Tag: Proffitt

The Golden Globes Killed It, Y’all

golden_globesWhile I almost always watch the Academy Awards and Golden Globes ceremonies, rarely do I enjoy the experience as much as I did last night, as the 2013 Golden Globes were awarded in Los Angeles.  You may remember that I am a notorious movie and tv show fast-forwarder, prone to skipping things that make me feel awkward; usually award ceremonies are positively made of awkward.  From hosts who miss more than they hit with jokes to pithy banter from presenters that almost always misses, I usually mute more of the ceremonies than I watch.  Not so, last night.

Here’s why:

1.  Amy Poelher and Tina Fey f***ing nailed it.

These women were funny without being mean (James Cameron joke aside – and, I mean, he’s probably not crying into his piles of money right now), and let’s be honest, I have a tremendous amount of love for  40-year-old women who look like normal people, but also wicked hot.  It gives me hope.  My favorite moment from them (which you can find below) came after they both lost to Lena Dunham, who thanked all the other nominees for “getting her through dark times,” but I highly recommend you find as many clips as you can from them on YouTube.

2.  With the exception of the inexplicable dominance of Homeland in the Television Drama category, the awards were distributed far and wide amongst the shows and movies nominated, and the winners were awesome.

This was great.  Rather than one or two movies coming in and sweeping the best drama and best comedy or musical categories, a lot of great films got some well-deserved recognition.  Best drama and director for Argo, best original screenplay and supporting actor (Christoph Waltz) for Django Unchained, best lead actor in a drama for Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis), best lead actress in a comedy for Silver Linings Playbook (Jennifer Lawrence), best comedy/musical, lead actor in a comedy/musical  and supporting actress in motion picture for Les Miserable (Hugh Jackman and Ann Hathaway), best lead actress in a drama for Zero Dark Thirty (Jessica Chastain); even Life of Pi got a nod with best original score.

Lena Dunham, from Girls

Lena Dunham, star and creator of ‘Girls’

 

In the realm of television, things were a bit less awesome.  I’m afraid I just don’t get all the love for Homeland, season 2.  It was OK, I guess, but no way was it better than Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey or my personal favorite, The Newsroom.  Ditto to Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.  They were good, but others were better (dear lord, someone please give Jon Hamm a damn award soon.  He. is. awesome.)  Still, I was thrilled to see Lena Duhnam win twice for Girls, as lead actress in a comedy and best comedy.  She is a tremendous talent and the show she created is fantastic.

3.  The speeches were good.

OK, not all the speeches were good – I was seriously worried that Quentin Tarantino, who was clearly legitimately surprised by his win, was going to go into a drunk-slur-ramble that wouldn’t end until someone came up on stage and dragged him off – but a lot of the speeches were heart-felt without being overly dramatic and funny without feeling canned.  Check out Lena Dunham’s and Jennifer Lawrence’s below.

4.  Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig did perhaps the funniest award show bit ever, and Tommy Lee Jones was entirely unamused.

It’s really the combination of the hilarious, good-natured bit from Ferrell and Wiig with TLJ’s refusal to find any humor in it that makes this such a fantastic moment.  As Scott Aukerman put it on Twitter: “Congrats to Tommy Lee Jones on his brave fight against humor.” Check it out.

5.  Bill Clinton turned everyone into school-girls.

When he came out to introduce Lincoln, the crowd collectively lost their damn minds.  First, they gasped, then gave him a standing ovation, then sat in memorized revery as he gave a very Bill Clinton type mini-speech.  It is good to know someone impresses Hollywood this much.  It was so awesome.

 

So, not everything was perfect in Hollywood last night.  I’m still pissed about the aforementioned Homeland sweep of best television drama, and I think it’s about time we had a serious talk about this “best comedy or musical” non-sense that seems designed to let dramas like My Week With Marilyn and Les Miserable win stuff in addition to other dramas winning stuff; for the most part however, last night’s Golden Globes were impressive.  Did you watch?  Let us know your favorite moments (or least favorite, if that’s your thing) below!

 

This post originally appeared on Good Girls Gone Geek.

 

Good Girls Gone Geek 12 Days of Geekmas Gift Ideas!

Christmas is right around the corner.  I’ve been cranking Guster’s Tiny Tree (a few years later and that Target commercial still makes me cry). Proffitt and I are almost done with Christmas cards and still racking our brains for last minute gift ideas so you might not have to.  We promise a broad range of prices because frankly, we hate those magazine gift lists that assume we all have $100+ to spend on everyone in our lives. It’s more about the thought and the personal touch than the dollars, anyway.

From Bex:

Every nerd we know is either a lover of Star Wars or knows someone who is. There is no lack of Star Wars branded merchandise, but it is rare to find something so classy and cool.

For day 12, I present (pun intended)

Star Wars cufflinks with a palladium coating from Neiman Marcus for about $125. Now if you search for these online, you can find them at other price points but I saw them at Neiman  first. Throw in some chocolate chip cookies for yourself and it’s a successful day of shopping.

Day 11. Not every writer is a Neil Gaiman, but if you know someone who loves to write by hand, keeps a journal, or fancies writing letters, you can’t go wrong with the Pilot Varsity disposable real fountain pens. I am yet to commit to the  hefty price tag of a serious fountain pen (mainly because I am a loser of favorite pens), but I have tried lots of disposable ones and the majority are crappy.  The Varsity, used in Sex and the City by Carrie Bradshaw,  is a gem. For about $21 at Staples you can get a variety pack of colors in these handy, fluid, smooth writing pens. I’ve had mine for about two years and they are just as fresh as when I first used them. The colors are vibrant and make writing fun. Add a nice little notebook, stationary (Italian paper is a dream to write on, hint hint), or a carrying case and you’ve got a fully loaded gift to impress that creative someone.

Day 10. Listography book/journals by Lisa Nola.  I received My Future Listography a few weeks ago for my birthday and in an odd turn of events, it has provided me with both comfort and inspiration during this crazy month.  It’s fun to think about future Halloween costume ideas, changes you’d like to see in the world, places you’d like to spend the night, other lives you’d like to lead if you had 9 lives, etc.  I’d liken it to a journal for writing commitment-phobes. Nola has listographies focused on movies, music, your love life and more.  Great for inspiring a group discussion or personal reflection, these can be found at the Chronicle Books website and are priced at a $16.95 .  And as an aside, I love Chronicle Books. They  had me hooked since publishing the interactive Griffin and Sabine love stories.  If you are ever stumped for gift ideas, just look through their website.

 

From Proffitt:

Spoiler Alert: Bex’s Christmas present may or may not be included below.  (Hint: it totally is).

Day 9. Funko POP figures, The Walking Dead.  I mean…I just…look at how adorable these things are!  While I’m a little bummed we can’t get the whole crew (yet…?), I can tell you that as soon as I saw these on Amazon.com I scooped up all four of the available dolls – Rick, Daryl, Bicycle Girl Walker and  RV-Walker.  Why two walkers, but no Glen?  Who can say?  I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for future additions.  When I purchased these, the Daryl Dixon doll was no more expensive than any of the others, but it looks like that has changed!   I don’t know if these are limited edition, or if there will be more Daryls released later, but you might want to get him while you can.  (Don’t worry Bex, I’m sure you’ve put it together by now – I’ve got you covered on this one).

 

Day 8. Funko POP Game of Thrones figures OK, I’m a little obsessed here.  I haven’t bought these yet, but they are the only thing besides books and a hair dryer on my Amazon wishlist, so fingers-crossed!  Again, some of the choices baffle (No Jon Snow?!  Who is picking these things?), but the sorrowful look on tiny Sandor Clegane makes me so happy/sad.  I’ma give him some hot chocolate! Figures included: Daenerys Targaryen, Khal Drogo, Eddard Stark, Sandor Clegane (The Hound), White Walker, and Tyrion Lannister.

 Day 7. Urban Decay Smoked 24-7 Eye Pencil Set from Sephora.com

OK, OK, these aren’t in any way geeky or nerdy.  They’re just fun.  Urban Decay makes quality stuff and their eye makeup is particularly awesome.  If your lady friend likes getting dolled up for a night on the town, she might enjoy these.  I’m in love with the colors.

From Bex:

Day 6. Everyone has that quirky friend that is hard to buy for. Fashion forward and fun, what can you get her that she doesn’t already have? A fabulous handcrafted comic book inspired accessory. Go to Etsy and search “Pow headband” and you will find such delightful gifts like this from JanineBasil for about $25 US dollars plus shipping. She’s in London but the shipping isn’t that pricey and there are other crafters who have similar products at different price points so there is probably a seller near you. Or be inspired to start creating your own designs.

Day 5. We just love her and she’ll probably always be on our gift list. GeekSoap. She frequently rolls out new designs and right now the Dragon Warrior Slime soap is just gushing with adorableness.

OR this for the Harry Potter fan- Platform 9 3/4 

There is a soap for almost any nerd/geek you know and love like D20 Soap on a rope , our favorite houses from Game of Thrones soaps , adorable tentacled cephalosoaps , manly smelling Mustache soap  and so much more. The scents are light and not overpowering. I have uber sensitive skin and using these vegan formulas did not irritate me at all. We can’t say enough good things about Lesley and her products. And at $6-7 price ranges plus some $5 sale items, you can buy every geek or non geek on your list some soap.

Day 4. An Umbrella umbrella from Thinkgeek.com.  Thank you to friend of GGGG Scott K for even making me aware of such awesomeness.. Chances are it won’t be back in stock for the holidays, but it’s on here because gamers, movie fans, and those who like good design can appreciate this umbrella. It’s useful, kicky,  looks great and maybe worth the wait.

Alternate Day 4. Also from Thinkgeek.com, at long last a blue canary night light. Who does not fondly remember that They Might Be Giants song and love it? The description on this item alone made me want to buy it and at $12.99, why not? Include with it a note that reads “Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet” and you have a gift to make the right lady/fella swoon and think you are the bees’ knees.  There’s also a nifty looking Tardis night light that deserves honorable mention.

From Proffitt:

Day 3.  SHARK SOCKS. For all you knitters out there, this post will show you all the details up close so you can give your favorite Jaws/Shark Week fan a pair of shark socks to wear…around the house, I guess.  Unlikely they will fit into any shoes.  Plus, they’d probably just eat right through them anyway (ba-dum-ching!)

Of course, you don’t have to knit sharks specifically.  We’ve seen hand-knit Tardises, Jayne hats, even Zombies.  If you’ve got the needle-skills, knitting something specifically targeted to your friends may be just the budget-friendly idea you’ve been looking for.

Day 2.  Nostalgia toys! Especially good for anyone 30+, find some old toys, video games, or gadgets from their youth.  One of my favorite recent memories was playing through the original Super Mario Bros on  a friend’s Nintendo.  If someone gave me an actual Easy Bake Oven, I’d probably marry him.  Don’t have the time, the money, or the parent’s basement to ransack for originals?  No problem.  The nostalgia thing is hot right now.  You can find Rubik’s Cubes in toy stores again, and old-school video and board games are out there, too.  Maybe throw in some Pop Rocks and Candy Cigarettes (oh, they still make ‘em) and make a gift-basket with a 80s or 90s theme.  Man…I’m loving this idea.  I’m taking this one for myself!


Day 1. The Walking Dead from Telltale Games

I know, I know.  I’m Walking Dead obsessed right now.  I just love it so much.  Also, this game is getting phenomenal reviews. 

That’s it for our 2012 gift recommendations!  Hope we helped you check some folks off your list.  Please share your recommendations with us, too!

 

This post originally appeared on Good Girls Gone Geek

 

 

 

 

 

Film Fans – Episode 7

In this episode of Film Fans, Sean is joined by Word of the Nerd folks Honor Knight and Proffitt. They kick things off with the Walking Dead talk, and discuss the shows change from the original source material. They also briefly discuss the newest cast member and the character he will be portraying. Then, still

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Good Girls Gone Geek – Episode 12

  We apologize for the late posting but it is all JP’s fault! Let’s send him out for supplies next time the walkers are about…Anyways, Bex, Proffitt and Courtney are joined by colleagues from Word of the Nerd, Hilton and Rebecca to discuss season 3, episodes 2 (Sick) and 3 (Walk With Me).  So heated

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Reviewer’s Word: Looper

Looper takes place in the future’s past.  Set in 2044, our narrator (Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe) explains that while time travel hasn’t been invented yet, in 30 years it will be.  It will also immediately be made illegal, leaving hard-core mobsters as the only ones brave enough to use it.  These mobsters come up with a brilliant system for getting rid of folks who cause them trouble – send them back in time to be murdered by hit-men trained to kill them as soon as they reach the “other side.”  So, a man disappears in the future, a body that doesn’t exist yet is disposed of in the present.  The hit-men are called Loopers because at some point, each one of them will be required to kill his future self, thus closing the loop and severing any ties the mob has to the entire system.  For the Looper’s part, he gets an extra big payoff and 30-years to enjoy it before his ride comes to an end.  The mob gets a perfect system for disposing of enemies, traitors and those who refuse to pay their debts.

Unless, of course, a Looper fails to kill his future self, either through accident or deliberate measures.  As you likely know from the trailers, poor Joe finds himself in this very position, out-witted by Old Joe, played by Bruce Willis – a man who is singularly motivated to escape and right a future wrong.

That’s it in a nutshell – to say more would be to say too much.  It’s true that Looper is an action-time-travel movie,  but it has other elements and plot twists not revealed in trailers that are absolutely delicious.  You’ll have to see it for yourself, if you want to know.

And you should.  This is a tremendously well-made movie.  From the cinematography and art direction to the soundtrack, to the special effects, all the sensory elements of Looper create a future that is believable – there are still farms, still cities.  Clothes look like clothes, rather than shiny shower curtains or weird rubber body-covers.  There are still wide open spaces, still drug addicts and guns and mothers who love their sons.  Very little feels contrived about Looper, and that is quite a feat for a time-travel movie.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis both do an excellent job playing Joe and Old Joe respectively rather than playing Bruce Willis, if you know what I mean.  Levitt wears prosthetics to give himself more Willis-like features, and adopts a few mannerisms from the older, iconic actor, but he never crosses over into imitation.  Joe and Old Joe are not friends, they work against each other for much of the film, but thanks to some solid acting from the two leads, they are clearly the same man.

Emily Blunt, Noah Segan and Jeff Daniels round out the supporting cast with performances every bit as believable as the two leads.  Blunt is particularly good as a former drug addict trying to do right by her son.  Perhaps my favorite moments come from the relatively small time Paul Dano (also currently starring in Ruby Sparks), and Garrett Dillahunt (Raising Hope) spend on-screen, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more than that.  The real break-out star of the film is 10-year-old Pierce Gagnon, playing five-year-old Cid (believe me, the kid looks five in the movie, and was probably only about 8 when they were filming).  Absolutely authentic, Gagnon hits all the emotional markers needed, from exuberance to protectiveness to temper tantrums.   He is remarkable to watch.

Now, let’s talk for a minute about plots centering on time-travel.  I know some of you out there take pleasure from cynically pointing out plot-holes and paradoxes, getting lost in the “well if X happened, then wouldn’t Y never happen, thus meaning X would never happen” debate instead of enjoying the damn story.  Don’t do that with Looper.  Accept it on its own terms – writer/director Rian Johnson does a nice job obeying the rules he has set up.  Time travel works the way he says it works consistently throughout the film, so please let that be enough.  It will be so worth it if you do.

Final verdict:  this is a fantastic movie, one that is as character-driven as it is plot-driven, and surprisingly effective when it comes to the “goosebumps factor” as well.  SEE IT! I command you!

This review was originally posted at Good Girls Gone Geek on 10/2/2012

 

 

Writer and Podcaster Paul Chapman Discusses the Joy and Pain of Self-Publishing

When it comes to writing, Paul Chapman isn’t driven by plot or characters, so much as ideas.  A good premise is what turns him on.  “I like to ask questions like ‘what if we taught ants how to love?’ and go from there,” he says.  Perhaps this love of premise is what makes Chapman so well suited for writing short-fiction.  In a short-story, the idea is king.  The premise does not get lost in miles of prose, plot and drawn-out character development.  His first published book, a collection of stories entitled Porn Gnomes and Other Strange Tales certainly bears out this principle.

Porn Gnome Cover

Cover, Porn Gnome and Other Strange Tales

 

One can imagine that the titular story started with the question, “What if all that graffiti on bathroom stalls that seems to appear like magic, actually does appear by magic?”  Day of the Night of the Living Dead could very well have come from the question, “What if the zombie apocalypse turned out to be a yawn instead of an adrenaline filled-life of bloody combat and survival?”  The answers to all of these questions and more, fleshed out by Chapman in the collection, alternate between charming, creepy, flat-out funny, and perhaps a bit disturbing, but never gratuitously grotesque. My favorite, Ordinary Man, certainly offers an interesting premise as well, but to guess at the question Chapman asked himself before he began writing it would spoil a bit of the surprise for readers, so I encourage you to head over to Amazon.com and download the book for yourself.

Here’s an interesting thing about Chapman as a geek of the week subject (over on our sister site, Good Girls Gone Geek) – his geekery is almost entirely different than much of what we cover here.  He has little interest in television, hasn’t seen a movie in the theater in months, and left the DC universe behind right at the point I jumped back in after a long absence – with the launch of The New 52.   Oh, and that George R. R. Martin obsession hitting the mainstream in the last couple years?  “I’m not into tragedy porn,” he says…and I have to admit, it’s a fair statement. As a reader as well as a writer, Chapman likes novels that are self-contained over a series, and he doesn’t want to feel an impending sense of doom on every page.  “I like optimism,” he says.  He doesn’t want his fiction, written or otherwise, mean-spirited.  Terry Pratchett is a better fit for him than Stephen King, and as a 30-year-old man, he is proud to say he’d rather watch My Little Pony than The Walking Dead

Paul Chapman, headshotLest you wonder if Chapman really fits the “geek” in Geek of the Week, when asked what started him down the path to writing and podcasting, he begins his list of childhood interests with Voltron, anime and Dungeons and Dragon.  Ahhh, there’s the nerd we’ve been looking for!  TMNT, RPG and D&D – the initials of an 80s childhood, if ever there were some.  Add in Magic the Gathering in the 90s, and it is clear that Chapman has been drawn to the fantastical, another theme present in his writing, all along.

An English major in college, Chapman has spent the years since earning his MFA in creative writing from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL writing fiction and hosting The Greatest Movie Ever! Podcast.  He is a self-made man in both fields.  Opting to self-publish Porn Gnomes and Other Strange Tales on Amazon.com, Chapman says that while the grunt work is all up to him – publicizing himself, purchasing ISBN numbers for his work – the immediate feedback from readers and a growing fan-base makes it more than an even trade.  “I put the book on Amazon one day, and within the week, I had feedback,” he says.   It is an exhilarating process, one in which the pace is set by the author, not the publisher.

As a fellow lover-of-premise, I can without hesitation recommend the fruits of that labor to our readers.  Chapman is clever to be sure, but he is also smart, ensuring that the stories in Porn Gnomes don’t get lost in gimmicks that can sometimes plague writers of short (and long) fiction.  So engaging was he to interview, I asked him if he would be willing to come on a podcast. He said yes!  Huzzah!  Writers in particular will want to be on the lookout in the upcoming weeks for his appearance.  In the mean time, check out his podcast by clicking here.

Heavy is the Head

 

Game of Thrones Writer Suggests More “Cinematic” Look to Season 3

It’s hard out there for a Stark.  All of them.  Even the Snows.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you have somehow managed to miss out on one of the most ambitious undertakings to hit cable television in the last three years, HBO’s adaptation of the Song of Ice and Fire novels from George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones.  While I would rather you go read the novels, then watch the show, I’ll settle for either or, and in either order.  You should not be missing this.

So, more like this, perhaps.

Having participated in the Game of Thrones podcast on Word of the Nerd this past season, I can tell you that while most fans are excited by the series,  our secret wish, if we can just go ahead and say it, is that the show would look more like Lord of the Rings.  Not by way of content.  No one wants to see Jon Snow running across the Shire or Sansa thrown into the fires of Mordor (shush you Sansa haters.  She’s 12-years-old for Pete’s sake).  We just want the production values.  We want each hour-long episode to look more like half a movie.  There is a tremendous sense of place in the novels, and while the show has absolutely done an admirable job translating that to the small screen (particularly when it comes to The Wall) we still want more.

According to a recent interview with Vanessa Taylor on Jeff Goldsmith’s Q&A Podcast, it looks like that might be just what we are going to get when season three, which will collect the first half of A Storm of Swords, hits airways next Spring.

I’ve actually been learning a particular lesson this season. My bosses [show creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff] seem to be becoming more visual storytellers. All of the episodes of the third season seem to open with a particularly cinematic opening. And they’re less about clever dialogue and transition and more about these huge cinematic… just the visuals of it all. And so I’m really learning a different way of writing from that. Because I think it’s quite subtle and I feel like, by contrast, the writing of the second season was a bit more conventional.”

…and this! (Wildfire on the water, season 2)

This is good news for us all. While I enjoyed season 2, there is no denying the writers occasionally lost it’s way, trying to give all of Martin’s characters everything they deserve, but unfortunately falling short perhaps because their attention was so divided.  Even with 13 hours per book, or 26 hours as A Storm of Swords will receive, there is no way to cover every character the way Martin does.  It is much better to focus on creating the feel of the books than transcribing them.

 

A Storm of Swords is by far my favorite of the series.  I can not wait to see how the show brings it into my living room in…7 months.  SEVEN MONTHS!  Let us know what you think of all this in comments below.

Source: Bleeding Cool

 

Four Walking Dead Covers for This Week’s EW (Lookin’ Good, Daryl)

No one knows better than our readers over at Good Girls Gone Geek how hard the summer months have been for Bex and I, with a seemingly endless hiatus for our favorite show, The Walking Dead.  We mourn those we lost during season 2, but more to the point we mourn the lack of Rick and Daryl in our lives every week.  Oh, and the rest of them of course…but mostly Rick and Daryl.

Suffice it to say, along with millions of other Walking Dead fans, we are constantly on the look-out for ways to get a fix of our favorite zombie-apocalypse show during our long period of withdrawal. This week, Entertainment Weekly has answered our collective psychic cries with not one, but four covers dedicated to the Walking Dead and a feature story giving fans a “sneak peek” at season three, about which Kirkman is quoted as saying, “This season really is about setting up these two worlds and watching them come to a head and collide, and you know that there are going to be some pretty explosive encounters between Rick and the Governor. This season is going to be about getting to know these two characters, and then waiting for their eventual confrontation that could destroy everything.”

The covers feature Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), The Governor (David Morrissey) and Michone (Danai Gurira) on their own; Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) shares a cover with long lost brother Merle (Michael Rooker) in what is sure to be Bex’s favorite cover.

Click here for the full article about the covers and story, as well as info on how to purchase all four covers, on EW.com.  You can see the covers below.

Well, hellooooo Daryl Dixon.

M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith Team Up for ‘After Earth’

Among the announcements at Comic-Con this year, came the release of a viral video for the latest M. Night Shyamalan movie, After Earth.  Staring Will Smith, his son, Jaden, and Isabella Fuhrman (The Hunger Games, Orphan), this film is the most clearly sci-fi-natured of Shyamalan’s endeavors.

The video is clever, using the inexplicably controversial Facebook Timeline (seriously, folks, what is everyone’s problem with this thing??) to take readers through the tease.  Have a look:

 

Now, here’s the official synopsis:

In After Earth, one thousand years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape from Earth, Nova Prime has become mankind’s new home. Legendary General Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith) returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai (played by Jaden Smith). When an asteroid storm damages Cypher and Kitai’s craft, they crash-land on a now unfamiliar and dangerous Earth. As his father lies dying in the cockpit, Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain to recover their rescue beacon. His whole life, Kitai has wanted nothing more than to be a soldier like his father. Today, he gets his chance.

 

There was also a small panel held for the movie with screenplay writer Gary Witta, most known for Book of Eli, in which he revealed among other things that Will Smith himself had a good deal of input when it came to crafting the basic premise of the story, one that centers around the relationship between father and son.

So, listen, no one is more pissed about the total suck-fest that was The Happening than I am, but I refuse to give up hope for M. Night Shyamalan projects. I have always believed his true talent is not in providing the end-of-movie plot twists which garnered him acclaim in The Sixth Sense (none of us saw that one coming) and derision in The Village (yes, we all saw that one coming), but in his ability to make the relationships between characters as big, as important, as earth-changing as the seemingly overwhelming events that surround them; more-so, even.   The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs were all much more about the lengths to which we will go to protect the ones we love than about ghosts, super heroes and aliens.  So, while his later movies might have held some disappointing plot points, I still really loved them (yes, even Lady in the Water). The Happening almost destroyed my faith in Shyamalan, but Devil, for which he provided the story, not the screenplay or directing, reminded me that he knows how to craft a story.

The fact Shyamalan had nothing to do with the original screenplay might also be a good thing here.  We know that as a director, the man can work with a cast to create real intimacy between characters, small moments that hold the audience’s attention even in the middle of big plot-points that could overwhelm them.  Maybe the fact that this script comes from someone else will mean that there is no pressure on the man to create some big twist that pushes the limits of melodrama like the ones we see in Signs and The Village. 

I can’t help myself.  I have to give ol’ MNS one more chance to redeem himself after The Happening.  If this one blows, I may have to rethink my allegiance.

For those interested in the panel discussion, the video is below.

 

 

 

Nerdist + Star Wars + Walking Dead = Joy Across the Geek ‘Verse

If you are reading this post, or any other post on Word of the Nerd for that matter, you likely are well aware that the San Diego Comic-Con is being held this weekend.  Hundreds of vendors, panels, and celebrity guests are gearing up to spread the joy of geekery to thousands of fans (and vise-verse) over a three day period.  Lucky for those of us who can’t be there in person, there are plenty of ways to get in on the action before, during and after the convention.

For example, Nerdist Channel on YouTube just posted an 8-minute short movie, “A LIghtsaber’s Journey to Comic-Con.”  The premise is simple: Chris Hardwick must travel from LucasFilm’s Industrial Light and Magic to the Santa Monica Pier with the titular lightsaber safely in-hand and deliver it to Course of the Force organizers before the start of the convention.

Peppered with cameos from the likes of Breckin Meyer (listen closely, you’ll hear him) and Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead spoiler alert!…sort of), this is a funny and charming 8-minute masterpiece. Enjoy, my fellow nerds.

 

If you just can’t get enough Chris Hardwick, check out my review of the Nerdist Live! Podcast taped in Atlanta, GA this past spring.

The Reviewer’s Word: Moonrise Kingdom

As the lights came up and the credits began to roll at the end of Moonrise Kingdom, I listened intently for the reactions of the crowd around me.  It was one of those times when I just couldn’t be sure if the audience was on the side of the movie or not.  After a few moments of nothing more than shuffles, sloshing-soda sounds and the crumpling up of pop corn bags, the woman behind me said to her friends, “Man, that movie was so weird,” with  just enough laughter in her voice that I still felt uncertain – was it good weird or bad weird?  What did this hodge-podge crowd of fellow “it’s too hot to be outside in the middle of the day, even on the 4th of July” movie goers make of this strange story about two-12-year-olds in love?

I may never know.   To be honest, I’m not sure I know what I make of it, either.  That’s why I was so interested.  Wes Anderson has a way of doing this to audiences, I think.  Or, perhaps I should speak for myself – Wes Anderson has a way of doing this to me.  From start to finish, he creates movies that don’t play by the rules. Everything from dialogue to art direction, to the performances of the actors is somehow out of step with what audiences are used to – slower, almost sedated, subtle to the point of almost missing…it, whatever “it” is.  Yet, the thing that not only saves his films, but arguably makes them great in spite of all the tactics that could put audiences off, is that whatever the rules he makes up are, the world he creates honors them.  There is consistency.  The audience can find its way into the story.

Sometimes, like in the case of The Royal Tenenbaums, this works for me.  Others, like The Life Aquatic, I want to punch myself in the face just to alleviate boredom.   I wish I could tell you the difference between the two, but I fear that the truth is the only difference may very well be about what I had for lunch or how my day at work went on the days I watched them.  Who knows?

What I do know is that while I still feel a little confused by Moonrise Kingdom, I am most definitely on its side.  The story begins with 12-year-old Sam, a Khaki Scout, and his “troubled child” girlfriend of the same age, Suzy, running away together, putting his Scout skills and her love of books to good use as they try to survive on their own.  Played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward respectively, the two are made for each other – each clearly feeling alone even in a crowd, each with appropriately daunting childhood problems.  From their escape on, the movie is as much fairy-tale as anything else, a feeling that is added to by the fact that it is set in 1965 and the island on which it takes place seems to only be occupied by the principle players in the story.  Isn’t that how children see the world?  Only those directly related to their own happiness or unhappiness exist.  Storms are giant, earth-shattering events, and tree-houses should be high enough to make all the adults feel nervous and all the kids feel safe.  Wes Anderson gets this, and he makes sure the audience does as well.

Gilman and Hayward are well-matched as actors, both authentic and darling, and their fellow 12-or-so-year-old actors who make up the Khakis Scout troupe Gilman escapes from are fantastic as menacing, yet somehow still fun supporting characters.

In pursuit of the wayward lovers (well, not lovers, but you know what I mean), are Scout Master Ward (Ed Norton), Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) Suzy’s parents (Francis McDormand and Bill Murry), and Social Services (Tilda Swinton, and, yes the character is only referred to as “social services”).  Of this half of the cast, Willis and Norton are the clear stand-outs, each brining in a good deal of the laughs, as well as many of the tender moments.  McDormand and Murry are excellent, but underused.  Still, there is not a bad performance to be found.  There are a couple folks with parts almost small enough to be called cameos that I will leave as surprises, if you’re not already well-versed with the cast-list on IMDb.  It is nice to see them, and they add a bit of fun.   While it can sometimes seem that everyone in an Anderson film is giving the same, stilted performance, the actors herein exhibit variety in their deadpan delivery that is even more impressive given the context.   The movie succeeds or fails based on their ability to do this, so hats-off to the lot of them.

There is a good chance about half of the audience in my theater didn’t like this movie.  In the end, I’m not sure I can even tell you why I did like it, other than to say in this case, I accepted Mr. Anderson’s terms – I entered into his world and adapted to the rules he put in place.  After that, it was just a sweet, funny, surprising ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Heroes of HeroesCon

Pioneered in 1982 by Shelton Drum, owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find comics in Charlotte, North Carolina, HeroesCon has become one of the premier Comic-oriented fandom cons in the nation.  Correction: in the world.  The three-day convention draws in comic writers, artists, publishers and vendors by the 100s, yet the feel is decidedly personal, like a really big gathering of friends in a really big house….with a car show being held in the garage next door, but that’s another story. This is the story of how The Nerd himself (AKA Bryan), co-founder JP, and lil’ ol’ me, met in person for the first time and explored everything this Con has to offer – which is quite a lot.  This is an overview/semi-review.  Stay tuned for more information/news gathered from specific panels and folks we met.

Just me and my Baby Hulk (from artist Chris Uminga)

The convention floor is divided into sections.  Some, such as “Indie Island” and “Artist Alley,” are primarily focused on offering fans a way to interact with the artists and writers they love, and the artists and writers they may very well come to love.  These areas also offer writers, artists and publishers a chance to reach new audience members, network with each other, and generally have a smashing good time.   Much like the Walk of Fame at DragonCon, the people in the room seem truly interested in talking to fans, and the prices are much, much better.  Autographs are almost always free, and one can purchase issues of comics or original art for fair, reasonable prices.   Some creators, the comic-rock-star Scott Snyder included, are willing to sign as many items as fans can carry (an especially generous task on the part of Mr. Snyder, given that he was clearly sick as a dog during much of the convention) and others have a limit of one or two items.  There may be a way to know who is who in advance, but some good general advice would be to be considerate of others who are waiting in line and the artists themselves and only bring a few items with you to have signed.   Some artists have specific times they will be signing  (this is particularly true for those who are also speaking on panels during the convention) and others are catch as catch can, but there is a good chance they will be at their tables (which are assigned on a fairly easy to read map given out at registration) most of the day.  This is what they are there for – to meet fans, to geek out with them, to build on their base and build up their work.

HeroesCon Floor

My experience on the floor was exceptional.  I purchased the first three issues of Fanboys Vs. Zombies for 5$ each, signed by the writer, artist and colorist for each and I had a choice of covers to choose from.   While I had yet to read the title, the price was so reasonable, I was willing to buy them based on the positively glowing reviews of every single member of Word of the Nerd to do a review.  As a bonus, artist Jerry Gaylord offered to draw a sketch of “any character” I wanted.  After a long discussion of how to represent Jon Snow (I know, I know, he’s not a comic character) I decided to keep it simple and go with Cap.  I was not disappointed – see the pic below. I also purchased an interesting looking book called Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, also signed, also for a reasonable cost.  Again, just looked interesting.  Why not try it?  My favorite purchases by far were two prints from artist Chris Uminga, one of which (the baby Hulk) is included in the picture below.  They were the most expensive purchases, at 20$ each, but I fell in love with them, so I have no regrets.

Some of our loot from the Con!

 

I should also mention that by far the biggest name at the convention was Stan Lee.  In order to be part of his panel or have him sign items, however, you had to buy separate tickets.  I did not elect to do this, but WOTN staff writer and first time Con-goer Mike Turner did and he reported that Mr. Lee did not disappoint – he apparently put on a great discussion at his panel and was generous and gracious with his time at the signings.  It would be hard to imagine a better story than Stan Lee’s.  It’s nice to see him enjoying the fruits of his labor at the age of 89.

Toward the front of the massive space, vendors set up, often selling truly impressive and daunting collections of vintage comics.  If you have been looking for “that one” issue of “that one” series to complete your collection, HereosCon may offer a solution.  In addition to comics, attendees will find gadgets, movie posters, strange toys, and memorabilia by the tons.  Some of it is offered at discounted prices, some of it is decidedly over-priced, so give negotiating a try when purchasing.  There was a beautiful, framed Captain America poster for 100$ that I felt too shy to negotiate for and now I’ll never know if it could have been mine.  Someone else snagged it by mid-day, Saturday.  *sigh*

In some cases, folks must be invited to the con in order to get a table, in others, tables can be purchased with enough advanced notice – for all the details on which is which (something I know my colleagues at Word of the Nerd ,where I also serve as Editor in Chief, had some frustrations with) click here.

From my experience, the panels are relatively laid-back discussions, usually including a moderator, that are equally divided between questions from said moderator and questions from those in the crowd.  I imagine the exact logistics vary slightly from panel to panel.

The Women of Womanthology

I attended the Vertigo Visions panel, featuring Scott Synder, Bill Willingham (Fables) and moderator Jimmy Aquino from Comic News Insider (who also has a recap of the con here), the DC’s New 52 panel featuring Cully Hamner (Blue Beetle), Ivan Reis (Aquaman), Scott Snyder, Joe Prado (Green Lantern) and Jeff Lemire, with moderator Doug Merkle, and the Womanthology panel featuring Rachel Pandich (Aspire), Janet Lee (The Return of the Dapper Men), Jennifer Mercer, Vanessa Stone, Anya Martin, Brenda Kirk and Rachel Deering, all of whom had work included in the Womanthology collection.

DC Panel

 

By far my favorite panel was the New 52 discussion.  Every participant was funny, smart, and happy to be there. The crowd asked thoughtful questions directed at each of the writers and artists in a fairly even way, so the awkward “one guy gets all the questions” thing was avoided.  Best of all (or worst, for my pocket-book) they each recommended titles they love and I walked away with a much longer pull-list than I went in with.

Several of the women on the Womanthology panel graciously agreed to dedicate some time to us and participated in a Word of the Nerd podcast after already answering questions for an hour, so a special thanks goes out to Rachel Pandich, Janet Lee, Brenda Kirk (Geektress on Twitter), and Vanessa Satone for that.  They were inspiring, charming, and also full of amazing ideas about all the things I should add to my pull-list.  Titan Comics in Atlanta also thanks you, ladies.

Jason as #41; me drinking the fuel of the Con, a mocha-frappe from Starbucks.

 

While I was to some extent at the convention to network with others in the geek-world, my primary purpose in all of this – both GGGG and WOTN included – is to have fun.  Bex and I write what we love.  We post what makes us happy. We want to feel connected to folks who are inspiring, funny, talented and who, above all else, get what the hell we’re talking about.  HeroesCon has this same, non-cynical feel.  Sure, there are plenty of business cards passed out, but it’s almost always with a, “Woah, you’re super cool.  Let’s stay in touch,” vibe attached.  While I am far from an expert on comics, I know enough to have been deeply excited by much of what I saw, participated in, and purchased at HeroesCon.  It is a con that offers something for novice and expert alike.

 

Tickets are only 30$ for all three days, folks.  I call that a bargain.  If you live in the area, or are up for a trip south in June, I highly recommend putting it on your schedule for next year.  Check out the website for all the details.

 

I totally forgot to mention the CosPlay! Some of it was truly impressive.

This article was originally published on Good Girl Gone Geek, June 26th, 2012

That’s One Big Tiger – Life of Pi Footage Released

 

Two months ago, we brought you the news that the Life of Pi movie, based on the Booker Award-winning book from Yann Martel, is finally, officially coming to the big screen.  Directed by Ang Lee, the story of Pi Patel – zookeeper, sinking boat survivor, tiger-tamer, seeker – will hit theaters Christmas, 2012.

As a lover of the novel, the following 11 seconds of recently released footage fill me with hope and joy.  Something about that tiger works.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for more Life of Pi news as it comes our way.

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Somethin’ for the Ladies – ‘One of Us!’ Edition

As part of our continued mission to bring an appropriate (?) amount of joy into the loins – I mean hearts – of our fellow female readers, we present a very special edition of A Little Somethin’ for the Ladies.  This time, we are focusing on our own kind – the geeks.  There are few things as joyful as believing that the people who are participants in the geeky things we love are actually fans of those things as well.  It makes us feel like we know them – like we are just one set of unlikely circumstances away from an encounter with them that will lead to Rom-Com type eternal bliss.  No matter the amount of accuracy in the emotion, we feel on some level like our shared geekery puts us within plausible range of their league. That’s hot.

Also, it just makes us feel good.

So, here are some fellas nominated by our readers and ourselves as swoon-worthy nerds, bless ‘em.

For fun, I’ve ranked them arbitrarily based on my current mood.

 

#5.  Wil Wheaton – There is no denying this guy is a true geek’s-geek.  Not only did he star as one of the most loved/hated characters on Star Trek:TNG, but he has gone on to embrace nerd culture rather than try to distance himself from it.  He blogs about books, science, computers and beer making.  He has a reoccurring role as Evil Wil Wheaton on The Big Bang Theory.  He tweets funny stories about his wife, with whom he is clearly terribly in love.  Perhaps most of all, I can tell you from personal experience that while I have never met him, I have watched him interact with his fans at DragonCon and he is just truly, thoroughly decent.  I have to admit, he isn’t my first choice for “hot,” but he received a lot of votes from our readers – many of whom I’m guessing chose the most sensible kid in Stand By Me to crush on for the last 25-years.

 

 

 

#4 Neil Gaiman – Author of The Sandman comics, American Gods, Coraline, and countless short stories, essays, blogs and funny tweets, Neil Gaiman has been one of us for a very long time.  In fact, he’s likely the only one on the list we can say for certain was a nerd even before Bex and I.  In fact, he’s the only one on the list we can say for sure is a major cause of our shared geekdom.   He’s just plain smart.  Smart, smart, smart - creative, brilliant, funny, and smart. Plus, he looks like a rock star in that leather jacket.  He has unconventional good looks and I like that – I’ve always thought a young Neil Gaiman should have been played by a young Jeff Goldblum. Now and always, Neil Gaiman makes both Bex and I swoon.

 

3.  Sam Huntington and Sam Witwer -  It was at DragonCon 2011 that I discovered just how adorkable these two Being Human stars are.  Both are good looking, Huntington in the goofy, doe-eyed, but still undeniably handsome (and surprisingly well-built) way that makes the geek-girls swoon, Witwer in a much more mainstream, chiseled jaw-line way.  Looks alone wouldn’t be enough to earn a slot on this list, however.  Keep in mind, these two “kids” are up against some pretty heavy hitters.  So how did this happen?  Well, Huntington is a no-brainer – he stars in Fan Boys, a new cult classic for 20-something nerds, and he has the eyes of an angel.  Witwer earned his slot at the Being Human panel when he mentioned that he called his agent after watching the mini-series that preceded Battlestar Galactica‘s first season and begged him to find a way to get him on the show.  It’s hard to get geekier than BSG, folks.  Clearly, this guy is one of us.  Also, wicked hot.

2.  Nathan Fillion – Yes, it’s true, Mr. Fillion already made the Whedonverse Edition of A Little Somethin’ for the Ladies, but that was for being hot, charming and both hilarious and dark as Captain Malcolm Reynolds.  This inclusion is for the gag reel on the Slither DVD, the interview in which he said that when Joss Whedon called him about Dr. Horrible, he picked up the phone and immediately said, “Whatever it is, the answer is ‘yes,’” and that one episode of Castle where he dressed up as Mal for Halloween.  Oh, and for being wicked hot.

 

 

1. Chris Harwick – Damn straight, Chris Hardwick. Host of Web Soup, The Nerdist Podcast and The Talking Dead, Hardwick is making a career out of doing what all of us desperately love – talking about all the geeky stuff we like.  You just can’t fake the kind of enthusiasm he constantly conveys for his job, the people he interviews, and the subjects he covers.  Plus, he’s funny.  Funny is sexy.  Also, he’s handsome.  Handsome is sexy too.  If you want to read more about why I put him at number one, you can read all about the Nerdist Live Podcast I attended a few months ago here.  It should explain everything.  Also, there’s this picture of him looking…well, you know.

 

That concludes our ‘One of Us’ edition of ALSFTL.  Don’t worry, guys – we are currently accepting nominations for women to include on the Little Somethin’ for the Fellas equivalent list.  Let us know which nerdy-women you want to see included in comments, or on the Good Girls Gone Geek Facebook page.

Want to read more “For the Ladies”?  Check ‘em out over at Good Girls Gone Geek.

 

Movie Review: Prometheus

Set in the year 2093, Prometheus tells the story of a 17-person crew answering an invitation from an advanced, alien race left in the form of ancient artifacts planted in cultures as diverse as the Egyptian, Greek and Aztec here on Earth.  Or, at least that’s what the two scientists who initiated the journey are doing.  The motives of the rest of the crew, including the intense and serious captain (Charlize Theron), vary.  What they find of course, surprises them.  And so should it you, so this will be a spoiler-free review.

Prometheus marks Ridley Scott’s return to the genre that made him a household name for fans of sci-fi across the world in the late 70s and early 80s.  Having directed both Alien and Bladerunner, he earned a permanent place on the “master of the genre” list.  Then, inexplicably, he went on to direct so many mainstream dramas, some of which are very good (Thelma and Louise, Gladiator) and some of which are pretty bad (A Good Year, Robin Hood), that fans began to wonder if he would ever come back to them – to us.

My friends, he has, and he has done it in style.  Prometheus is a good movie.  In fact, it is a very good movie.  It stops just short of being great, but only by a small margin.  It is entirely worth the price of admission – perhaps even more than once.

Let’s start with what works.

The story has weight, the events feel important.   The fervent belief of Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, the aforementioned scientists, that their mission will bring to the human race answers about where we come from, why we are here, and what may come after we pass, gives the audience the same hopes.  We all want those answers, so we are connected to these characters and the creation story they have written for themselves.  Noomi Rapace (Shaw) and Logan Marshall-Green (Holloway) are excellent.  Rapace in particular proves now that she has breadth as well as depth as an actress, as Shaw is about as far from Lisbeth Salander (from the original adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) as you can get.

I want to talk endlessly about Michael Fassbender’s performance, of course, but I don’t trust myself to do it without giving something away.  Suffice it to say, he’s brilliant.  That guy is going to get a whole post dedicated to him in the not too distant future.

The script from the relatively new Jon Spaights and the more seasoned Damon Lindelof (contributing writer for LOST and screenplay writer for Cowboys and Aliens) is excellent – they know when to have the characters speak, and when to let the effects do the work for them.  Scott himself, of course, gets much of the credit for that as well.  The music is perfect, the effects are stellar – under the leadership of a director who clearly knows what he is doing, the team behind Prometheus creates both a nail-biting thriller and a philosophical mind-bender.  Time and time again, I found myself thinking, “This…this is what Ridley Scott is meant to do.”  He is just so good at it.

 

So, if all of this is so well-done, what keeps the movie from being great, you ask?  Not much, but there are some moments when the characters behave in ways that don’t quite make sense.  Unanswered questions or ambiguity when it comes to the bigger-picture the film strives for (and achieves) by way of philosophy and religion are acceptable, but the audience should understand the characters, at least in the long run.  Whether this is a problem of script, direction or an effort at keeping the film around the 2-hour mark, is unknown.  But, there are moments (and characters, really) that don’t seem to add up.  Other characters we barely get to know at all – perhaps a 17-person crew is too large – and what we do see occasionally feels perfunctory.  This is one of the few times I found myself wishing a movie was longer by 20 minutes.

Still, let me be clear: this movie is a success.  There are many things about it that call for further discussion – could keep us talking for days, in fact – so perhaps in another post or on an upcoming podcast, we will do just that.  For now, go into the movie not knowing what to expect by way of events, but knowing full well you’re in for a hell of a ride.

So, have you seen it!??  Let us know your thoughts in comments.

For videos of the trailers shown before the movie in my theater, click here.

 

 

 This review was originally published at Good Girls Gone Geek.

Before the Movie – Prometheus

Just got back from Prometheus and it did not disappoint. You can find my full review of that film by clicking here.  Below are the trailers played in my theater before the movie.  Note – I did not see the 3D version and that almost always means different trailers from those do. As always, I’ll put them in the order of  my enjoyment/enthusiasm and leave out the ones I have covered in other ‘Before the Movie’ posts.

Also as always, the official info comes from IMDb and the clips from YouTube.

 

 

Gangster Squad

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Writers: Will Beall, Paul Lieberman (book)

Stars: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

A chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.

Release: Sept. 7th, 2012

While old timey gangster movies have lost a bit of their appeal for me since the glut of them in the 80s and 90s, the cast of this one wins me over.  I’m still fuming over the fact that Gosling didn’t get nominated for an Academy Award for Drive and he makes my list of “I’ll see whatever that guy is in…except The Notebook.”

The Watch

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Writers: Seth Rogen (screenplay), Evan Goldberg (screenplay), and 1 more credit »

Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill

Suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch group as a way to get out of their day-to-day family routines find themselves defending the Earth from an alien invasion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFXoKCwUZJY

I had my doubts about this movie, but this trailer is just really, really funny.

Django Unchained

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Don Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio

With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

You’re right – this clearly should have been listed first.  Mea culpa – I forgot it until just now.  Looks good, no?

End of Watch

Director: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña and Anna Kendrick

A drama centered on the long-term friendship and partnership between two cops.

I love Jake Gyllenhall as much as the next girl, but I’ll likely save this one for DVD.  It looks well-done, but cop dramas don’t do much for me anymore.

They also played the same Savages trailer I’ve seen about 20 times and a new Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter trailer – you can find them by clicking here.

There was also a movie that I have completely forgotten.  It’s killing me!  Right on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t find it online, either.  Probably because I don’t know what I’m searching for.  When it comes back to me, I’ll add it.

This article was originally published on Good Girls Gone Geek, June 8th, 2012.

Preview: Prophecy #1 – Dynamite’s Giagantic Cross-Over Event Begins!

The scene opens in London, circa 1890.  A crime has been committed, a man killed in his attempt to steal an Aztec artifact based on Mayan predecessors.  Not killed by the police, deduces perhaps the most famous sleuth of all time, and the second man on the scene, Sherlock Holmes, but by a stranger they must find.

No sooner does Holmes declare the game afoot, so to speak, than the action shifts to 632 AD on the Yucatan Peninsula where the missing item from the museum is being brandished by a villain from another time and another realm – Kulan Gath. There to fight him,  Red Sonja.

And so begins issue one of a self-contained, seven part series that Dynamite Entertainment is calling the “biggest cross-over event” in their history.

Turns out all of us who have managed to put our fears of the Mayan “prediction” of the end of the world aside by using math and logic are wrong to do so.  The world is going to end, there is a man who seeks to take advantage of that, and a team of unlikely allies are going to be responsible for fighting him.

As the action moves through time once again, Red Sonja is caught in the wake of Kulan Gath’s spell and brought into 2012 where she is quickly confronted by the first two additional members of a team she is as of yet unaware she will join.  While Dynamite themselves reveal not only these two members, but all the others who will be introduced in the issues to come, I will not list them here.  I’m a fan of surprises, but you can find the full list here if you are curious.

The artwork from Walter Giovani and colors by Adriani Lucas are strong.  I will likely never be a huge fan of the outfits women wear in many comics, but I have to admit that in all other respects, their work is solid and effective.  Writer Ron Marz also does a nice job with this first issue.  Going in with a “blank slate,” so to speak, I was pleasantly and satisfactorily surprised by each familiar face.  While I can’t say the Mayan Prophecy thing does much for me as a plot device on its own, there is enough story around that story to hold my interest.

I’d suggest giving this series a try.  It has some promise.

Prophecy #1 will be available for $3.99 from Dynamite Entertainment in June, 2012.

Iron Man 3 Image shows off Marks I-VII

Marvel.com released the first official on-set image from Iron Man 3 early this morning.  Get ready to geek out, fellow nerds – showcased are Marks I-VII of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits, the most recent of which was seen in action in this summer’s staggering box-office success, cause of 50% percent increase in sales of Shawarma according to my local Halal food chef,  and source of multiple geek-gasms across the world, The Avengers.

Each of the origin movies leading up to The Avengers (Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 1&2) were considered successful, but the 2008 Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr in the title role, along side stars Jeff Bridges and Gweneth Paltrow, was the stand out by far.

While the 2010 follow-up, Iron Man 2 was decidedly less well received, it is clear that Downey’s performance in The Avengers has reignited interest in the franchise (if it ever even really waned – which is unlikely.  Fans are ever-hopeful, after all).  The internet has been all atwitter (pun intended) with speculation about who would be cast, the plot, etc for months.  Early rumors that Ben Kingsly would play Iron Man arch-nemesis, Mandarin have been confirmed by the good ol’ IMDB cast-list.  In the comics, Mandarin has all the necessary trauma from childhood combined with intense training and skill with science and desire to avenge his family name to create a truly threatening villain, capable of standing up to the impressive and war-tested Iron Man.

Recently, the revelation that James Badge Dale’s character, named Eric Savin according to IMDB, will likely not be playing the minor villain associated with that alter-ego’s name in the comics, but rather a much more pivotal villain called The Iron Patriot caused some consternation amongst comic book fans, which you can read about in this article from Digital Trends.  For my part, I think he looks entirely bad-ass and look forward to seeing him bring his Captain America/Iron Man inspired suit in action.

Source: Vibe.com; Iron Patriot image from comics, and Iron Man 3 set

One more interesting piece of info gleaned from the IMDB page – while Iron Man director Jon Favreau is back in his role as Happy Hogan, he will not be directing Iron Man 3.  That task will be fulfilled by Kiss Kiss Bang Bang writer/director, Shane Black (also the writer behind much of the Lethal Weapon franchise, including the recently announced Lethal Weapons 5 – yes, you heard that right.  Lethal. Weapon. 5. Why? Your guess is as good as mine).  Black seems a good fit for a Downey film (remember, Downey starred in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as well).

For the full Marvel article covering the new image, click here.

Review – Bionic Woman #2

Based on events in Kevin Smith and Phil Hester’s recent The Bionic Man series, the first two issues of The Bionic Woman from writer Paul Tobin and artist Leno Carvalho are filled with a nice balance of action and exposition, giving readers all they need to know about heroine Jamie Sommers, her bionic powers, and the increasing danger she faces as a government agent/experiment.

Issue two begins with Sommers speculating about the possibility that an as-of-yet unnamed entity responsible for stealing bionic technology from recent “prototypes” might be hunting bigger fish – i.e. Jamie herself, and other full-fledged bionic agents of the O.S.I.  As we quickly find out, she is spot on with that prediction.  The villain is revealed (but not here – you’ll have to read the book for that) and the grand sinister plot is given a bit more depth by the end of #2.

Tobin and Carvalho work together to create a story that provides readers with information about Sommers’s bionic powers (both legs, an ear, an arm and a brain that can tap into the O.S.I. network at any time to do handy things like find potential targets of the bad guys, and transfer 10,000$ into a friend’s bank account to keep her safe) without awkward lists or strained exposition.  The action in issue 2 is non-stop.  The upside of this is readers are not likely to get bored.  The downside, we are left with little sense of who Jamie is and what sets her apart as a character, other than her bionics.  Still, there is plenty of time for character development in issues to come and I hope we will see Sommers an her friends, as well as enemies, given a bit more depth soon.

All in all, a good read.  Recommended.

The Bionic Woman #2 was published by Dynamite Entertainment on May 30th and is now available for purchase.

Preview: Garfield #1

Garfield #1 from Kaboom, Original appearance cover

Kaboom Studios is on a nostalgia roll, bringing back the cartoon strips of my youth, turning them into full comic form.  Three months ago, they premiered Peanuts #1, and tomorrow they will be releasing Garfield #1.

Created by Jim Davis in 1978, Garfield has become a cottage industry of sorts.  While no longer written exclusively by Davis, the strip still appears in newspapers today and has been collected into well over 20 books in the last 34 years.  The snarky feline has also appeared in television specials and not one, but two feature films.

The comic offering from Kaboom pays tribute to old-school Garfield with one alternate cover choice for issue #1 depicting Garfield as he first appeared, far more fat and hostile looking, in 1978.  This cover (seen right) will cost readers $19.99, with two other alternate covers being offered for $3.99

I plowed through the Garfield collections as a kid, and even once or twice when home from college, feeling that first ache of nostalgia that comes with leaving home.  Many of those collections from the first decade of Garfield’s life still stand up.  They are clever, sometimes politically incorrect, and charming.

I can’t say that fans should expect the same from this latest offering, as the jokes from writer Mary Evanier and artist Gary Baker struck me as so mundane they were painful.  Unlike the newspaper strip, however, this comic is clearly intended for kids and kids only – it is unlikely their parents will find much to laugh at in it.  However, it does include cute animal characters making the kinds of jokes some young (very young) children might enjoy.

Cover A, Garfield #1

 

Garfield #1, Cover B

 

 

Fandom Friday: Joss Whedon

Until 2012, if writer/director Joss Whedon was known by folks in the general population at all, it was likely for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and the short-lived, much mourned, twice referenced on The Big Bang TheoryFirefly.  But, let’s be honest – before 2012, Joss Whedon wasn’t really known in the general population.  Not by name, anyway.  See, all of those shows I listed are, you know, our stuff…nerd stuff.

In a post-Avengers world, however, it is likely he will be best known by the masses as the director of the Mother Effing Best Super Hero Move Ever Made.

In other words: nerdy stuff that non-nerds like too.

And God-DAMN if it isn’t about time our man gets a gig like this.

We have been all but screaming for our friends to give him a shot for years.  “Just watch Doctor Horrible for five minutes to see if you like it – It’s so good it broke the internet,” we cry.  “If you come see Serenity with me, I’ll buy your ticket and your popcorn,” we plead.  Seriously, I have said both of those things.  See, Whedon work can be a tough sell.  The premise never tells the whole story.  “A cheerleader and her friends fight vampires” isn’t quite good enough, is it?  “A heartbreaking work of staggering genius” is good enough, but raises eyebrows of skepticism.  The best we can hope for is to trick them into watching it by telling them it stars Tom Hanks or something and hope for the best.  Until now, that is.

You will find no shortage of Avengers reviews here on Word of the Nerd, so I won’t over do it here.  If you want a full review of that film specifically, click here. Suffice it to say, I think our friends will be more open to watching that silly musical thing, now.

This brings me endless joy.  See, somewhere in the middle of the first season of Dollhouse, I had what would go on to become a much-repeated thought: I just want to live in a world where Joss Whedon gets to do whatever it is he wants to do. (Say what you will, I liked the first season).

Considering my reluctance to watch either Firefly or Angel during their original runs, this marked a significant milestone in my relationship with Joss Whedon.  For a long time, I thought of Buffy of something of an anomaly.  “It’s a show I like in spite of the fact that I don’t like that kind of stuff,” I thought.  I’m not sure why, given that I grew up on horror and sci-fi, but somehow Buffy doesn’t quite fit in those genres.  Part comedy, part melodrama, part the aforementioned heart-breaking work of staggering genius, I suppose I thought it some kind of happy accident that it was better than other teen-paranormal fares like The Craft and Charmed.

Once I finally watched Firefly, I realized that it was no accident.  It’s not the hotness of Xander Harris or the sweetness of Willow Rosenberg that makes it something I like in spite of the fact that I don’t like that kind of thing – it’s Joss Whedon himself.  When it comes to him, lightning can indeed strike twice – or even three, four and five times.

Sometimes, I am still struck by how strange it is that it all works.  An hour comedy-drama about a vampire hunting down criminals doesn’t seem too far fetched in a post-Twilight world, but one that works in a law-firm run by evil forces and includes a green-faced demon who loves Karaoke?  I mean…it does seem a bit far-fetched.  There is a kind of absurdity to his work that grows steadily more joyous to watch as you acclimate to his style.

Mostly, that style is smart.  Very, very smart.  His dialogue is razor-sharp without being too stylized, his plot points as unpredictable as they are authentic, and his characters human, even if they aren’t, strictly speaking, humans.  (Who could forget the demon named Skip?)

As much as I love him, and as much as his throng of followers in the geek world love him, it is rare that he gets to do everything he wants to do.  Firefly was cancelled long before its time due to a miserable time-slot, the network’s choice to air the episodes out of order, and general neglect from Fox.  Dollhouse was forced to a quick and messy conclusion in the middle of its second season as well, leading to a disappointing final chapter.

Word on the street is Whedon didn’t even get total freedom with The Avengers.   Of course he didn’t– no way does a studio with this much investment in keeping a franchise going turn over complete freedom to a man who seems to take particular delight in killing off fan-favorites (he and George R. R. Martin should really work together.)  He is quoted as saying Marvel prescribed several aspects of the script, including the third act.  Yet, I have no doubt in this pretty little heart of mine, that fans will recognize the Whedon they know and love in that script, and that the film will be truly spectacular for having him behind the camera.

Joss Whedon has a knack for both epic moments and small, human moments.  He knows how to reach into a fantastical world and twist it around until it bleeds humanity.  We are, all of us, in for a treat – I say this with zero reservations, even though I have yet to see the film.  ZERO.  And this from someone who was sorely disappointed by The Watchmen. (Update: I have seen it now…and I was right.  So good). 

I also have little doubt that while geeks like us will have to get used to sharing Whedon with the masses, from now on, we can rest assured that we are looking at a future in which he gets to do just about anything he wants. At least for a while.  And that, my friends, is good news.

 

Need some help catching up with all the Avengers before seeing the film?  Check out Avengers Boot Camp.

This post was originally published under the title Avengers Boot Camp: Joss Whedon on Good Girls Gone Geek, May 3, 2012

Avengers Boot Camp: Captain America

One of the most anticipated films of 2012,The Avengers brings together a gaggle of super-heroes introduced (or re-introduced) to audiences over the last three years in their own movies.  There is a lot to keep track of, so we are continuing our “boot camp” with the first Avenger, Captain America.

The Comics (Sources: Marvel Wiki, Marvel.com and Featurette Captain America’s Origin on Blu-ray)

Captain America, often called Cap, is technically the “oldest” of the Avengers, created in March 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and first published by Timely Comics, which would later go on to become Marvel.

While the title’s popularity dropped off in the post-war world, leading to its cancellation in the 1950s, Captain America was brought back to join the Avengers team in the Silver Age of comics.  Rather than a reboot with a new origin, the original Steve Rogers is brought into the group out of suspended animation in Avengers #4 (1964).

While creator Joe Simon admits to having created Captain America by first coming up with a good villain (Hitler was his starting point for creating the monstrous Nazi, Johann Shmidt, AKA Red Skull) then thinking of a foil, Captain America has become one of the longest running and best selling superhero titles.

Having lost both his mother and father before the end of his teens, Steve Rogers gave up on the idea of being a comic book writer in favor of enlisting in the US Army in the middle of WWII.  While first rejected due to frailty, Rogers is noticed by an army official for his spirit and perseverance and recruited to be part of “Operation: Rebirth.”  He is given a super-soldier serum that changes the course of his life for good, making him both stronger and faster.  After the death of Abraham Erskine, the serum’s creator, at the hand of the Nazis, no further batches of the serum can be made. Unable to continue the program without Erskine, the US government makes the most of the one soldier they’ve got by packaging him up as a patriotic super hero and sending him off to lead the charge against Red Skull.

While changes are made to his uniform and his side-kick, Bucky – who goes from a teen-age, Robinesque figure to more of a peer – Cap’s personality, drive and appeal remain largely the same throughout the years  After being brought out of suspended animation in 1964, Steve often serves as both the moral and tactical leader of the Avengers, remaining for the most part the earnest, patriotic symbol he was meant to be.

Powers/Abilities – Cap is not technically “super powered,” but rather as perfect as a human can get.  Because of the serum, he is fast and strong, but not impossibly so.  His body regenerates the serum so he does not need future doses and his endurance is beyond that of normal men due to his increased metabolism, which repairs his muscles as he uses them.  He cannot get drunk or feel the effects of drugs, nor can he catch any diseases from terrestrial sources.  His iconic shield helps protect him in battle, and he can wield it with tremendous dexterity, but it too is non-magical or super-powered.  Steve Rogers is smart and well-trained, but he is thoroughly mortal.  If he gets hurt, he’s hurt.  He can die just like the rest of us.

The Movie  (Out of necessity for Avengers prep, there will be spoilers.  For a spoiler-free review, click here.)

So close to the original version of Steve Rogers and Cap is the portrayal by Chris Evans  (AKA The Handsomest Man in America) in Captain America: The First Avenger, we needn’t spend too much time on him here.  Through some truly amazing technology the filmmakers transform the hunky star into a remarkably believable short, skinny Steve Rogers for the first act of the film. Evans himself gives a convincing and authentic performance, providing the needed conviction, patriotism, and kindness.  He also provides all necessary muscles post-super-soldier serum.

Like the comics, the first villain Rogers needs to defeat is Red Skull, played by  Hugo Weaving, a chameleon of an actor if ever there was one.  After rescuing a group of fellow soldiers, Captain America builds a team that while never called the Howling Commandos, consists of many of the same characters who form Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos in Marvel Comics.

After the death of Bucky and a series of fight scenes in which Cap saves the day, he makes the ultimate sacrifice, crashing his plane into icy waters in order to destroy the weapons of mass destruction on board, created by Red Skull and meant for New York, Chicago and other cities across the world.

Cut to the future!  Perhaps the most exciting and effective sequence in the film comes as Steve wakes up in a hospital room meant to mimic his 1940s reality and escapes into modern-day New York.  So convincing is Chris Evans, he seems to hold the 1940s sensibility in his very essence in this scene.  Nick Fury shows up and gives a short and sweet explanation (“You’ve been asleep, Cap”) and call to arms, after which Rogers responds with a wistful “I had a date,” referring to his plans with the beautiful Peggy Carter (played by Hayley Atwell) back in 1942.

Perhaps most important to the events for what is to come in The Avengers is the mysterious, glowing blue cube Red Skull uses to power his weapons.  Shmidt refers to the cube as having come from Odin’s tomb and it bears striking resemblance to both the cube seen after the credits of Thor and to the power source sought by Laufey in that film (I can’t say with absolute certainty that they were the same thing).  It is likely that this box is what will motivate Loki’s trip to Earth in The Avengers.

Cap’s powers and abilities as portrayed in the film are exactly the same as those in the comics, at least so far.

Avengers Speculation

Much like Thor, Captain America comes from a different place/time than the other Avengers.  He is likely to be appalled by Tony Stark’s cavalier attitude and alienated by Thor’s divided loyalties to his brother.  Who knows what he will make of Hulk?  My guess is in the end his authenticity will win over his fellow Avengers and he may very well end up sharing internal leadership with Tony Stark.  With Hulk and Thor as something of wild cards, it will be up to our two tried-and-true, 100% human-humans to hold the group together.  In some ways, Rogers represents old-school America, at least in our own mythology about ourselves, and Stark a new, more savvy and cynical America, yet both are bent ultimately on prevailing against evil.  Tony will likely be ready and willing to do whatever it takes, Cap to argue for making sure that they do what is right.

I find it unlikely we will see his love interest or old friends in The Avengers, but you never know – if he survives the film, they may very well end up in a sequel to Captain America.

I look forward to seeing Evans reprise this role in The Avengers.  While I found him perfectly suited to the part, I have to admit, CA: The First Avenger was the least compelling of the origin movies.  I think with a Whedon script and under Whedon’s direction, he will get a chance to be far more interesting this time.

Blu-Ray Extras

Commentary with Director Joe Johnson, Director of Photography Shelly Johnson and Editor Jeffrey Ford.  These three do a nice job balancing discussion of the logistics of shooting the film with tidbits and fun stories about the cast.   To be honest, I liked the film better with the commentary.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer – another three-minute, one-shot featuring Agent Coulson, this time on his way to investigate Thor in New Mexico.

Featurettes

Costuming a Hero – A discussion of the evolution of Cap’s suit in both the comics and the film.  Also serves as a cool little reminder that Tony Stark’s dad was responsible for designing the suit in the film.

The Howling Commandos – Giving some love to the decidedly under-featured friends of Captain America.

Heightened Technology  – A discussion of the technology portrayed in the film, particularly as headed by Stark and the Hydra group.

The Transformation – For all those who ask, “How did they do that?”  This featurette explains how they made Chris Evans look so small in the first act of the film.  Fascinating stuff, at least for geeks like me.

Behind The Red Skull – A discussion of the make-up and CGI used to turn Hugo Weaving into The Red Skull.

Captain America’s Origin – Joe Simon discusses how he first came up with the idea for Captain America and the original story arc.

The Assembly Begins  - Brief run-down of the Avengers, building excitement for the May 4th release.

Deleted and Extended Scenes

There aren’t many, and most are given only cartoon-style CGI, but they are worth watching.  One provides more time with the Howling Commandos, including their capture by Hydra forces using the guns powered by Odin’s orb, and the scene with Nick Fury and Cap at the end of the movie gives a bit more depth to their relationships.

That does it for the first, and our last, of the major Avengers.  Stay tuned for a post on S.H.I.E.L.D and Joss Whedon, as well as a wrap-up of this whole crazy thing.  You can catch up on all of our Avengers Boot Camp Posts here.

 

This post originally appeared on Good Girls Gone Geek, April 28th, 2012

 

 

 

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