Category Archives: previews

Arrow Season Two Preview

In a season which also promises The Flash, and possibly Black Canary, Speedy, and Ras al Ghul, this looks like it’s going to be a good one!

“Arrow” season two starts Wednesday, October 9th.

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Cloud Atlas Preview

Based on the wonderful groundbreaking steampunk novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas opens on October 26th, 2012.

The Barrens: Thoughts on the Trailer

There’s never been a really good movie about the Jersey Devil, and there are damned few good books. “The Pines” by Robert Dunbar is really the only fiction one that springs to mind. “The Jersey Devil” by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller is probably the best among the non-fiction books on the legend. And as far as movies go, there have been a few, all awful, the worst of the bunch about a decade ago was called 13th Child and struck a new low in cinema.

This one, The Barrens features “True Blood” star Stephen Moyer playing a man who takes his family camping and finds himself convinced he’s being stalked by the Jersey Devil. Even the trailer, just a few seconds over two minutes long, is already full of inaccuracies about the legend. I’m a South Jersey boy, I should know.

The worst mistake of all is in the title itself. The Barrens referred to are the Pine Barrens, so called because of the short stunted trees in the region, not at all like the ones we see in the trailer depicting the Ontario, Canada location. As yet, the film has no release date.

Dark Knight Rises Prelude

Everyone knows basically what happened Thursday night in Aurora, Colorado. The tragedy that is being called by the news media, the ‘movie massacre,’ is now inextricably tied to the film The Dark Knight Rises.

I was up late Thursday night when I heard about it on the top of the hour news during Coast to Coast AM, and immediately clicked on the television news. Like 9/11 or Columbine (not all that far from Aurora) I was one of millions glued to my TV watching and waiting. I finally dozed off to images of the tragedy.

Later that afternoon, I kept plans to see The Dark Knight Rises despite everything. Things were a little different at the theatre. Bags were checked, we weren’t allowed in to the theatre until just before the show, and nobody was in costume. I think this may actually be the end of that. No more costumes, and maybe even no more midnight release showings.

Another difference was that there was no chatter before the movie. No one was talking. It was very disconcerting. Usually on opening day, everyone is excited, not this day. I suppose everyone was thinking about the shootings.

One specific preview, for Sean Penn’s new film Gangster Squad made children jump, women gasp, and grown men scream. It depicted men with guns shooting through a movie screen and then into the audience. I hope Warner Bros. has the sense to pull this preview for the time being. The audience was shocked and horrified.

I am left numb. I enjoyed TDKR but am unable to write about it yet. Maybe tomorrow or the next day. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy and their families and friends.

Comic Con Leftovers

Here’s a peek at a few of the previews and footage to come out of this weekend’s San Diego Comic Con…

“Arrow” debuts on the CW October 10th. Hmmm… looks like Green Arrow is a killer in this one. I wish they just would have spun Justin Hartley out of “Smallville,” at least we knew that was cool, and so much more faithful to the source material…

Season 3 of “The Walking Dead” debuts on October 14th.

I wish I had footage to show you from Pacific Rim, the movie I’m very excited about as a kaiju fan, but I guess this will have to do for now.

Madagascar 3

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted ~ Full disclosure first. I didn’t want to see this flick. The Bride did. And I saw the original, but not the sequel, so it’s possible I may be missing out on some pretty major plot points in this one. Nah. I didn’t think so either. We went mostly for the “Circus Afro” song we have been both been humming and singing since the ads on TV started.

Here’s the story. Somehow, the fun-loving animals from the Central Park zoo, who have the voices of comedians, have found themselves in Africa, and they want to get home to New York. To do this they have to go to Monte Carlo to get the penguins and monkeys first. Yeah, I know, just follow along. From there they join a circus to get back to the States, and as with every good kids movie, or any episode of “Fat Albert,” they learn a lesson.

Ben Stiller is not funny, and Chris Rock joins him in being that way as well. And Sacha Baron Cohen proves that even in animated form he can insult people of any ethnicity. The story and comedy are adequate. It’s not painful, it’s just not my cup of tea. Kids will love it, especially those who liked the first two movies and the TV series about the Penguins. The Bride enjoyed it, and she got to hear the full version of the “Circus Afro” song. We left happy.

Not Your Average Disney Princess

Brave ~ Disney/Pixar has done something with Brave that is extremely difficult to do in the age of the internet, and I’m glad they did. They managed to hide from audiences what this movie is all about. And that’s a good thing.

At first glance, it is the latest of a long line (and a damn fine tradition, don’t get me wrong) of Disney Princess movies. The Princess Merida with her tangled scarlet locks, independent attitude, and Scottish bearing stood ready to become not only the latest, but probably one of the most popular of the Disney Princesses. In some cases, the DP is not a good role model or stereotype. The female protagonist is passive, waits for the prince to come and save her, save the day, and live happily ever after with. It’s tired in this age of enlightenment.

Now there’s nothing wrong with that type of movie. In its time, stuff like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and even The Little Mermaid to an extent worked well and are wonderful stories. But this isn’t that kind of movie.

Brave is about relationships. Chiefly about daughters’ relationships with their fathers, and mostly their mothers – and most importantly, mending those relationships. Now there are moments where Brave is predictable, and there are times when it’s madcap and sometimes it’s scary, but it is always entertaining, but just don’t expect your typical Disney Princess here.

I’m not going to give anything away, much like Disney/Pixar’s marketing did not, and reasonably has not yet given anything away, but I loved this flick. Viva la difference! Recommended.

Jacqui Naylor – Lucky Girl

Lucky Girl ~ Sometimes the cosmos drops opportunities and coincidences in your lap. This is one of those times. Just a few days after discovering the work of Jacqui Naylor on my own, the producers of a documentary about the San Francisco-based jazz singer/songwriter approached me about reviewing that new film. I jumped at the chance.

Lucky Girl, subtitled A Portrait of Jacqui Naylor, follows “Naylor and her band for two years on the road and in the studio while they prepared new music for her eighth album, also titled Lucky Girl. The documentary chronicles Naylor on tour to several jazz clubs including Seattle’s Jazz Alley, San Francisco’s Rrazz Room, and the Istanbul Jazz Center in Turkey. Replete with performances, songwriting sessions, and behind- the-scene moments, the film transports the viewer through a series of musical montages and local flavors. Interviews with long-time band members and others close to Naylor give an intimate look at the life of this respected jazz artist who is also a practicing Buddhist and long-time San Francisco resident.” That’s the official press release talking there, and it pretty much tells the tale, but now it’s my turn.

As I said, I came across Ms. Naylor on my own, before I ever heard of Lucky Girl. My musical tastes are very eclectic. I’m crazy all over the board, from eighties metal to seventies story songs to old school rap to funk to new wave to punk to soundtracks to nerdcore – I love it all, but what I really love most are covers. I am a sucker for a good cover tune. That’s how I found Jacqui Naylor, through her covers. She does wonderful jazzy covers of, among others, the Stones, Talking Heads, the Kinks and even Rod Stewart. I absolutely love her mash up of “My Funny Valentine” with AC/DC’s “Back in Black” behind it. And then there’s her version of REM’s “Losing My Religion.”

Killer, isn’t it? That’s why I immediately agreed to review the documentary. I already knew Jacqui Naylor was something special. And almost like a gateway drug, the doc opens with the song in all its quiet thunder. Welcome to her world.

In Lucky Girl, we have the usual musical origin stories here, the how it happeneds, and the behind the scenes workings of artistic collaboration – all presented as an experience rather than just a documentary. But there is also Jacqui putting her own spin on things as well. She does what she calls ‘acoustic smashing,’ the technique referenced above with “My Funny Valentine” that has become her trademark. She feels if she has to do the jazz standards, she should make them her own. I love it. The effect is especially fierce on Jacqui’s Christmas album, Smashed for the Holidays.

The doc is unlike most music documentaries. I mean, the structure is the same. There are interviews interspersed with the music and performances, but there seems to be a more heartfelt and almost celebratory atmosphere. The musicians and crew Jacqui works with are her family. Her husband Art Khu is also a musician and collaborator and ‘real’ family. There is much love here. We see Jacqui in her home, in the studio, on the road, and there is always love and passion.

This really is a must see documentary. If you don’t know Jacqui Naylor, you will. If you don’t like jazz, you will. It will sneak by and hug you lovingly. I guarantee you’ll end up doing what I did as I watched Lucky Girl – hitting pause, and going to iTunes to purchase the great music you’re hearing. This is sooo recommended. The DVD drops on Tuesday, and if you get the chance, go see her on tour.

Avengers Assemble!

Apparently the Superbowl was last night. Some folks were excited about the commercials. Some folks were excited about Madonna. Rumor has it there was even a pretty good football game last night. I didn’t notice, especially seeing how neither the Philadelphia Eagles nor the Dallas Cowboys were involved. But I watched last night’s Super Bowl too, but for none of the above – I watched it for The Avengers!

Yeah, baby! I absolutely can not wait until May fourth! Avengers Assemble!

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Spartacus: Vengeance

I recently had the chance to see a sneak peek of “Spartacus: Vengeance” from the Starz network. This is a very different television series from its predecessor “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and its sequel, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.”

“Vengeance” is not just different for the obvious reason, Liam McIntyre replacing the late Andy Whitfield. McIntyre is a different Spartacus. This is not just a Darren Stevens type change out. He plays the character differently. In comparison to Whitfield, he seems smaller, softer, and tense, rather than intense. He also has compassion, and appears to care, and be more of a leader than Whitfield’s predominantly loner from “Blood and Sand.” While there’s nothing lacking in McIntyre’s performance, there still needs to be quite a bit of suspension of disbelief that McIntyre went through all that Whitfield did to get Spartacus to the place he is now.

And the place he is now is what the major difference in this cycle of the show as compared to the first two. The story has left the arena and the world of the gladiators, which was where much of the show’s charm was in my opinion. Let’s hope the characters, those that remain from the previous series, are enough to propel viewers along this new path.

Having freed himself and his allies from slavery in the house of Batiatus, Spartacus is now on the run and rampaging hit and run style against the Romans and the city of Capua. We see a brief glimpse of the arena, and I have to admit it’s a highlight, but I wish there was more. I loved the first two series so I’m willing to give the new season, and Whitfield more than a fair chance.

“Spartacus: Vengeance” starts on Starz on January 27, 2012.

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