Author: Matt Raub

Out of The Box: My Day in the Netflix Movie Watching World Championship

netflix roomFor those of you unaware, last week I took part in the Netflix Movie Watching World championship, in which eight contenders were put in a glass living area in the center of Times Square where we had to break the record for most films watched in a row without averting our eyes from the screen or falling asleep. The current record was 120 hours and 23 minutes, so we had our work cut out for us. There were 10 minute breaks in between each film, in which we could use the bathroom and wake ourselves up, but beyond that, our eyes had to be fixated on the 56 inch Plasma television. Whoever was to break the record (and there could be multiple winners) would win the Golden Popcorn Bowl trophy, $10,000 cash, and a lifetime membership to Netflix.

I was one of the three contenders selected from an online competition through, and among the others were competitive eating champion Crazy Legs Conti, former Netflix Movie Marathon champion Cheryl Jones, winner of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire: Movie Edition Jeff Jones, German champion who broke the world movie watching record three times, Claudia Wavra, and Guinness record holder for breaking the most Guinness records, Suresh Joachim. Needless to say, I was the underdog in this competition, seeing as how the longest I’ve ever stayed up in my life is 48 hours, and that’s all while doing things like driving or moving around.

Each of the competitors were asked to suggest films, and luckily the first film in the marathon was one of my picks: Iron Man . This would have been a lot of fun to watch again (let alone in the center of Times Square), and if I wasn’t so nervous about not taking my eyes from the screen, I would have. After talking to a bunch of the other competitors, I realized they had the same problem. Once we were able to overcome the excitement of being in the center of New York City with dozens of flashing cameras and gawkers, it became easier.


Review: Futurama: Bender’s Game

On the heels of The Beast with a Billion Backs comes the third installment of the four [[[Futurama]]] direct-to-dvd films in [[[Bender’s Game]]]. It’s difficult to take these movies in as “movies” because they all feel like three or four episodes strung together (in fact, that is how they will be released on Comedy Central later this year) but they all seem to have a central storyline or element that runs through the entire feature and ties everything up in the end. For this film, that element is the [[[Dungeons and Dragons]]].

The film starts off as the younger of the Planet Express staff (Cubert, Dwight and friends) are geeking out in a game of D&D and acknowledge that Bender was built without an imagination (really?). This comes back later on in the film for a bit of a [[[Wizard of Oz]]]-like twist in which the whole crew gets sucked into Bender’s imagination. The B-Story here is that Leela has anger issues and is issued a shock collar that goes off when she has a violent thought. All this and another sidestory about the Professor’s actual son (hint: it’s not Zoidberg).

The great thing about Futurama is that, unlike [[[Simpsons]]], it has whole parts of an episode where you aren’t slapping your knee with laughter, but still enjoying it for the story and characters. There were a few knee-slapping moments in Bender’s Game, but overall, the episode isn’t on par with any episode of [[[Family Guy]]]. There isn’t as much character development here as in previous films, but some great moments with each of the characters, and as mentioned; just fun to watch.

Not many names in the way of celebrity cameos here. There is a brief stint with George Tekai which was quite funny, and friend of the series Rich Little stops by, but nothing like David Cross or Brittany Murphy of the previous movies. Though there is plenty for fans of fantasy RPG to get their jollies off, there is very little references to previous Futurama episodes. [[[Bender’s Big Score]]] was riddled with nods to the series, and even the last film had lots of in-jokes for the more diehard fans. Gary Gygax gets a mention at the end of the film, with a clip from his cameo on an older episode after the credits which is nice, considering how much of a role D&D has in the film.

Overall, this is probably the weakest of the Futurama features, with the least amount of characters and knee-slapping moments (no appearance by Zapf and one line from Calculon). The features on the DVD are worth the buy alone though, with bloopers from the voice actors, tons of featurettes, and even a Character Fusion Machine. Worth a buy for fans of the series, but don’t expect Bender’s Big Score. Rating: 6/10

Buy Futurama: Bender’s Game on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 8th!

A Noir Puppet Movie?

angel puppetIn an act that almost feels like it should have the name "Joss Whedon" attached to it, the Jim Henson Company has announced the development of a new film project called The Happytime Murders. This original film noir murder mystery will fall under the company’s Henson Alternative banner, a division that develops projects not intended for children (such as Puppet Up! and Tinseltown). From writer Todd Berger:

"In a world where humans and puppets live together (not exactly in harmony), the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s TV show called The Happytime Gang begins to get muderered one by one. It’s then up to a disgraced puppet LAPD detective turned private eye to take the case. Based on a story Dee Austin Robertson and Todd Berger, the original feature film will feature the well-known Henson style of irreverence and parody while presenting a unique twist on the film noir genre. Todd Berger (Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five) has penned the screenplay and Brian Henson (of Muppet fame) is attached to direct."

The plot is said to be a mix between Pulp Fiction and Avenue Q with a plethora of sex, violence, and outrageous puppet-humor. The plot may also seem a bit familiar to fans of the TV series Angel from a episode in season five titled "Smile Time" in which Angel becomes a puppet after investigating a series of murders that take place on a children’s show of the same name (not to be confused with "Happytime"). We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the film as more details develop.

New ‘Watchmen’ Motion Comic Released

watchmenWith the release of the first chapter of Watchmen in July, things have quieted down for Warner Premiere and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. With an initial promise of bi-weekly episodes of Watchmen and Batman: Mad Love back in the summer, that was inevitably altered due to the ongoing legal battle revolving around the film, and the insurmountable success of Dark Knight. Finally, after four months of waiting, a second chapter for Watchmen has been released on such platforms as iTunes, Amazon Video On Demand, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 for a small price. Warner Premiere also recently announced additions to their Motion Comic projects. Premiere has now stated that Mad Love will be attached as a DVD extra for the Dark Knight DVD later this year and that the Watchmen motion comic will be released every two weeks, continuing with chapter 3 on October 20.

Sadly, the hiatus didn’t effect the production of the comics, and all characters will still be voiced by narrator Tom Stechschulte, and this includes even the female roles. Those who haven’t caught the first chapter, the illustrations are taken directly from the book, with the characters’ joints and movements animated slightly to act as a hybrid of Audio Book and Flash Animation. It’s worth a watch for anybody who was a fan of the book and needs something to hold them over until the film gets released next May (or not).

You can purchase Chapter 2 from the iTunes Store here.

Goofy is Back With a New Animated Short

In his first theatrical appearance in nearly 50 years, Disney has brought back Goofy for an all new animated short. Much like others in the "How To" series (such as How to Ride a Horse, How to Play Football, and The Art of Skiing), Goofy learns how to hook up a home theater in How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, released in theaters last Christmas.

Directed and co-written by Kevin Deters in his debut, the short was also voiced by Disney veterens Corey Burton and Bill Farmer with music by Michael Giacchino (Lost, The Incredibles). There are lots of nods to previous Disney favorites and it will bring you back to the last Goofy short you saw in theaters in Aquamania in 1961.

The short was partially produced using a new "paperless" production pipeline for Disney, the first major change in production technique for hand-drawn animation at Disney since the introduction of CAPS, and was also an attempt to see if the new digital animation tools could be used to produce a short with the same graphic look as that of a 1940s cartoon.

It was attached to last year’s National Treasure 2, and was also released with the DVD. As mentioned, this is the first theatrical release of a classic Disney character in years. Enjoy as Goofy goes through the same troubles that many of us go through when trying to buy and/or install our brand new, state of the art, home theater set up.

Check out the video below, thanks to our friends at JoBlo, or you can purchase the video for multiple viewings through iTunes for $1.99. Enjoy!


Official Roster Announced for MK vs DC

jokerOn the heels of last week’s big release of LEGO Batman: The Videogame, Midway has announced the final characters for their newest game; Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. The story takes place after the two franchises collide during a universal "crisis" (probably not the same one). Now fanboys (and fangirls) can finally their aggression on the Justice League like it’s their job. Here’s the complete list:

      DC Comics Universe:

  •  Batman
  • Superman
  • Catwoman
  • Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
  • Shazam (Captain Marvel, not wizard)
  • The Flash (Barry Allen)
  • Deathstroke
  • Wonder Woman
  • The Joker
  • Lex Luthor
  • Darkseid

      Mortal Kombat:

  • Scorpion
  • Sub-Zero
  • Sonya
  • Jax
  • Shang Tsung
  • Liu Kang
  • Raiden
  • Kitana
  • Kano
  • Baraka
  • Shao Kahn

The game is currently slated for a November release on the PS3 and XBox 360, and for the real gaming fans, you can see a complete list of achievements to unlock here On the page, there is reference to a character only called "JF". No word on who this can be, possibly another cameo? You decide.



Review: ‘Chuck’ Season 2 Premiere

Review: ‘Chuck’ Season 2 Premiere

chuckWith NBC going into the fall season with a fairly light deck, [[[Chuck]]] is the one fan favorite that makes sure to deliver on it’s promises (unlike another show involving superpowers). This season of Chuck is said to be bigger and more adventurous than it’s first, while bringing in some great cameos along the way.

We left off last season where Chuck was finally coming into his own as a spy-computer, assuming the Bond-style alias Charles Carmichael. The romance between Chuck and Sarah also spiced up, but could never be due to their job. Also, Adam Baldwin’s Casey was given instructions that a replacement intercept (the computer that is in Chuck’s brain) is being built, and when it is, he has to take Chuck out.

This season picks right up in the action as Chuck’s life is in danger by a new baddie, played by Michael Clarke Duncan. He explains basically the entire premise of the show, which is great for newcomers. Chuck, of course, escapes and the spy trio is now in possession of the piece they need to create the newest intercept. Chuck is told that once the machine is up and running, his duty as a spy supercomputer is over and he’s free to live his life. Meanwhile, they shadowy government figures have already told Casey that he is to assassinate Chuck when the machine is built. The episode on a whole held through from start to finish, setting up some great storylines down the road and coming together at the end of the episode like any spy serial really should.

A big step for season two is character expansion. Now that everyone is established, it’s time to take them all to new places. Casey goes through a conflict which shows a more softer side, while Sarah and Chuck grow closer together as a couple. Chuck also realizes that it may be time to move on from the Buy More and get a new job, which could mean “goodbye” to Morgan and the Nerds. This season could mean a lot more “whining and screaming” from Chuck and some action that we would expect from a Spy Comedy Series. Some great things to expect this season are cameos from both Michael Clarke Duncan and John Larroquette, A new job (with new skimpy outfit) for Sarah, and even a death (or two) from a major character.

Anyone who isn’t caught up on the show should do so by picking up the DVD (available now). The series isn’t heavy and overall fun to watch. Between the skimpy outfits, endearing lead, and a badass Adam Baldwin, there’s something in it for the whole family. Season 2 premieres tonight on NBC right before [[[Heroes]]] at 8pm ET. RATING 8/10

‘Fear(s) of The Dark’ Comes To the UK

‘Fear(s) of The Dark’ Comes To the UK

fearsStarting October 3, the critically acclaimed animated horror film Fear(s) of the Dark will be getting distribution in cinemas across the United Kingdom, before it makes it’s way over to the US later that month by IFC.

The film, which won Official Selection at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, among a dozen other awards, is an anthology of six intertwined black-and-white segments that represent a girl’s different fears. Aside from being having having astounding reviews by both critics and professionals alike, the film brings together several international comic creators for the segments.

Coming together on the film are Blutch (from the French comic Dungeon), Italian comic artist Lorenzo Mattotti, cartoonist Charles Burns, french artist Marie Caillou, designer Pierre Di Sciullo, and graphic artist Richard McGuire.

The premiere is currently set for September 30th in London, and if you are in the area, you may even be able to score passes from your friends here at ComicMix (more details coming soon). For now, check out the international trailer below and look for Fear(s) of the Dark to make it’s way to American theaters Friday, October 24.



Megan Fox to Play Lead in ‘Fathom’

Megan FoxSince this year’s tragic death of comic creator Micheal Turner, many of his projects that were in production were put to rest, but recent news came through that the film adaptation of Turner’s acclaimed series Fathom may have gotten some new juice.

The film has been in production since late 2001, when James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment owned the rights. Things were in limbo for a while, and according to IESB, the film was recently acquired by 20th Century Fox, to be produced under their independent department Fox Atomic. The studio is currently putting the franchise out to several writers that they are hoping would revamp the script for use as a genre vehicle for Megan Fox. Those know Fox from last year’s Transformers, playing opposite Shia Lebouf, and sources say that she has officially signed on to the project as lead character Aspen.

For those unaware, Fathom is about Aspen Matthews, an young amnesiac who is found aboard a cruise ship which arrives 10 years after it was thought to have disappeared. She is adopted by naval officer Captain Matthews and while growing up, develops a unique fascination with the ocean. Aspen’s love for the water only grows, as she excels in swimming and even won the gold for her Olympic swimming team. Aspen later uncovers that she’s not human, but a member of the world of the Blue. She later discovers her great water-based powers and uncovers her whole history.

Fathom was originally published by Top Cow Comics in 1998 and finished the first volume in 2002. It was then taken up by Turner’s own publishing company Aspen and is currently being released with Volume 3 #1 debuting on August 6 of this year. You can also see Megan Fox next in How to Lose Friends & Alienate People out this year and returning as Mikaela Banes in next summer’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. She will also be seen next year in Diablo Cody’s Jennifer’s Body.

Review: Knight Rider Premiere

knight rider nbcIn an attempt to make up for NBC’s flop of a reboot last year with [[[Bionic Woman]]] comes the new and improved [[[Knight Rider]]] which is like the original series, but with a revamped KITT, a younger cast, a brand new back-story, and fantastic special effects, this show has the potential be a win for NBC’s fall lineup. Many will be going into this “pilot” with some hesitation after February’s TV movie (which was technically the pilot), due to the fact that the show lacked in story structure, was full of WB-level acting, and gave work to David Hasselhoff. Happily, this episode fixed many of those issues and made the hour mildly entertaining.

The story from the original movie is that terrorists go after and “kill” scientist Charles Graiman (Bruce Davison) who helped work on the supercar Knight Industries Three-Thousand, or K.I.T.T. (see what they did there?), which drives away to find Graiman’s next of kin; his daughter Sarah (Deanna Russo). They meet up and Sarah decides to go to her old flame for help, a renegade army ranger named Michael Traceur (Jason Bruening) who is in his own heap of trouble with a whole “the-government-erased-my-brain-not-unlike-in-[[[The Bourne Identity]]]” plot of his own going on. By the end of the movie, Michael decides to become an agent for the newly reformed Foundation (an updated version of the original show’s F.L.A.G.) and drive KITT permanently.

This first episode takes off right in the middle of the action, as main characters Michael and Sarah are on a James Bond-style mission when Sarah gets kidnapped and Michael and KITT go after her, when they learn that these mystery men were actually after Michael and what he “knows”. This triggers the running theme of the episode, as everybody is trying to obtain clearance levels that they don’t have. Lots of shtupping going on for one episode, as there is presumed sexual tension between Sarah and Michael, and also between some other nondescript characters back in what can only be described as the KITTcave.

The KITT effects are easily the coolest part of the show so far. With essentially a Transformer voiced by Val Kilmer, it’s a pretty good answer to the “futuristic” car we got in 1982. There are some great uses of modern special effects where the car can turn into a pick-up truck—and back again—without crushing the passengers inside! Granted, this makes the show basically a weekly 40-minute commercial for Ford, but it is still pretty cool for any fan of the original series who wanted more than a bunch of cool [[[Dukes of Hazzard]]] jumps and William Daniels.

The bad points: there are some very cheeky moments back at the “base” with the wacky super nerds (a stereotype NBC seems to love) throughout the show, which comes across as incongruous for the show’s dynamic. Three-quarters of the show consisted of shadowy government types, as the overall story of the first episode was the death of Michael Traceur and the birth of Michael Knight, which was originally helmed by Michael’s father, Hasselhoff.

The biggest weakness for the show by a stretch is certainly the amount of different elements that the show tries to cram into 40 minutes. With that said, there is still plenty of action to keep you entertained, but add that in with the government mystery storyline, Michael finding out who erased his memory and why, the “Sam & Diane” storyline between Sarah and Michael, the plucky sidekicks, a unnecessarily dominant Sydney Poiter (the daughter, not Mr. Tibbs) and the dry wit of Val Kilmer as KITT, it becomes too much to keep track of. Each element on it’s own would make for great B-story to go along with the weekly spy thriller of the show, but cramming all of this in at once only proves to be confusing and hard to keep straight. The show certainly has potential to make it farther than last year’s Bionic Woman, but may have trouble keeping it up for more than a season unless they can find some solid structure, drop a few secondary storylines, or at least bring Will Arnett back as K.I.T.T. RATING: 7/10