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Monday, December 31, 2012

12 BEST MOVIES OF 2012

Well, 2012 has come and gone, and even though the world didn't come to an end we still have to endure four more years of the same old...BUT, at least we saw some great movies! Back in January, I posted my list of The Top 12 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012! Of those 12, 2 were pushed back to 2013 (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, World War Z), and 4 were very disappointing (Underworld: Awakening, Resident Evil: Retribution, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Amazing Spider-Man). 2012 was one of the biggest years for movies and especially for comic book movies, with The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall earning more than $1 Billion worldwide! Before we start waiting in long lines and spending our hard earned money on next years blockbusters, let's reflect on 12 of the best movies of 2012!  CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents The 12 BEST MOVIES OF 2012!

#12 The Cabin in the Woods - Although technically filmed in 2009 before Chris Hemsworth became The Mighty Thor!, The Cabin in the Woods was released this April. This new take on an old story was one of the most fascinating horror movies in years!

#11 Dredd 3D - While I was originally reluctant to see this reboot of the Judge Dredd movie after 1995's Sylvester Stallone's campy flop. Even with the 3D and overly-used slow-motion effects, this move was surprisingly true to the original British comic character with Karl Urban playing the original bad-ass!

#10 John Carter - Although disappointingly unsuccessful box office wise, Disney's high-budget attempt to bring Edgar Rice Burrough's 100-year old, science-fiction, pulp-epic was phenomenally impressive.

#9 ParaNorman - Of all the Halloween themed computer-animated features this season including Dreamwork's Hotel Transylvania and Disney's Frankenweenie, ParaNorman stands above them all as a superior film. With a compelling premise and sincerely emotionally-driven story, I highly recommend ParaNorman for all audiences whereas the others sadly remain just kids stuff.

#8 Skyfall - Daniel Craig returns for a third time as Agent 007: James Bond, in the 23rd Bond film. Bringing a whole new dimension to a character that for the last 50 years has remained almost entirely without a backstory. With Javier Bardem as one of the most unique and also somewhat tragic Bond villains of all time, Skyfall was one of the most exciting Bond films since Goldeneye!

#7 Lincoln - In this Oscar-worthy depiction of one of the greatest Presidents in U.S. history, Daniel Day-Lewis portrayal of Abraham Lincoln was amazingly impressive and powerful.

#6 The Raven - John Cusack IS Edgar Allan Poe! As a huge Poe fan, I was worried that Cusack would not portray this author of the macabre right. But thankfully, The Raven did not disappoint and hopefully brought some renewed interest with the writer who even after over 200 years after his death still remains a strong force in popular culture.

#5 Prometheus - Director Ridley Scott returns to the universe of the original Alien (1979) film that explors the alien origins of mankind on Earth. While this film has met with much controversy and criticism, I considered Prometheus to be both visually stunning and intellectually fascinating.

#4 Brave - In Disney/Pixar's epic tale of a fiery, red-headed, Scottish princess, Brave brings the beauty and wonder of medieval Scotland to life in this both entertaining and emotional story of family and fate.

#3 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Director Peter Jackson returns to the Middle Earth to tell the original story that started it all: The Hobbit! This long-awaited and incredible new trilogy brings the world of The Lord of the Rings back to the big screen in a whole new way! With Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and a number of retuning cast members from the original trilogy I can't wait for the next two movies to be released!

#2 The Dark Knight Rises - The third and final chapter in director Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy brings Batman up against one of his most dangerous adversaries: Bane! I believe Nolan's trilogy to be a perfect trilogy as it completes the story bringing all three movies together, coming full circle! Although there has been mixed reactions from both fans and moviegoers, as a life-long Batman fan I consider it to be one of the best Batman's ever!
#1 The Avengers - Director Joss Whedon brings the of the most powerful Marvel movie heroes together in what has got to be the greatest and most successful comic book/superhero movies of all time! The collaboration of Marvel Studios and Disney makes for a perfect alliance ensuring it's success and the promise of even more movies franchises (and not to mention the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show) in the future. In the words Marvel Comics co-creator and writer Stan Lee: "'Nuff said!"
What to watch in 2013!: Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), Mama (2013), Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Evil Dead (2013), Iron Man 3 (2013), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Man of Steel (2013), World War Z (2013), Pacific Rim (2013), The Wolverine (2013), Riddick (2013), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Movie Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

THE HOBBIT, like the Lord of the Ring's, was originally believed to be "unfilmable". But in 2001, we were proven wrong as director Peter Jackson embarked on one of the most ambitious film projects ever and succeeded in bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece to life on the big screen with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. What began was a monumental trilogy of films followed by The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). After that, we thought that our trip to Middle Earth was complete. But fans and movie goers of course wanted more, and so we asked the question: "What about The Hobbit?" Originally, we thought it would never happen, and sure enough, almost ten years later we find ourselves back in that magical land full of elves, dwarves, wizards, and of course hobbits. After years of studios and directors tossing the production around, it looked as if our hopes and dreams wouldn't come true. For the longest time, director/producer Guillermo Del Toro was originally set to direct two movies based on The Hobbit, but after he left the production, it was obvious who the logical choice for the new director should be...none other than Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy himself. And not only do we just get one movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's first novel, we get three! Now there is a whole new trilogy to appease Tolkien fans (like me) and box office returns all over the world! The first part of this new trilogy: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is based on J.R.R. Tolkien's first novel The Hobbit. In this prequel to The Lord of the Rings, we see a younger Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, originally played by Ian Holm) 60 years before the events in The Fellowship of the Ring as Bilbo sets off on an adventure that would change his life forever!
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit..." Bilbo Baggins is quite happy in his quaint little hobbit-hole in Hobbiton, that is, until one day when the wizard Gandalf The Grey (Ian McKellen) comes to him with a proposition: to share in an adventure. Although he denies the offer at first, soon, a group of twelve dwarves lead by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), comes knocking at his door to offer him a contract as a burglar and of course, eat all his food. Although Bilbo is reluctant, he decides to join them in their quest to reclaim the dwarves ancient homeland of Erebor under the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. The journey is long and dangerous as they encounter a number of obstacles along the way including: trolls, goblins, orcs, and giant spiders! Soon, Bilbo is separated from the group and finds himself in the dark lair of Gollum, where he discovers a magic ring that turns its wearer invisible!
To anyone like me who grew up reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, we all know and love this story. And seeing The Shire and Middle Earth again on the big screen brings a wonderful feeling of comfort and familiarity. This feeling does not however take away from the experience, although many of the scenes in The Hobbit seem very reminiscent of those in Lord of the Rings, there are many new locations which brings much of the same wonder that audiences felt when they first saw The Fellowship of the Ring. This feeling of familiarity with the world and the characters is necessary in order to connect with the previous films. Not only are many of the same settings (even the music) used such as The Shire and Rivendell, but of course there are several characters who reprise their roles to return for this prequel. Among the returning cast members from the original Lord of the Rings Trilogy are Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and of course Andy Serkis as Gollum. This connection with the original trilogy is important for both the sake of the films and the story. Like in the novel of The Hobbit, which was originally published in 1937, its second edition, published in 1951, contained a significantly revised portion of Chapter 5 "Riddles in the Dark", which brings the story more in line with its sequel, The Lord of the Rings. Unlike the Star Wars Saga in which the prequels were made 20 twenty years apart and have little connectivity with the original trilogy. The Hobbit brings a certain ease to the story particularly with the opening prologue which reunites Bilbo (Ian Holm) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) as a framing device for the story. While there has been some speculation as to why Peter Jackson felt it necessary to stretch out The Hobbit into three movies, the extra scenes and characters that are included, I feel, are justified and add more depth to the story and backstories.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is one of the most fantastic and enjoyable movie experiences I have had in a long time since I first saw Fellowship of the Ring. I admit my reticence in seeing The Hobbit, as a long-time Tolkien fan I was worried that this new trilogy of movies would hold up to The Lord of the Rings and that Peter Jackson could inspire and surprise us again particularly after such a "huge" disappointment with King Kong (2005). The biggest surprise was the fact that while the dwarves in the original novel often seemed humorous and laughable at times, in the movie they can appear often heroic, particularly Thorin. I completely renew my faith in Peter Jackson and I look forward to the next two parts of The Hobbit, particularly The Desolation of Smaug (2013)!

 
Note: As far as the controversial special digital format in the filming of The Hobbit with 48 frames per second as opposed to the standard 24 fps, this does very little to enhance the already brilliant movie experience. With all the latest advances and gimmicks in entertainment from digital projection to 3D it is refreshing to note that there are those filmmakers and special effects artists out there who are trying to improve on the quality of entertainment. There was a recent episode of Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool with an interview with Douglass Trumbull on The Future of Cinema which I highly recommend you see!
 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Comic Book Review - Hellboy: In Hell #1

Back in August 2011, to put it simply...Hellboy died! After saving the world from a dragon in Hellboy: The Fury, Nimue's ghost plucked out his heart and of course, he went to Hell (not surprising)! Now he's BACK in "Hellboy: In Hell" #1 from Dark Horse Comics, which hopes to be Hellboy's triumphant return to comics! This new ongoing series also marks the return of creator, writer and artist Mike Mignola (with colors by Dave Stewart) as the artist on Hellboy for the first time since "The Conqueror Worm". Upon arriving "In Hell", or rather in The Abyss, Hellboy is confronted by some demonic, insect-creatures and an old, familiar face, who, of course wants to kick his ass! Guided by a mysterious warlock/spirit, Hellboy is led even further into The Pit. The first chapter of this new series is chock full of Hellboy weirdness, complete with elaborate, hellish scenes courtesy of Mike Mignola with and an odd reference to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Hellboy fans and readers have been looking forward to this for over a year. As comic fans know, you can't keep a good character down (i.e. Death of Superman) so it was inevitable that our beloved heavy-handed hero would return. Mike Mignola recently admitted that this will be an ongoing series that hearkens back to the original Hellboy series of which he now has complete control. Most of this story will be comprised of one and two-issue self-contained, story arcs with the first four issues released on a monthly basis. 
"A lot of what the first four issues are about is letting go of all the crap that he was dealing with for the last many years..." - Mike Mignola on Newsarama.com.
As this series progresses, Hellboy will venture deeper and deeper into hell and who knows what (or who?) he will encounter! Next Issue: Pandemonium! Also be sure to read B.P.R.D. - Hell On Earth: The Return of the Master!

Mike Mignola on "Hellboy: In Hell" @New York ComicCon
  Also check out: "Hellboy: A Christmas Underground" HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dethklok @ House of Blues, Dallas, TX

I was really looking forward to a very special concert event: DETHKLOK ON TOUR! Dethklok is the brainchild of writer/musician/producer/voice actor Brendon Small. While it exists as both as an animated/virtual band as well as an actual touring band, it is in fact one of the most unique musical acts on the heavy metal scene. The real Dethklok is composed of Brendon Small on guitar and vocals along with Gene Hoglan on drums, Bryan Beller on bass and also Mike Keneally on guitar. The world's first animated/virtual band from Adult Swim's Metalocalypse, was scheduled for a U.S. tour earlier this year along with co-headliners Lamb of God and Gojira. Unfortunately, it was cancelled in August due to the arrest and trial of Lamb of God's Randy Blythe for manslaughter in Prague. Now Dethklok joins The Black Dahlia Murder , All That Remains and Machine Head on a new U.S. tour which includes 30 dates throughout the Fall and Winter of this year. This Friday, I got to experience this very special multimedia  concert event at The House of Blues in Dallas, Texas. The venue is one of the largest clubs/stages in the historic downtown area of Dallas known as the West End. The House of Blues consists of two floors, upstairs is the dining and gift shop, whereas downstairs is the club area with stage and three bar areas.
The concert started at 6:30pm with first up: The Black Dahlia Murder, who played a seemingly short set. Next was All That Remains, whose set utilized the large screen that was set up behind the stage which featured their Skull and Crossed machine gun logo along with scenes of wartime-battlefield footage. Then came Machine Head who got a huge crowd reaction especially during their songs "Locust" and "Halo". Machine Head also took advantage of the multimedia element behind the stage as they embellished their set with stylized animations featuring Medeival-like illustrations along with their family crest logo. Before Dethklok took the stage, roadies dressed as the shows hooded "Klokateers", performed a sound-check. As Dethklok began their set around 9pm, the audience was treated to a multimedia experience featuring originally animated scenes from the Metalocalypse including music video footage and occasional comedic breaks from Metalocalypse support characters like "FaceBones", Dr. Rockzo, "The Rock 'n Roll Clown" and a PSA from Dethklok manager Charles Offdensen. The concert begins with an introduction from the mysterious priest (voiced by Werner Herzog) who summons Dethklok.
Pictured L to R: Keneally and Small

The whole set revolves around a story as the shows main antagonists known as The Tribunal, plan to take over the minds of Dethklok's fans using a "Fat Gas". Starting the concert with, of course, the "Metalocalypse" theme song then straight into the first track from Dethalbum III. The concert included both old favorites from Season One like "Thunderhorse", "Hatredcopter", "Murmaider", "Go Into the Water", "Awaken" and "Fansong", as well as songs from the latest albums including "Bloodlines", "The Gears", "Dethsupport" and "The Galaxy". The show ended with an impressive encore featuring "Crush The Industry" with several Klokateers marching up on stage!
video
Intro: "I summon Dethklok!"
The whole concert is like being IN the show! The use of the video screens makes the whole concert experience seem very interactive, not to mention the fact that the audience is actually seeing Brendon Small and the band play Dethklok's songs in person rather than their animated counterparts. If you are a Dethklok/Metalocalypse fan you cannot afford to miss this truly unique concert experience!