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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The first CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR trailer is here

It's been filming for quite some time, so I knew it was only a matter of weeks before we got the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War...though many had assumed it would debut in front of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Nope, Jimmy Kimmel gets the first go at it....and here it is:

I think the whole "Cap, you're a vigilante" thing is a bit of a stretch, and is going to require the movie to do some heavy lifting in that regard. But I have faith it'll work, the Captain America movies are easily my favorite of the Marvel Studios bunch, I'm fairly certain that streak will continue here. It's a good trailer!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: THE GOOD DINOSAUR presents an unambitious form of Pixar

Back in June, Pixar released Inside Out, a phenomenally successful film that restored my faith in a studio that was beginning to flag a bit in the face of cash-in sequels and less engaging original properties. That early Summer release may very well end up my favorite film of the year. This week marks the debut of the critically reinvigorated giant's holiday feature, The Good Dinosaur; a project that saw its fair share of struggles to make it to the screen, including an overhaul of almost the entire cast a few months ago. While, no Pixar movie has ever not been the product of a team of creatives, there's been a quietly dismissive vibe surrounding Peter Sohn's feature-length debut with the studio.

In an elevator pitch, The Good Dinosaur has a can't-miss premise, especially for the younger set: "What if the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs actually missed the planet and instead humans and dinosaurs co-existed?". That's as solid as any idea Pixar has had, but for their films to actually work on screen, they typically have to transcend those base level hooks in a way that keeps the happenings on screen from dulling the parents taking their little ones into a popcorn fueled coma. On balance, the studio has been able to manage that task fairly effectively, with examples like Toy StoryWall-E, Up, and The Incredibles immediately springing to mind, though there are others as well.

With The Good Dinosaur, we're looking at an effort that's more in line with A Bug's Life, but not quite falling to the level of Cars. It's a reasonably well told-adventure story that focuses on the plight of Arlo, a somewhat runtish Apatosaurus who, much like his bigger siblings, wants to "make his mark" with his family (on their farm, this is literally being able to place your pawprint on the family's food silo) and get over his overriding fear of basically everything that surrounds him. One of the tasks given Arlo is to trap and kill whom or whatever is eating his family's supply of corn. It turns out the little critter is actually a caveboy that Arlo can't bring himself to strike down. From that decision, tragedy strikes and it leads Arlo and "Spot" (his name for the young human) on an adventurous and dangerous path that will force the now-lost Arlo to come into his own and become the kind of person that his family can be proud of while he tries to find his way back home.

That's basically the thematic content you can expect here, and it doesn't get any deeper. But really, if you temper your expectations away from what we often expect from better Pixar features, and pare it down to "kids really like dinosaurs, and I bet my kids will like this movie that has relatively not-scary dinosaurs in it", this'll surely do the trick over the Thanksgiving weekend. It's very meat and potatoes and unambitious, and that's okay. It has other virtues in the character design department, and the environments in which Arlo and Spot travel are especially well envisioned. It lacks the pizzazz of Inside Out's various aspects of the mind, but the naturalistic quality somewhat brought to mind some of the older down-home animated efforts that I seemed to be far more prevalent in the 70's and 80's. Many of the dinosaurs even have southern accents, though some are a little more successful than others, to be fair.

There may be a few moments here and there that'll give some audience members more of jump-scare than some parents may care for. A scene with a lizard-snake and some evil Raptor-rustlers immediately spring to mind as "possibly too scary", and there aren't many memorable gags, though when Arlo and Spot eat the wrong fruit there's an all too short amazing visual that feels as if it was pulled right out of Animal Man.

In summation, The Good Dinosaur is fine, but if you're looking for something that stands out from the Dreamworks and lesser Disney animation glut, I wouldn't bother.

As an aside, the short that comes right before, Sanjay's Super Team, is outstanding and very affecting, blowing away the painfully banal Lava that preceded Inside Out. I look forward to that short's director Sanjay Patel getting a feature-length opportunity soon.
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Daredevil, The Flash, Gotham: Superhero Shows Rise to the Top

by Brittni Williams

Once the province of a highly localized and insular fanbase, comic book medium has become among the most popular subgenres for almost every other genre in one way or another. This is no more obvious than on television where the successes of superhero movies is helping to build a small screen audience that wants longer plots, more complex characters, and explorations of concepts that can't be covered in two hours. Regardless, from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Supergirl, there is a superhero show for almost any taste with more on the way.

Superhero shows as a concept are not new. Classic series like Linda Carter's Wonder Woman and the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno The Incredible Hulk still maintain a place of honor on the DVD shelves of many people who either a fan of the comics or who simply love these characters. Further, there are some who would argue that animated series like those in the DC Animated Universe (DCAU), specifically the ones based on Bruce Timm's unique designs, have some of the most true to "life" portrayals of these iconic characters ever put to screen.

However, since 2011's successful completion of the experiment known as Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, every station has been scrambling to find a toehold in the live-action superhero television show market.

It wasn't long after The Avengers hit theaters that DC, floundering at the box office, decided to try their hand at one of their properties airing on the safe-bet network owned by their parent company: The CW. Arrow became an instant hit despite fan displeasure at the grittier and more murder-happy Oliver Queen than they had been used to in the comics. However, the show gave them an opportunity to witness something that couldn't be done with a movie's constraints: they were able to watch Queen evolve and start to find redemption. In its fourth year now, that process is still ongoing, but it was compelling enough to inspire not just one spin off, the highly successful and much-beloved The Flash, but now a second one starting in January: Legends of Tomorrow.

Of course, NBC and Fox have also found space for DC comics on their networks, airing Supergirl and Gotham (which are also on demand via Xfinity and DirecTV). NBC tried a Constantine series last year but cut it half way through the season, resulting in much fan disappointment and a return of the character and actor as a guest star in Arrow resulting in some of the highest ratings the show has seen.

And of course Marvel has also made its mark, tying their shows into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing yeoman's work acclimating viewers to the Inhumans well in advance of the film's 2019 release date, and Agent Carter has managed to explore a supporting character from the first Captain America film, making her into an instant icon. Further, the Netflix original series Daredevil released to rave critical and fan reviews for its ability to tell stories that don't fit into networks in either time or tone. Early looks at Jessica Jones suggest a similar hit.

Best of all, because of the increasing popularity of these films and shows, comic companies are seeing a boom in sales for their print stories, even for characters that haven't been featured on any shows like Ms. Marvel or Harley Quinn. If this keeps up, producers are more than likely going to listen to the fans and continue to create even more shows for characters in the comic book universe. Who knows, perhaps we’ll even see Batman’s sidekick, Robin, become Nightwing, witness Wolverine’s female clone, X-23, assassinate some bad guys, or watch The Runaways in a typical mutant superhero teenage dramedy.

Superheroes speak to a deep human need to be significant. Each speaks to it in their own way, but superheroes are marked, more than anything, by agency. We see them and we like to think, for just a moment, that given the same circumstances that we would do the same. We would take control of a chaotic world and make it better because we had the ability. Whether it's John Constantine searching for redemption, Barry Allen's joyful embrace of his powers, Phil Coulson's dedication to duty, or Matt Murdock's love of justice, these characters are both inspirational and aspirational. They make us want to do better and with so many of them on television we can have that feeling several times a week.
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Monday, November 23, 2015

DC'S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW gets a new trailer and premiere date

Much like how the second season of Agent Carter will be arriving at the midseason break of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The CW's Arrow/Flash spinoff DC's Legends of Tomorrow will be doing the same for its two superhero success stories. 

The network announced today that the new series would debut on January 21, 2016 and marched out a new trailer to boot:


 Vandal Savage, Time Travel, Rip Hunter, this looks pretty darn fun. Who's in?
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Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 101

Black Magick #2
by Nicola Scott
I love the simplicity here, both in design and in how it is nearly black and white with only a touch of blue. That and the fantastic sense of depth in the spiral make this one really stand out.
 Silver Surfer #15
by Mike Allred
I loved this cover from the get go–the cartoony cosmos, the polka dot black hole–and then I realized that the two Silver Surfers are perfect mirror images, including the silver!
 We Are Robin #6
by Jorge Corona
These covers have consistently had great conceptual designs, and this may be my favorite. The way Corona uses the shadows of the buildings as an oppressive force is really nice.
 Archie #4
by Jaime Hernandez
Man, who wouldn't go for a Jaime Hernandez Archie book? I can't express how much I love this!
 Guidebook to the Marvel Cinematic Universe #2
by Mike Del Mundo and Pascal Campion
Del Mundo is a master of insanely clever concepts rendered beautifully, in this case even so well it makes me interested in The Incredible Hulk!
 Saga #31
by Fiona Staples
I really love how ambiguous this cover is. The distance and stark walls lend it a cold, lonely feel, but the light at the top of the frame seems to bring warmth to the image.
 Jupiter's Circle #1
by Bill Sienkiewicz
Damn, what a nice cover. The speckled stars give it a classic cosmic tone, and the poses make it feel like a framed portrait. Very unique and interesting!
 The Tomorrows #5
by Dylan Todd
The computer system scan look here is fun in a '80s sci-fi way, and the great coloring make this one really stand out.
 Colder: Toss the Bones #3
by Juan Ferreyra

A really nice horror concept tied with great dynamic character reaction make this one fun and frightening!

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook!
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New GAME OF THRONES Season 6 promo image hints at a certain character's fate

So, I really, REALLY didn't like the most recent season of Game of Thrones. It was messy as all hell, and while I appreciated it streamlining some of George RR Martin's overly-indulgent source material at this stage in the books, some of it may have surprisingly been for the worse.

Anyhoot, here's the first Game of Thrones Season 6 promo, which may provide an answer to the question of Jon Snow's fate...or maybe not. I was surprised at just how much that question that left viewers hanging this past season permeated popular culture. But I guess I just underestimate this series' broad appeal.
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

The GeekRex Podcast Episode 108: Movie Club #1 - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

This week we start a brand new GeekRex tradition! Like our Comic Club (which will make a return soon!), each month one of us will choose a movie, and we will watch and discuss. We'll let you know ahead of time so you can watch and follow along!

For our first Movie Club, Cal picks The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the classic French musical that never fails to surprise!

Music Used in this Episode:

Michel Legrand - “I Will Wait For You"

Listen here, or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher! Don't forget–if you like the show (or have a suggestion on how we can do better), please leave us a review on iTunes!

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