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Oct 202014

hocus-pocus-movie-poster-1619by Alicia Glass, contributing writer

The Sanderson sisters are brought back from the dead when the black flame candle is lit by a virgin on Halloween night, to eat the lives of all the children in Salem!

That being said, not all of Halloween needs to be dark, dank, and dreary. Granted, these are witches who worship Satan, monster zombies, and disbelieving virgins, but come on – it’s the Disney version. This means the sister witches are Bette Midler as bossy Winifred, Kathy Najimy as portly Mary, and Sarah Jessica Parker as ditzy blonde sister Sarah; Satan and his beleaguered wife are the famous Marshalls; spirited black cats can not only talk, but they also get the best one-liners; and every last thing to do with magic, no matter how bad it sounds, is just adorable.

Doug Jones, of the interesting contortions and roles, is Billy Butcherson, poor lost soul and risen zombie with a heart of gold (and moths). Sean Murray is the actor for and voice of Thackery Binx, the talking black cat that is the ultimate Halloween accessory. Omri Katz is main character Max, in what is fairly likely his best role to date, as the jaded, disbelieving virgin who lights that damned black flame candle. Vanessa Shaw is love interest Allison, and a very young Thora Birch is Max’s sister Dani.

Things kick off (yes that is a reference to hanged victims legs twitching) with the Sanderson sisters in dark ages Salem, draining the life of Binx’s sister Emily to retain their youth and beauty. This misjudged action (and Sarah’s lack of ability to keep her pert mouth shut) gets the Sanderson sisters hanged and so begins their legend!

Cut to modern-day Salem (sort of: it’s 1993 in the movie), where just about everyone is thrilled to be preparing for Halloween in one of the most Halloween of towns out there! Max on the other hand, just had to move here and is your typical opinionated California teenager, espousing that Halloween is just a marketing scam for candy companies: an opinion that doesn’t endear him to his schoolmates. Forced to take his little sister Dani trick-or-treating, and desperate to please his crush Allison, Max demonstrates his prowess by breaking into the Sanderson museum and lighting the black flame candle, because really, what’s the worst that could happen? Hear those witchy cackles on the wind? An awesome cast and even a musical number makes this very Disney tale an absolute must for every Halloween viewing party!


Oct 102014

Tomorrowlandby Nur Hussein, staff writer

In August 2013, Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof did an odd, mystery-shrouded promo at the Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, where they brought an old box supposedly found at their studio’s archives and containing items that inspired the story they wrote for their upcoming movie, Tomorrowland. Among them are a (doctored) photo of Walt Disney and Amelia Earhart allegedly taken in 1945 (she disappeared in 1937), an old copy of the sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories from 1928, and a blueprint for the “It’s a Small World” attraction at the World’s Fair in 1964. Since then, details about the movie have been scarce, and all we know so far is that it is about a secret futuristic place, where the protagonists travel (and presumably, have an adventure).

Yesterday, we got a first look at Disney’s secretive new sci-fi movie project. The film is directed and produced by Bird, and we meet two of the protagonists in the first teaser trailer to the movie. Britt Robertson plays Casey Newton, whom we see in the trailer as a youth grumpily collecting her things at the police station. She then touches a mysterious pin that teleports her to a field overlooking a huge, fantastic city. Then we see George Clooney, asking someone if they want to go to a “secret place where nothing is impossible.” Lastly we see Casey Newton in the futuristic city, and a person wearing a jetpack whizzes past her.

We still don’t quite know what the movie will be about, but Lindelof has told Entertainment Weekly that Tomorrowland is like the “Hogwarts of science.” From what I’ve seen, I get vibes of the TV show Eureka, which is also about a secret town full of fantastic science. It is interesting to see how the story will unfold, as it is said to be inspired by early 20th century sci-fi stories. Perhaps there will be a retro-futuristic element to it.

The film will also star another former TV doctor, Hugh Laurie. Other cast members include Raffey Cassidy, Kathryn Hahn, Tim McGraw, Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer and Gary Chalk. The movie is set to be released on May 22, 2015.


Oct 032014

korra (1)by Gene Turnbow, station manager

In a world where movie ideas are derived from computer games that have no plot whatsoever, such as Tetris  and the recently announced movie about Microsoft’s new acquisition Minecraft, it’s refreshing when something actually worth watching happens.  Tonight we get a double feature!

First, it’s The Legend of Korra, the animated series follow-on to the wildly popular Nickolodeon series The Last Airbender. Unfortunately the series has been cancelled, meaning it’s lost its air time schedule position on Nickolodeon. However, in a strange twist of fate, unlike what Cartoon Network did with Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, by the time Nickolodeon Animation Studios got the word that their show had been cancelled they were already most of the way through production on Book 4: Balance. Instead of just flushing all that work, they decided to put it all online instead, one episode per week.  Perhaps online viewing really is replacing cable television – this is newsworthy in and of itself.

The first new episode appears today, and it looks very intriguing. Three years have passed since the last season. The kids have grown up a lot, and Korra has cut her hair.  There are winged suits that make airbenders resemble flying squirrels.  But that’s all superficial, and you’ll just have to watch it to see what happens.

star-wars-rebels-premiere-1536x864-428036123048The other show that it seems like half the geek world is buzzing about is the new animated series Star Wars: Rebels which debuts at 9 p.m. on the Disney Channel this evening.  The Star Wars universe is broadly expanded in these new tales of what happened after the Clone Wars, but before the Rebellion.  Gone is the grand sweeping story arc of the old Republic versus the Jedi, to be replaced with very personal stories about a band of misfits who have their own battles to fight.  It’s well written, blends well with the rest of the Star Wars universe, and it is probably the single most squee-worthy thing to happen on television this year other than the new CW series The Flash series that premieres this coming Tuesday.

And now if you don’t mind, there’s a pile of Fig Newtons, a couple of tall glasses of milk and a couple of brand new shows waiting for us in the living room.

This is gonna be good.

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Sep 032014

c6586c90ec6931294a066c96e0d5dc4b1a597ca2 (1)by Michael Brown, staff writer

Are you super-heroic? Have you got what it takes to be a Marvel Super Hero? Are you or a family member smart like Iron Man? A leader like Captain America? Responsible like Spider-Man? If so, Marvel wants to see how you power up in their September-long Power Up Like A Super Hero Sweepstakes. You can enter the sweepstakes by uploading a photo that shows a moment of achievement, an important moment in time, or anything that celebrates being heroic to Marvel’s Super Hero September sweepstakes page.

Your Grand Prize, should your photo be truly heroic, will be a 7-night Disney Cruise vacation for four aboard the ultra-luxurious Disney Magic cruise liner. On board, your family can experience Marvel’s all-new, action-packed, and totally epic Avengers Academy for superheroes 3-11 years of age. Other prizes will include Disney Store gift cards for Marvel swag, gift cards from Party City for Marvel party wares or costumes, and other Marvel stuff from great super hero supporters like K-Mart, Hasbro, Walmart, Target, and more.

Marvel asks that contestants keep it safe, keep it original, and keep it clean when sending in photos, and you must be at least 13 years old to enter. Marvel’s Power Up Like A Superhero Sweepstakes runs all month, every day of September. For further information, complete contest rules, and a neat slideshow of the new Avengers Academy, click the link we’ve provided and begin your heroic journey.

Good luck, heroes!



Aug 202014

Marvel logoby Michael Brown, staff writer

One step forward, two steps back. That’s what happened Monday when Marvel released in its November solicits a variant cover of the upcoming Spider-Woman ongoing series. Drawn by Italian artist Milo Manara, who has worked with Marvel for a few years now, the cover has become quite the focus of  widespread criticism from both Internet genre and mainstream outlets for its obviously sexualized portrait of the character. Not to mention, it comes at a time when the comic book industry is under fire for its treatment of female characters, creators and fans.

To further exacerbate the situation, there’s a striking — ahem — similarity between Manara’s Spider-Woman cover and a blatantly sexual pose of a character in his erotic comic, Click. [Editor's note: this image is a little beyond our PG-13 rating level, so we'll leave it to you to decide whether or not to go look it up for yourself. If you've ever seen a cat in heat, you get the idea.] Geek culture sites and blogs are ablaze with writers and editors taking umbrage with the cover, calling it “lewd and irresponsible,” “not a good idea,” and, “looking more like a colonoscopy than a costume.”

Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, who will also pen the Spider-Woman series, and Chris Claremont, a long time Marvel scribe who’s best known for his work on Uncanny X-Men both came down as defenders of Manara via Twitter.

Now, with the facts out of the way, here’s the take of a guy who’s been reading and enjoying comics for 30 years. This is ridiculous. As I said above, the comic book industry is taking criticism for the way it’s been treating female characters, fans, and creators. If Spider-Man had been drawn in that position, the cover wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did. Women have been a constant joke for comic book artists for years, and this cover is one more example of the industry not taking women seriously. Another fine example is DC’s Power Girl, with her gravity-defying breasts packed in a skintight white costume with a window in the front so you can see her cleavage.

It’s easy to forget that comics, while maintaining a mostly adult demographic in the current market, are historically aimed at children, and kids still do read them. Intentionally or not, some comics have become soft porn. There’s a place for adult-themed comics with sexual themes and nudity, but Marvel is not that place. Marvel has always produced mainstream comics that are wholesome enough for parents to trust as a brand for their kids; you never worry when your kid is browsing the Marvel section of the comic book store.

In all fairness, over the last few years, Marvel has made a conscious effort to be more thoughtful of female readers, who by the way, are starting to make up a large part of comics readership. Not only do female readers have to endure snotty and holier-than-thou comic shop owners who mock and alienate them, now they get to deal with ridiculous treatments of their gender on the page.

When Joss Whedon announced his plans to revive Buffy the Vampire Slayer in an eighth season for comics, he insisted that women be portrayed as women. You’ll find no back-breaking busts or porn-mag poses over there. When I read stuff from other publishers and I see an outrageously drawn woman, I think, “Joss Whedon would never allow that.” But Milo Manara isn’t the only offender. Greg Land, who I admittedly enjoy at times, has taken heat for some time now for his depiction of women, even being accused of drawing from porn mags for his poses.

Variant cover of Spider-Woman #1 Drawn by Milo Manara

Variant cover of Spider-Woman #1
Drawn by Milo Manara

And, I might add, this is the same comic that was introduced at the Women of Marvel panel at San Diego. Marvel should have known better. As one reviewer said, it’s like Marvel’s doing it on purpose. Ass-splosion aside, Manara’s art is lifeless and dull, and while we sure get a look at Jessica Drew’s red-and-yellow-clad booty, we also see her other features, like her almost non-existent nose, and her hair that wraps all the way around her neck in some kind of weird, twisted neck beard.

I’m not being prudish and saying that erotic art doesn’t have its place. If you’re drawing for erotic comics, then that’s where it belongs. But does it belong as a representation of our hero, from a company who is leading the way with a slew of new female-led titles? Nope. Could Marvel have chosen a better artist to launch their first issue? Yep.  Anyone remember The Hawkeye Initiative? Where Strong Female Poses were redrawn by putting Hawkeye and other male heroes in their place? Could be, this pose would find a good home there.

Marvel, which I might remind my readers is owned by Disney, dropped the ball, in my opinion, and this thing is going to be everywhere in the days and weeks ahead. Creators and publishers have to do a better job at making their female readers happy. As the number one publisher in the country, Marvel would do well to remember the words of one Peter Parker: “With great power …”

This isn’t the 1960s, where Reed Richards called his wife an insufferable, emotional female, and tells her that the only reason he keeps her around is because she’s pretty. Women play a larger role today than The Pretty Foil, or the Professional Plot Device. They take up arms and defend the country. They’re breadwinners, not always babymakers. We are the Enlightened Age. More understanding and sympathetic. Comics readers are, too.  Comics creators and publishers need to follow suit.

What do you think of the cover? Do you think it fits in with the Marvel brand and image? Sound off in comments!




Aug 052014

By Nur Hussein, staff writer

Jennifer Lee

Jennifer Lee, writer and co-director of ‘Frozen’

A Wrinkle In Time, a beloved children’s book by Madeleine L’Engle, is getting the big-screen treatment with a movie adaptation in production by Disney. Writing the movie’s screenplay will be Jennifer Lee, writer and director of the hit animated film Frozen.

A Wrinkle In Time is a story about a girl, her siblings and a friend traveling through time and space to find their missing scientist father. They do so with the help of fantastic beings who can travel with through a thing called a tesseract, which can bend space and time. The book has received critical acclaim and has won numerous literary awards; the Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.

The book was a favorite of Lee growing up, and her pitch to Disney impressed them enough to give her the project. The book is also the first in a series of five novels, so if this turns out to be a big hit, Disney will have yet another franchise in their hands.

Apart from the hugely-successful Frozen, Lee was also the writer behind 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, a well-received animated film that was loved by both critics and audiences (especially those who love video games). No director has been attached to the project yet; maybe Lee will be given a chance to, considering the huge runaway success of Frozen which she co-directed.

This isn’t the first project to attempt a film adaptation of the book; in 2003, there was a Canadian television movie directed by John Kent Harrison starring Canadian actress Katie Stuart as Meg Murry. It was not aired in the United States until 2014, and it was met with very negative reviews from critics.

Let’s hope Lee brings her magic touch to this story and it gets the great film treatment that it deserves.

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