Whatever: Comic-Con is Dead, Long Live Comic-Con!

- 07-28-14Featured, Nerd Culture Posted by Jason Tabrys

hulkbuster-vs-hulk

Here’s the thing: for approximately 150,000 people San Diego Comic-Con is a majestic thrill ride and a joyous gathering of like-minded people who have, at one point or another, likely felt like an outcast because they simply liked what they liked. This weekend, those things took their place at the center of the universe and there was shopping and partying and drinking and laser tag and celebrities and 29 minutes of sleep. That’s what Comic-Con was. For you.

For the rest of us who don’t go but do follow the world of pop culture and geeky nerdiness, Comic-Con isn’t a place, so much as it is a time of year. A holiday that delivers unto us a chance to nerd out over an endless stream of hard news about comics, TV shows and movies  – Comic -Con is when we get to feast on something real and not the gelatinous rumor paste that we have to subsist on all year long.

It’s that influx that excites the hundreds of thousands of people who follow the Comic-Con goings on; these things that get the world talking, and that’s why this thing feels as if it is an event that is much larger than it technically is. But for us to care this much about a party that we aren’t actually attending, we need to keep getting these thrills (or something like them) out of the deal or else what’s the point? (more…)

RETRO REVIEW – “Ginger Snaps” and the Thrilling Complexity of Female Fronted Horror

- 07-28-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jacob Knight

GingerRR

Welcome back to our newly revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. Our ninth entry is the coming-of-age Canadian werewolf nightmare, Ginger Snaps (2000)…

There’s a simple fact that needs to be stated at the front of this article: horror movies revolving around women are certainly more engaging than those centered around men. From the earliest days of my film-watching “career”, hidden beneath my parents’ bed while Halloween blared on basic cable*, I was always infinitely more interested in movies that focused on the horrors of femininity. Whether it was Michael Myers stalking Laurie Strode through the streets of Haddonfield or young mother Rosemary finding out that her baby was sold to her Satan worshipping neighbors, the tribulations women faced in my favorite genre always seemed to represent more complex societal issues (the pervasive invasion of evil, the possession and control of a woman’s body) than those of their male counterparts. Add on the fact that women are simply much more emotionally complex creatures (thus making for drama almost equal to their psychological complexity), and you have a perfectly logical argument for my favoring of female-starring terror pictures.

Unfortunately, many of the lesser cinematic shock jocks throughout history extracted the wrong lessons from their superiors. Many took John Carpenter pitting three beautiful best friends against a Shatner-masked maniac at mere face value, thinking that it was the boobs and violence that solely led to the picture becoming “the most successful independent film of all time”. At its worst, horror descends into misogynistic mayhem, utilizing female leads as nothing more than titillation lightning rods, whether they were being bedded by a jock or beheaded by some dime-store Myers knock-off (or his slow witted cousin, Jason Voorhees). However, one of the true under-seen gems of the genre not only molds two of the best female characters horror has ever seen, it uses them as universal icons for a girl’s ascension into full-blown womanhood. Nearly fifteen years after it first hit Canadian theaters, Ginger Snaps is still not only the best werewolf movie since Joe Dante’s The Howling, but also a testament to the power strong female characters bring to any cinematic endeavor, genre or otherwise.  (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Hercules’ Isn’t Perfect, but Dwayne Johnson Gets the Job Done

- 07-25-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Adam A. Donaldson

nb_HERCULES_MOVIE_REVIEW

Like a lot of Canadian kids, my first encounter with Hercules was with Adventure Cartoon Productions animated series The Mighty Hercules, which Global ran ad nauseam Saturday mornings well into my high school years. They were simple enough, with Hercules as basically the Ancient Greece Batman, beating up bad guys and taking them to prison on Mount Olympus, which, as it turned out, was as pitifully easy to break out of as Arkham Asylum.

Every couple of years or so, the myth of Hercules gets re-interpreted for a new audience, and in a new way. So far, there’s been two Hercules movies in 2014, the first one came out in January and starred some Twilight beefcake as the son of Zeus, but in the case of Brett Ratner’s Hercules it has the immediate ace in the hole of having Dwayne Johnson as the titular hero. Johnson’s charm and magnetism is a definite advantage to the film, and if the movie he was in was tighter it might actually equal the assets brought by its star. Ratner’s Hercules is a solid B-effort, but it had the potential to be an A. (more…)

The RadioBastard Podcast Avenges The Mighty Howard The Duckules

- 07-22-14Featured, Nerd Culture Posted by Jeremy R! Hudson

nb_radiobastard-podcast-106

Hello prospective listener, thank you for your interest in the RadioBastard Podcast. Do you like weeks that give bigoted comic book fans a case of the sads, talkin bout tacos, ninjas that do karate, long term planning for your movie ticket purchases, Caroline in the City jokes and 8-bit video game warriors? Swell, because we’re talking all about those things and more on RadioBastard!
Also, do you like details? You’re in luck! Here’s something close to that… sort of! On the show this week, Jeremy and Jason discuss: (more…)

REVIEW: ‘The Purge 2: Anarchy’ Runs Short on Originality But Offers Thrills to Spare

- 07-18-14Featured, reviews Posted by Mel Valentin

unnamed

When it comes to the horror genre, a hit isn’t a hit unless said hit spawns a lucrative series or franchise (see, e.g., Halloween, Friday the 13th, Saw). With that in mind, Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity) couldn’t help but rush The Purge: Anarchy (a/k/a The Purge: Night of the Juggalos) a sequel to last year’s surprise box-office hit, The Purge, a sci-fi-inflected, home-invasion thriller written and directed by James DeMonaco. Casting well known names with indie and/or cable cred in Ethan Hawke and Lena Headly helped to elevate an otherwise promising, if ultimately rote, thriller – disappointing given a compelling premise (inspired by an episode, “The Return of the Archons,” from Star Trek: The Original Series, no less), but recognizing the errors and missteps of his ways, DeMonaco swapped out sub-genres – from home invasion to survival horror – to significantly improved results.  (more…)

The RadioBastard Podcast in conversation with ‘Knuckleheads’ Writer/Co-creator Brian Winkeler

- 07-18-14Comics, Featured, Nerd Culture Posted by Jeremy R! Hudson

nb_RADIOBASTARD-PODCAST-105

Brian Winkeler is the writer behind Knuckleheads, the official comic book of slackers and, by extension, RadioBastard. A previous guest in the days before order came to the west and this here show was called The BastardCast, Jeremy and Jason welcome Brian back to RadioBastard to talk about comic book making, the move from Monkeybrain and digital to a paper collection with IDW, his San Diego Comic-Con plans and his love affair with comics. (more…)

The Road to Comic Con: Making The Most Of Your Time At Comic-Con

- 07-12-14Featured Posted by Shawn Schillberg

unnamed-1

You can’t see everything at San Diego Comic-Con.

No matter how many times you hear that, it really doesn’t sink in until you’ve experienced SDCC for the first time. At any given moment, there will be several things happening that you’d like to attend and you’re going to have to make some tough choices.

It’s a safe bet you’re still digesting the list of exclusive items that Comic-Con announced last week. We covered many of the highlights in last week’s column.

And before the rest of panels comes out (Thurs and Fri schedules have just been released) and completely overwhelms you, let’s walk through some strategies for making the most of Comic-Con.

In addition to the many panels that will be announced shortly, there will be so many other things competing for your time: cast signings, booth giveaways, lining up for exclusives, offsite adventures, screenings, after parties. Hell, crossing the street could take you fifteen minutes at peak and just getting into the convention center can slow you down if you go at the wrong time. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW — ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is the Spectacular Summer Movie 2014 Needed

- 07-10-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jacob Knight

nb_new_MOVIE_REVIEW-dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is something of a miracle.

Ostensibly a remake of J. Lee Thompson’s Battles For the Planet of the Apes (the fifth film in the original series), Matt Reeves’ refashioning of that picture is nothing less than a stirring marvel of a movie, brimming with emotion and style in equal measure. Daring in ways many modern big budget franchise films would never dare, Dawn is the result of putting cinema and character first, a rarity in an age where commitment to brand is usually priority number one for studios when expanding upon previous summer cash cows. But beyond showcasing Reeves as being one of the most exciting directorial talents in mainstream American filmmaking, the second installment in this new series of Apes films yet again proves that Andy Serkis is a God working amongst mere mortals, pushing the craft of performance capture acting into uncharted qualitative territories. In short, it’s the movie of the summer and will easily end up being one of 2014′s best. (more…)

RETRO REVIEW — ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ and the Value of ‘Late Period’ John Carpenter

- 07-09-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jacob Knight

nb_new_RETROREWIEW-in-the-mouth-of-madness

Welcome back to our newly revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. Our eighth entry is John Carpenter’s final masterwork, In the Mouth of Madness (1994)…

“Do you read Sutter Cane?” 

The 90s were a woeful decade for many a 70s horror filmmaker. Wes Craven may have changed the slasher game forever with his self-reflexive Scream series, but hasn’t made a picture worthy of his (truthfully already spotty) legacy since (unless you count the aughts’ My Soul to Keep – a film so inept it almost feels like an avant garde experiment). Dario Argento’s 90s output ranges from decent (TraumaThe Stendhal Syndrome) to unwatchable (The Phantom of the Opera). Meanwhile, George A. Romero’s sole solo directorial credit (The Dark Half) is definitely one of the more entertaining Stephen King adaptations, but that’s using both dreck like The Tommyknockers and Golden Years as well as Kubrick’s The Shining or Rob Reiner’s Misery as ends of the qualitative spectrum (meaning Romero’s movie is still hanging somewhere around Pet Sematary). Outside of Joe Dante*, whose feature track record went completely unblemished with Gremlins 2Matinee and Small Soldiers, the decade was somewhat of a nightmare for those who found their start in the gritty 70s, resulting in many horror fans closing the book on what’s viewed by some as the genre’s most auteur-driven period.

Which brings us to John Carpenter, a filmmaker whose ten year run (from 1978′s Halloween all the way up to They Live in 1988) could be considered one of the most impressive in the history of ALL cinema. Carpenter fizzled out in 1992, with the Chevy Chase-starring Memoirs of an Invisible Man marking the end of his marvelous winning streak. His anthology picture, Body Bags, was originally supposed to be a full series on Showtime (comprable to HBO’s Tales From the Crypt), until network executives suffered from cold feet and turned it into a one-off (admittedly mediocre) cable TV movie. It wouldn’t be until 1994 that Carpenter finally brushed the dust off his shoulder and produced what seemed to be, at the time, a comeback of sorts with In the Mouth of Madness, a film that could be viewed as the last true Carpenter masterpiece, as well as the beginning of the widescreen artist’s oft-decried “late period”. (more…)

DC Comics, Jeffrey Baldwin and the Value of Symbols

- 07-08-14Comics, Featured Posted by Jason Tabrys

Superman_shield

Symbols can mean different things to different people. The sight of the Christian cross, for example, can bring hope and peace to some and inspire a sense of dread or an eye roll from others. The Superman symbol, which is said to be the second most recognizable symbol in the world after the cross, is equally capable of possessing multiple meanings.

To DC Comics and their corporate overlords, the Superman symbol represents a cornerstone of their yesterday, today and tomorrow. As such, they guard that symbol carefully and accordingly.

Todd Boyce is a Canadian man who raised $36,000 on IndieGoGo to build a memorial statue of a five year old Superman fan in Toronto’s Greenwood Park after hearing about the boys tragic death. Unfortunately, Mr. Boyce’s request to use the Superman “S” was declined by DC. (more…)