Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blu Ray Review: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part One

Crossposted and commissioned by Film.com

As a die hard Harry Potter fan whose first blu-ray purchase was the gift pack containing the first six Harry movies, you can imagine how ecstatic I was at the prospect of reviewing the blu ray for the seventh film - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. I loved this movie when I saw it in theaters and - surprise - loved it just as much watching it again in gorgeous high definition on my 82 inch screen. But the question at hand here isn't so much "Is the movie good?" because we know the answer to that. Yes. It's great. (If for some reason you don't like it, read the books, then watch it again. If you're one of those people who refuses to read the books, I'm not sure we can be friends.) The real question is, "Should I buy the blu-ray?" So here is a breakdown of what the three disc combo pack has to offer and if it's worth the $34.00 list price.

Disc 1 Special Features:

Maximum Movie Mode

In lieu of a standard commentary, this blu-ray has the option of "Maximum Movie Mode", apparently a feature that can be seen all over the place these days, but not by me, as this one was my first experience. Jason Isaacs hosts a journey through the entire film, extending it to almost three hours. Every so often, a snippet of a behind the scenes "Focus Point" pops up (along with the option to pause Maximum Movie Mode and watch the entire 2-4 minute piece, see below) and even more frequently, various actors & crew members pause the action to really go in depth in regards to what we're watching, whether it's an actor on his motivation, makeup effects designer, Nick Dudman, on creating Harry's swollen face or the details of Voldemort, someone from the fx department teaching us about the seamless effects we didn't know existed, or the (genius) production designer, Stuart Craig, specifying his inspirations, from Citizen Kane to Nazi propaganda. We are also treated to history lessons of sorts, seeing a recap of Harry's love life, where we've seen items like the deluminator and the Gryffindor Sword before, and at last being told who the creators of the Maurader's Map were, all providing context we may have forgotten or for those who haven't read the book, never knew in the first place, and my favorite bit, passages from the book read aloud (quite well, I might add) by Tom Felton, that provide a bit more insight into the current scene.

Keep an eye out for the commentary pause during the Ministry of Magic sequence - the escape at the end was the last shot ever filmed of the entire series and the footage of the wrap is really wonderful. Perhaps my favorite shot of the entire blu-ray is contained here, when a tear-filled Emma Watson & Rupert Grint share a hug. During Maximum Movie Mode, we're also informed of the original ending of the film. I think you'll agree with me when you see it that extending the film through to where it *did* end was ESSENTIAL.

Needless to say, I absolutely adored watching the movie in this fashion. I was most taken with the parts about the special effects and makeup that literally never occurred to me as existing (Three Words. Mad-Eye. Moody's. Eye.) The attention to detail on this film was astounding and it got me especially hoping that Part Two will get to take home a ton of Oscars next year to reward the entire crew for 10 years worth of hard work.

But Maximum Movie Mode wasn't perfect. There was a little too much focus on the experiences of actors who played extremely small roles, and while I loved hearing their stories, I found myself yearning for something similar from Rupert Grint, Emma Watson (complete with post-Harry pixie cut), or Helena Bonham Carter. This is the type of film I would watch with commentary of all kinds, so not having after the fact reflection from the main characters was kind of disappointing. My only explanation for this is that they are holding off on the big guns for the blu-ray release of the final film, or for the inevitable complete series package.

But regardless of what's missing, Maximum Movie Mode is still a must watch for any fan, especially right before seeing Deathly Hallows Part Two. The whole thrust of this mode of watching is preparing the viewer for the final movie, so if you don't get around to rewatching every film or rereading every book before July, the Maximum Movie Mode of Deathly Hallows Part One makes a totally suitable substitute.

More on the rest of the special features after the jump!

See full post

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is Scream 4 The Perfect Date Movie?

Crossposted on Film.com

For some sad reason, there has been a severe lack of good, original slasher movies over the past 10 years. Was Scream 3 so bad that it just killed the genre? What happened, guys? The 2000s brought us new horror movies, sure, but with new horror sub genres and new horror rules, none of which have delighted me the way any of the Scream movies have, even the bad one. And consequently, the 2000s seemed to have killed the concept of horror-as-date-movie. Which makes sense. I don't want to see something that is nothing but gross with a boy I want to make out with afterwards. I just don't. I don't think mutants raping people before they brutally murder them is particularly sexy.

But with Scream 4 we see a return to the genre that isn't a remake or a reboot, but a good old, classic, original team in place, sequel. And in spite of being a sequel and filled with pop culture references and self referential humor from top to bottom, it still manages to be....original. And as I applauded the random appearance of Mary McDonnell, accidentally screamed at the top of my lungs multiple times, punched my boyfriend in the shoulder during the silly moments and recalled exact references to the first Scream, I realized that not only is this a return to the genre - this is a definite return to the tradition of horror-as-date-movie. Because Scream 4 is the *perfect* date movie. Check out why after the jump
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top Eleven Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer

Crossposted and commissioned by Film.com

 Traditionally spanning from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the summer movie season has begun moving earlier and earlier over the past decade and now

May is usually just as jam packed with tent-poles and huge budgets as July. This year is no exception. In fact, this year is...kind of insane. So packed, I'm not sure many films will have a chance to grow beyond their opening weekend or how your average movie goer will be able to afford to see that many damn movies. But which 11 will end up being the ones movie fans actually head out to in droves? Here are the most anticipated movies of summer 2011.

Honorable (April) Mention
It doesn't technically come out in the summertime, but every single specimen of the male gender I speak to is massively anticipating the April 29th release of Fast Five, so it will receive an honorable mention on this list. I've never seen a Fast and the Furious movie and don't really have any interest in ever starting. I'm sure the stunts are awesome, and in general I do love a good action movie, but they have just never ever piqued my interest. Still, it will make all of the moneys. Another honorable mention goes to Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which opens on the same day and is highly anticipated by me personally.

11. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (August 12th)
A young girl moves in with her father and his girlfriend and discovers they are sharing the house with devilish creatures.
This film is only so low on this list because as of right now, it's only highly anticipated by the fan crowd, but I believe the excitement will only grow and grow in the months ahead. Is it possible that the scariest movie of year and Katie Holmes' comeback film are one in the same? With Guillermo Del Toro at the helm, it's very possible.

My Anticipation Level: Opening Weekend

10. Friends With Benefits (July 22nd)
A headhunter recruits a magazine editor and since each is too busy to find  a mate, they agree to sleep together with no strings attached. Things  get complicated when the guy falls for the girl, who's dating someone  else.
It does feel kind of awkward throwing a little romantic comedy on a list containing almost all genre pictures, but Will Gluck impressed many with Easy A last year, great word of mouth landing the film a perfectly lovely slot in teen comedy history. This time he is applying his skills to a movie starring current It Girl, the stunning and talented Mila Kunis. I don't love Justin Timberlake but the Gluck/Kunis combo outweigh any Timberlake fatigue I might be experiencing and may actually add to the must-see factor for some, after his "look, I can act!" turn in The Social Network.

My Anticipation Level: Opening Week

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20th)
Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain  of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after  it too.
The fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series is highly anticipated because of the apparent return to form, barely there in the  second and utterly missing from the third. Sometimes we all forget how much we loved the first film and if this movie can even touch it,  we're in store for an incredibly fun summer popcorn flick. Which is totally acceptable. As long as this movie isn't a piece of boring shlock, it'll  be a step up.

My Anticipation Level: Second Week

8. Super 8 (June 8th)

No summary for you! I won't be responsible for letting you know a damn thing about this movie.

Everyone loves a Bad Robot picture. Or at least I do. Even Morning Glory. The anticipation here stems from the fact that the film is shrouded in mystery, as is Bad Robot's MO. Yes, there is a new trailer out and yes, some members of the press got a peak at some footage, but Bad Robot  makes it extremely easy for those of us who want to stay in the dark to  get to do just that. I still only know maybe one or two things about Super 8 and that's the way I like it. Can't. Wait.

My Anticipation Level: Opening Weekend

More after the jump!

See full post

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Greatest Fundraiser A Geek Could Ask For [Event]

Why is that you say? Check it out,

Sorry for the tardiness on getting a new post up lately. Things have just been crazy busy, both with Hell Walk and my day job at Bad Robot.

For those who don’t know, the big Hell Walk Fundraiser is going to be this Saturday, April 9th at one of my favorite places in the world, Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub. I’ve watched the Red Sox win both of their World Series titles here, as well as the Celtics triumph over the Lakers a few years ago. Though it may seem like an odd choice to some, I couldn’t think of a better place to have my fundraiser and would like to extend a huge thanks to owner Grant Woods for offering his amazing bar up to Hell Walk.

The last three weeks have been a tornado of contacting business after business in an effort to scare up some awesome prizes for our raffle. So far we are doing really well, with gift certificates from awesome restaurants like A.O.C., The Lobster and Fritto Misto, more athletic apparel from K-Swiss and, of course, a whole bunch of amazing things from Bad Robot.

The fundraiser will begin at 7 p.m. and go until 10 o’clock. Raffle tickets will be sold all day at Sonny McLean’s. At 8:30, the Broken Numbers Band will come onstage to play an hour-long set, followed by our raffle at 9:30 and what I’m sure will be a very boisterous karaoke session at 10 p.m. We are up to 23 prizes right now and hope to blow that number away over the next several days.

In the next couple days, I’ll be writing a huge post about the actual day of Hell Walk — May 1st, 2011. For those who haven’t heard, we will be holding it at a sound stage in Santa Monica. The day will feature several bands, free adult beverages courtesy of brewmaster Jon Nail, food from some of the best food trucks in Los Angeles and — rumor is — a bouncy castle. Details on all of that soon!


But seriously, this is for a great cause AND is mildly associated with Bad Robot AND my favorite LA band is playing. Come join and hang out! For more specifics on what will be included in the raffle, check out the Aint It Cool write up!

Tonight, 7-10pm (But karaoke starts at 10, so the party will keep going!) See full post

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How A Bad Robot Employee Is Making The World A Better Place Once Mile At A Time

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of getting to chat with Josh Tate who is using his power for good this Spring and holding a charity event called Hell Walk to raise money for Children's Hope Chest. Part of our chat involved a visit to the offices of Bad Robot, a relaxed, yet invigorating environment filled with tons of collectibles and friendly faces. The waiting room alone is something to be marveled at. They encourage you to create art with their supplies while whoever you're meeting with heads over to fetch you. Spoiler Alert: I drew a cartoon cat.

Josh Tate himself is completely down to Earth, but not without a healthy dose of snark, as all awesome people should, and fits right in to the eclectically tranquil yet enthusiastic atmosphere of Bad Robot. His desk, around the corner from the front desk lined with toys of famous robots, features a statue of Starbuck, signed by Katee Sackhoff. When I ask him for recommendations, as I often do in interviews, he lists off amazing bar after amazing bar,

It probably sounds terrible, but I really like to go to bars (and miss them terribly while I’m training for Hell Walk). Here are some of the best: 

West 4th and Jane, James Beach, the back room of the Terrace, Ye Rustic Inne, The Drawing Room, Covell, the back bar at Hobo, The Arsenal, the back bar at Wilshire and the Shack in Playa Del Rey. And of course, Sonny McLean's, birthplace of Hell Walk.

Yeah. This dude is cool. Definitely my kind of person.

So what is Hell Walk and why should you care? Read on to find out.


For the uninitiated, what is Hell Walk?

So Hell Walk is a 24 hour walk-a-thon around a hundred foot circle to raise money for providing schools and shelters for Orphans in Russia and Swaziland, Africa. It is heroically noble (laughs) - no, it was invented because I had not done a lot of charity work in my life and it got to the point where I thought, I've got to start doing better, and so I started volunteering for some charities around town and I enjoyed it, but there was still something missing. And so I talked to my friend Melanie one night at a bar, and I literally just described this whole conversation to her, I was like "I want to do this and I want it to be like this and this" and then at the end, we had this terrible idea called Hell Walk (laughs) it was just the worst. It's gonna hurt, it's gonna take forever, I can't drink for five months, I have to change my life, but that's what it is and it's actually kind of great. I mean, I have a love/hate relationship with it cause I have to live with it every day but it's changed my life for the positive like, infinitely, it's been really great.

What's the name of the charity?

The name of the charity we are raising money for is Children's Hope Chest and what they do is they work in orphanages all over the world. They're an international organization, so they have local chapters and the chapter in LA works with orphanages in Kostroma, which is a region in Russia and then Swaziland and so we just figured we liked the idea of an international charity and we like the idea of local people benefiting from it cause a lot of people who donate are from LA and it just felt like a good fit. They're great, they are nothing like me, they are devoted people who literally dedicate their lives to helping people they don't even know have food and shelter and safety and education. They're a small enough charity that I thought when we raise this money for them, it could really change their lives. And I think it sort of has so far.

What is your goal?

We want to hit 25,000 and right now we, at the end of February are at 7800. Most of the larger fundraising stuff is still in the future so I feel we're going to make 25,000.

How are you training?

Here's my day. I wake up at 5:30. I leave my apt in Los Feliz at 6. I drive to the west side cause I work on the west side to train at the gym in the morning. Then I go to Bad Robot, I work there til 7pm usually, like 8-7 every day usually unless it's a busy day and then I go to the gym after that to do weights. Then I go home and I watch a half hour of MSNBC and I collapse. And then on the weekends, I usually try to take Saturday off if I can, and then Sunday just do like a full 8-10 hours of something, whether it be the LA marathon course (If you go the LA Marathon website you can print out a list of turn by turn directions...and you can do almost the entire course..) or I go to USC a lot and just circle the track for 6 hours or so. Most of that's mental. There's a certain point where - if you and I had to walk 24 hours right now, we probably could if there was like, an army behind us, chasing us. But most of it is mental, getting past that block is going to be a mental hurdle, so that's sort of why I [train that way]. Hell Walk is gonna be, it depends on how much I degrade over time, but it'll be at least two marathons, almost three. My pace is about 3-4 miles an hour and so that comes out to about 80 miles.

More after the jump!

See full post

CONTEST - Hanna Prize Package!

In celebration of Hanna opening this weekend, we're doing a little giveaway for you wonderful readers out there!

Here's what we're giving away,

· Unisex T-shirt

· Hooded Sweatshirt

· Skullcandy Earbuds

· Micro Fiber Cloth

· Bumper Sticker

To enter, all you have to do is the following:

1. follow our writers on Twitter

2. Shoot an email to allthingsfangirl at gmail.com, containing your name and shipping address, with the subject HANNA IS AWESOME

For more info on the film, check out the article What To Expect When You're Expecting Hanna or watch the trailer below!

See full post

Monday, April 4, 2011

Best Finds of Wondercon 2011 [And How To Get Some For Yourself!]

Crossposted on Film.com

I've been attending comic book conventions since I was two years old and perhaps my most favorite part of every experience, no matter how many stars are in attendance, no matter how much footage I see, no matter how amazing the cosplay is, no matter how much drinking with fun folk occurs (don't worry, that part didn't start until I was 16. I mean...21...), is raiding the dealer's room for awesome swag and merchandise. ESPECIALLY at Wondercon, which may be packed, but not overly filled to the brim or ginormous enough to make the Dealer's Room bridge on the stressful and wholly enervating experience it can be at big brother Comic-Con. So I thought for the rest of you dealer's room loving geeks out there, I'd give you a taste of some of my favorite items seen and acquired on the show floor.

Green Lantern Light Up Ring
The most coveted swag of Wondercon 2011, these official Green Lantern rings, licensed by DC comics, were given out at the DC booth throughout the weekend. The only guaranteed way to get one was to wait in an epic line, so very few of our cohorts actually got their hands on one. I feared that because of this reason, I wouldn't be able to get an extra one for Da7e, but because the Universe quite likes us, I found one sitting on the floor during the Femme Fatales panel and nabbed it up. Buy one on ebay for 100 bucks, or better yet, don't. Are people insane?!

Star Trek/Reservoir Dogs Tote Bag
Of all the things I tweeted this weekend, a photo of this tote bag hands down got the most response. Expect to see some Retro Outlaw items getting some love across the internets this week. The tote was only *five* dollars and the sole reason I didn't nab it was so Robert Meyer Burnett (or another huge original Trek fan) could. The design is also on a shirt, but as far as I know, you won't be able to find it online. If you are headed to Comic-Con this year, remember to look Retro Outlaw up as soon as you arrive so you can grab yourself one to carry your swag in for the weekend.

The Walking Dead Hoodie
Continuing my trend of owning WAY too much The Walking Dead merchandise, I couldn't resist buying this adorable hoodie from the Image booth for only a meager discount off the retail price. Not only is it comfortable and cute, but it's for The Walking Dead and there was only one size small remaining! And I do mean the COMIC mind you. So the hoodie is only and exclusively full of win. I expect to never take it off. Apparently it isn't available anywhere else yet, but you can pre-order one for yourself here.

More after the jump!

See full post

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog: The Book

Crossposted on Film.com

It had me at "spurty in their lady place."

It's been almost three years since the writer's strike and the release of arguably the most wonderful project to have emerged from that tumultuous period in Hollywood history (what else did the writers strike produce? Oh yeah. Transformers 2. Point made.). Thanks to Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, we have not only a great web-series we can watch over and over, but toys, soundtracks, musical commentary and endless cosplay to geek out over and this week, a brand new book to add to the list. Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog: The Book. And that's exactly what it is. A book. Of Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog. It's pretty badass.

Normally with this kind of publication, the bulk is made up of art and photos, great to own as a fan, sure, but not practical in any way. But Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog The Book, much like Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog the web-series, isn't your typical book....slash.....web series. No, yeah, that makes sense. That sentence definitely was cohesive and was not nonsensical. Oh god. I've been reading and watching so much Whedon-speak, I can almost feel myself becoming a Whedon...self-deprecation! Meta jokes! Sonheim-esque musical interludes!  Attempts at jokes awkwardly placed in the middle of an article!

Now that that's out of my system, back to the topic at hand. To start, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog: The Book, features both the original shooting script and the complete sheet music, which I was pretty astounded to discover. I was expecting page after page of photos and behind the scenes commentary, like most other coffee table books of this nature, but was thrilled to find out it's so much more. Sure, I couldn't actually keep the book upright on my piano to play the music, it is a giant coffee table book after all, but once I photocopied the pages I wanted to play, I spent hours futzing around with both my piano and guitar. Anything that gets me to musical instrument futz is an instant win. The book also made me want to rewatch the web series - and I did - (it's on Netflix Instant Watch!) - while following along. Singing with the songs, seeing where actors deviated (It warmed my heart that Simon Helberg (Moist) said all of his lines word for word), where moments changed from script to screen, and how actors handled stage directions like "a beat as he realizes he said that sarcastically" and "Captain Hammer isn't thrilled, but he's hiding it from her." I especially liked following along during Commentary: The Musical (not on Netflix Instant Watch, actually had to get up and put a disc in my Xbox to watch that one...Netflix, you shifty bastids, you....) because this time, I actually didn't miss any of the jokes. You really start to notice things like, wow, Neil Patrick Harris sure does know how to enunciate, because he's the only one I understand without this book in front of me! Well, to be fair, I didn't need to book to make out what Maurissa was saying either, but Neil is truly the king of proper musical enunciation. It is a thing to be admired.

The introduction alone is worth the price of admission, as Captain Hammer explains what we're about to read and reminds us that he is Teh Awesome by saying things like

"People often ask me to write the introductions to their books. They ask me to speak at their school, be Godfather to their child, or make a spurty in their lady place." 

Immediately followed by

"I usually say no. Books don't interest me (Stop calling, Michael Chabon!), school is for sissies, and the Godfather was a bad man who did mob crime. The lady thing is okay, as long as it's between consenting adults and no one gets hurt/slapped with a paternity suit (stop calling, Mrs Michael Chabon!). But to conclude this word section, books are for coffee tables." 

And it only gets better from there.

After the intro, the book then goes into a lengthy discussion of the pre-production process with the whole pre-pro team - Jed, Joss, Maurissa and Zack - still infused with that trademark Whedon humor. Well. It better. Considering that's four Whedons right there. The flow and tone of the conversation really makes you as the reader feel like you are in the room, especially because The Whedons Four let us in on fun facts that people *not* in the room may not want us to know, i.e. how Neil, Nathan and Simon all separately forgot about the first table read. Oops. Although Simon actually recalls the moment he realized he forgot about the read through in his "A Horrible Memory," one of four accounts from the actors, which also include "A Horrible Experience" from Felicia Day, a haiku by Nathan Fillion, and a lovely afterward from Neil Patrick Harris.

There also may or may not be scans of call sheets. I happen to love call sheets, with their lines and numbers and organization! Really. I actually do. Seeing the "official" parts of the production is a fun aspect of the book, because it reminds us that despite having zero studio involvement and zero pay, everyone in the production still fell back on their professional habits. There was no slacking off, no foregoing of call sheets, costume continuity shots, sketches, music demos or multiple read throughs that all the actors did eventually attend. And when such talented people bring their A game to a project with no studio interference, it shows.

On that note, the book also features several behind the scenes photos from events celebrating the finished outcome, like The Emmys, The Streamys and Comic-Con. There's even a scan of a reserved seat badge from the 2008 Dr. Horrible panel (sorry forgers, except I'm not sorry at all, the reserved seat passes change pretty much every year) and a shot of the audience watching said panel. I happened to be in that room and experienced what is still one of my favorite Comic-Con memories. Nathan Fillion recited his famous "The Hammer is my penis" line to an adoring crowd, which was immediately followed by a small child behind me asking "Mommy, did he just say the hammer is my penis?" But the aftermath chronicling doesn't stop with Comic-Con and award shows, there are also multiple shots of cosplayers, merchandise, and even some from a couple of amateur Dr. Horrible productions.

Overall, it's a must own for any fan of Dr. Horrible, especially if you don't yet own the sheet music. For some reason, there is actually quite an overlap in terms of Joss geeks and Musical Theater nerds (myself included), so if you know people who fit that criteria, this is certainly the gift for them. The fact that it even exists thrills me - that a webseries gets its own behind the scenes coffee table book. And reading through it got me to rewatch, listen to the commentary, play the music both on iTunes and with my instruments, and all in all remind myself how much I love Dr. Horrible and want a sequel. It's been three years. Enough of this already, Whedons. Moar please!

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Book 
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Warning: This book may cause you to speak like a Whedon for roughly 3-5 hours upon completion. The only cure is more cowbell. There is no cure. See full post

Friday, April 1, 2011


April is National Poetry Month. So go read a poem today, tomorrow, or just at some point during the month! Or go write your own! Here's a poem I love:

We Have Not Long To Love

We have not long to love.
Light does not stay.
The tender things are those
we fold away.
Coarse fabrics are the ones
for common wear.
In silence I have watched you
comb your hair.
Intimate the silence,
dim and warm.
I could but did not, reach
to touch your arm.
I could, but do not, break
that which is still.
(Almost the faintest whisper
would be shrill.)
So moments pass as though
they wished to stay.
We have not long to love.
A night. A day....

-Tennessee Williams
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=27204 See full post