Film Review: “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton and Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by: Jon Watts
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 2 hrs 13 mins
Sony Pictures

Stop the presses…they got it right!

Even though I’ve enjoyed the past film adventures of everybody’s favorite web-slinger (both the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield versions) there was always something missing. This week I discovered that the missing ingredient was one Mr. Tom Holland. Like Sean Connery is to James Bond, Mr. Holland is the BEST Spider-man EVER!

We begin with a brief prologue, showing the aftermath of the destruction of STARK Tower. Handling the demolition and scrapping of the material is Adrian Toomes (Keaton), who has liquidated his savings to handle the job. Things get bad quickly when a mysterious government official (always great to see Tyne Daly) takes over the project, leaving Toomes and his men out of work. As they leave, the workers help themselves to some sure to be top-secret materials. More on this later.

Jump ahead eight years and we find ourselves in the middle of a video diary being kept by one Peter Parker, who has spent the summer “interning” for Tony Stark (Downey,Jr.) And by interning I mean he has been training to join Stark’s force of Avengers. We see footage from the last film, “Captain America: Civil War”. Remember “Hey, Underoos?”

The summer ends and Peter is back living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and dealing with high school bullies. Which is funny because Peter attends a school for gifted students. Yes, in a school of Nerds he is the nerdiest. And, best of all, he’s a KID!

Yes, the one thing that always detracted me from the other films is that Peter Parker was always too mature…even if he was supposed to be in his late teens. Here he is a fumbling 14-year-old dealing with changes…his own and with those around him. He’s got the wit, certainly a defense mechanism, and a cool suit, courtesy of Stark. And while Peter wants to branch out to big things, he is counseled to just play things slow…instead of tacking the big things just be “your friendly neighborhood Spider-man.”

The film rides on Holland’s slender shoulders and, to use an often-dropped cliché’, this is the role he was born to play. He gets help from Keaton, who shows up here as a different kind of Birdman. And Downey, Jr. is pure smirk as Tony Stark. And extra credit to young Jacob Batalon, who plays Peter’s seemingly only friend, Ned. When Ned learns Peter’s secret, he promises to keep it, in the hopes that one day he will be Peter’s “guy in the chair,” the person you always see in movies whispering into the hero’s earpiece.

A fine addition to the Marvel Movie Universe, “Spider-man: Homecoming” is one of the best in the series.

Marvel and DC Slots are the New Hottest Trend

Over the years, leading participants of the comics market, the two companies Marvel and DC tandem, have occupied the biggest part of the industry. Although both have something similar in their works, their main principles differ. Thus, unlike the dreary stories of DC, Marvel heroes save the world, fight evil, and compete with monsters in speed and agility. Millions of children and adults around the world follow the adventures of the X-Men, Hulk, Black Widow, Falcon Eye, and the Iron Man and want to get at least a part of their superpower. And this is not a complete list of superheroes of the comic books by Marvel. Over time, Marvel merged with Disney, which has led to the revival of favorite characters on the screens.

The Trend Sweeping the Gambling Market

The creators of gaming software for online casinos decided to snatch an opportunity and rushed to create online pokies based on popular comic books. Hence, a well-known company Cryptologic was the first who bought the rights to create Marvel slot machines in 2005. The company came up trumps having embodied the adventures of Marvel heroes in their gambles. Yesterday’s children, today’s adults, were happy to play new games driven by one question: what should appear on reels in order to win a multi-level progressive Jackpot.

No surprise, other software manufacturers for online casinos wanted to repeat the success of Cryptologic. Thus, Playtech has developed the machines that became must have for gambling establishments. Both companies, one way or another, are still contributing to the gambling industry making the casino world even more colorful and diverse.

High-Tech Innovation in the Game

Slot machines with DC and Marvel heroes delight gamblers with even more interesting changes. Being the hottest trend of today, such gambles are the latest developments of gambling companies. Firms make every effort to produce a quality product. Therefore, Marvel slots have everything you need: five reels, different symbols with unique properties, Wilds, bonus rounds, and many more. In addition, the developers have implemented various animated components of the playing field, making the gameplay more exciting. For example, in a slot machine Dark Knight, a flock of mice-bloodshot can suddenly jump out. Do not forget that such automatic slots are often developed with the participation of right holders. In other words, in the slot machine menu, you will see the photos of the characters directly from the movie. The fans are very happy about this

Film Review: “Doctor Strange”

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 115 minutes
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

How many trick or treaters did you get that were dressed as Doctor Strange? I’m going to guess that you got none. You probably saw more kiddos dressed like Thor, Spiderman, Batman, Harley Quinn or Iron Man. Well next year you might see a few more kids wearing fake or drawn on goatees and donning red velvet colored capes.

The latest addition to the Marvel cinematic universe is the egocentric neurosurgeon, Stephen Strange. The world renowned doctor showboats while patients’ lives are on the line. He loves demonstrating his calm demeanor and unflinching hands under immense pressure during operations that require precise movements. He values his hands much like a model covets their hourglass shape. But that all goes out the window after he suffers a horrific accident (don’t text and drive), that requires pins, needles and plates to reconstruct his hands. All that’s left after multiple surgeries are trembling scarred fingers resembling flesh pudding.

Refusing to accept that he’s lost the use of his hands, Strange goes on an experimental medical journey that ends in impoverished Tibet. Whispers and rumors have led him to the mystic Ancient One (Swinton). Despite reservations about Strange’s narcissism, she takes him in. She hopes to upend his self-centered Western mind and open it to the powers of Eastern religion and ancient mysticism; all while spouting lines of dialogue reminiscent of Taoism or Gautama Buddha.

Outside of being the most mentally and spiritually stimulating entry into the Marvel movie catalog, “Doctor Strange” features a superhero that prefers brains over brawn. But when fighting is required, it’s a visually stunning treat. The visuals are a mix of “Inception,” M.C. Esher, “Avatar: the Last Airbender,” “The Matrix,” and a Pink Floyd acid trip. When the world begins to bend and fold, the grand music score, with morsels of Eastern stringed musical instruments and psychedelic synthesizers, props up the optical mind trickery.

As for the story, it lacks the right amount of emotional magic and it seems to suffer what most Marvel movies lack, an interesting and relevant villain (just sit through the credits for more proof that Marvel is out of villains). Mads Mikklesen, who’s been an iconic villain in everything from
“Casino Royale” to his eerily role as a middle-aged Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s TV show, seems wasted in this movie as Kaecillius. Kaecillius’ motivation is a blend of rebellion against the Ancient One and his immoral infatuation with immortality.

Despite my frustrations with a lack of Mikklesen, Cumberbatch and Swinton are a delight to watch with their “Karate Kid” teacher/student moments. The duo has the most to offer their characters while everyone else is left to play second fiddle to them. Rachel McAdams plays Strange’s toss-away love interest and Chiwetel Ejiofor spends most of his time standing in proximity to main characters so he can provide key plot points.

Despite some of its storytelling flaws, Doctor Strange is the most thought provoking of Marvel’s movies, while keeping intact the thing we’ve come to know and love from Marvel studios. “Doctor Strange” was definitely a risky gamble for Marvel, but it’s paid off. And not just because of Cumberbatch’s acting and a crew dedicated to dissecting and dismantling everything we thought about the world, but because it puts aside the city destruction and violence for some thoughtful superhero development.

Media Mikes 2016 Fall/Holiday Movie Preview

Labor Day has come and gone, and unless you’re dressing up as a ghost, you better not be wearing anything white! With the end of summer comes the beginning of fall and the start of Hollywood’s “Prestige Movie Push!”

We’ll take a look at what the studios hope are their best bets to fill the multiplexes and bring home the Oscars. Once again, a big thank you to our friends at Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) for some synopsis information. Opening dates noted are subject to change at the whim of the studios. Enjoy!

OCTOBER 7

THE 13th

Documentary
Directed by: Ava DuVernay

The director of “Selma” gives us an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

OSCAR CHANCES: Will surely make the short list.

THE BIRTH OF A NATION

Starring: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer
Directed by: Nate Parker

Set against the antebellum South, the film follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities – against himself and his fellow slaves – Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.

OSCAR CHANCES: After last year’s #OSCARSOWHITE controversy, the early buzz on this film almost guaranteed a bounty of nominations. However, it was recently revealed that writer/director/star Nate Parker and his co-writer, Jean McGianni Celestin, were accused of raping a fellow college student in 1999. Though Parker was not found guilty and Celestin had his conviction overturned, their alleged victim committed suicide. Not sure how this news will affect the Academy voters.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett and Justin Theroux
Directed by: Tate Taylor

In the film, being compared to “Gone Girl,” a recently divorced woman
takes the train to work every day and imagines the lives of a young couple she
sees every day. Things get weird when the young wife disappears.

OSCAR CHANCES: Blunt is already getting raves for her performance.


OCTOBER 13

MASCOTS

Starring: Christopher Guest, Parker Posey and Jane Lynch
Directed by: Christopher Guest

Simply described as “a look into the world of competitive mascots,” this is the latest opus from the great Christopher Guest. Sadly, unless I missed it, this is the first of Guest’s films that does not include Eugene Levy.

OSCAR CHANCES: Possible screenplay nod.

 

OCTOBER 14

THE ACCOUNTANT

Starring: Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons and Anna Kendrick
Directed by: Gavin O’Connor

A forensic accountant un-cooks the books for illicit clients. What I like about the trailer is that Affleck seems to be a young genius. Maybe this is his chance to play Will Hunting?

OSCAR CHANCES: Maybe.


KEVIN HART: WHAT NOW?

Starring: Kevin Hart
Directed by: Leslie Small and Tim Story

Kevin Hart performs his comedy in front of 50,000 fans.

OSCAR CHANCES: No.


OCTOBER 21

AMERICAN PASTORAL

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning and Ewan McGregor
Directed by: Ewan McGregor

In 1968, a hardworking man, who’s been a staple in his quaint community for years, watches his seemingly perfect middle class life fall apart as his daughter’s new radical political affiliation threatens to destroy their family. Based on the novel by Philip Roth.

OSCAR CHANCES: Adapted screenplay?

IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE

Starring: John Travolta, Ethan Hawke and Karen Gillan
Directed by: Ti West

A mysterious stranger and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody cross-hairs of revenge. Ethan Hawke’s second western this season and John Travolta in a cowboy hat for the first time since “Urban Cowboy.” Yee-hah!

OSCAR CHANCES: Sadly Western’s very rarely get recognized.

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK

Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders
Directed by: Edward Zwick

Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

OSCAR CHANCES: Director Zwick has helmed three of my favorite films (“About Last Night,” “Glory” and “Legends of the Fall” but only has an Oscar for co-producing “Shakespeare in Love.” It’s about time this man was recognized, though I don’t think it’s going to be for a Jack Reacher film.

A MONSTER CALLS

Starring: Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver
Directed by: J.A. Bayona

A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom’s terminal illness.

OSCAR CHANCES: Visual effects.

TYLER PERRY’S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN

Starring: Tyler Perry
Directed by: Tyler Perry

Madea winds up in the middle of mayhem when she spends a haunted Halloween fending off killers, paranormal poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls and zombies while keeping a watchful eye on a group of misbehaving teens. I’m scared.

OSCAR CHANCES: I’m going to go out on a limb and say “no”

OCTOBER 28

INFERNO

Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones
Directed by: Ron Howard

When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot. The second Felicity Jones film in as many weeks.

OSCAR CHANCES: Sorry, Tom, but your nomination this year is coming from “Sully”

 

NOVEMBER 4

BLEED FOR THIS

Starring: Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart
Directed by: Ben Younger

The inspirational story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza who, after a near fatal car crash, which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks.

OSCAR CHANCES: Both Robert DeNiro and Hillary Swank won Oscars for portraying boxers so never say never. Hell, Stallone got nominated…TWICE!

DOCTOR STRANGE

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen
Directed by: Scott Derrickson

A neurosurgeon with a destroyed career sets out to repair his hands only to find himself protecting the world from inter-dimensional threats.

OSCAR CHANCES: Visual effects.

HACKSAW RIDGE

Starring: Andrew Garfield and Sam Worthington
Directed by: Mel Gibson

WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Mel doesn’t appear in this one but his dead-ringer son, Milo, does.

OSCAR CHANCES: Gibson (Mel, not Milo) already has an Oscar for directing so you never know. I’m sure people have forgotten what all of the hub-bub was about concerning him a few years ago.

LOVING

Starring: Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton
Directed by: Jeff Nichols

Back in the dark ages, Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. Apparently they had nothing better to do in Virginia at the time.

OSCAR CHANCES: Acting, picture.

TROLLS

Starring the voices of: Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake
Directed by: Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn

Remember those little plastic things with long hair that you used to put on the end of your pencil? When I was a kid we called them Kewpies but apparently they are Trolls and they have their own movie. Good for them!

OSCAR CHANCES: Maybe best hairstyling?

NOVEMBER 11

ARRIVAL

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.

OSCAR CHANCES: Picture, director, acting.

SHUT IN

Starring: Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay
Directed by: Farren Blackburn

A heart-pounding thriller about a widowed child psychologist who lives in an isolated existence in rural New England. Caught in a deadly winter storm, she must find a way to rescue a young boy before he disappears forever.

OSCAR CHANCES: Unsure, but young Mr. Tremblay should have been nominated last year for “Room.”

USS INDIANAPOLIS: MEN OF COURAGE

Starring: Nicolas Cage and Tom Sizemore
Directed by: Mario Van Peebles

The harrowing true story of the crew of the USS Indianapolis, who were stranded in the Philippine Sea for five days after delivering the atomic weapons that would eventually end WWII. If you saw “Jaws,” this is the tale that Quint tells. Other “Jaws” related facts: this was the original idea for “Jaws 2.” Also: Mario Van Peebles starred in “Jaws the Revenge.”

OSCAR CHANCES: To me it looks like a “made for TV” movie. How about Emmy chances?


NOVEMBER 18

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

Starring: Hailiee Steinfeld, Blake Jenner and Woody Harrelson
Directed by: Kelly Fremon Craig

High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother. Is that weird? When I was in high-school I wanted to date my best friend’s older sister. Hopefully Stevie Nicks got some money from this.

OSCAR CHANCES: Nada

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Jon Voight and Ezra Miller
Directed by: David Yates

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. Even though Harry Potter and his pals are less than 20 years old it seems like they’ve been around forever.

OSCAR CHANCES: Visual effects, music (the great James Newton Howard)

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Starring: Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams
Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan

An uncle is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

OSCAR CHANCES: Both Affleck and Williams have been nominated in the past so I’m not ruling anything out.

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Starring: Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Tom Ford

An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale. November is Amy Adams month.

OSCAR CHANCES: Across the board


NOVEMBER 23

ALLIED

Starring: Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

In 1942, an intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war. Cotillard isn’t married so maybe we can look forward to reading about “Bradarion” soon.

OSCAR CHANCES: Pitt, Cotilliard and Zemeckis have been there before.

BAD SANTA 2

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates and Tony Cox
Directed by: Mark Waters

Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie teams up once again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve.

OSCAR CHANCES: I thought Billy Bob deserved a nod for the first film but I’m going to say no.

MOANA

Starring the voices of: Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk and Nicole Scherzinger
Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall and Chris Williams

A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui.

OSCAR CHANCES: Animated feature, original song

RULES DON’T APPLY

Starring: Warren Beatty, Lily Collins and Ed Harris
Directed by: Warren Beatty

An unconventional love story of an aspiring actress, her determined driver, and the eccentric billionaire who they work for. Beatty has been wanting to do a Howard Hughes-based film since the 1970s. Not sure if this is what he had in mind back then but, after a 15-year absence, it’s great to see him both in front of and behind the camera.

OSCAR CHANCES: Only two people have been nominated in the same year for acting, directing, writing and producing the best picture: Orson Welles and Warren Beatty. And Beatty did it TWICE!


NOVEMBER 25

LION

Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman
Directed by: Garth Davis

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

OSCAR CHANCES: Many


DECEMBER 2

LA LA LAND

Starring: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
Directed by: Damien Chazelle

From the creator of “Whiplash” comes a film about a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. And it’s a musical!

OSCAR CHANCES: Early film festival buzz say’s this may be the film to watch (both on screen and at awards time!)


DECEMBER 9

MISS SLOANE

Starring: Jessica Chastain
Directed by: John Madden

An ambitious lobbyist faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass gun control legislation.

OSCAR CHANCES: Actress. Madden directed the Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love.”

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY

Starring: Jason Bateman and Jennifer Anniston
Directed by: Josh Gordon and Will Speck

When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand.

OSCAR CHANCES: Zip

DECEMBER 16

COLLATERAL BEAUTY

Starring: Will Smith and Keira Knightley
Directed by: David Frankel

A tragic event sends a New York ad man on a downward spiral.

OSCAR CHANCES: I’ve already had to apologize to Will Smith twice for doubting he’d get nominated for “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.” There won’t be a third. Good luck Will.

FENCES

Starring: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis
Directed by: Denzel Washington

An African American father struggles with race relations in the United States while trying to raise his family in the 1950s and coming to terms with the events of his life. Based on the August Wilson play.

OSCAR CHANCES: YES!

THE FOUNDER

Starring: Michael Keaton and Patrick Wilson
Directed by: John Lee Hancock

The story of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc. You may look at your next hamburger differently. Keaton is said to be so good that they pulled the film from it’s original release date.

OSCAR CHANCES: Keaton

A KIND OF MURDER

Starring: Patrick Wilson and Jessica Biel
Directed by: Andy Goddard

In 1960s New York, Walter Stackhouse is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara who leads a seemingly perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer and an overambitious detective, while at the same time lusting after another woman. This will be a day of decisions for Patrick Wilson fans.

OSCAR CHANCES: Don’t see any

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Starring: Felicity Jones, Jimmy Smits and Warwick Davis
Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Or, as I like to call it, “Episode 6.5” The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans to the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow. Holy crap! The Death Star, Leia’s family, Darth Vader AND Wicket the Ewok? I’m already in line!

OSCAR CHANCES: Visual effects, make up.

DECEMBER 21

20th CENTURY WOMEN

Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Laura Wiggins
Directed by: Mike Mills

The story of three women who explore love and freedom in Southern California during the late 1970s.

OSCAR CHANCES: Can anyone tell me why Annette Bening hasn’t won an Oscar yet? Didn’t think so. Keep your fingers crossed.

ASSASSINS CREED

Starring: Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard
Directed by: Justin Kurzel

When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society. This synopsis seems so crazy considering the cast. I wonder if the two leads made the same mistake Bill Murray did when he thought “Garfield” had been written by one of the Coen brothers!

OSCAR CHANCES: Fassbender elevates everything he’s in so I’m not saying no!

PASSENGERS

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt
Directed by: Morten Tyldum

A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early. It’s so weird to see Lawrence in a movie at the end of the year NOT directed by David O. Russell. Oh well, there’s always next year.

OSCAR CHANCES: Visual effects, technical stuff

PATRIOTS DAY

Starring: Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Monaghan
Directed by: Peter Berg

An account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it. Sounds better than what I thought it was – knowing Wahlberg is a huge New England Patriot fan I thought it was about a day with Tom Brady. The third film by Wahlberg and director Berg and second this year.

OSCAR CHANCES: Oh yes.

SING

Starring the voices of: Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Garth Jennings

A koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

OSCAR CHANCES: Animated film….maybe.

DECEMBER 25

GOLD

Starring: Matthew McConaughey and Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by: Stephen Gaghan

An unlikely pair venture to the Indonesian jungle in search of gold. When he was outrageously thin in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” McConaughey still looked good. In this one he’s bald and….dammit!

OSCAR CHANCES: No sir.

WHY HIM?

Starring: James Franco and Bryan Cranston
Directed by: John Hamburg.

A dad forms a bitter rivalry with his daughter’s young rich boyfriend. Based on a story by Jonah Hill. Somebody needed money.

OSCAR CHANCES: I’m ashamed that I have to include those words with this film.

DECEMBER 28

PATERSON

Starring: Adam Driver
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch

Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet.

OSCAR CHANCES: Love Jarmusch. Maybe a witting nod.

Film Review: “Captain America: Civil War”

Film Review by Jeremy Werner

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson
Directed By: Joe and Anthony Russo
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 146 minutes
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Our Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

Warner Bros. worst nightmare has come true. A much better comic book movie has been released with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice still fresh in moviegoers minds. Actually, let me take that statement back. A near-perfect comic book movie has been released a month afterBatman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, further solidifying Zack Snyder’s cinematic attempt as the shiny turd it is. Warner Bros. executives listen up. Purchase a ticket to Captain America: Civil War and see how comic book movies are really done.

This doesn’t feel like a Captain America movie, but more like a prequel to the next Avengers movie, and that’s perfectly fine. The loss of life and human casualties has finally caught up to the Avengers as the Secretary of State and the United Nations demand authority over the team. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey) is soaked in guilt, feeling that he’s done more harm than good. He believes the Avengers need a leash before they gallivant around the world fighting evildoers.

On the flip side of the coin is Captain America (Evans). He believes politics, as well as the looming threat of Hydra’s infiltration, would inhibit their ability to save the world at the drop of a hat. Both sides have their merits, but Captain’s opinion is tossed out the window when Bucky, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), commits a terroristic act at the U.N. killing dozens. Captain and Tony are at ends after this. Tony wants Bucky taken in and imprisoned, or killed, and Captain rightfully suspects something else is at work.

While Age of Ultron felt overwhelmed with over a dozen characters to juggle, Civil War seems to handle it with a calm demeanor. Even the introductions of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) are fluid, fun, and properly handled. The additions of a sleepy Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), a conflicted Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), a stoic Vision (Paul Bettany) and a handful others never overwhelms the viewer.

For Marvel fans who’ve watched every movie, and possibly every show, their fan service is paid off throughout. As for the villain; He appears to be a little lacking, but upon further inspect, the bad guy says a lot about the fabric of comradery between the Avengers and how easily it can rip. It seems like every Captain America is a game changer. The first prefaced the Avengers assembling. The second movie scrapped S.H.I.E.L.D. to its bare bones. Now Civil War rearranges the chess board after flipping it off the table.

I feel like I say this nearly every time a new Marvel movie is released, but Marvel has seriously outdone themselves once again. Civil War is a near-flawless cinematic experience that neatly packages one of the most pivotal story lines in comic book history. As for what Marvel has up its sleeve before 2018’s release of Avengers: Infinity Wars, is anyone’s guess. But I assure you it’s in good hands. The same directors and writers behind Civil War are piecing together the next Avengers and if this movie is any indication, it’s going to be fantastic, if not a satisfying conclusion to decades of story building. I wish I could tell you more about Civil War, but it’s something you’re just going to have to see for yourselves. Like, right now.

A Conversation with Deadpool’s Greg LaSalle

If you’ve made the right decision this Valentine’s Day weekend and have checked out Deadpool then you may not have heard Greg LaSalle but you definitely saw him. Sort of. LaSalle is one of the tech wizards behind the Academy Award winning MOVA Facial Performance Capture system used in bringing Deadpool’s X-men reinforcement, Colossus, to the screen. While Colossus’s body and voice were provided by actor Stefan Kapicic, LaSalle stepped in front of the MOVA cameras to give the metallic facial performance.

The morning after Deadpool made its New York debut amidst a Deadpool fan costume contest, I sat down with LaSalle for a conversation on Deadpool, other Marvel films and this amazing process used to bring characters such as the Incredible Hulk and Thanos to life.

Lauren Damon: Did you go to the fan premiere last night?
Greg LaSalle: Oh yeah, that was a lot of fun.

How many Deadpools showed up?
LaSalle: Oh you mean the people who dressed up? Oh I don’t know, I think there were quite a bit. I think they chose like seven of them or something, it was pretty funny. One in a tutu, I mean…it was hysterical.

Are you someone who goes to conventions in general seeing that?
LaSalle: No–
“Avoid them like the plague!”
LaSalle: [laughing] No, it’s not that, you know it’s just I have so many things to do. I don’t get a chance to do that very often.

Can you talk about what MOVA Facial Performance Capture is?
LaSalle: I’ll start by telling you first a little bit about what motion capture actually is–which is where you would wear the reflective markers. And that system, those systems were actually developed to deduce where a skeleton is moving. So as those cameras became higher resolution, people started shrinking the dots and gluing them to people’s faces. The data set you get from that is only like 200, 250 points. So a friend of mine in the bay area decided that he would fund the development of research to find out how to actually capture the entire surface of the skin deformity and that’s where MOVA comes from. That development.

So it’s super high resolution, it captures about 7000 data points, all the wrinkles, all the subtlety of the performance is captured. So it’s basically like capturing a scan per frame of the film of the actor. And then about two years ago Digital Domain developed a technique to take those and apply them mathematically to a computer generated character. So the entire performance gets carried over so it really looks, you know, all the performance is captured.

I heard that it’s captured through paint instead of dots?
LaSalle: We apply, it’s invisible makeup in white light that just is applied as a random pattern and then the system has strobing black lights and white lights. So certain cameras take a picture when the black lights are on and all they see is this random pattern makeup. And that’s what’s used to create the scans and track the points across the face.

Seeing as you worked on both Avengers and Age of Ultron and a couple years had passed between them, did the process for capturing the Hulk change? If you worked on the Hulk?
LaSalle: I did, in the first Avengers that’s what it started out as actually, it was before filming was working with Industrial Light and Magic to capture Mark [Ruffalo] to see how he would move as the Hulk. On set they used a bit of different technology so this new technology that we used for Colossus is actually the first time it’s been used. This mathematic transferring of the performance. Things like in the past, like in Avengers, we surveyed the actor. We’d get all the information about how the actor’s face would move and then companies would build a rig which is just a way of animating and when you run a slider, the lip goes up and it goes up as if it was the actor. But it doesn’t have all the subtlety and nuance of the variation in a performance. The new technology the does.

Did you have any hand in that Hulk-smashing-Loki scene?
LaSalle: Well we only specialize in the facial stuff, so only the expressions part of–but that was my favorite part of the first Avengers movie. That ‘boom boom boom!’ [LaSalle does some pretty accurate Hulk smashing motions] It’s a shame though to see Tom Hiddleston beat up like that because he’s such a nice guy.

You captured his face for that? Wasn’t it just grunting?
LaSalle: Yeah yeah…It’s so many years ago now and we’ve done so many things that I can’t remember exactly what we did. If I remember correctly, they put a pipe with some foam on the end and they kept [jabbing motions, laughing] like they’re pushing the back of [Tom’s] head so that he’d [jerks his head]…It was very strange!

What did you work on for Age of Ultron?
LaSalle: Actually I only did the–Thanos. Working with Josh Brolin.

Also on Guardians of the Galaxy too?
LaSalle: Mhmm.

I don’t know if Marvel would let me ask you but when is he coming back?!
LaSalle: That’s really funny because I was convinced while we were filming Age of Ultron that they’re gonna–I just have this feeling that something will happen. I mean he’s like the baddest dude in the whole universe and they have to do something–

Yeah coming up of course we have [Captain America] Civil War, that’s Earth-bound but [Thor] Ragnarok is coming and that’s out there! He’s waiting in the wings…
LaSalle: I mean I wish I could say. I’m not privy to those kinds of things to begin with. But it would be really cool to see a bad ass movie with Thanos. I mean they have so many characters and so many things to do. Kevin Feige–he’s the president of Marvel–knows this universe probably better than Stan Lee and he has this all mapped out in his head. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

Do you keep up with the other projects in between what you’re working on?
LaSalle: I don’t actually like actively keep up. I look for within the industry, what we could work on and how we could pull things off.

So working as Colossus, you’re performing his scenes and they just transfer your face into his?
LaSalle: Yes, in simple terms, yes. It creates a scan first and then this fancy math transfers that by figuring out where–you teach it ‘Okay, this is where the center of my cheek is and this is the center of where Colossus’s left cheek is’ and it mathematically calculates what else is going on in that area. It transfers it.

How did it come to be this split performance where you’re on the face and Stefan Kapicic provides the body and voice?
LaSalle: Tim Miller understands this technology really well, so he figured he could take the best of what different people had to offer and Frankenstein all that together. And he was adamant about having an authentic Russian voice. I believe he even recorded another and he just didn’t like it and then he found Stefan. And I think it works extremely well. It’s a pretty cool way of using the technology.

What was the most fun about being Colossus?
LaSalle: Well I’ve known Tim for a long time and I just like working with him. He’s fun, he’s actually a lot like Deadpool in his comedy and the way he’s sarcastically funny. So I enjoy working with him on that. But I also did the tests which we did like six years ago so it’s been really awesome to see it finally get made. So just the general overall feeling of being happy about that.

Was Tim involved at all in how Deadpool was treated in [2009’s] Wolverine?
LaSalle: No

Was there discussion about just getting away from that entirely?
LaSalle: Tim is a huge comic book fan. He reads a ton, he likes graphic novels. He knew that he wanted to take what’s on the page and have that be what’s in the film. He wasn’t going to mess with it, he wanted to–as a fan he knew that that’s what everybody wanted to see. That’s what he wanted to do.

How instrumental was Ryan Reynolds also in getting this?
LaSalle: I think it was a collaborative effort because they all have their understanding of the character so they–and Tim is great that way. I know he had people that they discussed it: ‘This is what I’d like to see, this is what you’d like to see’ and then they figured out a way to get that all to happen.

This is your second time in front of the camera [after an appearance Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb] is this what you’d like to do more of?
LaSalle: Well I think it’s fun, I’ve been acting for a while and that’s why Tim gave me the part. But I like to do both. I think it’s fun to play the computer generated characters because you get to do really wacky stuff. And then but I also like really small, intimate type live action things. So I’ve been shooting a few short things.

What’re some of your favorite films this past year?
LaSalle: Oh, I liked the Big Short, I liked Trumbo if you’ve seen that. I thought Trumbo was really good.

Yeah, it was weird to watch that in the context of “Award season” since there’s so much of Oscar in the storyline…
LaSalle: I know! You gotta block all that stuff out. Well it’s so interesting too. I mean it’s doubly cool that it’s true.

Do you have more acting roles coming up?
LaSalle: I just finished filming, ironically with Blake Lively [married to Reynolds]. A movie with her called All I See is You which there’s what we call invisible effects. It’s a live action movie but they wanted to use this new technology to drive her newborn baby being born and a character that she sees in her head. So I played both of those parts.

Playing a fetus?!
LaSalle: Not the fetus! As soon as it’s born I had to do the scenes of taking the first breath of screaming and crying and opening the eyes and looking around. They wanted all this subtlety. They figured a live performance would do that more than trying to animate all that subtlety into it.

[This next question features discussion of a specific Deadpool moment, so for the SPOILER-shy, skip down past this one!]

Does that mean you had anything to do with Deadpool regrowing a baby hand? [A brilliant moment after Deadpool cuts his off to escape Colossus’s handcuffs]
LaSalle: (Laughs) No! No. It’s so funny because I’d known that he cuts his hand off for a very long time but I never go to see anything–I only knew because Colossus ends up with his hand. And I never knew what happened. So when he cut his hand off, the first time he saw the movie it was like ‘OK now how does it grow back? How does it grow back?’ And then they even made that funny, it was awesome. I didn’t know what to expect because I don’t like to see the movie until they’re completely done because there’s just so many things that pull you out of it, you know? So I wanted to wait til it was done and I think that all this talk–the blood and the guts and the R-rating, it’s perfect. I don’t care!

It would be weird if you had this much violence and then just no blood, it’s annoying when PG-13 movies do that–
LaSalle: Plus it’s there because it needs to be, a couple of short seconds and it’s not gross. It’s just real.

[Spoiler over!]

Back to Deadpool , considering there are so many films now in the ‘Marvel Universe’, what do you think is most appealing about this character, what does he bring?
LaSalle: Well I think his authenticity to the original character. And the comedy. I mean I think there’s a lot of funny stuff in the Avengers movies and some of the other stuff, but that’s what Deadpool’s character is built around. And I think that that just makes it’s different and stand out.

If Deadpool had to be pitted against any of the Avengers, who do you think would win out?
LaSalle: Oh…This might sound bad but I think Deadpool is way smarter than those other characters. So I think he’d win a lot of stuff. Because he thinks differently than they do.

Film Review “Deadpool

Review by Mike Smith
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein and Morena Baccarin
Directed by: Tim Miller
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 48 mins
20th Century Fox
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes you know a few minutes into a film what the tone is going to be. Deadpool sets it almost immediately when, during the opening credits, the Producer is identified as: SOME ASSHAT! Thank you, Mr. AssHat, for making one hell of a film.

One of the lesser known (to me anyway) of the Marvel Comic characters (think Spider-man in red without the webs), Deadpool (Reynolds) is a foul-mouthed fool who enjoys his work a little too much. And when I say “foul-mouthed,” I’m talking filthy. He makes Hit Girl in Kick Ass look like Little Miss Sunshine. Known to his friends as Wade Wilson, he earns his money by taking down local bullies. Things are going well for Wade. He’s just found the perfect woman of his dreams (Baccarin) when he learns he has cancer. He is offered a chance for the cure if he becomes part of a mercenary team. Instead he is greatly disfigured by the treatments he receives and decides to just disappear from those that love him (“please don’t make the suit green or animated,” he tells his handlers, pointing fun at Reynold’s last attempt as a hero, “Green Lantern”). If smart-assed sarcasm is your cup of tea, then Deadpool will quench your thirst.

As a character, Deadpool is unlike any “hero” you’ve ever seen. He has no qualms with blowing a bad guys head off with his pair of nine-millimeter pistols or cutting them off with his twin katanas, he’s mixing it up with both the on-screen baddies and the audience. Between breaking the fourth wall and dropping little “inside” quips – when told he needs to go see Professor Charles Xavier he asks, “Stewart or McAvoy?” If I have to explain that comment to you, stop reading now. You don’t want to see this movie.

A superhero film is only as good as the actor playing him and, if ever an actor was meant to play Deadpool, it is Ryan Reynolds. Ever since “Van Wilder” he has spent his career trying to re-capture that “smart-ass” charm. He fits the bill here perfectly. He is surrounded by some strong co-stars, including Skrein as a fellow mercenary and Baccarin who is as tough as she is loving. And I’m sure Stan Lee will agree with me when I say this is his “best cameo EVER!” Throw in a couple of X-men and you’ve got a damn good escape for the weekend.

Book Review “Marvel: The Avengers Vault”

Author: Peter A. David
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Thunder Bay Press

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

For those wanting to brush up on all things Avengers prior to the release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” the lasts release from author Peter A. David and Thunder Bay Press should do the trick. “Marvel” The Avengers Vault” is a 176 page hardcover release that is as the title suggests a vault of information related to each of the core Marvel Avengers. The book is broken down by chapter with each chapter being dedicated to one of 4 characters Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk. Each page of the book features beautiful full color art work printed on high quality paper. Another plus, the book is laid out very much like a comic book as each chapter delves deep in to the characters origins. If that alone isn’t enough separating each chapter are numerous envelope pages which include some really cool collectibles such as Iron Man concept art, (reproduction) Jack Kirby art and Captain America’s Sentinels of Liberty membership card to name just a few of these great extras.

Though the book appears to be aimed at hardcore Avenger collectors I found it to be very accessible and fun for all ages. Even if you skip the text readers can enjoy all of the really great art work from the four characters comic history all in one place. To close out the book readers are a treated to a glimpse of other upcoming Marvel heroes (Ant Man, Captain Marvel and Black Panther) who will be making their way to the film screen very shortly. Author Peter A. David really hit a home run with this book so if you are looking for something that can hold you over until the May release of “Age of Ultron” this book will certainly do the trick.

Feld Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment’s “Marvel Universe Live!” Hits Orlando, FL December!


AN ORIGINAL, LIVE-ACTION ARENA EXPERIENCE, FEATURING THE GREATEST MARVEL SUPER HEROES AND VILLAINS.

Marvel fans, assemble! Marvel Universe LIVE! is taking the live entertainment experience to a whole new level, with a mind-blowing show unlike anything you’ve seen before. Watch your favorite Marvel Super Heroes including Spider-Man, The Avengers – Iron Man, Hulk, and more, and threatening villains come to life in an action-packed arena experience, coming to cities around North America. You’ll definitely feel the energy with cutting-edge special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, motorcycles and more. It’s being hailed as the most technically advanced live show ever. Join Marvel fans of all ages for this once-in-a-lifetime, monumental performance. The fate of the universe depends on it!

Amway Center, Orlando FL
Dec 5 – 7 , 2014
On Sale: On Sale Now
Ticket Prices: $40, $60 & $120

Marvel Studios Unveils Phase 3 of Marvel Cinematic Universe

This morning, during a special event at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige revealed the films that will make up Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring a mix of fan-favorite characters and several heroes who will be making their big-screen debuts.

The next two films to be released by Marvel are AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON on May 1, 2015, and ANT-MAN on July 17, 2015. Marvel revealed the dates and titles of nine additional films through 2019, including upcoming Captain America, Thor, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy installments, along with films featuring Black Panther – who, Feige announced, will be played by Chadwick Boseman – Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, and the Inhumans.

The announced films are as follows:

• 5/1/15 – AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
• 7/17/15 – ANT-MAN
• 5/6/16 – CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
• 11/4/16 – DOCTOR STRANGE
• 5/5/17 – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 (previously dated 7/28/17)
• 7/28/17 – THOR: RAGNAROK
• 11/3/17 – BLACK PANTHER
• 5/4/18 – AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR PART I
• 7/6/18 – CAPTAIN MARVEL
• 11/2/18 – INHUMANS
• 5/3/19 – AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR PART II

Ten films have already been released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with 2008’s IRON MAN. All 10 films opened at #1 domestically and have collectively grossed over $7.1 billion globally.

Two of these films, MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS and IRON MAN 3, set records as the #1 and #2 domestic openings of all time with $207.4 million and $174.1 million respectively. MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS went on to become the third biggest film of all time worldwide, while Marvel’s IRON MAN 3 ranks as the sixth biggest film ever. They are the two highest grossing Super Hero films of all time.

Earlier this year, Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, which broke the April opening domestic record with $95 million, earned $714 million worldwide and is the #5 film of 2014. Most recently, Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY crossed $757 million globally after opening with a domestic August record of $94.3 million and setting an October debut record in China, where it has now grossed nearly $90 million. It’s the #1 film of the year domestically and the #3 film worldwide.

For full coverage of today’s event, visit marvel.com.

Playstation 4 Video Game Review “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes – 2.0 Edition”

Platform: Playstation 4
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Release date: September 23, 2014
Rating: Everyone 10+

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Disney Infinity” is back and better for its second edition called “Marvel Super Heroes”. Superheroes have never been bigger and this latest 2.0 edition features 16 Marvel figurines and 40 power discs (82 in total to be released in future wave), so there’s no shortage of options at all. After playing the original “Disney Infinity”, I found myself picking it apart quite a bit. This game really improves on the first games issues and delivers a mush more fun and content filled game. It is still not perfect but it is a blast to play and I have a feeling I will be playing this for many months to come.

“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” is split up into different two game modes much like the original. There is the Playset mode and Toybox mode. In the playset mode, you can transport into the world of one of the hit franchises from the game and generally run anywhere between 6–10 hours in length, so they are no incredible long but do back some great content. The Toybox mode still allows players to create their own games and worlds, using items unlocked in Playset mode.

When it comes to figures, we get the following three franchises covered to start including “The Avengers”, “Spider-Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”. In the Starter Pack, we get Iron Man, Black Widow and Thor. Captain America, Hawkeye and Hulk are available in single character packs and complete the roster for “The Avengers”. I cannot wait for Wave 2 to come for this franchise since Loki and Falcon have been confirmed!

Next up is “Spider-Man”, only with the web slinger himself, we also have Nova, who is included in the play set. Venom, Iron Fist and Nick Fury are available as single character packs. I am a bit taken back that Nick Fury is seated with Spider-Man. I am sure some young kids aren’t going to make the connection just yet since he is primarily seen with “The Avengers” in the film and TV series.

Lastly and easily my favorite film of the year, we have Guardians of the Galaxy. Included in the playset is Star-Lord and Gamora, while Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon are available in single character packs. Future wave 2 release for this series include Ronan and Yondu, so there is plenty of growth and expansion available here as well.

Unlike the first game, you are only able to play specific characters in specific playsets. This new edition allows you to collected “Cross Over Tokens” scattered throughout levels in order to bring character like Nova, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon and Hulk into more than one playset. This gives the game and entirely new dynamic and I really enjoyed it.

These new figures are really a big improvement over the first game. I really enjoyed the “Guardians of the Galaxy” characters. The abilities were great and really run to play with. My real surprise honestly has to be Nova from “Spider-Man” play set. I really enjoyed him as well. With “The Avengers” each of them are equally amazing. Hulk has a great special move. Iron Man can sort of glide. Captain America has his shield to through around. There are 16 characters and I spent a lot of time just fighting with myself to figure out who I should try first.

Since there are 40 power discs in wave one, I will highly a few of my favorite. S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Strike is a great ability. Infinity Gauntlet is a rare and very powerful disc. If you are an “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fan, getting to ride in Lola is a blast. There is also Ability discs that allow Team Up with characters like YOndu, Winter Soldier and Ant-Man. In the toy box, the customization for “Guardians of the Galaxy” is pretty cool with Groot’s View and Groot’s Roots.

Also a very cool expansion feature is that you are able to take all of your original Disney Infinity figures and power discs and they can still be used in the Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition) toy box. You cannot use original play sets though with the 2.0 gam though. This adds a lot more ability to play with this new game and to have original Disney Infinity characters meeting 2.0 edition characters.

The control are a bit tighter in this new edition. I felt that the driving in the first game was absolutely horridenous and this time around it is much smoother. The violence is not too bad but I am honestly not a fan of the ability to turn on civilians in the game. You are able to drive down the street and literally plow down people. I am sorry but this isn’t “Grand Theft Auto”. There isn’t any blood or anything, so it doesn’t seem that bad but still could have been tamed a bit and feels very unnecessary.

November 4th brings us a new wave of Disney Original figures for use in the Toy Box. Included characters in the first batch are Donald Duck, Aladdin, Jasmine, Tinker Bell, Stitch, Hiro Hamada & Baymax from Big Hero 6, Merida and Maleficent. I can’t wait to check these characters out. Hopefully in the the next edition of “Disney Infinity” isn’t to far, far away 😉 Fingers crossed Disney! Cross over to the Dark Side!

Marvel and Disney Kingdoms Take You for a Ride with “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad”!

New York, NY—October 23rd, 2014— Coming in spring 2015, the world famous, thrill-packed Disney attraction – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – roars to life as an all-new Marvel and Disney Kingdoms comic book bursting with action, romance, mystery and adventure. The new series, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, continues the unique collaboration between Marvel Comics, Disney Kingdoms, and Walt Disney Imagineering. This five-issue series, created by rising star writer Dennis Hopeless (Spider-Woman, Avengers Arena), fan-favorite artist Tigh Walker (Avengers Undercover), invite readers all aboard an all-new adventure that reveals the never-before-told saga of how the gold mine in Big Thunder Mountain became the haunted legend it is today!

A mainstay of Disney Parks since 1979, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has entertained countless guests on this classic attraction in four Disney theme parks around the world. Now, Disney Kingdoms is proud to add ‘the wildest ride in the wilderness’ with an all-new tale of mystery and adventure set in the wild Frontier!

“Building on the momentum of the sold out Figment series, we are excited to embark upon what may be our wildest adventure yet,” says editor and Creative Director Bill Rosemann. “As one of the most famous Disney attractions, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is packed with a combustible combo of drama, humor, and thrills that will explode across the page and deliver all the action and surprises that the Disney Kingdoms imprint has quickly become known for.”

Series writer Dennis Hopeless continues, “Everybody knows Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as a rumbling, tumbling runaway train car attraction through an exploding gold mine. But it’s always been more than that. It’s a trip back in time to a Gold Rush town where daring men and women risked their lives in the daily battle between man and mountain. And let’s be honest, it’s the perfect setting for an adventure comic.”

Earthquakes! Floods! Dynamite-chewing goats! Can the denizens of Rainbow Ridge survive the clash between mankind’s greed and nature’s fury? And what is the protective power that dwells deep within the mysterious mountain? Surprises await you in the latest Disney Kingdoms saga coming in spring 2015.

BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD #1 (OF 5)
Written by DENNIS HOPLESS
Penciled by TIGH WALKER
Elements based on Big Thunder Mountain © Disney
32 PGS./All Ages …$3.99

About Disney Kingdoms:
Created as a collaboration between Marvel Comics and Walt Disney Imagineering’s designers, producers and creative directors, the Disney Kingdoms line is home to exciting new comic stories expanding upon already beloved lands, attractions, characters and worlds of Disney Parks and Resorts. Launching in 2014 with Seekers of the Weird, Disney Kingdoms showcases some of the best and brightest Marvel creators as they craft new adventures that can be enjoyed by Disney and Marvel fans of any age.

About Marvel Entertainment:
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit marvel.com. © 2014 MARVEL

Ashley Eckstein talks about new Marvel and Transformers lines for Her Universe

Ashley Eckstein is known best for her role of Ashoka Tano in the TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. She also started the company Her Universe, which has a mission to create stylish, fashion-forward merchandise for female sci-fi fans. Her Universe has joined forces with some of the biggest names in the sci-fi/fantasy world to create merchandise exclusively for female fans – both apparel and accessories for such well-known names as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek and The Walking Dead. Ashley Eckstein has now become one of the leading voices for female fans while Her Universe is making fangirls “geek chic” from head to toe! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashley to discuss her new lines for this Summer and also what she has planned for this year’s San Diego Comic Con.

Mike Gencarelli: Let’s talk about your exciting team up with Marvel for your Ultimate Fangirl Fashion Apparel Line, what can we expect?
Ashley Eckstein: Our Marvel line is something that I am really excited about. It was something that I have been on working on for well over a year now. Fans have been asking me for Marvel at least a couple times a week, every week for a long time. So Marvel was the top of my list of licences to get next. It took some searching to get the right contact but once I got it, I reached out and we just had some great conversations. Marvel is so supportive of their female fans. They have been trying to find a way to do more and to shine the spotlight on their female fans. We were able to get a deal with them in the Fall of 2013 and we were off and designing in December of 2013. It takes a while to develop and line and get product made. We have been working on it though for quite some time. It was a very tough secret to keep.

MG: How did you go about picking which characters would be featured in this line?
AE: That is the tough part [laughs]. Marvel has such a huge universe. There are so many characters and where do you start? To give the short story, there are only so many characters in our license, so that narrowed it down a bit for us. With the new films this year like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, that was a big inspiration for us. You also need to design in mind for “The Avengers”, so we do have some Black Widow. We started with a few classics and are already designing for many more characters and listening to the fan feedback everyday to offer fans what they want.

MG: I know plenty of fangirls who love the character Loki…
AE: Yes, we already have a Loki dress that we will be coming out with soon [laughs].

MG: Sticking with Marvel; you are also voicing Dagger on the animated series, “Ultimate Spider-Man” in the upcoming season…
AE: Yeah, they haven’t aired yet. I believe these are airing sometime this Fall. But I am excited to voice that classic character, which we haven’t seen in a while.

MG: Marvel is not the only new line you have; you also just launched a “Transformers” Fangirl Fashion Line; tell us about that?
AE: We have been working on Transformers about the same length of time we have been working on Marvel. We got the license back in the Fall and have been designing for that since then. Since it is such a classic franchise, there is so much you can do with it. Of course we started with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. We went a little retro with it especially with Dinobots being in the new film. So we have them and. of course. we are designing for some Decepticons as well as some of the female Transformers as well. There is just so much and I am very excited to get to play in this universe.

MG: If those two aren’t cool enough, I see you also launched a new Doctor Who line; tell us about that?
AE: Yeah, Doctor Who is something that is constanstly going on for us. I am such a massive Doctor Who fan myself, especially with the new Doctor coming up this August. In the meantime, I feel like all the fangirls in America still have Doctor Who fever including myself [laughs]. So you can look forward to a lot of new Doctor Who designs coming up. Also I am excited that our Doctor Who line is now available in Walt Disney World’s Epcot in the UK Pavilion. So that is really cool as well.

MG: You are also still coming out with great new “Star Wars” lines including your all-new Custom R2-D2 My Hero Jewelry Line; tell us about that new exciting line?
AE: The jewelry is all handmade, great quality and made in the USA over in Downtown Los Angeles. I have the opportunity to collaborate with The Sparkle Factory and they did this collection for us. I love jewelry and I was getting fed up with some that fall apart after only a few wears. These are higher end collectible pieces that are going to last the test of time. I wanted some nicer jewelry for “Star Wars”, so we got this opportunity and these are great pieces and pieces that you can be proud to give as a gift. While they are more expensive, I still wanted to keep them affordable for the quality that you are getting. They are priced between $38-85 dollars. I am very proud of this jewelry and there is definitely more coming. We are playing with Darth Vader next, got to give some love to the Dark Side as well. We started with R2-D2 because he is my favorite…and my hero.

MG: Also tell us about your #FlauntYourWorld Instagram Fangirl Fashionista contest?
AE: I am just so inspired by all the fangirls that are posting their photos with Her Universe lines. We used that hash tag before but we wanted a way to be able to search these photos. So we were asking the fans to use #FlauntYourWorld hashtag for their photos and once a month we are picking an Instagram Fangirl Fashionista. She will appear on the our website for the entire month and also get a $50 gift card. It is exciting for me to see everyone’s photos. I never wanted to be the only Her Universe model, so I am excited to be able to showcase our fans.

MG: Lastly, I hear you have some exciting plans and are collaborating with Nerdist Industires at San Diego Comic-Con for the very first “Her Universe Fashion Show”?
AE: Yeah! We are doing the first ever “Geek Couture” fashion show at San Diego Comic-Con this year. We are teaming up with Nerdist and also Hot Topic. We have pre-selected 36 designers. They range from some professional and some amateur designers. They are going to be walking the runway on July 24th at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, which is just two hotels down from the convention center. These are “Geek Couture” pieces and they are seriously awesome. They are going to blown people away. We are going to pick two winners, a judges pick and an audience pick. They are going to have the opportunity to design a Her Universe collection with myself to be sold at Hot Topic. Nerdist will be posting the entire fashion show at somepoint in August as well for those who can’t make it. We are really excited about this! So if you are going to San Diego Comic Con, don’t miss this!

Audio Book Reviews “Graphic Audio: Marvel”

Release Date: Jun 9, 2014 / Apr 7, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 5 / 6 Hours
Number of CDs: 5
Content Rating: Ages 13+

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Do you love comic books? Do you love audio books? Have you always wanted to hear your comics acted out like “a movie in your mind”? Well Graphic Audio now has your prayers answered. This year they have already released two fantastic comic books arcs for Marvel in audio book format. They have full casts, cinematic music and sound effects. While you are listening to these you literally can visualize the comic and you feel like you are right in the middle of the action. The most recent Marvel comic they released was the story of “Iron Man: Extremis”. This is a great choice for the character of Iron Man. The other earlier this year was “”The Ultimates: Against All Enemies”, which is a very epic series for Marvel. Graphic Audio has tons of other great products as well and I hope that they will be doing much more Marvel and DC comics in the near future. Might I suggest the recent “Original Sin” series next?!

Here is the cast for “Iron Man: Extremis”: Richard Rohan, Richard Cutting, Sherry Berg, Andy Brownstein, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Kimberly Gilbert, Michael John Casey, Scott Graham, Nora Achrati, Jacob Yeh, Steve Wannall, David Harris, Christopher Graybill, Evan Casey, Drew Kopas, Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, Sasha Olinick, Nanette Savard, Rex Anderson, Rebecca Sheir, Matthew Schleigh, Tim Pabon and James Lewis

“Iron Man: Extremis” Official Premise: Advanced technology has given Iron Man life, but now that same future tech threatens to become Stark’s death. A dangerous terrorist has ingested a new techno-organic virus, transforming him into a superhuman killing machine. Now immensely powerful, but driven mad by the virus’ effects, the terrorist is seemingly unstoppable. To halt this madman’s psychotic rampage, Iron Man must face this dangerous new virus head-on…in a life-or-death battle that will forever alter Stark’s calculated balance between man and machine. Experience Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s blockbuster re-imagining of the armored Avenger like never before in this new adaptation!

Here is the cast for “The Ultimates: Against All Enemies”: Richard Rohan, James Keegan, Richard Cutting, Jefferson Russell, Eric Messner, Laura C. Harris, Danny Gavigan, Christopher Scheeren, Andy Brownstein, Bradley Smith, Steve Wannall, Nanette Savard, Diedra Starnes, Rex Anderson, Andy Clemence, Joe Brack, Jonathon Church, Rebecca Sheir, Daniel Sonntag, Joel David Santner, Eric Singdahlsen, Jonathan Watkins, Matthew Keenan, David Harris and Thomas Keegan

“The Ultimates: Against All Enemies” Official Premise: Stark Industries has developed a technology to detect the alien Chitauri using on-the-spot DNA screening. The American defence department intends to make the technology widely available, but someone in the government puts a stop to it. Captain America sees the government’s suppression of the Stark technology as evidence that the people making such decisions are themselves compromised. Using as his model Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive orders during World War II, he begins to gather power to himself and those Ultimates and government officials sympathetic to his authoritarian approach so that power can be concentrated in the hands of those capable of taking quick and decisive action. Hank Pym, who desperately wants back on the Ultimates team, has been feverishly working with his ants in the hopes of finding something that will help defeat the Chitauri. When his ants attack one of his research assistants, who turns out to be a Chitauri, Captain America resolves his differences with Pym and the new team begins work on what they call Operation High Hopes.

Feld Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment Unveil Cast for Highly Anticipated Live Event Spectacular “Marvel Universe Live!”

More Than 50 Performers Prepare To Bring The Marvel Universe To Life In This Summer’s Live Action Arena Spectacular

Ellenton, FL, (June 12, 2014) – After scouring the country to find the best of the best in live action performers with an amazing array of disciplines and skills, Feld Entertainment, Inc., the worldwide leader in live touring family events, today reveals the final cast of more than 50 performers ready to bring its most ambitious live event experience to life in Marvel Universe LIVE!. Debuting this July in Tampa, FL, before having its world premiere at New York City’s Barclays Center on Wednesday, August 13, the show will be the most physically demanding in Feld Entertainment’s storied history and will stop in 85 cities nationwide.

Featuring the most Marvel characters ever in one production, Marvel Universe LIVE! will be headlined by a cast trained in everything from martial arts to motocross in order to bring the Marvel Universe to the live action arena. Supported by a unique blend of aerial stunts, pyrotechnics and state-of-the-art special effects, the performers will bring an epic live action experience right in front of audiences’ eyes every time.

After an intensive eight month cross-country casting process that took place in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando and Ellenton, Florida, with hundreds of hopefuls representing the United States, Mexico, Hungary, France, United Kingdom, Russia, and Japan showing off their considerable skills, the final ensemble is set. When the spotlight finally shines, spectators will see some of the world’s most gifted athletes and performers including professional snow-skater and three-time X Games champ Phil Smage (Captain America), WMX Pro National champion and two-time X Games winner Ashley Fiolek (Hydra Agent), and 2012 X Games Silver Medalist Louise Forsley (Black Widow). To depict the superlative athleticism of some of Marvel’s most renowned heroes, Feld Entertainment also has signed martial arts expert and AAU Junior Olympics/National Champion Kirk Jenkins (Wolverine) and long-time American Ninja Warrior professional course tester Eric Foster (Hawkeye).

“From the beginning we knew that to pull off a show of this magnitude we had to have a cast that was the closest thing we could find to real life Super Heroes,” said Shanda Sawyer, director of Marvel Universe LIVE! “These are intense roles that require performers who are experts in their fields with the ability to take those skills and apply them to a number of meticulously crafted sequences, all designed to push the limits of anything the audience has ever seen in an arena show of this caliber – and they need to do this day in and day out.”

Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original story that brings more than 25 Marvel characters together on one epic quest. The story is framed around the battle over the Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power and one of the most feared and coveted treasures in the Marvel Universe, that has been shattered into pieces by the mighty Thor in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. With the pieces scattered across the globe, Thor’s villainous brother, Loki, devises a scheme to clone its powers, inciting a threat that could not only decimate Earth but also obliterate the Universe.

For an inside look at the audition process, see below:

For a complete cast list and more information, visit the Marvel Universe LIVE! website
(http://www.marveluniverselive.com) and stay current on the latest developments through social media, including:
• Facebook (www.facebook.com/MarvelOnTour)
• Twitter (@MarvelOnTour/@JulietteFeld (show’s producer twitter feed))
• YouTube (www.youtube.com/MarvelOnTour)
• Instagram (@MarvelOnTour)
• Google+ (http://gplus.to/MarvelOnTour)

About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries on six continents and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz®, AMSOIL Arenacross, Marvel Universe LIVE!, Disney On Ice and Disney Live! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.

More information on Marvel Universe LIVE! is available at www.marveluniverselive.com. About Marvel Entertainment, LLC Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information, visit www.marvel.com. © MARVEL