It’s time for Star Wars again. It feels like the Christmas season is now Star Wars season, because for three Christmases now we have gotten a new Star Wars film when throughout history we would have to wait sometimes decades with no assurances that Star Wars universe would continue in film beyond the current storyline. Now that Mickey Mouse himself holds the key, he has promised one Star Wars film every year until maybe the end of time itself. This seems exciting in theory, but we get Christmas every year so why not Star Wars? Say what you will about the first JJ Abrams entry into this nu-Star Wars era but consensus on ROGUE ONE and the upcoming THE LAST JEDI are pretty good, and the producers have done a fine job so far of keeping things consistent and entertaining. I’m sure in a few years, once things seem stale, they’ll shake things up a bit. The cool thing about Star Wars is that it’s a giant sandbox where all sorts of stories can be told in a seemingly endless possibility of ways. It’s weird to know that we’ll never see the end of Star Wars. It will outlive us and continue far after we are gone. Okay, I’m depressed now. But that’s also sort of rad.
Disney has sold us for years on animated and live action entertainment featuring 101 firehouse canines but has anyone ever actually counted them? Are we getting the full 101? How much back payment would we be entitled to if we all walked into a courtroom and asked for some sort of monetary compensation after being lied to on just how many dogs we were actually getting for our buck. In the 90’s, there was a 101 DALMATIANS animated tv show that only really featured like 3 on a regular basis and even then I knew I should probably be investigated what is really going on. The direct to video sequel, 101 DALMATIANS 2: PATCH’S LONDON ADVENTURE also didn’t really feature all of them instead focusing on just a few. Wake up, everyone. We aren’t getting as many Dalmatians as we are supposed to and we should probably devote more time in our lives to this cause.
This weekend, we got to see the long gestating IT feature film! And so many people were feverishly anticipating it that it broke all kinds of box office records and is on track to become the biggest horror movie of all time! The likes which haven’t been seen since THE EXORCIST became the highest grossing movie of all time in 1973. Adapted once before for television in 1990, this film chooses to focus on the first half of the book, leaving the rest of the book ready for sequels. A group of kids in the mythical and magical summer of 1989 must defeat a supernatural entity that becomes their worst fears realized after they discover its been murdering the children of the town.
The cast was stupendous, the writer was emotional, the visuals were scary and I think fans are now clamoring for a follow up! We sure are. We are also excited to see what this means for the state of horror in general now that studios now see how hungry the audience is for more frights. If anything, this means less horror movies released on Halloween weekend and more in September so we have the whole Halloween season to enjoy them!
Our resident Batman fan, Pat Evans, is making a documentary about the music of the 1966 television show! He has already completed several interviews but has a kickstarter to get the proper funds. Check out his page and contribute what you can!
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY was released this past month, one of the first in many now annual Star Wars film releases. Are Star Wars fans ready to handle the excitement of a Star Wars movie being released every single year? We are now feeling the effects of it by having a new movie, unrelated to the last, arrive. The overall reaction was very positive but it seems to have created yet another subdivision of nerd culture. Most like both, but take a hard loyalty for one over the other. Some even are dead set against it, which the last movie didn’t seem to have. In fact it seems that the last movie received universal praise with little backlash while fans became very critical of this one. Perhaps it’s the lack of prestige that comes from the “official” saga releases. ROGUE ONE actually feels very ancillary and supplemental. Like a well done comic book or novel. But we’ve found that a mainstream audiences rarely looks to the deep dives of a franchise to satiate their desires for storytelling. So maybe it was a little too inside baseball for some? We think that it had savvy for hardcore fans of the series that didn’t alienate new comers. A perfect blend of it that allows you to enjoy it at your own pace. What do you think?
There has been much debate over what actually qualifies a movie as a true blue “Christmas Movie”. The more strict of Christmas nerds insist that a film that takes place during this beloved time of the year is not enough to classify it as such. That it needs to be “about” the holiday. But I think the idea of Christmas is just abstract enough to applied to any manner of story. DIE HARD is a famously ambiguous holiday pick. An office Christmas party is interrupted by terrorists trying to steal money, but it’s really about an estranged couple looking deep into how they really feel for each other, and reuniting because of Christmas. Christmas is a crucial part of the story. GREMLINS is another one. A kid gets a weird muppet as a Christmas gift and soon enough, he has to deal with a bunch of mischievous frogs who start wrecking the town. It all starts as a Christmas gift gone wrong. And his would be girlfriend has to deal with her dark Christmas past (which mirrors the tone of the film) in order to help him fight off these frogs who make pop culture references despite being only a few hours old. Even Christmas horror films count, because as some of us know, sometimes tragedy doesn’t wait until January to happen. I’m sure we’ve all had to deal with awful things on holidays. Maybe not as bad as an axe wielding maniac, sure. But recently. we watched A CHRISTMAS STORY in a theater, and after a few years of being cool little Fonzies about how loose we were about Christmas movie interpretation, it was an intense experience to get back to the core values of the Christmas season. Being a kid. Wanting that one dream present. Navigating the folly of youth. So we understand wanting to keep it pure as well. But we can literally have it all. That’s the point of Christmas. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t judge. And it’s just a little bit better than you’d expect.
The coming of Doctor Strange is Marvel Studios’ latest movie to change the definition of the super hero genre and set new precedent for everything that will come after it. It also is a triumphant in the way it uses IMAX 3D to change the audience’s perception of space and time. It’s as close to an acid trip as you can get without actually breaking any laws. The visuals propel the concept so well that even some of the short comings of character and story melt away, literally, as the mix of special effects and performance and classic Doctor Strange mythology blend together to form a crowd pleasing spectacle on an epic scale. As always, we are excited for newbies to discover the character for the first time and be intrigued enough to delve into the books and see for themselves where the character has been and where the charater can go. It’s a pretty textbook success for Marvel and fans themselves.
The life of a geek has many opportunities to make strange and elaborate costumes based off of our favorite characters, properties or even some sort of imaginative mash up of multiple things. Or maybe even an original idea entirely. We have so many cons now that happen all year long and so many midnight screenings giving us a chance to dress to the nines with our custom duds. But Halloween is the Super Bowl of cosplay. Chances are, you’ll be in a room in October with either a bunch of family, friends, co-workers or even complete strangers and they will all have some sort of disguise on in varying degrees of quality. You COULD be the person who just slaps together a towel cape or jumps in a garbage bag and declares themselves a California Raisin. But really this is a chance to show off the skills you’ve been honing all year long. This is the time to get a little fancy with yourselves. Try things you’ve never tried before. Maybe get a little professional help in on the deal. Never tried make up before? Time to get Rick Baker with it. Never made your own props? Time to get some how to youtube videos up and make a special trip to the Home Depot for raw supplies. Of course if you’re already a cosplayer extraordinaire then this is a chance to assert your own dominance and crush all opposition. Of course, there is (fake) blood in the water on All Hallow’s Eve and there WILL be people gunning for your crown. So let’s do our best out there because competition breeds the best in us and will be fun for everyone.
This past weekend, we had a chance to watch all three LORD OF THE RINGS extended editions in a theater, back to back to back, at the historic Aero Theater in Santa Monica, CA. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen them and this blogger has never partaken in the extended editions of the films before. There is so much more nuance and character in these versions, that it was like watching them for the first time. Twelve hours flew by like the Great Eagles into the siege of Gondor! Each film, nearing the four hour mark with a food truck outside the theater, nearly the entire audience stayed the entire time. They cheered the appearances of the main heroes and actually HISSED at the appearances of such treacherous villains such as Wormtongue. This audience was primed and their excitement fueled everyone else’s. Classic moments were punctuated by hoots and hollers and sad moments were so quiet that you could hear a pin drop with the occasional soft sobs. Everyone was so engrossed the entire time, except for the girl who played candy crush in the 4th row for nearly 3 HOURS during THE TWO TOWERS. One of my favorite audience moments is when the hipster guy in front of me who was sitting alone and had been pretty silent for nearly ten hours screamed “YES!!!!” when Eowyn dropped some science on the Witch King with a “I am no man” right before she stabbed him in the FACE. I loved him for that. We all rubbed our eyes in the light of the pale moon as we emerged well past one in the morning. Our blood boiling and simmering like the firey lavas of Mount Doom. So moved from this experience that the residual feelings lasted well into the next day as I debated watching the entire HOBBIT trilogy that day. I couldn’t put those blu-ray’s in the player fast enough. Even after nine hours of that, I was still feeling as though my heart was full but still yearning for Middle-Earth. After a quick trip to Game Stop, some LORD OF THE RINGS video games are now left to satiate our Ring fever. We’ll let you know when we calm down a bit.
Nostalgia has reached a fever pitch in our current geek climate. Fans often have to raise an eyebrow in suspicion at the latest attempt the entertainment industry makes at making us feel 12 again. A lot of the time, even the masters of yesteryear have a hard time reclaiming the glory and the magic they once instilled in our hearts. Then along came the Duffer Brothers and Netflix and their new show STRANGER THINGS and all the cynicism fades away. For it feels genuine and sincere. The show takes place in 1983, and is basically what if The Goonies found ET in the John Hughes town of Shermer, Illinois that has the sheriff from Jaws. So many wonderful things are thrown in here like a expertly cultivated mixtape. Cast so wonderfully and written so precisely that it doesn’t feel like a TV show built in a writer’s room, it feels like an eight hour long film. I think any fan of the greatest entertainment decade of all time, the 1980’s would fall in love with the show and it seems to be reaching a mainstream appeal already. Like previously stated, many stabs at the nostalgic look on Spielberg or Carpenter have been made to varying degrees of quality but STRANGER THINGS ranks amongst the very best so far.