Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fear the Walking Dead S1E5 Cobalt Review/Recap (Spoilers!): Sweeney Todd, Walking Dead Style

This was a fun episode. It was filled with tension and great character moments. This week’s penultimate episode did a fantastic job of setting up what looks to be an entertaining finale. When you sit on the edge of your seat the entire hour anticipating what’s going to happen next and empathizing along with the characters, the television show is doing something right. This was the best episode so far, which isn’t saying much five episodes in. All the episodes have been good, and it’s great to know we will get to come back to this story for a full slate next year.
This week we started out with Ophelia throwing things at the fence imploring the military to tell her where her mom is. While I didn’t necessarily agree with her being the one at the gate (she seemed the most leveled headed of their family), it was interesting to see the military react. The Lieutenant wanted to immediately detain her, and sent a Sergeant to deal with it. This caused Ophelia’s boyfriend to step in and talk her down. We find out later this is what Daniel wanted to happen. I don’t buy that this machination would work, too many things could have gone wrong. However it allowed us to see the dissention in the military ranks. It was interesting to see one of the soldiers try to walk away and say he was tired of doing this type of “protection.”
The military the past two weeks has been the true menace of the show. We don’t really know how much we should trust them. They seem to know much more about the situation and didn’t let masses in on what is happening.  This makes me wonder about the bigger picture of the government and how much they knew about the outbreak, especially with the order to pull out, Cobalt, being given.  Travis makes a stand to Lt. Moyer, and gets him to take him to the hospital where Nick, Liza, and Griselda are being held. Cliff Curtis did a masterful job in this episode. During the scene with Moyer he stood up for himself, but you could tell Travis was scared. This was all done just with facial expression and it was conveyed perfectly. Yes, I’m frightened of you, but I still have some power and can stand up for myself.
This scene was quickly followed up by Moyer reasserting his power. He pulled over to have Travis kill a walker and Travis couldn’t do it. I still like the progression of Travis. He was able to make a stand, which means he isn’t a complete wimp, but still sees the walkers as human. He may say he doesn’t, but you can still see he does. We also see how much Moyer’s men hate him. They try to stand up for Travis, but are shot down. They soon get the better of him when the patrol makes a stop at a house filled with Walkers. Moyer’s men turn on him while he is in the house and leave him to die. One of the soldiers has a family in San Diego and wants to get back to them. Chaos and anarchy is starting to take hold.  This was also portrayed in Curtis’s eyes. The utter terror and shock, of everything he knows crumbling around him.
Back at the farm Madison finds Daniel getting ready to torture Ophelia’s soldier boyfriend. If there is one part of the episode that is a stretch it is this torture scene. I’m not sure Andrew would have needed to be tortured. He probably would have wanted to help and tell the family everything. Order is already breaking down, why not go ahead and tell them?  He of course might have been willing, if they wouldn’t have tied him up. Daniel goes crazy and starts flaying the young man.
Daniel, we find, is a gruesome individual. This is why these scenes have to take place in this episode. We have to see how far he is willing to go to find his wife. I just wish another solider would have gotten the treatment, *cough*Moyer*cough*.  Madison didn’t have much to do tonight, other than let Daniel proceed with the torture.  Travis when he comes back from his patrol didn’t even set Andrew free when he heard what they had found out.  They know the military is going to pull out, and going to kill all the people in the hospital.  This was a good reason for Andrew not to tell Daniel about what is going to happen to his wife.
The scenes at the hospital are tense as Liza helps all of the sick people. We also see Nick stuck in a cell with new crazy man Strand. Strand opened up the episode, breaking the crazy neighbor from last week. I’m not sure I liked this introduction, but we aren’t supposed to like this character. He’s someone who sees opportunity and plays the angle to his own advantage. He’s a survivor, and in the new world he wants to stay that way. I loved his line: “The game has changed. We return to the old rules, and the people who won the last round with their grande latte’s and their frequent flier miles are about to become the buffet.”  
Liza is trying to help save the world, but it seems a losing struggle. Griselda’s death was well done and loved the bit of exposition Liza got about how quick the Walker’s reanimate. Liza doesn’t trust Dr. Exner, and wants to see Nick and Griselda at the start of the episode. This should make for an exciting finale when Exner wants to lock up and leave all of the patients and people behind. It will be interesting to see where all the character’s end up next week. It should make for a great start to next season if Strand joins the overall group.
The overall aspect of this season is the collapse of society and everything we know. This was thrown at us in several different ways this week, first with the military. Then with Strand with his dialogue and trading of expensive possessions, and with Chris and Alicia. Chris and Alicia break into a big house get drunk and play with all the toys. They also get dressed up, and have a few scenes with some palpable sexual tension. Both actors did a phenomenal job with the scene. The shyness of Chris seeing Alicia looking at herself in the mirror. Alicia’s little knowing smile was a nice touch to top off the scene.  They then proceed to smash all the expensive things in the house. Another symbolic gesture of what was once important is now worthless.
Loved this episode and the season. The show seems to be polarizing, with some still not liking the limited Walker kills, and not identifying with the characters. I found this episode to be well acted and had great buildup for next week. The military is pulling out, and our characters are going to have to step up and deal with the zombie population of Los Angles. I am extremely excited to see where they finish this season, and will eagerly anticipate season two.
My Rating: Fantastic

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think of tonight’s episode. Comment, rate, share, and all that fun stuff. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pawn Sacrifice Movie Review

Decided to make a video review instead of write one this week. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Star Wars Kanan #6 Review/Recap (Spoilers!): Companion to Star Wars Rebels?

Kanan #6 starts the second story arc in the Kanan comics. The first five issues were fantastic and I was excited for this issue. I thought it was a good idea to have a story based during the current timeline of the show. The question by the end of the comic is, will they do this?  While I like the story introduced in this issue, I found the ending a bit confusing. I have since gone back and read it again, and I’m still not sure what was going on during the last few pages. Guess I’ll have to wait for the next issue to find out.
The comic starts off with our band of Rebels landing on the planet Kaller; where Kanan’s master was killed. The band is on the planet to get some supplies, but soon realize they have been stolen. They also find the Imperial Governor Gamut waiting for them when they land. They don’t have any incriminating evidence and are allowed to leave, but still must find their supplies. They split up and go in search for them. The governor knew Kanan when he was a Padawan but didn’t recognize him.  Kanan thinks his old smuggling friend, Kasmir, might have stolen the goods, and goes to one of his old hideouts.
When Kanan arrives he finds another smuggler in the hideout, and finds his supplies. He beats up the gang, and calls the rest of the team to come pick him up. He gets injured during the fight, and then the Governor shows up. This is the point I got confused in the comic. I’m not sure where the Governor Gamut came from.  He just randomly shows up during the end of the fight. He drops some hints that he might like to work with the rebellion. This seems a bit too fortuitous. I have a feeling Gamut it playing Kanan. He knows who Kanan is and wants to turn him over to the Empire.
Kanan’s injury appears to be bad and he passes out at the end of the issue. The question is, did Gamut leave, or is he waiting to take Kanan to an Imperial detention center?  The Spector crew will be at the location shortly so Gamut would have to move quickly if this is the case. The next issue looks like it could be another flashback while Kanan is recovering from his wound. I hope if this is the case it is only for one issue. I like the backstory, but a companion story to the show would be entertaining to follow.
The art in the comic seems consistent to the television show, which I enjoyed. There was not a ton of action, just some setup for later issues. It will be interesting to see if Gamut the Governor is truly looking to support the Rebels or wants to double cross our heroes.  With this much setup I don’t see them going and doing another backstory arc, but that’s why I thought the comic was a bit confusing. I am not sure where they are going with the story.
This issue wasn’t quite as strong as the first five of the Kanan comics. It was still entertaining and gives a good setup if they continue during the timeline of the show. If you haven’t picked up the first five issues, find them and buy them, they are well worth owning. Then read Star Wars A New Dawn to get ready for the second season of Rebels starting shortly.

What are you thinking of Kanan? Did you find the ending of the issue confusing? Let me know, share like and all that fun jazz. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fear the Walking Dead S1E4 Not Fade Away Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Occupation Hazard

This episode pulled back from the tension of last week as the military gained control of the area our family is staying in. This is what I expected after the ending last week, but I didn’t necessarily like all of the execution in tonight’s episode. Some of the decisions our characters made tonight didn’t make sense for the scenario they found themselves in. It was still an entertaining hour of television, but this was the weakest episode of the series to date.
Starting out with Chris talking to his camera and giving us information about how much time has elapsed, was a good way to introduce us to what has been happening since the military arrived. This was bookended by Alicia reading Susan's suicide note at the end of the episode. It was a nice way for the episode to begin and end. Alicia is not believing everything is going to be ok.  She was a bright spot tonight. Her initial appearance yelling at Nick and Madison to stop bickering like everything was normal was perfect. Everything isn’t normal, no matter how much they pretend, and it was good for her to voice this. Her scenes at her neighbor’s house where well done. She was the only person who we didn’t see process what was happening because she was kept in the dark. The one who was kept in the dark the longest, is the first to accept nothing was going to be the same again.
Travis on the other hand is trying to act like everything eventually is going to be ok. He has become a liaison between the military leader and the rest of the community. He goes and talks down a neighbor who is hiding in his bathroom. The neighbor is struggling to tell his children things are going to be ok, and having a nervous breakdown. The neighbor relents and gets tested, but soon goes off the rails and drives to the perimeter of the fence in his muscle car. Travis discovers the military found him and detained him. He tells Lt Moyers he should have told the man’s wife, to which the Lt says he’s not a social worker, as he takes hacks with a golf club. It was one of the better scenes in the episode, with Travis behind the fence and the military outside “keeping him safe.” The military shipped the neighbor to a hospital facility to be detained and supposedly get help. This is also where some other sick people of the makeshift town are being taken.
Liza, Travis’s ex-wife, has been caring for these individuals. While she is making her rounds for the day a doctor has moved some of her critical patients to the military hospital. The doctor realized that Liza is not truly a nurse, but wants her to keep pretending and help. Liza also tells the Dr. Exner about Griselda’s foot and about Nick needing methadone for his addiction withdrawls. Nick has been steeling morphine from a patient Liza has been taking care of to get his fix. Madison finds out he has been using, and starts slapping him. She is fed up with him and let down. Kim Dickens does a great job in this scene of portraying how utterly disgusted and disappointed Madison is with Nick. It was her best scene of the night.
Madison was a weak point for me tonight. Her decisions to cut the fence and go and look for the people Chris found on the hill made no sense. I know she has a distrust for authority figures. She didn’t like them in the first episode of the season, and made references before she went outside the fence that she didn’t trust the military.  I still don’t see her going outside on her own and investigating. She knows what is out there, and she is endangering the rest of the town by cutting the fence.  She also decides to head out without a weapon? I get why they did this for the show.  Madison sees the military is killing people who are not infected. I think there should have been some other pretense for her to break out. Maybe having Nick go and look for drugs and following him. This would have made more sense for the overall story. She wants to protect Nick at all cost, and having him sneak out to get medication because of his withdrawals follows the story of the show. She would find him, know he had been using, slap him, and then still see the military shooting innocents. Instead they have her go out and risk her life, and everyone else’s life to investigate a flashing light?  It still worked for us finding out about the military, but just didn’t jive with the overall narrative.
This leads into the military coming to take Griselda to the hospital, but they also end up taking Nick. Madison freaks out, and winds up blaming Liza who also leaves to go help at the medical facility. As good as I though Kim Dickens was in the first scene with Nick, I didn’t buy her desperation in this scene. I get her reaction to Liza. She is lashing out and they set up her going stir crazy in the house at the start of the episode. I just thought something was missing when they were taking Nick away. I liked Travis in this scene, and I think he is starting to realize things aren’t going to be ok. This scene coupled with the ending were he sees gunfire on the hill where the light was coming from should wizen him up.
This weak was the deep breath before the fall. I thought the military would wind up gaining control for a period. It was nice to see the logical progression in the show, but next week I fully expect things to start unraveling. The military doesn’t have as firm as a grip on the situation as it seems. If they did the town would have more power, food, and medicine. While I thought this week had the most problems of any episode so far, it still provided good character moments. I still am excited for where the story goes and can’t wait for the final two episodes.
My Rating: Solid episode
In case anyone cares the Revelation verse on the fence in tonight’s episode was Rev 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (

What did you think tonight? Comment, share and all that other fun stuff if you are liking the show and my recapJ

Black Mass Movie Review: Loyalty Above All Else

Black Mass is a dark movie. It shows just how much one person can devolve into basic animalism. James “Whitey” Bulger played by Johnny Depp is a complete sociopath who would do anything to remain on top of his criminal empire. Black Mass shows us Bulger’s rise to power, and his eventual downfall. The film is an astounding look at how the FBI became complicit in helping a monster. If you enjoy movies based on true life mob stories this is a must see. If you enjoy Johnny Depp this is a must see. If you enjoy historical dramas this is a must see. Basically, I think the film is a must see.
The performances in this movie are outstanding. Johnny Depp disappears into the role. People were wondering if the makeup and contacts would be a distraction for the movie, but from the start they don’t draw away from Depp’s portrayal of Bulger. Joel Edgerton plays FBI agent John Connolly and is fantastic. He hitches his coattails to Bulger. Bulger is an old friend and Whitey provides information on the Italian mob which builds Connolly’s career. It also built the career of many other FBI agents in Boston, and is the main reason Bulger was never charged with any crimes during his heyday.  One downfall of the movie may be that it only focuses on Connolly as the dirty FBI agent. From other articles I have read it appears he may have been a scapegoat (Bulger Trial Conspiracy).  Either way Edgerton plays the role perfectly. Watching the film you felt his world crumbling around him once a different attorney general was brought into the Boston office.
The movie does try to show Bulger with some human characteristics. We see him interact with his mom and son at the start of the film, and he does seem to care for them. The film uses these characters as possible reasons why Bulger lost touch with emotions for others. The only other connection in the movie Whitey shows emotions for his is brother Billy Bugler (Benedict Cumberbatch). Cumberbatch isn’t in the movie much, but does a good job for the parts he is in. Billy Bulger was a state senator for 18 years. He was never linked to Whitey’s criminal enterprises and was as honest as a politician could be. Whitey appeared to care for his brother, and didn’t involve him in his business. Going back to true life, Bulger was caught with a common law wife, Catherine Greig, when he was arrested in 2011.  This person wasn’t shown in the movie, probably to heighten Bulgers ruthlessness (Bio on Whitey Bulger), and ruthless Bulger was. He gunned down individuals for slight offensives. Killing individuals for the tiniest suspicion of tipping off authorities to his operations. No remorse, no hesitation he just killed if he felt slighted or threatened. He protected himself above all others, the king of his own jungle.
One complaint I have heard for the movie is its lack of a protagonist. There isn’t anyone to root for in the movie. I didn’t have an issue with this, because there wasn’t a protagonist in true life. Bulger wasn’t caught until 2011. Sixteen years after he went on the run. He was caught after an FBI tip, and I wonder how hard the FBI was actually looking for him. From my reading, it seems they are just as culpable for the numerous deaths at Bulger’s hands. It is a dark moment in the FBI’s history and I’m sure they would rather the issue be forgotten. For this fact I’m glad the movie doesn’t have a hero who hunted down Bulger. It isn’t needed because there wasn’t one in true life.
The only drawback to the movie I found was keeping track of the cast of characters. There was a multitude of individuals to keep track of, and a few who are introduced didn’t seem to fit into the storyline. One such individual was Brian Halloran. He was thrown into the middle of the movie out of nowhere. He plays a pivotal role in Bulger’s overall true life story, but his introduction into the film was clunky. He needed to be in the movie, but brought into it in a different way. This along with all of the other Bulger gang members introduced in the movie made it a bit hard to track. The overriding theme though still comes through. Bulger is a very scary individual who was aided by the FBI to increase his control over Boston.
Black Mass is an intriguing movie which forced me to go out and look into the true life accounts of Whitey Bulger. Johnny Depp portrayal of the ruthless man is truly stunning and this fact alone is worth watching the film. It’s not a movie I can watch over and over again, but it is must watch. Some won’t enjoy the movie for the fact there isn’t anyone for the audience to relate too. I got past this since I knew it was based on a true story and their truly wasn’t an individual to root for.  Go out and watch Black Mass while it is in theaters. Depp will be in contention for an Oscar when awards season rolls around. His portrayal and the movie are very deserving.
Let me know what you thought of Black Mass if you saw it. What are some of your other favorite gangster movies?
My Top Five Gangster Movies:
1.      The Godfather
2.      The Godfather Part 2 (really just 1a)
3.      The Departed
4.      Casino

5.      Goodfellas

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cooties Movie Review: Puberty Ain’t Got Nothing on Me

Cooties is a horror comedy, and it does a good job of capturing aspects of both genres. It’s not great in either category with some of the jokes falling flat and for the fact it’s not a pure horror film. I don’t think the movie would have worked as a straight horror flick, but there are points when the movie does become frightening.  Cooties is just a fun film, it’s not serious and doesn’t pretend to be. The characters are great tropes and the actors play them up well. Besides a bit of a stumble at the end the movie is a fun time and well worth watching.
The movie starts with the disgusting process of how composite chicken nuggets are made (I’m sure this was sensationalized for the movie….?? L). A bad piece of chicken infects a girl at the school where our hero, Clint (Elijah Wood), is substitute teaching. The girl starts infecting other students and before too long every child in the school is infected. The kids aren’t zombies in this world, they don’t die and reanimate. They are more of the 28 Days Later variety. They are still alive with a virus that is affecting their frontal lobe. This makes them hyper aggressive and want to eat adults. On the surface this is a silly concept. They make it believable in the world they are in, and the premise when stopping to think about it is terrifying. Children make the perfect delivery system. You don’t feel threatened by children, and then they attack you. Plus our natural instinct is to help kids, and the movie plays against this desire. This type of virus would spread like a wildfire. It could be my terror in thinking about how a virus like this would spread that added to my enjoyment.
Cooties does a good job of dehumanizing the kids even before they get infected. One character, Patriot (yes that’s the character’s name) is a bully and you don’t feel bad when he gets bit. There is a bunch of little things in the movie I enjoyed. When Clint is starting to teach all the kids pop their Ritalin or Adderall. Nothing is said, they just all pop their pills. This scene sets up another scenario in the movie. It was a clever way for the future scene to be more believable. The gore was another plus. The teachers getting torn apart was well done, and the special effects were top notch. I would have enjoyed just a bit more gore though. I wanted more over the top scenes to really drive home some horror elements, since the comedy fell flat at times.
The movie is funny, but some of the jokes just didn’t work. The vice principle for example had some funny lines, but he seemed to rush through them, and the timing was off. There were a few instances of this. The comedy that did work was based on the traits of the characters in the movie. Clint is an Apple guy who writes a blog (dammit, don’t think of me I’m not an Apple guy). He lives in his Mom’s attic and is writing a book. Elijah does a great job of playing on this trope. The character who stole the movie was Doug the science teacher. Leigh Whannell was fantastic as the possible sociopathic teacher. I found every scene he was in enjoyable. He provided an awkward tension with the rest of the characters.  He is also the teacher who figures out what is going on. These exposition scenes are great. This allowed the audience a fun way to receive information about what is going on. Yes it is a bit unbelievable, but in the context of the movie I felt it worked.
The rest of the cast is great. Elijah Wood is fantastic as Clint, and Allison Pill is good as the love interest in the movie.  I wanted more of Nasim Pedrad as Rebekkah, who played an over the top right wing conservative.  She didn’t have many scenes in the movie, but I laughed when she got a chance to step in.  The only person I didn’t fully enjoy was Rainn Wilson as Wade. Not sure why, but I just didn’t believe him as the over the top former high school sports star and gym coach. He had his moments, but in the end I just didn’t care for his character, nor how they used him.
The ending is the only other weak point of the movie. Up until the last ten to fifteen minutes I was loving the movie and everything they had done. The ending was too unbelievable for what they had set up during the course of the film.  If it wasn’t for the ending I would say this movie was a must buy for me. It is still worth watching and really enjoyable. The ending however was neither funny nor terrifying. The film should have went another way, and it would have provided a more satisfying conclusion.
I don’t want to end on a negative note about the movie. I enjoyed it too much for that. If you want to watch a fun horror/comedy I would suggest Cooties. Don’t expect an instant classic like Zombieland, but it is still worth watching and enjoying. Go see it in the movie theater or rent it on video on demand.

My Rating: Rentable
Top Five Horror/Comedies:
1.      Ghostbusters (not much horror, but I was terrified as a kid)
2.      Shaun of the Dead
3.      Army of Darkness
4.      Zombieland
5.      Beetlejuice

Let me know your favorite horror comiedes and if you saw Cooties what you thought. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Star Wars Lando #4 Comic Review/Recap (Spoilers): Potential Hints to The Force Awakens??

Sorry, I’m going to pat myself on the back a bit. I predicted the bounty hunter, Chanath, was a women, and that she might know Lando in my reviews of issue numbers #2 and #3. I’m sure many others figured it out as well, but it was satisfying when she took off her helmet. The fourth issue of Lando overall was another strong installment in the series. I’m hoping they decide to do another run in the future with this same team. The last issue of this run should be extremely interesting. The fourth installment did a fantastic job of building anticipation for the climatic and conclusive issue.
At the start of the issue Chanath is sneaking onto the Imperialis. While she is infiltrating Lando and Korin are discussing the value of all the sith artifacts in the room. One of the warriors, Aleskin, starts starring at one of the sith artifacts. He picks up a lightsaber and cuts off his partner’s hand.  Lando and Korin freak out and get out of the room. Korin wants to escape, and Lando wants to stay so he can capitalize on the huge score. Korin points out the sith artifacts could have affected Aleskin and made him change. Interesting concept, and I’m wondering if it will play into episode 7.  Maybe Kylo started hunting down the relics and it slowly turned him to the dark side. Maybe even Lando makes a cameo in the movie and gives some exposition to our heroes. An old Billy Dee Williams is better than no Billy DeeJ.
The warriors keep fighting with each other, and Lando and Korin keep arguing the merits of leaving or staying. While this is going on Korin disables the escape pods to capture the thief’s on the ship. Lando is trying to reason with Korin, when he realizes Korin has been ambushed. Lando decides to save Korin, but Chanath recognizes him and reveals herself. It was a great reveal, and it’s one of the only ways I thought Lando could get out of this situation alive. Chanath is trusted by the Emperor and can come up with something to help him survive this ordeal.
First they are going to have to deal with both of the warriors who were brought along. They both look to be infected by the powerful sith artifacts. The warriors were able to take out two handpicked Imperial guards.  This means it should be one fantastic fight between them and Chanath. It will make for an interesting conclusion. What type of scheme will Lando come up with to get out of the ship, and still make money? The events of this comic are supposed to set him up on Cloud City, so he will have to palm one of the artifacts or two. Maybe he keeps one and this starts Kylo, who I still think is a Solo or Skywalker, on his darkside path.
Lando is my favorite of the Star Wars comics. It was close between this and Kanan for a while, but Lando has surpassed it. The hints of what potential sith artifacts can do to people is a great tie in to The Force Awakens. I’m not sure if we will get more information on this in the next issue, but I am hoping Lando pockets an artifact. I want the next issue in my hand now to find out what is going to happen. I might be new to comics, but not to good storytelling. The Lando comic is great storytelling and is adding to the overall mythos of the Star Wars universe. Bring on the final issue!!

What do you think about the Lando comic? Is it your favorite? What did you think of Chanath being a women? Do you like that sith artifacts can affect individuals? Comment and let me know. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Hive Movie Review: Vomit Borg: Resistance is in your Pocket

The Hive is not my usual movie. I’m not the biggest horror genre fan, but I do generally enjoy sci-fi horror. The Hive played for one night only in theaters and was distributed by Nerdist. I enjoy Chris Hardwick and didn’t think he would get behind something horrible. The other reason I dragged myself to the theater is I live in the house where the co-writer Will Honely grew up. My wife worked with his father and we bought the house. My wife keeps in contact and I wanted to see the movie he wrote. The movie won’t win any Oscars, but I had a good time and its worth watching if you enjoy science fiction or horror movies.
The movie starts out with Adam, Gabriel Basso, waking up in a ransacked room. He is disoriented and has amnesia. He has growths and a strange tar like substance all over his body. He soon begins having flashbacks and realizing the events that lead him to being stuck in a room. The start was a bit clunky. I didn’t quite by into Basso confusion and hysteria. I know he can pull this off though, he did a great job of it playing the whiney hysterical kid in Super 8. Once we get into the flashbacks of him remembering who he is the story picks up.
The hive at its core is a love story between Adam and Katie, Kathryn Prescott. Through Adams flashbacks we learn he is stuck at a summer camp as a counselor. It seems he has had his way with most of the female counselors. Once Adam starts to interact with Katie at the infirmary the story gains traction. The chemistry between Basso and Prescott is fantastic and you buy into their liking for one another. I didn’t necessarily buy into the setting or scenario, but the actual interaction felt like typical teenagers getting to know each other. As the story progresses it is this building romance that our story is hinged on. Adam wants to find out what happened to Katie and why he is stuck in a room alone.
The Hive are former/current humans who have been infected by a strange tar like substance. Hive members can infect by throwing up the tar on others. It was extremely gross, gory, and entertainingJ. Once infected the hive takes over the subjects body. They have one consciousness and can see what the infected sees, and control them.  The loss of identity is a terrifying, and some of the best horror films have played on this concept. Star Trek’s The Borg are great example of this science fiction horror trope. The hive in the movie share a similar function of the Borg. They want to turn every human into one of them, and resistance to their efforts seems futile and infective. The film does a good job of portraying this concept.
The special effects for the movie are spectacular. The infected hive humans look great. The growths and tar are stunning and visceral. You wouldn’t want the stuff to get on you and it is a bit freaky. The voice modifications of the infected are a strong piece adding to the overall unnaturalness of the hive. It is very gender neutral, but goes to deep and high at different points. Hearing this from a female does invoke some scary moments. Overall I wasn’t terrified of the hive. One reason I usually avoid some horror films is the fact I still get nightmares as an adult. After seeing the Dawn of the Dead remake years ago I had zombie nightmares for weeks after. The Hive didn’t affect me on a deep level. I loved the style of the shooting and visuals the filmed provided. I just wasn’t frightened.
There are a few other drawbacks. Some of the sets suffered because of the low budget nature and I didn’t buy into Adams friend, Clark’s, story arc in the movie. The actor, Jacob Zachar, wasn’t horrible in the role. I just didn’t buy into the character. The low budget effected some of the lab areas shown. It took me out of the movie a bit, but it’s understandable when having to cut corners to get something made. It seemed the film spared no expense on the effects of the infected people, and I’m all for this. They looked spectacular, and I can take other areas suffering a bit for these effects. I also didn’t care for a few of the over the shoulder shots. It was supposed to give us a first person point of view, but it took me out of the movie. There was one shot of a brain operation which was spectacular. It was completely in first person point of view and not over the shoulder. I think if this was used for some of the other over the shoulder shots it would have added to the film overall.
I liked The Hive and glad I went and saw it.  It’s not one I will add to my collection, but it’s worth seeing. Still might end up buying it just to support the film and people who made it. Find it on video on demand now. Hopefully it gets a wider release in theaters, or Netflix and Amazon Prime picks it up so a wider audience can see the film. The Nerdist name alone should get some people to watch the film.  If you went and saw the movie let me know what you thought.

My Rating: Worth Watching

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fear the Walking Dead S1E3 The Dog Review/Recap (Spoilers!): “Good People are the first to Die.”

Episode three of Fear the Walking Dead built tension in a masterful way. The entire episode was a tightly wound cord that didn’t release until the very end. There were very few moments where our characters could catch their breath and relax. It is a small glimpse into the world they will soon be living in.  I’ve been on board with the show since episode one, loving the pacing and the characters. The third installment wasn’t a letdown and only heightened my excitement for what is going to happen next.
This week started with Madison, Alicia, and Nick stuck in the house. Alicia is wondering what was going on across the street. Madison is still refusing to tell Alicia what’s going on. This is a bit of a sticking point, but I still understand not wanting to tell her what they have seen. Madison is clinging to the hope things will go back to normal. She tells Nick this, but her actions show she doesn’t think things are ever going to be the same.  We hop over to Travis, Lisa, and Chris in the barbershop with the Salazar’s. They quickly vacate the shop and make a break for their truck after a fire breaks out. I thought this escalated a bit too quickly, but I loved the riot shots. The sequence of them getting back to Travis’s truck was intense. The complete chaos of the riot, with the nice touch of a zombie cop attacking another officer. It started the episode off with a bang and it never let up.
One of the best scenes of the night was after they escape the riot and are on their way back to Madison’s. They are driving in the hills and see the rolling blackouts. Chris asks Travis what is going on, and he’s not able to give an answer. How could he? How could anyone possibly try to explain the dead are coming back to life, and society is quickly crumbling? I think this is the scariest part of the Walking Dead. The zombies are frightening, but just how quickly everything could unravel into chaos is truly terrifying. It shows just how close we could be to an actual breakdown if some sort of global catastrophe broke out. Makes me want to make sure I have a hard copy of How Stuff Works. This was just a beautiful shot and sequence to illustrate the terror going on in whole city.
Back at the house Madison breaks out monopoly. It is a nice quite moment in the episode. Madison is trying to normalize the situation. We find out some backstory about her former husband and the kid’s dad.  He died in some capacity while they were waiting for him to get home.  I’m thinking he was a cop of some sort, and might explain Madison’s disdain during the first episode.  It still is traumatic for all of them, and is a cloud still hanging over their heads.  This might also explain Madison’s reluctance to tell Alicia about what is going on. She thinks Alicia has already gone through enough pain from her father’s death. Madison doesn’t want to add another burden to her plate if she doesn’t have too.
Things soon heat up at the house when a dog makes an appearance, along with their walker neighbor. Nick, ever the quick thinking junkie, makes the decision to go find a gun at another neighbor’s house.  They go through some weird garden maze thing, and find the gun. This maze screamed: A zombie is going to be in here! Sure enough Alicia got caught by one. The only person who doesn’t know what’s going on, gets caught. Predictable, but the scene was still well done and had me on the edge of my seat. Mr. Salazar was able to come in and quickly seize control of the situation. The killing of the zombie was fantastic. The shotgun blast to the face was spectacularly gruesome.
They decide to wait out the night in the house, which leads to some debate. Travis seems to be the type of man who looks for the best in everyone. This prompts Daniel Salazar to make the statement “Good people are the first to die.” This might have been just a bit too on the nose, but I still enjoyed Ruben Blades delivery of the line. Ruben stole just about every scene he was in. The arguments he has with his family, and seeming to know just what needs to be done to survive. He obviously has seen the worst side of people.  I think it would be a brilliant twist for him to be the main character and leader of the band after the eventual collapse of society. He seems to be a “Rick Grimes” type even before the collapse. No one else in the house seems to be capable of survival in a harsh environment.
One of the highlights of the episode is the characters struggling to kill the walkers. They know these people, and aren’t sure what is happening to them. Nick states they are dead, but others don’t want to believe that. It’s not that much of a stretch for people in this world to believe this. Herschel believed the walkers could be saved for almost a year after the collapse of society in The Walking Dead. This is one reason why I think the virus would spread so quick in this world. How hard would it be to kill your spouse? Your child? Your parents? You wouldn’t and you probably couldn’t. Madison wanted to kill her neighbor, but couldn’t. She was talked out of it by Travis. This is was a great look at how the collapse of society happened in this universe.
The only grip I have with tonight is the ending. I’m ok with the military showing up and taking control. I just didn’t like the timing. It was a bit of a deus ex machina moment. They show up at the exact moment the neighbor is about to take a bite out of her husband. I do like that they are pulling us back from the brink for an episode. In the big cities I would expect the military to move in and try to seize control. It’s good to see, and while it might be a bit convenient for them to show up in our characters neighborhood, it’s at least plausible. It allows us to see the military response to the outbreak.
The timing of the military was the only drawback tonight. I can justify all of the other decisions our characters make. The fact we know what is going on and they don’t adds to the intrigue and tension of the show. Next week will probably be a slower paced episode as the military takes control. This is an ok step, because our characters will finally be clued into what is going on in the world around them. Their eyes will be open, and when the military loses control in the last two episodes, our protagonist will be able to survive in the zombie ridden landscape.
My Rating: Fantastic Episode

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Love, hate, or think it was just ok? Comment and let me know. Share and follow with others if you enjoyed my recap, Thanks!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Star Wars Shattered Empire #1 Comic Review/Discussion (Spoilers!): Journey to Force Awakens Moving at a Snail’s Pace

Ok, got to figure out a way not to be so hyped for all the new books/comics coming out for Star Wars. I keep expecting more than what I’m getting. I’m not sure what I was expecting in one episode of a four issue comic. I was hoping for more information on what was happening after the Battle for Endor. What we got in issue #1 was half the comic set during the Battle of Endor and the after party.  We then get a few more pages about another attack on the moon.
I liked the new character, Shara Bey. She’s an A-wing pilot and there are some great panels of her flying during the Battle of Endor. We soon learn her husband was part of the special assault group on Endor with Han and Leia. She finds her husband, they spend the night together and the next morning they go and attack another outpost on the Endor. This is the entire first issue. There isn’t anything else in it, besides a few panels of Lando explaining what he did to the Falcon.
I know this is just the introduction issue, and we will be getting more story in the subsequent installments. I just was expecting a bit more movement and development. I do like the new heroine, and her husband as a special assault trooper. I’m left wondering if we are not going to any stories around are big three on the journey to force awakens. This would be disappointing, and I’m assuming we are going to get something. There is a ton of story to be told in thirty years. I just hope they don’t completely neglect the main heroes during this time period. New characters are great, and do expand the universe, but I still want some of the old bread and butter.
One thing that does stand out in this first issue is the stunning artwork. I'm new to comics, and evaluating artwork is not a strong suite of mine. I did love the art in this book though. It’s vibrant and leaps off the page at you. The artwork alone is worth owning the comic. I've enjoyed looking at all art in the other Star Wars comics, but this one stands out.
Not much else can be said about this comic. We are just being introduced to Shara and her husband, Kes Dameron(who is probably Poe Dameron's father from episode 7), and we don’t really spend much time with them. They seem in love and ready to move on with their life after the war is over. Han makes a statement at the end of the comic saying the war is far from over. This is the setup for the rest of the issues. Let’s hope the pace picks up a bit and we get to turtle speed instead of a snail’s pace on our trek to episode seven.
What did you think of Shattered Empire? Where you underwhelmed like me? Did you like the artwork?

Share and Like, if you enjoyed. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Turbo Kid Movie Review: A Movie about a Power Glove that Actually Works

Turbo Kid is a fantastic low budget independent movie. The movie is one of the best I have seen all year, and one I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a great campy 80’s action/adventure exploitation film. The movie is not in wide cinematic release, but you can find it on video on demand anywhere. If you have Amazon Prime it is available through their subscription service to stream instantly. Give it a chance if you are a kid of the 80’s and want to watch a campy, surprisingly heartfelt, and total gore fest.
Our story is set in post-apocalyptic 1997. Our hero, The Kid (Munro Chambers), is a scavenger living in the desolate, acid rain soaked, landscape. He looks for things to trade for water and food. He lives in a fallout shelter where he keeps things he has scavenged. He loves the comic book Turbo Rider, and we see him trade his wares to get more issues when he goes to a make shift trade depot. While at the depot we are introduced to Frederic (Aaron Jeffery) local lawman and general tough bad ass. We see him arm wrestling and with a bit of exposition we find he never loses. Not sure if this was a nod to the classic Stallone movie, Over the Top, but it’s what I thought of when I saw the scene. Frederic is classic 80’s hero. He’s big, he’s tough, and he’s Australian. Great nod to the Crocodile Dundee films. Frederic is fighting the main villain Zeus for control of the territory. Zeus (Michael Ironside) is a sociopathic villain who enjoys social niceties. While this tussle is going on our hero, The Kid, meets Apple (Laurence Lebeouf). Apple is an overtly friendly girl who latches onto The Kid and follows/tracks him home.
Apple and The Kid strike up a friendship and it’s this relationship which ties the movie together. Chambers and Lebeouf have fantastic chemistry together and turn in great performances. You buy into their friendship and kindling romance. Their love story is innocent and sweet. It makes the movie touching in the midst of the over the top fantastic gore used in the film. Their story and friendship had a twist I wasn’t expecting and made the film more enjoyable for me personally.
During the course of the movie The Kid finds a Turbo Glove (Think Nintendo Power Glove that works) which shoots out energy and kills on impact. The Kid assumes the title of his hero but as Turbo Kid and not Turbo Rider. He does this and goes to save Apple from Zeus.  When he is donning his costume it has an 80’s montage vibe. The music throughout the movie heightens the nostalgia. It is classic 80’s music from the opening title sequence to the end credits. Loved it and would consider buying a soundtrack if they released it. The music and the practical gory effects roots the movie in classic nostalgia from the 80’s.
The gore, the glorious gore. This movie had so many great moments of over the top filthy heinous deaths. People losing their heads, arms and guts. Blood squirting everywhere, much akin to the restaurant scene in Kill Bill vol. 1. The practical effects are extremely well done, and I loved watching bodies explode on screen. This movie is definitely low budget, but the directors put painstaking effort into the action scenes and deaths. They are wonderful and I laughed and applauded while watching the film.
 Along with the gore the directors did a good job visually of capturing a desolate wasteland with a lower budget. The world they show seems lonely, and has a Mad Max vibe. No it’s not perfect, but with a lower budget they did a great job of capturing the essence of an empty world.  What is great about the movie is that there is more to the world than on the surface. There is a backstory and history to the environment which could be explored. Yes I’m clamoring for a Turbo Kid 2.
While I unabashedly love this movie, and will be able to watch it many times, it does have a few minor issues. The bike chase scenes are one. They didn’t quite capture the intensity I thought they could. Maybe they did the best with their budget, but I would have liked just a bit more tension in the scenes. Also the flashbacks where a bit misplaced. I would have much rather started the movie with this scene, rather than having it spliced through the movie.  I get what they were trying to do with some non-linear storytelling, but I would have preferred just a straight prologue to the current story.  The only other minor quibble is the very last ending resolution. It was bit too neat for me, but that’s usually how 80’s movies turn out. I think they could have left it out and it still would have felt like a happy ending.
Turbo Kid is well directed and acted for a movie trying to be over the top and campy. It’s the surprisingly heartfelt love story which makes the movie a joy to watch.  If you want to watch a fun throwback to classic 80’s action adventure find Turbo Kid. Buy it, rent it and stream it. This movie deserves a cult classic status and I will be buying it whenever it’s available on blu ray. Hopefully it gets talked about and we start seeing more from the directors Anouk Whissell, Fran├žois Simard, and Yoann-Karl Whissell.
My Rating: Must Own

Have you seen Turbo Kid? Did I peak your interest? What are some of your favorite action/adventure movies from the 80’s? 

Star Wars Aftermath Book Review: Epilogue gave me Goosebumps

I built up Aftermath to giant proportions before it was released. I wanted it to be an epic novel about the immediate repercussions of the Emperor's death and the destruction of the second Death Star.  The actual result is a solid installment in the new cannon. It was unrealistic to heap so much hype on the novel, but it is the first step in the journey to The Force Awakens.  Aftermath has some flaws, but it is an enjoyable story with a cast of characters that grow on you by the end of the novel. I listened to the audio version of the novel and had to force myself to get through the first half of the book. Once the book hits the halfway point it picks up and the ending is satisfying. I didn’t get everything I wanted out of Aftermath, but it is worth reading if you are fan of Star Wars books.
The story starts out with Wedge Antilles scouting systems for Imperial remnants. He soon finds what he is looking for and is captured. The Imperials have to keep Wedge and other Rebels from finding out they are at the planet, Akiva. The major leaders left in the Empire are holding a summit to reorganize and fight back against the New Republic. Wedge is able to get a message out to another Rebel, Norra, who works to try and save him and get the message back to the Republic. Bare bones of the plot. The Imperials are having a meeting, and they don’t want the New Republic to find out about it. The heroes need to break out Wedge and alert the New Republic.
The issue with Aftermath is it takes half the novel for the plot to get any traction and advance. It takes this long for our band of heroes to assemble and figure out what they are actually going to do. I felt their where too many new characters at the start of the novel, and it was hard to relate and get behind them. This is mainly due to the weird interludes spread throughout the novel. After a certain number of chapters we get interludes completely unrelated to the main story of the novel. I get why they are in the novel. We are seeing the “Aftermath’ of the war between the Rebellion and the Empire. They are interesting, but would have been better served as part of an anthology series, in which each of these chapters is developed into an actual story with a conclusion. Another idea would have been to just have one story in the interludes, instead of six or seven random ones. I liked many of the interludes, and hope we finish many of these stories either in the next Aftermath book, or in a true anthology novel.  However with these interludes is was hard to get behind many of our new characters. One last thought on the interludes, have our big three, Han, Leia, and Luke be the focus of them. This way the interludes have characters which stand out and are juxtaposed against all the new heroes introduced.
All the main characters are new. Wedge is the only character we have seen in the movies, and his role is minor. By introducing all new characters it was a bit hard to keep them straight with the interludes in between the main chapters.  The author would also put the characters in a complete new place from where we last saw them. He wouldn’t give an explanation of how the character got to the new place from where we last saw them and it added confusion. I found myself constantly rewinding to see if I missed something, which I hadn’t. Once our main characters meet up, the story becomes easier to track, and it is when I started enjoying the novel.
The characters introduced are also a minor issue. I didn’t relate to Temmin who has the biggest arch in the novel. His mom, Norra, is a Rebel hero and just helped destroy the second death star. She went off to fight for the Rebellion against the Empire after her husband was arrested. Temmin resents his mom for leaving, and doesn’t want to leave his current home. Understandable teenage angst, but just not the type of character I related too. He did grow during the story, but was not someone I enjoyed reading about. I did like the bounty hunter Jas. She is the typical rouge bad ass with a heart of gold. She stands out in the story and so does Sinjr the former Imperial loyalty officer.  Sinjr is lost after the Battle of Endor and this adventure gives his life purpose once again. The way all of these individuals team up is a bit ludicrous and too coincidental for my liking, but once they do the climax to the story is satisfying(Insert lewd joke here).
Our team of unlikely heroes is up against the Imperial Admiral Rae Sloan. This is Sloan’s second appearance in the new Star Wars canon books. She was a Star Destroyer captain in Star Wars: A New Dawn. She is one of the highest ranking Imperials left, and has access to the last Super Star Destroyer.  She is a cunning villain, and is someone who truly believes in the Empire. She fights hard for her beliefs and has worked hard for the Imperial summit to succeed. Sloan does an admiral job of trying to keep things together as the situation deteriorates around her. She is not a sympathetic villain, but she is also not someone who you immediately despise.
Once the main events of the novel comes to a conclusion the epilogue left me giddy and excited for the next book. A person is revealed who could very well be a major old expanded universe character. No names were used for this individual in the epilogue, but if you have read the old books you can guess who this person probably is. If this character is not who I think it is I will be disappointed, but I don’t know who else it could be.  It gives me great hope for the next installment of the trilogy. The interludes, while detracting from the start of the story, also introduced exciting tidbits about the universe after the Battle of Endor. The Han and Chewie interlude was the best followed closely by the scene on Taris. The interludes did a great job of opening up questions that need to be answered.
While Aftermath didn’t live up to my vaulted expectations, it is still a solid installment into the new Star Wars canon. The first part of the novel is a slog, but it pays off in a major way by the end. With the epilogue I already have high hopes for the second installment. Maybe I shouldn’t with some of the characters and choices during this story. Without the need for introductions to our characters the next book can hit the ground running. Aftermath stumbles a bit as the first step to Star Wars: A Force Awakens, but our journey isn’t off the rails.
My Rating: Worth reading if you like Star Wars books.

Have the negative reviews of Aftermath scared you off? If you have read it what did you think? Did Temmin annoy you as much as me? Did you like Sinjr and Jas? Did you think the way they met up was too coincidental? Am I asking enough questions? Final one, Who do you think the character in the epilogue was?