Monday, June 23, 2014

25th Anniversary of Batman (1989)

Today marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most iconic superhero/comic book movies ever made. Batman (1989) changed the way superhero and comic book movies were seen and started off a whole new era of "Batmania!" Batman (1989) was released on June 23, 1989 through Warner Bros. Pictures. Directed by Tim Burton, it starred Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger. Like Superman (1978) before it, Batman had a big budget, experienced director, Hollywood star quality celebrities and gritty, realistic edge that audiences could relate to. Gone were the 60's era campy action, Batman would return to his darker roots. I consider this movie to be one of my favorite movies of all time, as it would come to define my childhood and teenage years and inspire my already fervent love for comic books and superheroes. I had watched the Saturday morning cartoons (Super Friends, Super Powers) and watched reruns of the 1960's TV show of my Dad's generation. But when I first saw this Batman in the Summer of 1989, around my 10th birthday, from that day on, I was a "Bat-Fan" and this was MY Batman!
Joker & Batman
My family have always loved movies, already a fan of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Trek movies, and the like. To celebrate mine and my Mom's birthday (3 days apart) my parents and I decided to have a movie marathon at one of our local movie theaters. That Saturday we watched some of the biggest movies of the Summer all in one Saturday (at that time movie tickets were about $3 or $4) including: Ghostbusters II, Star Trek V, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and of course, Batman!
Little did I know, I was already a fan of Tim Burton's films, having little awareness of director's and actor's involvement with movies. I had enjoyed his previous films Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) and Beetlejuice (1988). I even recognized Michael Keaton from one of my parent's favorite comedies Mr. Mom (1983) however, I had not seen some of the more mature movies that Jack Nicholson was famous for like One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (1975) and The Shining (1980). I can remember before the movie was released, critics and people were talking how Michael Keaton was a poor choice to play the Dark Knight and it had been announced that Robin Williams was set to play the Joker.
I was engrossed in the dark tone of the story, the action, the excitement, Batman's cool gadgets, and of course: The Batmobile! The new Joker was scary and deeply disturbing, no longer the mustachioed and hyperactive Caesar Romero of the 60's, this Joker had a more sinister edge and made me wonder if there were really people like that who killed people for fun. Clowns already scared me and I admit to this day, I have never seen Stephen King's IT in it's entirety. The music was a big part of the experience, and with Danny Elfman's powerful and haunting, bellicose theme, I was drawn into to the action. I think the biggest reason this Batman still resonates today after 25 years is it's originality and timelessness of the movie. Although the additional 80's music by Prince dates it horribly, much of the movie seems to jump right out of the 1940's comic books. It has a noir feel to it as a lot of the characters, detectives and gangsters even wear suits and trench-coats. The city is dark and gritty, with a Gothic style of architecture to it, thanks to Tim Burton's style and production designer Anton Furst. While a lot of the technology Batman uses is also very dated, it remains a very small part of the movie. At the time I had no idea what liberties Burton had taken with Batman's origins and looking back, the choice to make Joker aka  Jack Napier, his parent's killer was interesting yet confusing. Batman (1989) still remains my favorite Batman movie, while the franchise declined after Joel Schumacher destroyed it, the recent Christopher Nolan trilogy has brought it back up to it's level, but in my opinion will never truly surpass the 1989 film.
"Batman is very extreme and I love extreme characters. A man who dresses up as a bat and his arch rival who is transformed into a clown are very popular images and one of the reasons why Batman remains so popular. Batman is not a super-hero, he's not a guy from another planet. So I like to take a straightforward approach and just present it." - Tim Burton

LINKS: Batman DC Comics, Batman Official Facebook, Batman on Warner Bros.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th: Top 10 Jason Voorhees

It's Friday the 13th and you know what that means...Friday the 13th Marathon! The Friday the 13th slasher-horror franchise has been scaring audiences (and murdering teenagers!) for the last 34 years! While everyone has their favorite movie or scene, only the hardcore fans have their favorite Jason Voorhees...and that's why this Friday the 13th CHERNOBOG'S BLOG celebrates the men (and boys) who portrayed the machete-wielding, hockey-mask wearing, (and possibly misunderstood) mass-murderer. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG PRESENTS: Friday the 13th - Top 10 Jason Voorhees!

#10 C.J. Graham - C.J. was the 6th actor to play Jason in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986). C.J. also appears in flashback footage in Part VII and a short entitled Jason Vs. Leatherface (2003).
#9 Ted White -As one of the many actors who played Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) he was also uncredited and according to Fangoria magazine, the role made him feel "uneasy", thus he insisted his name be removed from the credits. He went on to appear in other popular 1980's movies Tron (1982) and Starman (1984).
#8 Richard Brooker -  Richard was discovered in a casting magazine called "Dramalogue" and became the first Jason to wear the iconic hockey mask in the originally 3-D, Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)!
#7 Warrington Gillette -  As the second actor to play Jason Voorhees, he originally auditioned for the roll of Paul in Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) but director Steve Miner was impressed with him and offered him the part of Jason instead. Although he is credited as Jason, he only appeared in the final scene when he jumps through the window.
#6 Tom MorgaFriday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) Tom portrayed Jason (uncredited) during flashbacks and was also the stunt-double for Dick Wieand who played Roy, the copycat killer.
#5 Steve Dash (aka Steve Daskawisz) - While he is technically the third actor to play Jason, Steve appeared in most of Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) except for the final scene which was played and credited to Warrington Gillette.
#4 Derek Mears - The latest addition to the Voorhees brotherhood and 8th actor to portray Jason, Derek appeared in the 2009 remake/reboot Friday the 13th starring Jared Padalecki (Supernatural).
#3 Ken Kirzinger - In 2003, New Line Cinema pitted their two horror franchises against each other in the ultimate heavy-weight fight that is Freddy Vs. Jasondirected by Hong Kong action filmmaker Ronny Yu . At 6'5", Ken is the tallest actor to play Jason and rumor has it, appeared in full costume at a dentist's office to have dental work done. At the end of the film (among the many proposed alternate endings) Jason emerges from Crystal Lake victorious, holding the decapitated head of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), although he winks at the camera as a send off being his final performance as Freddy!
#2 Ari Lehman - Friday the 13th (1980) First in the Top 10 Jason's is the boy, who at the age of 14 played the role of the first Jason Voorhees whose brief appearance in the surprise ending of the film left the audience both in terror and wonder. As of 2009 Ari performs with his horror rock band "First Jason".
#1  Kane Hodder - The most popular Jason Voorhees, Kane has played Jason in four films including Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) and Jason X (2001). Fun Fact: Kane also appeared as Jason on an episode of The Arsenio Hall Show in 1989.
BONUS: Jason Voorhees Body Count = 167 people!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Star Wars Weekends 2014

Another Summer, another Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios! This was my 5th time to experience Star Wars Weekends since my first in 2008. Every year seems to get better and better with more guests, more events, and even more surprises! This years' theme "Join The Rebellion" coincided with the announcement of Disney XD's newest animated series Star Wars Rebels, premiering this Fall. Leading up to Star Wars Weekends, Disney hosted an exclusive Rebel Rendezvous on May 15th to give fans an early preview of Star Wars Weekends merchandise available! Although Star Wars Weekends takes place from May 16 to June 15 this year, I was only able to go to the parks on May 23-25. Hosted by James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Clone Wars) this weekends guests featured Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ashoka Tano on Clone Wars), also Warwick Davis (Wicket (Ewok) Star Wars Eps. VI), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, Star Wars Eps. V & VI) and Tiya Sircar (voice of Sabine Wren, Star Wars Rebels). I got to meet Jeremy Bulloch and got a picture and autograph from Boba Fett himself! Since the acquisition of Lucasfilm, Disney has some big plans for Star Wars but it has very little affect on the already successful Star Wars fan event. If anything, we shall no doubt see even more additions and special events to future Star Wars Weekends. One of the biggest draws for Star Wars fans and Disney collectors alike is of course all of the exclusive merchandise available at "Darth's Mall". Some of this year's items included special pin lanyards that look like the medals Luke and Han (but not Chewbacca!) were awarded in Eps. IV. Also available at "Ackbar's Snackbar" were limited edition Darth Vader popcorn buckets and Stormtrooper mugs, (which unfortunately sold-out very quickly!). One of the most unique additions to this year's Star Wars Weekends was through the augmented reality app Aurasma where you can view special animations and videos just by scanning certain images on Star Wars Weekends merchandise.
Surprisingly, Disney added another weekend  to Star Wars Weekends which featured a VERY special celebrity guest: Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamil from June 6-8. Also appearing was Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) and Ray Park (Darth Maul, Eps. I) and Taylor Gray (voice of Ezra Bridger, Star Wars Rebels).
Unfortunately, I was unable to go to this weekends' event. The unfortunate thing about Star Wars Weekends is they don't announce the weekends where specific celebrities are scheduled to appear until only a few weeks before the event which makes vacation planning for those who live in other states virtually impossible and only the luck of the draw (or belief in the Force!) will you be able to see the celebrities you want. I had already met Warwick Davis in a previous events along with Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Ray Park. Star Wars Weekends has many events and special shows to see during the weekend including Legends of the Force: Celebrity Motorcade, the Padawan Mind Challenge, celebrity talk-shows, and more! Not to mention the other Star Wars events available year-round such as the Star Tours ride and the Jedi Training Academy. Possibly the best event for this years Star Wars Weekends was the addition of a nightly music and fireworks show called "Symphony in the Stars", which was an impressive and wonderful end to Star Wars Weekends!