Archive for May, 2006

London MCM Expo: Daleks, Anime and the Stars

May 31, 2006

Ever wanted to buy Hannibal Lector’s shirt? Or the costume Zoë wore in Serenity?   The latest set of action figures from your favourite show perhaps?   You could, of course, stay at home and hunt about on the internet, but it’s far more fun to go to an event where you can spend time with fellow enthusiasts, admire the goods, collect star autographs and give your credit card a coronary.

This type of event might not appeal to everyone, but the twice-yearly two-day London MCM Expo at the cavernous ExCel centre in London’s Docklands, is well worth a visit.   The combination of TV shows, manga and anime, games and movie screenings proves a huge attraction to fans of all ages.

 

 

 

The major part of the Expo is given over to traders – selling everything from props and costumes, to trading cards and action figures from all the current hit shows as well as many of the cult hits of the past.    At the latest event, held on the weekend of 27-28 May, autograph hunters were able to chat to stars such as Walter Koenig, Connor Trinneer and Nicole deBoer.      Celebrity talks included the hilarious Klingon rap, which disappointingly appeared to be in English (though maybe the universal translator was in operation).

[center]

[img]http://mysite.orange.co.uk/carolegordon/images/7-picture2.jpg[/img]

[/center]

Just as interesting as meeting up with the stars is having the chance to chat to other fans and to the traders, who are often keen fans of the various shows represented and extremely knowledgeable.   And they can probably find that elusive prop item you have always wanted.

You might even come across one of television’s most iconic villains.   Barney the Purple Dalek, a replica built by David James, sat quietly for the most part, enjoying all the attention he was attracting.   David is a member of the Dalek Builders’ Guild, an online organisation dedicated to the construction and operation of full-size replica Daleks.

[center]

[img]http://mysite.orange.co.uk/carolegordon/images/7-picture3.jpg[/img]

[/center]

Barney has been constructed from medium-density fibreboard, fibreglass and aluminium.    But, said David, the crowning glory was the paintwork.

"I was lucky enough to find the details of a chap who runs a classic car restoration company but he also does Daleks.    He has painted and primed it exactly how he would have done a car, which is why it has got this lovely finish."

But Barney doesn’t just look good.   He also moves and sounds like a Dalek, steered by the operator inside and running on castors.   A fairly low-tech enemy, then?

"They always were fairly low-tech," David agrees.   "I’ve spoken to a couple of the actors who operate the BBC Daleks, and they don’t even have seat-belts in theirs.  They went, ‘Seat belts?  That’s a good idea!’"  

So, overall, a fun day out, whatever your favourite TV show, fantasy movie, game or graphic novel might be.   

© Carole Gordon 2006

London Expo:                                      http://www.londonexpo.com/

Dalek Builders’ Guild                           http://www.dalekcity.co.uk/index.html

Other events:

London Film and Comic Con:             http://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com/

Comic Con (San Diego):                    http://www.comic-con.org/

  

 

Double Life, Successful Life: An Exclusive Interview with Peter Kent

May 31, 2006

Peter Kent is a talented actor and stuntman who has garnered a wealth of knowledge from years of experience in the world of stunt work. When asked why he was drawn to this line of work, Kent says it

X-Men: The Last Stand, A Major Letdown, Michelle’s Review!!!

May 27, 2006

I’ve been a huge fan of the franchise since the beginning, I adored the first installment (which most critics didn’t) and absolutely went gaga over X2, but this last installment, X-Men: The Last Stand, left me feeling cold and disheartened. I almost didn’t write this review, primarily because I came away from the experience not caring one way or the other, I neither liked, nor disliked this film and that makes for the hardest reviews of all to write.

It’s just there in all its glorious blandness, it seemed like no one involved in the production really cared what was going on around them – which is amazing because all of the elements that Bryan Singer left in place for the new director Brett Ratner is still in place.

Almost the entire cast (only Nightcrawler seems to be missing) and crew from the first two films reprise their roles including leads Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), Halle Berry (Ororo Munroe/Storm), Ian McKellen (Eric Lensherr/Magneto), Famke Janssen (Dr. Jean Grey/Phoenix), Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier), and my personal favorite who has absolutely nothing to do in this film, Anna Paquin (Marie/Rogue) as well as about 7 other major characters from the last two films. Not only does the script fail to find anything for the LARGE number of primary characters, but then it adds a bunch more who are only in the film because it’s who fanboys would like to see like the incredibly lame Cain Marko/Juggernaut (played by Vinnie Jones), Angel (Ben Foster) and numerous others.

As I said, one of the main problems with this film is the incredible cast bloat. There are just too many characters (at least 15) to try and squeeze into a film that only runs 90 minutes. It means no one really gets enough time to shine or for you to really sink your teeth into – one of the main story lines that everyone was looking forward to seeing – The Dark Phoenix saga, felt tacked on and like an after thought.

In the subplot to the movie, Jean Grey returns from her watery grave a changed woman. The experience opened up her dark side (whom she called Phoenix) that Xavier had placed a mind block on. Once the Phoenix was unleashed onto the world she started by killing both her husband and her mentor. At that point in the film, I was like, yeah, Dark Phoenix may like be like the comic book or animated tv series versions (I mean there’s no Shi’ar or Skrulls involved – thank goodness) but she’s bad ass. But then she literally just stands there and watches everything that’s going around her for the next 40 minutes, after awhile I wanted to scream – “Raise a fist, do something!!” Whether it was something more evil or saving someone, or god forbid, whine; I wanted her to just do SOMETHING.

The weighty main themes of alienation, discrimination, responsibility and the sense of fear still resonate in the 3rd film, but it’s cheap production values and lame directorial efforts by Ratner makes it hard to connect with anything going on screen.

The film opens with a nice little touching flashback scene that shows Xavier and Magneto recruiting a young Jean Grey to the school. The opening felt pointless and tacked on – even if it was the very first scene in the film. It then jumps to the near future where we get to see the X-Men training in their holographic danger room.

The entire futuristic setting and destruction looked amazingly cheesy especially when the Sentinels (giant Robots the government create to hunt mutants down) appear. You never see them, just a cloud of smoke and some laser beams, and eventually a large severed robot head. It seemed weird because if you don’t know anything about the comic books or the old animated television series, this scene wouldn’t make any sense – other than, they have their own holodeck. X-fans have been waiting for the last two films to see this and it was handled as just a low-budget throw away.

Another example of Ratner’s lame, half assed direction comes during the climatic battle sequence, where Magneto rips of the Golden Gate Bridge and moves it to Alcatraz so he and the brotherhood could invade. The SFX used looked unfinished, but worse, the entire incident occurs during the day, then once the bridge lands it cuts to Magneto and it’s all of a sudden night time. It was really jarring and completely ruins the moment. But I will say that Storm (Halle Barry) kicked butt in her fight with the speed/blink lady.

Cinematographers Philippe Rousselot and Dante Spinotti give the film a real washed out, bland look to it. Everything about this film feels like it was rushed and other SFX’s shots were very spotty, like the X-Men’s cool jet that I loved in the first two looked really crappy in this. It looked like the shots weren’t complete and the plane in one shot had the blue-screen jaggies.

I’d like to scream, for the first time ever, that Ratner, “Raped my childhood!” But honestly, nothing I saw leading up to this installment lead me to believe that it would be any good, and I had resigned myself to that fact, but a part of me still hoped that X-Men: The Last Stand would go out with a bang and not this whimper. Like I said at the beginning of this review, I neither liked, nor disliked this movie it just felt weightless, bland, like I wasn’t watching a movie at all. I gave the first movie an A-, the second one an A+, but this one – eh, I’ll go with a D.

Final Grade D

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
originally posted 5/27/06

TVonDVD: High School Musical – Encore Edition: What’s Up With That?

May 26, 2006

When a TV-movie can boast thirty-four million discrete viewers over ten cable screenings, you know there

TVonDVD: Math Solves Crimes On Numb3rs; Blue Collar Flashbacks Illuminate Grounded For Life – Season Two; The Psychedelic Krofft

May 26, 2006

CBS

PASSWORD

May 22, 2006

PLEASE GIVE THE PASSWORD OF BAMBI 2

Unlock the Intriguing The Da Vinci Code. Michelle’s Review!!

May 20, 2006

Let’s start this review by asking, “What the heck was Columbia and Imagine thinking, pushing The Da Vinci Code as a summer movie?” There is no way that this, over long, pretentious, sometimes boring, but very intriguing movie should be shown in the summer months.

I walked into this movie, with not once ounce of excitement or intrigue towards it. I have no interest in the subject matter, and I didn’t read the book. So I had no idea what to expect. Well that’s not entirely true; it’s Ron Howard (Pretentious Director), Tom Hanks (Pompous Actor), Akiva Goldsman (Screenwriter I actually like, except, when he works with Hanks and Howard) a trio that has a boatload of Oscar nominations and wins between them.

But I’m, admittedly in the minority on my total dislike of Ron Howard movies, and Tom Hanks. Although in the last few years, Hanks’ film choices have been intriguing and his films have been growing on me. I loved Road to Perdition (didn’t like him), liked Lady Killers (again, didn’t like him), loved The Terminal (didn’t like him) and loved Catch Me If You Can (didn’t like him, notice a trend here?). I don’t know what it is about Hanks that simply bugs me – maybe I can never get over his manic performance on Bosom Buddies, or, the fact that, in real life I can’t separate his pretentious arrogance from his on screen performances.

So because of all this I could have cared less about this film, but I went anyway. And the first half hour of this film really clicks and moves at a pretty “brisk” pace – at least for a Ron Howard directed film. The film opens with a murder and then switches to a lecture as noted religious “cryptologist” Robert Langdon (Hanks) is giving a speech on the history of various symbols.

It’s an intriguing presentation as we first see members of the robes of the KKK as he asks the audience, what this photo means. Naturally the audience shouts that it means “hate, racism, etc.” but then Langdon explains the history of the robes had nothing to do with the KKK. He then shows the symbol of the devil’s pitchfork, and the camera pulls back and shows it to be a piece of one of the Greek God’s Trident.

Immediately I was sucked into the film, as it unfolds Langdon gets involved in a murder mystery and becomes the immediate suspect as a crooked French police officer Captain Fache (Jean Reno) uses any means necessary to track him down. Langdon eventually hooks up with the murder victim’s granddaughter Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) who helps him try and put the pieces together of the true mystery of the whereabouts of The Holy Grail. I won’t spoil the story by giving you any more info.

Throughout the search and chase, Langdon and Fache have to avoid being captured by the French police, stay a step ahead of a murderous albino monk named Silas (played by EM favorite and always excellent, Paul Bettany), and avoid getting trapped in a larger church conspiracy led by Dr. Octopus, ok that wasn’t his name, Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina).

The cast was for the most part excellent, Bettany’s Silas was a character that you actually sort of cared about, even though he was a killer, he wasn’t really psychotic (well, maybe a little), just misguided and used by the people in the church.

Many say that the book, therefore the film, is anti-religious, I would have to argue with that. This film asks lots of interesting and intriguing questions about the nature of the divine and human and about the nature of faith. The film feels like it is anti-organized religion, but not against the idea of religion itself.

Ultimately the problem with The Da Vinci Code is that this isn’t a film that is really meant for summer viewing and Ron Howard’s directorial style is slow, meandering, and he can’t direct action sequences.

There are times when this film, like Tom Hanks’ hair, it laid there like a limp noodle. Is this film at times pretentious, overlong, and boring? God yes. There was a clear stopping point, but the film dragged on for another 35 minutes. I started mumbling to myself, when is the thing going to end? But it’s also intriguing, suspenseful, and engrossing and got caught up with the mystery. I liked it well enough, that I’m actually going to read the book.

Final Grade B-

EM Review
by Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 5/19/06

Battlestar: Galactica Wins Peabody Award

May 19, 2006

The Scifi Channel garnered it’s first ever Peabody Award today and the winner was their highly successful series ‘Battlestar Galactica, which is now entering it’s 3rd season.

The winners of the 65th Annual Peabody Awards were announced today by the University of Georgia`s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The winners, chosen by the Peabody board as the best in electronic media for 2005, were named in a ceremony in the Peabody Gallery on the University of Georgia Campus. “Battlestar Galactica,” a drama series about a war-ravaged, homeless civilization attempting to begin anew, gave The SCI FI Channel its first Peabody victory.

The Scifi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica is an updated, revamped and definitely grittier version of the original series that ran on ABC in the 1970’s. The series has been hugely successful for the Scifi Channel since it first aired in 2005 as a mini series. The series stars Edward James Olmos. Jamie Bamber and Katie Sackoff. It also features actor Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo in the original series and who now plays semi regular cast member Tom Zarek, a former political prisoner.

Battlestar Galactica is set to move to primetime television this fall and on April 26, 2006, The Scifi Channel announced they are launching a spinoff series, Battlestar Caprica. Caprica will be a prequel to the events that lead up to and are now playing out on Battle Star Galactica.

For more information on Battlestar Galactica go to http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/

The awards will be presented June 5 at a luncheon at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City. Jon Stewart, anchor of Comedy Central`s two-time Peabody Award winner, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” will be the master of ceremonies.

To learn more about The Peabody Awards, go to http://www.peabody.uga.edu/

Article

Munich: Steven Spielberg’s Controversial Film Gets DVD Release

May 19, 2006

Not to put too fine a point on it,

Low Budget Fun: Shooting Livien, London, Surrender Dorothy, When A Stranger Calls, The Replacement Killers – Extended Cut

May 19, 2006