Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Directed by Tommy Wirkola who gave us the delightfully subtitled nazi zombie story Dead Snow tries his hand at a re-telling of the classic Grimm Fairy Tale Hansel and Gretel....for a modern age. The film starts out with Hansel (Jeremy Remmer) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) being lead out of their home by their father, left in the woods to fiend for themselves. Scared with only each other they travel through the forest and find a candy covered cottage, which is home to an evil witch who would love to have them for dinner. Needless to say as the story goes they are captured by the witch, but turn the tables on her so to speak by killing her in the very oven they were to die in. Forever changed by this experience Hansel and Gretel have now become bounty hunters with witches in their cross hairs. When they are hired by a small village to save some missing children and eradicate their witch problem they get more then they bargained for when they are forced to come up against the most powerful witch (Famke Janssen) yet and soon find out not only the reason for the missing children but answers to their past.

I have to say I always love a re-telling of a fairy tale it's probably why I love the TV show Once Upon a Time. This film starts off strong hits a few bumpy points but levels off into a solid film. The overall tone and feel to the movie is a dark one which is a real benefit with the scenes with the witches. Renner and Arterton put in solid performances with Renner broodier than ever and Arterton's beauty and perfectly pouty lips make her scenes that much more enjoyable. The costumes are beautiful looking and I am sure they will end up on several people's cosplay list and their arsenal of witch weaponry is very impressive. I really enjoyed the scenes with Janssen as the evil witch and the take on her witch look was very good.

Although I do have a few complaints about the film. I did feel the editing was a bit choppy in certain areas and the head witches's minions looked like a cross between a Hellraiser ceneobite and a zombie, which took me out of the movie for a bit when they appeared. Some of the CGI was a little wonky especially when the witches would take flight on any tree limb they could make for a broom. But, I think my biggest complainant would be that Hansel and Gretel are suppose to be these amazing witch hunters, but it seemed in every fight with a witch they were all but beat down by each encounter. Not to say they didn't have some really cool witch death scenes I just wish they weren't as beat up as they were through the movie.

Overall if you enjoy a re-telling of a classic tale with blood, gore, random "F" bombs and wee bit of nudity sprinkled in with a pretty solid script then you will want to hunt this flick down.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years

The Star Trek empire is a cornerstone of the Nerd Universe and every empire needs its history told! Well that guide is now here in Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years is the expansive history that covers the first 150 years of the United Federation of Planets in the intergalactic democracy that governs the Star Trek Universe. We had the opportunity to have a little Q&A with the editor, Dana and Rosanna who is part of the creative team. They tell us what was all involved in putting this book together, their favorite parts and if George Takei's voice really ran through their head.

How did the concept for the book come about?

DY: The concept for the book was inspired by our illustrated edition of David McCullough's 1776. John Van Citters, at CBS Consumer Products (the license holder for Star Trek), really wanted to do something similar--a book with removable documents that encapsulated the history of the founding of the Federation. The book grew from there.

What was one of the biggest obstacles you faced putting the book together?

DY: I know that David, the author, was faced with resolving the many disparate story lines (and resulting
inconsistencies), which was a probably more of a challenge than an obstacle. Truthfully, the toughest thing
about the project was the timeline. We were on a tight schedule for such an ambitious project.

RB: Making sure that the design and art were accurate in terms of continuity was not so much an obstacle,
but a big challenge. 

Was there anything that you found researching the book that surprised you about the history of The Federation?
DY: I can't take credit for the research. David really carried that burden. For our creative team, we did more of a crash course in Federation history. David created a cheat sheet of key episodes from TOS and Enterprise that focused on major plot points in our book. While I had watched Star Trek before working on the project, I needed to expand on my knowledge of the canon to keep up!

How long did it take to complete the book?

DY: The creative schedule (writing, design, illustration, and pedestal design) was just short of 8 months, then there was about 6 months for manufacturing. It was very brisk.

What was your strategy in terms of data collection with the archives research you used for the book?

DY: Again, David really handled the extensive research. We also relied on John and Marian Cordy at CBS for lots of art reference for the many alien cultures and scripts. Rosanna, the designer was amazing at keeping everything organized and distributed to our four artists/illustrators.

What is your favorite part of the book?

DY: I love the beautiful chapter opening paintings done by Mark McHaley. In terms of the text, Spock's eulogy to Kirk is a lovely piece of writing.

RB: Khaaaaan! No seriously, my favorite part of the book are the illustrations (esp. of Khan) and all the
historical documents in the book.

In putting together this book, how difficult was it to keep track of the "history of Star Trek? Were there any specific challenges (for example, TOS and DS9 had slightly different dates for the Eugenics Wars - Gordon Dymowski

DY: The author and John at CBS are walking ST encyclopedias. Their knowledge of the canon and timelines amazed me. David was tasked with figuring out how to resolve the different timelines/inconsistencies in dates for things like the Eugenics Wars. It was super important to him as a fan to come up with explanations that really made sense.

Did George Takei's voice go through your head when you were working on the book? - Elliott Serrano

DY: George Takei's voice will be in my head for a long time! I can probable still recite his intro from memory.

What is your favorite Captain, favorite alien species and favorite Federation uniform? - Jamie Dunst

DY: I'm a TOS girl so I will have to go with the classic answer: Kirk in his dress uniform.
RB: Kirk, do tribbles count?, the TOS dress and boots.

What is up next for you?
DY: We have several really exciting Star Trek titles coming out in the Fall, but we can't disclose them just yet. :)

The book is available at Amazon

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Texas Chainsaw 3D Review

Among all the various slashers out there Leatherface has always been one of my favorites. Maybe because he is loosely based off of a real person and also who doesn't like to see the damage a chainsaw can make on hapless victims. I have seen all the incarnations of Leatherface and his insane family from the original groundbreaking flick to the we shall never mention TCM 4: The Next Generation with Matthew McConaughy and Renee Zellweger. So, naturally this would have to be a must view for me.

They say this film takes place directly after the events of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre directed by Tobe Hooper. But, to be honest that is actually a bit misleading the first segment of the movie takes place directly after the original movie. However, it then fast forwards to 2012. There we find Heather working in the meat department of a grocery store getting ready for a trip to New Orleans. But, then she finds out that she has inherited a home from her dead grandmother that she never knew she had and in turn proceeds to travel to Texas with her friends to see what all she has actually inherited. The group soon encounters Leatherface and the buzz saw begins.

Overall this was a weak installment to this already labored franchise. It seemed more of a remake of Michael Bay's produced Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which I enjoyed) rather than its own stand alone sequel movie.  The basic premise was a good one, but it was poorly executed with slightly bad acting and slow pace of the film.

What I love most about horror movies are the kill scenes. These scenes were carbon copies of the past movies with even some scenes almost happening off to the side where the viewer doesn't even really see the "meat" of the scene. I really wanted to see some good chainsaw scenes and was only granted one good one through the entire film. To me if you took out all the horror kill scenes this would play out like a Lifetime movie. There attempts to humanize Leatherface were awkward and slightly comical. Leatherface has never been human like to me which is a lot of his appeal.

Now granted, there are other things I could go into that bugged me about this movie other than the lack of some good kill scenes like the fact that Heather's age doesn't really match up with the timeline of the movie, that no one will ever realize that picking up a hitchhiker never ends well, how no one seems to think having graves in the backyard is odd and why is Trey Songz being "introduced" in the opening credits. That is usually reserved for someone who is a centeral or important character, which he was neither. In closing, if you are interested in watching a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film there are better choices to choose from because this chainsaw has no teeth! ~ Spaced