Author: Matt Raub

Get A Sneak Peek At ‘DC Universe Online’s Newest Downloadable Content, ‘Lightning Strikes’

Get A Sneak Peek At ‘DC Universe Online’s Newest Downloadable Content, ‘Lightning Strikes’

Sony Online’s DC Universe Online has had a pretty rough year. Between the server blackouts, the massive PSN hack, and dealing with a paid service to a broke community, they’ve fallen on some hard times.

But that isn’t stopping them from releasing tons of new content for their now free DC Universe Online. Just a few months ago, we were opened up to the world of Green Lantern with their Fight for the Light DLC. Now their continuing in the trend with a whole Flash universe-based DLC in Lightning Strikes.

Set to hit your console and PC next week on December 6th, the new features include a brand new Electricity Power set, as well as an all new map, new challenges, and tons of Flash-based characters for you to interact with.

We’ve got a brand new trailer highlighting these features for you…

Movie Review: ‘The Spirit”

spirit-posterIn the past, the holiday season is a time for at least one big box office hit, and while the period between 2001 and 2005 may have been taken over by Peter Jackson’s army of Orcs and giant gorillas, the pattern has been consistent. This year, however, you shouldn’t expect to be blown away, or even spend the money on admission with an adaptation of a literary or Hollywood classic, as Frank Miller and his motley crew try to pass off a remake of Will Eisner’s classic “middle-class crime fighter” comic. The film, as a whole, makes very little sense and will bring mostly heartache to fans of the source material, and on an original level, the movie jumps around both in mood, story, and even dialogue so much that it makes it feel like you’ve been watching Sin City fan film for over 90 minutes.

The movie should have simply been called a faux sequel to Sin City, because that is what it felt like. Gravely voices, over-the-top villains, and women in leather should just be what was written on the poster for this film, because those elements just about sum up what to expect. There are a few twists and turns, mostly in the tone of the film and how it jumps from a high-paced action film to a slapstick comedy around every turn. The inconsistency alone is enough to deter most of the audience, let alone the campy dialogue or ridiculous plot devices that would have Eisner spinning in the grave.

Those who were/are a fan of Eisner’s original story or even the later retellings know the basic story behind the hero: Denny Colt, a middle-class rookie cop in Central City is presumed killed, but actually goes into suspended animation, only to come back and create the identity of The Spirit, a man who is able to fight crime in a way local cops can’t, all while wearing a blue suit, red tie, domino mask, and a fedora. The Spirit never had super powers, but still had the same mystery as rival character Batman to the in-book villains. This new representation has The Spirit as a man who was killed, and brought back to life by a serum that gave him super powers, allowing him to recover from fatal wounds quickly and run across telephone lines. He now must take down The Octopus, his archrival who mysteriously has the same powers as our red-tied hero.

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Review: ‘Reaper Season One’ DVD

Review: ‘Reaper Season One’ DVD

2007 was a pretty big year for television, bringing us great shows such as Pushing Daisies, Californication, and Chuck, and some duds like Cavemen, Bionic Woman, and Aliens in America. One gem that seemed to slip through the cracks you can now catch on DVD, in the ABC Studios and The CW’s Reaper.

The show followed ne’er-do-well Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) on his 18th birthday when he is told by his parents that they sold his soul when he was born and now must suffer the wrath of The Devil (Ray Wise). Turns out that the Devil actually likes Sam and proposes that, rather than go to hell for eternity, he takes the role as the Reaper, a bounty hunter capturing escaped souls and returning them to hell. Sam reluctantly agrees, tries to fight it, but eventually comes to the realization that this may just be the first thing he’s actually good at. Alongside Sam are his faithful companions Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez), his girlfriend Andi (Missy Peregrym) and along the way they come across a cavalcade of TV favorites, including names like Patton Oswalt, Michael Ian Black, and Angel‘s Mercedes McNab. The show may be about demons and the different levels of hell, but at it’s core; the show is about the birth of a hero, and what it takes to balance the live of fighting evil, with a part time job at a home improvement store.

The show was bounced around more than once on the schedule, finally finding a home right after Smallville on Thursdays. Once the writers’ strike hit, the show suffered like many others, and went into a several week hiatus, but returned strong and finished off season one with a bang. Finally, you can catch all of the laughs and thrills of the season at your leisure as Lionsgate Home Video released Reaper Season One on DVD.

Along with all 18 episodes on 5 discs, you get a great collections of extras including audio commentary on the pilot episode from series creators Tara Butter, Michele Fazekas, and Debra Spera. Also included is a gag reel that shows just how much laughs go into making us laugh (running at 4:30) and a collection of deleted and extended scenes from the past season, which runs at 7:22. The packaging of the box comes together pretty nicely, with a lenticular cover and a plastic slipcover, it would be a nice addition to your DVD collection.

Overall, Reaper is easily one of the better things produced on TV over the past 2 years, and with another 13 episodes picked up for 2009, you are going to want to be caught up on this Network TV Gem, and you won’t be disappointed. 

Overall Rating: 8/10

An Early Look at ‘Coraline’

If you were to ask ten people who directed Nightmare Before Christmas, it’s almost a guarantee that nine of them will come back with “Tim Burton” and those nine people would all be wrong. The film was actually directed by Henry Selick, who’s other works include James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone. In Laika Entertainment’s Coraline, Selick is stepping in both the shoes of Director and Screenwriter as he adapts Neil Gaiman’s creepy-but-heartfelt 2002 novella.

The film is still in it’s final stages of production, currently working on scoring and sound mixing for a February 2009 release, but Selick, alongside producer Bill Mechanic, lead animator Travis Knight and costar Ian McShane were in New York with footage of the film and a brief Q&A.

The story is of a young girl (Dakota Fanning) who unlocks a mysterious door in her new home, and enters into an adventure in a parallel reality. On the surface, this other world eerily mimics her own life—though much more fantastical. In it, Coraline encounters such oddball counterparts of her real friends and family as the morbidly funny Miss Forcible (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Spink (Dawn French), and a counterfeit mother (Teri Hatcher)—who attempts to keep her. Ultimately, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home.

The footage ran about 30 minutes and looked amazing. This is one of the first films to be shot in RealD, an innovative new 3D viewing technology. Other films have utilized this method, but only in postproduction like the yearly rerelease of Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D. Coraline, being a stop-motion animated film, was able to shoot with a new form of depth never used in animated films to give audience members a “true 3D experience”. Those who were never a fan of the red and blue plastic glasses can finally enjoy a real 3D film as the only tool needed are a pair of slick black glasses which won’t give you a headache.

The film looks like it will certainly draw in any fans of Selick’s Nightmare Before Christmas, as it gives the same warm feeling. This film, being a Gaiman book, does become very dark in the second act, which doesn’t get balanced out by some Broadway-style music like in Nightmare. Selick’s method to animating and now screenwriting brings a whole new dimension to animated film and certainly comes through in Coraline.

After the footage, a brief Q&A took place where Selick mentioned how well he and Gaiman communicated often and positively on the project, which is refreshing knowing that Gaiman is almost as belligerent as Alan Moore when it comes to adapting his books. Gaiman was on the set often and all of his notes were “easy to fix and completely justifiable” according to Selick. Producer Bill Mechanic also went on about how the film has been in production since 2001, when the duo originally planned to shoot the film as live-action with computer-generated counterparts. They ultimately decided to go with stop-motion, and the cast and crew seem to be happier for it. Overall, the film looked amazing and will do great things for animated films and certainly for 3D, which was thought to be a dying trend for decades.

 

ComicMix Interview with Ray Wise

Wise DevilFor years, in television, many hybrid series involving both science fiction and comedy have come and gone. It’s a fine line to juggle the fans of a pretty strict mythos (whichever that may be, they are all pretty strict) to also keeping the show fresh and witty for people who may not be into the science fiction or fantasy element. Reaper happens to be one of those shows that has walked the line successfully for a season and is already planning on doing it again in season 2. We got a chance to grab Ray Wise, who plays the show’s antagonist—the Devil himself—about his role in the show and some things to look forward to.

ComicMix: With the WGA strike hitting Reaper mid season last year, do you think it effected the story of the overall season, much like it did other shows that were effected?

Ray Wise: While it didn’t effect the story, it did however effect the logistics on when we would be able to come back and start shooting. We do know that the network [CW] had some decisions to make as a result of the writers’ strike which lead to coming back for a second season in doubt for a time, but I’m happy to say that we’re currently on episode 9 of a 13 episode pickup. the current plan is to air those news episodes either in January of March of 2009, and once those are on the air, we think we may be able to do some more.

CMix: Speaking of season two, can you give us any kind of hint on what The Devil might be up to this season?

RW: Well we’re going to be more character relationship oriented this season. We plan to delve a little more into each of the characters’ relationships with one another. We plan to find out a little more about the hierarchy of Hell, and even some more appearances from the Nether region will be arriving here on Earth. There will be plenty of conflict, and to sum it all up; all hell is going to break loose!

CMix: There was an interesting relationship in the first season between your Devil and Bret Harrison’s Sam, almost a love/hate relationship. Are we going to continue down that road this season?

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Vertigo/WildStorm at the Movies

Vertigo/WildStorm at the Movies

Since Dark Knight hit the screen, the world of superheroes in film may not be the same again. With the inevitable success of Watchmen in 2009 and many more non-cape-wearing heroes on the way to theaters, we’ve collected just where things lie on some of our favorite Vertigo and WildStorm franchises, and how far we could be to seeing them at the local multiplex. For the super-heroes, see yesterday’s report.

Y the Last Man

New Lien optioned the recently completed  Y the Last Man several years ago and creator Brian K. Vaughn wrote the initial screenplay. In 2007, New Line assigned the stalled project to the creative team behind Disturbia — director DJ Caruso and screenwriter Carl Ellsworth — with producer David Goyer.

In an interview with Caruso, he claimed that the story was too much for just one movie, and they decided to focus on making the first film primarily about issues 1-14 of the comic series. The entire series would be plotted into three films and rumors have been circulating that Shia LaBeouf was in line for the role at one point. Caruso and LaBeouf worked together of Disturbia and Eagle Eye and LaBeouf expressed interest in the role.

Caruso told Slash Film in July, “I was talking to Shia [LaBeouf] about this yesterday when we were looping him, because he really wants to do it as well, I would like to prep this movie in October, and start shooting it by January. Warner Bros keeps saying ‘We need movies for 2010′ I’m like ‘We’re the movie!’” said Caruso. “[Shia] wants to do it, I want to do it. I think we just need to worry about him being exhausted, so I told him, if I prep it in the fall and we start in January, that’s a nice big break.”

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DC at the Movies

DC at the Movies

In keeping up with the comings and goings of DC’s comic book franchises that have plans to segue to the silver screen, here we have put together Warner Bros. more recent plans on making that adaptation for some of our favorite heroes, as well as some other characters and how close we are to seeing them in theaters.

Wonder Woman

In January 2001, producer Joel Silver approached Todd Alcott to write a Wonder Woman screenplay, with Silver Pictures backing the project. Early gossip linked actresses such as Mariah Carey, Sandra Bullock, Rachel Bilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones to the role of Wonder Woman. Leonard Goldberg, speaking in a May 2001 interview, named Bullock as a strong candidate for the project. Bullock claimed that she was approached for the role, while Lucy Lawless and professional wrestler Chyna both expressed interest. Lawless indicated that she would be more interested if Wonder Woman was portrayed as a "flawed hero." The screenplay then went through various drafts written by Alcott, Jon Cohen, Becky Johnston, and Philip Levens. By August 2003, Levens was replaced by screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis (Birds of Prey).

In March 2005, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures announced that Joss Whedon would write and direct the film adaptation of Wonder Woman. Since Whedon was directing Serenity at the time, and required time to research Wonder Woman’s background, he did not begin the screenplay until late 2005. According to Joel Silver, the script would cover Wonder Woman’s origin and include Steve Trevor: "Trevor crashes on the island and they go back to Man’s World." Silver wanted to film Wonder Woman in Australia once the script was completed. While Whedon stated in May 2005 that he would not cast Wonder Woman until he finished the script, Charisma Carpenter (Angel) and Morena Baccarin (Firefly) expressed interest in the role.

Despite telling people, "It was in an outline, and not in a draft, and they [studio executives] didn’t like it. So I never got to write a draft where I got to work out exactly what I wanted to do." Whedon is known to have actually finished a screenplay that was not met favorably by Warner Bros. or DC.

In February 2007, Whedon departed from the project, citing script differences with the studio. Whedon reiterated: "I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistent front-runner. I didn’t have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air-balling on the script." Whedon stated that with the Wonder Woman project left behind, he would focus on making his film Goners.

A day before Whedon’s departure from Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures purchased a script written by Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland. Set during World War II, the script impressed executives at Silver Pictures. However, Silver has made clear that he purchased the script because he didn’t want it floating around in the industry; although it has good ideas, he doesn’t wish for the Wonder Woman film to be a period piece. By April 2008, Silver hired Jennison and Strickland to write a new (modern day) script that would not depict Wonder Woman’s origin, but explore Paradise Island’s history.

According to an August 2008 article in The Wall Street Journal, featuring Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov speaking about their DC property films, a Wonder Woman film is among other super-hero films currently in "active development."
 

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What To Watch on Halloween

Halloween is the day where, traditionally, people under 21 run around in costumes and collect candy while people above do…other things. If you don’t have any big plans that involve getting candy or alcohol in a costume tonight, here are a few reasons to leave a bowl of candy outside your door and curl up in front of the DVD player for the night.

dance box

 

Dance of the Dead

If Zombie Comedies are your vice, then you’ll want to grab this Dance of The Dead as part of the Ghost House Underground box set. It takes place on prom night when the dead decide to rise, and the only people who can stop them are the one’s not cool enough to get invited to the dance.There’s plenty of horror moments for diehard zombie fans, as well as some pretty great one’s as well, including a zombie make-out scene. Check out a full review here.

 

 

 

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Horror Review: [[[Last House in the Woods]]]

Last House BoxSynopsis:

All Aura and Rino wanted was to find a secluded place where they could make love in nature, but the appearance of three sadistic bullies soon sends a romantic evening alone careening into violence. In the ensuing struggle, the couple is tortured nearly to death. Mercifully, the couple is rescued by tough-talking Clara and pistol-packing Antonio. After chasing the attackers away, Clara and Antonio offer to take Rino and Aurora to their remote cabin in order to recover, an offer which the frightened youngsters appreciatively accept. Upon arriving at the isolated abode, however, Rino and Aurora quickly realize that their troubles may have just begun.

Lowdown:

Those who enjoy any type of horror flick that would normally read on a marquee “GORE FEST” will enjoy this picture. Almost derived from a Texas Chainsaw Massacre script, there is plenty of dismemberment, gore, and even some intense makeup throughout the film which will make you cringe-o-plenty. The title, which isn’t the original–but changed when released for the US–wants you to compare this to Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, and while there are a few similar elements, this needs to be taken as a seperate, gory slasher film.

The family in question might as well be related to the Addams Family with a Morticia lookalike and a group of deformed brothers that would scare off the cast of any Rob Zombie Flick. The most interesting thing about the film and all of it’s American Horror influences is that the film isn’t American at all, and comes from Italy. This is another case where you will have to do some reading and watch the film in Italian while reading the subtitles, as the America dubbing is pretty awful. I do issue a warning though: the subtitlers become a bit lazy in the last 30 minutes of the film, with spelling and grammar errors galore, so watch out.

The special effects and make up are pretty much what drive this gritty, low-budget film. Some great bleeding limbs after a dismemberment-by-chainsaw and nice, clear shots of stabbing and gunshot wounds. There as surely no shortage of prosthetic skin and corn syrup on this set. Another nice-but-random set of effects was the makeup on the two hillbilly brothers. One has a baseball sized goiter on his neck while the other has half of his face burnt off. Both of these were done pretty well and will make you squirm for their remainder on screen. The cannibalistic child, who was supposed to have these incredibly sharp teeth, ended up just having misshapen baby teeth, which may have still been off-putting, definitely wasn’t scary.

The story isn’t bad up until the last act, in which things become a bit foggy and confusing. There is yet another attempt at a twist ending, but it gets lost in the fray with the tremendous bodycount that accumulates by act three. The final twist, which is really supposed to irk the audience, is a child with prosthetic stumps for limbs, but it is pretty easy to see through the trick, and only looks like a bad Halloween costume. Overall, it may be worth a watch, but if you’re weak at heart, I wouldn’t recommend the film.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Scare Factor: 4/5

Horror Review: ‘Brotherhood of Blood’

brotherhood boxSynopsis:

In this claustrophobic thriller, a team of vampire hunters who must infiltrate a nest of the undead to save one of their own. A beautiful vampire slayer is held prisoner by a powerful, blood-drinking king who is preparing to do battle with a force that sends even the children of the night scurrying into the shadows.

Lowdown:

Much of modern cinema was built on awful horror films of yesterday, from Ed Wood to Roger Corman and even to an extent John Carpenter, so it’s almost reassuring when you hear about a box set of direct-to-dvd horror films, and a film like Brotherhood of Blood is included. The film couldn’t have cost more than $50,000, and most of that had to go to the “big” names attached like Sid Haig, Ken Foree, and even TV’s Victoria Pratt. The film isn’t exactly cinematic art in any way, but still fills the quota for “bad horror films”.

The premise is pretty hard to follow, seeing as how from before the opening titles to the end of the film, there are randomly placed flashbacks to the previous 48 hours. Of course, because of the bar that has been raised by the genre today, there is a twist at the end of the film, which in this case was pretty predictable. No killing or gore was shown on-screen and done with a cut and corn syrup thrown on a wall, which is fine considering the quality.

The acting would be fine if it weren’t for the only two decent genre actors attempting to spit out their lines through the prosthetic vampire teeth. Foree and Haig both sound like they are doing a bad Nixon impression, and come across as cartoony when trying to be haunting and intimidating. The angrier they got, the funnier they became, much like a drunk baby. The dialogue is pretty bad as well, which would be, given that this isn’t Gone with the Wind, but even still, it’s almost impossible to sit through.

In an interview done with Rob Tapert, he explained that though the box set is being slated as “hand picked by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert”, there were a few exceptions. It’s almost definite that this was a pick by the pair. Not only does the film give off the same feel as Evil Dead in it’s campiness, but it stars Cleopatra 2525’s Victoria Pratt. A show that was the brainchild of both Raimi and Tapert. Sadly, Pratt attempts to bring her tough-chick persona to the film, but it fails somewhere in the middle, and leaves her confusing and whiney.

The film comes through as a campy, low-budget, vampire flick, and should really be taken as such. Foree and Haig may come together for the first time in years, but they get no screen time together, and as mentioned, it’s pretty hard to understand them when they are drooling through fake fangs. There is bad acting, poor special effects, a convoluted plot, and an even more confusing twist ending. On their own each of those sound pretty awful, but together they make up just about any horror film released in theaters in the past few years, and should be treated as such.

Overall Rating: 3/10

Scare Factor: 0/5