad album “How Did We Get So Dark” is not what I consider a good album either. I applaud the band for stretching their legs while trying to expand on the limited possibilities of a two member group however, I think they may have strayed a touch too far from the signature sound that put them on the map making their latest offering one I just couldn’t get in to.

Track Listing:
1.) How Did We Get So Dark
2.) Lights Out
3.) I Only Lie When I Love
4.) She’s Creeping
5.) Look Like You Know
6.) Where Are You Now
7.) Don’t Tell
8.) Hook, Line & Sinker
9.) Hole In Your Heart
10.) Sleep

Blu-ray Review “Justice League Dark” Deluxe Edition

Actors: Matt Ryan, Camilla Luddington, Jason O’Mara, JB Blanc, Ray Chase
Directors: Jay Oliva
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Warner Brothers
DVD Release Date: February 7, 2017
Run Time: 76 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Justice League Dark” is the 27th DC Universe Animated Original movie believe it or not. They have been cranking them out recently. Honestly, it took me third sittings to complete this film. It really didn’t interest me much in the first half as it got the story ready and then I felt like it was rushed in the second half. It is rated R, which definitely gives it the edge it needed but it wasn’t what I was really hoping for from “Justice League Dark”. At least it brought back Matt Ryan, who plays Constantine in the story lived recent TV series to voice the character.

Official Premise: When innocent civilians begin committing unthinkable crimes across Metropolis, Gotham City and beyond, Batman must call upon mystical counterparts to eradicate this demonic threat to the planet. Enter Justice League Dark, reluctantly led by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Like Batman, Constantine is a cunning, often cynical loner who is the best at his chosen profession – but quickly realizes the sinister forces plaguing the planet will require help from other supernatural alliances. Forming a new “league” with sorceress Zatanna, otherworldly Deadman, and Jason Blood and his powerful alter ego Etrigan the Demon, this team of Dark Arts specialists must unravel the mystery of Earth’s supernatural plague and contend with the rising, powerful villainous forces behind the siege – before it’s too late for all of mankind.

Other than Matt Ryan reprising his role, the rest of the voice cast is impressive as well. Jason O’Mara (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”) voices Batman again, Camilla Luddington (“Grey’s Anatomy”) voices Zatanna, Nicholas Turturro (“NYPD Blue”) as Deadman, Ray Chase (“Final Fantasy XV”) as Jason Blood/Etrigan, Roger R. Cross (“24”, “Arrow”) as John Stewart/Swamp Thing, Jeremy Davies (“Justified”) as Ritchie Simpson, Rosario Dawson (“Daredevil” TV series) as Wonder Woman, Jerry O’Connell (“Stand By Me”) as Superman, Enrico Colantoni (“Flashpoint”) as Felix Faust, and Alfred Molina (“Spider-Man 2”) as Destiny. So no shortly are talent here!

The deluxe edition combo pack includes a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy in addition it also comes with a pretty kick ass Constantine collectible figure. The special features are solid as usual for a DC Original Movie. There is a cool “Sneak Peek at Teen Titans: The Judas Contract”, the nextDC Universe Original Movie. “The Story of Swamp Thing” gives a look at the fan favorite character. “Did You Know?: Constantine origin, Color of Magic, Black Orchid, and Deadman Casting” goes behind-the-scenes with cast/crew. There is the 2016 NY Comic Con Panel included as well as two bonus episodes “From the DC Vault”: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Dawn of the Dead Man!”Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Trials of the Demon!”.

Murder and Melody in America: “The Devil’s Carnival” Composers Debut Trailer for a Dark New Opus

 

Icons of cult cinema, Terrance Zdunich (Repo! The Genetic Opera) and Saar Hendelman (The Devil’s Carnival franchise) pull the trigger on a new, twisted musical world, American Murder Song. Combining stop motion animation and moving daguerreotype portraits, American Murder Song features a rogues gallery of original murder ballads set in early nineteenth century America. The genre-defying duo invite you to Follow The Mark, if’n you’re brave. For tunes and updates: http:///www.AmericanMurderSong.com.

Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe talks about new album “Resolution” and his memoir “Dark Days”

Randall Blythe is probably best known for his work as lead singer of the band Lamb of God. In 2012 while on tour in support of their latest album “Resolution” Blythe was arrested upon entry into the Czech Republic as part of an investigation related to the death a fan at one of the bands shows 2 years prior. “Dark Days: A Memoir” is the first book release by Randy which details this ordeal from the days leading up to the arrest and the roller coaster ride which ensued during the preceding months. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with Randy recently about the book, what it was like reliving those experiences and also about the bands upcoming album and summer tour run.

Adam Lawton: What was it like going back through your journals and reliving those experiences during the writing of the book?

Randy Blythe: I think people were looking for me to have some sort of cathartic experience during the writing of this book and it just wasn’t. For the most part it was an unpleasant experience. It wasn’t fun while I was going through it and it wasn’t fun writing it. I think the story has value and there are some things in there that might help some people actually. I think this story needed to be told before my memories faded too much. I was thankful for the journals I had. It was weird to look back at them and read about this low point in my life. This wasn’t the first time I had looked back at journals where things weren’t going well but when I looked back at this specific journal and the fact that I was writing it while in a Czech prison was really heavy. There are some funny parts in the book but for the most part it was not a lot of fun going back. I learned a lot about the writing process through this whole thing but again it wasn’t very enjoyable.

AL: Did you have to do a lot of self editing when you were making your way through the chapters?

RB: I all heard was that we have to amputate things. (Laughs) That was more at the very end. Prior to that I was able to just write and write. When I write I am very clean and careful so there is not a lot of re-writing that has to be done. Aside from some grammatical era’s which the copy editors handled there wasn’t a lot of restructuring. When I first started I had this sort of romantic view of a writer/editor relationship as I had read stories about writers that I liked that had these intense relationships with their editors where they fought back and forth about what was going in the book. That’s what I was expecting but instead I got a lot of encouragement which is what I needed. I guess I wanted my hand held a little bit through the process but, I didn’t get that. (Laughs)

AL: Was there ever any worry about bringing further attention to these events and their relationship to the band?

RB: I had to examine that and certainly think about it for awhile. I don’t think there can be much more attention drawn to the situation that what has already happened. Anytime an article or something comes out whether its something it’s something as simple as going to Disney Land the events from the Czech Republic are going to be mentioned. No matter if it’s applicable or not it gets mentioned. There’s just so much misinformation out there about this that I figured if it’s going to be talked about I might as well set the record straight. If this brings the story to new people then at least they will know the real story. It won’t be something they found on the internet which needed to be put through Google translator or something like that. They get the straight dope from me. I wrote the book in a way that people from outside the metal scene will understand. I wanted people not from that world to read this as well. There is enough universal treatment and value related to personal accountability that no matter where you are in life you can relate to a degree.

AL: When this is all done do you feel you will be able to close the book on maybe just a small piece of that experience?

RB: Yes. I know I am going to be still continually asked about this but once press and everything is done for the book and it gets brought up later on I can just refer people to the 500 page book I wrote about it. That’s it. Just a very short answer as the book has everything people need to know about what happened.

AL: The first two songs from the band’s new album “512” and “Overlord” are quite different from one another can you tell us about that and if there was anything different in the creative process this time around for you guys?

RB: “Overlord” is actually the first song the guys have done where I can sing over the top of it. It isn’t a bid deal or something that was done consciously. One day Willie was playing some blues licks and I started humming along and that’s really all that happened. It just was very natural and organic. As far as how things were done with this album it was all the same. We have been doing this for 21 years now so we aren’t reinventing the wheel or anything like that. We have been doing this a long time and it is what it is. We just try and grow as musicians with each new album.

AL: The band kicks off a summer tour run in a few weeks can you tell us about that and any other plans you guys might have for 2015?

RB: We will be out on the road with Slipknot for 8 weeks. After that we have about a month off before heading over to South America for 3 shows. After that we head to Europe for about 5 weeks with Children of Bodom and then we will be in the UK with Megadeth.

AL: After what happened in the Czech Republic does traveling to these other countries every worry you at all?

RB: No. From time to time when I’m walking down the jet way I do get a little nervous. (Laughs) I have been around the world twice and it wasn’t ever like I was in hiding for two years or something like that. I was right back on the road immediately after everything was over.

Be sure to check out our review of “Dark Days: A Memoir” in the review section of the site.

Dark Days: A Memoir Hardcover by D. Randall Blythe

“Dark Days: A Memoir”
Author: D. Randall Blythe
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Lamb of God vocalist D. Randall Blythe finally tells the world his story around the arrest, incarceration, trial and acquittal for the charge of manslaughter in the Czech Republic over the tragic and accidental death of a concertgoer. Riveting, bold and brutally honest “Dark Days: A Memoir” isn’t your everyday rock and roll memoir.

Having followed the story from when it first broke that Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe was arrested in the Czech Republic on charges of suspected manslaughter related to a death following the bands concert 2 years prior, this book was a no brainer for me to check out. This is not your typical tell all memoir filled with debotcherous tales from the road. Instead you get the inside story from the man who lived these terrifying events. Blythe recounts his experiences in such a way that you almost feel the emotion coming from the words on the pages.

From the days leading up to his unexpected arrest to the accounts of dealing with the arduous process of understand the Czech legal system all the while trying to recount the events of what was thought to be just another day on tour from 2 years ago. Spliced in between chapters related to the events in Czech Republic Blythe talks about his struggles with alcoholism and his recent rehabilitation and how his rough past growing up as an outcast teen in Richmond, VA shaped who he is today and how he handled himself throughout this horrific ordeal.

“Dark Days” is not just for fans of Lamb of God or heavy metal. The book is a must for anyone interested in a unique story of injustice and the long arduous journey one man took to clear his name by returning to a foreign country to stand trial against the charges set forth by a country that clearly wanted to make an example of this individual.

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

Parker Sawyers talks about role in “Monsters: Dark Continent”

Parker Sawyers is co-starring in the upcoming film “Monsters: Dark Continent”, which is a follow-up to the 2010 film “Monsters”. Parker also appeared this year in the film “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about “Monsters: Dark Continent” with him and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with “Monsters: Dark Continent”?
Parker Sawyers: I’ve been acting for nearly three years now and try to hit every meeting I am lucky enough to get. I see it as practice. So, “Monsters: Dark Continent” was another meeting to me. Interestingly, I had a short film to shoot 15 minutes after my meeting time and I was so worried about missing the call time, I don’t really remember what I said or did in the room. Whatever it was worked, thankfully.

MG: Were you familiar with the original film prior?
PS: In preparation for the meeting for Monsters: Dark Continent, I watched the original film, Gareth Edwards’ “Monsters”. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the two central characters develop a relationship amidst such dire conditions. To me, the original film was about humanity and how even in the face of extreme adversity or in their case an alien invasion we would still find love, fight for one another, and even bicker. Perhaps we’re not much more than that.

MG: Give us some background on your character Shaun Williams?
PS: Shaun is a kid from Detroit. I see him as a multi-talented, cool kid who never got “that break”. He is a sportsman, clever and chilled. Though I now live in London, I’m originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, just a few hours away from Detroit. To play a guy from the Midwest with heaps of heart and a laid back attitude was exciting and refreshing. I think the Midwesterners who watch the film will relate to Shaun and his friends; the hustle, the hunger, the decency, the loyalty.

MG: Tell us about where the film was shot and what was the most challenging aspect?
PS: We shot the film in Amman, Jordan and Detroit, Michigan. The people in Amman are some of the most hospitable and warmest people I’ve ever met. It was my second time being there, the first time was to film “Zero Dark Thirty”. I’m itching to return for a vacation. As for a challenge, I’d say the amount of work that needed to be completed by the end of each day, to stay on schedule. But, we worked hard and Tom Green, the director, never made any of us feel rushed. But, of course, we can read a call sheet and we knew we had a limited amount of time. Ultimately, we made it work. Detroit was cool. Talk about smiling through adversity, the people were wonderfully American and hardworking.

MG: How was it going from low-budget indie to big budget action, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”?
PS: All jobs are the same to me. Whether it’s working with an Oscar winning director or an up and coming talent like Tom Green, I put forth the same amount of effort. I must say though, the Monsters cast was and still is like a family. We stay in touch, attend each other’s birthdays, and cheerlead whenever possible. I’d never had that experience before.

MG: What else do you have on the cards for 2014?
PS: I’m off to Bulgaria in March to film James McTiegue’s spy thriller, “Survivor”. It’s an amazing script and I’m fortunate to be part of the project. Other than that, it’s pilot season, so non-stop meetings as far as the eye can see!

Blu-ray Review “Beware the Batman: Season 1, Part 2 – Dark Justice”

Starring: Anthony Ruivivar, JB Blanc, Kurtwood Smith, Sumalee Montano
Director: Sam Liu
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Archive Collection
DVD Release Date: September 30, 2014
Run Time: 286 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

“Beware the Batman” is a great but short-lived show that was a unique take on the world of Batman because it didn’t feature classic villains like The Joker, Penguin, Riddler, etc. This series focuses on new villains and went bigger with the villains. It is quite risky but I really dug it.I loved the CGI animated approach. The design was cool and the tone of the show really intrigued. “Beware the Batman: Dark Justice – Season 1, Part 2″ includes the remaining 13 episodes in the series and if love a different take on Batman, check it out!

Official Premise: Another night falls in Gotham City and the ever-vigilant Dark Knight watches over his city and its citizens. With the help of his ex-secret agent butler, Alfred, and sword-wielding assassin Katana, the Batman wages a tireless war against Gotham’s twisted criminal underworld. Ride along as Batman battles the evil machinations of Professor Pyg, Magpie, Mister Toad and criminal mastermind Anarky. It’s a crime-fighting collection of hidden clues, cool tech and detective thrills as Batman prowls in the shadows, ready to deliver action-packed excitement and justice.

Episodes included are” 14. “Darkness”; 15. “Reckoning”; 16. “Nexus”; 17. “Monsters”; 18. “Games”; 19. “Animal”; 20. “Doppelganger”; 21. “Unique”; 22. “Hero”; 23. “Choices”; 24. “Epitaph”; 25. “Twist” and
26. “Alone”. This brings this series to an end because it never made it past the first season, which is sad because it was a great and quite dark adaptation of “Batman” in animated format.

Thanks to Warner Archive Collection, this series is making it’s way on Blu-ray and completing the series for the fans that did follow this show. The 1080p transfers work perfect with the animated style. The colors are sharp and makes this slick show look great. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround tracks work great as well with the action and score. There are no additional special features included on this release.

Michael Biehn Takes on Different Kind of Role in This Latest Dark Thriller, “Treachery”, to Be Released on VOD September 1st.

LOS ANGELES- Talent Management, Production, Distribution and Marketing Company Traverse Media, announced today the North American release date for Blanc/Biehn Production’s latest Movie TREACHERY on Video on Demand (VOD).

TREACHERY stars Michael Biehn along with a fantastic ensemble cast that includes Jennifer Blanc Biehn (The Divide, Everly, Wrong Cops), Sarah Butler (I Spit on Your Grave remake), Caitlin Keats (Kill Bill Vol. 2, Broken English), Chris Meyer (Among Friends) and Matthew Ziff (Truck Stop, Altered Perception).

Bringing to life real family drama, TREACHERY dives into the deep roots that binds a family and the darker secrets that family can create. Travis Romero (TV’s “White Collar”, THE VICTIM) wrote and directed TREACHERY, which centers on a man (Biehn) who is reunited with his estranged son at a remote wedding party. When a storm strands the party, ugly truths are revealed.

Biehn is best known for his work in The Terminator and Aliens movies but has developed a niche for himself producing low-budget grindhouse-style productions. He is producing Treachery via his BlancBiehn Productions, which he runs with his wife and partner Jennifer Blanc Biehn.

“I always love playing humanitarian type characters and characters that are the real good guys,” says Michael Biehn, with a wink and a nod.

“With an incredible cast, Michael and I were excited to take this story and make it come to life,” Jennifer Blanc-Biehn

TREACHERY will be available from September 1st on:  iTunes, Amazon Prime, Amazon Instant Play, Google Play, VUDU, Vimeo on Demand and across Cable VOD.

About Traverse Media:

Traverse Media is a talent management, production and distribution marketing and distribution company for the independent filmmaker created by independent filmmakers. We provide distribution with active digital profiling and campaigning via the Internet’s best-known film sites. Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TraverseMedia and Follow us on Twitter @Traverse_Media

ABOUT BLANC/BIEHN PRODUCTIONS:

Blanc Biehn Productions is the partnership of famed actors Michael Biehn and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn. The pair decided to put their passion for acting and filmmaking together, creating their own production company. The duo produced and starred in Biehn’s directorial debut, THE VICTIM, a grindhouse film which co-stars scream queen, Danielle Harris.  The company recently finished post-production on TREACHERY and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn’s directorial debut THE NIGHT VISITOR. They are currently in post-production on HIDDEN IN THE WOODS REMAKE and THE GIRL, starring Biehn and Tia Carrere. Other films in development include ALTERED PERCEPTION, SHE RISES, starring Angus MacFadyen, THE NIGHT VISITOR 2, GET BACK JOE, and PYSCHOPHONIA with 2013 Nicholls Fellowship winner Barbara Stepanski, to be directed by award winning filmmaker Paticia Chica. Look out for more releases on their slate as well as festival screenings in the near future, as well as a new list of fabulous directors being added to the roster. For more information on upcoming BBP features, please go to www.TheBBBasement.com and sign up for news and updates. Many projects are currently in post-production with partner, executive Lony Ruhman.

Blu-ray Review “After the Dark”

Actors: James D’Arcy, Bonnie Wright, Rhys Wakefield, Jacob Artist, Sophie Lowe
Directors: John Huddles
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Phase 4 Films
DVD Release Date: May 6, 2014
Run Time: 107 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

After watching “Cloud Atlas”, I became a huge fan of James D’Arcy. I thought this film had an interesting premise, which revolves around blending philosophy and ethics with the visualization of thought experiments. A little deep for me but I couldn’t watch this film just once. In fact, I had to watch it twice in a room because it really drew me in. This is a film that makes you think and not for everyone but that is what also makes it great since it requires a viewer with a brain.

Official Premise: Faced with an impending nuclear apocalypse, a group of twenty college students must determine which ten of them would take shelter underground and reboot the human race. The decision quickly becomes deadly as each in the group turns against each other in a desperate fight for survival.

Along with James D’Arcy, there is some great talent co-starring with him in this film. Bonnie Wright (“Harry Potter” series), Rhys Wakefield (“The Purge”) and Daryl Sabara (“Spy Kids” series). Personally, I can do without Sophie Lowe (“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”), she needs to learn to speak up a little bit. Otherwise, I loved the cast as much as I loved this film.

Phase 4 Films released this film on Blu-ray with a very impressive 1080p transfer. I love the visual style of the film and it is well represented here. The biggest letdown for this Blu-ray though has to be the audio track included, which is only a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track. This film has such an amazing score and it really deserves a high definition track. Bad move, Phase 4! The extras are a little light as well with a brief behind-the-scenes featurette, some cast interviews and theatrical trailers.

Brian Henson talks about Syfy’s “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge” and the Sequel to “Dark Crystal”

Brian Henson is the son of Jim Henson, creator of “The Muppets” and the current chairman of The Jim Henson Company. For years Brian has been working with his family in the company as a puppeteer in roles like Jack Pumpkinhead in “Return to Oz” and directing//producing “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “Muppet Treasure Island”. He was also behind the TV series “Farscape” as the Executive Producer. His latest venture is in reality TV on Syfy with the series “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge”, which is similar to other Syfy shows like “Face/Off”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about the TV show and also get the scoop on upcoming projects like “The Power of the Dark Crystal” and “Fraggle Rock: The Movie”.

Mike Gencarelli: How did the idea come about to do this show, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge?
Brian Henson: We were trying to think if there is a show that would make sense for The Jim Henson Company in the reality side of television programming. There aren’t many…because we are The Jim Henson Company. Almost everything we do has an element of fantasy or science-fiction in it. In many ways we are the opposite of reality. We make things that reflect on reality and allow you to objectively compare it to what we are presenting. But we decided that one area that is particularly exciting of our company is in the creature designing area. These artists, who are designing, conceiving and then building these creatures, really are like magic. They are extraordinary artists. We thought that doing a show around that aspect would be the most interesting area to the general audience. It is sort of like this secret world. There are no Academy Awards for creature designers. There are some creature designers who have won Academy Awards for costuming, make-up or special effects. Joe FREID, one of the Executive Producers, really shared the same enthusiasm in that area of our company and also has a strong background in reality TV programming. We went out to pitch it and Syfy loved it. We made it pretty close to the “Face/Off” format or even the “Project Runway” format. But what is different about it is that it is going into an area and a type of artist that is much different than anyone has ever seen. It is taking place in the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the prize really is a job with us.

MG: How do you come up with the challenges for the show like the first episode’s undersea creature?
BH: We basically kept making lists of creatures that we thought would be interesting. For season one, we said that none of the creatures should be allowed to use any compositing, puppeteer removal or some of the techniques that we would normally use in television or feature films. So that closed us up a little bit and kept us focused for season one. Then we had about 15-20 good ideas on the board and we basically produced what we thought was a good wide range of creatures. One thing that is great about creature making, which perhaps is not true of some of the cousins to our TV show, is they are very different depending on what kind of creature you are looking for and what kind of screen test you presenting at the end of the episode. It means that every episode is able to stand alone and be unique from the one before it, which is a lot of fun. You should also expect the challenges to be more and more ambitious as we go forward, which I think is pretty great.

MG: What are you feelings on CGI versus practical effects like puppet work?
BH: My take on it reflects my background and where I come from and where my dad came from, we are a performance oriented company. So what excites me is performing creatures and puppets. We do some CGI but we call it digital puppetry. The way we do CGI, is that we real-time animate 3D creatures using performers. So if it comes from performance and creating a real moment for the characters then that is what excites me and our company. So in that sense, I prefer the animatronic creatures to the CGI creatures. But that is also due to my background. If someone comes from key frame animation, they may prefer CGI to stop-action animation. But I think there is wonderful space for every technique. There is clearly a sacrifice you make when you decide to go CGI with a creature is that you are not actually creating a real moment that you then photograph. With most of our stuff besides the digital puppetry that we do, what you see has really been created and has been photographed and is now in the movie or TV show. It really happened and was really there. You can’t underestimate the value of that. It may mean that things are not quite as slick or accurate as CGI but it really happened and there is something really delicious and exciting about that. Certainly we have been seeing a big move towards CGI creatures but I think with films like “Where the Wild Things Are”, we are starting to see a movement back towards practical effects. But like I said there is definitely a space for both.

MG: I feel that this show actually brings this type of work back into the spotlight…
BH: Yeah, it’s been like a secret world. Nobody knows how these creatures are built and created. Nobody has done a show like this and it is really interesting watching them work.
MG: Yeah, one thing I would love to learn more about myself is the actual mechanics behind-the-scenes with these creatures.
BH: Well as you watch more of the series you will be more of that as well.

MG: Tell us about choosing your co-judges including Kurt Thatcher and Beth Hathaway?
BH: Initially we weren’t sure if we wanted to go with an all internal panel. Kurt is really an inside guy. Most of the work he has done in his career has been with our company. We wanted it to be as credible as possible because like I said the prize really is a job in the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Kurt is the type of person who would do the hiring along with me who would also be making those judgment calls. At a certain point, we realized it was just too much Henson. So we reached out to Beth Hathaway, who is also a very experienced creature builder but her background is along the lines of Stan Winston and Rick Baker. It was actually really fun bringing her in since she is kind of an outsider but we just love her. It was good having her point of views and opinions on the judging panel.

MG: What do you see that the future has planned for this type of practical effects and for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop?
BH: I think there is a lot of opportunity for us to do more creature work. I think we are coming out of a time where the industry has been in a flux. I think people are now starting to stabilize and spend more money for cool fantasy/science-fiction characters. I think you will start to see more practical effects…but probably mixed in with some CGI, which is like what “Where the Wild Things Are” was. I think the best creatures yet to come are going to be a little bit of everything used to bring that creature to life.

MG: Do you have any update on The Power of Dark Crystal and Fraggle Rock movie?
BH: The truth is that it took me five years to get “Farscape” on the air. These things take time. Some of that time feels like you are just waiting around. There is a lot of things that need to come together in order to make these projects work. You need to have the right talent, financing and distribution partners. But I can tell you that these both in active development currently within our company. We are determined to get them made. It is big though and a lot of elements need to come together to get a movie made.

Photos courtesy of Syfy

Win the Latest Movie from the Director of “Jeepers Creepers”, “Dark House” on Blu-ray [ENDED]

To celebrate the release on Blu-ray, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of “Dark House” on Blu-ray. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite horror film. This giveaway will remain open until March 28th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email

Famed horror director Victor Salva (“Jeepers Creepers”  returns in the blood-curdling new film starring Tobin Bell (“Saw” franchise), “Dark House”. From the mind of Charles Agron, the eerie thriller follows Nick Di Santo (Luke Kleintank, “Pretty Little Liars”) who has the chilling ability to foresee how one will inevitably perish by simply touching them. Tormented by this power, Nick learns from his institutionalized mother (Golden Globe nominee Lesley-Anne Down, “North and South”) that his father, whom he previously thought was deceased, is actually alive. Hoping that he can reveal the origin of his dark gift, Nick sets off to find his father with his best friend (Anthony Ray Perez, “Don’t Pass Me By”) and girlfriend (Alex McKenna, “90210”).
Along their journey, they are terrified when they realize that every road they take leads them to the same decrepit mansion, one that only previously existed in Nick’s childhood imagination. Finally succumbing to the will of the house, Nick soon finds himself in a horrifying battle with a mysterious, haunting figure (Bell).

Blu-ray Review “Thor: The Dark World”

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgaard, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo
Directed By: Alan Taylor
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 112 minutes
Release Date: February 25th 2014

Film: 4 out of 5 Stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 Stars

It’s no secret here at Media Mikes that Thor’s is my personal favorite storyline in Marvel’s movie lineup. The first film in 2011 by Kenneth Brannagh managed to brilliantly balance the Asgardian-out-of-water comedic elements with the weightier family politics at play. It boasted a great cast of established talent including Natalie Portman, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins while effectively launching two more stars in Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Their on screen fraternal conflict as Thor and Loki respectively was strong enough to jump front and center in 2012’s The Avengers. The Dark World as a follow up to that megahit is slightly less successful in accentuating the appeals of the Mightiest Avenger and often struggles in balancing its tone. Still, with its strong cast of characters intact and imaginative otherworldly battles, the sequel remains a worthy entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Like the 2011 film, The Dark World begins in a prologue detailing an ancient battle between the Asgardians and the film’s baddies, the Dark Elves. Lead by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the Dark Elves lost a powerful evil force known as the Aether to Thor’s grandfather who hid this mysterious red goo out of their reach. Ancient feud established, we move forward to Loki, who actually always manages to speak before Thor in his own trilogy, how’s that for a silver tongue? Last seen muzzled by the Avengers in Central Park, Loki is now on trial before Odin. By his mother’s (Russo as Frigga) mercy, Loki is granted life in the dungeons as punishment for the mess he made in New York. His adoptive brother Thor remains next in line for Odin’s throne. Finally we get to Thor, who has just restored peace to the nine realms yet is distracted by his lingering feelings for astrophysicist-turned-love-interest Jane Foster (Portman). He didn’t even think to call on his last visit to Earth. The nerve. For her part, Foster is still invested in intergallactic goings-ons from her new base in London. Her devices lead her to an unfortunate possession by the Aether, necesitating a field trip to Asgard with Thor to both exorcise her and prevent the Dark Elves from regaining their power. Long story short (too late!) there’s a lot going on in the universe.

With so much going on, you might expect a longer film but The Dark World is shortest in runtime in the MCU and suffers a bit for it. Reviewing the blu-ray I could feel myself suddenly resenting having had to endure the excesses of say, The Desolation of Smaug while being so acutely aware of cut scenes here. The fact is in its rush to get to the action and the big battles, The Dark World misses out on the strengths unique to the Thor franchise. Specifically the family dynamics. Thor and Loki at this point have so much history and when they’re forced to team up against the larger elf threat, it’s no surprise that the strongest scenes in the film are between the two brothers. Considering we last saw them pummeling the living daylights out of one another in The Avengers, it is a great relief to see both actors really using their on screen chemistry and in the case of Hiddleston, Loki’s scene-stealing sarcasm, rather than they’re weapons. Their grief over a loss in their familly is palpable but then they’re also capable of fighting like children over who gets to drive the spaceship in one riot of a flight sequence. Hemsworth too has great comedic timing that often is overshadowed by his physical presence when it shouldn’t be. The scenes featuring both brothers have emminently more life to them than any between the heroes and this film’s villains.

Likewise, when Jane Foster is able to get her science on instead of being saddled with the Aether, we’re reminded what made her passionate character so likeable the first time. Her continued friendship with Kat Dennings’ outspoken intern Darcy is even more fun this time around with Dennings giving a pretty realistic response to seeing a god teleport through space. At least, I too would be swearing.

A major upside to this galaxy spanning story is how much the scale of Thor’s world increased since his solo outing. Asgard itself is given an entirely new depth and has been equipped with some magnificent viking-inspired flying machines. There’s also the welcome return of Thor’s fighting companions, the Warriors Three and Sif (Jaimie Alexander’s shield maiden who gets the award for most bad ass entrance in the film). The climatic battle which whips all the players around every corner of the universe–cleverly keeping Earthbound Act-of-Marvel-Movie damage to a minimum this time– provides fun glimpses into realms we’ve both seen previously (hey, Jotunheim!) and might explore in the future. As Thor 3 was recently confirmed, here’s hoping next time the creators do take this opportunity to expand their horizons and realize when it comes to the Asgardians more is more.

EXTRAS: Poor Rene Russo–as with the first film, the majority of her lovely performance as mother to the two warring Princes is relegated here to the deleted scenes. There are approximately eight minutes of them which were mainly cut, we’re informed in commentary, to make the film go faster. Unneccessarily I think, but I’m nevertheless grateful they see the light of day here. And with the amount of additional footage that was splashed all over the film’s marketing campaign in the fall of last year that’s still M.I.A on this set, I have no doubt that’s there’s likely still more in the Marvel vault waiting for its turn in the Marvel Phase Two box set.
Seriously, where’s Loki rocking this look from?

I digress.

As with all the recent Marvel releases, the disk is in fact packed with bonuses. Beyond the deleted scenes, there’s a fun gag reel, commentary with Kevin Feige, Alan Taylor and Tom Hiddleston sharing easter eggs that I even missed on theatrical viewings. Hiddleston also gets a moment to comment on his time spent in Captain America’s suit for a shapeshifting sequence (“it fit like a glove!”) and if you have need to see him looking like Thor, you can also find that screen test on one of the Blu-ray’s featurettes.

Crucially there’s the most substantial Marvel “one-shot” short film to date with “All Hail the King.” We get to catch us up with Ben Kingsley’s Iron Man 3 character in a funny way but also in a way that has much larger implications to the Iron Man story. Also it has a hilarious cameo from a character I had genuinely not expected to see again.

James D’Arcy talks about new film “After the Dark” and TV series “Those Who Kill”

James D’Arcy is known best for playing three roles in the 2012 epic sci-fi film “Cloud Atlas”, directed by Tom Tykwer and The Wachowski’s. He also played the role of Norman Bates in “Hitchcock”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with James about his role in his new film “After the Dark” and his new A&E TV series “Those Who Kill”.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the film “After the Dark”?
James D’Arcy: I woke up to an email from my agent sending me the script. I read the script completely cold and I had no idea what I was about to read at all. There was the moment in the script when I shoot one of the kids in the head, that is when it really got my interest. I thought this was really an unexpected twist. Then when I finished the script, I thought it was challenging, provocative and intelligent. You have to have a brain to watch the film. I was enthusiastic due that those aspects. Then I received a bunch of photographs of where we would be shooting. When I saw the locations, it made much more sense to me. I couldn’t visualize how it would work until I saw the photographs. I was just blown away. Then met with John Huddles and really liked him. He had a lot of great ideas and it just grew from there.

MG: I was wondering about the shooting locations since they were extremely beautiful.
JD: Yeah, it was incredible. The three places we filmed in Indonesia were the Prambanan Temple, Mount Bromo and Belitung Island. When I saw the island, I thought “Oh my God, that looks like a holiday”. It was beautiful. We did have to work unfortunately as well [laughs]. The other two Prambanan Temple and Mount Bromo, I haven’t never seen any place like them before. I had no idea a place like Prambanan even existed before. For Mount Bromo, we actually shot in an active volcano. It was filming on Mars. It was really worth it since these were just such extraordinary places.

MG: What intrigued you most about your character Mr. Zimit
JD: I really didn’t know if he was a good guy or not. I liked that there was this dubious gray area. I liked that he was smart and very charismatic. You just never quite knew where you where with him. He was constantly pulling the rug out from under your feet. I thought he was very complex and not obvious and I appreciated that enormously as an actor.

MG: You provided narration throughout as a few of the scenarios played out; was this done before or after shooting the film?
JD: You have an advantage over me since I haven’t seen the completed film yet. We didn’t record any narration separation. We shot it as part of the scene. I do remember that I was slaving over this very long speech at one point. We actually shot that and I remember thinking that this was most likely going to be used as a voice over. Some of the dialogue we shot twice, once was in the classroom and once was on location, so we never quite knew where the director was going to make the cut.

MG: Since you haven’t see the film, I am not sure you can relate but I loved the score in the film and we also interviewed the composer, Jonathan Davis and Nicholas O’Toole, I felt like the music was another character in the film.
JD: Yeah, I can’t comment much on that. But I have been in movies, where the music does something and becomes a character itself. It doesn’t just enhance what you are already hearing and seeing, it adds this extra layer. That is when music is best in the movies.
MG: Honestly, “Cloud Atlas” is one of those films for me and I loved how well the score was intertwined into the film.
JD: Yes, that score was quite amazing. Tom Tykwer did a phenomenal job.

MG: What can we expect from your upcoming A&E series “Those Who Kill”?
JD: It stars Chloe Sevigny and myself. We are both very damaged human beings with scores to be settled. We shot the whole thing in Pittsburgh, which is an extraordinary location since it allows a lot really artistic shots. It is a very dark and powerful show. It was great being able to take a character over a few hours as opposed to just one feature film. We had a chance to explore. them. I am very excited for this show.

MG: You’ve done roles like Mr. Zimit in “After the Dark”, Thomas Schaeffer in “Those who Kill” and you played three roles in “Cloud Atlas”; do you seek out specific roles when you approach a project?
JD: I do not think that I have ever actively seeked out a role. But when you read a script, you immediately know the ones you have an affinity with. Often, the ones that I have an affinity for are also the ones I am afraid of. I am not sure if I am able do them, which leads me to then investigate and pursue further.

MG: What else do you have in the cards for 2014?
JD: I am filming a movie right now called “Survivor”. It is stars Milla Jovovich, Pierce Brosnan, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott and myself. We are shooting in London and Bulgaria. It is an action/thriller. It is really good fun and James McTeigue is directing it. He is just wonderful. I also did a film last year called “Let’s Be Cops”, which is a very broad comedy, even though I am not the funny part of it. Because of the way, the film was shot most of the scenes I were in were more serious but I did get to see the funny stuff and it is quite funny indeed. I think that comes out in the Summer.

Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Nicholas O’Toole talk about composing film “After the Dark”

Photo Credit: Stefano Micchia & Fadewood Studios

“After The Dark” is the latest film by director John Huddles. The film takes place at an international school in Jakarta, where a philosophy teacher challenges his class of twenty graduating seniors to choose which ten of them would take shelter underground and reboot the human race in the event of a nuclear apocalypse. The film was scored by veteran film composer Nicholas O’Toole and Korn front man Jonathan Davis and Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with both of them about their work on the film and their ongoing collaboration with one another.

Adam Lawton: How did you both become involved with the film?
Nicholas O’Toole:  I was approached by George Zakk who was one of the producers on the film. I had known him from another project and they had just started to go into post production on this film. George had known that Jonathan and I had been working together for quite some time and it seemed like a good fit. This led to a discussion with director John Huddles. We ended up hitting it off right away and we have stayed friends since.

AL: What was the creative process like between the two of you?
NO: The dynamic is great as we have known each other for so long. We get what the other one does. I myself am very technically minded and I have a degree in film score work where Jonathan is prolific in songwriting, EDM and a variety of other things including film scoring. We sort of mind shared this project.  Jonathan is very dynamic and variant based. He brings a lot to the table from sound design, to mood and colors. I handle the more technical side of things such as arranging and post work. With Jonathan on the road a lot he and I developed a good solution for sharing our thoughts and ideas. We walked in to the project already having a pretty good flow.

AL: Jonathan, did you find any similarities in your writing style for the film and you writing style for Korn?
Jonathan Davis: It is completely different. That’s why I love it. It challenges me. When you are writing a film score you are trying to convey an emotion part of the film. That’s the whole reason why I love doing things like this as it is so different from the other writing that I do. When you are working on a song you have versus and choruses to stick to and with a project like this there are no rules. It’s really different.

AL: Is scoring something you picture yourself doing more of?
JD: I love doing it and am open to doing more. I am just a musical junkie. When I got sober back in the day I replaced partying with music. (Laughs) It is something that I can’t get enough of.

AL: Did you both work on the same parts together or did you work separately on various parts of the film?
NO: It was purely linear in this particular instance. John Huddles was involved as well from the ground level which made things even greater. Having John involved certainly reduced the re-writes. Normally you create a bunch of material and then show case but for this film John was there the whole time and fully invested. I think we just moved from beginning to end on this and then went back and did some adjusting where it was needed. I think you can sort of hear that in the arc of the story. We kept things moving and it felt very natural.

AL: How much of the film were you allowed to see at one time when you were scoring?
NO: We got the film in a reel which is the general process of post production. We are all contracted to confidentiality. You get the entire film however they may still be editing and changing some of the things. We would get new reels every week. We had a screening with the director where we saw the film in its entirety and we discussed where the music would go and for how long and what type of feel was needed. Everything gets spotted out and then we follow those notes and begin writing. You definitely have to understand the narrative in order to be able to start scoring.

AL: After the initial playing of the film with the score were there a lot of changes requested by the director?
NO: Things did change. The film was shot in Indonesia which is known for a style of music called Gamelan. Jonathan had some previous experiences with this style of music as had I in the past so this ended up being a pleasant coincident. We were going to take a more Gamelan eccentric approach anyhow which we did at first. John Huddles liked it but wanted to try a different approach. We repositioned ourselves in a way that caught fire and we were able to just take off. We kept things quite minimal arrangement wise and then mixed in a little Gamelan with electronic and hypnotic elements. We kept things very natural.

AL: Jonathan, did you have any reservations about working on the project? And do you have to get a specific type of mind set to work on this type of music?
JD: Not really. I love doing music. It’s always fun working with Nick and writing music. It was really great working with a director who had a specific vision. This was something so completely normal from what I do in my day job. I think you have to take yourself away because you are writing a piece of music not a song. I have to wrap my head around that but it’s basically music.

Photo Credit: Scoretek Inc

AL: Being that you guys have a friendship with one another outside of your work what do you enjoy most about working with each other?
JD: For me we are just friends making music. It’s a simple and pure thing. I am having fun making music for a cool movie and getting paid for it. There is no bad side to this what so ever. It’s just fun!
NO: The collaboration process is enhancing because if it was just me I would be writing out of my head. Jonathan adds another creative brain which comes from a completely different place. When you put the two together the result is always something bigger than what it would have been. Jonathan is prolific outside of Korn in ways that I think fans of the band will totally understand after hearing this. Like Jonathan said it’s just fun and we have a good vibe together so it’s great to be able to keep that going.

AL: What other projects do you guys have in the works for the rest of 2014?
NO: I am always negotiating on some sort of film project. Sometimes the project is working with Jonathan and sometimes it’s on my own. Jonathan and I have a good system worked out.
JD: I have quite a lot going on with Korn but with computers these days it allows Nick and me to be in different places but still be able to work together on projects with one another. I always have my noise buried in my laptop writing.