Archives for February, 2013
In this epic episode we discover the winner of this year’s Oscar game, update the movie film ball numbers, discuss the new Spider-man costume, the new Mary Jane, and still find time to laugh at NBC’s total suckatude and check out the Chubby Checker. Yup it’s a long episode!
The Battlestar Galactica redo for Syfy Channel was one of the most innovative and entertaining science fiction television shows since Firefly and one of the top 3 or 4 of all time. The series finale was fairly divisive and as much as I liked it I admit it was flawed but the overall experience was just outstanding. The series ended and the network was looking at ways to make a buck off the franchise. The shows’ creator Ron Moore had a prequel series in mind and that’s the direction the network decided to go. While Caprica had some interesting elements it was too far from what made the original series great and it just had a lot of trouble finding an anchor for a somewhat convoluted story. The epic failure of Caprica crushed the potential for any other major television endeavors for the foreseeable future.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome was a story that was originally crafted to be a part of a videogame but Syfy Channel appreciated the story enough to option it for a television project. For a while the rumor was that it would be another spin off, then a TV movie, and finally what it became was a limited run web series. The series was released one brief episode a week until the equivalent of a feature length film was on the web. Now the short webisodes have been cut together into a movie and dropped on blu-ray. The movie will also be airing on Syfy Channel.
The film tells the story of a young Adama just entering the military and ready to join the fight against the “toasters” or Cylons. He gets assigned to a Battlestar and right away is given the covert assignment of delivering a woman into the heart of Cylon controlled space. The story that follows is riddled with some predictable but entertaining twists and turns that set the stage for the man that Adama will become when we meet him again as the admiral of the Galactica in the original, or remake, television series. On the show the Galactica was about to be turned into a museum piece but in the film it’s bright and new and ready for action. Since all of the ship was broken down and auctioned off for charity after BSG ended the filmmakers had to recreate locations on the ship with CGI. In fact this web series went the route of Sanctuary and was completely created on green screen with CGI crafted environments.
The film feels like webisodes cut together unfortunately because at the end of each chapter is a dump to black and then the next begins. It’s easy to see this is where the individual episodes were broken up for the web. The result is a film that doesn’t feel cohesive. It just feels like a bunch of webisodes stuck together. For second tier writing and acting though the execution of the story is good. As I said it’s often predictable, which the original series was not, but it remains entertaining. This is a film for fans of the series and newcomers too. There’s not much development of the story here of why the Cylons and humans are fighting so if you don’t already know what the deal is from watching the original series then you won’t learn it here. This has to be one of the first times I’ve ever recommended watching the film/television series before watching its prequel. If you’re already a fan you’ll find entertainment here.
The overall transfer here is good, if good means it comes through looking like the original source material. The film was shot digitally so it lost nothing in the move to blu-ray. Colors are as they were meant to be, black levels are deep, and contrast is consistent. Now none of that means that this film is nice to look at; it just means the transfer of an ugly presentation didn’t get worse with compression. As I mentioned earlier the entirety of this film was crafted with cgi. There are no real sets. This same approach was utilized by the show Sanctuary to great effect. Often Sanctuary came of a little fake looking but it wasn’t distracting or almost painful to look at. The constant lens flare, slightly to terribly out of focus backgrounds, and lack of depth in this presentation are truly painful. I assume the lens flare was used to hide some errors or other issues. At least I hope that’s what it was for. If the true reason for the lens flare use is that “JJ Abrams said it was cool in Star Trek” then I’d be truly pissed off.
Most of the issues I mention are their worst in interior scenes, either in ships or inside buildings. Space battles look pretty good considering the nature of the films’ creation and some scenes in a snowy external climate actually look pretty solid. Overall though, this presentation is just downright ugly.
The DTS HD master track fairs much better than the video. Surround usage is solid throughout the film and dialogue is crisp and clean. The score is well mixed and the LFE is present in explosions. It’s not at all an epic presentation but it works for the film and is actually considerably better than I had expected.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The blu-ray is housed in a standard amaray case along with a DVD version of the film and codes for digital copies. The case art is kind of all over the place but the familiar logo is in plain sight for fans to be able to spot it from across a crowded Best Buy.
There are 13 deleted scenes that are mostly just extended versions of scenes already in the film. If you doubt what I said about he entire film being crafted with cgi take a look at these scenes. Most of them are not complete and you can see just how much green screen is present. Some of these scenes are blu-ray exclusives. There’s nothing that will keep you revisiting these scenes, just filler that was rightfully cut.
Blood and Chrome Visual Effects is a featurette running just under 25 minutes that focuses mostly on the visual fx of the film but it does offer just a little background on how the whole concept came to be. There’s not a lot of depth here but it’s worth a watch.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is a by fans for fans situation. If you haven’t watched any of the series or miniseries from Syfy Channel then this is definitely not the place to start. If you’re a fan looking for just a little more from this universe then this is worth a buy.
Overall (Not an average) 6.5/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 4/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10
Written by: Rob Christopher
Published by: Huron Street Press
The other day driving back to work from lunch my friend pointed to an empty Hollywood Video and remarked how sad it was that his kids would never know the joy of wandering up and down the aisles of a video store with a couple of friends and picking out a movie or two. As susceptible to nostalgia as I am I couldn’t agree. I don’t have any fond memories of video stores. All I can remember is roaming around and thinking, no, no, seen it, no, no, no, seen it, seen it, no, no. But, come to think of it things haven’t changed much. I find myself doing the same thing today it’s just on Netflix, Vudu, or Amazon Prime. If anything the problem is worse now.
The problem of course is choice, as much as it galls to admit it. How do you choose. Rob Christopher wants to help, so he wrote a book. Queue Tips isn’t a book about movies, or cleaning your ears (you didn’t really think I’m strong enough to resist that setup did you), it’s about choosing movies. Which sounds rather silly at first, but the more I read the more I remembered those long walks in the video store; no, no, seen it, no, no, and decided maybe a book about picking out movies might not be such a silly idea after all.
So what does a book about picking a movie look like? It’s short, nonthreatening, and has a bowl of popcorn on the cover. Inside it’s divided up into twenty four chapters, each chapter a list of movies, or a queue of movies if you will. Christopher’s idea is to impose some organization on the seemingly endless selection of movies out there. He’s not talking about dividing things up as comedies, dramas, action movies, but as splitting movies up into some more interesting categories. Some of the lists or categories are predictable, Ten Movies About Movies, Nine Westerns That Aren’t Westerns, Fabulous Films For Young Adults or Ten Movies So Bad They’re Good. But, even those lists have some interesting choices. For every Ten Movies About Movies though there is a Seven Reasons To Love Nicolas Cage, Flops That Actually Aren’t That Bad, or Man Hearts Sheep, Teen Hearts 1958 Plymouth Fury and Seven Other Unusual Romances.
You don’t have to just take Christopher’s word for it, he’s gotten plenty of help. Half the chapters are written by guest authors, which ensures there is a good bit of diversity in the movies suggested. Bill Ott the editor and publisher of Booklist pens a list of movies that are better than the book, including Blade Runner, To Have and Have Not and Harvey (strangely he left out The Hunt For Red October). Ken Vandermark composer and jazz musician suggests a list of movies like Apocalypse Now and The Good The Bad And The Ugly that make a fantastic use of sound. Jeff Berry named by Imbibe magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century mixes up a list of films that feature drinks with little umbrellas in them. Movies like Donovan’s Reef and Back to the Beach. You might quibble about some of the entries on the lists but they all provide a different, interesting way to categorize movies other than the standard worn out labels. Beyond that it’s fun getting confirmation when you see one of your favorites in a list and reading what someone else thought about it. I started out skeptical of the entire concept behind Queue Tips but wading a couple of chapters in convinced me that Christopher is on to something.
It’s time to get right to the goods this week with a gallery of early stills from the upcoming Ender’s Game film adaptation. Well there’s really only one image of note and that’s a shot from the set of the film. For those of us who love the book it’s still exciting to see the team patches brought to life, which makes up the remainder of the images. We are also featuring the first early image that was released from the film too.
Ender’s Game stars Asa Butterfield from Hugo as our hero along with Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Viola Davis, and Ben Kingsley and it’s based on the book series by Orson Scott Card. The film is being directed by Gavin Hood who previously brought us X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The film is currently in post production and set to be released later this year.
We aren’t done though! One of last year’s best films and arguably last year’s best animated film Wreck-It-Ralph is hitting DVD and Blu-Ray shortly and to celebrate we’ve got some behind the scenes clips! The movie follows a videogame bad guy desperate to become more than just a pixelated villain. He wants to be a hero and more importantly he wants some friends. The film follows his adventure as he seeks his goal. Check out these clips!
Bonus Clip: Sugar Rush – The animators share the original inspiration for Sugar Rush- the architecture of Antoni Gaudi and how concept models of the game’s landscape were made out of actual candy and cookies!
Bonus Clip: Creating the 8 Bit World – The animators discuss creating the different worlds within Wreck-It Ralph and what it was like asking some of the best animators in the business to ignore years of training to go back to linear worlds and pixelated characters.
Bonus! Check out this trailer for an upcoming Batman documentary!
Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal
This season hasn’t been kind to the action hero based film, or maybe the action based hero film hasn’t been kind to us so far. The Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first solo action film since before becoming the Governator was weak sauce and Broken City, Bullet to the Head, and Parker didn’t offer much more. Does this mean the action hero movie just can’t be done anymore? Well, The Rock is giving it a go with his new film Snitch.
To call this a standard action film wouldn’t be correct. Johnson’s role of John Mathews is a desperate man trying to save his son from a ten year jail sentence rather than a Rambo style super hero type of role. Snitch is a melodrama first followed by an action film. The action here from The Rock is reactionary not an attack. He doesn’t always succeed either. In fact his first attempt at trying to do something for his son finds him getting beat down by a couple of street thugs. Now the Rock is no Oscar caliber actor, at least he hasn’t shown that yet. He comes from the same school as action stars from the 80’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris, from some sort of sports arena. The difference is that the Rock comes from wrestling which is sort of athletic acting. So he has a bit of grasp on melodrama.
I call this movie a melodrama rather than a drama because it’s all a bit over the top. Susan Sarandon seems to be slumming here and since she’s slumming it seems like she decided to just chew the scenery. She has a couple of scenes that are probably supposed to be impactful but are actually a little humorous. She plays the district attorney that holds all the cards. She is using the mandatory minimum sentencing to put Mathew’s son away for at least ten years even though he’s a first time offender. The only way she is willing to let the boy off is if he gives up bigger fish which he can’t do and he won’t set up his friends in order to cut a deal. The only option Mathews sees is to get the bad guys for the D.A. himself and he sets out on that mission with the help of Shane from The Walking Dead.
Often in the 80’s action movies took some social or political message of the era and used it to build their film and deliver an opinion on said message by the closing of he film. It usually comes off campy and base but that was the nature of the era. Guess what? This film harkens back to that era in a big way. It’s “based on real events” and by the closing credits it offers a very strong opinion on the mandatory minimums. So the set up is overly simplistic and the inevitable ending is tied up in such a tight little bow that it actually feels like a blood stopping tourniquet but the truth is that Snitch is still a pretty entertaining movie in parts. The whole thing rests on Johnson’s shoulders and he carries the burden pretty well. Even with all of the plot flaws and overly melodramatic moments he’s still a lot of fun to watch. There’s the cop who screws Mathews in the early part of the film only to help him for almost no reason later, there’s a scene where Sarandon gets so excited I wondered if she needed a break for a smoke and a nap, and tons of more issues. With that said the pacing is quick and the action is married well to the story and as I said previously Johnson is fun. This is a perfect example of low budget matinee fare and that’s ok.
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judy Dench, Javier Bardem
If you’re a regular reader of this site or even more so a listener of our weekly podcast/webcast there’s no mystery as far as what I thought of Skyfall when it was in theaters last year. The film was in my top five picks for 2012. After reviewing it on blu-ray it’s just as good now as it was the first time I saw it.
This film, like most other Bond films starts in the middle of a story. Bond is chasing a bad guy who really knows how to run in an epic way. The chase is huge and it not only leads into the opening credits but it also sets the stage for the rest of the film in big and small ways. The villain in the film feels almost completely faceless in the first act of the film and throughout that portion of the film the lack of depth for the villain was frustrating for me. I learned later that his faceless nature was purposeful though. When Javier Bardem does appear in the film, and his character is properly introduced the scene is not only one of the most memorable in the film it’s one of the most memorable in the franchise as a whole. I believe that Silva will go down in history as one of the most memorable and unique villains of the 007 franchise. Bardem always finds a way to put his stamp on whatever character he plays and he executes that stamp brilliantly in this one scene. From this point on no other actor could have played the role and as a viewer I had to know his plan and what he was going to do next.
Bond has had many personal stories in the past but Skyfall is easily the best executed and most perfectly personal film of the franchise. We learn things in this film that we never knew about the character before and things that we did know are expanded upon which make Bond even more of a person and less of a caricature. The relationship between M and Bond is explored and the true level of connection between the two of them is revealed as well. Yes there’s big action as always but the heart of this movie is in relationships and drama, not campy drama but real grounded drama, at least as much so as you can expect from a Bond film. Happily the moments of levity don’t take away from the reality of the character development by being campy as was common with previous installments. Often the comedy comes at the expense of previous films. One thing that Skyfall does brilliantly is that it celebrates the previous films, even homages them a little, without making the element integral or necessary to the film. In fact if you aren’t at least a moderate Bond fan you might not notice it happening.
The action and the characterizations are all smaller and more personal in this Bond film. No, the villain isn’t out to destroy the world this time around. He’s much more focused than that. Does he want to do a Hell of a lot of damage? Well yes he does, but the point is personal. Things happen in Skyfall that will forever affect the franchise and that’s something that hasn’t happened in the film series in a very long time. Skyfall isn’t perfect. There is about 15 minutes in the middle of this two and a half hour film that drags and feels a bit bloated but overall this film is easily in the top five best of the Bond franchise. The ending two minutes of the film left me really hungry for more! The franchise needed new blood behind the camera and finally the owners of the franchise let someone in that is outside of their box of directors. Sam Mendes, the man behind such films as American Beauty and Road to Perdition brought a new shade to the franchise and it’s a great fresh feel to a series of films that can get a little stuffy. Roger Deakins, the man who shot The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, and The Shawshank Redemption, made Skyfall one of the best, if not the best looking Bond film of all time.
This 1080p AVC encoded rendition of Skyfall is drop dead gorgeous. Skyfall is easily one of, if not the most beautiful, films of the Bond franchise and it shows with this stellar blu-ray. When I see a transfer like that yes, at least for now, we do still need physical media because this is the best looking way to see this film outside of a theater. Detail and contrast are two of the most important elements of the look of Skyfall and they come off perfect here. Did you get that? Yup I said perfect! The black levels are deep and inky while retaining the previously mentioned detail as well. The color pallet is subtle but very specific in this film and it also makes the move to home video perfectly. This is the best looking blu-ray release of 2013 so far and I think it’s going to be very tough to beat.
The star here is the DTS HD 5.1 lossless track although there are several other great lossless choices available on the disc. The score for this film is a nice mix of modern decisions and classic themes and it gets loving care in this presentation. Dialogue is sparkly and punchy and action scenes are bass rumbling and offer up whiz bang in an immersive impactful way. Subtle scenes feel true with ambient sounds coming from the entire soundstage while still keeping our attention on the dialogue or other audio that’s important to the scene at hand. Just like the video this is a truly perfect presentation. I will say that I’m surprised that there’s not a 7.1 mix.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The slim standard case features a single blu-ray on one side and a digital disc on the other. The cover art and slip cover feature the same simple Bond imagery that was used to sell the movie theatrically and overall it’s affective without being abrasive.
First things first, there are two audio commentaries on this disc which is such a great thing. It seems like lately filmmakers have been skipping the commentaries. These are essential for both hardvore fans of the film and students of film in general. Director Sam Mendes give us just the sort of commentary both students and Bond fans are looking for. There are a few instances of him describing what’s happening in a scene as it plays out but these instances are few and in a couple of cases they actually lead to discussion of the filmmaking process. He shares information on everything from his choices for how many cameras to shoot with to styles of shooting. There are even a few bits of shooting trivia and anecdotes too. This commentary while laid back enhances the overall experience of watching the film and truly tells us how the final product came to be.
Sometimes there are commentaries though that give the whole idea of the existence of the supplement a bad name and the one here from the producers is just such a “bonus feature”. The comments go from ho-hum marketing speak to nothing at all with them simply watching the film in silence. One of the film’s producers is the daughter of the franchises’ original producers. You’d think she could have at least brought some sense of history to the proceedings. Nope. Skip this commentary.
Shooting Bond is a group of short featurette that can be watched together as one making of documentary. There’s some good stuff in these featurettes but overall each of them feels to short to offer any deep insight into the creation of the film and what the film means to the franchise as a whole. There are some good moments here and there though including a short interview with one of the musicians who has literally performed on every Bond film. Good stuff there. This isn’t a bad documentary by any means it just feels incomplete.
There’s a short bit from the theatrical premiere of the film made up mostly of red carpet interviews which are of course just sound bites. Meh…
Finally there’s a theatrical trailer (Only one?) and a clip of the orchestra performing that was used to promote the soundtrack. Overall the bonus materials here are a bit lacking. The commentary from Sam Mendes is the best of the bunch and almost makes up for a lackluster documentary.
Skyfall comes home looking and sounding gorgeous and that’s really what’s most important here but the movie is just so good and so epically important to a franchise that was withering on the vine for so many years that it should have come home in a more special way with special edition packaging and bonus features. With that said though this film is just so good, and it looks and sounds so damn good here that it ends up being a reference disc for home video and a reference disc for the highest quality of filmmaking. Buy it,
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 10/10
The Packaing and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
This week we bring on the film ball players to get updates on the game then we dive into news of the Batman film reboot, Toy Fair 2013, XBOX interacting with TV, House of Cards, The Americans, a Wonder Woman documentary, Spider-man comics, Fantastic Four, and yes even more!
Written by Alex Langley
Art by Nick Langley
Are you a young nerdling or a dissociable geek looking to level up your life? Author Alex Langley is here to help. Langley’s The Geek Handbook is a guide to socializing with fellow geeks and the common world, a road map for developing into a well-rounded adult while maintaining your geeky integrity.
This book goes into making friends, going to school, moving out, cooking, exercising, expressing your fandoms in a work environment, and a number of other general life help points, all in ways that are both tailored to work for geeks, as well as to be entertainingly read by geeks.
What is a “geek” then? Langley defines one as “anyone who has a passion for the things they love,” transcending beyond the usual fandom of popular culture and even includes geeks of food, cars and sports as examples. This puts everyone on a level playing field and shows the usual geek that he’s not so unusual. With that said, Langley knows which kinds of geek will be reading this book. As such, expect the usual references to movies, television, comics, games, and tropes we all love.
If you hate reference humor – the kind where someone mentions something from some show or movie and it’s supposed to be funny on that alone – don’t let that deter you from this book. Langley does a great job mixing his nerdy references with wit and humor where most appropriate, earning the numerous chuckles I gave it in my reading.
Enough geeky fandoms are used throughout the book to please almost any reader, from comic book to video games, anime to tech, and more. They are also well-mixed, keeping most sections from becoming monopolized from a singular fandom. The zombie references seem to get a lot of play though, with multiple discussions about making sure your home in adequately prepared for the impending zombie invasion. But I’m a bit tired of zombies these days.
Being a geek for editing and consistent formatting myself, I noticed a few editorial mishaps that probably could have been fixed with another quick run through before going to press. A repeated paragraph here, an un-bolded title in a series with bolded titles there. These mistakes are few, but they do momentarily interrupt the reading experience.
I was caught off guard though by the inclusion of a “Geek Girls” chapter, which seems like it would be segregating a subset of geek culture in a book that is otherwise progressively trying to bring everyone together. In reading though, it addresses several points which sadly still need to be pointed out to the denser male individuals in geekdom, highlighting the need to treat geeky girls as an equal part of the group.
Overall, the book was an enjoyable read. It has its ups and downs as the humor and advice didn’t always connect with me, but it will with other readers. The first thing I did when I brought this book home for review was read aloud the “Seven Types of Geek Roommates” to my own roommates, where we laughed and pointed out which aspects fit ourselves and argued which didn’t. That’s the fun of the book: reading what relates to you with the humor Langley brings to the table, and then arguing with the parts you disagree with. Just like any good geek.
Not to mention, Langley admitting he likes Ben Reilly always gets brownie points in my book. Yay, Scarlet Spider!
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams
Editor Note: Portions of this review appeared in our original coverage of the film’s theatrical release
The Master is going to be a challenging film for most people. It’ll either be loved or hated, and either way it’ll be a conversation piece. That’s probably the greatest compliment that can be offered to this film. Rather than be mundane and safe and forgettable like most films from Hollywood it takes chances, it requires viewers to think and to actually have an opinion on what’s happening rather than having the story give you the proper opinion. In a typical Michael Bay film for, example you don’t have to decide who’s good and who’s bad. The scenario is blatantly drawn and the protagonists and antagonists are without mystery. In this film very little is that cut and dry and for that reason alone The Master deserves our attention.
The film is set in post war 1950’s and it first settles on Freddy, and ex-Navy man who appears to have no direction and no civility for that matter. He’s dangerous in fact even if it’s unintentional. He finds that he has talent with photography but his short temper and lack of self-control destroy any opportunities he might have at making a life for himself in that endeavor. Prior to Freddy exiting the military therapists tried to help him deal with his mental issues with no success. He may have been made the man he is by the war but the character, the personality, and his way of dealing with his existence probably stems from his childhood. In this simple observation alone it feels like we are trying to psychoanalyze Freddy, and that’s probably what he needs. The funny thing is that Freddy may know deep down that he needs this sort of help too because the one man he finally connects with as a friend and mentor is a man that offers him a mix of pseudo-science and religion as an answer.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd a man who appears to be riffing on L. Ron Hubbard with his scientific processing, time travel hypnotic-regression, and simple moralistic view of religion. He’s charismatic and has developed a group of followers that believe in him “religiously”. Freddy doesn’t necessarily fit in, not even close, but Lancaster sees Freddy as a project and in some odd way a companion. Freddy never speaks the words but it appears that he’s hopeful that he can find himself and settle with these people and their religion. Joaquin Phoenix gives the best performance of his career here as Freddy. This is a truly complex character played by Phoenix as a man in pain, a man plagued by loneliness, and a man so distraught and lacking in direction that he truly can’t see the problems he has and why he’s as sad as he is even when it’s laid out right before him. Hoffman brings us a man that at first seems all powerful but through subtle character moments and even facial expressions and body language the fact that there are cracks in his existence is apparent before the story ever chooses to reveal those cracks to us.
The Master is multi-layered and offers the opportunity for many questions. The film isn’t about the connect the dots existence of cultism but the cult or “the cause” or even Scientology is the engine that propels these characters and defines the path for them. This leads to the question of faith. How important is it and what impact does it have on our lives? The movie is also about power, power over one’s self and our path in life and power over others. There are two characters in this film both seeking that power in both regards and by the end of the film you’ll be asking yourself and others around you just how successful the two men were. The Master is the perfect partner piece to Anderson’s previous film There Will Be Blood. Both films found the enormity of the world crushing down on complex and ultimately human characters and the decisions they make to try and survive. This is not a cotton candy movie that will send you out of the theater smiling and confident you know everything. This is a steak of a movie with many seasonings and spices that takes savoring to fully digest. It’s challenging, complex, moving, and expertly executed on virtually every level. Even Laura Dern’s small role is a joy in this film. Amy Adams has truly shown herself as someone with true acting chops in her role as Lancaster’s wife and biggest follower. The only real complaint I have about the film is that it might be a little long. I say might because in reality the plotting and emotional build requires the length. It may seem long to some because the film is so mentally and emotionally trying.
The Master is real filmmaking, it’s not crowd pandering or selling to the lowest common denominator for a quick buck. Everyone involved in the film gave everything they had to render a story with more depth and meaning and impact than any other film made domestically this year. Also this film is like no other film out there, save for There Will Be Blood which is kind of OK since it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson movie too.
This film was shot on 65 mm film, a format that hasn’t been used for a fiction film since Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet back in 1996. Unless you were lucky enough to be in one of the few locations able to project the format you haven’t seen the film at full resolution and now on home video you still won’t be seeing the film at the level it was actually filmed. It would take an 8K TV and player to get close to the resolution of 65 mm. With that said what you do see is nothing short of stunning. Colors are deep and rich and just over saturated in certain scenes, as they were meant to be. Black levels are super inky while still retaining incredible detail. Paul Thomas Anderson and his team worked extremely hard to get the look they achieved with this film and the blu-ray does a fantastic job of bringing that look home. There are no compression artifacts or edge enhancement blimmishes. This is as near a perfect transfer as I’ve seen.
The thing that stands out in this DTS “Master” track is the score. The noisy quirky “music” is a wordless expression of Freddie’s emotional balance throughout the film. When he’s frantic so is the score and so on. It does a solid job of helping craft the overall atmosphere of the film. The score is immersive and when it’s necessary it blows through the entire soundscape. Other than that everything else here is subtle ambient sounds. The full sound stage could have been used a little more effectively to draw us into Freddie’s world but that’s really a minor quibble. It’s just that while this film sounds great there just wasn’t as much work put into making the audio experience as unique as the visual.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging has a neat retro vibe with art that feels of the era in which the film is set. The packaging however doesn’t give the feeling of a special edition but that may help temper your expectations in the “special edition” department.
First thing’s first; where is the director commentary? Seriously there’s no director commentary on film like this one? For bonus features there’s a brief, very brief making of featurette, some outtakes, and a documentary about WWII veterans. This is truly weak in the bonus features department. A film as groundbreaking as this one deserves more attention to the creative process and deeper analysis by film academics and those involved with its creation. A commentary is a must and deep making of features are a close second. We got none of that.
The Master is one of the best films of 2012 and it’s easily the most unique story of the year. This blu-ray does a standout job at bring the film home it just suffers in the behind the scenes department.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 9.5/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
Info-graphics are the new hotness and why not? You get all you need to know in a quick image. The 5th installment of the Die Hard franchise is premiering this month and Finances Online has provided us with an exclusive early look at their info-graphic laying out all of the reasons the upcoming actioner will make big bucks at the box office. Check it out below and let us know what you think!
We have some fun stuff for you this week! Battlestar Galactica lives on with a new movie; Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome airing on Syfy. We got an early sneak peek! Also Syfy will be throwing down some robot battles arena style and we have an interview with wrestler Chris Jericho talking about hosting this new fun series for Syfy. We have more Defiance and Merlin for you too! Finally the great home video company Shout Factory! Has a kids category of shows and films and we have early clips of their latest release!
Continuum—Airs Mondays at 8/7c.
A Test of Time – Sneak Peek
SUMMARY: Kagame’s return begins with a reset of Liber8′s agenda, away from violence and towards blending into the community and fostering their revolution through co-opting existing structures. But they have a vulnerability – the possibility that if their ancestors, living in this time, are murdered, they might cease to exist. A test of this theory is devised and Kiera and her grandmother are the guinea pigs.
Robot Combat League
So we all new it was inevitable, Syfy is launching a series called Robot Combat League in which human opponents duke it out via giant robot avatars. This seems like the Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel come to life. Let’s just hope this doesn’t bring about the reality of the rest of that film! At any rate we have for you an interview with wrestler Chris Jericho who will be hosting the show. He talks about his interactions with the robots and the show in general. Check it out:
Defiance—Premieres April 15 at 9/8c.
Fight Risk – Trailer
SUMMARY: This is a town worth fighting for. Join the fight with Defiance premiering April 15 at 9/8c.
Merlin—Airs Fridays at 10/9c.
The Dark Tower – Sneak Peek
SUMMARY: When Gwen is snatched from Camelot without warning, Merlin knows there can be only one person responsible: Morgana. Watch a sneak peek into “The Dark Tower,” when Merlin meets Queen Mab.
Colin Morgan Talks Ep. 505 – Recap
SUMMARY: Merlin star Colin Morgan talks about the important events from episode 505 ‘The Disir.’
Mordred’s Moment – Clip from Ep. 505
SUMMARY: Mordred sacrifices himself for the sake of his king.
For the Druids – Clip from Ep. 505
SUMMARY: A druid elder spends his last breath pleading with Arthur to make amends with the old religion.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome—Premieres Sunday, Feb. 10 at 9/8c.
Blood & Chrome – Trailer
SUMMARY: The story you never knew of William Adama. Catch the premiere of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome on air, premiering Sunday, Feb. 10 at 9/8c.
On February 12th, Shout! Factory Kids, in collaboration with Nerd Corps Entertainment, will release SLUGTERRA: RETURN OF THE SHANE GANG on DVD! Check out these clips:
Yes we have a lot of Star Wars to cover but we find time to get into the Red Box news, House of Cards on Netflix, and some comic book stuff too! This is an epic one!
So our previous fan poll is over and Joss Whedon took the most votes for who might be the perfect pick for the follow up installment to the Star Wars franchise after JJ Abrams completes the first film in the new series. The man that made the Avengers received over 41% of the votes. The next closest pick was Brad Bird at nearly 24% and Mathew Vaughn was third with nearly 18%. We’ll discuss our thoughts on this week’s episode of the CineGeek webcast live on Ustream Wednesday nights starting at 6:30 central and available in audio form from Stitcher Radio and in iTunes Thursday mornings.
With this week’s premiere of the Netflix original series House of Cards we started wondering, how do you consume your media? Where do you watch the most of your television shows and other media? Hit the pole and let us know. Check the poll in the right sidebar here at the site and give us your answer. That’s right, the pop up was even starting to annoy us and we have a pretty high tolerance for these sorts of things!
Poll closes next Tuesday morning so vote fast!
House of Cards isn’t technically Netflix’s first full season release of new programming but it is the first high profile one. With the release of the Kevin Spacey political drama one has to wonder what the future of TV truly is. I became obsessed with this show and barreled through the entire 13 episode season in just a few days. I know that probably isn’t the norm, or is it? A large majority of people that I talk to tell me that they “marathon” entire seasons, or at least huge chunks of seasons of shows on Netflix. So the old idea of a season of a show lasting a number of weeks congruent with the number of episodes could be going the way of the dodo bird. I find myself having viewers’ remorse now because I could be waiting as much as a full year before season two of the show hits the streaming service.
So now I wonder if the Netflix approach to scripted material takes hold what is the future of consumption? Netflix will be offering a full season of a new series each month for the next three months. Are they hoping that we’ll just move to the new show from month to month? I find myself hungry for new content on Netflix more often than I like already. I enjoy watching documentaries via the service and am constantly frustrated when I pull up the new additions to the service and don’t see anything new to watch. Looking for new release fiction is almost not worth doing although there are a few surprises here and there, most notably the fairly fast move that Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol made to Netflix. As far as the new shows coming in the next two months go they are quite a bit different than House of Cards so if you aren’t someone who enjoys a lot of variety in your TV diet you’ll definitely be yearning for season 2.
If I were a betting man I’d wager that this form of releasing projects by Netflix is only a stop gap solution while technology catches up to the streaming giant. They have often said that they want to be the next HBO. An executive went so far as to say in a GQ article that Netflix was getting closer to becoming HBO faster than HBO is to becoming Netflix. It’s easy to see the potential for Netflix to move to live streaming episodes of new shows. So, each week they’d live stream a new show and immediately afterwards make it available for streaming. Microsoft has been dipping its toe in this area with the XBOX 360 off and on for some time. If this is the direction Netflix goes it would be disappointing because I’m looking for innovation, for a new paradigm to continue.
It could simply be possible that the company plans to just bring us a lot of content, offering up something new to watch every month for a given number of months crafting their own “Season”. That could absolutely be interesting although again you’d need a pretty open pallet for programming as they already have the political drama one month, a horror based series the next month, and a quirky comedy the final month. Whatever the future holds the company is doing one thing right: building an audience to follow them on the adventure. They had us with their streaming movies and previous seasons of network and cable shows and they’re keeping us with big name producers, stars, and series that already had a cult following before moving to the service. It’s a fascinating time to be following media because the possibilities for streaming and Netflix as an independent network are history making.
The problem that remains is that Netflix’ success rests so heavily on companies that are also competition. High speed internet is gripped by companies that also have some involvement in traditional TV broadcast so they’d rather not see Netflix succeed. Their answer is to govern internet speeds and bandwidth usage. These companies also hold a great deal of control over Netflix catalog titles of TV shows and movies. Starz for example freaked out when House of Cards was announced and decided not to renew its contract with Netflix meaning that Starz owned programming would be disappearing from the service. This was sort of a big loss for Netflix because they were getting Starz original programming right after it had aired on the pay service. So subscribers to Netflix could see Party Down and Spartacus without subscribing to Starz. Other distributors also dropped out of Netflix in the aftermath of the announcement about House of Cards. Netflix has recently answered back with exclusivity deals with Disney among others. The true future of Netflix resides in the back end, the connection speeds and bandwidth. If the company can partner with someone like Google, who is working on their own independent high speed internet access, they may be unstoppable.
The question still remains, how will we consume media in the future? Will we eventually go back to seasonal viewing via live streaming or is getting entire seasons in blocks the way of the future?
Directed by Ryan Polito
Starring Chris Hardwick
Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist and Talking Dead hits the stage in this Comedy Central special, but can this nerd celebrity appease mainstream comedy, or will his geek humor fall on his face?
Chris Hardwick, the TV/internet personality known for hosting AMC’s Talking Dead, appearing on G4, and running his web channel The Nerdist, puts on his shiny stand-up suit for the Comedy Central special Mandroid.
Hardwick is a nerd’s nerd. Several of his jokes contain references to his time in chess club, Harry Potter, and Atari games. He goes on about the proliferation of geek culture as of late, compared to his almost Revenge-of-the-Nerds-esque childhood, and the differences between true nerds from hipsters and dweebs.
Unlike a lot of geeky comedians though, the simple references aren’t a crutch for Hardwick’s act, nor do they make up the entirety of his performance. Hardwick goes all over the place, from his drinking experiences to aging over 35. A lot of his routine is very relatable, nerd or not, so his comedy is still going to strike a chord even if you don’t know what Platform 9 and ¾ is.
The parental advisory on the box is no joke. Hardwick has several sexual-related bits, from virginity to shark vaginas, and even fake screwing the mic and the mic stand. It’s crude, but the humor hits its mark. Hardwick’s performance keeps everything light and playful, lessening any offense one may take. Still, keep the kiddies away.
This special is a fun hour’s worth of chuckles. It doesn’t have many stand-out memorable bits, but it’s worth the watch. Thankfully, what geeky pop-culture references Hardwick uses are fairly benign and timeless, so it won’t feel immediately out of date. That is, unless you like New MySpace.
The Video and Audio
This comedy special is widescreen, and the audio is English. The sound is clearly audible. You can understand everything Hardwick is saying. It’s a stand-up special, so nothing is exceptional in terms of the audio or visual production. Can you clearly see and hear the comedian? Yep, and that’s what matters.
Random thought: The case notes that the program is in widescreen and that the black bars on the top and bottom are normal. How much longer do you think we have to go before we can drop that message?
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The one-disc DVD comes in a standard DVD. The jacket art is reminiscent of an old pulp comic or novel, with Hardwick drawn in a robot suit fighting a dinosaur on an alien planet, complete with fake worn corners. That alone is enough to make me pick up the DVD.
The feature has three extras: two comedic songs by the musical duo “Hard ‘n Phirm” (Hardwick himself and Mike Phirman), and a “Totally Hidden Easter Egg” blooper from one of their performance. The songs are chuckle-worthy. The bloopers of missed cues and screwed-up guitar playing show that sometimes the ad-libbed filler is as funny as or more than the pre-planned material, showcasing Hardwick’s adaptability.
Overall (Not an Average)
Mandroid is a fun watch, both the special itself and the bonuses. It’s not a must-have comedy special, but if you can rent or buy it cheap, give it try and then pass to your next nerdy buddy in need of some laughs.
The Film 7/10
The Video and Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10