Blu-ray Review “A United Kingdom”

Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton, Jack Davenport, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto
Director: Amma Asante
Rated: PG-13
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Run Time: 111 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“A United Kingdom” is a romance drama based on a true story…but is not my cup of tea. Don’t get it wrong it is not generally a bad movie, I just didn’t personally enjoy it. The performances from David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) were amazing. The locations where it was shot are gorgeous and it definitely packed some solid romance. So if that is your bag, then check it out. I would for the performances alone but I don’t ever see myself watching or even remembering this out in a few months.

Official Premise: David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) star in this inspiring true story of the forbidden love between the king of Botswana and a white English woman in the 1940s. When they decided to marry just as apartheid was being introduced into South Africa, it caused an international uproar. But their passionate romance triumphed over every obstacle and changed the course of African history.

“A United Kingdom” comes to us as a combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy for your enjoyment. Fox delivered this film with a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track. It worked perfectly with Patrick Doyle’s beautiful score. And like I said above the lush locations where this film was shot, the 1080p transfer works that well and delivers a great picture.

Special features are a let down for sure. There are four short featurettes included. There is a basic EPK-style “Making Of”, a feature on “Filming in Botswana”, while “The Legacy of Seretse and Ruth” gives us a look into the real life couple. Lastly there is the London Film Festival Opening Night Gala Premiere and a Theatrical Trailer included.

Book Review “A Kingdom Keepers Adventure: The Syndrome”

Author: Ridley Pearson
Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: Kingdom Keepers (Book 7)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: March 3, 2015

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I remember when I went on my honeymoon to Disney back in 2006 and I picked up a new book called “The Kingdom Keepers” and I finished it while on my trip. Last year, we thought we were at the end of the road with “Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider”, as it was believed to been the last book in this series. Luckily, that is not the cause and we have more greatness from Ridley Pearson. “A Kingdom Keepers Adventure: The Syndrome” is a really interesting twist since it is a stand-alone story but told from the point of view of the Fairlies. So we get to experience the adventures of The Kingdom Keepers through a fresh set of eyes.

Official Premise: When Amanda travels east to Orlando on a hunch, she’s met with the worst news possible. Kingdom Keeper Finn Whitman is missing. Calling on her own gift (she’s telekinetic), her sister Jess’s ability to dream the future, and their fellow Fairlie Mattie Weaver’s unexplained ability to read minds through physical contact, the three gifted girls must navigate treachery, deception, and the stubborn, unwilling parents of the missing Keepers if they’re to save their friends.

As much as a love “The Kingdom Keepers” series, this is not right up to par with the rest of the books but it is still a ton of fun and packs a lot of magic. This isn’t the end of the series, either as it looks like we are just getting started with another series for “Kingdom Keepers”. Released March 31st in the new series “The Return” called “Disney Lands” is the next book in the series and will kick off new adventures in the series. In fact, this book also includes an excerpt of “Disney Lands” as an added bonus. Keep them coming Ridley!

Audio Book Reviews “Kingdom Keepers II-V”

Author: Ridley Pearson
Performed by: Christopher Lane, MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio on MP3-CD
Edition: Unabridged
Discs: 6, 10, 9, 11
Release Date: August 26, 2008, April 6, 2010; April 5, 2011; April 3, 2012
Running Time: 7 hours, 12 hours, 10 hours, 13 hours

Overall Series Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Flashback to November 2005 in Walt Disney World,  I am on my honeymoon with my beautiful newly wed wife. We are strolling around the Magic Kingdom shops and I come across a rather interesting book titled “Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark”.  And that was my first introduction to the world of Ridley Pearson.  I believe I finished the book before I even got home from the honeymoon and hungry for more.  I also went around and spreaded the word to my entire Disney family, who is also now hardcore fans of the series and Pearson’s work. “Kingdom Keepers II:” Disney at Dawn” arrived in 2008.  The book was a fantastic continuation of the series of Finn and his friends.  With the series on a hot streak the third installment as was up next “Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” only two years later in 2010. Since the third book Ridley has been releasing a new episode every year with “Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” in 2011 and “Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” in 2012. This series not only gets better with each book it also reveals all new mysteries, adventures and villains that our heroes and their DHI’s have to face. A must have for an Disney fan!

The first “Kingdom Keepers” on audio book was performed by Gary Littman and the second book was performed Christopher Lane.  Both books were well performed don’t get me wrong
but he third book was is performed by MacLeod Andrews and easily became my favorite of all the performers. In fact MacLeod also has continued with the series straight through the latest fifth book in the series “Shell Game”. I like the fact of keeping it uniform especially when it comes to audio books.  When you listen to MacLeod you will understand what I mean.  He is very animated and really gives a voice to these characters. His performance also feels very theatrical, which I believe stems from his background of working on numerous stage production in New York. I believe that in order to deliver a convincing and also entertaining job for a book reading that you need to be able to get behind as well as into the characters. As the series also progress within the third book through the fifth book, it also get more epic and ambitious. This is where MacLeod really steps up and delivers the action, the comedy and the drama all mixed together very well.

Brilliance Audio has been behind this series since the first book and have delivered impressive productions throughout the series. “Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn” in book form is 384 pages, while the audio book is about 7 hours long. I have always loved the second book and Lane goes a good job with his performance. “Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” in book form clocked in a 560 pages, which is a nice length especially of young adult book. The book is performed by Macleod in just over 12 hours over 10 compact discs.  The book edition of “Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” closes out with 448 pages.  The audio book runs 10 hours over 9 compact discs. Lastly, “Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” totals up 560 pages in the book edition, while the audio book runs the longest at 13 hours and 17 minutes and over 11 compact disc. Here are the packaging dimensions for each audio book: “Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn”, “Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” and “Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” are both: 7 x 5 x 1.5 inches, while “Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” comes in a smaller and more concise packaging 5.5 x 5 x 0.5 inches. I have to say that I prefer the slimmer packaging since it stands better without the added Styrofoam. Also inside each of the three boxes are the same content, which are the varied number of discs in white paper sleeves, so you are not loosing anything due to the smaller packaging. Am I allowed to say “Brilliant job Brilliance Audio!” 😉 Can’t wait till the audio book of “Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage” coming Fall 2013.

“Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn” Official Premise: It’s supposed to be a happy day at the Magic Kingdom – the teenage holographic hosts have returned. But things go very wrong when a sudden lightning storm disrupts the celebration, and Amanda’s mysterious sister, Jez, disappears. The only clue is the sighting of a wild monkey in the Magic Kingdom during the storm. The mystery deepens as Finn is contacted by Wayne, an old man he hasn’t heard from in months. Wayne tells Finn that there’s trouble at the Animal Kingdom: the evil Overtakers have gained control of one of the computer servers that will be used to operate Daylight Holographic Imaging there. That means if any of the holographic hosts fall asleep, they will go into comas – permanently. Filled with action and brimming with the same meticulous detail as The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark (also available in audio from Brilliance Audio), this second audiobook in the series – Disney at Dawn – is the result of hands-on research behind the scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Younger and older listeners alike will get a glimpse into a second Disney kingdom. The wild rides have only just begun, and the clock is ticking. How long can the teens keep themselves awake in their quest to find their friend – and what happens if they fail?

“Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” Official Premise: When Disney Imagineers installed hologram guides for the Magic Kingdom using teenage models, they had no idea the technology might backfire. But backfire it did: some nights when the kids go to sleep, they wake up in one of the Disney parks as holograms. The five teens have twice thwarted evil plots masterminded by Maleficent; but now Finn, Philby, Willa, Charlene, and Maybeck have another problem: Wayne, their mentor and head Imagineer, has mysteriously gone missing. Concerned that Wayne has been abducted by the Overtakers, the kids pick up a major clue from a close friend, Jess, whose dreams (nightmares, really) often accurately predict the future. This time, the clues from Jess’s dream lead the kids into Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Each clue seems tied to the last, and with the stakes growing ever higher, what starts out as a puzzle ends up as a fight for their lives. As they quest for a sword, take rides on Soarin’ and Maelstrom, have life-and-death encounters with a giant snake, and attempt to stop Maleficent, the Kingdom Keepers not only begin to decipher deeper meanings in the clues, but discover new truths about themselves and their ever-growing friendships.

“Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” Official Premise: Just when life for the five Kingdom Keepers is beginning to settle down, an intriguing video suddenly appears on Philby’s computer at school. It’s a call to action: it seems that the Overtakers, a group of Disney villains, are plotting to rescue their two captured leaders, who were hidden away by Disney Imagineers after a recent violent encounter at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A staged attack by some mysterious new Overtakers at DisneyQuest confirms the Keepers’ fears. One of their own, Charlene, has been behaving oddly. Has she tired of her role as a Keeper, or is there something more sinister at play? When she’s caught sneaking into Epcot as a hologram — which is strictly against the group’s rules — Finn and Philby know the Keepers must act. The Keepers have so many puzzles to solve: has the impossible occurred? Have the Overtakers created their own holograms? Have they found a way to “jump” from the Virtual Maintenance Network onto the Internet, and if so, what does that mean for the safety of the Parks, and the spread and reach of the Overtakers? Are they recruiting an army of kids for their evil purposes? Trouble looms as the Kingdom Keepers struggle to differentiate friend from foe and battle new and increasingly dangerous enemies, all the while knowing they may be nearing a point of no escape.

“Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” Official Premise: As the five Kingdom Keepers enter high school, everything is about to change. The Maintenance Base that controls all four parks in Disney World is under attack by the Overtakers, a group determined to change Disney forever. Relationships between the Keepers are no longer as simple as they once were. In fact, nothing is as simple as it once was. An after-hours visit to Typhoon Lagoon is a game changer. The Keepers lose one of their most valuable supporters. But there’s work to do. . . . The Disney Dream leaves Port Canaveral on a historic cruise to Los Angeles with a special treat in store for guests: the Disney Host Interactive teenage guides are on board. Finn, Maybeck, Charlene, Willa, and Philby join celebrity guests as the DHI experience moves to one of the most advanced cruise ships in the world. But all is not right belowdecks. Strange things are happening. Unexplained phenomena. Only the Kingdom Keepers know the truth behind their invitation to be in attendance: nearly every Disney villain is aboard the ship, including Maleficent. The Overtakers have infiltrated the cast and crew. And no one knows what they have planned. The Dream sets sail filled with enthusiastic guests and crew. But not for long. Maleficent takes over a video screen and warns the guests of trouble to come. With the ship arriving at the beaches of Castaway Cay—its first of many exotic ports of call—the Kingdom Keepers are under attack; back home the Base is threatened and about to fall. The Overtakers have expanded in ways never foreseen, and it’s clear they intend to use this element of surprise to accomplish what has eluded them so far: victory. But not if Finn Whitman and friends have anything to say about it.

Book Review "Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage"

Author: Ridley Pearson
Age Range: 10 and up
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Release Date: April 2, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Even since the first “Kingdom Keepers” back in 2005, I have been in love with this series. There was something interesting about what happens when Disney goes dark. This series has developed so well since it began its adventure exploring from park to park with some really great plot twists and fun characters. I love the fact that Maleficent gets center stage as she is one of my favorites. In “Dark Passage”, we hit the seas on the Disney Cruise Line and various Caribbean islands. Since Disney is so vast, there is no shortage of where we can go with this series. I feel that this sixth book in the series is the most ambitious and has yet to disappoint. So don’t worry this series is not running low on steam and continues to grow strong.

Official Synopsis: The five Kingdom Keepers and their core friends have uncovered a startling truth: Maleficent and the Overtakers (Disney villains) are plotting a catastrophic event that could have repercussions far beyond the world of Disney. Aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s inaugural passage through the new Panama Canal, the Keepers and their holograms uncover a puzzle hidden within the pages of a stolen journal. The point of that puzzle will reveal itself in the caves of Aruba, the zip lines of Costa Rica, and the jungles of Mexico. A destructive force, dormant for decades, is about to be unleashed. The five Kingdom Keepers are to be its first victims.

Ridley Pearson really knows how to speak to his audience.  The book is aimed at the “Young Adult” audience but it doesn’t talk down to them.  He treats his fans like they are adults and that is why I feel that this series also draws in an older audience as well, like myself.  Plus who doesn’t like to read about a different side of Disney with new and our favorite character. Ridley Pearson has stated before that this series will contain seven books, which means that we are getting close to the end to the “Kingdom Keepers” series. I still would like to see this series transform into a TV series or feature film.  Maybe one day. I feel that there is a major audience for this. Either way, I will be on the edge of my seat to see what Pearson has planned next.

Blu-ray Review “Moonrise Kingdom”

Actors: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Kara Hayward
Directors: Wes Anderson
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Run Time: 94 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Wes Anderson’s films, they are this different brand of cinema. There is really nothing like them and they are definitely not for everyone. I am a big fan of all of his work, whether it is “Rushmore”, The Royal Tenenbaums” or even “Fantastic Mr. Fox (which might even be my favorite). This film is so unique and enthralling and leave you literally glued to the screen and hesitating to blink. The young stars of this film really steal the show, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. They are mesmerizing on the screen. Rounding out the amazing cast is Bruce Willis (“Die Hard”) as well as Academy Award nominees Edward Norton (“American History X”) and Bill Murray (“Lost in Translation”) and Academy Award winners Frances McDormand (“Fargo”) and Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”). Fans of his work, should not miss it and those looking for something original and different should definitely check it out.

Official Premise: Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom follows two 12-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm begins to brew off-shore – and the peaceful island community is turned upside-down and changed forever.

This release is very impressive within its Blu-ray/DVD/UV Digital Copy combo pack. I am a big fan of the Ultraviolet streaming service and I know I will be taking advantage of that aspect quite a bit. The 1080p transfer is extremely impressive and meets Wes Anderson standards and showcases Robert D. Yeoman’s wonderful cinematography. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track believe it or not is the star of the show. The sound is practically flawless and works perfectly with the score and dialogue. The downfall of this release though is the special features. There are only a few dull short featurettes including “A Look Inside Moonrise Kingdom,” “Welcome to the Island of New Penzance,” and a “Set Tour with Bill Murray.” Come on Wes Anderson, we know you can do better? Where’s the commentary track and actually meaningful special features?

Film Review “Moonrise Kingdom”

Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 34 mins
Focus Features

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Wes Anderson has always managed to amaze me. From early films “Bottle Rocket” and “Rushmore” to the stop motion “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” he has perfected a simple style of filmmaking that is easily recognizable but not easy to replicate. He continues that tradition with his new film, “Moonrise Kingdom.”

As the film begins, in what appears to be the style of an old 16 mm educational film we all remember from school, we are introduced first to the Bishop family. They live in a plain clapboard house on the water in Rhode Island. Mr. Walt Bishop (Bill Murray) is the quiet, reserved father. His wife, Laura (Frances McDormand) is also quiet but hiding something inside. The children consist of three young sons and pre-teen daughter, Suzy (Hayward). A brief tour of the house and surrounding areas concludes by the water, where we are suddenly introduced to a narrator (Bob Balaban), who informs us that the story we are about to see gets pretty intense when, three days from now, a hurricane is going to hit land.

Told as innocently as its 1965 setting, “Moonrise Kingdom” may be Anderson’s most accessible film to date. But it’s still clearly an Anderson film. From the quirky situations the characters find themselves in to the almost slide-show like camera movement, the film is a celebration of a simpler time when young love had a chance if you fought hard enough. Besides the Bishop family we meet some of the other quirky characters of the story. Young Sam (Gilman) is a run-away Khaki Scout whose brief encounter with Suzy a year ago has resulted in the two becoming pen pals with dreams of running off and being together forever. Scoutmaster Ward (Edward Norton) feels bad because he didn’t realize that Sam was a problem child. However, he doesn’t feel bad enough that he doesn’t arm his young charges with hatchets, knives and a bow and arrow when the begin to search for the AWOL Sam. Also involved in the search is Captain Sharp (Willis) the local law. Other characters, played by well known names like Harvey Keitel and Tilda Swinton, also meld seamlessly into the story. But it is Gilman and Hayward, both making their film debuts, that steal the film and hold it together. Whether holding hands overlooking the water or fumbling through their first kisses, the two youngsters are heartbreakingly believable as they learn the good and bad of first love.

The script, by Anderson and Roman Coppola (Francis’ son, Sophia’s brother) is tight and smart while the photography, by Robert Yeohman, jumps off the screen. And a smart soundtrack, comprised of Alexandre Desplat’s original score interspliced with Hank Williams and Benjamin Britten compositions, helps carry the mood.

DVD Review “My Kingdom”

Director: Xiaosong Gao
Starring: Chun Wu, Geng Han, Barbie Hsu
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Distributed by: New Video
Run Time: 97 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

The box art for this film claims to have its action scenes choreographed by Sammo Hung (“IP Man 2”) and to me, that sets my expectations high. I am not sure that Sammo actually did work on this film because the fight scenes were lame and do not entertain at all. I found to film to be slow moving, very incohesive and basically a love story with a very few action sequences that take place during an opera. Sound entertaining to you?…doubtful.

The film deals with issues of honor, love and revenge set in Shanghai in the 1920’s. We follow two brothers who set out to seek revenge for their master’s honor. After years spent in martial arts training, the two brothers establish themselves in the Shanghai opera scene in order to get vengeance. They meet a beautiful actress and the three of them get tangled in a complex web of love, lust, deceit and betrayal.

Overall Wu Chun known for “14 Blades” and Han Geng known for the recent “Beginning of the Great Revival” don’t really feel like action heroes. They don’t seem to be like guys who can kick some ass, especially when they are performing in operas. Lastly, the film contains no special features besides the Mandarin Chinese audio track. Skip this film and checking the “IP Man” series if you haven’t already.

CD Review: Vangough “Kingdom of Ruin”

Vangough
“Kingdom of Ruin”
Nightmare Records
Tracks: 15

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

“Kingdom of Ruin” is the newest release from the Oklahoma City based band Vangough. “Kingdom of Ruin” will be the bands 3rd release which features an interesting concept related to a man stepping between two realities and his link to the newly discovered world. The album is a follow up to the bands two previous albums “Manikin Parade” and “Game On!”.

Vangough’s “Kingdom of Ruin” was an odd listen to say the least. The album screams concept album as each track spirals down a different path in an effort to tell the underlying story. For me as a listener there was just too much going on making it hard to decipher what I was listening to. The songs  on “Kingdom of Ruin” all had very solid instrumentation however I do question the structure in some of the songs. I did find a few highlights such as “Requiem for a Fallen King” which was a pretty straight forward rock tune that featuring and very Santana-ish inspired solo. I also really enjoyed the softness of the song “Alice”.

Not being a huge fan of concept albums did sway my opinion of Vangough’s “Kingdom of Ruin”. I will say though that the album is not a bad album by any means. If concept albums are your thing then this album would surely be a great addition to your music collection. However if you are looking for an album that is easily accessible and straight forward then Vangough’s “Kingdom of Ruin” may not be the best choice.

Track Listing:
1.)    Disloyal
2.)    Choke Faint Drown
3.)    Abandon Me
4.)    Drained
5.)    Kingdom of Ruin
6.)    Frailty
7.)    The Transformation
8.)    The Rabbit Kingdom
9.)    Stay
10.)  Sounds of Wonder
11.)  A Father’s Love
12.)  Requiem For a Fallen King
13.)  An Empire Shattered
14.)  Alice
15.)  The Garden Time Forgot

Film Review “Golf in the Kingdom”

Director: Susan Streitfeld
Starring: Mason Gamble, David O’Hara, Malcolm McDowell and Frances Fisher
Golf in the Kingdom LLC
Rated PG
Running Time: 87 minutes

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Most movies have a scene where it takes the lead on a existential transcendental journey to find themselves, but with this film it never moves on from that point. The film started and I was enjoying the whole trippy existential experience and then I was waiting and waiting for it to take the next step in the story. Unfortunately I was left waiting. I have never read the book so maybe I am missing the overall deep meaning for the story. Well even if I did, I found my eyes struggling to stay awake and focused on this film. Luckily it wasn’t all bad since the film does have some great acting.

David O’Hara really delivers a great performance in the film. David is is know for his role in “Wanted” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” and is co-starring in “Cowboys & Aliens”. Mason Gamble also delivers a great performance as Michael Murphy. Mason is known for his lead role in 1993’s “Dennis the Menace”. He has really proved in this film that he can act and will bring great things in the future.

“Golf in the Kingdom” follows Michael Murphy (Mason Gamble) whose encounters with a meets a golf player named Shivas (David O’Hara), who has a profound influence on him. Shivas teaches Michael not only golf but also about spirituality. I wouldn’t really call this a sports movie in general though since it is focuses less on the game and more on the spiritual side of life. I would say more of a coming-of-age finding yourself film with golf in the background.

Interview with Aleks Paunovic

Aleks Paunovic is currently appearing the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” playing the character Shao Kahn. Aleks is also appearing in this fall’s “This Means War” and “In the Name of the King 2”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Aleks about his roles in both projects and also what he  has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you became involved with “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”?
Aleks Paunovic: I was fortunate enough because I went out for a casting and I had a really good relationship with the casting director. Probably about a month after I got a call that I got the role.

MG: Where you familiar with character of Shao Kahn before this project?
AP: I was and I was apprehensive about doing that role.  I didn’t quite understand how I would fit in the mold. It was so great the route that Kevin took “Rebirth” and with “Legacy” opened where this project can go with his fresh vision. I was scared at first if the fans of “Mortal Kombat” would jump on board with me being Shao Kahn.   Once I understood the vision Kevin had I was very comfortable and confident playing him.

MG: What do you like most about the character?
AP: Kevin was one a shoe string budget and we were just trying to understand it. For me, just knowing the immense popularity of that role and basically the baddest bad guy.   In this we find in Kevin’s vision how bad Shao Kahn can be and how involved the character can do.  That to me was excited knowing that from the ground floor you can get some really good character development.

MG: You have worked with fellow “MK: Legacy” co-star, Tahmoh Penikett, a few times now with “Battlestar Gallactica” and “Riverworld”, tell us about that?
AP: I am pretty sure it was a coincidence but Tahmoh and I have been best friends for years, off screen.  We were just in Toronto to watch the biggest UFC in history.  We grapple around and hang out often.  Our biggest connection as friends is the fight games.  He is a phenomenal fighter.  So we train a lot together. He is one of my best friends.

MG: You have worked on a bunch of projects with SyFy, do you enjoy working in that genre?
AP: Oh man, I love the sci-fi genre!  It is an interesting world to be apart of because the fans are so dedicating and loving and they just want you to succeed.  When you get involved with the fan view of a project, I think that is the best thing as an actor to connect with fans.  They want these films to be good and they want to help your growth.  It has been awesome. I love that genre.

MG: What would you consider your most challenging project to date?
AP: Well there are two projects and they happened back to back. The first was a film called “Personal Effects” directed by David Hollander. Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates were in it. I played a mental challenged man, who ends up killer Ashton Kutcher’s sister.  In the film, I had to develop this different character.  I felt that the character I was playing was not suppose to work out, so I stopped. I didn’t even do a push up for a few months and ate as much as I could.  So I wanted to look really out of shape.  Besides that though the role was very dark and for me that was the hardest but it was also very rewarding. It was great getting to work with those actors and I was really proud of my role.  After that I did a project called “Fireball” and I had to switch it up and loose the weight and put on as much muscle as I could.  I was playing a steroid freak football player, who likes to set things on fire.  So both of those projects back to back were tough.  I find though that the most challenging projects I do are also the most rewarding.

MG: Tell us about your involvement with “In the Name of the King 2”?
AP: I got cast as the right hand man to the King played by Dolph Lundgren. I played a guy named Allard and I go on this mission with the King.  It was really cool experience.

MG: You appear with fellow “MK: Legacy” co-star Kevan Ohtsji in “This Means War” directed McG, tell us about working on this?
AP: That was so great. McG is quite a character with such immense energy. Tom Hardy, I am a huge fan of him.  I had a quick little cameo with him.  I want to get more involved with doing comedy.  I am 6’5 and 250lbs, so I get a lot of jobs kicking the crap out of people but I really love comedy.

Interview with Susan Sullivan

Susan Sullivan is known for her role of Martha Rogers on ABC’s hit show “Castle”. With the show approach its end of season three and is hotter than ever, Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Susan about her role and what we can expect for season four.

Mike Gencarelli: What do you like most about playing Martha Rogers on “Castle”?
Susan Sullivan: I think when you are cast well in something, the character sort of mirrors and crystallizes your own dynamics. It really brings out where you are in your life and also certain things you are experiencing. The whole aspect of aging, feeling a little marginalized, trying to stay alive and in the game and youthful.  All of those aspects are fun for me to explore because [laughs], I am exploring them in my own life.

MG: What has been your inspiration for her character?
SS: My real inspiration for this character is my own mother, who is 94 and still with us, God bless her.  She is someone that is always offering advise to people and who is very helpful.  She is like this wise old soul, plus she has a lot of energy and incite…that she readily shares. I think I try to incorporate parts of my mother into the character.  In fact Martha being a life coach was my mother’s idea.  We even put one of my mothers lines in the show, “You is who you is and if you ain’t who you is, who is you?”, which she says on a daily basis [laughs].  So that is my personal inspiration and of course as we grow older we sort of become our mothers, so there you go.

MG: The family dynamic that you have on the show is just great, how was it been working with Nathan Fillion and Molly Quinn?
SS: It is just great. Of course even if it wasn’t I would tell you it is but in this case it actually is [laughs].  I think it would be really hard to fake that.  We have this really connectedness.  I look at Nathan now and I said “Wow we are starting to even look a like, when did that happen?”  Of course Molly is completely delightful.  In relationships, it is always wonderful when you have something to learn from the person you are with.  I learn a lot from both of them in very different ways.  We have a really profound connection.

MG: Do you have a favorite episode from the series to date?
SS: Well on a personal level, yes.  I don’t know if it was necessarily one of the better episodes. When I find out that Chet has died and dealing with that loss and how one comes to terms with that.  That was really interesting for me as an actor and as a woman.

MG: You have worked on various TV series, how do you find this show differs from them?
SS: Each show has its own personality and style.  Of course “Dharma and Greg” was a sitcom, so that was completely different and also she was sort of an abrasive character.  Each character you play, you tend to bring the character home with you.  For Martha, I would have to say is that she has so much life force about her and she is wonderful to encounter.  I would have to say that she is probably one of my favorite characters, even though you don’t see a lot of her.  But that is sort of good too.

MG: Any sneak as to what we can expect for the end of this season?
SS: Well [laughs], I must tell you it is one of these shows where so much happens in one episode.  I read the script and said this should be a two-parter.  I think they even shot enough for a two-parter, so I know a lot of that episode will be left on the cutting room floor.  Well, it is going to be a complete surprise, with all the turns and angles. This is a show about turns that surprise and if the turns don’t surprise you in the storyline then it isn’t much fun. Hang on to your hat kid, because this is a whirlwind.  I can tell you that.

MG: Not sure what you can tell about next season but will Martha have new love interest?
SS: Oh, I am sure several [laughs].  I insist in fact, it is in my contact.

MG: What else are you currently working on?
SS: For the month of June, I will be doing a play called “Love, Loss and What I Wore”.  It is at the West Side Theater in New York.  It is with a rotating cast of actresses, five women. So if anyone is in New York and is a “Castle” fan…look it up!

Interview with Derrick Denicola

Derrick Denicola stars in the upcoming independent film “Go For It” which opens in theaters Friday May 13th. Derrick took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Movie Mikes about his career and his new film.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you first got into acting?
Derrick Denicola: I started acting in college. When I was going through the book of classes I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. There were some improvisational classes that sounded fun however you had to be a theater major to take them. I decided I would declare myself a theater major so I could take those classes and until I figured out what I wanted to do. Once I got started I really fell in love with it and never looked back.

AL: Was there something in particular that sparked that love?
DD: Yes. At LSU where I went they had a peer mentoring group where a senior would take around a freshman and show them the campus as well as some classes. While I was doing this I got to see a rehearsal for a play. I saw all the great work that the actors were putting into this play and I left with such a creative high that I knew from that moment that acting was what I wanted to do.

AL: Can you tell us what it was like working with Michael Ironsides in “Mutants”?
DD: I didn’t have any scenes with Michael but I did get to see him work as we were on set at the same time. He is extremely professional and very intimidating! He is a very big guy who knows exactly what he’s doing. You can really learn from him by just watching how he gives himself to the creative process. It was a joy to watch him work.

AL: What was it like showing up on set for your first film role?
DD: I had more anxiety sitting in a trailer or at home reading the script hoping that I would do a good job more than anything.  A strange thing happens when you walk on set though and you see everything lit up and the cameras ready. The nervousness starts to go away and your acting instincts start to kick in. You start to see the set as what it’s meant to be rather than a movie set.

AL: Can you tell us about your role as Sebastian in “Ben and Jakes Big Deal”?
DD: That was a small independent film that was in a way experimental. The actors had a chance to write the script for the film. We were each given four pages of guidelines for where the story was supposed to go. How we got there was up to us. I was surrounded by some really funny people during that project. Currently I don’t know what is happening with that film but I imagine the end result is going to be something completely disastrous or unique and genius.

AL: From all your projects do you have one that sticks out as a favorite?
DD: They all are special in their own ways. “Go For It” which comes out May 13th has really stuck with me. Both the film and the people I have met along the way have been really great! Meeting Carmen Marron has been one of the most inspiring things that has ever happened to me. Just getting to hear how the movie got made is just as good as the movie itself. Carmen was a guidance counselor with no film experience and her and her husband saved up all the money themselves to make this film!

AL: Can you tell us a little more about “Go For It”
DD: “Go For It” is an inspirational dramedy which features a really great cast and I think the film will have something for everyone. Aimee Garcia from the George Lopez show is in the film as well as Gina Rodriguez. It’s really just a wonderful cast and we are all hoping to make some really positive role models for young people. I play Jared in the film that’s the love interest of the main character Carmen. During the film the character of Carmen has to make a choice as to what she loves more be it Jared or dancing.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
DD: You actually caught me on the best day! I just finished a meeting with a production company to shoot a pilot I wrote. I will also have a role in the project as well as being the director. The project is called “Unreal Estate Agents”. This will be my first time directing and production is scheduled to start in about a month. I am really excited for this project!

Interview with Beatrice King

Beatrice King is currently appearing the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” playing the character Queen Sindel. Peter is also appearing in the Seth Rogan lead film titled, “50/50″ this Fall.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Beatrice about his roles in both projects and also whatshe  has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” web series?
Beatrice King: I originally auditioned for the role of Meleena in Vancouver and they really liked my audition. From there I was considered for the role of Queen Sindel. A short time later I was notified by the casting director that I got the role.

MG: Were you familiar with the Sindel character prior to your audition?
BK: I had been because my brother grew up playing “Mortal Kombat”. However I would have to say that some of the research I did on the character came into the role but, a large portion of it came from the script. I wanted to make sure everything was right because Kevin’s vision of the series is different from the video game.

MG: How was it working with Kevin?
BK: He is fantastic! I loved working with him. He’s a young guy with an incredible vision. He took the time to work with each actor one on one for each scene which is something he wanted. Personally I like a director who really communicates what they want. I think when a director does this it brings the project to a whole new level creatively.

MG: How was your experience working on a web series compared to television or a film?
BK: I thought that this project really felt like a feature film. I didn’t feel like a web series at all. Having such a great cast as well as Kevin and Warner Bros. involved really helped. Every person involved I think looked at this project as a labor of love and put everything they had into each of their parts.

MG: Can you tell us about the film you did recently with Seth Rogan titled “50/50”
BK: That film is scheduled to come out later this fall and is kind of a darker comedy. It was really interesting and I am very excited for it. I think when the audience thinks of Seth Rogan they think more about the projects he has done. This film is really different and I think it’s going to offer something really new in the way of Hollywood comedy.

MG: How was it working with “Glee” star Cory Monteith on “Sisters and Brothers”?
BK: It was great! I had actually worked with Cory before on the television series “Kaya”. I also am friends with Alie Liebert so it felt just like working with friends and really great people who are all incredibly talented. Everyone was really welcoming and making sure each other was comfortable on set and with the director.

MG: You also worked on “Strange Magic” by J.K. Rowling. Can you tell us about that?
BK: That was filmed in Victoria and I had to really work on my British accent for that which was an incredible process. I always have enjoyed working on new characters and accents. I find that very rewarding as an actor to be able to portray someone totally different. I feel really fortunate because this was another project that everyone was really supportive of one another. You really were made to feel part of the team. I played the secretary of a literary agency in that film and it felt very natural to work in that environment because I was an English major in school.

MG: Did you get the chance to meet J.K. Rowling during the filming process?
BK: No not during filming. But we were at the table read and the person who played J.K. in the film looked so much like her it was incredible. I think viewers are really going to find similarities to the real J.K. Rowling.

MG: If you could choose one actor to work with who would it be?
BK: I would have to say off hand probably Natalie Portman when I was studying acting at a young age her role in “Beautiful Girls” really inspired me. However before I did “50/50” I would have said Joseph Gordon-Levitt because I had followed his career and how he has branched out but it seems to be changing from time to time but for now it’s Natalie Portman.