Since the day DOCTOR NO exploded on the screen, the fates and fortunes of James Bond has been in the hands of the Brocceli Family, first with Albert “Cubby” Brocceli and now his daughter Barbara. We sat down with Barbara to talk about the rich history of Bond and how they work out each detail from tone of the story to the Bond Girls, even before the cameras roll – plus G4 gets overhauled and Arnold is CONAN again – really?
Walt Disney deserves its reputation for making magic on a regular basis, starting with the black and white shorts of the 1930s all the way through their current hits on their cable channel. They’ve managed to spread the supernaturally wonderful touch to cartoons, films, television, theme parks, and tons of merchandise. The joy is looking back, seeing the progress as Disney and the Nine Old Men, the master animators, learned the tricks of the trade, refining them and then owning them, setting them apart from all.
The 1950 release, Cinderella, is one of those films where all the elements come together. It possesses a classic story, told with verve and humor, coupled with fluid animation and memorable songs. Disney has spruced the film up, debuting it this week as part of its Diamond edition series of films.
Watching this classic feels fresh thanks to the restoration efforts. The songs sound better, the characters feel funnier, and you grin happily all the way through. The fairy tale was nicely adapted as the young girl found herself trapped in her role as scullery maid to the wicked stepmother and her homely, but favored, two daughters. She makes her wish to attend the ball and is greeted by the lovable but somewhat daffy Fairy Godmother. There’s the ball, the price, the dancing, and the glass hoe left behind as the clock strikes twelve. It’s all there, well-paced and crafted, with natural movements to the humans, saving the exaggerated antics for the anthropomorphized mice that were Cinderella’s friends from the outset.
One of the highlights of Disney’s Diamond releases is seeing how much improved the video image is and Cinderella does not disappoint. The high-definition restoration is amazing, with bright colors and sharp clarity, making the film all the more magical. Accompanying the improved look is amazing sound, which enlivens the overall experience.
Disney rarely skimps on the extras for these special releases and once more, this disc comes chockfull of goodness. The Blu-ray and DVD come nicely packaged in an embossed case but that’s just starting the fun. There are tons of extras that show the history of the film, the filmmaking process, and the usual assortment of excellent featurettes taking us into the magic behind the screen. Thankfully, the Classic Backstage Disney section repurposes all the content from previous editions.
“The Real Fairy Godmother” (12:00) is fascinating in that it is a tribute to Walt’s wife, the inspiration for the supporting player. Daughter Diane Disney Miller appears here along with an optional video introduction to Cinderella. A new Tangled short appears in “Tangled Ever After”, which was in theaters with the last rerelease of Beauty and the Beast but acts as the lead-in to the Cinderella.
In a nice bit of cross-promotion, Snow White, that is Once Upon a Time’s Ginnfer Goodwin, takes you on a tour of the revamped Fantasyland at Disneyland, as “Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland” (8:00) emphasizes the Princesses that have proven a marketing juggernaut. More promotion can be found in the focus on designer Christian Louboutin in “The Magic of a Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story” (10:00).
For Blu-ray fans, there’s the DisneyView option, spotlighting the art of Cristy Maltese, in case those black bars on the sides bother you.
If anything is less than stellar, it’s the Disney Second Screen, accessed via your mobile device or computer, lacking the usual breadth of secrets from the Disney Vault.
With four months of digital success under their belt, Archie Comics brings their superhero stable back to comic shops with the first print issue of New Crusaders, in comic shops this week. Each issue collecting the four weekly “acts” of the digital release, the comic is a response to the many requests from readers who wanted to see a traditional edition as well. Archie has done a good job of it, with several special covers and some extra bonuses not seen in the digital release.
Archie Comics superheroes have had a long and varied publishing history. They premiered in 1939, enjoyed a a re-emergence in the 60s, another in the 80s, a couple revivals that never got out of the gate, and two attempted revivals by DC Comics, the woefully underappreciated Impact imprint from the 90s (helmed by our own Mike Gold), and the more recent Red Circle line which started strong with the J. Michael Straczynski books, but never seemed to find its audience. This time around, Archie has chosen to do the job themselves, and unlike the DC revivals, have made the new series part of the continuity of all their books, starting back in to 40s. While the book has decades of history and continuity, the book is carefully written to not require knowledge of those stories. It can easily be picked up as a first issue, with no fear of getting lost.
The members of the superhero team known as the Mighty Crusaders did something never before heard of in the annals of super-herodom; they succeeded. They beast evil into submission, sent the villains running, and spent the last couple of decades happily retired. After an explosive tease, the story starts with the Crusaders enjoying a reunion in the peaceful town of Red Circle, where Mayor Jack (Steel) Sterling is throwing a party for the heroes and their families. While the heroes reminisce in the Mayoral mansion, their kids are getting to know each other outside. Lucky for them, because one of their greatest foes, alien overlord the Brain Emperor takes the opportunity to take out his old foes all at once. Only Joe Higgins, the original Shield, escapes, and manages to get the kids to safety in his home, or more specifically, his secret headquarters below, where he’s maintained vigilance for the return of their enemies.
Ian Flynn, who’s made quite a name for himself piloting both of Archie’s big video game franchises, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man, handles the writing for the series, and he’s got a solid grasp of what makes an action comic work. Even more importantly, as the digital book is coming out six pages at a time, he’s been able to pace the story so that each weekly chapter reads like a complete adventure, yet still flows smoothly in this single-issue format. Artist Ben Bates has a wonderful open style – his characters are drawn simply, his layouts uncluttered, very reminiscent of Impact artist Mike Parobeck; an art that is complex without being overly busy. There’s lots of easter eggs for older readers; the aforementioned city of “Red Circle” is only the first. In addition to the main adventure, this issue features a reprint of a original Shield story from the 80’s run of the series, written by Marty Greim and art by industry vets Dick Ayres and Rich Buckler.
The print edition of New Crusaders publishes monthly. The digital edition is available via an iPhone app and for the web and other devices via the Iverse website. For a 99 cent weekly subscription, readers receive a new six-page chapter each week, as well as access to a growing library of the classic MLJ/Radio/Archie runs of the comics. For the occasional “Fifth week”, a second series, Lost Crusade, will fill in the blanks of the events between the end of the 80s run of adventures and the new ones. It’s one of the best digital books being done by a major publisher right now, and both it and the new print edition are well worth a look
For those interested in learning more about the members of the Crusaders, I have a series of histories up on my website:
Great film comedies have memorable characters and incidents, usually showing a knack for brilliant casting, and covering turf previously untouched. In 1999, American Pie did all of the above and was a wonderfully funny bit of fluff. It gave us some fine performances, including a resurgent Eugene Levy, the bit with the apple pie, made band camp sound cool, and of course Shannon Elizabeth’s swell nakedness.
The sequels that followed, both theatrical and direct-to-video tried to cash in on the craze but merely retread familiar turf and got less and less funny. Poor Levy would back the truck to the bank to unload all the cash he got to make appearances to at least somehow connect the series together.
However, here we are nine years after American Wedding with American Reunion and it suddenly feels familiar and fresh at the same time. This time around, writer/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, allow the original characters to age so we’re perfectly okay with revisiting them. It’s always good at a reunion to see who got fat, who lost hair, who has succeeded and who has never changed and we get that and more here.
While the storyline announces it’s been thirteen years since high school graduation, putting the characters at 31 or so, everyone looks way too old to be convincing, a danger of casting 20-somethings to play teens. So, what’s everyone been up to? Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have the most interesting dilemma: married and deeply in love but burdened with jobs and an infant so their sex life is nonexistent, except in private, solo moments. Chris “Oz” Ostreicher (Chris Klein) is the most successful of the bunch, a sportscaster who gained national attention for appearing on a dance show. And then there’s Stifler (Seann William Scott), who has a lifetime subscription to the Peter Pan Syndrome and is drifting through life.
Time has passed, though as we see Levy now a widower still mourning his wife’s death while next door neighbor Kara (Ali Cobrin), who Jim used to babysit is now a gorgeous hot to trot 18 year old. It’s Kara who gets to have the memorable nude scene this time around and they cast well since she’s gorgeous and nicely handled the comedic aspects.
All the old gang including Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Finch’s Mother (Jennifer Coolidge), John (John Cho), Vicky (Tara Reid). And others reprise their roles. Newcomers include Dania Ramirez as the ugly duckling turned into hot swan. As a result, all the old feelings, jealousies and behaviors are brought to the fore in interesting ways. It’s far from brilliant and mostly predictable, robbing the fourth film, out Tuesday from Universal Home Entertainment, of being spectacular. The funniest fresh bit may well be Oz losing the dance competition, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris in a nice cameo, to Gilbert Gottfried.
Like walking into the kitchen and the aroma of Mom’s fresh apple pie and being catapulted back to happier, simpler times, this film is a welcome addition to the series and a good chance to see familiar faces who don’t visit often enough.
The transfer to Blu-ray is well handled so the visuals and sound are sharp, not that the film needs either to be entertaining. The Combo Pack comes with Blu-ray and DVD both sold separately, plus an ultraviolet code. The Blu-ray comes replete with 12 bonus features and a commentary. The DVD has some of the features plus the commentary. Although sold as a package with the theatrical and Unrated version, there’s a minute that separates them so blink and you miss it.
Among the extras is a 10:32 “Reunion Reunion” which is all surface and the gag reel is surprisingly tame. Funnier is the “Ouch! My Balls” featurette focusing on the amount of crotch punching the film relies on. Of the handful of deleted scenes only one with Stifler is missed since it sets up the conclusion of his arc. Dancing with Oz and Hangin’ with Jason B are so-so pieces. Clearly the effort was to be funny on the feature itself. The best of the lot is the interactive yearbook where you can select a character and trace their history across the franchise with clips, cast discussions , their most embarrassing moment and their favorite activities.
Fans don’t always realize how much of what they get to read on the marketplace gets out there despite publisher preconceptions. History is filled with any number of books, ranging from A Wrinkle in Time to Confederacy of Dunces to Harry Potter, that hit the market and left in their wake a host of rejections from various editors because the stories didn’t fit in with what they were looking for.
Pulling Up Stakes first made its presence known at various conventions when I first started working on it. I’d read sample chapters and enthused audiences begged to know when it was going to be done so that they could find out what happened next.
Yet when the book was circulated to editors, the reason for their passing on it were impressive, to say the least.
Pulling Up Stakes tells the skewed tale of Vincent Hammond, a twenty-something vampire stalker, who lives with his domineering mother in a small community of hunters tracing their lineage back to the French Revolution. Vince, however, has a rather singular problem: he’s a vampire. And if his mother finds out, she’ll kill him. Literally. So he doesn’t dare come out of the coffin, so to speak and keeping his secret becomes further complicated when…
Well, we’ll get to that at a future date.
Little did I, or the fans who have loved the readings up to that point, know that that Pulling Up Stakes violated too many rules of the genre. Editors who rejected it, however, didn’t hesitate to explain the problems.
First, if you have a vampire story, you have to have a female protagonist.
Second, men can’t write vampire stories. That’s solely the arena of women writers. Bram Stoker, Joss Whedon…you can suck it.
Third, humor doesn’t sell. So apparently you’ve doomed yourself when your vampiric narrator says things like, “Sparklepires? Come on. Real vampires considered the Twilight books to be such a loose flow of unmitigated crap that they were typically referred to as ‘Vampirrhea.’”
So apparently by writing a humorous vampire story with a male protagonist, I managed to hit the trifecta of hopelessness. No publisher would touch it.
And as you, dear reader, work on prying your slack jaw off the floor, consider how nice it would be to send a message to the publishers that maybe, just maybe, thinking outside the box now and then might be a nice idea, by letting everyone know that Pulling Up Stakes is going to be making its debut at Crazy 8 Press in just a few weeks. Because you can’t keep a good undead man down.
- Peter David is “Pulling Up Stakes” (crazy8press.com)
Few films were as atmospheric and downright scary as Deliverance when it was released in 1972. Director John Boorman made an indelible mark on film history with this film which features amazing performances by Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, and James Dickey. Four city men on a weekend canoe trip pit their nerve and muscle against the churning waters of a wild Georgia river — where only three are “delivered” from the heart-pounding experience. These days, most remember the terrific music but forget just how tension-filled the rest of the film was.
A new Blu-ray edition of this seminal film is being released by Warner Home Video on June 26. We have partnered with WHV to host a contest with one copy of the disc to be given away. Please note, we are not able to ship to PO Box addresses and winners must be within the United States.
In 2008, Deliverance was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Pick one of these three qualities and tell us why the film deserves these accolades. Post your comment by 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 29. The judgment of ComicMix will be final.
Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large—Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris)—and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Around the globe, headlines break the news: a scandal takes down an Indian cotton tycoon; a Chinese opium trader dies of an apparent overdose; bombings in Strasbourg and Vienna; the death of an American steel magnate… No one sees the connective thread between these seemingly random events—no one, that is, except the great Sherlock Holmes, who has discerned a deliberate web of death and destruction. At its center sits a singularly sinister spider: Moriarty. Holmes’ investigation into Moriarty’s plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany and finally Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead, and moving perilously close to completing his ominous plan. If he succeeds, it will not only bring him immense wealth and power but alter the course of history.
To win, tell us which is your favorite Sherlock Holmes disguise from this film or its predecessor. All entries must be posted on our site by 11:59 p.m., Monday, June 18. The judgment of ComicMix’s judges will be final. Entrants must have a current domestic address, no post office boxes allowed.
This weekend, the SyFy Channel takes a piece of history and smacks it into a hot reality show. The result, JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK, described as a “thrill ride with a smile”. We talk to the cast & crew to see just how this whole thing got started – plus remember the cool Batman toys from the 60s? They’re coming back!
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