Thor and Avengers Comic Con

San Diego Comic Con 2014

My attending Comic Con has been a last minute opportunity these past three years. It’s definitely one that I appreciate. For a long time before I was finally able to attend, I would scour the internet for as much information as possible. All websites that had an article or videos related to Comic Con I devoured with a veracious fury, needing every single morsel of information that was released. Youtube provided access to celebrity filled panels I could only imagine attending.

For the uninitiated San Diego Comic Con is an annual convention that combines comics, upcoming movies, video games, new television shows, exclusive toys and action figures, along with a menagerie of eclectic people in various costumes. Founded in 1970 San Diego Comic Con has went from a small niche convention, to one of the largest multicultural gatherings in the world. Before even stepping foot into the convention center, the spirit of fun and camaraderie amongst people who have a common interest, that in their hometown might not be accepted or “cool”, is felt. There are so many different people of all sizes, and ethnicities that a feeling of acceptance and not being judge by those around you is certainly felt.

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Being that I only had the chance to be there one day, I had to make the most of it. Navigating through the aisles on the show floor can be exhausting and very intimidating. There are a ton of people walking in various directions, suddenly stopping, taking pictures with cosplayers. It’s pretty much madness. There are two different floors of the convention center. The bottom is the show floor. This houses various booths that range from huge movies including Divergent which the cast was in attendance to take pictures with and sign autographs for the fans. To smaller booths that have incredible artwork from well known to independent artists and animators.

Marvel had a gigantic stage set up where a costume contest took place. People were dressed as Spiderman with Gwen Stacy, Black Widow, and the Winter Soldier. The level of craftsmanship and detail put into their outfits were pretty amazing. Classic WWE superstars Hulk Hogan and “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart were roaming around along with various other actors including talented voice and screen actor Arif S. Kinchen. Arif is known as the voice of character “Pierce Washington” in the Saints Row video game series, as well as “Red” in the newly released Dead Rising 3, the animated television version of Mad, and the film “The Wash” which starred Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre. He took part along with fellow voice actor Josh Keaton (Green Lantern, Spiderman, Metal Gear Solid 3) and other professionals in the Cartoon Voice 1 panel which was held in the upper level.

Boba Fett Sideshow Collectibles

Sideshow Collectibles, which creates and sells models and figures of various film properties including “Star Wars”, the Marvel films, “Back to the Future”, etc. had a huge showing this year as usual. The quality of their products are bar none. The attention and passion they put into the art of recreating these characters clearly shows when you look at figures like “Boba Fett”. The artistry right down to the weathering of the armor and helmet that the character is wearing speaks volumes of the admiration to the properties that the people working on these projects have. The booth is arranged with various displays that include Tony Stark, his work bench, and all of the variations of his armor. As well as glass cases that hold statues of Pinhead from the movie “Hellraiser”, and various characters from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.

A main reason I have been attending is to film coverage and interviews for the Stauros Entertainment produced online show “Hollywood 1 on 1″. So about half of my time was spent on the upper level which holds the various ball rooms where the panels take place. The second floor also has an area where fans can walk up to different celebrities including Ann Rice, Weird Al Yankovic, actress Erin Gray (Silver Spoons, Buck Rogers, The Guild), and Hector David Jr. who plays the Green Ranger in “Power Rangers Samurai”, and “Christian Campos” in the Hulu original series “East Los High” with whom I filmed an interview with. I also filmed interviews with Kathy Coleman who played “Holly” on the television series “Land of the Lost”, Voice actor Greg Eagles who played “Grim” on “The Grim adventures of Billy and Mandy” and is voicing a character in the upcoming “Mortal Kombat” video game, along with a couple of other talented actors. One thing I noticed is that, this year and last, there has been a huge line to meet and get autographs from the cast of the Disney animated series “Phineas and Ferb”.

Ironman Sideshow Collectibles

A large draw of Comic Con are the amazing panels. Anything you can think of from voice acting, screen writing, animation, talks about starting a career in the comic book industry to self publishing, popular television shows, and upcoming blockbuster movies are touched upon. Hall H, where people line up the day before to get into and holds 7,000, is where film studios bring out their big guns. This year was no exception. The Marvel panel showed footage of Avengers: Age of Ultron and concept footage of Ant-Man. Not satisfied with only showing footage, the cast of Avengers including Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, and many more were brought out to Micheal Jackson’s classic “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”. Josh Brolin was also introduced as “Thanos” the ultimate villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Next Paul Rudd, Micheal Douglas, Evangeline Lily, who was also on the Hobbit panel, and Corey Stoll who star in Ant-Man came out and spoke about the film, and now being a part of the Marvel Universe.

During the Warner Bros. panel Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConnaughey spoke about “Interstellar”, Channing Tatum spoke about the upcoming film “Jupiter Ascending”, Zack Snyder brought out Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, showed off footage from “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, and Wonder Woman’s new outfit. The Hobbit panel moderated by a costumed Stephen Colbert, who obviously has a huge reverence for the series, brought out Peter Jackson along with a ton of the actors including Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis to discuss “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”.

Thor Sideshow Collectibles

A panel for the upcoming Halo Anniversary collection, which includes Halo’s 1-4 along with every multiplayer map including dlc and maps that were pc exclusive, was also held. Blur the studio that handles animation for various projects within the entertainment industry also had a rep on the panel. The work they are doing on this project and have done for others is mind blowing. Honestly what I just described does not do the amount of different entertainment at Comic Con any justice. There is just way to much to see and experience in one day. I had a great time and hope I get the chance to return in the future.

Team KAIZEN at E3 2014: A Family Affair

During E3, the annual video game extravaganza (convention) held for people who work within the industry that handle development, media, and retail, I got the opportunity to film a video profile on Josh, Trevor, and Cyndi Hughes. They co-founded Add-A-Tudez Entertainment and Team KAIZEN, an independent video game development studio from Great Falls, Montana. This micro-documentary includes following Josh around the show floor of E3, getting an insight on their strong family bond, and reflecting about where their efforts have taken them.

Check out Team KAIZEN at teamkaizengames.com

Team KAIZEN at E3 2014: Road To Victory

During E3, the annual video game extravaganza (convention) held for people who work within the industry that handle development, media, and retail, I got the opportunity to film a video profile on Colin Martin. Colin is a 3D Artist/LA Coordinator for ‘Team KAIZEN’, an independent video game development studio from Great Falls, Montana. This micro-documentary includes his attempt to win a Super Smash Bros. shirt, experience on the show floor of E3 2014, and what Team KAIZEN is currently working on.

Check out Team KAIZEN at teamkaizengames.com

Team KAIZEN at E3 2014: Spotlight On – Bob Sather

During E3, the annual video game extravaganza (convention) held for people who work within the industry that handle development, media, and retail, I got the opportunity to film a video profile on Bob Sather. Bob is a Programmer/Developer for ‘Team KAIZEN’, an independent video game development studio from Great Falls, Montana. This micro-documentary includes his start in game development, and experience on the show floor of E3 2014.

Check out Team KAIZEN at teamkaizengames.com

E3 2014: My second year attending

E3/ Mortal Kombat banner

For years I, like an enormous number of people who actively play games and stay up to date with the video game industry, had dreamed about attending E3. It was like clockwork. I knew when the largest “industry only” gaming convention would hit, so faithfully my DVR was set to record all the coverage the G4 network (which sadly shut down, although for whatever reason it’s still there and reruns of x-play are airing for the time being), and Spike TV had to offer. Along with voraciously consuming whatever media I could find online, my friends and I would discuss what was on the horizon for this hobby we couldn’t get away from (but honestly who would want to?). Working on music for as long as I did, I had no connections to the gaming industry. Time passed, different opportunities were pursued, which brought me in contact with and covering the very industry I not only respected but followed for so long. It wasn’t until after leaving the website that I was the Creative Director for that I got the chance to attend E3. 2013 was the first time I went to the convention which up until then had only been a pipe dream. Josh Hughes and Team KAIZEN, an independent game development company from Great Falls, Montana, welcomed me to film footage of them which morphed into a documentary. Back for round 2, my camera focused on certain team members and I filmed a really touching interview with Josh, his brother Trevor, and their mother, who was attending for her first time.

Outside E3

What I initially noticed is that compared to 2013, this E3 wasn’t as packed. Don’t get me wrong there were still a ton of people, but the lines to get hands on with the demos weren’t as long. With the exception of the lines for Disney Infinity, which they were giving out exclusive Disney Infinity Marvel Character pieces for the game, and Super Smash Bros on the WiiU, the wait wasn’t that bad. As soon as I stepped in, my senses were bombarded with the spectacle, the extravagance, the excitement and chatter in the air emanating from gamers hungry to get their hands on a controller, and the blaring trailers coming from most booths (which ultimately just wind up blurring together in a tornado of sound and noise). It could be very overwhelming when you first step in. That’s the beauty of it though. The spectacle makes the industry feel big, important, people need to be talking about the convention and upcoming games. It makes the hobby feel special.

Evolve statue
Evolve – Turtle Rock Studios

EA’s booth was the one I encountered as soon as I walked in. Around the Battlefield Hardline area there was a Tank/MPV like vehicle set up so people could take pictures with it along with multiple consoles and screens giving people a hands-on experience with the awesome looking multiplayer. The whole “Cops vs Robbers” concept is something I’ve been anticipating. I also like that the main character in the campaign is Latino, but that’s neither here nor there. Trailers for the upcoming Madden and other EA published games were playing on various screens. As I moved on from what they had to offer I came across publisher ‘2K Games’ and what I think is the game I’m the most excited about this year. It’s called “Evolve”. Turtle Rock Studios who are widely known as the team who developed “Left 4 Dead” are bringing a twist to and shaking up competitive multiplayer. It’s essentially a 5 player game where 4 players are locked into a first person perspective and are hunting down the 5th who is in a 3rd person perspective and playing as a huge creature who evolves their powers during the match. It’s fast paced, and the environment from what I’ve seen looks great. Along with the character who is the main opponent, the 4 human players have to contend with smaller wildlife which are native to the environment.

Nintendo booth E3

Nintendo’s booth is where I spent most of my time. The people I was covering wound up getting a good amount of hands-on time with the new Super Smash Bros game. Out of everywhere I went on the show floor, there was a buzz and a herd of people crowded around the various monitors all wanting to not only be the first to play the game, but win a coveted Super Smash Bros shirt that was being given away to those who came in first place in the mini tournaments being held. A gigantic screen and a stage was set up so the elite Nintendo fans could battle their way to glory or defeat in front of a large audience. The upcoming “Mario Maker” which has players creating their own Super Mario levels was on display along with the crossover between The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors entitled “Hyrule Warriors”. Concept games that weren’t announced during the Nintendo Direct were being demonstrated as well. From what I’ve seen the WiiU will soon be a console that people won’t be able to say “there’s no games for the system”.

Smash bros shirt
The coveted Super Smash Bros winner’s shirt!

Spending a majority of E3 shooting footage and taking pictures I personally didn’t get to try a ton of games. Actually I only got to play two. It was worth it to me though. I was able to play “The Order: 1886″ which will be releasing on the PS4 sometime in early 2015 and an upcoming co-op expansion to “Killzone Shadowfall”. The difficulty and tactical aspect of the expansion for Killzone is what really caught my attention. The enemy AI is brutal, but when you work together as a team it isn’t too much to bare. After playing “The Order” is where I had to stop and really think “I need a PS4″. It feels very cinematic, I’m a movie buff so that’s a huge plus. The setting is unique. It’s kind of a Victorian London meets steampunk with machine guns and creatures. Which in the demo the creatures weren’t present. I’m looking forward to this and commend ‘Ready At Dawn’, who are working tirelessly to bring the game to life.

PS booth E3

Although I didn’t get to spend as much time in the Microsoft area “Sunset Overdrive” looks insane and of course I am excited by the “Halo Collection” for the Xbox One. I like and respect how in their press conference this year they took a more humble approach and highlighted what I really want to see and that’s the games! Overall it was a great year for E3. I’m looking forward to a majority of the games that were shown and will hopefully be able to cover the event in the upcoming future.

XMen: Days of Future Past

 

Photo credit: Marvel Entertainment
Photo credit: Marvel Entertainment

If you’ve seen the movie, you know how distraught I am over the ending of this movie. If you haven’t, expect major spoilers in this article.

First, I’m going to start off by saying that I have loved the XMen since I was taken to seen the first movie. It touched a party of me that made me want to read more, to know more. I was inspired. I’ve watched cartoons, read comics, and have kept up with every movie that’s come out from the XMen series. Watching Wolverine’s story come to life was heart wrenching and wonderful to see. Then we had XMen: First Class come out, and that took the XMen movies to another level. Having the opportunity to get to know Professor X, Magneto, and Mystique as Charles, Erik, and Raven changed so much for me as a viewer. Seeing friendships and relationships develop from the very beginning was incredible and watching the friendship between Charles and Erik helped me understand so much.

But I’m not here to talk about First Class; I’m talking about Days of Future Past. This movie was intriguing from start to finish. I was hooked the second I met Blink (let’s be honest,  who wasn’t?) down to the moment Logan approached Xavier in his office. This story was so awe-inspiring and kept attention every second. And, of course, I left the theater freaking out! Everything I had ever known was now all moot! Logan might’ve never received his Adamantium claws, Mystique never was shot with the cure, Jean Grey might’ve never become The Phoenix, Scott Summers never died, Professor X never died.

As much as this made me panic, it also made me realize that now we can build from the bottom to the top all over again and make it something different and wonderful. Not only that but now we might get more movies involving James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence whom without we wouldn’t have such an incredible story and beautiful cinematic shots that director Bryan Singer is known for. I can’t wait to see what happens next. How about you?

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Photo credit: DreamWorks Animation
Photo credit: DreamWorks Animation

There were many things I liked about the first and second movies of How To Train Your Dragon (the animation, the characters, the voice actors, the story) but during the second movie three wonderful things stood out to me. First was the parallels between the dragons and wolves. They all are a part of different ‘packs’ (Toothless and his pack which reside in Berk, the White Alpha and the other dragons on the ice island, the Black Alpha and other dragons that belong to Drago Bloodyfist), but when the Alpha comes along and gives an order it’s almost impossible to ignore it. But near the end of the movie, Hiccup makes an important distinction between how Alphas are seen: Alphas do not control the pack, they protect it.

The second paralleled the Bible twice, both open enough to take note and put together. In the Bible a ‘Leviathan’ is a creature of immeasurable power, something nothing can tame, something that mortal hands could never touch let alone kill. The person who took down the Leviathan in the Bible was the Archangel Gabriel. Do you know what he carried? A flaming sword. The moment I saw Hiccup with his sword, I saw Gabriel. And the moment I heard the name of the dragon Drago was holding,  I knew I would see Hiccup destroy The Leviathan.

The third and last parallel belongs to the story of King Arthur. As many know, Arthur has a friend and advisor whose kind is not accepted into the society Arthur lives in (this theme is featured mainly in the first movie), Arthur is forced to take position as king when his father is killed by the very thing that’s outlawed and very thing that stands at Arthur’s side, and with argues friend at his side he brings peace to the land and brings in better laws that allow people like his friend to be common people. Sound a little familiar?

Bringing these beautiful stories together to make How To Train Your Dragon were incredible writer and directors choices. Even though stories are directed toward children, watch it anyway because it will be one of the best.

Book to Big Screen: The Fault In Our Stars

Photo credit: thefaultinourstars.com
Photo credit: thefaultinourstars.com

I’ve been a fan of author John Green since I was given Paper Towns by a close friends of mine years ago, so when I found out one of his novels was finally being made into a movie I was thrilled. I hadn’t read The Fault In Our Stars until maybe one or two weeks before the movie premiered because I knew what was going to happen and how the book was going to end. So with the knowledge of the pain I was about to endure,  I sat myself in the corner of a book store and began to read one of the best books I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. The characters were real and the story stayed true to real life circumstances.  The main characters,  Hazel Grace and Augustus,  had a beautiful love story that was only clouded by a touch of cancer.

The realism in the relationships between Hazel and her parents,  Hazel and Augustus, and Augustus and Isaac truly made the story stand out to me. Yes, the main love story was beautiful (who didn’t cry when Hazel gave her eulogy at Gus’s first service?), but the way her parents interacted with her and vice versa stood out to me. There are the parent who are trying to be optimistic despite their daughters terminal illness, and then there is Hazel, who had done her best to stay alive because she’s afraid of hurting the people around her. The moments between the parents and Hazel resonated with me because it stays so true to real life and gives readers and watchers alike an inside view of this world that so many people live in. And then there’s Gus and Isaac; their friendship made me look at my own friendships as I watched them joke and laugh and cry and grieve. Isaac said it perfectly,  “I don’t want to see in a world where Augustus doesn’t exist.”

Director Josh Boone stayed true to Join Green’s novel and brought it to life in a way that exceeded expectations. And the performances by Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff were absolutely incredible. These young actors will be in our magazines and movies for a lifetime to come.

Should you see the movie? Yes. One hundred times, yes. Whether you’ve read the book or not, this is going to be a romance for generations. Go see the movie. Is it better then the book? It is just as good and keeps to details that will matter to each faithful fan.

So go see the movie, okay?

Okay.

Farewell to Psych

Photo credit: USA Network
Photo credit: USA Network

As the last few episodes of Psych wrap up the storylines of all our beloved characters, I think back to the first time I saw Shawn Spencer having a psychic vision. I think about how he saved lives, though his methods were unorthodox, and usually put himself in harms way to protect those lives. How Burton Guster started off as an output friend who willingly played along to a man who has his own strengths and thoughts that has given him his own identity. How Juliet O’Hara went from naïve rookie to a seasoned cop with a strong will and a sharp wit. How Carlton Lassiter never lost faith in his own beliefs, whether they were (or weren’t) in Shawn’s psychic abilities or in his own as he became a father. How Karen Vick went from interim Chief to someone who was loved and respected by her coworkers. As I watch these last few episodes, I think about how much they’ve grown, and how much I’ve grown with them in these last eight years.

I think about how Psych had become the show that could do just about anything, from parodies and nods to classics like The Shining and Twin Peaks to the incredible original “Psych the Musical”, written and directed by Steve Franks. They have made hundreds of references to music and movies found in the 70’s and 80’s that always manage to keep a smile on the watcher’s faces. How they have given realism to the many relationships on the show, from Shawn and Henry’s difficult father/son relationship to Shawn and Gus’s best friendship and loyalty to each other to Shawn and Juliet’s relationship that was born out of a lie but has grown into real love and whole truths.

I thank Steve Franks for creating this show, creating such brilliant characters, and giving us the opportunity to watch on as they become something incredible. I thank the rest of the writers, Andy Berman, Lee Goldberg, and Bill Callahan, for giving us some of the best episodes out of 8 beautiful seasons. I thank James Roday, who plays Shawn Spencer, for bringing a character that is so near and dear to my heart to life. Roday has truly become a jack of all trades as he tried (and succeeded in) writing and directing the show, making episodes like “This Episode Sucks” and “Lassie Jerky”. I thank the rest of the cast, Dule Hill (Gus), Maggie Lawson (Juliet), Timothy Omundson (Carlton), Corbin Bernsen (Henry), and Kirsten Nelson (Karen), for making the show what it is. For making it so beautiful and for giving me so many characters to gain inspiration from, so many actors to gain inspiration from.

Thank you all for these last eight years, and for all the laughs and the suspense and the love. Thank you on behalf of all the Psych-o’s out there. Thank you for everything.

So, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definition, farewell Psych.

Book to Big Screen: Divergent

Photo credit: Summit Entertainment
Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

Divergent, written by Veronica Roth, was a step in the right direction for young girls in the novelization and was just as good in the movie adaptation. Divergent brings to light a very serious issue that many young girls and adults face on a daily basis, and that’s the fear of being sexually assaulted. In Tris’ (the main characters) fear landscape she’s shown to have many fears,  including but not limited to birds, drowning, burning alive, etc. But only one truly stood out to me. During the book Tris asks Four to take their relationship slow,  and he is sweet and respectful and takes the floor rather then sleeping in the bed with her. But during her fear landscape,  Four isn’t as respectful;  he forces himself on her. I had a moment of panic as I read along. Would she be able to defeat her fear in time?

Not only did Tris defeat her fear, but she took control, punched her fear in the face and told it to get off of her. This moment was so uplifting to read,  and even more so to see with my own eyes and it made a part of me proud.  There are thousands of movies and novels (and even real time public media) out there that would shame the female character for doing such a thing as to say no and fight back, then turn around and try to blame the attack on the woman herself. Seeing something so controversial in a mainstream novel and popular movie made me think of all the young girls who look up to Tris watching as she fights back. If it’s made an impact on me, it’ll certainly make an impact on them.

Now for the age old question, was the book better or was the movie? Now as an avid reader my answer will mostly be: the book,  of course! But today I think my mind has been changed. Don’t take this the wrong way,  I still adore the book as much as the next reader,  but the slight differences are what made me get into the story and stay in it.  One specific change was the way Tris handled her own fear landscape. In the book,  Tris got through her landscape by reminding herself that it isn’t real then moving on to the next fear, while in the movie Four taught Tris to move through her landscape like a Dauntless would (finding a practical way to move past her fears) rather then moving through the landscape like a Divergent would. Another thing I liked seeing was that certain things (like the weaponry) were a little more futuristic and high tech. Also if like to give credit to Shailene Woodley for her incredible performance as Tris,  I was in tears as Tris cried over her mother’s body.

Overall,  should you go see the movie? Absolutely. Is the movie better then the book? I’m hard pressed to say yes, but I’m going to say that not only is the movie a faithful adaptation, it makes nice improvements to it as well. Shailene Woodley did an incredible job as a main character and the director of the movie, Neil Burger, took this story to the next level. And, of course, I send a big thank you to the lovely author,  Veronica Roth,  whom without we would not have this incredible story. I can’t wait to dig into the next book, Insurgent, and see what Burger might do with it next.