So Far this Week… February 5, 2014

With the expansion of Hush Comics, we have decided to give bi-weekly news updates.  Anything we find news-worthy will be posted here bi-weekly.  Have anything to add?  Post it in the comments!

This week, we’re excited about several new books out, but none moreso than Ms. Marvel, which has been rebooted and features a young Muslim girl as the superhero. Read this article by The Washington Post to see why this is a BFD.

The Lex Luthor story line in the new Batman vs. Superman movie is going to be similar to something we’ve seen before.

The late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman still had a vital scene to film to complete the Mockingjay – Part II film. So what are they to do? Three words: C.G.I.

Kick-Ass news! John Romita Jr. will be coming to DC Comics to do Superman with Geoff Johns this summer. The team-up could give the Man of Steel a much-needed boost.

Voting for the 2014 Comic Alliance Readers’ Choice Awards ends soon! Go vote and feel validated!

Can anybody smell what The Rock is cooking? You can’t just Tweet out #JohnStewartCanStillWhupSupermansAss without people thinking that you will be playing the Green Lantern John Stewart in an upcoming movie.

The fairy-tale world is on fire right now – figuratively, of course. Zooey Deschanel will be producing an animated sitcom called Queen of Everything to FOX.

Long-running show Psych has been cancelled just a couple months into their eight season; the last episode airs March 26th.

Try to keep up here. The Flash’s new spin-off series, which begins filming in March, has found an actress to play Iris West, who is the love interest of Barry Allen, who is the Flash (shhhh!); her name is Candice Patton and she was in a show called The Game they also chose Broadway actor Carlos Valdez, who will play Vibe, a young and inexperienced hero who can emit powerful vibrations from his arms. He must be a hit with the ladies… Whoo, that was fast.

The next-gen release of Disney Infinity 2 will feature both Marvel and Star Wars characters. If you were looking for an excuse to buy the game, there it is!

Speaking of Star Wars, Disney has already announced that they will introduce the brand-new Star Wars Rebels series by way of original Disney Channel movie this Summer.

Sunny Day, Sweepin’ the clouds aw-Kahhhhn!!! Benedict Cumberbatch stopped by to join the cast of Sesame Street.

Bill Nye, who is like, the Guy, when it comes to science, had a debate with best-selling Christian author Ken Ham to discuss Evolutionism vs Creationism. It’s a lengthy and intelligent debate held by NPR, so get some sleep, get your grand-dad’s pipe out and watch the debate here.

It might be the news about how crappy Sochi is doing, I was just thinking the other day that there haven’t been any good movies about an Olympic tragedy in a while. Enter Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill,  who will both co-star in a film about the 1996 Atlanta bomber.

Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry will be its own $15 downloadable game, meaning you won’t have to buy AC4 to get in on the action. I hope they do this with every game’s DLC going forward. Arrrrrr.

FX’s Archer is about to dead a whole lot better, as The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan (Maggie) will be joining the show for multiple episodes. She describes her character as “a wealthy corrupt President’s wife who is vaguely European.” SOLD.

If you’ve read our “Shut Up and Take My Money” article on RetroFit gaming systems, then you will geek out when the RetroFit TRIO comes out in the next couple months.

So… who is going to beat the living f*** out of George Zimmerman? There were apparently 15,000 people who applied to fight Zimmerman. What a scumbag… Details of the fight will be announced in a week.

Ubisoft had a little debacle with the trademark name of their high-profile game Watch Dogs when somebody had fraudulently filed to dissolve the trademark name of the upcoming game. Ubisoft is trying to correct the issue and it should not impede the game’s release.

They’re talking about another Duke Nukem game. Oh God, Why?? Just let it die!

Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Adrian Puryear

Graphic Novel Review – Fables Volume One: Legends in Exile

Graphic Novel Review: Fables: Legends in Exile

CollectingFables #1-5

Original Release Date: 2002-2003

Publisher: Vertigo (an imprint of DC Comics that has published works such as Sandman100 Bullets and V for Vendetta)

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Characters: Bigby Wolf, Snow White, Prince Charming, Beauty & the Beast, lots more!

Writer: Bill Willingham (Fables #1-present, Angel: After the Fall, Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure)

Artist: Lan Medina (Silver Surfer, District XVenom)

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 8

Art – 8

Captivity and Length – 8

Identity – 9

Use of Medium – 7

Depth – 7

Fluidity – 8

Intrigue/Originality – 10

The Little Things – 7

Overall awesomeness – 9

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It’s been awhile since I’ve read Fables. Looking at my home library I’ve noticed I was missing my first volume along with others I’ve seem to have lost over the years. It was fun to pick it up after all this time. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. In many ways, it’s what I wish Once Upon a Time would be. All the characters are familiar, as they’ve existed in fairy-tales, children’s books and Disney movies over and over again. The concept of using characters that are now public domain (no copyright claims can be made on them) with an original story and a modern twist is something that had never been done before in the comic book world.

Fables follows the stories of characters from fairy tales and fables who have been exiled to the “mundane” realm of New York City. They were pushed out from their many lands by a villain only referred to as the “advisory” and must now coexist in secret from the “mundy” humans of New York City. Characters who cannot pass as human live on a farm on the outskirts of New York. If you think this story sounds a bit familiar, you would be correct. Writer Bill Willingham has blatantly expressed that his story, while not politically directed, is social commentary on the current Israeli-Palestinian state of affairs.

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What’s fun about Fables is that it plays with several different genres. In this volume, we observe a murder/mystery. We are first introduced to Snow, the Deputy Mayor of Fabletown, who’s having to deal with marital problems between Beauty and the Beast. Her course reverts when the two experience martial conflict. After all, it’s hard to maintain the magic of a marriage when you’ve been married for the past thousand years.

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At the same time Jack, rushes in to tell Snow that her her sister, Red, has had something horrible happen to her. He found her apartment in disarray and her blood soaking everything. Bigby (the big bad wolf) runs around New York trying to piece together the mystery while at the same time introducing the readers to the world of Fabletown and the characters who inhabit it. I find the way Willingham constructs the story both interesting and clever, and left me with quite a few chuckles. Even the panels have a few eggs that if you pay attention closely can make you laugh. Who doesn’t love a hairy man in a banana hammock?

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While enjoyed Legends in Exiles, I also found the dialogue to be a bit strained and hard to believe. I also felt Snow’s reaction were a bit all over the place (OUAT much) and the cheese were at times grating. As for the art, I felt it was well drawn comic for the most part, but, for a murder mystery, I thought it lacked the visual clues necessary for the reader to try and puzzle it together. I actually took me until the reveal of the plot, which carries on for an entire issue, that I was supposed to be playing detective along with Bigby, as a reader. Had I known the ride I was in for, I may have been more perceptive to the subtleties instead of just laughing along with the punch-lines. As a reader, you can now be prepared to be prepared with your pipe and monocles for a fantastical, quasi-interactive murder/mystery.

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Overall, I highly recommend reading Fables for anyone Jonesing for a spot of fantasy and who loves a good twist on their fairy tales.

General Reception: Fables is a highly acclaimed book, both critically and among casual readers. There has been an rise in stock for the series, as the series has been awarded fourteen (and counting) Eisner Awards. Talks of a television show have all but died (and then reincarnated in the spirit of Once Upon A Time), but a movie adaptation is currently in the works! Fans love Fables so much that Rochester, Minnesota held the first ever FablesCon in March 2013. In addition, a videogame has been developed by TellTale Games, the same geniuses behind the story-driven The Walking Dead series, and is called The Wolf Among Us, which I will buy as soon as this article is published!

Related Books: If you somehow manage to catch up to the 136th issue that hit shelves on New Year’s Eve, then you still have a plethora of spin-offs and side-stories to explore. And as an added bonus for those willing to purchase the collected versions (graphic novels) of Fables, there are almost always bonus short stories (with words!) explaining a bit of the Fables mythos to hungry readers. Legends in Exile included “Wolf in the Fold” which is of the Wolf’s time when he was fighting the Advisory. I enjoyed the short story and it adds nice origin story for Fabletown.

More by the writer: Bill Willingham is an interesting man. Most of his catalog consists of Fables, as he has impressively written the entirety of the Fables stories (minus a couple here and there). He has just recently came out with a series, published by Dynamite Entertainment, called Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure, which I can only assume is as hilarious and fantastical as his work on Fables. He’s also done an adult fantasy (image LARPing naked) book called Ironwood, as well as work on the earlier Angel comics for IDW. He’s nerdy in the best ways.

More by the artist: Rolando “Lan” Medina has been a quiet presence in the comic book industry, making his mark on everything from Cable & Deadpool to Punisher: MAX to Storm, the last of which Medina won a Glyph Comic Award in 2007 for, along with his Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story for Legends in Exile in 2003. His style is simplistic, but portrays the story well enough without distracting from it. Starting in April, you can find his art in DC’s new series, Aquaman & the Others.

*Screenshots taken directly from comic book using Comixology app. Credit to Vertigo Comics for the images.

Written by Jené Conrad

Once Upon a Time “The New Neverland” Review

I still haven’t figured out what it is about Once Upon a Time that keeps me watching week after week. I think it may have something to do with the side of me that enjoys being frustrated and dissatisfied. The show constantly goes the route of  predictability. Case in point: Peter Pan is Gold’s father. Massive-epic eye roll. Like none of us saw that coming.

And now two episodes later  Pan has taken over Henry’s body and those stuck in Neverland are back in Storybrooke.

I would like to take a moment to go back to the episode “Saving Henry”. I have this love, love relationship with Regina. I know she’s an evil vengeful woman but, I love her. She acts through the terrible writing with vigour and her motivations are the clearest. Not to mention, she’s hot. Every once and awhile when Emma and Regina gaze at one another, I imagine them becoming lovers, raising Henry, and living happily ever after. Does anyone else notice the great chemistry those two have?

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Regina dominated “Saving Henry”. She’s so kickass it makes my nethers twinge. The best part of that episode is the moment when all the mothers are being constricted to death by the tree of regret and Regina is glowering at Pan: “I did cast a curse that devastated an entire population. I have tortured and murdered. I should be overflowing with regret, but I’m not because it got me my son.” She breaks her bonds, plunges her hands into Pan chest, and reclaims Henry’s heat. It’s moments like these that the show is so good at. If it wasn’t for Regina, I think I would have stopped watching a long time ago.

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This episode also revealed some information about the Darlings I had been expecting: The Darlings are totally evil. Granted, after watching Hemlock Grove and seeing Freya Tingley as Wendy, all I could do was scream evil, evil at the screen. The boy Darlings’ have been searching for Henry since he was a babe and is working for Pan. Time will tell what will become of the Darlings in the season to come. Maybe Wendy is the good one of the bunch, but I doubt it.

Both the crew and the lost boys are back in Storybrooke. They all think they are safe except Emma who’s got one of those gut feels. Henry isn’t right and Emma feels like there is something up. Overall, I found this episode to be obnoxious, trivial, and annoying.  The episode kept going back to the Magical Kingdom when Snow and Charming were on their honeymoon. Is anyone else tired of watching them make out and get all lovey-dovey and optimistic on each other? At this point it’s overdone. This part of the story wasn’t needed at all. It was useless, unless there is some egg I’m missing that will play out later in the season.

In Storybrooke: Ariel and Eric have a reunion. Gold and Belle have a tender moment (vomit). Tinker Bell meets up with the Blue Fairy (bitch).  Hook is brooding over Emma. Snow and Charming are pushing Emma and Neil to try dating and Emma just doesn’t seem interested. The Hook, Neil, Emma love triangle seems to continue.

It’s amazing how much nothing really happens in this episode. Pan, which is the most important part of the story becomes a subplot. Pan’s number one goal is to get into Regina’s tomb where she keeps all of her magic. In order to get in there, Pan calls his shadow to wreak havoc on the town. The shadow attacks the Blue Fairy: Yes! I have never liked her and I think the show is evolving to explore the darker side of her. I’m intrigued to see what they might do with Blue and Tinker Bell.

This of course makes Emma’s gut feeling push her to get the box where Henry is imprisoned. They all find out that Pan is in fact Henry. At the same time Regina takes Henry/Pan to her tomb for safety. This is exactly where he wants to be. He knocks her out and steals the curse Regina originally unleashed on the Magical Kingdom.  Dunt dunt duh. With that, the episode ends. Up next week is the winter finally.

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Possibilities and predictions: I don’t think the Blue Fairy is truly dead. Not many are truly dead in Once Upon a Time.  We all know that Pan has to sacrifice what he loves most in order for the curse to work. Is it Gold? I hope it’s not. I hope it’s a little darker than that. But, we can’t forget the prophecy: “The child will be your undoing.” Since Pan is in Henry’s body I wonder if  this is  how the undoing will work out?

Pandora’s box: It releases all the ills for the world and at the bottom there is hope. I believe Henry still remains to be that hope now that he is out of the box. This still plays into my idea that Henry is the once and future king.

Magical Kingdom: We haven’t seen the Magical Kingdom since Mulan and Aurora had their moment. Does this mean both landscapes will once again become one? What about Robin Hood and his Merry Men? It would seem both groups will need to come together to defeat Pan.

Overall, “The New Neverland” gets a D. There was too much useless story that really didn’t need to be there. But, I can’t get give it an F. I enjoyed Regina and Emma’s dynamic and their ability to work together to protect their son. I’m also intrigued by Blue and The Shadow. With so many new characters being introduced I’m curious how they will all begin to fit together.

written by Jené Conrad

Maleficent Trailer

The new trailer for Disney’s Maleficent came out last night. I am super stoked. Angelina Jolie as Maleficent is perfect casting. But we gotta wait to next Summer. (womp, womp, womp)

written by Adrian Puryear

Monthly Movie Preview: November 2013

The blockbusters are coming! The blockbusters are coming! November stars off with a bang and keeps getting better. With some big movies on the horizon, it’s hard not to get excited about the action movies, the book-to-movie adaptations and family films coming your way this upcoming month.

November 1 – Ender’s Game

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis

Based off the 1985 book of the same name, Ender’s Game is centered around a young boy who is enlisted into some weird child army to single-handedly eliminate an alien threat and save the world. This child prodigy, played by Asa Butterfield (Hugo‘s title actor), is a very advanced strategist and thinker for his age, which leads him to be outcasted a lot. The book focused on a lot of battle strategy and the “games” he plays to train himself – many of which I think kids would love to play. I’m thoroughly excited to see this movie and think it will translate into a beautiful District 9/Harry Potter sci-fi mash-up.

November 1 – Free Birds

Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dwight Howard (for reals!)

Okay, so nobody roots for a turkey to win, but that may change after Free Birds comes out. Awkwardly just a few weeks before millions of pounds of turkey are devoured by Americans, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson will lead an animated revolution to go back in time and “take turkeys off the menu.” TOO SOON. The trailer shows lots of good family fun, and enough jokes for adults to enjoy it as well. It looks worth checking out, but with all the other juggernaut films coming out the next few days, it might have served well to come out a little closer to Thanksgiving. Here’s to hoping their plan works!

November 1 – Last Vegas

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, 50 Cent

Imagine Hangover forty years later. Seriously, that’s about it; it’s a little shallow, but with the star-power that comes with this movie, there should be enough momentum to carry it. Aimed towards a different demographic, expect a lot of old people jokes. Actually, that’s really all you should expect. It’s also time that I accept that Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro are officially old. The scene with Morgan Freeman gathering the courage to jump out of his bedroom window is, and always be, hysterical. Again, with all these action epics out this month, I don’t expect this movie to do well, but will probably be worth a Netflix rental.

November 8 – The Armstrong LIe

Starring: Lance Armstrong’s missing testicle, Lance Armstrong

The Armstrong Lie begins with a humble story. Filmmaker Alex Gibney, enamored with the story of Lance Armstrong, was filming an inspiring documentary about the miracle comeback of an American cyclist. Of course, it ended up being too good to be true, as Armstrong was juicing/doping/whatever. So instead of calling it a day, Gibney gave Lance two middle fingers and decided to turn the positive documentary into one shaming him (although, I don’t know how much more shaming could be done). It’s a documentary I wish ESPN: 30 for 30 would have done, but I’m intrigued nonetheless.

November 8 – Thor: The Dark World

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba

Here comes Thor! It’s been a while since his forgettable movie debut, but the buzz from The Avengers is keeping this character in the spotlight for the time being. Chris Hemsworth does a convincing job as the Thunder God, but we will need more than just GC’ed monsters and backgrounds to make this a good film. The chemistry, as violent as it is, between Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is among the best in all the comic book movies. Odin willing, there is enough substance in the story and supporting acting for this film to give Thor the props he deserves.

November 15 – The Book Thief

Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson

The Book Thief is one of the best young adult novels to come out in recent years.  It can seem a little daunting to read because it has 500+ pages, but so do most of the Harry Potter books.  The Book Thief is so stellar because it is easy to read, yet incredibly thought provoking.  Narrated by Death, we follow a little girl named Liesel who is a German girl growing up under the Hitler regime.  She and her adoptive family are harboring a young Jewish man.  Liesel works around the town and steals books for she and her Jewish friend, Max to read.  Like many wartime stories, especially of such a heavy nature, it can be expected to cry a bit.  I highly recommend seeing this film if it has any resemblance to the book.

November 15 – The Wolf of Wall Street

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau

**UPDATE: It was just confirmed Tuesday that the film would be pushed back to Christmas Day so that Scorsese could kill some babies and try to get it from an NC-17 rating down to an R rating. Sad times, but a great Christmas movie awaits us.**

November 22 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland

Catching Fire was my favorite book in the trilogy.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed with the film adaptation of the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy.  And I’m sorry to still harp on this, but why does Peeta still have BOTH LEGS?!  Ok, ok, moving on.  I loved that the previews for Catching FIre only allowed us a glimpse of the Victory Tour for Katniss and Peeta, because it purposefully left out the second half of the book.  I’ll leave it a mystery here, in case you don’t know what happens to our heroine, but I’ll say that it will be worth it to meet a character named Finnick O’Dair, a winner of a previous Hunger Game.  Eeekkk…. nerd girl moment, here I come on November 22!

November 22 – Delivery Man

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt

It’s pretty hard for me to turn down a movie with Vince Vaughn.  In Delivery Man, Vaughn plays a man who learns he is the father to several hundred children due to a mix-up at a sperm bank.  He makes it his mission to have a little part in his kids lives. The movie is a remake of a French film named Starbuck. In time for the holiday season, the comedy with a little bit of a risque theme will most likely be the feel good movie of the month.

November 27 – Frozen

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Johnathan Groff, Alan Tudyk

The previews for Disney Animated’s Frozen were so creative because they were little short films before the actual movie.  In fact, the first time I saw a preview this summer, I thought it was a short before the film.  The story is about a girl named Anna (Kristen Bell) who is on the search for her sister who has turned the kingdom into a permanent Winterland.  With the help of some wintertime friends, Anna embarks on her adventure.  The movie looks super cute and will be the perfect way to start the winter season.

November 27 – Oldboy

Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson,

A movie that is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film that is based off a 1996 Japanese manga that stars Josh Brolin. It’s also directed by Spike Lee. Brolin plays a man captured and held prisoner, then forced to watch news update that pin him as the murderer of his wife (surprise!). For twenty years, he watches the world go by from his solitary confinement. Just when he begins to grow a Merlin-scale beard, he is released into the world. From there, it looks like a lot of crazy ensues, and he has sex with hot women and kills a lot of people. The preview kinda made me sad, as I realized that Brolin could easily play a Dark Knight Returns style Bruce Wayne (no knock to Affleck). The biggest story here isn’t going to be Brolin, though, it will be to see if Spike Lee still has the juice. Lee hasn’t really directed a good movie since 2006’s Inside Man and everybody expects big things from everything he puts out.

November 27 – Homefront

Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth

Yet another book-to-movie adaptation of Chuck Logan’s book of the same name, Homefront stars Jason Statham (sidenote: thank God, because it’s been almost six months since I’ve seen Statham shoot anybody in a movie and I was beginning to go through withdrawals) as an undercover DEA agent who is harrassed because his daughter beat the crap out of a bully that happened to be the son of a meth kingpin, named Gator. Gator, played by James Franco, is not Heisenberg. He is a sloppy redneck, and I’m sure there is some elaborate speech where he tells us why his name is Gator. I can guarantee a large body count on Statham’s behalf, and creepily good acting by Franco, but it’s Winona Ryder that will steal the show…. too soon? Anyway, it will be a pretty good movie, but expect a pretty formulaic Statham movie.

November 29 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris,

Finally, Idris Elba gets his first solo starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see The Wire’s Stringer Bell play Nelson Mandela – and not the South African rugby team (Invictus), not the 

Finally, Idris Elba gets his first starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see Elba play Nelson Mandela. And it’s not as the head of the South African rugby team, it’s the man behind the revolution. This movie should give Elba much needed respect. Although I am bit concerned, as his trademark mustache was not casted for the part, I am glad that this is not a gimmicky portrayal to portray the freedom fighter; actually, this story is based off of Mandela’s own auto-biography. Cue K’Naan’s “Waving Flag;” it’s a wrap!

This month’s list brings us:

  • 10 based off a true story or book to movie adaptations or sequels
  • 3 “original” ideas

Join us next month, as we cover some of this year’s most anticipated films. Action, mayhem and wonder await us in December. Any other movies you are interested in that we did not cover this month? Let us know!

Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Adrian Puryear

Girl Meets World — EEEEKKKK!!!

Last week, Disney officially picked up the new reboot series Girl Meets World.  When I was a kid, Boy Meets World was my favorite show.  It was relatable, funny and it made it cool to be smart.  Everyone knows who Cory and Topanga are.  Everyone rooted for Shawn and Angela to work things out.  We all wished we had an older brother like Eric.  And Mr. Feeny was everyone’s neighbor and teacher.

Now that Cory and Topanga’s daughter is middle school age, the reboot is almost here.  Pictures of filming have been leaking all over the net.  I am so happy that the show will be coming back for the new generation.  I hope it holds the same kind of innocence that Boy Meets World had.  As an adult, I hope that it has the same kind of smart humor that the original series had.  No matter what, I am excited to see Cory and Topanga together again!

Maitland Ward and William Daniels via Instagram. Mr FEHEHEHEHENYYYYYYY!
Ben Savage and Rowan Blanchard… Cory and Riley Matthews via Instagram
Danielle Fishel, Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter… Topanga and Riley Matthews and Riley’s best friend, Maya Fox via Instagram.

 

by Adrian Puryear

New POP! Funko Figures at Toy Fair 2013

Hey there!  Doing some trolling on the web this morning and found a blog called Jafo’s Spot.  He posted awesome pics from Toy Fair 2013… which is looking like something I should attend!  Here are some the pics he took of new Pop! Funko vinyls Disney Series 5.  Yup, shut up and take my money….

Alice!
Mary Poppins! I wonder if she can pull out adorable lamps and teaspoons of sugar from her purse!
Carl and Russell!!! I definitely need one to collect and one to play with. They need to come out with an Ellie too!!!I love his cane and the tennis balls! So detailed.
Baloo and Louie… I love Jungle Book!
Jasmine and Jafar…. Sherif will definitely need these!
Genie and The Rocketeer…. Disney rocks
Merida and Dumbo… Love

Written by Adrian Puryear

King of the Stars

A short time ago, in a galaxy really close by, a king was anointed.  On January 25th, 2013 it was announced that J.J. Abrams will direct what’s sure to be the next most highly anticipated Sci-Fi film of the century, Star Wars Episode VII.  The official announcement came, after a week of rumors and speculation, that Kathleen Kennedy the new Lucasfilm President (or as I like to call her, George Lucas Episode 2) and her staff had selected the next director for the first of three Star Wars sequels.  J.J. Abrams is best known for his involvement in the TV series Lost (exec. producer), Alias (exec. producer) and Fringe (exec. producer) as well as his exploits as movie director in Mission Impossible III, Super 8, and the most recent Star Trek films.  Okay, let’s nip this issue in the butt right now… CALM DOWN … Yes, you!  You who on some level is somewhere between appalled and dumbfounded that the new leaders at Lucasfilm have already resorted to borrowing something from the rival Trek universe for this revival of the glorious legacy that is Star Wars!!  Just close your eyes, take a deep breath and then do the following.  Open up IMDB, scroll down the list of J.J. Abrams’ involvements and as you read, count out on your hands the number of things that sucked on that list.  If you somehow managed to tally enough to need two hands, go over the list again and this time, count how many things REALLY suck.  Down to one hand or less?… I thought so.  With that helpful exercise out of the way let’s take a step back.

While the above paragraph may have led you to believe that I’m convinced Abrams will do a great job in his new directing role, think again.  In fact, in my mind, J.J. Abrams has just placed his head on the Guillotine block for all to see.  Whether or not the executioner (me and the collective Star Wars community) decides to drop the blade will be determined by his actions as a director in what is likely to be the most important movie of his career.  As he awaits his judgment day I will remain cautiously and skeptically optimistic.  I thought a good deal on how I was going to write this piece.  And while I must join the hoard of bloggers and fans crafting lists of demands that Abrams must follow should he wish to make good movie and spare himself decapitation, I’ve done my best to refrain from such rigid thought processes.  Instead I thought this: If I, a die-hard fan, could give J.J. Abrams one piece of advice or pose a single request, I would do so in one sentence.  Two words in fact:  Irvin Kirshner.

For those of you who don’t know who Irvin Kirshner is, he was the brilliant mind and talent that directed Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back.  For those of you who don’t know me, know that this film is my favorite of all time – not just of the six films, but of ALL films.  Let me make my best attempt to tell you why Empire is my favorite movie of all time in just a few sentences.  Empire has it all.  From action and drama, to comedy and suspense, to romance and despair, Episode 5 is a shining example of what is great about movies.  This film, whose predecessor appealed largely to a Sci-Fi community, took another step out of the proverbial box and caught the interest of everybody.  For those who weren’t satisfied with repetitive action and adventure, we found thought provoking themes in the teachings of Yoda and the lost legion of ancient Jedi.  For those who were tired of the good guys always winning, we found a story of darkness and a bleak conclusion.  For those who were weary of predictability, we found utter shock at the terrifying truth of Vader’s identity.  For those who didn’t want to take their girlfriend to the latest chick-flick found compromise as the love story between Han Solo and Princess Leia was just as compelling as the action sequences.

But what was it that made these parts stand out?  What made them so enthralling that it would be viewed by most as the best of the entire series?  The characters.  It was more than just the story, and the ships, and the giant space slug.  It was watching a three-foot green doll emote like it was real.  It was watching Leia and Han softly kiss each other for the first time in the confines of the Millennium Falcon.  It was watching the horrified reality dawn on Luke’s face as he came to learn that the most evil and feared man in the Galaxy was his father.  It…was…acting.  Acting at its very finest.  And it was Irvin Kirshner that brought this out of our heroes (and villains).  Kirshner knew what it meant to be a director.  He was dedicated to his audience through his characters.  Without concerning himself with fitting his characters into the world Lucas had created, he let the world fall in around the actors.  It wasn’t forced or contorted for the genre – it was one of the most organic and consuming portrayals this Husher has ever seen.  It is this mind frame that I hope Abrams adopts in his new role.  No matter who casters hire, what plot is composed, how much CGI is used, or if we have to suffer through Gungans and Ewoks again, Abrams has the opportunity to immerse his audience in the same way Kirshner did 33 years ago.  The pressure is on and any degree of egomania is sure to result in a disaster worse than the Hindenburg and Casey Anthony combined.  But there is time and resources.  Disney and its impressive little empire will do well to recognize their role in this undertaking and allow and encourage Abrams to play his accordingly.  In three-years’ time I want to write about how I could feel Abrams commitment to me, the viewer, the fan to taking me back…A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.  J.J. Abrams, may the Force be with you.

written by Taylor Lowe