Introducing The StoryBundle Indie Fantasy Bundle

Indie StoryBundleI dig movies, which makes sense since I write a movie blog.  That being said, what am I going to do when Skynet rises, and the machines take over?  Or when the time comes when there’s no room in Hell, and the dead walk the earth?

Which is why I would like to reintroduce everyone to StoryBundle.  I first heard about them sometime in 2012, when they launched the Halloween Horror Bundle, with work by writers like Douglas Clegg and Kevin J. Anderson.

More recently, they launched an Indie Fantasy Bundle, which consists of eight titles by writers like Christopher Bunn and Blair MacGregor, neither of whom I have heard of before.

Which, believe it or not, is part of the attraction.  For instance, I am a huge fan of Stephen R. Donaldson (the writer of “The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, The Unbeliever” as well as the incredible ‘Gap Saga’) but I would never discover any interesting writing if I didn’t seek out new writers.

Which is why the Indie Fantasy Bundle is so cool.  You get eight ebooks by writers that you probably have little information about, which means that you’re delving into worlds that share only a genre in common.

And like with the Halloween bundle, you pay what you can, though you get two more ebooks if you pay at least ten dollars.

So, if the robots decide to throw off the yolk of their human oppressors, or the zombies start to hunger for your brains, at least you’ll have something to read.

Weird Math: ‘Rise Of The Guardians’ Edition

Rise Of The Guardians poster 1The head of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg, reported that as a result of the weak performance of 2012’s “Rise Of The Guardians” the studio had to write off $87 million.

Sure, it’s not a “John Carter” sized loss, but it’s still substantial.

Now here’s the weird part:  ‘Rise’ earned over $300 million worldwide (on a $145 million budget), not what I would traditionally call a failure.  By way of comparison, “Tron: Legacy” cost $170 million, and earned $400 million, which is a better performance, though not hugely.

But while a sequel for ‘Legacy’ is in the works, ‘Rise’ has lost thousands.

The ’Tron’/‘Rise’  is a comparison I made before, mainly because it makes no sense to me that “Rise Of The Guardians” was such a (relatively) large failure.  If that were it’s only problem, it would be bad enough, though accompanying it was the layoff of 350 workers.

This is weird because it feels that ‘Rise’ underperforming could have perhaps been the impetus, and provided the cover, for Jeffrey Katzenberg doing what he wanted to do anyway.

Am I right?  I have no idea, but the idea that one film underperforming could cause all this damage feels odd.

New ‘Iron Man 3’ Poster

iron-man-3-international-poster-405x600

Here’s another “Iron Man 3” poster, this time focusing on Iron Man/Tony Stark and various armored suits.  It appears that the penultimate Iron Man film (Yeah right, if this makes a much money as anticipated, I expect that we’ll be seeing Iron Man for a long while, which is when things get really interesting because Robert Downey, Jr. probably has no more than two–including this one–Iron Man films in him, I’d imagine) will follow in a somewhat different direction than the prior two entries, which isn’t a bad thing.

I have read that it adapts the ‘Extremis’ storyline from the comics, though I haven’t followed it, I cannot say how it goes.

Though what I think is a really good thing is that Jon Favreau isn’t directing, though that shouldn’t be taken as being critical of him.  I am thinking more in the sense that some new blood will bring an interesting perspective to things, and if anyone can do that, Shane Black can.

‘Iron Man 3’ Character Posters

Iron Man 3 (Ben Kingsley)This isn’t new–it’s been available on the Interwebs for about a week now–but if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.

What you’re looking at is the latest cast member poster from “Iron Man 3,” and I have to admit that Ben Kingsley, as the Mandarin, looks all sorts of badass, which I hope forcibly expels his performance as The Hood from 2004’s “Thunderbirds” from my mind forever, which is less a commentary upon Kingsley or his performance than that I can be particularly anal).  What’s also kind of cool is that this film they aren’t going to pit Shellhead against another armored character, because, let’s be honest, that sort of thing work out its welcome by “Iron Man 2.”

The poster released before Kingsley’s was of Don Cheadle, as the Iron Patriot (also known as War Machine–a much cooler moniker–from “Iron Man 2″).

Iron Man 3 (Don Cheadle)

‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ Review

Safety Not Guaranteed movie poster

Large predatory animals, like leopards and lions, though by no means exclusively, have to live within a major contradiction.

That is, despite their awesome speed and strength, they also have to be very patient.

The reason being, if they’re stalking prey though the jungle or veldt, the placement of a paw, the direction of the wind, all matter.

They’re learned this invaluable lesson overtime, because not too could mean the difference between feeding their young, starvation or even death.

Movies are similar because those films that choose to be patient, reveal their mysteries gradually, run the risk of losing their audience along the way.

Or even worse, boring them, which is the kiss of death as far as movies are concerned.

And also like our feline friends, it takes faith in what you’re doing, and a sure hand, to pull it off, which is why many directors don’t even bother trying.

Though when it works, it’s remarkable, which it does in the case of “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

It’s a charming, heartfelt movie that’s very much about the trip, as opposed to the destination (though that’s pretty cool, too).

The film revolves around a personal ad for someone seeking someone to accompany them through time (which is an interesting MacGuffin).

Safety Not Guaranteed Advert

Though “Safety Not Guaranteed” is less about time travel–though it is present–than the danger of revealing ourselves up to others and the threat of putting the past behind us in the name of an uncertain future.

For awhile I kept wondering when there was going to be any sort of Terminator-style time hopping, though as soon as I met Darius (Aubrey Plaza), Kenneth (Mark Duplass, who also executive produced, along with his brother Jay), Jeff (Jake Johnson) and Amau (Karan Soni) I became less interested in the time travel angle, and more in the lives of four people, all scarred in their own way, looking for a way back to the places where they were happiest or seeking someway to move forward, but being unable to do so.

A movie like this rises or falls on the strengths of its characters for there aren’t any giant robots, sparkly vampires, or zombies to fall back on.

And it rises admirably.

By the way, I mentioned earlier that the whole time travel aspect of the film is a bit of a MacGuffin.  It is, though that’s not to say that it’s not fully realized at some point.

And congratulations to Derek Connolly, who wrote the screenplay for “Safety Not Guaranteed,” and recently won the Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.

Quite Possibly The Most Capable Blind Person In Movies. Who’s Not A Ninja, That Is

I have noticed, more often that I like to admit, that I form opinions of people I have never met and experiences I have never had based upon what I have seen in movies, on television and in the news.

And even worse, I tend to do so unconsciously, despite being aware–sometimes even hyper-aware–of the distorted images they bring to reality.

For instance, I have always assumed that blind people are relatively helpless, that losing their sight has somehow made them…somehow less capable beyond the lack of sight.

This feeling wasn’t something that I was particularly conscious of, but was there nonetheless.

Which is why I was surprised by the film that I saw recently.

This story begins on a very rainy day in Washington, DC, a day I have spent cleaning my apartment, which is a bit messy because I let things go when I was sick last week–though the experience revealed to me that beer actually helps colds by muting the cough reflex as well as helping one sleep.  After all, it’s not an accident that NyQuil contains alcohol–and watching horror flicks on Netflix.

At the moment Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes 2” is unspooling, and while it’s not by any means a great movie, what it does have is one of the most capable blind people I have ever seen in movies, without that person being a ninja, or something of that effect.

Continue reading

Stan Lee Unleashes The ‘Annihilator’

Stan Lee is obviously a talented man.  He’s had a hand in the creation of some of the most enduring characters in the Marvel Universe, like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and even some from DC Comics as well.

That being the case, why is it that he can’t seem to do anything lasting outside of the auspices of Marvel?  For instance, he’s in the past few years done a series of films under the “Stan Lee Presents” moniker, like ‘Mosaic,’ ‘The Condor’ and ‘Lightspeed.’

Here’s the trailer for ‘Mosaic’…

followed by ‘The Condor.’

The odd thing is that I not only haven’t seen any of the aforementioned films, though I am curious in a somewhat cursory fashion.  Part of me not particularly caring is due to my suspicion that Lee is a bit out of tune with today’s audiences.

Though I think he may have found a way to be taken more seriously, which is to work in live action, and to use creative people who’s at the top of their particular field.

For instance, his latest project, “Annihilator” is being written by  Tony Gilroy, who’s credits writing credits includes the screenplays for all the ‘Bourne’ films, among many others.  That being said, the premise of “Annihilator” sounds a cheesy take on Captain America (whom Stan Lee actually didn’t have a hand in creating), though in this case we have a Chinese expatriate who gets involved with a super soldier-type program that gives him abilities that happen to complement his pre-existing martial arts skills.

Which is always a good thing when you’ve been a part of a super soldier program, I’d like to think.

I shouldn’t be quite so snarky, considering that I suspect that the only thing that stopped the Batman films from looking like David Goyer’s “Blade: Trinity” was the presence of Christopher Nolan and his brother, Jonathan expanding upon Goyer’s concepts.

Studio Plans ‘Mama’ Sequel

Mild spoilers below.  If you haven’t seen “Mama,” you might want to move on.

It’s early going yet, but Universal is planning on sequel to Andy Muschietti’s “Mama.” The horror film, made at a cost of $15 million, has earned over $89 million worldwide, and while that’s a great return on investment, the movie itself doesn’t exactly scream “sequel.”

That being said even, Muschietti isn’t keen on the idea, though there are ways that it could be done.  For instance Lilly, who was taken by the ghost at the end for the film, could perhaps come to claim her sister Victoria.

The cool thing about such a scenario is that it makes sense in context of the movie, and doesn’t recycle the title character–which as I said makes no sense.

Maybe the sequel could be called “Sisters” or “Lilly” or something like that.

In case you’ve forgotten “Mama” already, here’s the trailer.

Ralph Bakshi Comes To Kickstarter!

I have been a fan of Kickstarter for quite awhile now, and try to cover them whenever there is a project that catches my interest.  In the past I have written about other Kickstarters like “Sullivan’s Sluggers,” and the relaunch of a crowd-funded version of Top Cow’s “Cyber Force.”

Well, here’s the next project that has me very, very interested.  I learned about it from Aintitcool.com, and it comes from Ralph Bakshi, a storied animator who has tacked everything from “Spider-Man” to “Lord Of The Rings.”

Speaking of ’Spider-Man,’ it was probably one of the trippiest cartoons that I have ever seen, which probably isn’t a surprise since it was a child of the 60’s.  I mean, this cartoon made no attempt to ground Spidey in any sort of realism.  In fact, he tended to spend his web slinging where there were no buildings or tall structures, and the sky was often colored in tie-died tones.

It was awesome, and there’s never been anything quite like it since (Click on the ‘Old Cartoon Theme Songs’ button if you don’t see Spider-Man.)

The last thing I recall him doing was 1993’s “Cool World,” with Brad Pitt.

His latest effort is called “Last Days of Coney Island.”

It reminds me of some of Bakshi’s earlier projects, like “Fritz The Cat,” and “Wizards” visually, though I prefer his work when it mixes in more realistic animation, like with ‘Rings.’

What Happened To The Black Panther?

The Black PantherToday has not been my day.

The most irritating aspect of which being my attempt to watch Michael Bassett’s “Silent Hill: Revelation” via iTunes.

I have no idea why things went all sorts of wonky, but I spent four or five hours from the discomfort of my bed trying to watch the movie.

Though what you’re probably (or should) be wondering is why I spent the afternoon in bed, for despite it being my day off I don’t tend to be particularly lazy.

I was on my back, and at various times my stomach or sides, because every once in awhile I get a cough that just doesn’t quit, though that’s not the worse of it.

‘The worse’ being that it’s so damned dramatic.  Listening to me you’d think that I was trying to upchuck a lung or something. Continue reading