Thursday, December 31, 2015

5 Surprises of 2015

2015 is coming to an end! And to end the year, let's take a look back at a few of the surprises from the past year in the realm of movies, TV, and Geekdom at large!

Daredevil is Marvel's Best Story of the Year

Marvel might have sent us the Avengers and Ant-Man this year, but none of their big screen heroes could match the high quality and brutal storytelling of Netflix's Daredevil. Capitalizing on the uncensored violence and grim tone that Netflix allows, Daredevil set a new standard for comic book storytelling on the small screen. If Marvel and Netflix can continue this type of success with future projects, we may have a new frontier for Marvel to dominate. For more about Daredevil, please read my full review here.

The Martian: Sets New Standard for Realistic Sci-Fi

While many were hyped after reading the book, having no knowledge of the hype surrounding it, The Martian came as a huge surprise to me. Realism and science-fiction do not go together all that well, and somehow, The Martian was only relatively accurate according to scientific theories, but it was one of the best sci-fi films of the past decade. Excluding sci-fi fantasy like Star Wars and Marvel, The Martian is a true gem in one of my favorite genres. For more about the Martian, please read my full review here.

Spider-Man Joins the MCU

After years of teasing us with speculation and rumor, Sony and Disney finally decided to let Spider-Man join the MCU! Tom Holland as Spider-Man is set to cameo in Civil War next year and Jon Watts will direct his first solo flick for 2017. Considering the difficulties both studios have had over the years, who would have expected Sony to finally agree to a deal? Granted, after the simi-failure of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, this is definitely the best option for the studio at this point, and of course, the fans are certainly pleased!

Man in the High Castle Proves that Amazon Prime is Legit

After falling behind to Netflix for years in quality original content, Amazon Prime's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name proved that Amazon Prime can deliver worthwhile television if they try. While The Man in the High Castle had its flaws with some pacing issues and a lack of focus, overall, it showed us a terrifying world of what life could have been like if the Axis Powers won WWII. Thankfully, the series made up for its issues with stellar acting, high production value, and a fascinating and frightening exploration of the "What If."

One-Punch Man: Best Superhero of the Year

Marvel and DC might be battling it out for the top superhero in cinemas, but over in Japan a little 12 episode TV series, titled One-Punch Man, about an average guy named Saitama turned superhero with the ability to win any battle with One-Punch flipped the superhero genre on its head. While the concept sounds boring, in practice, it is an ingenious comedy with some of the most insanely awesome action sequences in animation. If you like superheroes, you should check out the most fun superhero adventure of the year, which you can watch on Hulu for free (click here).

What surprised you this year? What were some of the highlights of the year for you? Please comment below and let me know!

Note: I have yet to see Star Wars. However, chances are, by the time you are reading this, I might be in the theater watching it.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ukrainian Statue of Lenin Transformed Into Darth Vader

When a law passed in Ukraine that ordered all symbols and insignia of communist party rule in the country be removed, Ukrainians remodeled the statue of communist leader, Lenin, into Darth Vader. A government sanctioned remodeling of a statue into Darth Vader is actually kind of awesome. Why completely destroy a statue if you can change it into Darth Vader? Above is the video of its unveiling and below are pictures of Before and After. I apologize for the series of short posts lately. Until I see The Force Awakens, which is proving to be a nearly impossible task due to life and bad weather, trying to avoid spoilers means not going on my usual websites. However, as soon as I see it, expect plenty of exciting new posts! 


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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Movie Music and More #40: "Hamlet" (1996)

Since the beginning of October, I (Hamlette) have been hosting a read-along of Hamlet on my book blog, The Edge of the Precipice. We've finally finished it up, and to celebrate, I'm holding a giveaway of several Hamlet-related items, including two movie versions AND a brand-new copy of Patrick Doyle's soundtrack for Kenneth Branagh's 1996 film version. You are hereby invited to enter that giveaway here, on my blog.

Now, for the music!

The first track on the CD is "In Pace," which is Latin for "in peace."  It's sung by the great tenor Placido Domingo.  I love how it begins softly and intimately, like a prayer asking for peace, and then swells gradually to a bold statement that someone has found the peace they sought, even if it's only peace with themselves and not with the world.

"Oh Heavy Deed" is a much darker track, full of discontent and malice.  It makes me think of someone pacing back and forth, plotting something.  Or maybe a predator stalking its prey.  You get a pretty clear idea just form the music that something very bad is happening.  

"Good Night, Sweet Prince" is soft and sad, but not despairing.  It begins with that same theme from "In Pace," but without the vocals.  It feels calmer, thoughtful, almost dreamlike.  Events have reached their inevitable conclusion by this point in the story, and now the remaining characters need to process all that has occurred.  Then the music swells briefly, like it's crying out for our attention before it subsides into a more accepting attitude.  Doyle is a master of lush orchestral scores, and this definitely showcases his expertise.

Again, if you'd like to enter the giveaway, go here to do so.  It runs through Monday, January 4, 2016.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Deadpool Trailer 2 Review

Deadpool's second trailer is out! And like before, there are two trailers, the clean Green Band trailer (above), and the R rated Red Band trailer, which you can find online if you want to see it. The first trailer was funnier, and again, the Green Band trailer was funnier too or at least for me, except for the violence, which is the best part about the Red Band. And there is a lack of breaking the Fourth-Wall, which is one of the key aspects of Deadpool. However, the jokes are relatively funny and the action looks a ton of fun. 

But here’s an idea. If Fox was serious about making money, why not make two versions of Deadpool. A PG-13 "Green Band" version and the original R rated one. As shown in the trailer, the movie can be edited and cut to be cleaner. The only issue would be the violence since that is harder to cut than language, but making two versions would be an interesting idea. Plus, cleaner comedy is usually smarter comedy since it takes more writing skill to make it funny, which is my preference. But as a business strategy, why not try? Of course, that is highly unlikely, but it is an idea to throw around. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know! Also, this poster below is hysterical!

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Wars Cast Sings "Stayin' Alive"

Jimmy Fallon and company created this hilariously awesome video of the cast of Star Wars singing "Stayin' Alive," by the Bee Gees. It is weird and random, but a lot of fun! And expect more full posts this week now that things are calming down, including a review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as soon as I see it. Until then, I will continue to avoid any type of spoiler or review. And I apologize for the lack comment replies. I have taken short break and had the blog on autopilot the last week, but I'm back! And after I see Star Wars, I can actually not avoid every social media website.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Star Wars Vs. Small Theaters

Since many people are still busy with the Christmas season, why not talk about movie theaters or specifically, the local one where I see most of my movies. Disney is requiring theaters to show Star Wars for four weeks. This mandate is forcing one screen theaters, like the one in my hometown, not be able to show Star Wars feasibly. While the idea is a sound business strategy for multi-screen theaters, for smaller ones, it makes them have to show garbage like “Alvin and Chipmunks,” since after the usual two weeks, most people will have already seen the film. 

One of the advantages of an old theater is that the screen is rather large compared to a standard screen. It is no IMAX but compared to the small screens of most multi-screen theaters, it is certainly better. Granted, a big theater chain would be fantastic closer to home, but it is nice talking to the owners after a movie about what’s next and they knowing who you are. Also, $6 tickets are nice too, compared to the $10 or more price of many other 2D screenings. But after all the craziness of Christmas blows over in a day or so, I’ll go see The Force Awakens out of town in IMAX 3D and until then, I will avoid everything and anything Star Wars. Do you have a single screen theater where you live? Do you have any stories about the theater? Please comment below and let me know!

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Never forget the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas and God bless you.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Geeky Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! And as usual, it's time for some fun geeky Christmas pictures! And after Christmas time, I'll get back to reviewing in full force with Doctor Who and Star Wars reviews and so much more! I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Favorite Christmas Music

Merry Christmas everyone! While today's post isn't movie, it is music related, specifically, Christmas music! My favorite are usually more of the classics, especially by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole, but there are newers ones that are also a lot of fun. Please comment below with your favorite Christmas songs.

"White Christmas"

"Jingle Bells"

"Joy to the World"

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

"Jingle Bell Rock"

"The First Noel"

"Silent Night"

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"The Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992) Review

I (Hamlette) first saw The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) when I was in college.  It became an instant favorite, and a friend and I made a point of watching it together every year before our Christmas break.  But after college, I didn't watch it again for more than a decade, so when I started it up last night, I was a little apprehensive as to whether or not I would still enjoy it.  

Happily, I did!  In fact, I think I like it better now than I did back then.  I've seen several other movie versions since then, so I had more to compare it to than just Charles Dickens' original story.  While some movie versions can get too sticky-sweet or too silly, the Muppet version blends humor and heartfelt emotion expertly.

First off, this version benefits greatly from Michael Caine playing Ebenezer Scrooge.  Having someone able to convey so much depth with the simplest gestures really grounds the story in reality and keeps it from getting over-the-top goofy.  Caine earns our sympathy from the first.  We glimpse a lonely, unhappy man beneath his growl and bluster, which means he doesn't have to work to win us over, but instead can help us explore our own attitudes about generosity and helping others by letting us watch him learn about such ideas.

Secondly, framing the story by using Dickens as a narrator is a great idea because he can simply explain parts of the story instead of having to show every piece acted out.  This shortens the movie, of course, and also helps keep kids engaged and allows the filmmakers to inject some extra humor now and then without messing with the story too much.  Gonzo as Dickens and Rizzo the Rat as Rizzo the Rat help us navigate the Victorian era, discuss literary devices like omniscient narration, and generally make me laugh a lot. 

A Muppet Christmas Carol has lots of songs too, and they're actually quite singable.  My favorite is "It Feels Like Christmas," and you can listen to the whole soundtrack here on YouTube.

The whole movie has a great blend of references to The Muppet Show and unexpectedly touching moments.  When I watched it last night, I had tears in my eyes more than once.  It's family-friendly, except that the ghosts can be a little too scary for young children.  I think my 8- and 5-year-olds could handle it fine, but my 4-year-old would be freaked out, so I'm waiting to show this to them all until next year.

If you'd like a little taste of what this movie is like, here's the trailer:

Next year is the 25th anniversary of this charming Christmas movie.  If you haven't seen it yet, or haven't seen it lately, find a copy and try it out!  

Monday, December 21, 2015

X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer

The X-Men franchise returns next year with X-Men: Apocalypse, one of my most anticipated films of the year! Thus far, we know that the film will be set in the 80s and that it will follow the Apocalypse storyline. Is it just me or does it look like they are using makeup to make James McAvoy look older? He looks a bit strange, and the clip of him bald at the end is rather funny, but he will make it work. With that aside, Apocalypse looks so much better in motion than any of the production stills that were released, and Oscar Isaac is sure to deliver in the role. Much like Days of Future Past, Apocalypse seems to be following the storyline with relative accuracy, or at least for a comic book film. It is definitely different, but many of the key aspects are still there, and if Bryan Singer can deliver another film on par with Days of Future Past, we are in for a real treat this summer. My only real issue is that, personally, the talk about Apocalypse and his relation to the Bible is not the direction I wanted them to go, but it's just a movie, so no deal hopefully. Other than that, X-Men: Apocalypse is right behind Captain America: Civil War and Rogue One as my most anticipated films of the year! Are you excited? Please comment below and let me know!

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Independence Day: Resurgence Trailer

A sequel to Roland Emmerich's classic alien invasion film is on its way, and the trailer for that sequel is here, Independence Day: Resurgence. Honestly, there is not much to see in the trailer. Earth is being attacked by aliens again, and on Independence Day, we must save the day, again. Jeff Goldblum is starring in the film, which is never a bad thing, along with Bill Pullman and Liam Hemsworth. What more is there to say? It is a Roland Emmerich film with aliens and explosions! Ironically, the film is being released on June 24, 2016, and not 4th of July weekend, and who knows, if the reviews are good, I'll go see it in theaters. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know!

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Trek Beyond Trailer

Star Wars might be in theaters, but the new trailer for Star Trek Beyond is here! And it looks like a lot of fun. J.J. Abrams' work on the previous two Star Trek films was quite good as he delivered two very fun and entertaining sci-fi action flicks. With Abrams working on Star Wars, Fast & Furious director, Justin Lin, is at the helm of this new Star Trek film. From the trailer, the movie is trying to really focus on the action movie aspect with the modern music and fast paced cuts, which will likely disappoint some old Trek fans, much like the last two films. However, I personally like both the action heavy new films, as well as some of the older ones, like Wrath of Khan and First Contact. With Abrams out, it will be interesting to see what Star Trek looks like without lens flares! But all kidding aside, the trailer looks like a lot of fun, so that's never a bad thing. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know!

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Theaters Today!

At long last, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in theaters! Honestly, the feeling of it being theaters is kind of surreal. After growing up with the Star Wars films, video games, novels, and basically everything, Star Wars is back in theaters again. Ever since Revenge of the Sith, I have been waiting for another Star Wars film, and until Disney bought Star Wars, I never expected to see another one. As I said last week, I will hopefully see the film Monday or Tuesday. Until then, I'm avoiding anything and everything could be a spoiler or review. However, I will continue posting as usual, since there are a ton of great new movie trailers! And if you have written a review, please let me know, just don't say what you think of the film, but I will check out the review after seeing the film for myself. Also, be aware that silmos (Dug for "slimeball" in Star Wars) are in the comments and might spoil the film. They have already tried earlier this week!

Star Wars Posts:

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Teaser Trailer

Written by JK Rowling herself and directed by David Yates, the director behind the last four Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an upcoming Harry Potter spinoff set in 1926 New York following the character, Newt Scamander. Harry Potter is a legendary franchise, and while it is not my absolute favorite, how can I not be excited for what the franchise delivers next!? One of the interesting aspects of the film is that the screenplay is by J. K. Rowling. Hopefully, her writing skills will translate to screenplay writing. My only concern is that the star, Eddie Redmayne, was awful in Jupiter Ascending, but that's more likely the The Wachowskis’ fault than anything. As for the trailer itself, it is a teaser trailer, so very little is actually shown, but it looks great, and the period setting should be fun. What do you think, please comment below and let me know.  

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