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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Traverse Media:

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

ABOUT BLANC/BIEHN PRODUCTIONS:

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

Blu-ray Review “After the Dark”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of Syfy

 

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

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

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

Blu-ray Review “Thor: The Dark World”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Stefano Micchia & Fadewood Studios

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Scoretek Inc

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

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

 

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3D Blu-ray Review “Man in the Dark 3D”

Starring: Edmond O’Brien, Audrey Totter, Ted de Corsia, Dan Riss
Director: Lew Landers
Distributed by: Twilight Time
Running Time: 68 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: Jan 21, 2014

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Prior to receiving this Blu-ray in the mail, I had not heard of “Man in the Dark”, which was released in 1953. What I did find out that it was in fact the first 3D ever released by a major studio. I always though that it was Vincent Price’s “House of Wax” but it turns out that “Man in the Dark” actually beat that to theaters by a 48 hours. So there you go, you learn something new every day. This Blu-ray release is an Screen Archives Entertainment Exclusive and is a Limited Edition release with only 3000 copies produced. In terms of the film, I understand now why it is little know since I enjoy it very little but it does come with a great Blu-ray presentation.

Official Premise: The first 3-D motion picture produced by a major studio, Man in the Dark (1953) is a classic film noir, complete with tough-guy protagonist (Edmond O’Brien), heart-of-gold moll (Audrey Totter), and plenty of underworld action—but with handsome stereoscopic imagery directed by the prolific Lew Landers (The Raven). Focusing on a thug who undergoes brain surgery to eliminate his criminal tendencies, the film utilizes spectacular 3-D effects to simulate the newly decent hero’s disorientation as he tries to remember his life of crime, even as he is pursued by former cohorts who want in on the spoils of his latest robbery.

Twilight Time delivers this film on Blu-ray for the first time with Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray on one disc. I have to admit, the 3D experience for this film is no question one of the best that I have ever experience. Right from the minute it starts, the depth is mind-blowing. The 1080p transfers with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 really shines and looks stunning. There are some great in-your-face stunts but I just really dug the 3D overall, I wish I did the same for the film itself. The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is also very impressive. There is something about those classic 50’s scores that gets me.

In terms of special features, there is nothing here to enjoy besides a high-def theatrical trailer. There is also an Isolated Score, which is presented in an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. I was quite impressive to find a booklet included with this release. The extensive Julie Kirgo liner notes and film art is a nice read and companion to this release. Overall, I would recommend checking out if you are a 3D buff since I was blown away, otherwise this could have stayed in obscurity and I do know this anyone would have realized.

DVD Review “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”

Actors: Mischa Barton, Ryan Eggold, Leah Pipes
Directors: Mark Edwin Robinson
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Epic Pictures
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Run Time: 111 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When I read about “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”, I immediately interested due to the supernatural nature of the film. What I didn’t know is that the film also has a well-balanced aspect of romance as well. Mischa Barton really gets a chance to show off her acting chops and she impressed me quite a bit. I enjoyed the film even though I felt like it could have been about 30 minutes shorter. I felt like it dragged in the beginning getting to the part dealing with the film’s title but when it does get the suspense portion of the film, it is quite effective for sure with some great jumps. I would still recommend checking it out for a good rainy day film.

Official Premise: A young woman (Mischa Barton) who is severely depressed after the death of her parents retreats within herself, only to be drawn out of her depression by an unexpected romance with a young man named Adam (Ryan Eggold). After Adam mysteriously disappears into the depths of a haunted apartment building, she vows to pursue him, even if it means crossing into the world of the supernatural.

“I Will Follow You Into the Dark” had a brief theatrical release last year and was also released on VOD. I personally prefer the film when it’s title was just “Into the Dark”, the current title seems like it is trying to explain itself too much. Epic Pictures is behind this film’s life on DVD and they are becoming quite the powerhouse after their fantastic release for “Big Ass Spider!”. They also have a film called “Vikingdom” in the cards for this month as well. In terms of special features, there are a few decent behind-the-scenes featurettes taking a look into the production with cast/crew. There is also a few short deleted scenes included.

Film Review “Thor: The Dark World”

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 52 mins
Marvel Entertainment

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Meet the Dark Elves, a race of beings intent on ruling the world thanks to a weapon they possess call the Aether. Defeated by warriors from Asgard, including Thor (Hemsworth), the Elves’ leader, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), escapes, intent on striking again. Thinking they are doing the right thing, the warriors try to bury the Aether deep and out of site. Sadly, they buried most of the fun in this film with them.

Oddly paced and slow to start, “Thor: The Dark World” is an overall good film, yet it pales in comparison to the Marvel films that have come before it. Though this film retains the first film’s humor it takes itself too seriously at times. Part of the reason is that the first half of the film is more concerned with Jane (Portman). Underused in the first film it’s as if the producers wanted to get their money’s worth this time out. Along with Jane we get her friend, Darcy (Kat Dennings). This is a good thing. The scenes with Dennings are among the best in the film. She keeps the story moving along. The other plus is Hiddleston as Thor’s older brother, Loki. Bitter at having been overlooked for the throne, Loki is a snake in Norse clothing. Hemsworth is a fine balance of strength and humor and, once the action starts, takes the film over.

If there is a major flaw in the film it is the direction of Alan Taylor, who honed his craft on many HBO series over the years. He only has three feature films to his credit in 18 years, the most recent released a decade ago. Three movies in that time is fine if you’re Terrence Malick. Taylor isn’t. What’s odd is that there is really nothing in his past credits that would warrant him getting this assignment. “The Sopranos?” “Nurse Jackie?” “Mad Men?” Good dramas all, but nothing there suggests the ability to helm a major special effects movie. The fact he is slated to direct the new “Terminator” film is pretty disconcerting.

Pacing aside, the film does deliver some thrills once the action begins. And thrills are what you’re paying your money to see.

Blu-ray Review “Blood-C: The Last Dark”

Actors: Alexis Tipton, Robert McCollum
Directors: Zach Bolton
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Funimation
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Run Time: 105 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

I have been a huge of the “Blood: The Last Vampire” franchise, especially a new series from the creators of “Ghost in the Shell”, “Blood-C”. The internet trolls have been quite harsh to this feature film sequel to that anime series, so I was a little nervous watching this but overall, I thought it was definitely watchable. It is not the strongest entry in the series but does feature some solid action and overall entertaining. In terms of the story it doesn’t add too much to the franchise but I think fans were a little too intense about this film, especially since it is quite visually. I would recommend it.

Official Premise: Saya is part human, part monster, and has one thing on her mind: REVENGE. Visions of twisted experiments and creatures slaughtering everyone she loved fuel her thirst for vengeance. With blade in hand and rage boiling in her veins, she tracks her tormentor to Tokyo, where flesh-hungry beasts have begun to feed. There, she joins a group of young hackers hunting for the same man. As Saya slices her way through lies, traps, flesh, and bone, how much blood will she shed to cut down the mastermind behind her madness?

FUNimation Entertainment delivered an impressive Blu-ray + DVD combo pack release as they have in the past with “Blood-C” as well. Same goes for the 1080p transfer in 1.78:1, which looks quite amazing. The colors are sharp and really pop especially the color red (but I don’t understand why 😉 ). There are two audio tracks including with an English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The English track definitely feels more epic. In terms of special features, the only real extra is an U.S. Actor and Staff commentary track. The rest of the extras include NoNeNoNe Theater, which comes in six parts. There are some Promotional Videos, the Original Teaser/Trailer and U.S. Trailer.

 

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Blu-ray Review “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Deluxe Edition)”

Starring: Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, Gary Anthony Williams, David Selby, Ariel Winter, Mark Valley
Director: Jay Oliva
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Run Time: 156 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

When I saw that Warner Bros was releasing “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” with Part 1 & 2 complete together, I thought it was a bit of a double dip but I have to let everyone know that it is not at all. This deluxe edition releases takes the two parts and puts them into one seamless cut, which runs nearly two hour and thirty minute. I will repeat that a two hour and thirty minute Batman movie, I mean HELLO NERD ALERT!! I thought the first part was great but the second part was better but having them together just makes the entire film work so much tighter. Easily this is the most bold and risky DCU animated movie yet and it only gets better with easy viewing. Highly recommended picking up this release for any Batman fan.

Official Premise: It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired, and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now, when his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city. And after facing off against his two greatest enemies, the Joker and Two-Face, for the final time, Batman finds himself in mortal combat with his former ally, Superman, in a battle that only one of them will survive.

If this brand new seamless cut wasn’t enough Warner Bros delivered this combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet and packed it with some amazing new extras. The 1080p looks stunning (like the solo releases) and works perfectly with the mix of hand-drawn animation and CG effected for the film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works perfectly with the action as it explodes off the screen and kicks you in the face. It also complements Christopher Drake’s score very well.

So along with all the special features from the previously released part one and two Blu-ray’s, this deluxe edition continues to prove why it is worth the additional purchase. There is a fantastic new audio commentary track with director Jay Oliva, writer Bob Goodman and voice director Andrea Romano. The track is a blast and packs a ton of great information. This is especially cool since part one and part two didn’t include an audio commentary previously. There is also a fantastic new documentary called “Masterpiece: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns”, which narrated by actor Malcolm McDowell. It included tons of great interviews with Miller himself and covers the story from the comic to the film and everything in between. Must see for any fan!

I thought the special features on part one are good but not stunning but put them together with the new extras and part two and it all comes together so well. Part one included. “Her Name is Carrie… Her Role is Robin” is a look at the role of a female Robin. “Batman and Me: A Devotion to Destiny, The Bob Kane Story” is a 2008 documentary that looks into the life of Batman creator. “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Sneak Peek” is a behind the scenes look into the second part. ”The Dark Knight Returns” Digital Comic is a very short 4-page preview of Miller’s Batman epic novel, I would have loved to see the complete comic converted. Lastly there are two classic episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series Episodes”, ”Two-Face, Parts 1 & 2″, though not in HD.

The special features are more impressive than “Part 1″ release. First up, we have “From Sketch to Screen: Exploring the Adaptation Process” is a behind-the-scenes documentary which looks into the extensive work that has went into converting this comic to a movie. ”Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide” is a look into who would win this epic battle. “The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death” is a look into the twisted villians role in this final chapter. “Additional Episodes: From the DC Comics Vault” is collection of classic episodes including “The Last Laugh” and “The Man Who Killed Batman” from Batman: The Animated Series and “Battle of the Superheroes!” from Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Lastly there is an extended preview of the DCU animated movie, ”Superman Unbound”.

Blu-ray Feature “The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”

Actors: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhar, Tom Hardy
Directors: Christopher Nolan
Number of discs: 6
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Run Time: 456 minutes

From the very first time that I picked up a Batman comic back in the 80’s, he was always my favorite superhero. When you think about the word superhero and then think about Batman, some can debate whether or not his is really super. But in my eyes he is definitely a hero. Batman is one of the more darker of comic book heroes. His back story is grim and he is always battling himself with what he is doing and why he is doing it and always looking for a way out. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy has been the best portrayal of the caped crusader to date, no question. His vision of these characters are so deep and lined with tons of great themes. These themes are what take this film beyond the typical superhero action film into something with much more depth and drama. Now that Nolan’s chapter for The Dark Knight has come to an end and we are celebrating the recent release of “The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”, I wanted to take some time to look into these themes that are presented in these great films. I figured we have all seen the film, so I wanted to focus on something new.

When you think about “Batman Begins”, it’s main focus was the rise of our hero. His struggle and fight through his own issues and fear is what made him the hero that he became. Heroism in the film is an apparent theme. The city of Gotham has never had anyone to look up before like him and putting their well-being over his own is what helped Bruce Wayne transforms himself into their hero. This also brings up point of what makes a hero? Batman wouldn’t be where he was if he didn’t experience all his pain and suffering. That is what made him a hero and helped him to overcome it. Another theme that plays a prominent factor in “Batman Begins” is fear. Like I said Bruce Wayne fights not only the villains in the film but also is own fear. His fear of bats and his want to strike fear into his victims are two main points. Also focusing on fear would be the Scarecrow, who hoped to expose the city to fear with this hallucinogen drug.

Anarchy comes to mind when I think about “The Dark Knight”. The Joker’s role in the film is to just spread anarchy and wreck havoc in Gotham. He doesn’t have any clear reasons or purpose, he just does it because it is fun and it entertains him. His back story isn’t clear at all, especially since he changes it every time he tells the story when he asks “You wanna know how I got these scars?”. He is one of the great villains in history due to that reason of him being unpredictable and unreasonable. To be honest, I think that we are all scared of anarchy in general and what it would bring if there really was someone like Joker terrorizing our streets. That is why it resonates with us so well and we are enamored with this character. Betrayal is also a theme that The Dark Knight faces himself when the city of Gotham turns there back on him after the death of Harvey Dent.

In “The Dark Knight Rises”, I have always felt that it is a blend of all the themes from the previous film and wrapping up all open-ended questions. Carrying over from “The Dark Knight”, Bruce Wayne is dealing with the denial from Gotham turning their backs on him. He continues to fight with him fears of continuing to put on the cowl and fighting for justice. He questions his intentions and almost let’s it get the better of him. With the character of Bane, the idea of order really comes into play. Bane wants to take all order out of Gotham and succeeds for the most part when the city is under his control. His character also deals with a bit of betrayal as well as we see in his back story when we find out what made him snap. Human nature is also a very big part of the film, as we see what happens when the order is removed from society. Luckily strength defeats the chaos in the film as we seen not only Batman’s rise over his enemies and his own struggles but the city itself as they step up on their own.

So obviously these are only a few of the dozens of amazing themes included within these three very well made films. Before Nolan’s trilogy for “The Dark Knight”, you would never have thought that a “superhero” movie would have this much depth and character to it. I believe that it has changed the path for the future of these films and it will open doors for filmmakers to expand the universe of this films. I would love to open the door as well to everyone reading to point our your favorite themes from these films as well in the comments below. If you are looking to revisit these great themes and enjoy these films again, I would highly recommend picking up “The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”.

This amazing release includes all previous special features from the films as well as a bunch of one extras as well. “The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy”, is a behind-the-scenes look on the franchise and is full of never-before-seen footage, rare moments, and exclusive interviews. “Christopher Nolan & Richard Donner: A Conversation” is a sit down chat with directors Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight Trilogy”) and Richard Donner (“Superman”). Lastly there are the complete IMAX® Sequences included for “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises”. There is also some great new and exclusive memorabilia including three premium Mattel Hot Wheels Vehicles: Batmobile, Batpod and Tumbler. There is a newly commissioned collectible art cards by Mondo featuring Scarecrow, Joker, Bane, Harvey Dent, and Ra’s al Ghul and a 48-page book featuring production stills and behind-the-scenes images from all three movies. Lastly, you get digital copies of all the films to add to your Ultraviolet account. Act quick though since this set is limited and numbered to only 141,000 copies.

Concert Review: “IMatter Fest and The Gate Presents” Phinehas, My Heart to Fear, Alive in the Dark, Praxia, Take Two

“IMatter Fest and The Gate Presents”
Phinehas, My Heart to Fear, Alive in the Dark, Praxia, Take Two
Date: Saturday, August 24th 2013
Venue: The Gate, Horseheads, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Red Chord Records artist Phinehas brought their 2013 summer tour to The Gate located in the upstate NY town of Horseheads, NY on August 24th. The group who hails from Los Angeles is currently out on tour in support of their newest EP release titled “The Bridge Between”. Though the crowd on hand was of the smaller size all the bands who performed that evening gave their all in an effort to put on a great performance.

Take Two would hit the stage first and though the group experienced a few technical difficulties not of their own doing the local 5 piece punk/rock band forged through like professionals and did what all good openers do by priming the crowd for what was to come later in the night. Praxia another local band from the area would follow with their own unique style of metal core which definitely kicked things up a notch. Advent recording artists Alive in the Dark were up next and started off their set as though they were shot out of a cannon. The band certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves especially drummer Michael Guevarez who donned a creepy yet entertaining unicorn mask for a portion of the set.

Next up were Solid State Records artist My Heart to Fear. The band hails from Williamsport, PA an area probably best known for its baseball history however over the last few years have become a breeding ground for up and coming metal-core acts. Vocalist Trevor Pool worked the crowd in between songs which helped keep the excitement going and even though the bands tour van broke down between shows none of the members let that affect their performance which garnered a great response from the crowd.

Closing out the night were tour headliners Phinehas who put on a stellar performance from start to finish.
Each of the bands four members really put everything they had into the extended set which whipped the crowd in to several good sized circle pits. Guitarist Jason Combs and bassist Bryce Kelley made great use of the stage as they bounced and spun back and forth while delivering the bands crushing material. Drummer Lee Humerian was a show in his self dazzling the crowd with a bevy of stick twirling tricks while vocalist Sean McCulloch put the icing on the cake with his shredding vocals and commandeering stage presence.

I really have to give it to the people who handle The Gate. Not only do they provide a safe and fun environment to play and listen to music but they seem to be the only ones in the area that are doing anything for music fans and performers. Without their dedication to the art of music younger bands and listeners would have little to no chance to perform or experience some of the great music that is out there. Definitely keep up the good work!