Wednesday, April 30, 2014

(Not) Love Actually: Daredevil VS The Punisher

Captain America:  The Winter Soldier is cleaning up at the box office while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has already started raking in the bucks internationally.  DC just announced a Justice League movie to follow 2015's Batman VS Superman and allegedly have an additional 9 comic book adaptations in the works.  Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada dropped a few tidbits about the Daredevil series coming to Netflix, promising a "street-noir" style on the ground level of the Marvel cinematic and television universe.

During WonderCon weekend, in a bit of coincidental scheduling, 2003's big screen adaptation of Daredevil was playing on one channel while 2004's The Punisher was playing on another.  Both Marvel heroes are harder edged and more violent than The Avengers or Spider-Man and their films reflected (or attempted to) that moody, visceral and kinetic vibe.  10 years ago, the superhero movie was just starting it's transformation.  The Batman series had stalled with 1997's 4th chapter in a haze of bright colors, too many characters and kid/toy friendly camp.  1998's Blade gave Marvel a shot in the arm but that character was hardly a comic book icon.  2000's X-Men really set things off as Fox gave the production a decent budget and summer slot which in turn gave them a franchise that is still going strong 14 years and 7 movies later.  2002's Spider-Man showed audiences and critics that a "funny book" movie about a teenager granted wondrous powers who swings around New York in red and blue tights could be equal parts heart wrenching and adrenaline pumping on it's way to a $800 million dollar gross in theaters alone.

In 2003, Fox's long gestating Daredevil hit the screens, opening up # 1 on President's Day weekend to poor reviews and uneven audience reaction.  A Director's Cut would prove to be slightly better received but all you need to do is look at the negative reaction to Ben Affleck being cast as Batman to see how many viewers thought it spelled doom.  Written and directed by Grumpy Old Men's Mark Steven Johnson, Daredevil plays out as a pretty faithful adaptation of the comic books on the surface.  Teen Matt Murdock is blinded by radioactive waste and gains heightened senses and "radar vision" then takes to the streets to deliver rough fist, feet and makeshift nunchuk/bo staff justice when it eludes the courts he works in by day as a lawyer.  Throw in future wife Jennifer Garner as ass kicking assassin Elektra, Colin Farrel as over the top henchman Bullseye and the massive Michael Clarke Duncan as crime lord The Kingpin and you get one of the most eclectic yet capable casts of the young Marvel movie age.

The movie does suffer from some clunky writing and acting by Affleck and Garner and has some really bad, even for it's time, CGI f/x.  Mostly of Daredevil leaping and flipping inhuman lengths and heights.  The flick looks pretty slick but feels a bit hollow with it's nods to the comics, brooding violence, bleak yet shiny cinematography and crammed in heavy metal soundtrack.  Taking in $178 million worldwide on an estimated $80 million dollar budget, Daredevil couldn't be considered a flop as a handsome 2-disk special edition DVD sold well enough to warrant a Director's Cut release but a sequel was never publicly discussed and Affleck soon moved into a career funk.  Subsequent releases Gigli focused too much on his personal life while Paycheck became a middle of the road, throwaway title that led helmer John Woo to pack up and go back to China.

Marvel's next attempt at an adult comic book feature came in the form of Artisan turned Lionsgate's 2004 release The Punisher, which holds the distinction of being their first R rated venture.  Directed and co-written by Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Armageddon's Jonathan Hensleigh, The Punisher opened up # 2 in April of 2004 to blah reviews and lackluster audience interest.  Our hero is Frank Castle, an undercover CIA agent on the verge of retirement.  When the son of powerful mob boss Howard Saint is killed during an operation, Castle's entire family is wiped out and he is left for dead.  Surviving, Castle comes back to haunt Saint as the bringer of punishment and basically kills a whole lotta people while blowing up drugs, money and fending off hitmen.  Solid actor and future king of weirdcool Thomas Jane made a smooth million bucks for the role and underwent a hardcore training regimen that included lifting weights, hand to hand combat, gun and edged weapons training with former Navy SEALs.  John Travolta shows up as Saint while familiar faces Will Patton, Roy Scheider, Rebecca Romijn, Kevin Nash, Ben Foster and Laura Harring round out the cast.

Hensleigh attempts to harken back to the good ol' days of Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel's 70's vibe with real stunts, little CGI and a slowed down pace.  The results are successful in parts as the action is brief yet brutal and crisp, there's variety to the violence and set pieces while dark humor is sprinkled throughout.  Other sections are overbearing, melodramatic and downright cheesy as the dialog scenes are handled with a heavy hand and the big, beautiful orchestral score seems to be playing over the wrong movie.  Changing the locale from New York to Florida didn't help matters and TJ spends most of the film shirtless to show off all his hard work a la Hugh Jackman in the later Wolverine movies.  For some reason Lionsgate and Marvel decided to play chicken with Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Part 2 and came up short as KB took in a healthy $25 million on it's way to a $152 million worldwide total while The Punisher only managed $13 million on it's way to a disappointing $54 million global tally on a reported $28 million dollar budget but would sell huge on home video thus spurring serious chatter for a sequel.

Thomas Jane would never realize his leading man potential as 2007's The Mist would misfire over Thanksgiving weekend and leads in low budget, DTV fare soon followed before appearing on HBO's Hung for 3 seasons.  Wanting to make a gritty, Walter Hill directed, 70's style follow up, Jane walked away from the sequel which was released as the cartoonishly over the top, not sure if it's passable or horrible, Punisher: War Zone which garnered a pitiful $10 million worldwide in 2008.  Jane would return to the role in unofficial short film sequel Dirty Laundry, co-starring Ron Perlman that has grabbed nearly 5 million viewers.  As they've battled in the comics for decades, let's hope The Punisher manages to pop up in the new Daredevil series where they can be handled with a little more care and support in this comic book movie driven era.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Van Dammage: I Believe I Can Fly

"When you know who you are in life, you can go so high.  I really believe so."
    Jean-Claude Van Damme

Congratulations to everyone at Volvo and team Jean-Claude Van Damme for their recent sweep at this years Webby Awards as they won Best Online Commercial, Best Viral Marketing and Best Branded Entertainment Short Form for The Epic Split.

Van Damme's self-improving, self-reflecting and self-searching attitude has always been an inspiration to me and I'm sure subconsciously fueled my recent uptick in activity lately as I've hunkered down and just started Doing.  Life is for living so if you know what you like, go out and do it.  And if anybody has a problem with that, tell them you're sorry but not sorry they lead such an empty existence with no interests or passions.  For me, it's been a busy few weeks with 3 conventions in a month, screenings galore, launching the Facebook page and putting together Dammaged Goods' first live event while laying down groundwork for future nights of cinematic wonder.  Oh yeah, I also work full time and am in the midst of several large projects.  This page isn't for publicity or profit, it's just a forum for the things I like and want to share with those who don't get to experience all the cool events Los Angeles (and surrounding) has to offer due to schedule, geographic or monetary reasons.  At the end of the day, things are what you make of them so make them great.  It really is that simple.

In the meantime, The New Beverly Cinema has posted the Double Impact and Bloodsport screenings set for Sunday and Monday, May 4th and 5th with Sheldon Lettich Q&A on their site:

And you can get a custom WWJCVDD? shirt over at Etsy from TeeRexellent:

Then you can watch this video for your daily dose of sensitive yet inspirational Van Dammage:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Live Goods: Aliens EXPOsed

The real reason that I wanted to go to Calgary Expo this year was because they were putting on a cast reunion of 1986's Aliens, one of my all time favorite films.  They've done these kinds of things before as Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen are regulars on the convention circuit, someone from the cast will pop up to talk at a screening, etc but this time was even more special.  This would be the largest assembling of the movie's cast since production at Pinewood Studios in England 27 years ago.  Calgary Expo would mark Sigourney Weaver's first appearance at a show like this with a signing joining Con newbies Paul Reiser and Bill Paxton.  After seeing the previous night's Middle Earth EXPOsed, I really wondered how Aliens would play out.  Middle Earth was a two part chat with the casts from two different franchises in the same universe then ended with a three segment improve show.  With Aliens, I knew they wouldn't be doing any singing or dancing for us and figured it would roll out as a typical comic con panel only on a grander scale.  I thought it would be better if they brought out a few guests at a time so everyone got their spotlight and because bringing out 10 people at one time just gets messy.
Looks like organizer Emily Expo and company were on the same page as Star Trek: Voyager actor and Aliens fanatic Garrett Wang welcomed us to the Corral before Wang took over as host and showed a clip highlighting Drake, Vasquez and Frost; three of the Colonial Space Marines.  Actors Mark Rolston, Jenette Goldstein and Ricco Ross were trotted out to stage that was set up with alien eggs, a leaping xenomorph, pulse rifes and flamethrower courtesty of a local prop maker as they spoke about getting involved ,the training required, Rolston and Ross' competition in the gym and nightly pose offs which culminated in Ross showing the crowd he still had abs.  Rolston and Goldstein mentioned that the script had a short backstory for their characters; that they were conscripted for duty and would be serving for life, hence their strong bond in the film.

The second clip was all about Hicks and Hudson, the cool, reluctant hero thrown into command and the squawking comic relief.  I feel a disservice was done to Hicks' character though as they didn't show the APC wreckage/escape where he screams "Drake, we are leaving!" then blasts an alien in the mouth with a shotgun.  Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton came out to huge applause and it was just too much fun watching them with each other as they have worked together several times (this, NAVY SEALS, TOMBSTONE) and have some of the best parts in the film.  Wang was a pretty solid host but here I thought things got a little iffy as his inner fanboy took over and most of the spotlight went to Paxton.  We had already seen Paxton earlier and knew the guy had stories for days and he continued to tell them here.  One that was particularly great was that Mad Magazine did a feature spoof on Aliens and Paxton, being a huge fan, ran out to get the issue only to find that instead of making a caricature of his face, the artists just put a chicken head on his body.  Biehn was only asked a couple of direct questions, one about coming in late to replace James Remar thus playing the character softer and more vulnerable as well as being able to miss out on all the bullshit physical and military tactics training the rest of the cast had to endure.  The other was about his character in Cameron's follow up The Abyss and Biehn vigorously schooled Wang, with an assist from Paxton, that Navy SEAL Hiram Coffey was not a villain, just a misunderstood guy who was cut off from his chain of command, told aliens were going to attack and was suffering from deep pressure sickness.

In the third clip of the evening, we see company man Carter Burke and artificial person Bishop.  Paul Reiser was very funny and talked about not being a villain but a company man looking out for their best interests, not having any cool props like the Marines and being ostracized from the group which still happens to this day as Biehn lovingly gave him the middle finger.  Here again, Wang focused more on one guest than the other so the great Lance Henriksen was only asked one question and more or less looked uninterested in what was going on around him.  In the next clip, the audience was reintroduced to colony survivor Newt, played by 9 year old Carrie Henn who is now a school teacher.  Henn lamented that acting in the film was like her secret life as she never set out to be an actor and after the film's success was the victim of constant bullying from jealous classmates.  Henn went through high school and college without her closest friends knowing about her past until a story in People magazine hit newsstands.

Lastly, it was time for Ripley; Sigourney Weaver's signature role that lead her to being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.  Which was news she found out while in a room with producers of Gorillas in the Mist meeting about the role.  Weaver was stunning and gracious while reminiscing
about the natural bond she had with Henn, working with brilliant yet Mr. Intense James Cameron, getting over her fear/objection of guns for the role and the fact that it's a good and bad sign that Ripley is still such a trailblazing character for strong leading women nearly 3 decades later.  Paxton told the audience how great a leader and calming an influence Weaver was on set while Ross will never forget when she urged him to call long distance to his wife in England at their impromptu cast party in her hotel room following the premiere.  Weaver revealed that she gave each cast member a bouquet of flowers on the day of their death scenes during production.  Her Galaxy Quest co-star Tim Allen is a huge science fiction fan and somehow bought part of the Aliens set for his screening room.  When Weaver put a jokey message on it, Allen was enraged.

A few audience questions and one from special guest Danny Glover!  From Predator 2!  Co-starring Bill Paxton! made the rounds asking what the cast kept from the production.  Rolston kept the bust of his scarred face, parts of his armor and whatnot that a collector offered him $100,000 smackers for but everything was sadly thrown out by his ex-wife.  Ross held onto his dog tags which he gave to a fan who wrote to him saying she was dressing up as him for Halloween.  Biehn says he wasn't smart enough to keep anything while Lance Henriksen has his original script with his tons of notes scribbled throughout.  When asked about the best piece of advice they'd ever received, most of the cast mentioned their father and basic advice like being who you are, getting back up after being knocked down and the like.  It was a fantastic evening and event, I just wish the people in Calgary weren't so large and that the seats weren't so small and zip-tied together.  My aching back!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

(Rough)Con-Man: Calgary Expo Friday

Coming at you live from beautiful, clean and crisp Calgary, Alberta Canada where cash doesn't tear, has holograms in it, the change is made from metal, the chocolate is real and delicious, people are super nice and don't honk in traffic and home to one heck of a show, the Calgary Expo.  Going on I believe it's 9th year, CE welcomes roughly 60,000 attendees over 4 days of programming.  It's held at the vast Stampede grounds next to the hockey rink for the Calgary Flames and site of a massive rodeo competition. When horses aren't in season it's host to huge events like the Expo.

It's a bit jarring as there's nothing super close to the Stampede besides a casino and train station.  The surrounding area is under heavy construction so you feel a bit remote upon entering.  Like Seattle's Emerald City Comicon, CE is spread out across its site so you have to make friends with the guide and map. There was badge pick up in the Grandstand then kids attractions in a tented pavilion, food trucks and giant balloons outside, the Boyce theater and stadium Corral for panels, Big Four building for vendors and food then the main hall BMO for a huge variety of exhibitors then yet another small section Palamino for autographs and more swag.  Phew!

I saw on Facebook that Michael and Jennifer Blanc Biehn flew out Thursday so we weren't going to be sharing a flight like Seattle, sadly.  Kim Coates and Mark Boone Junior from Sons of Anarchy, Barry Bostwick and Ricco Ross from Aliens were on board though.  Customs was a breeze and the officer told my lady that Lance Henriksen arrived the day before.  Our Con hotel this time is the lovely Sheraton eau Claire in downtown Calgary next to the river and starting point of CE's huge cosplay parade.  Anthony Daniels, the Sons of Anarchy and The Hobbit crews rode up front as hundreds of costumed con goers walked the streets up to the Stampede.

The show itself was a lot of fun but since we weren't staying nearby meant we were at the show for its duration as we were attending an event that evening.  8 hours of walking the floors, viewing panels and eating hot dogs gets a bit exhausting.  I underestimated the power of Adrian Paul and Highlander as the panel filled to capacity before we arrived.  A panel on Mark Rolston and Jeanette Goldstein was great as they reminisced on their time working on Aliens, with Jim Cameron and other roles in things like The Shawshank Redemption and Near Dark.  Co-star Henriksen came up for his deep method acting style and the only person Rolston ever saw give driven and genius writer/director Cameron shit on set, in a professional, for the good of the movie, sense.  I asked if they were surprised at being invited to conventions which Goldstein stated gave her anxiety at first but loves them and Rolston recently traveled to Australia and New Zealand so it wasn't a bad gig.

Next up was Bill Paxton who we saw last week at WonderCon.  Calgary marked his first professional signing and said his wife, accountant and children thanked us.  Rumor was God was charging $80 bucks to a pop to sign and hang out.  That's Richard Dean Anderson money!  His spotlight panel was hilarious and heartfelt as he talked about meeting James Cameron, his reaction to hearing the synopsis to The Terminator, Kevin Jarre's massive and detailed contribution to Tombstone, working on Apollo 13, viewing it at the White House and urinating in between Bill Clinton and Tom Hanx.  Great times.  They didn't announce where to go for questions so I missed out on asking what the making of Navy SEALs was like and if he made people call him by character nick name God during production.

To end the evening there was a separate event dubbed Middle Earth EXPOsed that was half tribute to WETA CEO Richard Taylor and half variety show featuring cast members from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.  It was laughs galore as the cast reminisced then partook in sword play lessons, sang for the audience and did some improv skits. Unannounced video tributes from Peter Jackson and Richard Armitage put the spotlight on Taylor who was on side stage making a radio contest winner up into an Orc through prosthetics, make up and costume.  The seats are small and cramped together in the Corral but it was a very fun event.

Tonight is Aliens EXPOsed with the biggest reunion of cast since they shot the film in 1986. Before that, some sight seeing and grubbing is on the agenda but I just looked outside and it's freaking snowing.  Oh Canada...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ask Me a Question: Terminator 2 w/Robert Patrick

As I navigate the seas of social media and work on getting the word out on the Van Damme double feature while traveling to 3 cons in a month, I'll be taking a break to attend yet another throwback screening at the Arclight Hollywood to see one of the greatest sequels of all time, Terminator 2:  Judgment Day.  If you'll recall, The Terminator and Aliens screened not long ago sans guests while T2 was a winner in an audience choice poll and has the T-1000 himself, Robert Patrick, stopping by to introduce 1991's highest grossing movie and my first R rated flick in a theater.  In addition to T2, Patrick has popped up in everything from Die Hard 2: Die Harder to Double Dragon to Walk the Line and Gangster Squad while appearing on TV in X-Files and The Unit.  Since his first credit in 1986, Patrick has convincingly played heroic, nefarious, fatherly and amusing opposite Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Denzel Washington, Demi Moore and Harrison Ford while being directed by the likes of James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Robert Rodriguez and James Mangold.

Judgement Day takes place years after the first as soldier and father of the future Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) and Sarah Connor's (Linda Hamilton) son John (Edward Furlong) has been targeted for termination.  Patrick plays the more advanced than Arnold's T-800 model, the shape shifting, liquid metal T-1000 that is the ultimate infiltration unit that can imitate nearly any form and has a penchant for turning his limbs into huge knives and stabbing weapons.  Picking up many of the same beats from the original, T2 is a huge, groundbreaking, exciting, action packed, visual roller coaster compared to the low budget, tech noir B-movie masterpiece of the first.  Upon release the film took in half a billion dollars in theaters alone and ushered in a new era of digital f/x.  In 1996, Universal Studios unveiled a part live action, part 3D film that reunited the main cast for an amusement park attraction that ran for 15 years.  I'm sure it will look fantastic on the big screen and I'll bet Mr. Patrick will have some great stories to share.


The Los Angeles Times just announced their line up for the 5th annual Hero Complex festival.  Years past have seen guests like Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Richard Donner, Warren Beatty, Peter Weller, John Carpenter, Roland Emmerich and many more attend.  This year centers on future set Science Fiction with double bills of The Terminator and sequel Judgement Day with writer/director James Cameron appearing as well as Alien and Aliens with star Sigourney Weaver.  Coincidentally, I've seen Terminator, Aliens and Judgement Day on the big screen all in the last couple of months and just saw Weaver discuss Aliens at Calgary Expo.  I guess that just shows you how dang popular these movies are.

Arclight Presents Terminator 2:  Judgement Day with special introduction by co-star and T-1000 Robert Patrick was a great night out.  My friend helped rope Patrick in and he was a very cool guy and accommodating to the dozens of fans looking for a handshake or photo.  Patrick's teenage children had never seen the flick and were in attendance as well.  To begin, Patrick welcomed the crowd and mentioned a few tidbits about the production like studying predators in the wild to develop his often imitated run to show no wasted movement, catching up to the camera car doing 13 miles per hour, James Cameron telling him they were making history when doing the "walk out of fire" shot and hitting Arnold with a padded metal pipe a little too hard in a fight scene.  He listed Cop Land, Walk the Line and Gangster Squad as some of his personal favorite movies and roles while giving props to director James Mangold.  After the flick, Patrick told us he hadn't watched the film in at least 20 years and that the steel mill was chopped, shipped and reassembled in China!  I had some shirts made up for the night and gave some to him and his family, he really seemed to like them and so I'm hoping to trade him additional shirts for a sit down interview.  Which would be a first for Dammaged Goods! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weird(cool) Panels: Castaway Cap in Dimension Z

On my WonderCon action item list was to pick up some Captain America from the recent 2012 run by Rick Remender and John Romita, Jr.  After all the blah blah blah about Brubaker's turn (brought back Bucky and had Cap get killed by a sniper, lazyyyyyy), which blew no wind up my skirt, it was interesting to see Cap was getting sent to an alternate dimension in a total change of pace.  Thanks to the massive success of The Winter Soldier, Cap comics were everywhere and I picked up the first 10 issues in hardcover graphic novel and single issue format for cheap.  I'm not sure where things stand in the Steve Rogers/Captain America universe as I haven't read comics regularly in about 10 years.  Here, we see Steve still with Sharon Carter who apparently has proposed to him.  For whatever reason, Steve is still written as kind of a straight arrow goofball when he should be the Robert Redford of comic books; a complex brooder disguised as a handsome movie star.  Things get going quickly as Rogers is teleported to Dimension Z where old villain with a giant face in his chest Arnim Zola has created his own world, killing and experimenting on the local native race, the Phorx.

Zola is looking to exploit the Super Soldier serum running through Cap's veins to augment his two children but the mighty Avenger escapes, taking Zola's son with him.  Dubbing the boy Ian, Cap and new son travel the harsh alien wasteland.  In between foraging for food, (Cap cooks soup in his shield!) and fighting with decapitation happy lizard/dinosaur looking aliens, 10 years pass before Cap finally figures out a way to get back home.  The issues read extremely fast and I breezed through the first 5 issues in one sitting.  Remender and Romita, Jr. do a solid job of telling an offbeat saga which shows Captain America's determination to stand up and be a good man while defending those who cannot defend themselves.  All of the alien world action is inter-cut with flashbacks from Steve's  childhood which expand on his father being an abusive alcoholic and the passing of his mother.  In my memory, most of his childhood is only given a panel's glance or fleeting line of dialog but here, Steve's history is really opened up and helps set up his current mindset in fighting Zola and taking care of Ian.

Romita Jr's art is equal parts snappy, explosive and grungy.  That was one of my main peeves with Brubaker's run, regular artist Steve Epstein's art tries to be pseudo real and just came off as boring.  There was no zip or POW! to anything.  Thank 9/11 and the X-Men movie for making comics go dark but end of the day this is a guy who survived a science experiment and fought through World War II in a flag colored outfit carrying a big metal wok on his arm, so let's try to keep it fun, entertaining AND educational, shall we?  Since Cap has been stuck in Dimension Z for so long, his costume is falling apart and his appearance gets a bit mangy with long hair, beard and proverbial bloodied face from battle.  Romita's art has an innocent, cartoonish quality with big eyes and smooth cheeks on the children and va va voom curves on the females which juxtaposes nicely with some big action scenes, explosions and alien creature mayhem.  One thing that kind of bothered me was the ever changing size of Cap's shield.  But in an unusual device, it always seems to be smaller than you'd expect, almost coming off like he's holding a Frisbee on his arm.

While it's been a fun read, Captain America escaping Dimension Z isn't enough to get me back into comics regularly, especially at $4 bucks a pop per issue.  That's why conventions are great, you can catch up on just about any series and not be at the whim of a dying business nickel and diming you.  The comic book industry is adapting to new technology though as advertisements and promos for free digital issues are everywhere inside the issues.  But until I can get a tablet the size of a comic book, I'll stick to the real thing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ask me a Question: Big Trouble In Little China

The Arclight has been hosting a plethora of throwback repertory programming of late with focus on 80's classics, 90's action movies and The Modern School of Film which sees actors, writers, musicians and the like selecting a favorite film and discussing after.  Last night it was Big Trouble In Little China with the creators of Robot Chicken.  The John Carpenter and Kurt Russell classic finds Russell as Jack Burton, a blowhard truck driver with an inflated sense of self who teams up with buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), a truck driver/restaurant owner in San Francisco Chinatown when thugs kidnap his fiance with green eyes to be the sacrificial lamb of thousands year old sorcerer of no flesh Lo Pan (James Hong).  Basically, if you've ever heard of Big Trouble you fall into one of three camps:  You love it, you don't get it or you've never seen it.  Me?  I fucking love this movie.  From the opening sequence with Tremors and 3 Ninjas' Victor Wong showing off his magic powers to the awesome synth score by Carpenter and Alan Howarth to Russell's mulleted John Wayne style hero who is actually a sidekick to the three henchman known as Storms that rock huge straw hats, twirl swords and ride lightening to the quick bantering between characters courtesy of Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein and W.D.'s all wonderfully zany, funny, quotable and plain classic.

This is my third time seeing it on the big screen and it looked great.  The comedy, pace, Kung-Fu fight scenes and what the heck weirdness made this a fast 100 minutes of action, laughs and characterization that doesn't stop to explain.  It's a ride that you're either on or off.  The audience was full of fans wearing related tee shirts, tanks and jackets who clapped and cheered at all the appropriate moments.  Post credits, a panel of writers and directors from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, who created Robot Chicken, participated in one of the weirdest post movie Q&A's I've ever seen.  The founder of Modern School of Film introduced the film and gave us a taste of his personality and style that to me, was way too serious and highfalutin for the movie and guests he'd assembled for the night.  It's an interesting concept, to invite filmmakers, artists, etc to speak about their favorite films but in execution it falls a bit flat because they had nothing to do with the preceding.  Reciting trivia and professing your love for a movie is all well and good but it just sounds better coming from someone who was there and part of it.  The panelists seemed like nice guys but the entire conversation seemed kind of pointless and mainly unrelated to the film.  Basically, I felt like all of the fun of Big Trouble In Little China was suddenly sucked out of the theater and audience.

Until next time, keep shaking the pillars of heaven.  No horseshit.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

WonderCon Man: Arena

Today started in the WonderCon Arena aka Hall H Jr where studios trot out movie stars and directors along with exclusive clips to thousands of appreciative fans.  First up was Warner Brothers and genre favorite Bill Paxton, known to this room for his work on Weird Science, Aliens, Tombstone, Agents of SHIELD and much more.  Paxton was awesome; gracious, funny, insightful and game to discuss his career and memorable roles.  Oh, he was there promoting Edge of Tomorrow, the Tom Cruise sci-fi action flick that is Groundhog Day meets World War 2 but with alien oppressors instead of Nazis.  If you've seen the trailer you're either on board or not, I'll give it a go since I like Cruise, action, director Doug Liman and Paxton.  God from Navy Seals talked how his career is going back to his earlier work of smaller but memorable parts as he doesn't have to worry about being the face of a film as a movie star and can just give edgier and funnier performances as a supporting actor.  Paxton says Cruise is a great guy and ringleader of after hour activities while he's always been a fan of Liman and signed up on their names alone.  When asked about James Cameron, Paxton equates it to picking up the Bat phone and doing whatever Cameron asks of him whether it's setting himself on fire or telling the world he has a little sick like in True Lies.

Also in the WB panel was Godzilla.  Director Gareth Edwards came off as a young, funny and passionate guy who talked about the difficulties of designing the creature, honoring the original, going from a low budget to big studio fare and how he basically compiled a wish list of collaborators to help him with the transition.  A clip was shown with a great surprise so I'm now more excited for this film and not just thinking it'll be a lamer Pacific Rim.  Thomas Tull, the head of Legendary, is described as a movie geek who is interested in making good movies versus financial gain.  Edwards told us that he originally thought Godzilla star Bryan Cranston's character on Malcolm in the Middle was a closet homosexual which received a quick and assertive  correction from the man himself upon meeting.

Next was FOX who jammed looks at How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Maze Runner, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Secret Service and X-Men: Days of Future Past into two hours, phew!  The seats in the arena are too close together and hard on the bum for this kind of prolonged viewing.  Matthew Vaughn's teenage James Bond looking Secret Service was a treat and looks amazing.  Colin Firth plays the head of a secret society of bad ass spies to Samuel L Jackson's hip hop mogul looking villain.  A bar fight scene was brutal, inventive, exciting and funny with Firth being the latest older, distinguished actor going HALS, Hard As Liam NeesonS. Director Matt Reeves and actors Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis segment played as a Serkis love fest with a few tidbits about Dawn being an unexplored bit of Apes mythos and making a tale of family and survival.   The crowd got a look at a scene from X-Men that showed the cinematic mutant posse doing what they do best, getting bitched!  The footage looked rich but I'm not sure why the X-Kids never seem to look that exciting on screen.

Last for us was a look at Luc Besson's Lucy, starring The Black Widow, Old boy and the lone black guy from Last Vegas.  Besson was very charming and his Frenchman demeanor was very endearing.  Asked about his recent penchant for writing and producing vs directing, Besson stated he only directs if he thinks no one else can do a better job and that producing is easy and more cushy.  Two clips played showing some very visually stimulating action and harrowing car chase, crashing and flipping mayhem.  During audience questions, Besson stated that he started writing at 13 and his first 5,000 pages were shit.  He doesn't pay attention to critics as he makes movies for the audience and that his early work like La Femme Nikita and The Big Blue might be regarded today but upon release were cast off.  

Lots more was shown and discussed but it's time to head back to the show!

WonderCon Man: First

*Pardon any typos, I'm posting on the fly and the Kindle Fire isn't great for this format*

WonderCon aka San Diego Comic-Con lite as badge pick up and getting into the exhibition hall was a breeze.  We did a bit of exploring before heading to our first panel, it was randomly hot on the floor but not too crowded.  Every show you seem to notice an abundance of one thing, last year's Comic-Con it was Arnold and Predator in the forms of new toys, statues, 3D Blu Ray, tee shirts and even a couple cosplayers.  This year it's all about another classic, influential and violent sci-fi masterpiece from 1987, Robocop!  No one in costume but statues, toys, magazines, posters and more are all over the floor this year.  We still have a lot of the floor to see like Artist Alley and I hear Nintendo has a big display for the new Mario Kart.

Panel wise we checked out 4:  The Art of the Pitch put on by Disney Creative, Drawing with Jim Lee, the 2nd half of Greatest Geek Movies of 1984 and finally Behind the Scenes of Scripted Television.  Disney's Pitch panel was a showcase for their writing program and featured guests who had segued from dance, crew and whatnot before becoming writers and directors.  It was a warm and inspiring hour as the panelists took pitches from the audience and offered notes, shared their stories of breaking in and encouraged all
to embrace who they are to help further their careers.  Jim Lee was fantastic as always and even asked the audience how many had seen his Spotlight panels in order to change it up while educating and entertaining us all.  This time he invited 3 amateur artists to the stage, gave them the script from an upcoming issue and then proceeded to shape the examples while discussing the elements of art as storytelling through frames, atmosphere, action and more.  It was a really funny and informative panel as Lee is such a talented artist but has served in so many roles in comics that he just has stories for days about Warner Brothers, D.C., Image Comics, movies, the new Batman VS Superman movie, etc.

GEEK Movies of 1984 is a better concept than actuality as a group of writers, producers and publisher types get together to discuss their favorite genre flicks of a particular year.  Titles ranged from The Terminator, Streets of Fire, Buckaroo Banzai to Purple Rain but without any visual cues during discussion, it basically turns into an overlapping quote and random factoid free for all.  Would make for great dinner conversation with friends but not so much awith an audience.  Our last panel of the night corralled various writers, directors, composers and assistant directors whose work includes Chuck, Arrow, Stan Lee media and more to discuss their various work behind the scenes on episodic programming for network, cable and digital.  It was a very educational hour with plenty of useful yet funny anecdotes about the logistics of production, working in the writers room, doing things yourself vs waiting for someone to recognize it and almost blowing up Air Force One because Renny Harlin likes to use lots of gasoline.

Bill Paxton sighting within the hour!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Workout of the Day: Wonder(Con) Man

It's almost time to rock n' roll as WonderCon Anaheim starts in a few hours.  We arrived last night to our Con hotel, the Clarion.  As Michelangelo said, "it ain't the Hilton, hmm, mmm" but it'll suffice for the weekend as parking is easy, plenty of restaurants, shops and supplies are nearby and it's a straight shot to the convention center.  Bonus points for being close to a Carl's Jr AND a Taco Bell.  Breakfast biscuit or taco anyone?  While at Target stocking up I saw a dude with a huge necklace made from wooden balls and wearing a Spider-Man shirt, I asked if it was a real necklace or was he cosplaying as Akuma?  Of course he was going to be Street Fighter's Akuma at the show and made the necklace himself from doorknobs and the like.  I hope I run into him today.

There isn't too much in terms of programming I'm super psyched for, going to check out the floor for a bit on a hunt for a recent Captain America run where he's trapped in another dimension, maybe some Dark Horse Omnibus', mud covered Dutch Neca figure and any other awesomely random swag the exhibition hall might hold.  Later on going to check out a Pitch to Disney panel, then spotlight on Jim Lee and finally the best Geek Films of 1984, Buckaroo Banzai, whatttt.

In a bit of sad strangeness, WC updated Saturday's schedule to announce Warner Brothers is bringing Bill "God" Paxton to talk Edge of Tomorrow, Thorin Oakenshield aka Richard Armitage on deck for some movie I've never heard of and of course, Godzilla.  Fox's block was still empty but over at Deadline it's said that X-Men helmer Bryan Singer was to present Days of Future Past but has now been pulled amidst sexual misconduct allegations.  Gary Oldman and Keri Russell are rumored to be talking new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes flick while looks How to Train your Dragon 2 and The Maze/Kite Runner something something are also imminent.

To get things going today, I hit the "eh" on site gym.  There are treadmills, bikes and an elliptical machine along with a Hotel Fitness cable contraption but no weights or place to do chins.  Things are what you make of them so I got in:

1) Lat Pulldown
2) Push Ups
3) Cable Row
4) Cable Pushdown
5) Cable Curl
6) Cable kickback
7) 1-Arm Cable Concentration Curl
8) Handstand Push Up

Repeated 3 times then followed up with abs, towel twists and intervals on stationary bike for 10 minutes.  Legs tomorrow!

Badge pick up starts at 10:30 AM, see ya on the other side!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

(Pre) Ask Me a Question: Double Impact & Bloodsport Screening! Los Angeles!

You read that headline and all of those exclamation points right, Dammaged Goods has now moved into Phase II of it's non-planned existence, live events!  Very happy and excited to announce a night of Jean-Claude Van Damme martial arts action classics on the big screen at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, Double Impact and Bloodsport!  These are prints straight from the vaults of Park Circus/MGM and will screen on Sunday and Monday, May 4th and 5th.  Rambo III and Bloodsport co-writer and Lionheart, Double Impact and Only the Strong director Sheldon Lettich will be appearing, schedule permitting, between films to discuss his career, working with Jean-Claude Van Damme and much much more.  I believe Double Impact last screened in Los Angeles in 2008 and Bloodsport played in 2010 so this is some rare shit, Sonny Grasso style.

The New Beverly Cinema started as a vaudeville theater before being converted into a night club.  In the 50's, the New Bev became a movie theater showing foreign films, pornos and grindhouse features.  In 1978, Sherman Torgan took over the joint and turned it into a repertory revival house with double feature programming.  Sadly, Torgan died in 2007 and the New Bev's fate was in peril as redevelopment firms looked to pounce.  That same year, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino bought the building and essentially became the landlord.  Today, the New Bev is still going strong, showcasing films new and old, familiar and obscure with programming assists from guests ranging from Edgar Wright, Patton Oswalt, Jason Reitman, Walter Hill, Michael Biehn, Thomas Jane and many, many more directors, actors and writers.  Sherman's son Michael has worked at the theater for years and currently runs the operation; curating programs, booking films, selling tickets and whatever else needs to be done in order to keep this piece of film history alive.

More details to come and we'll see you there!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hey Arnold: Winning Team

"I knew I was a winner back in the late sixties.  I knew I was destined for great things.  People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest.  I agree.  Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way.  I hope it never will."
- Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold's "can do" attitude and never say "can't" vocabulary has taken him to the heights of fame, fortune and notoriety.  While he's one of history's biggest movie stars and most familiar faces on the globe, his post Governor headlining movie roles have yet to yield a hit.  Latest offering Sabotage has limped it's way to a $10 million dollar gross which then caused financier QED International to layoff some of it's staff.  Sadly, Sabotage's disappointing performance shows that the world just isn't in a rush to see Arnold in a movie theater.  His career will receive a nice boost with this summer's sure to be worldwide hit The Expendables III while a Terminator reboot/sequel is in the works and is more or less a guaranteed healthy investment.  On the leading man front, the failure of Sabotage doesn't bode well for a return to Conan or the oft mentioned Triplets, the sequel to 1988's hit comedy Twins that featured Arnold and Danny DeVito.  For part II, Arnold has met with 80's funny man Eddie Murphy to become their long lost brother.  Your guess is as good as mine on how they'll explain that.  But hey, Twins is hilarious and Eddie Murphy still has it so I'm in.


Vernal Viewing: The Raid 2

Having just expanded across the United States and playing in 954 theaters, The Raid 2 comes riding a festival and word of mouth hype train following the success of 2011's fan favorite, The Raid:  Redemption.  Picking up after the events of it's predecessor, hero cop and badass fighter Rama (Iko Uwais) is recruited to go deep cover in a bid to take down high levels of organized crime.  A 2 year stint in prison gets him next to the son of a feared crime boss and upon release, Rama goes to work for the family.  Aggressive expansion, ambitious purpose, turf war with Yakuza and lots and lots of violence ensues.

As an action movie and martial arts fan, The Raid 2 left me with conflicted feelings.  Somewhere, in this 140 minute running time is a 95 minute classic.  Like many films today, The Raid 2 suffers from in my opinion, being too Damme long and thinking that an extended run time will equal more gravitas.  From the 2.5 hour indulgence Django Unchained, the nothing much happens Hunger Games:  Catching Fire, five endings Divergent to this, there's a fine line between trying to build an epic and just plain pummeling your audience with low key fluff intended to hype the ending.  The last hour is fantastic, if they could have set up the film faster then moved into the final showdown(s), I think you would have had something really special.

Writer/Director Gareth Evans and team again deliver some truly awe inspiring, jaw dropping, cringe inducing, holy shit action set pieces involving cars, fisticuffs, machetes, baseball bats, hammers and more on the streets, in a muddy prison yard, a subway car and warehouses with plenty of broken limbs, maimed bodies and bloody aftermath galore.  What Evans is able to capture practically is impressive, you never feel like you're watching green screen or stunt doubles or unable to tell what's happening.  Many of the hand to hand sequences are done in long takes with the action clearly discernible.  While elaborate choreography is on full display, I feel a lack of simple technical physical prowess is missing.  Nary a high kick is thrown but there's the tired, "front kick while leaning back and yelling" for days.  While we don't live in an age where high kicking specimens Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White or Jean-Claude Van Damme can headline theatrical films, I missed their acrobatic muscular grace.

For a film this long, there just isn't enough story to sustain the space between action sequences.  They might have been aiming to make a gritty, urban, organized crime epic but it's not like we're talking the layered nuance of Heat or The Godfather here.  The beats are very familiar and expected, simply highlighted by brutal, brutal action scenes that for me, were almost too much.  That was the problem Jackie Chan had in trying to break the Western audience, he was all about the action but we just can't handle that much action with no story or characters, no matter how flimsy.  When Chan blended comedy with action, POW! we got enjoyable romps Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon.  Action without context or care is pointless.  Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, JCVD, Stallone and Arnold all had personality and charisma.  They were put into simple situations as underdogs and fought their way out.  Deep down we knew they were going to win but we still rooted for them and took the journey with them.  Here, Rama's story and characterization is nearly non-existent.  We don't really care if he busts these guys or makes it back to his wife and kid who are thrown in to remind us that he's fighting for something.  He's already been gone for 2 years, what's a few more months?

Violence in film has always been a hot topic and while it may sound hypocritical that I found one movie too violent than another, I walked away from The Raid 2 thinking, that was too much and feeling a little dirty.  While Lee, Van Damme and Arnold's antics inspired me to become a better and more well rounded person.  Just the changing of the seasons, I suppose.

Sunday driving:

Monday, April 14, 2014

My First Million: Clint Eastwood and Kelly's Heroes

By the late 60's and early 70's, Clint Eastwood was becoming one of Hollywood's biggest stars.  Thanks to the world wide success of Sergio Leone's Man With No Name Trilogy (where he actually has a name, in each...), Eastwood was paid hefty sums in the $500,000 - $750,000 range for World War II action fest Where Eagles Dare and the awesomely excessive western musical Paint Your Wagon, co-starring fellow cinema badass Lee Marvin.  But his first million dollar paycheck came for, I believe, 1970's Kelly's Heroes.  Re-teaming with Eagles director Brian G. Hutton, Eastwood would receive top billing this time around, heading up a talented cast that included Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor and Donald Sutherland.  What initiallyally started out as a Comedic Adventure Caper, Heroes would suffer a tumultuous shoot that was originally slated for 9 weeks but went on for 6 months in Yugoslavia.

The script, originally titled, The Warriors, by Troy Kennedy Martin, sold to MGM for a cool $250,000 clams.  The story of a group of G.I.'s in France who go behind enemy lines to steal $16 million of Nazi gold, The Warriors had all the potential trappings of a great anti-war adventure film.  Director Hutton saw it as a comedy while Eastwood saw it as a satirical adventure caper.  At first thinking they could shoot it in northern California, production moved to Yugoslavia where original World War II weapons and vehicles were still abundant.  Throw in the offer to demolish a small town and the newly retitled Kelly's Heroes was off and running.  To kick things off, Donald Sutherland was struck down with a case of Spinal Meningitis and spent 5 weeks in an English hospital.  The tone of the script was tricky to pinpoint as Eastwood saw it as a reflection of his own military service where he spent most of his time as a swimming instructor and his views on the Vietnam conflict.

Kelly's Heroes is one of my all time favorite Clint Eastwood flicks.  It's big, funny, weird and fun.  There's everything World War II movie aficionados love: Thompson sub-machine guns, tanks, minefields, a motley crew of smart ass G.I.'s, dog impressions, negative waves, Lalo Schfrin score, celebrating villagers, Tiger Tanks, snipers, wine and cheese. Eastwood is in typical serious form as the fed up soldier who sees his shot and takes it.  Sutherland gets the award for Best Hippie in World War 2 while O'Connor is hilariously blowhard as the general listening to the caper on the radio, thinking it's actually some motivated campaign to break enemy lines.  It's a men on a mission flick that isn't as long, serious or slow burning as The Guns of Navarone or The Dirty Dozen (which are both great, just different).  It would be interesting to see what the original version would have been like as Hutton and Eastwood fought and lost to the studio's recutting of the picture to remove most of the anti-war satire.  Eastwood would later comment on the film having the potential to be great but in the end was just a bunch of screw offs running around.  Kelly's Heroes had the unfortunate distinction of being prepared, produced and released under 3 different studio regimes at MGM.  In a bid to fight off the growing threat of television, Heroes was released in the over sized 70mm format.  The film took in $5.2 million, less than Where Eagles Dare but a decent hit nonetheless.

Eastwood was only 2 films away from another career defining film, the anti-establishment cop thriller, Dirty Harry.  Director Brian G. Hutton's output would slow tremendously before eventually retiring.  Donald Sutherland had just come off the smash hit MASH and still had  Klute, Animal House and Ordinary People in his near future.  Kelly's Heroes would be one of Carol O'Connor's last film credits before finding huge success on television in All in the Family, Archie Bunker's Place and In the Heat of the Night.  Telly Savalas had already established himself as a great character actor in roles ranging from the psycho soldier in The Dirty Dozen and as a Bond villain in On Her Majesty's Secret Service before becoming TV's Kojak.

That's your problem!

Ripspirational: Frank Zane

Arnold might have one of the most inspirational physiques of all time but for a guy who stands 5'8", I was more drawn to Frank Zane and Jean-Claude Van Damme.  I related with Zane as he was a bit of a loner in his youth and took up bodybuilding as a form of armor and protection.  In addition to weight training, teenage Zane would pick up archery and become an Eagle Scout.  Early on, Zane did mainly Olympic style lifts before segueing into bodybuilding where his broad shoulders and narrow waist showed off a statuesque aesthetic.  Unable to make a living as a "musclehead" alone, Zane received a B.S. in Education and taught mathematics and chemistry for over a decade.  Later, he picked up a degree in psychology and later still was awarded a Master's Degree in Experimental Psychology.  Bodybuilding wise, Frank Zane's resume includes titles like Mr. Universe, Mr. America and three turns as Mr. Olympia (highest title in bodybuilding).  If that wasn't enough, Zane can also play the harmonica, writes poetry and authored 9 books in addition to printing a regular newsletter.  These days he and wife Christine run the Zane Experience, 1-3 day courses in bodybuilding, posing, exercise, nutrition, meditation and more.

Bodybuilding gets Art'ed!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hot Damme! Heat

While Manhunter helped spark a Hannibal themed week, it also took me back into the land of writer/director Michael Mann.  Responsible for some absolutely terrific films like Thief, Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider and Collateral while his continued descent into near docudrama/High Definition filmmaking has yielded star-studded, almost home movie like features Miami Vice and Public Enemies.  While still working on film, Mann gave us a cops and robbers tale of epic proportions in Heat.  Epic in it's casting:  Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Natalie Portman, William Fichtner with musicians turned thespians Tone Loc and Henry Rollins.  Epic in it's production:  the entire film was shot utilizing 65 locations around Los Angeles without one manufactured set or stage.  And epic in it's detailed depiction of the lives of well trained, seasoned professionals on both sides of the law and the inherent violence that can ensue.  The film is steeped in gritty procedural facts with an air of authenticity that comes from copious research and perfectionist execution.

After 1981's Thief, Mann rewrote his script to Heat and asked Walter Hill (Hard Times, The Warriors) to direct, who declined.  Before lensing 1986's Manhunter, Mann was still trying to produce but not direct Heat.  In 1989, Mann reworked his script and turned it into the TV movie, L.A. Takedown.  After the success of 1992's The Last of the Mohicans, Mann turned his attention back to Heat and with 6 months of prep time, went about creating his arguably most masterful work.

If you've seen Heat, you probably remember the bank heist scene midway into the film.  There, DeNiro's crew have made it out of a bank with millions in cash while Pacino's posse from the Major Crimes Unit finally catches them in the act.  What follows is a harrowing, intense and LOUD showdown between professional thieves and their law abiding pursuers.  Always one for keeping it real, Mann based much of the film on real life cases, criminals and officers of the law he had encountered through his career.  Mann himself spent months going on patrol with seasoned detectives and put his actors through the same rigorous and detailed regimens to prepare for the film with mandatory ridealongs, gun training, etc.  The bank scene was shot in downtown Los Angeles and has inspired future fare from the Michael Biehn/Sammo Hung Hong Kong actioner Dragon Squad to last week's Captain America:  The Winter Soldier.

To Live and Die on the Streets of L.A.:

Friday, April 11, 2014

(Pre) Con-Man: WonderCon 2014

Next Friday, Anaheim hosts WonderCon for the third year.  Originally held in San Francisco's Moscone Center until remodeling sent WonderCon down to the land of Disney.  Even though construction is over, apparently Comic-Con International (CCI) and Moscone couldn't come to terms on dates for the show.  While they'd like to get WonderCon back to San Fran, for now, we get to enjoy two huge comic and media conventions in Southern California.  The difference between something like WonderCon and Emerald City Comicon is that CCI is a non-profit organization celebrating the creative arts.  While celebrities are on hand for signings, panels and greeting the fans, WonderCon isn't based around the business of exploiting them for profit.  Instead, you have a plethora of exhibiters hocking swag and memorabilia while programming runs the gamut of animation, film, comic books, writing, LGBTQ, self-publishing, cosplay, copyright law, advertising, music, editing and much much more.

In 2012, WonderCon played like San Diego Comic-Con light as studios trotted out their early summer pictures such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Prometheus, Lockout and Battleship.  Of course, none of those films did particularly well so 2013's show saw a marked decrease in studio presence.  NBC's Hannibal was heavily advertised but I don't recall any tent pole flicks making the rounds.  Even without the media hype, WC still brought in a healthy 56,000 attendees over three days.  This year, Batman's anniversary is getting the spotlight with numerous panels on the comic book and it's creators as well as the premiere of a new animated film.  DC superstar artist Jim Lee will be on hand to wow audiences with his quick pencil skills and general nice guy-ness.  Media wise, studios are coming back as Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, TNT and Sony will all be on hand to show off their latest projects.  I'm thinking we'll see sneak peeks of Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending, X-Men: Days of Future Past, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes amongst others.

To knock it up another notch, there's usually a few surprise screenings around town, the local theater offers Con goers special prices and WC itself has secured discount tickets to Disneyland and Medieval Times.  We've signed up to take a Walt centric tour because it's not like we won't already be walking around enough but hey, be a Doer!

From WonderCon's sister in San Diego: