Hey Howdy, my lil' Fanboys and girls!  J.C. here and, with Con season getting under way, I thought I might give you the fun-down-run-down about being prepared and staying safe at your favorite Con!  I myself am looking forward to attending the upcoming Tekkoshocon in Pittsburgh, but this info can apply to any Con anywhere.  (Except space.  Space Con is dangerous and takes years to mentally prepare.)  Even if you're an experienced attendee, it's good to brush up on some of the particulars, and I'll have you going from Baka to Sempei in no time.

Cooking Mama Says: Just Like Making Souffle, Preparation is Key.

OK, so, you bought your ticket, booked your hotel (if needed), and you're ready to go, right?  Wrong!  You gotta plan.  Luke didn't just hop into an X-Wing and roll out guns a-blazing, did he?  No.  That would have been an Anakin move, and we all know how well that turned out.  So, here are a few tips to get your prepared for Battle Royale.

Eulogy for a Fallen Watcher

 

Once again, we gather to bury a fallen member of the Watcher’s Council.

 

Once again, we gather to bury a fallen friend in the never-ending fight against evil.

 

Rupert Giles was an extraordinary man, but he would not want to be remembered as such. He would not want us to remember the feats that he accomplished, the lives he saved, or how many times he played a vital role in saving our world. Instead, he would want us to remember what a dangerous life all watchers, slayers, and other soldiers in the good fight lead, and how he felt lucky to have the wealth of time that he did.

 

Super Bowl Teaser Post-Game Analysis

Well, we lost the Super Bowl (three turnovers, Steelers?  Really?!), but it wasn’t all bad.  We got to see a whole bunch of new footage from movies promising to make this summer very exciting for us fans.  Below are links to the TV spots and my humble opinion on what we saw.   


Cowboys & Aliens Super Bowl TV Spot!!!


I have been excited about this movie ever since I first heard about it while sitting in Hall H at the 2010 SDCC (the last SDCC I may ever attend unless they figure out this ticket thing, eh Barb?!).  This movie from Dreamworks/Universal is based on a graphic novel of the same name written by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.  The movie has some heavy-hitters involved like Favreau, Howard, and Spielberg, and the cast is equally as exciting with Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, and Keith Carradine.  Having not read the graphic novel, the movie seems to be a mash up of gritty western and sci-fi action.  How could it be anything but amazing?  The teaser that aired during the Super Bowl featured a ton of new footage (highlight: when Daniel Craig leaps from his horse onto a speeding UFO).  Distinct from any other clips/trailers we’ve seen so far, this one was far more testosterone-fueled, giving us 30 seconds of explosions, bar brawls, crashing spaceships, and naked Olivia Wilde.  What’s not to love?        

I know it is a bold statement, especially since Sucker Punch just opened to a mounting pile of disastrous reviews.  But, if I was the one with the power of Greyskull in Hollywood, then my choice for director of The Hunger Games would be my boy, Zack Snyder. With films like Watchmen, 300, and the remake of Dawn of the Dead under his belt, Snyder is known for his fanboy glee for ultra-violence and epically beautiful visuals, and he is currently attached to the next big budget Superman film, Man of Steel.

If you haven’t heard of The Hunger Games yet, (which would be hard on this website given that the FBC staff considers the book series the literary equivalent of crystal meth) it is the first book in a trilogy of intensely popular young adult novels involving a Battle Royale-esque plot set in a dystopian future where twelve districts exist under the rule of a tyrannical Capitol. As punishment for a prior rebellion against The Capitol by the districts, each year two children, one boy and one girl, are selected from each district and forced to participate in “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death that is broadcast on live television. While the book series has a rabid following and has already been heralded in Hollywood as the next Harry Potter or Twilight-type phenomenon, this comparison falls short of representing what author Suzanne Collins has actually created. While The Hunger Games does have elements of the epic battle between good and evil from the Potter films and contains a romance plot that will easily rival the Twilight franchise, it excels beyond both by telling a complicated, honest, and brutal story that deftly explores themes of society’s obsession with violence and death, the true nature of war, and the complexity of evil. This is not to say that these other series do not touch on these themes, but somehow Collins seems to do it with a master writer’s grace, never missing a beat and never condescending to her audience. In short, she never lets The Hunger Games feel like a young adult novel.

As the Fanboy Comics staff takes time to revel in the goodwill and merriment of the holiday season, I have found that there is no better time than now to celebrate the movie that encompasses the true meaning of Christmas: the 1988 Bill Murray classic, Scrooged.  Here are the top ten reasons that this gem remains number one in our hearts after all of these years:

10.  Whether you currently have a job (you lucky dog, you) or even if you’re hoping that unemployment benefits will be extended, we have all had a boss who rewards our long hours of hard work with free company-emblazoned swag which probably cost about 30¢ to make in a third-world country.  Nothing says “Job well done!” during the holidays like a stress ball shaped like a globe.

9.  Who wouldn’t be inclined to tune in to A Christmas Carol that promises acid rain and drugs?!  Despite the footage of international terrorist warfare (too soon?), I think that we can all agree that the Frank Cross’ promo for IBC’s A Christmas Carol was far superior to Eliot Loudermilk’s feel-good, family trailer.

I was lucky to attend the Sundance premiere of Kevin Smith’s highly anticipated horror flick Red State, starring up-and-coming actors Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, and Nicholas Braun, as well as established actors Michael Parks (Then Came Bronson, Twin Peaks, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Grindhouse), Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, and John Goodman.  When I arrived at Eccles Theater in Park City, Utah, I was greeted by a huge line and a mix of protesters: half, serious religious picketers, half, ironical picketers, which included Kevin Smith himself, as well as a teen with my favorite sign that read: God Hates That I Couldn’t Get Tickets To Red State.  The film centers on a trio of high school youngsters (Angarano, Gallner, and Braun) who, out of a combination of sheer boredom and raging hormones, respond to a woman’s internet sex ad in the hopes of having an ill-planned, and ill-fated, gangbang.  Smith leaves his signature mark on this film with witty banter, unapologetic plot twists, and overt social critique, but his own style ultimately ends up hurting the film. Watching Red State was a hard-to-swallow experience, as there is as much good as there are short comings, and I was left with the frustrating—and not uncommon—sentiment that hidden somewhere in this film was the potential for greatness.

PrometheusLogoFor those who don’t know yet, acclaimed director Ridley Scott is currently working on two prequels to his sci-fi classic, Alien. Scott has expressed disappointment with the path that was taken with the Alien series after the second film, which was directed by James Cameron. While both Cameron and Scott have spoken about the urge to revisit the Alien universe, ultimately, it was Scott who made the first move. Scott has stated in the past that he felt that any sequels should experiment more with the evolution of the physical form of the alien xenomorphs in order to keep the mystery and suspense of the creature from the original film. Scott has also mentioned that he felt the story of the Space Jockey, the fossilized body and apparent victim of a chestburster that the doomed crew of the Nostromo discovered before their fateful encounter with the deadly xenomorphs, would be the proper story to tell in a sequel. According to all reports, this is the story Scott intends to tell with Prometheus, his Alien prequel which currently includes Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender in its still-forming cast.

As some may already know, the Alien series was my bread and butter as a child. As other boys in my elementary school became obsessed with football or video games or even the fairer sex, my young mind was deeply entrenched in acid blood, secreted resin, and gloriously gory chestbursters. It wasn’t long before I was known as that slightly creepy kid who spent his time drawing the disturbing creatures from a ‘70s sci-fi/horror film and managed to find a way to work the alien xenomorphs into almost every school lesson, despite many teachers’ resistance and confusion.

For the past several months, my life has been a whirlwind of work.  Writing, editing, studying, organizing, emailing, and trying to stay ahead of my various tasks while staying decidedly a day or two behind.  All this, while also managing a day job and attempting to maintain an acting career on the side.  Suffice it to say, I feel a bit like crawling into bed, closing the blinds, turning on a looped playlist of Richard Hawley, Elizabeth Cotten, Jens Lekman, and Nina Simone and waiting for summer.  Not that all of this work isn’t incredibly exciting and fulfilling, but it certainly takes a lot out of you.  I constantly feel the need to recharge my batteries, yet, when I sit down to watch a movie, I either fall asleep in the first few minutes or I am distracted by guilt throughout, considering all the work I could have completed if I’d only not fallen victim to my own sloth.  I have also recently completed a trilogy of books, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, (if you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, you’ll be hearing a lot in the next year).  This young adult series was a fabulous look at a future American dystopia and offered gritty action, insightful social commentary, and marvelously strong, yet flawed, characters, all of whom come together to create a powerful story that will have you by turns laughing, crying, cowering in fear, erupting in anger, and hoping with every part of your being these people, whom you will come to love, will survive and, eventually, find happiness.  All of this to say that, as much as I enjoyed this series, I felt a bit like I was put through the ringer.  It’s a quick read for sure, but not exactly light.

For fans of all things horror and make-up effects, the Monsterpalooza convention returned to the Marriott Hotel in Burbank, CA, providing a chance for all to mingle with independent artists and industry professionals alike in an exciting yet accessible setting.  Presented by the Rubber Room and running from April 8-10, the convention exhibits make-up and special effects artists, vendors selling creature-feature DVDs, t-shirts, and posters, make-up and digital design colleges, a monster museum, and a number of well-known genre actors.  As a special treat, guests of the con can count on appearances by industry giants like Guillermo del Toro, Jon Favreau, and Greg Nicotero, wandering through the booths, celebrating the creature genre as much as the next fan.

As a continued foray into the B-movie and exploitation films of the seventies, Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 Machete more than delivered in tastelessness and violence.  Originally opening in theatres in September of 2010, the film was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 4, 2011.  The feature-length film is an expansion of a fake trailer created for Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 Grindhouse double-feature, and, encouraged by their rabid fan base, it was quickly developed into a star-studded action movie.  Despite a cast that was riddled with Hollywood heavy-hitters and a story that included the uber-controversial immigration reform debate, Machete succeeded only in extending the same violence, nudity, and crudeness as was captured in its trailer.  

For director Robert Rodriguez, Machete was a project that was long in the making.   As a long-time friend and fan of actor Danny Trejo, who has made appearances in almost (if not) all of Rodriguez’s films, the director had intended to create an action film that encapsulated a Latin feel while geared towards a larger audience.  Although a script for the film was written in 2003 by Rodriguez, his full production plate kept him from focusing on the film until his shared Grindhouse project with long-time partner Quentin Tarantino in 2007.  A fake trailer for the Machete was included in the B-movie extravaganza, featuring actors including Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Jeff Fahey, all Rodriguez standards.  Over the next three years, Rodriguez assembled his cast, starting with the Oscar-winning Robert DeNiro.  After securing such a big-named actor, the remaining casting came easily.  The final cast of Machete finally formed, including actors of the likes of Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Tom Savini (another continued Rodriguez player), and the “prolific” Lindsay Lohan.  

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