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New Voltron Animated Series Coming To Netflix!

Quick! What do you get when you cross Guillermo Del Torro of Pacific Rim fame, Dreamworks Animation, Netflix, and five mechanical lions from the 1980s?

A new FRICKIN VOLTRON ANIMATED SERIES that’s what!

Gimmie one quick second while the 8 year old boy in me mentally runs Frosted Flakes fueled laps around in my brain.

BWAYAAAYAHAHYAHAA!!!

Freaking Voltron? Defender of The Universe? My favorite childhood cartoon? Finally back on TV in full computer animated glory? And produced by Guillermo Del Torro?

2016 is off to an amazing start already.

In a recent statement from Netflix they announced not only is a new Voltron show in development from Del Torro but a new fantasy show named Trollhunters as well.

Trollhunters? What could that be about? Maybe a bunch of kids band together to hunt those creepy naked Treasure Trolls that have plagued the countryside in their kingdom? I’d watch that and it would fit with the warm feelings of nostalgia that the Voltron news is bringing.

 

voltron tv showVoltron, if you missed out, is the American version of a Japanese anime entitled Beast King GoLion that ran on the 80’s airwaves after school in the afternoons. The show made little sense as it involved four escaped space freedom fighters who live in an abandoned castle on the planet of Arus. There, they were members of the Voltron force. Pilots of giant mechanized lions that could fly through space, looked cool as hell, and of course could combine together to form a giant mute robot named Voltron. Think of it as an animated version of Power Rangers without the hokey martial arts and with more emphasis put on giant robots and monsters kicking the crap outta each other as it should be.

There was also of course a second version of Voltron which featured a series of cars and vehicles that formed a much more dopey looking robot, but let’s never speak of it again. (It’s hard to look cool with helicopter circles on your shoulders and Toyota’s for feet.)

But in all seriousness, say what you will of Pacific Rim, but the actions sequences were pretty spectacular and as it seems a sequel will never come to pass, this may be the next best thing. Better actually as I’d take a new Voltron over Pacific Rim 2 any day and night.

I can’t wait to see some concept art of what the new lions will look like in the new Voltron animated series and if the show will go for a more realistic gritty edge as I’d expect from Del Torro or stay close to the innocent charm of the original series.

What was your favorite lion growing up? Assemble Voltron in the comments below!

 

 

Christoph Waltz Signed For TWO More Bond Films. But ONLY If Daniel Craig Returns.

Christoph Waltz Signs For Two More Bond Films. Will Return Only If Daniel Craig Plays Bond Again

Pinch me I must be dreaming.

I’ve been a big fan of Daniel Craig’s James Bond since he first put on the dinner jacket in Casino Royale and was really worried we might not get anymore of Craig’s Bond after his much publicized threats to quit the franchise after Spectre. I believe the quote was, “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists.” You gotta love that stiff British humor.

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One of the highlights of Spectre was seeing Christoph Waltz’s take on legendary Bond villain Blofeld. It was a lot like seeing Craig play Bond for the first time, a modern incarnation of a classic character.

Which is why it was such a shame to hear Craig was ready to drop the Walther PPK while in his prime. Rumors soon swirled around the internet at who should be the next Bond with a large group advocating Idris Elba should be next.

But never count Bond out as Waltz has reportedly signed on for at least two more cracks at Blofeld on the condition that Craig comes back as well.

if this comes to pass, and let’s all hope it does, this would set the current films up for a nice two part story to send Craig’s Bond off into the sunset properly and establish himself as the defacto version of James Bond from now on. Sorry Sean Connery, but your claim to fame may soon be in jeopardy.

Daniel Craig james bond

I never cared for James Bond before having grown up on Pierce Bronson’s increasingly campy 007 films. I just never saw the appeal. To me, Bond was just a hollow smirk wrapped in an emotionless character. Unchanging. Infallible. Boring.

But Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond was the complete opposite in every way. He was a hot head. He screwed up. His trademark confidence became over confidence, and one of his biggest character flaws. He got angry. He actually fell in love. He cried!

Now here was a version of Bond I could, and did get behind. I’m a big fan of all the latest Bond movies since, Quantum of Solace at some good scenery at least.

Recent statements by Daniel Craig seem to suggest he may be backtracking on his slit writs statements, and open to returning to Bond at least once more. But with Waltz in tow two movies, filmed back to back perhaps, may not be much of a stretch.

Pirate Apology: HIVE-CM8 Leak “Hateful Eight” Then Apologize

Pirates Apologize to Tarantino for Spoiler Leak of Hateful Eight — Sort Of

Quentin Tarantino‘s film, The Hateful Eight was leaked by some online pirates just days before its much-anticipated release in cinemas. That unapproved and unlawful pre-release became a large scandal. Now the group that leaked the movie has made an unprecedented (and unusual)  apology / justification.

After first going into hiding, Hive-CM8 has taken responsibility for the leak and now says “We feel sorry for the trouble we caused by releasing that great movie before [offical screening] had even begun. We never intended to hurt anyone by doing that. We didn’t know it would get that popular that quickly.”

However, Hive goes on to claim that the leak has resulted in free “media hype” and that news of the leak created publicity that actually helped ticket sales of the movie in theaters and also will help the movie long-term. Adding addition question to their sincerity is the fact that the apology accompanied Hive’s pirated release of the Christian Bale movie The Big Short, (which had already opened on December 23rd).

It is not uncommon to see movies getting leaked on torrent sites before actually reaching the theaters. But this is the first time a pirate group has chosen to make an apology to a director.

Hive and other sites like them, regularly release copies of awards “screeners” to the public. Screeners are advance DVDs sent to critics, awards voters, and other film industry professionals, including producers and distributors. It is not difficult for one of those many DVDs to find its way into the wrong hands.

Hive attempted to dispel rumors that the leaked screener copies had been sourced by illegal computer hacking. “We got the copies sold from a guy on the street, no decryption was needed. We were definitely not the only ones [to have obtained copies]. A couple of other movies had been on the net days before, not done by us,” they say.

While the group has certainly released content in the past for notoriety, this time Hive says it wants to help those too poor to get the movie through legitimate channels. “So we wanted to share movies with the people who are not rich enough or not able to watch all nominated movies in the cinema. Of course [these files] are not representing the movies how they can be enjoyed in the cinema.”

After thanking Quentin Tarantino for a “wonderful movie,” Hive wrote that The Hateful Eight should be a top awards candidate and will “win by a mile” over its rivals. And, significantly, Hive did announce that the Tarantino scandal prompted a change in their policy: “…its pre-release will mark the last time that Hive leaks content before it appears in cinemas. We won’t do another movie before its [theatrical release].” Here’s hoping that the word of a pirate can be trusted. 

Click here to read The Film Box’s review of The Hateful Eight.

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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

UPDATE: George Lucas Disney Apology for “White Slavers” Comment

George Lucas Backpeddles Big-Time: Sorry for “White Slavers” Comment re Star Wars

George Lucas apologized for the “very inappropriate analogy” he used in comparing Disney to “white slavers,”  a statement he made during a lengthy interview with CBS newsman Charlie Rose, when discussing the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

Click to see the original report from The Film Box.

In his lengthy interview with Charlie Rose, the Star Wars creator had expressed rather dramatic disapproval  of Disney’s handling of his space epic, despite the $4 billion cash and stock payoff he got in the 2012 sale to Disney. He not only suggested control of the franchise had gone to “white slavers” but added that he did not agree with the “retro” approach the entertainment conglomerate had taken with the film.

Click to see our article, with a link to the actual interview, including the “white slavers” comment.

“I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership,” Lucas said in his statement, issued Thursday afternoon by Disney. “Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks.”

Ha. That’s a very different statement than he made on Charlie Rose — a complete 180 turn. It’s one thing to apologize for using the wrong word, and another to change your entire story. Lucas: Get a better PR company.
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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

George Lucas Says Disney Co. “White Slavers” to Charlie Rose

Star Wars: The Force Awakens George Lucas From His Satisfied Slumber

In an interview with Charlie Rose, broadcast on December 25th and released online this week, George Lucas criticized the latest installment of Star Wars, the series he created, saying he was unhappy with the direction the franchise has taken since he sold the rights to it, along with Lucasfilm, his company, to Disney for $4 billion.  He criticized the film industry in general for focusing on profit over storytelling.

But speaking about his creation in particular, he said “These are my kids, all the Star Wars films… I love them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them.” And he add (with a laugh), “And I sold them to the white slavers…”
Was he just kidding? Maybe, maybe not. 

Click here to watch Lucas the interview. 

The film that Disney made, Star Wars, The Force Awakens, has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide since its release on December 18th.  Fans delighted in seeing their old favorites — from characters to spaceships — make a comeback appearance. But Lucas explained that he worked very hard to make each of his Star Wars films different, and the new movie was “retro” and re-used old concepts and designs, and he thinks that’s a disservice to the integrity of the series and betrays his commitment to true storytelling.

UPDATE: Lucas back-peddled and apologized for his “white slavers” comment, and more. It’s a startling and hard-to-believe turn-around. Click here to read about it.

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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

Hateful Tweets About Hateful Eight 70-mm Roadshow Projection Problems

Hateful Tweets About Hateful Eight 70-mm Roadshow Projection Problems

It seems there were more than eight people being hateful at the opening weekend showings of Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight film and its much-advertised 70-mm roadshow experience. Despite a strong opening in terms of attendance, projection problems plagued several screenings over Christmas weekend. Some projections were out of focus, while others had no sound or experienced soundtrack synching issues, according to reactions on Twitter. Even screenings that were largely watchable still had minor noticeable glitches in the corners of the screen.

Erik Lomis, distribution chief for The Weinstein Company, asserted that the problems occurred at fewer than 1% of the weekend showings. However, the reaction on Twitter made it sound like a widespread issue, or as one user called it, an “epidemic.”

Although it’s understandable why audiences would be frustrated and disappointed, it should be noted that the projection issues were faults of exhibition (such as inexperienced projectionists) and not production problems. There was nothing wrong with the actual celluloid print of the film. Considering the positive reaction to the revival of the 70-mm format that audiences expressed in general, let the following reactions be a call for more capable projectionists and not proof that shooting on 70-mm is no longer a viable option.

Quotes from recent tweets:

“Intermission at a 70mm screening in San Jose. So far, three instances of frame going out of alignment. One full-out film break.”

“I’m officially apologizing to (removed) for thinking he was too “sky is falling” re: 70mm H8 screenings. It’s an epidemic at this point.”

“Best part of the broken 70MM projector/Hateful 8 print at King of Prussia? The snide theater manager “This is why we don’t do film.”

“Saw it in Toronto. it was out of focus for at least 20 minutes before they could fix it.”

“Not so bad that it ruined the movie, but bad enough to be an annoyance the entire runtime.”

“Saw it today, image was blurry and fuzzy the entire time. Seemed like they gave up trying to fix it after the intermission.”

“Heard about issues in Vancouver, BC too. Switched to digital without telling the customers until the end of the movie.”

For those of you not lucky enough (or unlucky, as the case may be) to see one of the limited-release “roadshow” screenings, you’ll be able to lay eyes on the movie one day sooner than expected.  Due to popular demand, the wide-release of Hateful Eight at more than 2000 theaters around the country, has been moved up. It will open digitally on December 30th,  a day in advance of its planned New Years Eve release.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange Revealed

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange Is A Dead Ringer For Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme

The newest issue of Entertainment Weekly has hit the stands and has the first official photo of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange smack dab on the cover.

Cumberbatch makes for a pretty good Doctor Strange, no?

Due for release on November 4th, 2016, Marvel’s Doctor Strange will be a Marvel movie unlike any that’s come before. As superhero movies have become more mainstream Marvel has knowingly been looking to test the boundaries of what a superhero movie can be. You can see how successful they’ve been with this strategy by looking no further than 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The film arguably has more in common with Star Wars than the Avengers but ended up being the third highest grossing film of the year. Just beating out Captain America: the Winter Soldier which was more of a political thriller than a standard superhero movie itself.

Which leaves us with, Marvel’s Doctor Strange which is taking superhero movies into the supernatural.

Doctor_Strange_Vol_4_2_Ross_Variant_Textless

But who is Doctor Strange? In the comics before he became Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Stephen Strange was a successful surgeon who had his hands severely damaged in a car accident. Desperate to regain the use of his hands, Strange traveled the world looking for any and all types of cures to repair the nerve damage in his hands which eventually lead him to the Himalayas where he was tutored by an old hermit called the Ancient One in the mystic arts. His powers amplified by the mystical amulet, the Eye of Agamotto which he wears around his neck, Doctor Strange spends most of his time fighting evil demons rather than evil businesses and world conquering organizations.

 

cumberbatch doctor strangeAs you can see, Benedict Cumberbatch’s costume is rather spot on when compared to the comic book version. The facial hair is just right and there’s even a touch of grey just above the ears in the right places. Even the powerful Eye of Agamotto is worn around his neck right where it should be. Marvel Studios really does a great job transferring the look of their characters to the silver screen with excellent casting and great costume design and Doc Strange seems to be the latest in their slam dunks.

What’s interesting is that rumors about the movie have suggested the film will do away with Strange’s origin story and start with Cumberbatch already well established as Doctor Strange when the movie begins. If you paid attention, you’ll remember there is a brief mention of Doctor Strange’s character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a person of interest that S.H.I.E.L.D already has under surveillance. This would seem to confirm that Strange is already doing his thing and fighting demons in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the current time. Again, Marvel is looking to take superhero films in new directions and Doctor Strange may prove origin stories may be old and unnecessary in these times of mainstream superhero flicks.

We’ll have to wait and see as we get closer to November 4th and as more information and behind the scenes photos appear.

 

 

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip Review

Review: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip Is A Road Trip to Nowhere

Another year, another Chipmunks movie.

Way back in 2007 the first CGI chipmunks graced the silver screen in Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks-The-Road-Chip-Trailer-2-3

For what it was, I thought the 2007 movie was actually pretty good. As good as a modern adaptation of the ageless trio of signing mischief making chipmunks could be. Quite impressive considering the chipmunks have been with us since 1958. The CGI was convincing in the both the look of the chipmunks and how they interacted with the world. The story was entertaining in that it was a tongue in cheek origin story focused on  the tug of war over who would take care of the boys. The caring and fatherly, Dave Seville (Jason Lee) or the despicably greedy record exec, Ian Hawke (David Cross). The script cleverly had the kiddie humor come from Alvin and his brothers while the more adult jokes came courtesy of the excellent casting of Lee and Cross.

jason lee chipmunks

In all seriousness, Jason Lee is a very good Dave Seville throughout all the chipmunk movies who plays a kind, warm and loving father to the boys. Lee does a great job of acting straight with a straight face considering his main costars are three imaginary singing chipmunks. And David Cross, who is funny in everything he does, was a great antagonist who was absurdly funny in also playing his corporate exec character in a straight and deadpan fashion against his furry adversaries.

The first film was widely successful making nearly 6 times it’s 60 million budget back which of course is a huge greenlight for sequels which came in the form of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Sqeuakquel (2009), Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011) and now Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip.

Thankfully Jason Lee is back for the 4th film, but sadly, David Cross does not return for the Road Chip which probably has to do with comments he made about his involvement in Chipwrecked in which he called the producers ant-Jew on late night TV and said the filming was one of the worst experiences of his life as he spent nearly a week on a Carnival cruise shooting scenes stuck in a pelican costume for no reason. Comments he later apologized for, but if you’ve ever seen the film you can see his misery onscreen which I only thought made his performance all the more amusing.

The Road Chip opens with Alvin trying waaaay to hard to throw a massive house party which is fitting considering that after three previous movies, the Road Chip is in the same boat. Of course Dave comes home to find his house wrecked and let loose a deafening “ALVIIIIN!” scream. Normally the boys would be super grounded but they avoid punishment as Dave is leaving for Miami on a business trip and wants to spend time with the chipmunks before he leaves.

They all go miniature golfing the next day where the boys learn Dave has a new girlfriend (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) who the boys really like, but who also has a bratty son named, Miles (Josh Green) who loves nothing more than to torment the chipmunks at every opportunity. Alvin soon discovers Dave has an engagement ring which he fears would solidify the torture Miles brings upon the boys by adding him to their family, something Miles wants no part of either. So off Miles and the chipmunks go to travel to Miami and stop Dave from proposing.

Along the way they run afoul of a power tripping air marshall played by another Arrested Development alum, Tony Hale, who goes to ludicrous lengths to bring the three chipmunks to justice for hijinks committed while flying. The boys soon find themselves on the no fly list and resort to bumming rides across the southern states to make it to Miami.

road chip

And that’s pretty much the movie. Along the way the chipmunks run into odd charterers and strange situations while trying to stay one step ahead of the crazed air marshall hot on their furry heels. But after four chipmunk movies everything is as stale as the popcorn hidden under your theater seat. The jokes this time around aren’t very funny, the problems the trio find themselves in have all been done before. That’s to be expected. But what really shows the franchise is growing old and tired already is the lack of amusing  celebrity cameos and relevant pop songs that should be easy softballs any chipmunks movie should hit out of the park. That the film can’t even get out of bed to cover these basics shows you how much lack of effort went into making the Road Chip.

Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks-The-Road-Chip

The only enjoyable parts revolve around Dave’s interaction with the boys. Jason Lee literally and figuratively carries the chipmunks on his shoulders through the film and it’s a shame he isn’t focused on more in the same way Homer has become the main focus of the Simpsons as the seasons wore on. And again, missing David Cross hurts as well.

But what do I know? I’m trying to critically break down a chipmunks movie. A movie that clearly wasn’t intended for me in the first place. Though I liked the chipmunks as a kid and admit to even owning a few of their records, they have clearly passed me by.

It only makes sense that we should go with what the film’s real audience has to say about it.

And in that case I can say that my kids loved it.