Author

About the Author
Founder and Executive Producer of the Heroes Podcast Network. Host of Screen Heroes and Redshirts & Runabouts podcast series. Known Trekkie, gamer, and all around nerd.

Infinity War 67

Infinity War 67
Screen Heroes

 
 
00:00 / 49:54
 
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After taking a week off due to snowstorms, Screen Heroes returns to discuss what we are all wondering… who will be in Marvel’s Infinity War films set to close out Phase 3 of the MCU? The Russo brothers are responsible for directing not just Captain America: Civil War but also both parts of Infinity War. In an interview, they threw the number 67 out, as the number of characters they are currently working with. Now, they did clarify and say they just threw out a random and generic number but hey, let’s have some fun! Join us as we try to come up with 67 Marvel canon characters that Marvel Studios owns the rights to who could show up in the massive ensemble films!

Once you’ve listened to our list, comment or reach out to use with anyone we missed or who would make your list!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes at screen-heroes.com and leave us a review!

Infinity War 67 Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rae Stewart
Ryan Couture

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

Links
https://linktr.ee/screenheroes

Social Media
@ScreenHeroesPod

Infinity War 67

Pokémon’s 20th Anniversary Superbowl Commercial

Superbowl L (50) is just a couple of weeks away. We now know the match-up will see the highly mobile Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers face-off against the living legends, Peyton Manning and his Broncos. But that’s not all we’re in store for. Like any Superbowl, commercials will take some of the spotlight, whether it’s the horses kicking the extra point instead of going for two, a mini Darth Vader using the Force on a car, or Mean Joe and his Coke. This year, we get our first look at a Superbowl commercial from a video game company, Nintendo.

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of one of Nintendo’s most prized franchises,  Pokémon. While the year promises to bring more content like the original Red and Blue games to the 3DS eShop along with new online play as well as the North American release of Pokkén Tournament, we don’t know the true extent of what Nintendo has in store for our famed Pokémon friends. We know bits and pieces about Pokémon Go, which looks to be a geocaching+augmented reality game, taking the next step beyond Ingress.

What do you think Nintendo has in store for Pokémon? What would you like to see? Check out the official Superbowl L commercial below and comment with your thoughts.

Learn more about Nintendo’s Pokemon20 plans at their official website here.

#Pokemon20

#trainon

Pokémon’s 20th Anniversary Superbowl Commercial

Smuggler’s Bounty Box #2 Unboxing

We continue our unboxing of the Funko\Star Wars themed subscription box, Smuggler’s Bounty. This month is the second month for the service and features the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Resistance box. Last month brought us the First Order box. Check out our video here.

There was a lot of speculation about what POP Vinyl might be inside and whether or not it was a flocked one. Be sure to check out our unboxing video below to find out what we got plus all of the other great goodies.

What comes in these boxes? For those who don’t know, the official Funko services are completely exclusive items. Everything in the box is only available in the box. Items include pins and patches, t-shirts, POP Vinyls, mugs, variant comic books, and other fun collectibles. While some of the items might look familiar (see Captain Phasma’s POP from last month), they are different than what is available at retailers. For example, the standard Captain Phasma is grey\silver but the exclusive Smuggler’s Bounty version is shiny chrome.


 


 

What did you think of this month’s crate? Was it everything you hoped for? Do you subscribe? Comment below with your thoughts on Smuggler’s Bounty box #2!

Smuggler’s Bounty Box #2 Unboxing

Star Wars Episode VIII Delayed 7 Months

The title says it all. Star Wars Episode VIII, which was slated for a late-May 2017 release has been pushed back nearly 7 full months to December 15th, 2017. See the official press release below:

Today, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that Star Wars: Episode VIII, originally scheduled for release in summer 2017, will now debut on December 15, 2017.

The move follows the extraordinary success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was the first Star Wars movie to premiere outside the traditional summer blockbuster window and smashed numerous records, including biggest domestic and global debuts of all time as well as the biggest domestic second and third weekends, en route to becoming the highest grossing domestic release of all time with over $861.3 million and the third biggest global release ever with $1,886.7 billion.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: Episode VIII is currently in preproduction and will begin principal photography in London next month. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman will produce and J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski will executive produce. Stay tuned for exciting updates in the coming weeks.

Star Wars

Not a whole lot is said on the “why” for the delay but it’s likely to deal with re-writes that the film is going through based on feedback from audiences in the wake of The Force Awakens. This does, however, line up the film to be a year after Rogue One, which makes for a nice 12-month release cycle.

What do you think about the delay? Are you disappointed? Sound off in the comments!

Find the official release here.

Star Wars Episode VIII Delayed 7 Months

Bad Robot Surprises with 10 Cloverfield Lane

While the world was focused on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams, Bad Robot, and Paramount were planning something. The surprise came mainly to those who saw 13 Hours opening weekend because they were treated with a trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane, a horror\suspense film starring John Goodman that, according to Abrams himself, is a “blood sequel” to the 2008 film Cloverfield. The new movie, while not a direct sequel, may be connected and exist in the same universe as the original or it might simply be similar in tone and style, which is were the “blood sequel” comes into play. The IMDB page is light, showing no images or even a movie poster for 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is surprising since the film is slated for a March 11th release, meaning less than two months away. Additionally, the film’s cast is currently only three people, John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (The Thing  (2011), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), and John Gallagher Jr. (Jonah Hex). 10 Cloverfield Lane is directed by Dan Trachtenberg, marking his feature film directorial debut.

We’ve got the trailer below and as you can see for yourself, much is left to explain and understand about this quickly upcoming horror film but IMDB takes a stab at it with their synopsis:

Waking up from a car accident, a young woman finds herself in the basement of a man who says he’s saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable.

Sounds mysterious to be sure.

Check out the trailer below!

Alright, what did you think? Are you excited for 10 Cloverfield Lane? Do you think it’ll connect to Cloverfield in a big way? Comment below with your thoughts!

Oh and “I Think We’re Alone Now” is just a fantastic, creepy song to put in that trailer. I think it sold it for me.

Bad Robot Surprises with 10 Cloverfield Lane

2016 Oscar Nominations

With the Golden Globes in our rear-view mirrors, the Oscars are just ahead and today, the Oscars officially announced all the nominations for 2015 films. We’ve got the full list plus some numbers about the nominated films.

Our list of nominees, as you’ll see below definitely includes some major front runners. The films The Martian, The Revenant, and Mad Max: Fury Road are nominated in several categories including 12 nominations for The Revenant, 7 for The Martian, and 10 for Mad Max: Fury Road. Meanwhile, others films got a few nods. Star Wars received 5 nominations, mostly in technical categories while Bridge of Spies is nominated 6 times including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. Jennifer Lawrence received the only nomination for Joy, as Leading Actress, and Sylvester Stallone received Creed’s only nomination, this one for Supporting Actor. Pixar’s latest film, Inside Out, is nominated for Best Animated Feature but did not received a nomination for Best Picture, which will be a surprise to some.

Check out the rest of the nominees below and then comment with who you think will be taking home the Oscar in each category.

Chris Rock Hosting the Oscars

Original Screen Play

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Inside Out - Oscar Nominated Best Animated Feature

Adapted Screenplay

Brooklyn
Carol
Room
The Big Short
The Martian

Visual Effects

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Martian
The Revenant

The Martian

Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Martian
The Revenant

Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Martian
The Revenant

Short Film (Live Action)

Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Shok
Stutterer

Short Film (Animated)

Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Production Design

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Danish Girl
The Martian
The Revenant

Original Score

Bridge of Spies
Carol

Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hateful Eight

Original Song

“Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction 
“Simple Song #3” – Youth 
“Til It Happens To You” – The Hunting… 
“Writing’s On The Wall” – Spectre

Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Mad: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the…
The Revenant

The Revenant

Foreign Language Film

A War
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul
Theeb

Film Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Big Short
The Revenant

Documentary Short

A Girl in the Rive: The Price of Forgiveness
Body Team 12
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
Last Day of Freedom

Documentary Feature Film

Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Directing

George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson – Room 
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Adam McKay – The Big Short
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant

Mad Max Fury Road poster

Costume Design

Carol
Cinderella
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Danish Girl
The Revenant

Cinematography

Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sicario
The Hateful Eight
The Revenant

Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Actress in a Supporting Role

Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl 
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight 
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs 
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight 
Rooney Mara – Carol 

Actress in a Leading Role

Brie Larson – Room 
Cate Blanchett – Carol 
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years 
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy 
Saoirse Ranon – Brooklyn

Jennifer Lawrence

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale – The Big Short 
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight 
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Tom Hardy – The Revenant

Creed - Rocky and Creed

Actor in a Leading Role

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo 
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl 
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant 
Matt Damon – The Martian
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Best Picture

Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
Room
Spotlight
The Big Short
The Martian
The Revenant

There are the Oscar nominees. Any surprises? Who do you think deserved the Oscar nod and who didn’t? Comment with your thoughts!

2016 Oscar Nominations

Ziggy Played Guitar

With the passing of David Bowie this week at the age of 69 from cancer, we sit down to talk about our experiences with his music, film, and TV career. Join us as we talk about his vast range from Ziggy Stardust to The Man Who Fell to Earth to Labyrinth to The  Last Temptation of Christ to The Prestige. We also talk about his new album Blackstar. We used clips from the title song as well as “I Can’t Give Everything Away”, the album’s final track. We do this to set the mood and honor the final works of one of the most transformative and long-lasting vocal talents. We hope you enjoy our journey and take one of your own by commenting with your favorite David Bowie songs or roles.

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

Ziggy Played Guitar Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rae Stewart
Ryan Couture

Special Guest
Nicole Henderson

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
All music provided by David Bowie’s album Stardust. Opening track includes excerpt from “Blackstar” and the closing track is an excerpt from “I Can’t Give Everything Away”

Links
https://linktr.ee/screenheroes

Social Media
@ScreenHeroesPod

Ziggy Played Guitar

Supergirl Casts Another Supergirl

The new CBS Supergirl comic book drama is becoming very popular, taking home awards (Most Exciting New Series at the Critics’ Choice Award) and winning over many who thought the show looked a little too cheesy in the pre-premiere promos. As the second half of the first season is set to air, we are getting more news for the upcoming episodes. While we will be seeing Supergirl fight her Bizarro self in Episode 10 of this season, we have new casting information.

Laura Vandervoort has been cast as an upcoming villain for the CBS series. Who is Vandervoort? Well, she actually played Supergirl back on The CW’s first attempt at a Kryptonian hero series, Smallville. In fact, she appeared in 23 episodes of the series and while the show has been off the air for several years, people still think of her as a solid choice for the Supergirl character.

Laura Vandervoort - Smallville Supergirl - Indigo

Indigo - DC ComicsSo, who will Vandervoort be playing on the CBS Supergirl series since Melissa Benoist is doing such a fantastic job? Turns out, the character is Indigo. She is a slightly obscure DC character but she is canon. While more information is available on the character’s Wiki page here, let me give you a quick rundown. Indigo, was a member of the Outsiders under Nightwing but turns out to be a tool used by Brainiac. Her first appearance was in Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #1 in 2003. She also has some impressive powers that include flying and the power to shoot energy beams from her hands and eyes, among other things. Clearly, she is a force that can match up with Supergirl.

While we don’t know when Indigo will first appear in the series, it’s an exciting prospect that CBS is looking to established characters and fan favorite actors to portray them.

Also in Supergirl news, we are running out of time for a Season 1 crossover with The CW DC shows, specifically The Flash. While many people involved, including the lead actors and executive producer, have expressed interest in a crossover, the major complication actually comes down to physical location as The CW shows and Supergirl film in completely different cities. We’ll find out soon though since we have less than a month of filming left for Supergirl’s 20-episode first season.

What do you think of the Indigo news? Are you excited to see Laura Vandervoort return to the DC universe? Do you want to see a Supergirl\Flash crossover? Comment below!

Supergirl Casts Another Supergirl

Ash vs Evil Dead – Season 1 Review

The guy with the Boomstick is back and ready for action in the first season of the new STARZ series Ash vs Evil Dead. The new STARZ Original Series is a sequel to the beloved cult franchise Evil Dead but not the 2013 remake. That’s right, the new series follows our older, more incompetent hero, the male Ash Williams played by none other than Bruce Campbell. For those wondering, it appears that the series follows the theatrical ending to Army of Darkness and not the fan favorite Director’s Cut ending that leaves Ash more or less alone in a dystopian future.

So what does the new Ash vs Evil Dead series provide? An incredibly fun and refreshing horror comedy series that plays out like a long 5-hour Evil Dead film full of deadites, blood, gore, and Ash continuously getting in his own and everyone else’s way. Spoilers follow but I try not to go into TOO much detail. Groovy?

Initial Concerns for Evil Dead TV Series

I, like many lifelong Evil Dead fans, had some apprehension about premise and format for the show. You see, I was very excited for the rumored plans that were circling when the 2013 Evil Dead remake came out. Now, I like that movie quite a bit and thought Jane Levy did a great job filling the “Ash” role. The prospect of a sequel followed by an Army of Darkness sequel that led to a merging of the two “universes” in a seventh film had me very excited. Who did not love the Bruce Campbell tease in the post-credits of that remake? If you answer “me!”… just stop reading now. Anyway, to learn that this idea was scrapped was a disappointment but to learn that we would be getting a 10-episode mini-series meant a huge chunk of content in the Evil Dead  universe. Then things took another turn with the announcement that the series would only include 30-minute episodes. This is something that concerned me. It seemed like a sitcom format. How could they tell a compelling story with action in such short chunks?

Well, my concerns were overblown and flat out wrong. The show is fantastic. It’s everything I wanted from an Evil Dead series. Let’s dive into the why.

The Characters of Ash vs Evil Dead

Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones)

Ash vs Evil Dead - Amanda

Fisher is a cop that who comes face to face with the cruelty of the Deadites when her partner is killed in a gruesome manner. Shortly after, she becomes obsessed with Ash after more deaths occur at his previous place of residence. Throughout the series, she was my least favorite character. I found her poorly written and awkward. I felt like she was there simply to give Ash pressure to keep moving but motivations were a stretch as this police office continues to ignore the orders of her superiors. She was also too quick to trust in Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless), though maybe Ruby used some mystical powers on her. Toward the end of the season, however, she improves and becomes a fun character right up until her incredible surprising end.

Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo)

Ash vs Evil Dead - Pablo, Ash, and Kelly

 

Kelly, pictured right, is the lead female character in the season. She joins our heroes early on and quickly shows herself to be strong, intelligent, and a no nonsense kind of girl. While she is quick to accept what’s going on around her, I found her emotional reactions to the death of her family to be similar to those of Ash’s in the original films. She took things personally and missed her family, but there was a job to do. I personally really enjoyed the episodes where she was possessed by the demon. She was a lot of fun and it was cool having someone “on the inside” so to speak.

Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago)

Ash vs Evil Dead - Pablo and Ash

Ash’s right-hand man through and through is our buddy Pablo, pictured left. He is an innocent but courageous guy who just wants his role model, Ash for some reason, to be proud of him. Pablo brings a sense of lightheartedness and innocence to the series that has been lacking literally for decades. Until now, every character is either dark, dies too quickly, or is Ash. We finally have a hero character who means well and is altruistic in nature, a nice balance to Ash’s constant narcissism.

Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless)

Ash vs Evil Dead - Ruby

This woman is simply not in the show enough. Lucy Lawless is incredible. She’s creepy, she’s threatening, mysterious, and also badass. Unfortunately, she doesn’t meet up with the A Plot until near the end of the season but the wait was worth it. Learning who she really is was exciting and not something I expected until the very last moment before the reveal. I also liked how they played her character so that if the show did not get a second season, the first season is a fantastic self-contained story BUT since they did get a second season, we can expect Lawless to return as Ruby for more fun.

Ashley “Ash” J. Williams (Bruce Campbell)

Ash vs Evil Dead - Ash in Diner

Just give the guy some sugar, baby. This is the role Bruce Campbell was born to play and I love having him back. Ash is older, more experienced, a little more selfish but he still watches out for those close to him… up until the very end when he has a chance to take a break from Deadite hunting. Ash hasn’t lost a step. He is still a brutal and accurate Deadite killer and continues to school everyone episode to episode. I personally loved the scene where he fights himself. Sure, it was done in Army of Darkness but this one was actually better and the existence of two Ashs caused more interesting events to occur with real consequences.

Why You Have to Watch Ash vs Evil Dead

Ash vs Evil Dead

The show includes a fantastic mix of characters that’s diverse in both gender and cultural background. The core cast is small which allows the show to focus on their individual development. Even though the series is split into 10 half-hour episodes (some did run long), the series never drags. In fact, Ash vs Evil Dead is incredibly action-packed with a story and pushes forward with each new episode. The story is compelling and the writers did a great job hiding the true nature of what was happening until the very end. On a lighter note, I really enjoyed the various hand options Ash goes through, especially his Nintendo PowerGlove hand.

Having Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi return to a universe they created so long ago is a fun and refreshing experience. The show does not take itself too seriously but at the same time, takes advantage of new special effects and a larger budget to provide some killer Deadites, demons, and gore without losing the signature Evil Dead style.

Ash vs Evil Dead has been renewed for a second season on STARZ and the first script has already been submitted. Plans are to have season two on TV in 2016, so more Ash vs Evil Dead is on the way with plans for the main cast to return.

I rate Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 as 5\5.

The Grid Rating Saucer 5\5

 

 

What did you think of Ash vs Evil Dead’s first season? Comment below with your take!

If you haven’t seen the show yet, catch the first episode for free now on STARZ here.

Don’t forget to Shop Smart. Shop…. ValueShop.

Ash vs Evil Dead – Season 1 Review

Top Entertainment Moments of 2015

Screen Heroes continues into 2016 with a round table of our top moments of 2015 on the big and small screen. We hit on some of the biggest films and TV series including the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Comics Extended Universe, some dinosaur friends, Pixar, and even a few video games. While our lists do include spoilers, we hope you enjoy them and then comment or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to let us know some of your favorite hero moments of 2015!

UPDATED 01/07/2016: Add iTunes link in the credits. Please subscribe!

Top Moments of 2015 Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rae Stewart
Ryan Couture

Special Guest
Ian Turner
Frank Bones McCoy

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

Links
https://linktr.ee/screenheroes

Social Media
@ScreenHeroesPod

Top Entertainment Moments of 2015

Star Wars: A Ranking

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens crushing every box office record in sight, I believe it’s time to set down a ranking of the seven existing Star Wars Saga films before we begin the Star Wars Anthology. I’ll be ranking from worst to best based on my personal opinion. There will be spoilers, so you have been warned. One thing I want to note is that I am ranking these films off of their original theatrical releases. I am NOT including Special Editions or Blu-Rays releases.

7. Star Wars Episode I: A Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace poster tall

As the only film left out of the infamous Machete Order, is it any surprise that the first of the Star Wars  prequels would land last on my list? Let’s give the film its due though. The “Duel of Fates” song from legendary composer John Williams was superb and the villain, Darth Maul was intimidating and flat out cool. But a single song cannot save a movie, especially one in a franchise as beloved and successful as the Saga and killing off a brand new and exciting villain so fast is plain disappointing (and yes, I know the character returns in the cartoon). The overall story is boring and unnecessary. Jake Lloyd’s Anakin Skywalker was a cute kid but nothing more and the odd relationship with Padme (Natalie Portman) just did not work for the characters’ ages. Now, the saving grace of Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn was another positive but the character is killed off almost as quickly as his foe, Darth Maul and while Qui-Gon does return in the officially canon TV animated series The Clone Wars, we do not see him again in a Saga film. I think my biggest problems with this film revolved around the style and tone of the movie. Everything is shiny, pretty, and nice. The environment felt too sterile for Star Wars. Sterile is for Star Trek. Star Wars is supposed to be on the frontier of space.

And do I even need to mention the Midi-chlorians? I’m sure glad J.J. Abrams chose not to.

6. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones poster tall

Only slightly better than Episode I, Attack of the Clones speeds things up which makes the relationship between Anakin and Padme less creepy but nonetheless, the movie still falls mostly flat.  While we do get more action and a lot more Jedi fighting with lightsabers, we still get a lot of political talk that slows down the action, again, something for the Trek and not the Wars. The CGI effects in this film are borderline awful. George Lucas used blue screens so much, I seriously doubt that anything in the movie is real at all. The movie is the most forgettable of the franchise, which is why I don’t have much more to say about it. But, since I also don’t have a lot of bad things to say, it does edge out the one with the random and unnecessary podracing (though that did spawn a pretty cool video game for my N64).

5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith poster tall

Enter emo Anakin. While the Peter Parker in Spiderman 3 became more emo than evil, Anakin did the same but on a significantly more whiny level. Seriously, it got annoying and it got annoying fast. Hayden Christensen’s character was creepy and irritating throughout BUT we get a ton of very important information that leads to the events of the original trilogy. We finally see how everything comes to be, how the Empire is born, so to speak. We also get that intense fight scene between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin. While the end of that fight is pretty messed up, it’s a great fight scene that took better advantage of the CGI technology. The darker tones worked well, especially with the death of Padme and the birth of Vader. Now, I don’t like the whole Frankenstein’s Monster moment but I do appreciate the show of Force power Vader has and how Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) put Anakin back together. I will say that Yoda’s big moment against Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) is absolutely epic and fantastic until the actual lightsaber battle starts.

4. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Episode VI Revenge of the Jedi poster tall

Ewoks aside, I always loved this film. As a kid, it was my favorite of the Star Wars films mainly because it had more space battles and action. As I grew up, I did notice its short-comings which is why it falls to fourth on my list. The story is a significant rehash of A New Hope which a larger Deathstar (something you only know from material external to the films) but this time is has a shield!  I do enjoy Luke’s story which shows him on his journey to actually giving into the Dark Side for a short time. I am, of course, referring to when he uses the Force to grab his saber from the Emperor’s chair arm. I also like the redemption of Anakin by saving his son, defeating the Emperor, and finally becoming a happy Jedi Force ghost with Obi-Wan and Yoda.

3. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

 

The film that started it all is truly a fantastic one. Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope poster tallA New Hope  is one of my favorite movies of all-time and to this day is still considered one of the most successful by number of tickets sold. The story was new, bright, exciting, and fun. The scenes, alien puppet characters, and practical effects were monumental in enhancing the field of special effects. George Lucas’ accomplishments with this film are unparalleled and the film holds up. I still love watching our young heroes thrust into their perilous journey together, so many one-liners, so many references. There are too many iconic things about this film to put in a ranking article such as this but needless to say, I love this movie through and through even with its dated technical problems.

2. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Yes, I fell into the hype. I was pumped for this film. Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens poster tallIt’s been so long since we had a new Star Wars movie and even longer since we had a new one that truly fit the bill. I was able to attend opening night with several friends. I even made some purchases that my AMC theater had available for the “Galaxy Premier”. Call me a sucker if you want but damn did I have a good time. What a fun and exciting movie. The newest Star Wars film was everything I wanted it to be. Nothing more and nothing less. I left the movie feeling perfectly content. I was happy and had very few complaints. If you’d like my full details and thoughts on the film, please listen to Episode 07 of our podcast series Grid Talk available here and on iTunes here.

1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The darker, more serious Saga film is still my overall favorite. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back posterThe story is compelling, the action is purposeful, and the practical effects are still great. Our characters are more seasoned and more sure of themselves. Han is quick to fire on Vader which makes Solo even more heroic in the face of danger. And what has ever topped the big reveal of Vader being Luke’s father? We get our introduction to Yoda, the most power of the Jedi. We learn of the Force ghosts with the return of Obi-Wan and the movie ends on an open note with things not going particularly well and Han frozen. The Empire Strikes Back’s job was to take the bright and heroic tale we had already seen and bring it crashing down to reality. Our heroes are not without weakness and are not untouchable. We had no idea if Han Solo was even alive or would ever return and for those who were alive when the film first came out, it was possible he would never return since Harrison Ford wasn’t sure if he’d come back for a third film. Overall, the movie is deeper and more sophisticated than A New Hope without all of the random merchandising issues of Return of the Jedi.

Conclusions and Thoughts

Star Wars The Force Awakens Wide Poster

I love Star Wars, through and through. I am invigorated with the addition of The Force Awakens and cannot wait for Rogue One, the first of the Star Wars Anthology films, let alone Episode VIII which is set to begin production very soon. While I know the prequels have their downsides, they are, for the most part, important to the franchise. They provide characters and context that expand on and enrich the Saga’s universe. With that said, given my reflection here, it might be time to finally get the prequels on Blu-Ray. Right now I’m sitting on a VHS of Episode I, a DVD of Episode III, and I don’t even have Attack of the Clones.

But hey, maybe one day, Disney and FOX can come to some agreement and we can get the theatrical cuts of the original trilogy on Blu-Ray. If that day every comes, I’ll be there.

What about you? How would you rank the seven Star Wars films? Let me know in the comments!

Star Wars: A Ranking

The Hateful Eight 70mm – Review

For his eighth feature film Quentin Tarantino sends us a special film in The Hateful Eight. For those near a participating theater, the film is being shown in a unique 70mm format that is also a few minutes longer than the standard cut of the movie. The Hateful Eight 70mm edition runs 3 hours and 7 minutes. The latest Tarantino flick stars Quentin regular Samuel L. Jackson along with Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, and Tim Roth, among others. This review will cover my thoughts on the 70mm format as well as the film as a whole, so SPOILERS are ahead.




The Hateful Eight 70mm Edition

The basic premise of The Hateful Eight is provided in the trailer for the movie: John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is bringing a bounty, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) into a town for to hang. They get stuck in a small inn of sorts during a blizzard with several other mysterious and untrustworthy folk.

First, I’d like to talk a bit about the 70mm experience. I’ve never seen a movie in this format, so it was a new experience. The film begins with an Overture. The music was nice but the experience seemed out of place and a little confusing given that no movie has been shown in such a format in about 50 years (at least at a major theater for a new release). I think the oddest part was that no one came to explain any of the differences, so when the lights went out and no previews came on, it took a second for us to adjust.Kurt Russell Samuel L Jackson Hateful Eight

The film begins and is broken into chapters. Each chapter is named appropriately, in fact, one is even explained in an out of place narration. You see, the first half of the film does not have any narration but halfway through, the movie breaks in an intermission (more on that in a minute) and when we return, Quentin Tarantino brings us back up to speed and also takes us along back in time for a companion story of sorts that helps explain and set up the predicament everyone is in by the end of the first act. This narration was odd and definitely out of place. Since the film does not start with one nor does another follow later, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the tone and style of the movie. Now, the intermission I mentioned earlier is another addition in the 70mm cut. Like the classic Roadshow films, it has an intermission but since that is no longer common place I couldn’t tell you how long it was and at the time, I certainly had no idea. The screen says Intermission for a few seconds and then it just fades to black as the lights in the theater go up slightly. Again, we have no instruction, so if you want to grab food and/or use the restroom, make it quick.

The overall style of The Hateful Eight does fit the extra widescreen format of the 70mm release. As noted in the special engagement program:

“Ultra Panavision 70 refers to the very rare and exceptional format that Quentin Tarantino and his team used to shoot The Hateful Eight. Panavision’s unique anamorphic camera lenses capture images on 70mm film in an incredible aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Almost all films you see today are shot in ratios of either 1.85:1 or 2.39:1. So, to put it simply, Ultra Panavision 70 provides an amazingly wider and more detailed image.”

It goes on to note that only a few films were ever filmed in such a manner including Ben-Hur and Battle of the Bulge with the last such film, Khartoum, being filmed in 1966.

The overall feel of the supposed Roadshow Engagement was well attempted. The program is printed on very high quality paper with detailed images and the overall cinematography was outstanding. With that said, I don’t think I felt like this movie was a different kind of experience from anything else but that might have been my lack of anticipating such an experience.

I did enjoy the wider image though. I felt like I was getting a bigger picture, showing more of what was going on. I’d be interested in seeing a comparison between that format and some others like 5K, 4K, 1080p, etc.hateful-eight-quentin-tarantino

Now, let’s talk about the movie itself. I’d classify myself as a Tarantino fan overall. I consider Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds as some of my favorite movies of all time. With that said, The Hateful Eight was a bit disappointing. First off, the casting was NOT the problem. Everyone was great. Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson seemed to have solid chemistry and I enjoyed their time on screen together. I especially loved Tim Roth’s character Oswaldo Mobray. This unique English character brought a sense of lightheartedness and brightness that the movie desperately needed. Jennifer Jason Leigh pulled off the crazed captive perfectly and even freaked me out a bit at times.

The story was pretty basic: a bounty hunter gets stuck in a storm with his bounty while others try to kill him for it. The real focus of the film is on the why. Why do people want to stop John Ruth (Russell)? This is something I will not spoil here but it was interesting and I enjoyed the twist that finally brought everything together. While of course I expected a bloody ending for pretty much everyone involved, especially at the hands of the various guns, the method and the reasoning was something I had not anticipated.

The dialogue was very Tarantino. I enjoyed most of it because I’m a dialogue kind of guy. It’s the amazing monologues that I love which is why movies like The Big Lebowski are so high on my list. With that said, Tarantino finds another film excuse to use the n-word over and over again. While I have come to expect that in his films, it’s not something I ever get used to and his attempts to nullify the power of the word definitely fall flat in The Hateful Eight, a film that takes place shortly after the Civil War and includes characters who fought for both sides. The people using the word as not doing so in the context of say, those in Pulp Fiction but more because they are flat out racist and were recently fighting to keep slavery a thing. Either way, it detracted from an otherwise decent film.

Hateful Eight John and DaisyConclusion

I liked The Hateful Eight but I did not love it. It’s a solid movie with a solid story. The characters are interesting and compelling and you get the expected Tarantino money shot of death, blood, and violence. The second act was significantly better than the first not just because it picked up the pace but because it had more story to it. The first act feels like people more or less sitting\standing around while the second has the exposition, action, information, and movement. I would rank the film as 4th on my list of Tarantino movies but I want to preface that by saying I have not seen Jackie Brown, Deathproof, or True Romance. 

I’d give it 3.5 UFOs out of 5. Good but not great.

The Grid Rating Saucer 3.5

The Hateful Eight 70mm – Review