All New X-Men #22.NOW – Comic Book Review

The first issue of the Trial of Jean Grey starts off strong as the Shi’ar attempt to take Jean Grey into custody. Bendis hits gold with an amazing discussion between Cyclops and Jean Grey.

The arrival of the original X-Men in the present sent shockwaves through the Marvel Universe, but we’ve only seen the effects on Earth. When alien races learn that Jean Grey, host of the destructive Phoenix Force, is back on earth, they do something about it. Now it’s up to the rest of the All-New X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy to save Jean Grey from twisted intergalactic justice! Don’t miss two of Marvel’s biggest franchises crossing over for the first time!

Published: January 22, 2014
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen

Who do you turn to when there’s no one to turn to? Jean Grey finds herself in that situation because no one can relate to her situation. Jean is the only one of the All New X-Men, who knows exactly what is going on. She knows all about the fates of her teammates and she can’t tell anyone.

All New X-Men #22 is the first issue of the Trial of Jean Grey. The alien race, the Shi’ar attempt to take Jean Grey into custody for crimes that her future self would commit, i.e. blow up an entire planet. As exciting as this bit of action is, the real action takes place in the cafeteria, where Cyclops and Jean have it out with Angel caught in the middle.

Jean, it seems, is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and Cyclops is trying to be a shoulder to cry on. Instead of accepting the help of her teammates, she feels she has to alienate herself from her team. Ahhh, teenagers.

This is a great issue all around. Bendis has never been better, especially when it comes to writing teenage angst. Stuart Immonen is a master at telling a story with only pictures and the lines from Wade von Grawbadger are sharp and clean. The colors of Marte Gracia does nothing but enhance the drama that is already there.

The next act of the Trial of Jean Grey is in Guardians of the Galaxy, where Sara Picelli takes over the art.

The Dark Hours with Kyle Roberts from Long Beach Comic Con

Secret City Geek Lab interviewed The Dark Hours co-writer/co-illustrator Kyle Roberts at Long Beach Comic Con. He talked about his book The Dark Hours and the challenges in creating your own comic book, getting your story on paper and then promoting to readers.

For more information about The Dark Hours, visit their website at http://darkhourscomic.com
http://facebook.com/darkhourscomic

Thor: The Dark World – Movie Review

Before the beginning of time, the universe was a dark place ruled by the Dark Elf, whose leader is Malekith. Light entered the universe, when the Asgardians, defeated the elves only to have Malekith swear he will exact his revenge. Soon the nine realms are going to line up and Malekith seizes his opportunity to seek his revenge.

Released: November 8, 2013
Studio: Marvel Studios
Rated: PG-13

Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo

Strange temporal anomalies are showing up on earth, where portals are appearing moving you from one place on earth to another in the other of the nine realms. When Jane Foster begins to investigate these anomalies, she inadvertently becomes host to a power essences that Malekith will use to restore the universe to darkness.

All-in-all this is a story of Thor coming to the rescue to defeat Malekith and prevent universal destruction. Overall, this was a fun movie. There is so much lore and mythology surrounding Thor and Asgard that a movie like this can get bogged down trying to explain these unfamiliar details and stories. Marvel Studios does what they do best, which is get you directly into the heart of the story. They spend just the right amount of time giving you the back story of Malekith. They introduce mystical elements, such as the nine realms, rainbow bridge, and convergence, in a way that you either understand what is going on or you trust the director, Alan Taylor, that these are just facts you need to accept and then power through the story.

The main story is saving the universe, the secondary story is Thor’s family: Odin (Dad), Frigga (Mom), Thor and Loki (Adopted Brother). After the events in Avengers, Loki is banish to a prison cell for all eternity by Odin. Loki feels no respect or honor for his father, Odin or for his brother Thor. Loki mentions that he went to earth so that he could rule over them as a God, just like his father. We also see his relationship with his mother (Rene Russo). It’s clear that if there was any love for Loki, it’s his mother, even if she is not his real mother. Thor, on the other hand, has always love Loki, but that love is damaged because of Loki’s constant betrayal.

The story now attempts to redeem Loki, if that’s possible, by enlisting him to help defeat Malekith. Why would Loki help? See the movie.

Thor: The Dark World does everything it needs to do to be an amazing movie. Fantastic visual effects, making mythology believable to the audience, continue to explain why these people are “gods” and an onslaught of action scenes and humor. The movie primarily takes place off earth, but the earth scenes are funny thanks to Kat Dennings and Stellan Skaarsgard.

It’s a good fun movie, if you go in without high expectations. Do not see it in 3D. Stay for the very end. There is a mid-credits scene setting up Guardians of the Galaxy and a humorous scene at the very end.

Also, pay attention to the new “Marvel Studios” opener. Now that they are tied solely with Disney and have dropped its association with Paramount, Marvel Studios has rewarded themselves with a new opening sequences with the flashing comic pages, but also a nice soundtrack to back it up.

Iron Man 3 – Movie Review

Iron Man 3 is just short of being the best Marvel Comics Movie, just behind Marvel’s the Avengers. That said, it’s one of the best movies produced by Marvel Studios and you should go out and see it now.

Review by: Alan Ng
Release Date: May 3, 2013
Official Website: marvel.com/ironman3
Director: Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Writer; Iron Man 2, Writer)

Cast:
Robert Downey Jr – Tony Stark
Gwyneth Paltrow – Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Don Cheadle – James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Guy Pearce – Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall – Dr. Maya Hansen
Jon Favreau – Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley – Mandarin

Iron Man 3 takes place after the events of Marvel’s the Avengers. Tony Stark finds himself suffering from panic attacks after saving the earth from alien takeover. He is unable to sleep and is constantly working to improve his Iron Man armor. In the Avengers, we saw the 7th version of the armor. At the beginning of Iron Man 3, it’s the 42nd, which shows how obsessive he’s become about never being able to protect the one person he loves, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Also Tony has to live with the damage his playboy lifestyle and the people he’s used and ignored in the past. The villain is Iron Man 3 is a terrorist named the Mandarin. He’s created human bombs and is hitting targets in the United States. When Happy Hogan is his latest victim, Tony dedicates himself to avenging the attack on his friends. The threat is met with force when Tony’s Malibu Mansion is attacked.

Robert Downey Jr. is the best thing about Iron Man 3. Only an actor of his caliber could literally carry this movie. He can drop his playful one-liners, pull off panic attacks and keep us interested in the development of his character. Ben Kingsley made the perfect Mandarin. He really pulled off the terror aspect of a terrorist.

Ty Simpkins

Special attention to the kid who played Harley (Ty Simpkins). He had some unbelievable banter with Tony Stark.

I also like the tone that Shane Black brought to this movie. It was all about Tony and everything on screen touched on his weaknesses. The action scenes were amazing and the famous Air Force One rescue had my heart racing.

Iron Man 3 is a triology. Is this the end for Iron Man? Ending of Iron Man 3 is the same as other 3 movies, i.e. Dark Knight and Toy Story. The ending is something I didn’t see coming and not in a way of cliffhanger surprises, but with the emotions that you feel for Tony Stark. This third movie ties things up in the end and makes you wonder how will Tony be brought back to the Avengers.

There were a few things that stuck out at me such as the inconsistent way the bio-enhanced soldiers. I never had the sense of this is how you kill them, this is how you destroy them. They just kept coming back.

The Dr. Maya Hansen character was not well developed and I didn’t know how I should feel about her safety.

There were also points that things bordered on the extreme to extreme silliness. The fate of Pepper is what I’m thinking about here.

Overall, I loved the story. I liked the reality of Tony Stark as a person and not as an alien superhero. You will have fun and finally the ending credits are awesome. Not so much the scene at the end of the movie.

Follow Friday – Movie Review – Newport Beach Film Festival

‘Follow Friday The Film’ is a documentary from filmmaker, Erin Faulk (@erinscafe). It premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival. After an expected layoff from her law firm job, Faulk embarks on a social experiment and travels to 11,000 miles around the United States in 45-days to meet in person – for the first time – her friends on Twitter.

Faulk’s cross country journey starts in Los Angeles and ends at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. This road trip consists of Faulk; her friends-cinematographer Matthew Sordello (@msordello), Evans Knight(@evansknight), Anna Schlegel (@annatschlegel), Hassan Khan (@hassankhan); a car donated by Audi; and stops in cities like Las Vegas, Austin, New Orleans, Newark, New York, Chicago and Denver. Her ultimate goal is to have her twitter followers sign a petition and present it at Twitter headquarters for a shot at her account being verified.

In ‘Follow Friday The Film,’ what starts off as a cross country road trip turns into an informative documentary on Twitter as a social media tool and its potential to do good in society. The film is divided into chapters about what Twitter is: community, politics, marketing a business, social causes and more.

There is a right way and a wrong way to use Twitter. Faulk shows that it is more than providing updates about your day and the food you eat. It should be a conversation between you and your followers. Her travels across the country are an attempt to meet her friends, even though she never met them in person. The danger is that her friends are not how they portray themselves on Twitter, and she finds that, for the most part, they are. She also takes us to Twitter gatherings of a circle of friends who occasionally meet at one another’s homes.

She also shows the amazing power of Twitter to raise money for a good cause. Along the way, Faulk knew that she wanted an interview with Newark Mayor Corey Booker. Because he personally runs his Twitter account, Faulk was able to ask him “personally.” Soon, one of her Twitter friends said that if Booker would do the interview, he would donate $250 to one of Booker’s charities being New Jersey charter school system, Uncommon Schools. Almost instantly Booker tweeted back and said he would match the donation. Soon, other friends of Faulk tweeted with their donations and Booker match their donations. Soon, Booker found himself committed to an interview with Faulk and committed to pay $17,000 to New Jersey Charter schools.

In a time of public tragedy, Twitter was a tool to bring the community together. Faulk’s crew arrives in Aurora just days after the shooting at a midnight screening of Batman in Aurora. The eerie tweets of the victims of the shooting leading up to the tragedy and the tweets of the victims’ friends and family leave a powerful impact on the timeline of events.

The movie ends at Twitter headquarters, where Faulk hopes to become verified by presenting her cross-country petition to the powers-that-be. As excited as she was about touring Twitter headquarters, Faulk learns the difference between the personable employees of Twitter and the cold, impersonal corporate gods of Twitter.

‘Follow Friday the Film’ is a great movie about Twitter and its potential in your life. It’s an inspiring tale about using Twitter to broaden your circle of friends and experience new things. It can be used to rally people around a cause such as support during hard times, to raise money in a Kickstarter campaign to complete your movie and show off the personal side of your business.

During a road trip portions of the movie, Erin Faulk comes off as funny and likable, and it shows as she meets with her friends for the first time. A problem with ‘Follow Friday the Film’ is that there is not much time spent with the actual interviews of friends along the way, which is the initial premise of the film. For example, the first friend she meets in Las Vegas, we are shown video footage of the meeting, but no interview. I get that maybe it’s the quality of the interviews and the difficult task of editing them in an interesting way may warrant its exclusion from the movie.

Also, this is a positive tale of the power of Twitter. Yes, Twitter has done amazing things in the world as a force for positive change. But Twitter has also been used as a tool for bullying and trolling. But I get that that’s not what this movie is about.

Erin Faulk’s ‘Follow Friday the Film’ is a great start of the Women and Film category of the Newport Beach Film Festival.

The End of Hand-Drawn Animation

During the 2013 Disney Stockholder meeting, Walt Disney Company President/CEO Bob Iger was asked if Walt Disney had any 2D/hand drawn animation in the pipeline. Here was his response:

”To my knowledge we’re not developing a 2D or hand-drawn feature animated film right now. We’re not necessarily ruling out the possibility [of] a feature but there isn’t any in development at the company at the moment.”

Does this mean that the age old tradition of hand drawn animation is dead? Probably or at best will take on some kind of hybrid form. Disney killed hand drawn animation before under the Eisner regime. When he was booted and the company was run by Iger and Lassister, Disney produced two traditional animated features: The Princess and the Frog (2009) and Winnie the Pooh (2011).

The other major studios have long since abandoned hand drawn animation. Disney appears to be the last.

Why abandon the age-old tradition? It’s easy money and effort. Money is always an issue when it some to movie making. Sadly it’s man-power that’s the issue. One computer animator now takes the place of a lead animator and several in-betweeners. Not to mention that a single animator can work with numerous characters in one scene as opposed to several lead animators working together to produce one scene.

Effort is easier in a few different aspects. In hand drawn animation, a scene is designed and drawn and changes even small elements are a large task. Computer animation allows you to tweak and perfect every scene. Also computer animators have the luxury of framing scenes and employing camera angles after the scene is animated.

But is computer animation able to achieve art. For the longest time, I preferred hand drawn to computer animated from an art standpoint. For some reason drawn art looked more real than anything a computer could generate. Even when Disney produced the photo realistic Dinosaur, it missed a lot of beauty because it replicated reality and could not develop it’s couldn’t render an artistic style.

The Incredibles is the first time an overall artistic style of how human characters are designed. As great as that film was, it was far from perfect in capturing human qualities. In other words, it still felt like a computerized version of 2D animation.

When Iger and Lassiter took over Disney, their first project was to bring back hand drawn animation. With great excitement the Princess and the Frog was announced as a project. As much as I loved the movie, it simply underperformed at the box office. Kids just don’t have an appreciation of tradition.

My sadness for the scarcity of hand drawn animation changed when Tangled came out. It was the first time I felt that a computer animated movie captured everything I loved about hand drawn animation. Watch the movie and you’ll discover that the backgrounds, landscapes and buildings all have a hand drawn feel to it. The bright and vibrant colors created a hyper real fantasy world. The character design looked very “Disney” in style.

To me it was tangled that told me that they finally got computer animation right. On top of that this year’s Oscar winning animated short, Paperman was an example of computer animation replicating hand drawn animation. It was a well produced short that told an amazing story and if you didn’t know better you’d swear it was a traditional movie.

Has hand drawn animation gone the way of the dinosaur? From a major motion picture standpoint, yes. The technology has proven itself successful and the intended audience, children, could care less whether it was drawn or computer generated. They just want you to tell a fun story.

How Disney Bought Lucasfilm – Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story today about how Disney bought Lucasfilm. Here are some highlights:

  • Part of Iger’s strategy is to acquire companies that could be described as mini-Disneys such as Pixar and Marvel—reservoirs of franchise-worthy characters that can drive all of Disney’s businesses, from movies and television shows to theme parks, toys, and beyond.
  • Lucas’s needs were more emotional. At 68, he was ready to retire and escape from the imaginary world he created—but he didn’t want anybody to desecrate it.
  • “I’ve never been that much of a money guy,” Lucas says. “I’m more of a film guy, and most of the money I’ve made is in defense of trying to keep creative control of my movies.”
  • Lucas pitched the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles to Bob Iger, Chairman of ABC in the early 90’s. “It struggled,” Lucas says of Chronicles. “But [Iger] was very supportive of the whole thing.”
  • Regarding the criticism of the prequels, it got to Lucas. He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk. “It was fine before the Internet,” he says. “But now with the Internet, it’s gotten very vicious and very personal. You just say, ‘Why do I need to do this?’ ” At the same time, Lucas was reluctant to entrust his universe to anyone else.
  • In purchasing Pixar, Iger personally negotiated the deal with Steve Jobs, who was then Pixar’s CEO. As part of the deal, Iger kept the creative team, led by John Lasseter, in place and allowed them to continue to operate with a minimum of interference in their headquarters near San Francisco. “Steve and I spent more time negotiating the social issues than we did the economic issues,” Iger says. “He thought maintaining the culture of Pixar was a major ingredient of their creative success. He was right.”
  • In 2009, Iger negotiated a similar deal for Disney to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Once again, Iger kept the leadership intact: Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter and Marvel studio chief Kevin Feige.
  • On the morning of the Star Tours opening at Walt Disney World, Iger met Lucas for breakfast at the Hollywood Brown Derby, one of Disney World’s restaurants. Then Iger inquired whether Lucas would ever consider selling his company. Lucas replied that he’d recently celebrated his 67th birthday and was starting to think seriously about retiring. So perhaps the sale of his company was inevitable. “I’m not ready to pursue that now,” he told Iger. “But when I am, I’d love to talk.”
  • The pieces had to be put in place before the deal could be made, specifically maintain some creative control/influence on the future. Kathleen Kennedy was placed in charge of Lucas Films. Michael Arndt was hired as the screenwriter for Episode VII and Ford, Hamill and Fisher were notified of Lucas’ pending retirement. Now Lucas was ready to approach Disney.
  • Lucas was adamant that Lucas creative executive were in charge. Iger agreed in theory but the Walt Disney Company had to have the ultimate say on the final product.
  • Lucas needed to have assurances that Disney would tell his stories and he has treatments of the next three films already written. Iger wanted to see them, but Lucas said he would have to trust him or he’d sell to someone else.
  • Once the papers, were signed, Iger when trick or treating with his family dressed as Darth Vader.
  • Lucas felt comfortable with Disney based on the way they handled the acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel.
  • Before the deal closed in late December, [Kennedy] reached out to J.J. Abrams’s agent to see if he would direct Episode VII. “He was very quick to say, ‘No, I don’t think I want to step into that,’ ” Kennedy says.
  • Kennedy persisted. She visited Abrams at the Santa Monica headquarters of Bad Robot, his production company, with Arndt and Kasdan. “By the time we finished, which was a couple of hours later, he had really gone 180 degrees,” she says. “To be involved in this next iteration of the Star Wars series is more exciting than I can talk about,” says Abrams.

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