Randall Blythe is probably best known for his work as lead singer of the band Lamb of God. In 2012 while on tour in support of their latest album “Resolution” Blythe was arrested upon entry into the Czech Republic as part of an investigation related to the death a fan at one of the bands shows 2 years prior. “Dark Days: A Memoir” is the first book release by Randy which details this ordeal from the days leading up to the arrest and the roller coaster ride which ensued during the preceding months. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with Randy recently about the book, what it was like reliving those experiences and also about the bands upcoming album and summer tour run.
Adam Lawton: What was it like going back through your journals and reliving those experiences during the writing of the book?
Randy Blythe: I think people were looking for me to have some sort of cathartic experience during the writing of this book and it just wasn’t. For the most part it was an unpleasant experience. It wasn’t fun while I was going through it and it wasn’t fun writing it. I think the story has value and there are some things in there that might help some people actually. I think this story needed to be told before my memories faded too much. I was thankful for the journals I had. It was weird to look back at them and read about this low point in my life. This wasn’t the first time I had looked back at journals where things weren’t going well but when I looked back at this specific journal and the fact that I was writing it while in a Czech prison was really heavy. There are some funny parts in the book but for the most part it was not a lot of fun going back. I learned a lot about the writing process through this whole thing but again it wasn’t very enjoyable.
AL: Did you have to do a lot of self editing when you were making your way through the chapters?
RB: I all heard was that we have to amputate things. (Laughs) That was more at the very end. Prior to that I was able to just write and write. When I write I am very clean and careful so there is not a lot of re-writing that has to be done. Aside from some grammatical era’s which the copy editors handled there wasn’t a lot of restructuring. When I first started I had this sort of romantic view of a writer/editor relationship as I had read stories about writers that I liked that had these intense relationships with their editors where they fought back and forth about what was going in the book. That’s what I was expecting but instead I got a lot of encouragement which is what I needed. I guess I wanted my hand held a little bit through the process but, I didn’t get that. (Laughs)
AL: Was there ever any worry about bringing further attention to these events and their relationship to the band?
RB: I had to examine that and certainly think about it for awhile. I don’t think there can be much more attention drawn to the situation that what has already happened. Anytime an article or something comes out whether its something it’s something as simple as going to Disney Land the events from the Czech Republic are going to be mentioned. No matter if it’s applicable or not it gets mentioned. There’s just so much misinformation out there about this that I figured if it’s going to be talked about I might as well set the record straight. If this brings the story to new people then at least they will know the real story. It won’t be something they found on the internet which needed to be put through Google translator or something like that. They get the straight dope from me. I wrote the book in a way that people from outside the metal scene will understand. I wanted people not from that world to read this as well. There is enough universal treatment and value related to personal accountability that no matter where you are in life you can relate to a degree.
AL: When this is all done do you feel you will be able to close the book on maybe just a small piece of that experience?
RB: Yes. I know I am going to be still continually asked about this but once press and everything is done for the book and it gets brought up later on I can just refer people to the 500 page book I wrote about it. That’s it. Just a very short answer as the book has everything people need to know about what happened.
AL: The first two songs from the band’s new album “512” and “Overlord” are quite different from one another can you tell us about that and if there was anything different in the creative process this time around for you guys?
RB: “Overlord” is actually the first song the guys have done where I can sing over the top of it. It isn’t a bid deal or something that was done consciously. One day Willie was playing some blues licks and I started humming along and that’s really all that happened. It just was very natural and organic. As far as how things were done with this album it was all the same. We have been doing this for 21 years now so we aren’t reinventing the wheel or anything like that. We have been doing this a long time and it is what it is. We just try and grow as musicians with each new album.
AL: The band kicks off a summer tour run in a few weeks can you tell us about that and any other plans you guys might have for 2015?
RB: We will be out on the road with Slipknot for 8 weeks. After that we have about a month off before heading over to South America for 3 shows. After that we head to Europe for about 5 weeks with Children of Bodom and then we will be in the UK with Megadeth.
AL: After what happened in the Czech Republic does traveling to these other countries every worry you at all?
RB: No. From time to time when I’m walking down the jet way I do get a little nervous. (Laughs) I have been around the world twice and it wasn’t ever like I was in hiding for two years or something like that. I was right back on the road immediately after everything was over.
Be sure to check out our review of “Dark Days: A Memoir” in the review section of the site.
Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Lamb of God vocalist D. Randall Blythe finally tells the world his story around the arrest, incarceration, trial and acquittal for the charge of manslaughter in the Czech Republic over the tragic and accidental death of a concertgoer. Riveting, bold and brutally honest “Dark Days: A Memoir” isn’t your everyday rock and roll memoir.
Having followed the story from when it first broke that Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe was arrested in the Czech Republic on charges of suspected manslaughter related to a death following the bands concert 2 years prior, this book was a no brainer for me to check out. This is not your typical tell all memoir filled with debotcherous tales from the road. Instead you get the inside story from the man who lived these terrifying events. Blythe recounts his experiences in such a way that you almost feel the emotion coming from the words on the pages.
From the days leading up to his unexpected arrest to the accounts of dealing with the arduous process of understand the Czech legal system all the while trying to recount the events of what was thought to be just another day on tour from 2 years ago. Spliced in between chapters related to the events in Czech Republic Blythe talks about his struggles with alcoholism and his recent rehabilitation and how his rough past growing up as an outcast teen in Richmond, VA shaped who he is today and how he handled himself throughout this horrific ordeal.
“Dark Days” is not just for fans of Lamb of God or heavy metal. The book is a must for anyone interested in a unique story of injustice and the long arduous journey one man took to clear his name by returning to a foreign country to stand trial against the charges set forth by a country that clearly wanted to make an example of this individual.
The DeLand Rock & Metal Festival has just finished booking its 5th installment of it’s ever growing Rock and Heavy Metal event. This Fall, The Deland Rock & Metal Festival will host it’s first multi-day, with camping event. The festival will feature bands from all over the east coast, one from Puerto Rico and also DeLand’s very own, Seven Kingdoms. Tickets are on sale, and it is expected to draw 800-1000 over the weekend at OBs in North Deland. This year will also include local business vendors ranging from Vapor products, beef jerky, chocolates and jewelry all the way to CD and Merch tents.
Visit the event page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/468548056578993
The Deland Rock & Metal Festival is BACK for its FALL edition!!!
This FALL FESTIVAL will be a MULTI-DAY Event!
NOV 7 – PREPARTY
NOV 8 – FESTIVAL – DAY 1
NOV 9 – FESTIVAL – DAY 2
Camping will be available overnight on festival grounds!
TICKETS ONSALE SCHEDULE:
-ALL INCLUSIVE BADGE (VIP and Camping)
ON-SALE-NOW – $95
VIP PASS only: ON SALE NOW – $65
CAMPING PASS only ON SALE NOW – $30
General Admission prices:
Preparty – $12
Saturday Festival – $25
Sunday Festival – $15
**VIP BADGE** – $65
– VIP FOIL LAMINATE
– EVENT T-SHIRT
– EVENT POSTER
– Masters Of Metal Productions Sampler CD
– **FREE ADMISSION** to the PreParty
– ENTRY TO SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
– 22oz SOUVENIR DR&MF BEER MUG
– EXCLUSIVE DRAFT BEER / CIDER OUTSIDE WITH BEER MUG ONLY
– VIP BAR and PATIO LOUNGE ACCESS
– ONLY **100** AVAILABLE
Camping will be PER PERSON – $30
– CAMPING STICKER CREDENTIAL
– Camping Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights
– HOT DELUXE BREAKFAST Saturday and Sunday Mornings
– ONLY **100* CAMPING STICKERS AVAILABLE
**we will be in touch with all our campers to see who is sharing tents – paid per person because we are including breakfast for campers**
More info, Bands, Lineups to be announced! 50 bands!
FRIDAY – NOVEMBER 7th **PREPARTY**
1|6:15-6:45 – Stand Well Among Giants – Post Hardcore from Orlando
2|7:00-7:30 – Almost Winter – Metalcore from Orlando
3|7:45-8:15 – Unsung Hero – Metal/Hard Rock from Tampa
4|8:30-9:00 – Cover The Sun – Rock/Metal from Orlando
5|9:15-9:45 – ShadowStrike – Power Metal from NY
6|10:00-10:45 – Judicator – Power Metal from Tuscon, AZ
7|11:00-11:30 – Project: Roenwolfe – Power Metal from AZ/FL
8| 11:45-12:30 – Fathom’s Pass – Prog/Power from Tampa
SATURDAY – NOVEMBER 8th
1|12:00-12:30 – Koffity – Metal from Panama City
3|1:00-1:30 – Sinister Circle – Metal from Tampa
5|2:00-2:30 – All Hell – Death Metal from Longwood
7|3:00-3:30 – Atlas – Metal from Melbourne, FL
9|4:00-4:30 – Darkness Rising – Metal from Deltona
11|5:00-5:30 – Sarcophagi – Deathcore from Pensacola
13|6:00-6:30 – The Bride Wore Blood – Deathcore from Orlando
15|7:00-7:30 – Orbweaver – Experimental Metal from Miami
17|8:00-8:30 – Promethean Horde – Death Metal from Tampa
19|9:00-9:30 – Ovid’s Withering – Death Metal from Tampa
21|10:15-11:00 – Warforged – Death Metal from Chicago
2|12:30-1:00 – Slow Motion Suicide – Metal from Jacksonville
4|1:30-2:00 – Denied Til Death – Death Metal from Jacksonville
6|2:30-3:00 – Martyr’s Asylum – HardRock from Orlando
8|3:30-4:00 – Psykotribe – Metal from Tampa
10|4:30-5:00 – Impurity – Death Metal from Gainesville
12|5:30-6:00 – Death Before Dying – Death Metal from Panama City
14|6:30-7:00 – City Of Stages – Metalcore from Orlando
16|7:30-8:00 – Zafakon – Death/Thrash from Puerto Rico
18|8:30-9:00 – Thrash Or Die – Thrash from Miami
20|9:30-10:15 – Abdomen Canvas -Death Metal from Orlando
22|11:00-11:45 – Visceral Disgorge – Slam Death from Baltimore
23|12:00-1:00 – Massacre – Death Metal from Florida
SUNDAY – NOVEMBER 9th
1|12:00-12:30 – Primitive Hard Drive – Rock from Jacksonville
3|1:00-1:30 – Jack Mantra – Rock from Brandon
5|2:00-2:30 – Armor Of God – Power Metal from Orlando
7|3:00-3:30 – Slikk Wikked – Metal from Tampa
9|4:00-4:30 – Chernobyl – Heavy Metal from Orlando
11|5:00-5:30 – Archangel – Thrash/Heavy Metal from Tampa
13|6:00-6:30 – Maverick Hunter – Heavy Metal from Tampa
15|7:00-7:30 – Everthrone – Epic, Symphonic Metal from SC
17|8:05-8:50 – Draekon – Symphonic Metal from Indiana
19|9:35-10:20 – Widow – Traditional Metal from NC
2|12:30-1:00 – The Hanging Chads – Hard Rock from Tampa
4|1:30-2:00 – Embrace The Envy – Metal from Orlando
6|2:30-3:00 – Absolon – Goth/Power Metal from Orlando
8|3:30-4:00 – Frostfang – Thrash Metal from St. Pete
10|4:30-5:00 – Skyliner – Power Metal from Jacksonville
12|5:30-6:00 – Sons Of Ragnar – Viking Metal from Longwood
14|6:30-7:00 – Arcsin – Prog/Power from Miami
16|7:30-8:05 – MindMaze – Female Fronted Power Metal from PA
18|8:50-9:35 – A Sound of Thunder – Female Fronted Power Metal from DC
20|10:20-11:20 – Seven Kingdoms – Power Metal from DeLand
Your EXCLUSIVE draft beer and cider will be Yuengling and Angry Orchard. VIPs you will be the only people allowed to even have draft beer at the festival, all others are bottles/mixdrinks. Fillups will range (depending) from $4-$6 for whichever one you want and 22oz of it! you will get 10 tickets per day, which you will need to use each time you pay for a fill up. Its super exclusive draft just for you! IF YOU DON’T WANT BEER, there will be bottled water and Soda fillups for $1. PLEASE REMEMBER you will not be able to get the special draft, if you BUY THE CUP ALA CARTE at the fest, YOU MUST be a VIP holder! CAMPING BREAKFAST will be open each fest morning from 8AM-10AM. We will have Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Biscuits & Gravy, Toast, Coffee and Orange Juice. Breakfast will be open for TWO HOURS. Breakfast will also go on sale, ala carte for those that didnt camp, that are Hungry, however we are only guaranteeing enough breakfast/per day for presold camping passes, so get your camping and breakfast passes!
Starring: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Danny Aiello, Jeff Daniels, Wallace Shawn, Seth Green
Director: Woody Allen
Distributed by: Twilight Time
Run Time: 88 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars
A few years back I became very much obsessed with music from the 30’s and 40’s. I am a huge fan of Woody Allen but I have to admit, I have never seen this film prior to this release. It packs a wonderful cast including Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Danny Aiello, Jeff Daniels, Wallace Shawn, Seth Green with Woody Allen narrating. I literally was watching this film speechless during certain points just completely in love. The music, the acting, the writing. Woody Allen never lets you down. A must have if you are a fan of Woody Allen, no question.
Official Premise: Writer-director Woody Allen’s tenderly nostalgic, joyously funny Radio Days (1987) is a vignette-packed memory piece about growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s, obsessed with the music, entertainment, and news of the wide world brought into every household via the magic of radio. A young Allen surrogate (played by a teeny red-headed Seth Green) lives with his parents (the wonderful Julie Kavner and Michael Tucker) and extended family in the wind-swept Rockaway neighborhood, their daily routines spiced by the glamour, excitement, thrills, and even occasional doses of grim reality coming to them over the airwaves.
This Blu-ray release is an Screen Archives Entertainment Exclusive and is a Limited Edition release with only 3000 copies produced. This film is delivered with a looks good with its 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono also works perfect with the dialogue and the music. Oh the music is so fantastic with some amazing songs from the 30’s and 40’s that intertwine so well with the film.
In terms of special features, besides some trailers, there is only an Isolated Music and Effects Track includes, which is a bit of a letdown. Nonetheless, Twilight Time has been releasing some great Allen films over the last year and change, so I hope that they are planning on continuing this.
Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Director: Richard Lester
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Criterion Collection
DVD Release Date: June 24, 2014
Run Time: 87 minutes
Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars
The Beatles is one of the best bands EVER. They have changed pop culture forever. Their music is eternal and will never be forgotten. I can sum this Blu-ray up in one word…SPECTACULAR. If you are a Beatles fan, you NEED this release. If you don’t have a Blu-ray player, go out and buy one! “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night” was released on Blu-ray back in 2009 to a pretty poor release. If you felt burned that one all you need to know is that this is being released under the Criterion Collection and that means perfection. The music in this film is just so amazing. Tell you that you don’t belt out these classic Beatles tracks like “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Tell Me Why”, “If I Fell”, “And I Love Her”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and “I Should Have Known Better” while watching or even thinking about this film.
Official Premise: In 1964, the Beatles had just recently exploded onto the American scene with their debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The group’s first feature, the Academy Award-nominated “A Hard Day’s Night,” offered fans their first peek into a day in the life of the Beatles and served to establish the Fab Four on the silver screen, as well as to inspire the music video format.
Criterion is releasing this as a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. The film itself has been recently given a spectacular 4K restoration from the original camera negative for this Blu-ray. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, I cannot stress how stunning this transfer looks. 5/5 stars is simply not high enough. Also this release is also director approved, so you can not just take my word but also Richard Lester’s word. The black and white is so sharp looking and you couldn’t tell that this was shot nearly 50 years ago.
Since The Beatles are obviously known for their music, the audio tracks on this release are very important. There are a few different tracks on this Blu-ray. My favorite has to be the LPCM mono track. It is extremely clear and the songs are very well balanced. When I cranked up a few of the songs, they just sounded absolutely perfect. Same goes for the dialogue in the film, it sounded great as well. There is also a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which was made by Apple Records. Personally, this track works best with the songs, of course. Both very impressive and two different experiences, to be honest.
The special features are jam-packed and quite outstanding for this release. “Anatomy of a Style” feature story editor and screenwriter Bobbie O’Steen and music editor Suzana Peric discussing the film’s music sequences including “A Hard Day’s Night”, “I Should Have Known Better”, “Cant Buy Me Love”, “And I love Her” and “She Loves You”. “In Their Own Voices” includes behind-the-scenes stills and footage from the making of “A Hard Day’s Night” as well as clips from audio interviews a few of the Beatles. “You Can’t Do That: The Making of A Hard Day’s Night” is the 1994 documentary, produced by Walter Shenson (producer of “A Hard Day’s Night”) and narrated by Phil Collins featuring cast/crew from the film and runs just over an hour.
“Things They Said Today” is a documentary from 2002 that focuses on long term success of “A Hard Day’s Night”. “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” is a short film that was shot by Richard Lester in 1959 and features Richard Lester, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Graham Stark, and Bruce Lacey. “Picturewise” is a new video essay focuses on the production history of “A Hard Days Night” and Richard Lester’s directing style. This was written and produced by critic and filmmaker David Cairns exclusively for Criterion. “The Beatles: The Road to A Hard Day’s Night” is a new video interview with Mark Lewisohn, author of “The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1 — Tune In”, which was also conducted exclusively for Criterion in 2014.
But wait, there is still more…there is an audio commentary track from 2002 created from material produced by Martin Lewis and features actors John Junkin, David Janson, and Jeremy Lloyd; cinematographer Gilbert Taylor; associate producer Denis O’Dell; second assistant director Barrie Melrose; assistant editors Pamela Tomling and Roy Benson; and others. There are two trailers including the 2000 re-release and the 2014 re-release. Lastly there is an fantastic illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Howard Hampton.
John Ottman is known best for his roles of editor and also composer on numerous films including “The Usual Suspects”, “X2”, “Jack and the Giant Slayer, “Superman Returns” and most recently “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with John again about working with Bryan Singer and returning to the “X-Men” franchise.
Mike Gencarelli: Having score “X2” and now “X-Men: Days of Future Past”; tell us about returning to the franchise and about your approach to this score?
John Ottman: “X2” was one of my first big movies that I got to tackle. I always look back at those times very fondly because that exhibits an exciting time in my life. It was also a film that went very smoothly for all of us involved. I looked forward to going back into the series, especially since musically I had themes that I always wanted to go back to but wasn’t able to because we didn’t stick around for the third film. In the score for “X2”, I wrote a lot of motifs that I had planned to put somewhere in the next movie. So it always irked me that I wasn’t able to complete what I started. So this film came me an opportunity to pick up where I left off with “X2”. Naturally, it is a different kind of story, a little more modern, and also eleven years later. So I was just really excited that I got to preserve my themes.
MG: Since the film takes place in the past and the future; what was it like combining those two different sounds into one cohesive score?
JO: That is the trick actually to make it all cohesive. But because there is such a vast difference between the past and the future, it wasn’t that difficult to work with because the score was actually set the difference between the two time periods. In the 70’s, I got to infuse some analog synthesizer sound, some electric piano and guitar and so forth. So, that was actually really fun for me to do.
MG: What was your biggest challenge on “”X-Men: Days of Future Past”?
JO: Time travel [laughs]. I have said this in a few interviews. When I look back at this movie, I think about a Whac-A-Mole game. With time travel, you Whac-A-Mole to solve one problem and then create another. We just kept whacking and whacking until the smallest mole comes up that we could live with. Since you can never solve every issue. Really my job was to build consensus and really fight for things I thought we needed to do in the movie. That is how I look back on my experience on the movie basically. There was a lot of passion pleases to do certain things [laughs]. It was a very complicated film. The main challenge was the keep the story clear given all the convolution of the various situations.
MG: This is your seventh film working with Bryan Singer; what keeps you guys coming back together?
JO: I guess good stories and scripts. He keeps telling me to edit his films otherwise he won’t let me score them [laughs]. It is the blackmail that keeps us together.
MG: Speaking of the editing, as with “X2” and many other films, you took on the role of editor as well as composer; tell us about this other aspect of working on the film?
JO: The short story is that when we did out first feature film way back, “Public Access”, which won the Sundance Film Festival. I came on as the editor on the film and also ended up writing the score as well. So when we put “The Usual Suspects” deal together, I said “I just want to write the score” and Bryan said “Hell no, you are going to edit the film as well”. He saw the symbiosis that occurs when you do both jobs. Basically the same story just continues through today. He prefers that I leave my scoring career and go into what I call “editing jail” for two years. Both tasks are telling the story and if they are both being done by the same person it can bring better clarity into the storytelling.
MG: What is your next project and what can we expect next?
JO: Life [laughs]. A life. I purposely did not line anything up after this. I didn’t want to jump right into another project. After “Jack and the Giant Slayer” and then “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, it was three solid years and I need to take a break. I am sure I will get itchy and start looking in a few months but then again maybe not [laughs].
Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
What do you get when you put eight Academy Award nominated actors in a film that takes place primarily in the 1970s. If you said “American Hustle,” you’d be wrong (only five nominees in that one). The correct answer is easily the best film in the “X-men” series so far, “X-men: Days of Future Past.”
Our story begins sometime in the future. The world, as we know it, is no more. Mechanical soldiers known as Sentinels have taken to destroying most of mankind – both mutants and humans. A small band of mutants is doing their best to survive when they come upon an idea. Knowing what spawned the Sentinel Program, they devise to send someone back in time, to 1973, to stop the event that has brought them to this bleak future. It is decided that, because of his genetic makeup, Logan (Jackman) should make the trip. Though the time travel trip will be dangerous, Logan’s mission once he gets there makes the trip look like smooth sailing.
A well written and brilliant mash up of “X-Men” characters, both past and future, “X-men: Days of Future Past” is a smartly crafted, brilliantly acted comic book related masterpiece! When Logan completes his time travel journey, his task is an unenviable one: he needs to reunite Professor Charles Xavier (McAvoy) with his one-time friend Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender). The hard part of the mission will be convincing the duo that Logan has been sent back to contact them…by them! Along the way Logan will meet younger versions of his fellow X-men, among them Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and the girl known as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Not only are these mutants younger, they have not all developed the way they will in the future. The same goes for Logan, who discovers that his adimantium claws have yet to be made. When he springs into action he’s back to just plain old bone. But he still knows how to use them!
Perfectly accompanying the story is an incredible display of special effects that will boggle your mind (especially in 3D). One such scene features an attempted prison break slowed down to milliseconds courtesy of Quicksilver (Evan Peters). The third highlight of the film are the performances. Once again, Jackman leads the way, giving Logan the same emotional depth he showed in last year’s stand-alone Wolverine film. McAvoy and Fassbender continue the great work they showed in “X-men: First Class.” Great work also by their futuristic counterparts, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. And new to the story, as the main catalyst of the Sentinel program, is the outstanding Peter Dinklage.
Director Singer, sadly making headlines for some alleged off-screen antics, keeps the action in the forefront while not sacrificing the story. Put everything together and you’ve got one of the best films of the summer.
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Running time: 131 minutes
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is the seventh film in the “X-Men” film series. It is billed as partially a sequel to “X-Men: The Last Stand” and also a sequel to “X-Men: First Class”. If you are not familiar with the series, “The Last Stand” was the final X-Men before they did two spin-offs with Wolverine and made “First Class”, which was a prequel story. So if you not caught up to date with this series, things could get a little confusing with this one. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” also brings back director Bryan Singer, who directed 2000’s “X-Men” and 2003’s “X2”. “X2” is probably still the best film in the franchise but it is great to see Singer back behind the directors chair. You can tell that they were really trying to give this film a lot but for me it feel a little flat in terms of being epic.
What “X-Men: Days of Future Past” does has is one hell of an ensemble cast including Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Shawn Ashmore, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Now as cool as that sounds, I really wasn’t blown away. I enjoyed the film but I felt that it was very slow moving throughout certain parts. I also felt like the parts set in the future weren’t really fleshed out and it felt like a way for them just to throw in the past roles for Stewart and McKellen to get a better drawn. In fact, these guys did fairly little at all in this film. Jennifer Lawrence was exceptional as usual. James McAvoy also did a fantastic job. Halle Berry was next to useless in the film as well as Anna Paquin, who was like billed fifth yet had about five seconds of screen time and no lines. I dig what they were going for but it feels just a bit too ambitious and the pay off is too obvious.
The film picks up in the dystopian future of 2023 with all life forms practically extinct at the hands of the robots known as Sentinels. We meet up with the few remaining mutants including Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, Storm, Iceman, Shadowcat, Colossus and even a few new characters (to the series) including Warparth, Sunpot and Blink (all of whom, I would have loved to see fleshed out much more). They are all teaming up in order to survive and try to find a way to eliminate the creation of the Sentinels. With the help of Shadowcat, they send Wolverine back to 1973 to stop Raven aka Mystique from killing the scientist that created the Sentinels, which was the event that lead to their current impending doom. Wolverine has to race against time to try and convince a much younger Professor X and Magneto to work together in order to try and save the world.
My biggest problem with this film is that it relies heavily on the events of “X-Men: First Class”, which is not my favorite entry in the franchise at all. There were parts that I really loved here like the addition of Quicksilver (Evan Peters) but the character was there and gone again before you finished blinking. Our audience in the theaters was literally screaming out loud with laughter and cheer during his scene and I was so hoping that there would be more…but that was not the case. I do not know why they went heavy on focus with Wolverine (again!). I mean hasn’t he had enough films focused around his character already, I want a few face for these films…aka more Jennifer Lawrence perhaps. There is quite the future already planned out for this series with “X-Men: Apocalypse” already scheduled for a May 27, 2016 release date.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” film was actually shot in 3D, which I thought that it was very impressive. I have heard mixed feelings on it already but I actually really enjoyed it. The scenes set in the future were very well done and the ending climax was quick impressive as well. Since this film was set split from the future and 1973, there is two different look to the film itself. I really liked how the 70’s scenes have a completely different almost washed out look to them. I also enjoyed the Super 8 footage used in certain scenes. If you have read any other reviews, I have seen this film being called “the best superhero films to date”, I personally didn’t think that was the cast at all. It is definitely a step up from “X-Men: First Class” but there were certain parts that dragged for me. I also felt like the story set in the future ended up really being more of a filler and didn’t really get a chance to really kick ass. Worth checking out if you love “X-Men” just keep expectation on the lower side.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Richard Sammel, Eriq Ebouaney
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: May 20, 2014
Run Time: 117 / 122 minutes
Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars
Kevin Costner has been on a hot streak recently with “Hatfields & McCoys” and “Man of Steel” but “3 Days to Kill” cools down his streak quite a bit. The film is produced by Luc Besson but seems to follow the spy-thriller format and doesn’t really deliver anything new. I wouldn’t say this is unwatchable since if you REALLY like Costner you can probably find something that you like about this. I just had trouble making it fully through it. There was a lot of yelling at the screen and eye-rolling happening here. When it comes down to it good action, decent acting, bad story.
Official Premise: Kevin Costner is a dangerous international spy who is determined to give up his high stakes life to finally build a closer relationship with his estranged wife and daughter, whom he’s previously kept at arm’s length to keep out of danger. But first, he must complete one last mission- even if it means juggling the two toughest assignments yet: hunting down the world’s most ruthless terrorist and looking after his teenage daughter for the first time in ten years, while his wife is out of town.
20th Century Fox has delivered this film as a Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy. There is a bonus extended cut included as a Blu-ray exclusive, which runs five minutes longer than the theatrical cut. Nothing ground breaking included in the new cut but still worth checking out over the theatrical. The 1080p transfer presented with an 2.37:1 aspect ratio looks very sharp and worked well with the gorgeous setting of Paris. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is also quite impressive especially with the big action sequences.
In terms of special features, there is not a ton of extras included here. “The Making of 3 Days to Kill” is just under 10 minutes long and is the basic behind-the-scenes look into the production. “McG’s Method” is a short profile on the director. “Covert Operation” is a cool feature featuring a real life former CIA agent talking about his work. Lastly there are some theatrical and extended trailers included.
If you’re a fan of classic animation you surely are a fan of Ralph Bakshi. In his five decade career he has created such seminal animated features as “Fritz the Cat,” “Heavy Traffic,” “Wizards,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Cool World” and many more. This week at the Kansas City Film Fest a retrospect of his work will be shown, featuring screenings of “Heavy Traffic,” “Coonskin” and “Wizards,” culminating in a Q&A Skype session with the director after Saturday’s screening of “Coonskin.”
Introducing the films this week will be another filmmaking member of the Bakshi family, Ralph’s son, Eddie. Eddie caught the filmmaking bug at a young age and is finishing up his animated producer’s debut, “Last Days of Coney Island.” While waiting for the Fest to begin, Eddie Bakshi spoke with Media Mikes.:
Mike Smith: Can you give the readers a little inside introduction to the upcoming retrospect of your father’s films at the Kansas City Film Fest?
Eddie Bakshi: The festival is presenting screenings of three of his films: “Heavy Traffic,” “Coonskin” and “Wizards.” There will also be samples of the original art – the original animation cells used to make the film. They will be on display and some will also be available to purchase. In addition, he will be Skyping in to the festival after the Saturday evening screening of “Coonskin” for an audience Q & A. The audience will have a chance to ask him a question about any of his films, be it “Coonskin” or his latest film, “Last Days of Coney Island.” He’s currently editing that film right now and will actually be Skyping in on the same computer he’s editing on.
MS: Can you talk a little about “Last Days of Coney Island?”
EB: “Last Days of Coney Island” is a project that we’re both working on. He’s directing and I’m producing. We’re currently in the middle of editing it. It’s an eighteen-minute featurette. When we announced it on Kickstarter we had said it would be a five to seven-minute short but now it’s a bit longer. Actually, we may continue the project and turn it into a full length feature film. If we can get the funding we would like to tell the entire “Coney Island” story, which takes place in the 1960s and involves cops and a whole lot of seedy characters…the inhabitants of Coney Island. It will be a classic Bakshi film in the vein of “Heavy Traffic.” It has a lot of strange characters and they’re all interlinked. He’s very happy with what he has done now but he would love to turn it into a feature. He’s very happy with the story and how it’s going. He’s been very involved the past several months lengthening the story to eighteen-minutes. The art style is very interesting.
MS: You will be offering some of his original art and cells to the public?
EB: Yes. It’s a great way for his fans to own a piece of his work.
MS: Is this retrospect a way to introduce his work to new fans as well as letting old fans know about his newest project?
EB: It’s a new way to promote Bakshi Productions. It’s really the first real chance people will have to ask him about the project directly. There has been a real spike in the increase of interest in his work since the advent of outlets like Twitter and Instagram. Many new fans are being exposed to his work. An outlets like Facebook these fans are finally getting to see the images from his films and it generated a lot of interest in the new film. We’ve been getting offers from all over the country to attend film festivals to not only talk about “Last Days of Coney Island” but to show his older films as well. It’s kind of like a bundle package. Once “Coney Island “ is ready we can take that to festivals, or show a trailer for it with some of the older films.
The Kansas City Film Fest runs through April 13. For more information go to www.kcfilmfest.org
Media Mikes would like to giveaway a Blu-ray of “The Last Days on Mars”, which stars Liev Schreiber. If you would like to enter for your chance to win this great prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating what is your favorite film set in space or another planet? This giveaway will remain open until March 14th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all fans of Media Mikes, worldwide!! 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.
On the eve that the crew of the very first manned expedition to Mars is about to return to Earth, it makes an astounding discovery fossilized evidence of life on Mars. Oscar® nominated and visionary filmmaker Ruairí Robinson, along with an extraordinary special effects team including the people behind DISTRICT 9, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and AVATAR, introduce us to a terrifying new landscape, where the scientific discovery of life might be the death of us all.
Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars
Ethan Renner (Costner) works for the C.I.A. At least he did until he learned, after his last mission, that he has cancer and has three months to live. Forsaking the agency he heads to Paris, where he tries to make peace with the family he basically abandoned five years ago to protect his country. He is in the process of rekindling some semblance of a life with his wife and daughter when he is informed that his country needs him again. And, in return for his help, they will give him an “experimental” drug that will enable him to live. If given that choice, what would you do?
Directed by McG with a story and script co-written by the great Luc Besson, “3 Days to Kill” is a tongue in cheek action flick that takes you a little while to get on board but, once in sync with the film, the ride is terrific. I was worried in the first few minutes when Ethan is part of a “routine” assignment, which including bad guys with code names like WOLF and THE ALBINO…pretty generic. Second worry came when he goes to buy some over the counter medicine for a cold and is given boxes with COUGH SYRUP and SUPER STRENGTH COUGH SYRUP on the packages, giving the impression this is seriously a low budget affair. Then the first building explodes and all is right with the movie world again!
More than an action-thriller, “3 Days to Kill” is also a fun look at how even the toughest guys – the baddest asses on the planet – are capable of an emotional evening with the ladies of their lives. While hoping to reconcile with his wife (Nielsen) and help his teenage daughter (“True Grit’s” Steinfield) get ready for her first prom, he must also deal with the family of squatters that have taken over his apartment (one of the daughters is pregnant and about to pop, teaching his daughter to ride a bike and basically behaving like a dad while exchanging heavy gun fire. In between the life lessons the fun and action are actioned up to just the level you’d expect out of a pairing of McG and Besson. Only Amber Heard, as the main assistant to the C.I.A. director, comes off as too over the top, finding a reason to show up in skin tight clothes to flirt at a moment’s notice. I hope to heck she’s not protecting me. Costner, in his second film this year as a C.I.A. agent, following last month’s “Jack Ryan,” handles the action well and adds some gravity to the parent-out-of-water scenario. Steinfeld is solid, though she really doesn’t have much to do but pout and complain.
Blake Allison is the lead singer/guitarist for the band Memphis, TN based rock band Devour The Day. The group recently finished up a successful tour run with Hinder and has also re-released their “Good Man” EP which features a brand new set of mixes. Media Mikes spoke with Blake recently about the group’s formation, the bands re-release and their upcoming plans for 2014
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band?
Blake Allison: Joey Chicago and I have been writing songs together for a long time. We got to the point with our old band Egypt Central where Joey and I were writing all the music. When the band started everyone pitched in with the song writing equally. As that band went on and we experienced some member changes it came down to Joey and I putting all the music and lyrics together. We started writing what would have been the third record for that band and during that process our singer left us high and dry. We decided that what we had could be really great material and possibly be used for another band. We loved that band but Devour the Day is really close to our hearts. This music is exactly as we want it. In the previous band we would write the music and other members would perform it. With Devour the Day we can do everything we want and it seems to mess with our musical background better. This music is straight from the heart and for the first time in a long time we can finish a song without outside help as we are creating it.
AL: Can you tell us about the re-release of the bands “Good Man” EP?
BA: We just finished that up pretty recently. We teamed up with Brian Malouf who is legend in the music industry for making great mixes. He helped us take this whole thing on and we actually were working on in while we were still on tour. We started out shooting ideas back and forth over the phone on how we could give the songs a make over. When we signed to Caroline Records we were super excited and we thought that doing this re-release would be a great way to kick things off. Everyone here is super excited about what we have coming up for 2014.
AL: The band recently finished up a tour with Hinder. Can you tell us about that experience?
BA: Those guys are friends of ours from back when we had our first band. They are just nice people. I think a lot of people would assume that people who are famous are jerks but these guys are not. These guys are living out their dreams and are very happy doing that. Those guys have always taken care of us and when we decided we were going to tour Devour the Day I gave the Cody their drummer a call and asked him to put in a good word for us. He did and landed us a tour that has had us on the road for the better half of 2013.
AL: What was the reception like from the fans?
BA: It has been amazing! We kind of share the same audience and can be heard on the same types of radio stations. The crowds may start off looking at us like we are a little bit weird as they have never heard our songs before but by the end of the set they understand what we are about and what we are trying to do. It can be hard to come out of the gat e and connect with a crowd so we get up there and just lose it and act like idiots. (Laughs) The crowds have loved it though and we are excited to get back out there.
AL: Your song “Good Man” is doing really well right now can you tell what made you choose that song to put out first?
BA: When it came time to pick a song to release there really wasn’t much of a dispute when it came to choosing “Good Man”. That song just stood out as something different from the rest of the material. Simply put it was the strongest song on the record. That song really was the catalyst for putting everything in motion. We had a group of songs that we were going to do and once this one was completed and sent out it got a lot of attention.
AL: Can you tell us about the bands Kickstarter campaign that just wrapped up?
BA: We had discussed putting a video together and the first thing that came up was how could we make a video on a small as budget as possible. We started toying with the idea of doing a cheap video, which generally equates to a band playing in an empty warehouse. That’s just not who we are. We wanted to do something different. Joey’s brother Dan handles the non-profit side of a company called Neighborhood Film Company. They put together Kickstarter campaigns for films that help provide jobs to people in need. We thought it would be a good idea to take the same approach and we came up with the idea of doing a video recognizing all of the people who have helped us get to where we are. We are looking forward to starting work on this and the idea is to make people cry and do something different that what a typical rock band would do.
AL: Can you tell us what the band has planned for the rest of this year leading into 2014?
BA: We have some really big shows coming up towards then end of this year. We have some things in the works for 2014 but I can’t really say too much about that just yet. We are really excited though as we will be out with some newer bands that have a similar sound to us. That should be a really great time.
21 Days is a new psychological horror flick in the wave of the Found Footage genre and it’s being produced by the team who created the disturbing Spanish film Atrocious in 2011; Fernando Barreda Luna and Jessica Villegas. This time they are partners with Writer/Director Kathleen Behun, to bring this terrifying and intense ride that promises to chill the nerves of all the genre fans. “The script is very creepy and full of suspense. I think we are crafting something very perverse” – Fernando Luna. The premise runs around a presumed haunted house which no one has been able to live in more than 21 days. The website will explore more the mythology that surrounds this story. The project has started Pre-‐Production and plans to be completed in the Fall.
Synopsis: Three filmmakers embark on a paranormal challenge by barricading themselves in a house so haunted, no family has been able to live in more than 21 days, in order to film the supernatural phenomena which presumably occur… but nothing can prepare them for the evil that lies in wait… There are some places so dark, so evil, where no human-‐ no living thing-‐ should dwell…
Title: 21 Days
Year of Production: 2013
Writer/Director: Kathleen Behun
Producers: Kathleen Behun, Jessica Villegas, Fernando Barreda Luna
Company: TORTILLA FLATS PRODUCTIONS, NOPAL ARMY PRODUCTIONS
More information will be released as the production continues development