Thursday, July 31, 2014

Comic-Con 2014: Top 10 Upcoming Events

It's Comic-Con time again! The International Comic Con happened in San Diego this weekend and bringing with it even more previews and news of some of the biggest pop-culture events coming in the next few years! Hollywood and TV have dominated Comic-Con over the last decade and there is no lack of big announcements from movies and TV projects. Last year I posted about the upcoming events announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, so I thought I would follow up with this years events. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG PRESENTS: Comic-Con 2014: Top 10 Upcoming Events! Enjoy!

#10 Interstellar (2014) - Christopher Nolan directs a new science-fiction epic starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway where a group of explorers discover a wormhole in space that allows them to travel the furthest reaches of space.
#9 Godzilla 2 (2017?) - Director Gareth Edwards unveiled his plans for the sequel to this years Godzilla reboot and rumors circulate of the appearances of even more kaiju monsters!
#8 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) - Director George Miller previewed his new Mad Max reboot/sequel starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
#7 Wonder Woman (2017?) - DC has announced that the Amazon warrior, played by Gal Gadot, will finally make it to theaters despite her failed TV series. Wonder Woman will soon join Batman and Superman in a rumored Justice League movie!
#6 The Walking Dead: Season 5 (October 2014) - The remaining survivors have made it to "Terminus" and it's not what they expected!
#5 Ant-Man (2015) - Director Peyton Reed brings the newest Marvel hero movie to the screen (after Edgar Wright dropped out), starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym.
#4 Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) - Director Zack Snyder returns with a DC heroe extravaganza with Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, also rumored as Aquaman, Jason Mamoa!
#3 DC Comics TV Series (2014) - While Marvel has dominated the big screen, DC has taken over the small screen with continuing their highly acclaimed Arrow series with Season 3, and announcing the premieres this Fall for three more DC inspired titles including Gotham, The Flash, and Constantine!
#2 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) - The finale to Peter Jackson's (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) Hobbit Trilogy comes to an epic conclusion with the dwarves battling to reclaim the Lonely Mountain as fending off all of Middle Earth from their home and Bilbo caught up in the middle of it all!
#1 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - Director Joss Whedon returns to direct the sequel to his 2012 superhero epic! The team lead by Nick Fury including Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye, with new additions Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), (and possibly The Vision!) reunite to battle Ultron (James Spader/Andy Serkis?)!

Monday, July 14, 2014

TV Review: The Strain

The horror/thriller genre is on the rise on prime-time Cable TV with the success of series like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. The newest series, The Strain, which premiered Sunday, July 13th on the FX Network, is based on the horror/thriller novel series written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.The Strain explores the age-old vampire genre with a modern virus-outbreak twist. It promises to be the newest Sunday night thrill, possibly even competing with the return of AMC's The Walking Dead in October.
When a Boeing 777 from Berlin to New York goes dark on the runway at JFK airport, the authorities contact Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), the head of the CDC team in New York City to investigate. Along with his partners Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin) the team find all but four out of over 200 passengers alive on the plane that died from an unknown biological agent. The team also discover a strange, large, carved, wooden box in the cargo hold filled with soil. The only explanation come from the supposed ravings of an elderly pawn-shop owner named Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) with talk of vampires! In the next 24 hours Dr. Goodweather and his team will come face-to-face with the most virulent plague in the history of the world that threatens to destroy the entire human race!
Writer/director Guillermo del Toro and author Chuck Hogan serve as both co-creators, executive producers and writers for The Strain, also co-writing the pilot script for the show, which was also directed by del Toro. Emmy Award winning writer and producer Carlton Cuse (Bates MotelLost) serves as executive producer and writer. The Strain is a "high-concept thriller" based on the trilogy of books which have already gained popularity and even a series of comic book adaptations from Dark Horse Comics. Director Guillermo del Toro is no stranger to the vampire genre with his films such as Blade II (2002) and Cronos (1993) and bringing the new virology element to the vampire myth. So far, the show follows the books fairly closely however there are a few added elements to the characters as well as the plot and a somewhat lack of attention to the solar eclipse which occurs in the beginning of the first book yet has little to no mention in the first show other than a brief glimpse of an advertisement in the airport. The casting for The Strain compliments both their book versions as well as their comic book adaptations. While the surprising casting of Sean Astin as Jim Kent, a somewhat minor character in the book, may reveal a possible stronger role in the TV series. The major focus of the virus outbreak is on the mysterious "blood worms" which appear in much of the shows promotional material, which from a fan's point-of-view of the books, appear much bigger than they seemed in the books. The brief yet satisfying glimpse of 'The Master', the head vampire, is equally impressive and terrifying along with the character of Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) is a perfect match. With the modern setting of the series mixed with the fascination of vampires provides a fresh view on the vampire genre which has been redundantly dominated by the more teenage/sparkly variety of vamp from the popularity of the Twilight books and movies, as well as in TV with shows like The Vampire Diaries and it's spin-off The Originals. As a fan of the books and comics, I've been looking forward to the premiere of The Strain for quite a while now, and upon seeing the Pilot, I have no doubt that this series will soon take off and add a whole new level of terror and anticipation to Sunday prime-time! The Strain has spread...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Movie Review - Transformers: Age of Extinction

Just when you thought the Transformers franchise had come to an end with Dark of the Moon (2011), the master of slow-motion explosions, director Michael Bay, returns with Transformers: Age of Extinction! Longer, darker and with even bigger Transformers than ever seen before, Age of Extinction is the fourth in the franchise of Transformers movies which began in 2007. With the trilogy ended, so did the involvement of actor Shia LeBeouf, who starred as Sam Witwicky in the first three Transformers movies. Age of Extinction takes place several years after the events of Dark of the Moon, dubbed the "Battle of Chicago", where the Transformers have now become public knowledge and are now feared and hunted down by the government. Particularly one Black Ops team known as KSI, led by CIA Agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), is in charge of destroying both Autobots and Decepticons, having allied themselves with a group of ruthless Transformer bounty-hunters led by Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan). Along with the government's involvement, a wealthy techno-industrialist Joshua Joyce's (Stanley Tucci) company is developing their own Transformers reverse-engineered from the captured remnants of the Transformers to build Stinger and Galvatron (voiced by Frank Welker)! Meanwhile, in rural Texas, Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg), an unemployed salvager and robotics inventor has found what is left of Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) after a battle which left him nonfunctional. As Cade tries to repair Optimus, the government becomes aware of Optimus' location and send the Black Ops team to destroy him. Now Cade, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and her boyfriend Jack (Shane Dyson) are on the run with Optimus to try and find what is left of the Autobots and stop Lockdown!
Along with Autobot favorite Bumblebee, there a few new additions to the Transformers roster including original G1 favorite Hound (voiced by John Goodman), the samurai-bot Drift (voiced by Ken Watanabe) and Crosshairs (voiced by John DiMaggio) not to mention this movies biggest surprise is the inclusion of the Dinobots, (fan-favorites from the cartoon/toys) including Grimlock! Despite all the violence, explosions, exotic locations (Hong Kong) and all-out Autobot-action, this movie seemed to be a much more satisfying successor to the last few Transformers movies, especially the disappointing sequel Revenge of the Fallen (2009). Aside from the obvious improvements, this movie however has a very ominous and darker tone than the other movies some of the humor that pervades the movies is lessened somewhat in favor of a much grittier feel as the Transformers, particularly the Autobots were regarded as heros in the others, now they are fugitives! Even Optimus Prime, whose character has always been the honorable, stalwart protector has been defeated both physically and in spirit that he has become an angry killer, bent on revenge for his fallen comrades. The dark/violent atmosphere is present in the more-violent battles, and the surprising repetition of lines like "I'm going to kill you!" and "Die!" from Optimus himself! While it is understandable how Optimus must feel after the literal genocide of his Autobot allies, it is to some extreme how his character has changed drastically. As for fan-service the inclusion of the Dinobots (which I myself have been looking forward to seeing ever since the trailer: Optimus riding Grimlock! Awesome!) is very satisfying as well as the inclusion of celebrity voices like John Goodman and Ken Watanabe in the cast. The biggest surprise was the return of famous voice actor Frank Welker to the Transformers cast who was the voice of Megatron in the cartoons (in the last three movies Megatron was voiced by actor Hugo Weaving) now as Galvatron, ironically played by Leonard Nimoy in the 1986 animated movie, who voiced in Sentinel Prime in Dark of the Moon. While I am pleased to no longer have to see Shia's hyperactive screaming on screen I was not too excited to have Marky Mark be the new human star of the Transformers franchise for his former failures in movies like Planet of the Apes (2001), The Happening and Ted, he has more popular screen credits than Shia anyway. Overall Age of Extinction is an impressive, action-packed, special-effects nightmare, thrill ride! As a fan of the Transformers since my childhood in the 80's I can see these movies not as the over-budgeted, CGI-crazy blockbusters that they are and relish in the pure fun and excitement that my inner child and adult self can enjoy and have fun watching them.I still smile every time I see a Transformer transform, and I cheer quietly to myself when I see Optimus defeat a Decepticon. While the success of these films may vary from movie to movie and Michael Bay enjoys the mixed criticisms of his film franchise, I will still keep wanting to come back to see them. (unless he tries to kill off Optimus again!)

LINKS:, Hasbro, BotCon