Disney

The Netflix Cometh

Over the course of 2016, Netflix is rumored to be releasing 30-something original programs, which more than doubles their original content available now.  They’ve managed to be the industry leader when it comes to how we watch television, seemingly always one step in front of every other channel (I know it’s a streaming service, but it’s a full blown channel too).  Its unique platform, allowing it to act without the national censors and maintaining its ability to get outside programming as well, Netflix has made itself a household staple next to a fridge and a bed.  There is literally some original programming for everyone available. Not only do they provide the content, but the content itself is some of the best stuff on television.  You can’t tell me that Orange is the New Black and House of Cards hasn’t deserved every single Emmy and Golden Globe. Netflix is becoming the only television service you need.

Wanna know what your 2016 television schedule should be? Check out some of the more promising shows in the list below:

Chelsea Does

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Chelsea Handler moves from late night to binge television with a four-part documentary series featuring subjects that she finds personal and social connections to: marriage, drugs, Silicon Valley, and racism.  Scheduled to premiere Saturday, January 23rd.

3%

3-percent
This dramatic thriller focuses on the daunting statistic that only 3% of people succeed.  It will be following characters attempting to seek the “better life” and their triumphs and struggles.  The show will both film and debut in 2016.

Fuller House

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In a brilliant attempt to tug on everyone’s nostalgic heartstrings, the 1980’s and 90’s classic sitcom Full House is retold through the perspective of a grown DJ Tanner. Recently widowed, she will be joined by her younger sister Stephanie and life-long friend Kimmy Gibbler in the effort to raise three boys, and Kimmy’s teenage daughter. Scheduled to premiere February 26.

DreamWorks 

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Among the many Netflix shows this year, we’ll be seeing multiple animated shows from DreamWorks.  This includes the recently announced Voltron reboot and Guillermo Del Toro’s Trollhunters. These will be joining the likes of The Adventures of Puss in Boots and Dinotrux.  The alliance between DreamWorks and Netflix has only gotten stronger which means we can only expect more.

Marvel

daredevil-season-2-logo
Marvel and Disney have also increased their bonds with Netflix by adding to their original Defenders lineup.  Originally, the plan was for 4 series, each featuring one of the Defenders in an intense story arc. However, within days of the Daredevil premiere, we knew that was going to change.  Now Daredevil has a second season beginning March 18th featuring Marvel fan favorite, Punisher.  Jessica Jones lacked the same kind of hype but received equally admirable critic nods.  Luke Cage is in production as we speak and the rights to other darker Marvel characters are rumored to be explored. Chances are the Defenders is added to the MCU Phase 4 lineup and we see a Blade, Cloak and Dagger, and Punisher series.

The Crown

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A dramatic portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign over England, this series will explore many different time periods and the prime ministers who were there to help lead the country.  With a strong cast of Claire Foy as the Queen herself, Matt Smith as her husband Phillip Mountbatten, and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, the 10 episode run will likely fulfill your every British need…unless you watch Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, or Sherlock.

The Frontier

game-of-thrones-star-lands-leading-role-in-netflix-original-western-frontier-716666Jason Momoa leads a cast of fur traders in, you guessed it, frontier America.  What plans to be a brutal look at life in the harsh elements of 18th century North America could just be the replacement for Justified and Deadwood everyone has been clamoring over.  Prepare yourself for hatchet fights and tense showdowns between Native tribes and Europeans.

 

As the year rolls on, we’ll be seeing more shows out of Netflix and you can bet that we’ll be there to cover them all.  In the meantime, is Netflix your drug of choice?

The Netflix Cometh

SH S1E4 – Top 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)

iTunes Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/screen-heroes-grid-dailys/id1071922623

RSS Feed
http://griddaily.com/feed/podcast/screenheroes

Social Media
@GridTalkTweets

Email
contact@griddaily.com

SH S1E4 – Top 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

Grid Talk: 07 – The Force Awakens

Grid Talk is back after a month’s absence to bring your Episode 07 all about Episode VII! That’s right, The Grid Daily is bringing Star Wars The Force Awakens discussions to the podcast. This week, the cast of Screen Heroes is joined by prop builder and Grid Daily contributor, Jon Czerkwinski as well as the other half of the Super Sirens, Hillz. We talk everything The Force Awakens which includes a ton of spoilers as we discuss plot points, characters, costumes, possible connections to canon and old Expanded Universe content, and more. The Force Awakens has crushed box office records and brought tears to the eyes of many. Now it’s time to sit back, listen to what we liked and what we took issue with, and of course, let the Wookiee win. Here’s Grid Talk Episode 07.

The Force Awakens Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rae Stewart
Ryan Couture

Special Guests
Hillz Lewis
Jon Czerwinski

Executive Producer and Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

iTunes Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/grid-talk-sci-fi-frontiers/id1057992963?mt=2

RSS Feed
http://thegridscififrontier.com/feed/podcast/gridtalk

Social Media
@GridTalkTweets

Email
contact@thegridscififrontier.com

Grid Talk: 07 – The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens, a new hope for Expanded Universe Fans

I am a Star Wars fan.  In junior high, it would have been difficult to find a shirt I owned that didn’t reference Star Wars in some way.   We had the prequels releasing throughout that time, but with those being huge disappointments, I had to get my fix of a galaxy far, far away somewhere else.  Thus, I turned to the EU (Expanded Universe, which consisted of novels, comic books, and video games).

It wasn’t Qui-Gon or Jar Jar that made me happy to be excited to be a fan, it was Kyle Katarn, Mara Jade, and Darth Revan.  Games like Knights of the Old Republic,  Dark Forces, and Masters of Teräs Käsi  (don’t judge me!) were my jam.  I read Timothy Zahn’s novels between classes in school. I wasn’t very popular, as you can imagine.  You nerdy kids today have it so easy!

So when Disney purchased Lucasfilm and announced that the whole Expanded Universe wasn’t canon in any way, shape, or form, I was crushed.

Fast forward a bit, and I watched The Force Awakens, and my opinion has changed.

While the characters I love may not exist in name anymore, many of their stories are set up to play out in the movies.  I am going to cover where I think the similarities lie, and maybe some of where they might be heading.  From here on out, there will be MAJOR SPOILERS for The Force Awakens (TFA) and the Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) games.  You have been warned.

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Still here?  Good. Let’s get into some references to the Expanded Universe.

So to start, Rey bears a pretty major resemblance to Bastila Shan from KOTOR, as well as her daughter Satele from SWTOR (Star Wars the Old Republic).  Coincidence?  Maybe.  Also take into account that they both use staff type weapons (Bastila uses a yellow bladed saberstaff).  Not only that, but Rey’s grey outfit at the end of TFA looks very similar to many old republic styled outfits.

Expanded Universe Bastila Shan KOTOR Rey The Force Awakens

There were some new Force powers introduced in TFA.  Remember when Kylo used the Force to stop Rey in place so he could capture and interrogate her?  That is called “Force Stasis”, and was introduced in KOTOR in a very similar way.  Darth Malak used the same move to capture Bastila Shan.  Kylo using the Force to interrogate Rey and Poe is also very similar to another KOTOR force power called “Mind Domination”.

Just like Rey in TFA, Bastila is captured by her Sith enemy and locked into a partially reclined torture device, and subjected to Dark Side probing.  Do these screenshots look familiar?

Expanded Universe Bastila Torture KOTOR Expanded Universe Bastila Torture KOTOR

When Finn and Rey meet, he intends to try and save her, but she saves herself, beating up a slew of attackers in the process with her staff.  This is very reminiscent of this scene in KOTOR (even a similar weapon!):

Expanded Universe Bastila saving herself KOTOR

Remember Finn and Rey having to escape a planetary attack in the Millennium Falcon?  Bastila and Revan have the same situation happen, except the ship is the Ebon Hawk instead of the Falcon.

The plots of TFA and KOTOR II both revolve around finding the last remaining Jedi by chasing down incomplete maps of the galaxy and following them into uncharted systems.  In TFA, the last Jedi was Luke who left the map with R2-D2, in KOTOR II it was Revan who left the map with T3-M4.

There are also some pretty large similarities between Revan and Kylo’s mask design.

kylo ren Expanded Universe Darth Revan KOTOR

That planet the Luke is on at the end of the movie could easily be Rakata Prime, which was a planet that was covered in ancient stone structures that are strong in the force, and was first mentioned in KOTOR.  Those stone structures could easily fit the bill for what Han says Luke is looking for. It just so happens that this planet was shown on the newest, official, canon map of the Star Wars galaxy.

Star wars Map

Speaking of planets from KOTOR, Malachor V is a planet introduced in KOTOR II that is full of ancient Sith temples and teeming with Dark Side energy.  In the visual dictionary released for The Force Awakens, Kylo’s saber is described as “an ancient design, dating back thousands of years to the Great Scourge of Malachor.”  The book is canon, as is Malachor now.

Visual Dictionary TFA

KOTOR had a super-weapon called the “Star Forge” that siphoned power from the sun, the same way that the Starkiller base did.

Pretty striking similarities, in my opinion.

So onto some speculation, because why not?

Maz Kanata mentions something about history repeating itself. Could Kylo’s more primitive clothing and weapon and Rey’s resemblance to Bastila be attributed to that?  Could history repeating itself be a reference to KOTOR’s story repeating itself?  Could Rey be from Bastila and Satele’s bloodline??!?!

I don’t think the mentions of Malachor and Rakata Prime are just nods to the fans.  I think that Snoke is probably living on Malachor, and that’s where he is summoning Kylo to to finish his training.

What do you think?  Coincidence?  Something more?  Did I miss some Expanded Universe references?  Will we see Rey wielding a yellow bladed saberstaff soon?   Let me know in the comments.

The Force Awakens, a new hope for Expanded Universe Fans

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Review with Spoilers

Before I begin, this review DOES have SPOILERS from the film.

Ten years ago, I walked out of the theater convinced I had seen the last Star Wars movie. The Skywalker saga was complete and George Lucas had pledged no more movies. However, on this Thursday, I found myself in a theater for yet another Star Wars viewing. And so, after ten years, it would seem my Star Wars journey had come full circle in seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

Overview

Following Luke Skywalker’s disappearance, the First Order (or the new Empire) has made a bid to take over the galaxy and squash the Resistance. One thing stands in their path, the last of the Jedi. Both sides scramble to find the last piece of a map that will lead them to the infamous Jedi Master.The Force Awakens: Rey and BB-8

The Force Awakens: Good

1.I was honestly expecting the first scene of The Force Awakens to be reminiscent of the 2009 Star Trek movie. However, this was not the case. The pacing was actually slower than expected. Nevertheless, it was fitting for the movie. After all, A New
Hope 
started off a bit slow. Rest assured, The Force Awakens has its fair share of action sequences but it does not sacrifice story and character development in favor of said action.

2. The movie nostalgia did not flaunt itself in the viewer’s face. There were plenty of callbacks to the previous movies, but they made room for the new as well (albeit new characters and plot points).

3. The lightsaber battles were messy. This may seem like a bad thing, but all lightsaber wielders were actually quite inexperienced. It took a lot of work to make the battles engaging and realistic to the skill of said force users. It was actually refreshing to see a grounded, realistic battle instead of a choreographed, over-the-top battle.

4. Although we do not have confirmation that the new darkside users are Sith, they definitely follow some of the same rules. In particular, the sacrifice. All Sith must make a sacrifice before reaching their true potential in the darkside. This was a philosophy that was shared in The Force Awakens.

5. John Williams’ brilliant music shined throughout the film. He brought in plenty of new themes, as well as some well-timed older themes from the original movies. It was certainly a treat to hear John Williams Star Wars music again.

6. All of the new characters are well developed and relatable. Rey proves to be an ideal female protagonist. Finn is a character who is scared and uncertain. As for Kylo Ren, he is an enemy of unrefined and unfocused power. All characters have their flaws, and they are better for it.The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren

 

The Force Awakens: Bad

There is little to complain about in this film, but I was a bit wary of the many references to A New Hope. A droid with important information… A deadly weapon of destruction… I admit that these plot devices worked well for this movie, but the parallels are hard to ignore.Star Wars: The Force Awakens X-Wing and TIE Fighter

Conclusion

This was certainly the movie that Star Wars fans were expecting in 1999. It is sure to please both old and new fans alike. The Force Awakens could’ve easily trudged down the action-ridden path that has made Star Wars famous. However, it holds back the action, which makes it more meaningful. Character development, in the form of all of the leads, are excellent. And the ending of the movie was nothing short of perfect.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Review with Spoilers

The Good Dinosaur – Review

“Let’s sit down and review The Good Dinosaur by Disney/Pixar.”

The Good Dinosaur

In proper Pixar fashion, we should start with a review of the pre-movie short: Sanjay’s Super Team. Based on a ‘mostly’ true story.
At only 7 minutes, this short packs in a lot of story. A young boy is at odds with his religion and the modern world. Eventually, a midway point is found through a daydream of various Hindu gods as superheroes, battling a shadow demon. After the dream ends, the boy has a newfound appreciation for his father and religion in general.

Now, let’s step back about 65 million years, and see what the world would have been like if an asteroid didn’t exterminate all of the dinosaurs. An asteroid belt rotates slowly, one chunk of debris bumps into another, sending it on a direct course with a bright blue orb, Earth. The meteor misses the planet completely, disturbing nothing.

“A few million years later”, we meet a family of Apatosarus living on a farm. The runt of the litter is Arlo, the hero of our story. After a classic Disney tragedy sequence, Arlo sets out on an adventure to return home, meeting a wild child human on the way, named Spot. The first laugh I had while watching this movie was during a touching scene when Spot placed a large beetle in front of Arlo, and promptly pulled the bug’s head off.

The Good Dinosaur Arlo and Spot

Perhaps the most interesting part of this movie was a scene where Spot and Arlo eat fermented plums and go on a psychedelic drug trip. After this, we meet a variety of interesting characters, including scavenging Pterodactyls, T-Rex Ranchers, and a pack of wild, wolf-like humans. All of this culminates in Arlo returning home to a loving reunion.

All in all, this is a good movie for kids, although there are a few scenes involving small animals savagely eaten by predators, and tall tales about chewing through a tail to survive a tough situation. For adults, there really isn’t a lot to offer, which is a let down for a Pixar movie.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 fermented plums.

Disney-Pixar presents a film directed by Peter Sohn and written by Meg LeFauve. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated PG (for peril, action and thematic elements).

The Good Dinosaur hit theaters this past weekend, opening to $39.155 million domestically, beating the new Rocky universe film Creed but losing out to the two-time champion, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 which brought in $52 million in its second week at the box office. The Good Dinosaur, which was riddled with re-writers, re-castings, and delays, saw Pixar’s second worst wide opening ever, beating out only the original Toy Story, Pixar’s first feature film. Inside Out, the other Pixar film to release this year, saw a $90 million opening weekend back in June.

The Good Dinosaur is in theaters now.

Have you seen the new dinosaur flick yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Box office numbers provided by boxofficemojo.com.

The Good Dinosaur – Review

Disney’s Lion Guard

If you missed the 90’s, then you happened to miss one of Disney’s most glorious periods in animation.  Their movies were repeatedly nominated for Academy Awards; again, they were that good. You also missed Disney’s wave of rushed sequels which never met fans expectations, milking their glory for all it was worth.  No animated Disney film was exempt, Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan, even The Little Mermaid.  Before I continue with the actual point of this article, just look at these shenanigans (for the sake of time, I omitted Cinderella, 101 Dalmatians, Bambi, and Fox and the Hound sequels. Ain’t nobody got time for that):

Disney's Animated Films with Sequels

Isn’t that a little over the top?  Well, with the release of 2009’s Princess and the Frog, Disney has entered again into an era where they can do no wrong.  Which can only mean that they’re going to try sequels again.  Cue The Lion Guard.THE LION GUARD - The epic storytelling of Disney's "The Lion King" continues with "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar," a primetime television movie event starring Rob Lowe, Gabrielle Union and James Earl Jones, reprising his iconic role as Mufasa. Premiering this November on Disney Channel, the movie follows Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, as he assumes the role of leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. "The Lion Guard" television series will premiere in early 2016 on Disney Channels and Disney Junior channels around the globe. (Disney Junior) FULI, KION, ONO , BESHTE, BUNGA

This animated series will follow Simba and Nala’s youngest child, Kion, and his band of friends who form the Lion Guard, a protection group for the Pridelands. Featuring both new and returning characters (Mufasa?!), the series will highlight the values of friendship and diversity.  The series will introduce itself on November 22 with an hour-long special: The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar followed by the series on January 3, 2016 with standard half-hour episodes.  There are five children’s books also planned for a 2016 release: Kion, Pride of the Pridelands, Can’t Wait to be Queen, Bunga’s Big Adventure, Meet the New Guard, and Kion’s Animal Alphabet.  From the current information, The Lion Guard seems to takes place before The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.

What do you think? Will you be watching The Lion Guard?

Disney’s Lion Guard

Aladdin SNES (1993) – Retro Review

These days, most movie-based video games fall short of expectations and wind up leaving the player unhappy. Back in 1993, however, Capcom and Nintendo launched Aladdin for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Now, I’ll just start by saying, I love this game! It’s a childhood favorite (yes I was a child when this came out, almost 7 actually). Aladdin provides an enjoyable mix of movie-based levels, new content and fun items. Aladdin is a side scrolling platform game. Each level has multiple stages, aside from the “Whole New World” carpet ride bonus level and “The Final Battle” against Cobra Jafar. Throughout the game you will be shown, well.. 1993’s version of cut-scenes. You get an image or two set to 16-bit music and text explaining what is happening for those of us who haven’t seen the Disney classic staring Robin Williams or don’t know about the side stories our heroes under took that never made it to the big screen.

The game stats are handled fairly simply. There is no timer or running score. You have lives, hearts, emeralds and apples. You can gain additional hearts and lives as the game progresses and you collect emeralds and apples in the levels. Every 100 emeralds will get you an extra life. You can use the apples to stun certain enemies by throwing them. To regain health (hearts), collect bread and chicken found in vases and chests. If you can catch the golden, flying scarab then you’ve won a spin on Genie’s wheel-o-stuff. Usually you’ll end up earning continue credits… BORRRING… but sometimes you will get an extra life or an additional heart! The word around the street is that if you hit “B” at the wheel when Genie blinks, you’ll be guaranteed either a 1-up or 2-up.

Aladdin Helpful Hints

Okay, so by now, you’ve had 20 years to play this game. You might not want to play the whole thing straight through and you wish you could select specific levels or stages. You can! Seriously. Okay, here is what you have to do:

  1. Make sure you have two controllers plugged in and use the primary controller to enter the Settings screen
  2. Pick up the second controller and press, in this order: L, R, Start, Select, X, Y, A, B (the speed isn’t too important)
  3. If done correctly, you’ll hear a little chime
  4. Return to the main menu
  5. With the primary controller, hold L + R and then use the control pad to pick different stages and levels
  6. The stages and levels are noted as Stage-Level in blue above the list of menu options; it can be hard to see

But, if you would rather use the passwords provided as you complete stages, here is the full list:

  • Stage 2: GenieAduAladdinSultan
  • Stage 3: JafarAbuJasmineGenie
  • Stage 4: GenieJafarAladdinAbu
  • Stage 5: AbuAladdinGenieJasmine
  • Bonus: JasmineJafarSultanJasmine
  • Stage 6: JafarJasmineAladdinJafar
  • Stage 7: AladdinJasmineAbuSultan

Aladdin Gameplay

Aladdin SNES Cover

As expected, you play as Aladdin while Abu follows you around. Aladdin begins in the market. As you run along the market place you discover your first enemies. At this point in the game, there are three primary enemies. You’ll have to battle some Guards, Claw in Pots and Archers. These are the official names for these enemies. At the end of the level you have to battle the Marketplace Peddler! This is the man who wants to cut Jasmine’s hand off for stealing food. We must save her! Seems simple enough. Being a game from 1993, all you have to do it jump on the Peddler’s head a few times but watch out! He has a sword and he will use it! You have to get close enough to him so he will swing at you and then as he is swinging, jump on his head. If you are successful, you get to meet Jasmine and talk to her a bit.

Aladdin Marketplace

After your romantic talk with Jasmine, it’s off to the Cave of Wonders! From here you will fight through the cave, evading bats and scorpions along the way. Just watch out for the spikes and sink holes to nothingness. After a while, Abu discovers the treasure we’ve been hunting for. As you walk through the sea of gold, demented swords will fly at you and then an evil, sword wielding skeleton takes a swipe at you. This is when you find Carpet! Remember our lovable, silent friend? He will help lead you to the Lamp. Well, until the next level when he abruptly leaves you for some unexplained reason. In the final stage of the Cave of Wonders level you’ll have to jump around on some logs. Don’t fall into the water because Aladdin cannot swim. He is from the desert, after all. Finally, to keep with the film, you walk past the incredible ruby rock Abu wants, up the stairs to the Lamp and as you take the Lamp, Abu takes the ruby and everything is about to get a lot worse.

With the Cave of Wonders melting around you, it’s a race to the surface. The levels speed up, pushing you along rather than allowing you to progress at your own pace. These are a couple of my favorite levels because they are fast and more challenging than the others. The second of the two “lava levels”, as I call them, puts you in the driver’s seat of Carpet as waves of lava slam behind you and boulders fall from above.

 

Now things get weird. Safe from the lava, you end up going inside Genie’s Lamp… a scene I must have slept through every time I’ve watched the movie. These levels are a lot of fun and in some ways, very psychedelic. You’ve got Genie’s face on blocks that fall, balloons that rise and you even have to jump on his tongue a few times. Somehow the Claw in Pots got inside the lamp, so be careful of those. The first level also has an area where you rely on Genie to provide items to walk on, bounce off of or swing from to get across a giant gap. Of course, I don’t know why Genie is okay with you falling to your death but it is a game. Some of Genie’s combinations of “helpful” items are more convenient than others. For example, sometimes he provides nothing but clouds, nice and simple. Other times he might provide balloons to swing from and cards to bounce off in the same run.

Aladdin Genie Lamp Level

If you make it out of the Lamp alive, you find yourself in a pyramid looking for Abu. The game takes things up a notch by increasing the difficulty a bit. Archers now shoot two arrows in a row, for example. The first level is fairly challenging as far as finding solid footing is concerned. Once you make your way through the pyramid, you come face to face with a horrible enemy, the Pharaoh! No… wait… it’s just Abu acting weird. This level feels very out of place because it seems like there should be another boss but nope, just Abu in a mask. Awkward.

Then, a complete break from the action. We must romance Jasmine, quick! This “bonus” level is nothing but the magic carpet ride. There are no enemies or obstacles to overcome, just emeralds. The only challenge is seeing if you can get all of the red ones in one go. The level is slow and fairly boring, definitely the low point of the game.

Aladdin Magic Carpet Ride

After your date, it’s off to Jafar’s Palace! Here we have the best of the best enemies, including Iago and Swordsman… er men? You’ll have to stay away from fire that inexplicably raises and lowers without leaving any real heat or burns behind. Eventually, if you’re good enough, you’ll find your way to Jafar’s throne room where he will fly, shoot lighting and create flying Claw in Pots from thin air! How do you beat this sorcerer? Well, you can bounce off the Claw in Pots to hit Jafar on the head or you can wait for him to throw his scepter. The scepter shoots lightning across the floor but Aladdin can jump on it and use it to get high enough to hit Jafar on the head. Defeating sorcerer Jafar takes you to the final stage!

The final stage is one level. You are provided a health power-up in the form of a chicken, then it’s off to fight the giant snake Jafar. Here, Jafar will shoot rocks at you by spiting them, which is weird. He will also lunge at you in an attempt to bite. Bounce off the rocks to get high enough or wait for him to lunge to jump onto his  head. As you injure him, he will get angry. When angry, he will oscillate his body, forcing you to either jump or burn in the fires below the cobra. If you defeat him, you can still die in the fire as his body flops about in pain. Just as you think you’ve won it all, he shoots back out and bites down! The game then moves to more “cut-scenes” explaining the entire ending to the movie.

Aladdin Snake Jafar

Congrats! You’ve beat Jafar and got the girl! Depending on how many emeralds you were able to grab, you’ll be shown slightly different endings as the credits scroll. For example, you’ll be shown the carpet ride or AI game play.

Unfortunately, if you’ve mastered the Nintendo classic, Aladdin, there are no difficulty levels to choose from to make it more difficult.

Have you played Aladdin on another console? How does it differ from the SNES version aside from Sega having a much nice title screen? What is your favorite Aladdin level?

Aladdin SNES (1993) – Retro Review

Marvel Studios Reshuffled

According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Studios, the film branch of the company headed by Kevin Feige, has been restructured so as to report directly to the Disney studio chief Alan Horn instead of the Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter.

On one hand this seems like a good idea.  Kevin Feige has been heavily involved in every Marvel-created movie since the first Iron Man, and it’s easy to see that those decision have paid off.  The Marvel movies are, generally speaking, runaway successes.  Some, like Ant-Man, haven’t performed as well as might have been hoped.  While others, Guardians of the Galaxy for example, far exceeded expectations.  I think a lot of credit has to go to Kevin for the direction he’s taken the company.

With that said there is one piece of the article that gave me a moment of worry.  Marvel’s TV division, headed by Jeph Loeb, is not included in this restructuring.  Up until now one of my favorite things about Marvel, though admittedly less important in the grand scheme of things, is that their film and television endeavors were explicitly connected.  The world on display every week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the same world that is being saved in Captain America: Civil War.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

It’s one of my biggest gripes about the DC/Warner Bros. film efforts: despite the success of Arrow and Flash on television, they are determined to build their films that are completely separate from the television properties, to the point that they’ll have a TV Flash and a movie Flash played by completely different actors, and supposedly the film branch began interfering in the TV plans for certain characters because they had been earmarked for use in films already.

So that’s my biggest fear at this point.  I have loved that the Marvel films and television shows were tightly coupled together.  Now I worry about what might happen since, from a corporate standpoint, the two endeavors report to completely different people.  Hopefully nothing changes in regards to how they work together, but the potential is there so I can’t help but worry about it a little.

What do you think of this restructuring? Does it cause any concern for future MCU films? Comment below!

Marvel Studios Reshuffled

D23 News: Disney and Pixar

This last weekend was the annual D23 convention, which, if you are not familiar with, is a magical time filled with everything Disney. It’s truly the best time of the year.

Now, we’ve already brought to you all the amazing Star Wars news (which you can find here). Today, we’re on all of the remaining Disney animation and Pixar news.

zootopia

First off, Disney gave us updates on Zootopia, a film featuring cute anthropomorphic animals in a modern civilization slated for 2016.  Ginnifer Goodwin, known as Snow White on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, helped introduce us to her character, an adorable little bunny named Judy who is trying really hard to be a cop (a position normally reserved for larger animals like rhinos). While fighting her way to the top, she comes across Nick, a con artist fox, voiced by Jason Bateman.  The combination between con and cop, fox and rabbit will undoubtedly bring some light-hearted fun to the Disney cannon.  Look for this film out March 2016.

moana-movie-image-slice-600x200

Also slated for a 2016 release is Moana, the epic story of a strong young girl from the South Pacific.  Already on board as voice cast is Dwayne Johnson as a demi-god Moana meets on her travels, and Alan Tudyk, a Disney favorite, in a unnamed role.  D23 released multiple concept pictures as well as one beautiful image of Johnson’s character in full (pictured above).  Expect to see Moana join the popular Disney Princess franchise in 2017.

giganticheader

Lastly, D23 was the place to announce new projects this year, including the latest addition to the Disney cannon, Gigantic, what is promised to be a Disney reworking of the classic tale Jack and the Beanstalk.  The 2018 release plans to be set in Spain during the “Age of Exploration” where the titular Jack meets a young girl giant and promises to help get her home.  With Nathan Greno helming and the Lopez couple responsible for the popular Frozen soundtrack behind the score, the film is already set for massive success.

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On the Pixar side of things, we got loads of announcements!  The teaser posters for four new sequels were revealed.  While movies like Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 had been previously announced, they also confirmed Toy Story 4 and Cars 3.  Toy Story 4, written by Will McCormack and Rashida Jones, was said to be focused on a romance between Woody and Bo Peep.  Hopefully they’ll explain her absence during Toy Story 3. Joining comedian Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Dory is a wide variety of stars including Always Sunny in Philadelphia actress Kaitlin Olson, and Modern Family alum Ed O’Neill and Ty Burrell.  This sequel has long been championed by DeGeneres through her daytime talk show.

coco-teaser-poster

Pixar also released information regarding an original story in the works entitled Coco, a film inspired by Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday. The brief synopsis for the film follows a 12 year old boy named Miguel in Mexico who sets off a chain of events that will change him forever on Day of the Dead.  The artists claim to be inspired by the gorgeous visualizations of the holiday.  While the film has not been slotted for a release date, Pixar has dates in November 2017 and 2018 reserved.

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Lastly, D23 celebrate the anticipated return of Kingdom Hearts with related announcements for Kingdom Hearts 3 and Disney Infinity, 3.0.  Kingdom Hearts 3 will feature the transformable keyblade, available for every keyblade in the game. Each will have its own unique transformation(s) that should enhance both the weapon and the gameplay.  Some featured transformations included keyblades to projectiles, larger attacks, or more power.  The big news for KH3, however, were the reveals of two new worlds to visit: Tangled and San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6.  The keyblade will also be available as the newest weapon in Disney Infinity, 3.0 along with a special edition King Mickey figure.

disney-infinity-3-0

Disney Infinity, 3.0 focused on many of their newest additions, including upcoming figures from The Good Dinosaur and Zootopia. They’re introducing a completely new Marvel Playset entitled “Marvel Battlegrounds” featuring the brand new playable characters of Ultron and Hulkbuster Iron Man.  While most news regarding the Star Wars figures had already been announced, they did get all the fanboys in a twist by revealing that there would be limited special edition figures with light-up light saber capability once placed on the game pad.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens actors John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were presented with their own playable figures of their characters’ likenesses, the first from the new anthology of films.

Obviously there are tons of reasons to be pumped for the next few years at Disney.  Between Star Wars parks, and 5 Pixar films, and Kingdom Hearts 3, and so many new figures for Disney Infinity…I’m going to be so broke.

How about you? What are you most looking forward to from Disney? Comment below!

 

D23 News: Disney and Pixar

D23 News: Star Wars

We’ve been hearing a lot of Disney news over the past couple of days due to D23, an expo put on by the official Disney fan club. But with Disney news, we now get Star Wars news! There are three major things happening with the Star Wars universe…

Concept art for the Star Wars parks.

Concept art for the Star Wars parks.

1. Disney Star Wars Theme Parks

The theme parks are finally coming! In both Anaheim, CA and Orlando, FL, Disney will be opening up lands and rides that will finally feature Star Wars. We don’t know too many details right now, but we have concept art and can rest assured that they will properly make the world of Star Wars come to life. Find out more here.

2. Colin Trevorrow to Direct Episode IX

Although not coming out until 2019, Episode IX now has a director. Colin Trevorrow, best known for his work with Jurassic World, will be directing the final movie of the new Star Wars trilogy. We already knew Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) would be helming Episode VIII. More information on Trevorrow’s new gig here.

Colin Trevorrow will direct Star Wars Episode IX.

Colin Trevorrow will direct Star Wars Episode IX.

3. Rogue One Cast Announced

Lastly, Rogue One is well into production and now has a cast. This cast includes Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen (Ip Man), Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Mads Mikkelson (Casino Royale), Alan Tudyk (Firefly; I, Robot), and Riz Ahmed. We’ll be seeing this one hit theaters in 2016.

 

The cast of Star Wars: Rogue One.

The cast of Star Wars: Rogue One.

D23 News: Star Wars