Category: movies

Dear Hollywood, Please Don’t Screw Up Voltron

As any respectable child of the 1980’s I have a deep and profound affection for Voltron: Defender of the Universe.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that the show was heavily reedited from a Japanese anime Beast King GoLion which had a much deeper story line.  Voltron was beautifully animated, with a great opening and a general plot which involved five giant lion robots forming an even bigger robot to fight giant monsters.  For a 5-year-old kid, it was perfection.

voltron-lionsOver the years I was entertained by all of the continuations and sequels, even the lackluster Voltron: The Third Dimension.  Right now the franchise is enjoying renewed interest due to the very entertaining and well-received Netflix series, Voltron: Legendary Defender.  The franchise is one that has been able to maintain pop culture relevance for over thirty years with a somewhat limited profile.

The good news is that finally Universal Studios is developing a live-action film after a long and winding road through development hell.  ScreenRant is reporting that Universal gained the rights to Voltron as part of their purchase of the DreamWorks catalog in 2015 and that this film will not have any connection to the current cartoon.  The last time we saw news on this front Pharrell Williams was set to produce the film and write the soundtrack a decade ago.

On paper, a live action Voltron should be easy to get right.  It’s hard to imagine that someone could turn an iconic piece of pop culture into a bloated, unrecognizable CGI mess.  I wish I had more faith in Hollywood, but have you seen that new MegaZord from the upcoming Power Rangers movie? Please, don’t screw this up.


The Non-Existent Marketing Plan for Star Trek Beyond is Troubling

Not too long ago I had a pretty length Twitter conversation with a few Star Trek minded individuals about the promotion for Star Trek Beyond.  Now as this is the first post-Abrams Trek film and I would have thought that under new director Justin Lin the whole “mystery box” concept would be no more.   But I think that has less to with Lin and more with Paramount’s lack of confidence in the film.

stb-02722rlcjpg-684dbcStar Trek has always competed with Star Wars.  And with The Force Awakens dominating theaters last December and home release this spring, well there hasn’t been a lot of room for Star Trek on the Interwebs or elsewhere, despite the ardent and loyal Star Trek fandom.

To this point the marketing efforts for Beyond can only described as somewhere between terrible and non-existent. As I was starting to looks at this more deeply I found that the good people at Trek Movie already did this for me.  Trek Movie tackled this in depth, comparing the advertising timelines/campaigns for Star Trek Beyond to Star Trek Into Darkness, and the comparisons aren’t pretty:

“At the time of writing, with 81 days until Beyond‘s release, we have gotten 1 trailer, 2 major interviews, 10 photos, and 2 behind-the-scenes videos. At the same point in Into Darkness‘s timeline, we had gotten 2 trailers, 3 major interviews, 15 photos, plus 2 apps and the reveal of some plot details”

There is a fan event scheduled for May 20th on the Paramount Studios lot where fans will be treated to the premiere of the new trailer, behind the scenes footage and a Q&A with Justin Lin and the cast.  For those of you counting at home that is only 63 days before Beyond premieres in the United States.


Will that be enough time to rally the Trekkies who were burnt after Into Darkness?  Can anything really be as bad as that teaser trailer featuring the Beastie Boys and Captain Kirk doing his best Star Lord on a dirtbike?  Will Star Trek Beyond actually take place in space?  Right now there are too many questions, and apparently there’s no one at Paramount that is willing to give us the answers until at least May 20th.

h/t [Trek Movie]

Here’s Our First Look at Mattel’s Ghostbusters Action Figures from the 2016 Reboot

With last year being the 30th Anniversary of the release of Ghostbusters, there was a glut of new merchandise released based on the classic foursome of Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zedmore.   We knew that there was going to be a big marketing push for Paul Feig’s upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, including action figures, role-playing proton packs and all kinds of other plastic collectibles in mass retail and specialty shops.

Up until this point, not much has been known about Mattel’s main action figure line but with Toy Fair 2016 just around the corner, a sneak peek was bound to happen sooner or later.  Director Paul Feig tweeted out an image of the 6″ prototypes for the world to see.

GB2016_MattelProtosOf course the 30 year old men on action figure forums are already blasting the line, but I think these prototypes have done a pretty good job of capturing the likenesses of the actresses.  As father of twin 5 year old daughters who dressed up as Ghostbusters last Halloween, I cannot even begin to express how awesome it will be that they will be able to buy a Ghostbusters toy at retail in 2016.  Let’s just hope that the role-playing proton pack will live up to the greatness of its predecessor.


The Return of (Actual) Stormtroopers in The Force Awakens

While I am still gathering my thoughts about The Force Awakens, one of my favorite things to come out of the JJ Abrams sequel was the presence of actual Stormtrooper armor.  This may seem like a relatively small issue, but the unnecessary CGI Clone Troopers from the Prequel Trilogy look completely ridiculous.

Even in close shots, George Lucas insisted on digitally painting armor instead of using physical props. I don’t think we will ever know why Lucas decided to go that route; but I am not sure how dedicating a visual effects artist to create armor was a cost savings over vaccum forming some armor.  By the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones, it got to a point where we were just watching a bunch of pixels voiced by Temura Morrison shooting at something else completely made up of pixels.

SWOrder661The above, in-camera, pre-SFX shot from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith speaks volumes to one of what I feel is one of the most glaring problems that has aged the prequel films significantly since their theatrical release.  In contrast, look at this photo from the production of The Force Awakens where John Boyega is actually in full on First Order Stormtrooper armor.  star-wars-john-boyegas-finn-in-stormtrooper-actionHaving an actor in armor, on camera lends such an authenticity to the film.  One that eluded the prequels but was undoubtedly one of my favorite things to come from The Force Awakens.

Did a German LEGO Catalog Reveal A Giant Plot Point for Captain America: Civil War?

The LEGO Group prides itself in its secrecy and leaks of their upcoming product line are few and far between.  Earlier today, images from a German retailer catalog showed off three sets based on the upcoming Marvel Studios film Captain America: Civil War.

LEGO_thumbIt looks like that for the first time we will be getting minifigs versions of Falcon, Crossbones, Agent 13 and Black Panther. And of course there will be the requisite updates to Captain America, Black Widow, War Machine, Iron Man, Winter Soldier.  Overall, the sets seem pretty great with all the necessary flick-fire missiles and extraneous vehicles that will most likely not even make it into the final film.

However there is one more giant minifig update after the jump, but be warned there are potential SPOILERS ahead!


Merchandising a New Generation: The True Success of Shadows of the Empire

ShadowsnovelIn 1996, a year before The Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition was released in theaters, LucasFilm gave us Shadows of the Empire, a massive multimedia event that had all the trappings of a feature film without actually being one.

The novel, set in the period between The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, had been a no man’s land up until that point.  How did Lando end up in Jabba the Hutt’s employ? When did Luke build his new lightsaber? Why didn’t Leia try and get Han’s carbonite frozen body back before Jabba hung it on his wall?

It would be a lie to say that I didn’t get caught up in the hype.  My parents bought me the book which I devoured at an absurd rate.  At that time I was heavy into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, having worked my way through the Thrawn Trilogy and some of the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron books along with a smattering of others (yes, even The Truce at Bakura). Later that year I got the N64 exclusive Shadows of the Empire video game which was primarily told through the new view of Dash Rendar, a rapscallion Correllian smuggler with a loyal sidekick, who is very much like Han Solo … but with bigger shoulder pads.


And of course that wasn’t all, there was the requisite action figure line, comic book tie ins, official soundtrack (for a book!), t-shirts, statues, t-shirt and limited edition collectible plates.  Shadows of the Empire was a phenomenon, one that proved that Lucasfilm didn’t necessarily need a film to support its …. ahem empire.

That massive merchandise consumption demonstrated that there was a whole new generation of fans ready to consume Star Wars in every possible format.  As part of that generation, this was our 1977, the first real bit of Star Wars that we could say that we witnessed first hand and embraced as our own.

The one unfortunate result of the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm was the great culling of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which made the events of Shadows of the Empire no longer canon. However, a few items from that chapter in Star Wars history remain.

Dash Rendar’s  Outrider was confirmed as canon earlier this year at Star Wars Celebrations, and the Black Sun criminal syndicate has been a part of The Clone Wars series and has been mentioned on recent episodes of Star Wars: Rebels.  So pour one out for your homies Dash Rendar, Prince Xizor and Chewbacca’s Mohawk, as they are no longer with us.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Trailer Will Give You All of the 90s Nostalgia Feels

The 2014 live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a blockbuster hit, grossing nearly $500 million worldwide.  While it may not have hit all the right chords with fans, next summer’s installment, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of The Shadows, looks like it may have captured the right balance of comedy and action.

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-2-out-shadowsAs someone who was the target demographic during the absolute peak of the TMNT craze in the early 1990s, this trailer is giving me some strong nostalgia feels.

Bebop. Rocksteady. Casey Jones. Baxter Stockman. And is that Dimension X?!?!?

The 2014 Turtles movie kind of fell flat for me and kind of forgot that it was based on a property that was supposed to be fun.  Between everything I’ve seen in that trailer, combined with the prodigious use of Run-D.M.C’s Tricky, I think I am all in for this go around.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows will be in theaters June 2016.

The Captain America: Civil War Trailer Is Here, And It’s Awesome!

The teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War  debuted last night and it … looks …. AWESOME. The Russo Brothers are back to direct the sequel after the success of Captain America: Winter Soldier and from the 2 1/2 minutes of footage we have here it looks like they are picking up right where they left off.

There is a lot to digest in this trailer.  Picking up after the events of Age of Ultron where there is a movement afoot to hold the Avengers accountable for another international incident involving significant collateral damage.  This movement appears to headed up by none other than General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt reprising his role from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk).  Iron Man agrees, but Captain America does not and what happens is heroes fighting heroes.

Iron Man.  Captain America. Black Widow. War Machine. Scarlett Witch. Falcon. Hawkeye. Ant-Man. Black Panther ….. BLACK PANTHER!!!!

BlackPantherLet’s just talk about Black Panther for a minute. His costume design is fantastic and the trailer gives us our first official look at T’Challa other than concept artwork or leaked set photos (which doesn’t give the suit justice).

I’ve long held a soft spot for Black Panther, when I came upon several old issues of Marvel Premiere from the 1970s. It looks as though the Russo Brothers’ interpretation of the King of Wakanda may be spot on.

Captain America: Civil War will be in theaters May 6, 2016.


Galactic Book Club — Star Wars: Aftermath (2015) – 30ish Days of Star Wars

On a recent business trip I finally had a chance to finish Star Wars: Aftermath, which had been sitting idle on my Kindle for a few months.  When Disney acquired LucasFilm, one of the big changes was the wholesale removal of the Expanded Universe from the Star Wars canon.  Major story lines and characters that cropped up in books, comics and video games over the last 35 years would not referenced in any of the new movies or media.

Star Wars: Aftermath was the first novel in the “Journey to The Force Awakens” and would tell the story of what happened in the events immediately after Return of the Jedi.  What happened after the Ewok’s victorious yub-nubs on Endor and the statue of Emperor Palpatine was pulled down on Coruscant? Author Chuck Wendig was tapped by the powers at be at LucasFilm to provide fans a new launching point for the Star Wars universe.


Blobfest Returns to the Colonial Theatre This July

colonial_theatre_cropI have long been a fan of the historic Colonial Theatre and its diverse slate of programming.  For one weekend every summer Bridge Street in Phoenixville is taken over by Blobfest, a celebration of the theatre’s starring role in the 1958 science fiction classic The Blob.

The festivities start on Friday night with the sold out “run out” and carry through Sunday afternoon.  During the course of the weekend there will be screenings of The Blob, Creature from the Black Lagoon (in 3D!), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and The Ghastly Love of Johnny X.

Tickets for the weekend’s various events can be purchased directly through the theatre’s website.  For more information about screening times and parking information check out the Blobfest 2015 page on Facebook.

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