Thursday, April 30, 2015

(Pre)miere: Pound of Flesh w/ Jean-Claude Van Damme

Skin Trade premiere in Hollywood at The Egyptian on Wednesday, 5.6 with Dolph Lundgren and Tony Jaa in attendance and hopefully co-stars Michael Jai White and Peter Weller as well. Awesome. Then the NEXT night, Jean-Claude Van Damme action-thriller Pound of Flesh holds it's premiere at The Grove a few minutes down the street! Mr. Van Damme has been in Los Angeles for a short spell, working out at Gold's Gym, hitting some clubs, supporting animal rights and looking yoked. It seems like all involved are very proud of Pound of Flesh as producer Kirk Shaw and Ernie Barbarash, along with their leading man, are putting in some solid promotional effort. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Shaw and Barbarash, both great guys and true professionals. Be on the look out for those write ups soon.

Pound of Flesh finds Deacon (Van Damme) partying it up in Manilla before he's due to donate a kidney to his niece. But after a night of booze and sex, Deacon wakes up in a bathtub full of ice missing one of his organs. We find out that Deacon is actually a badass mercenary who is ready to exact brutal and bloody justice on his attackers. The flick was shot in China and sports what looks like Van Damme's most elaborate fight scenes in quite some time. Hong Kong producer Mike Leeder brought in real life martial artist and instructor turned choreographer John Salvitti to bring his Flash Point and Special ID brand of realistic, rough and tumble, MMA style fights to the flick. The script by Joshua James is said to include plenty of drama as well and provides JCVD another chance to show off his underrated range that we've seen in J.C.V.D., Until Death, Wake of Death and The Expendables II.

Kirk Shaw has been a prolific producer for quite some time and has worked with the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal and Wesley Snipes in the action world. This marks his first outing with Jean-Claude so here's hoping we'll see another leading man vehicle for our man Van in the near future. Pound of Flesh reunites Van Damme with director Ernie Barbarash for a third time after 2011's Assassination Games with Scott Adkins and 2012's 6 Bullets. So far all signs point to Pound of Flesh being their biggest and best collaboration to date. See ya at the show!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pre(miere): Skin Trade w/ Dolph Lundgren and Tony Jaa

May 4th is dubbed Star Wars Day because, May the Force be with you, get it? This year, the week of May 4th brings us new movies from the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger! Yours truly is working with Magnolia Pictures and The Egyptian Theatre for the Los Angeles premiere of Skin Trade. Written, produced and starring Dolph Lundgren, Skin Trade takes real world topic human trafficking and turns it into a dramatic action movie. The supporting cast is immense with Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Peter Weller and Ron Perlman showing up as well. If you're paying attention, that's He-Man and The Punisher, Ong-Bak, Spawn and Black Dynamite, Buckaroo Banzai and Robocop and then Hellboy all in one 96 minute flick.

Lundgren began working on the script for Skin Trade years ago after hearing a story about Mexican immigrants who died after being left in a van somewhere along the border. The flick is now the story of a NYC cop who hunts a vicious gangster to Thailand and teams up with a local detective to destroy human trafficking syndicates. Tony Jaa plays the Thai detective while Jai White shows up as a mysterious suit clad type who can fight, Weller as some kind of federal agent boss and Perlman as the gangster. Shooting in Thailand last year under director Ekachai Uekrongtham, the action flick boasts explosions, helicopters, martial arts and car chase mayhem galore. Skin Trade hit The American Film Market and it was quickly announced that Magnolia had purchased North American rights.

The film received an extravagant release in Jaa's native Thailand and Dolph just showed the movie in Australia while there for repertory screenings of Universal Soldier and Rocky IV along with appearing at a couple of conventions. Magnolia is running the show on this one with a media day in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, 5.5 before the premiere on Wednesday where more media and the red carpet await. Reviews have been positive thus far with the simple yet engaging story backed by some big action pieces and fights. Like many of Magnolia's acquisitions, Skin Trade became available on VOD and iTunes preceding a small theatrical release. After it's Hollywood premiere, Skin Trade will play at the Sundance Cinemas on Sunset the same weekend as Arnold's limited release zombie drama, Maggie.

A small number of general admission seats are available for the Skin Trade premiere so head over to Fandango to pick them up and see it on the big screen the way it was meant to be experienced. Dolph and Tony are expected to attend, hopefully with co-stars Peter Weller and Michael Jai White stopping by if they're in town. See you there!

Ask Me a Question: A Tribute to The Flash

I don't frequent The Cinefamily's Silent Movie Theater nearly as much as The Egyptian or New Beverly, their programming usually just isn't my style. But when I saw they were doing a tribute to The Flash television series from 1990, you can bet your ass I purchased right away. It's been 25 years since the groundbreaking show came and went for one awesome season. The show could never overcome competition The Simpsons or The Cosby Show but has lived on due to it's elaborate production design, likable cast and a tone that mixed drama with superheroics and a touch of romance. We started the night over at Canter's Deli before grabbing a drank at Rosewood Tavern. By 6:00PM, a line had already started to form for the sold out event. Barry Allen and The Flash himself John Wesley Shipp walked by the line and greeted everyone and others trickled in like writer/creators Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, co-star Vito D'Ambrosio and writer Howard Chaykin.

Just about everyone besides Mark Hamill was there beforehand and watched the episodes. That included Lt. Warren Garfield aka Mike Genovese, director Bruce Bilson, writer Gail Morgan Hickman and so, so many others. We viewed both Trickster episodes in glorious full screen, was funny to see the Cinefamily programmer pull in the "wings" to take away the typical wide screen. Episode 11, The Trickster opens with Barry's love interest and hothead reporter/detective/repo woman Megan Lockhart (Joyce Hyser, also in attendance) being captured by the insane magician turned murderer James Jesse (Mark Hamill) before being saved by The Flash. Jesse goes crazy with jealousy and sets out to win Lockhart back by killing the speedster. Then you get a nice love triangle thing going on between science-hot Star Labs scientist Tina McGee (Amanda Pays), Barry and Megan. Meanwhile James escapes the police by killing them and heads to Central City. I was surprised at the implicated violence as James actually is a killer with a dozen bodies over several states to his name. There weren't any scenes of Barry speed eating but you do see him toss and turn a bunch, running of course, then dunked into a water tank upside down and vibrating his way out. Street cops Bellows (D'Ambrosio) and Murphy (Biff Manard, View In Peace) get a funny subplot when one thinks the other is The Flash. Oh and we get a nice The Shadow reference with a street called Margo Lane along with a random waiter with the most spectacular blonde mullet you have ever seen!

The second episode of the night was actually the final show of the season and series, The Trial of the Trickster. James is on trial for all the death and crime committed but is rescued by Zoey Clark (Corinne Bohre, also there!) an obsessed fan with deep pockets. The batty duo capture The Flash and brainwash him into a childlike state, only with super speed. Shipp doesn't get to do too much as Allen in this episode beside be shunned by now big shot Lockhart, act goofy and sport a mild mullet. Good stuff though and a shame it would be their final outing. After fighting crooks and randoms, The Flash introduced some cool villains like Captain Cold, Mirror Master and The Trickster along with the heroic Nightshade and his more hardcore imitator, The Deadly Nightshade (some of my favorite episodes). After the two episodes it was time for the immense reunion panel:

- Bilson and DeMeo working on another show for CBS, not picked up. Pitched The Flash but studio wanted a guy in a tracksuit with LED lights in shoes.
- Suit designer Robert Short explained that initial meeting he was told the suit was to have no seams, like the comic book. Wasn't sure how to accomplish and went through many variations. Final suit had an electric current run through it to give material texture.
- Mark Hamill joked how the origin of the comic book Trickster is a guy who dons rocket shoes to hijack planes and that they wanted to hire him because character was literally a Sky Walker.
- Shipp says he was one of the first guys to audition and beat out 60 some hopefuls. Was also told that studio exec thought his face would look good on a lunchbox.
- Many of the cast and crew remembered the long hours of shooting. One show started at 3:00 AM to which the director thought they were joking. They weren't. Star Labs usually shot last.
- Hamill loved the off hours as he could get to Malibu in 40 minutes without speeding.
- Relationship of The Trickster and sidekick Prank more or less paved way for Joker and Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series.
- Guys behind new show loved the old and have many references to it. Now make Shipp The Flash already Damme it!
- Current show producer Andrew Kriesberg had met Shipp on original show as he was an assistant on the lot. Shipp immediately asked if he was nice back then and said you never know who could be your boss.
- Show canceled due to some deal about points and demographics. Head of CBS apologized to John Wesley Shipp at The Tony awards on how they mishandled the show.
- Writer Howard Chaykin felt he had outgrew comic books but his agents pitched him show anyway and got him a very cheap deal. But it was the best professional experience he ever had.
- Show took up 1/3 of the Warner Brothers lot.
- On last shot, Shipp ripped off his Flash ears, Hamill quickly grabbed one and still has it.
- Hamill got to keep his Trickster suit, producers thought they had given him one of the The Flash suits as well but Hamill didn't think so.
- Early computer FX on the show, looked great on monitor but then had to print back to film which washed colors out.

It was truly a fun night and everyone attending reflected very warmly. There were so many people in the audience who worked on the show and several of the guests up front didn't get a chance to speak. I think it could have gone on a little longer as there wasn't another movie playing but ah well. Wish I would have arranged this myself!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ask Me a Question: The Last Starfighter

Space Invaders: Sci-Fi in the Arcade Age blasted off this past Thursday at The Egyptian in Hollywood with a double feature of alien filled adventure with 1984 and 83' awesomeness; The Last Starfighter and Krull. Starfighter is the story of one Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), a smart yet frustrated teen living in a small trailer park in California mountain country. His mom manages the park and works as a waiter.  He's too busy fixing outdated electrical grids and antennas to hang out with his friends at the beach or have fun. Aspirations to attend non-community college are dashed when a loan isn't approved, his sweet ladyfriend Maggie (Catherine Mary Stewart) tries to cheer him up but Alex finds solace in the one thing he's really good at; flying/shooting arcade game Starfighter. One night Alex breaks the record and is soon visited by Centauri (Robert Preston), a recruiter for the inter-galactic defense network The Star League. You see, Star League is under attack by the evil Rylons and it's up to Alex and his co-pilot Grig (Dan O'Herlihy) to take out the armada. The video game was an elaborate plan by Centauri to find Starfighters to which he collects a referral fee.

The Last Starfighter is pure 80's goodness. You've got the put upon lead who just wants to do something more with his life but looks doomed to small town mediocrity (Luke in Star Wars, Marty in Back to the Future and Kevin from Masters of the Universe). You've got the quaint community filled with interesting and zany characters then an the opportunity for otherworldly adventure. To me, the core message is simple, "if that's what you think, that's all you'll ever be". The 80's really taught us to believe in ourselves as it was a cinematic time of optimism and exploration via Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Directed by Nick Castle with a script from Jonathan R. Betuel, The Last Starfighter gives us heart, humor and action that all still holds up today. Sure the then cutting edge computer graphics are vastly outdated but overall it's still a funny, fun and rousing time at the movies you don't see too much today. Craig Safan's score is bombastic and memorable, giving it an even bigger feel even if some of the sets look a little cheap. Guest is convincing as Rogan, the mixed up kid who isn't sure he's up to the challenge of saving the galaxy. Preston knocks it out as the fast talking, pseudo space con-man and Robocop's O'Herlihy is terrific as the mentor with a huge laugh Grig.

After the film, a giant panel was introduced that included director Castle, stars Guest and Stewart, composer Safan as well as producer Gary Adelson, f/x coordinator Jeffrey Okun and actors Chris Hebert and Peter Nelson.

- 3 sets of leads were under consideration before Guest and Stewart were cast
- Robert Preston was a real movie star, oozed charisma and kissed Stewart's hand when they met
- Preston's character was based on his role in The Music Man and producers were elated to land him
- Funded by Lorimar and Universal, Adelson convinced them they could do the f/x with computers even though he didn't know how
- Was cutting edge of technology and some days didn't know if they could do it
- Budgeted at $15 million, went over
- Shot quickly in northern California where it was very cold
- Nick Castle fostered a great working environment for the actors, fun and open
- The Playboy little brother Lewis flips through was real
- Sequel rights reverted back to writer Betuel who with Castle drafted a script and storyboarded it, got studio interest and then it all fell apart
- Sequel would deal with grown up Alex and Maggie and their kids who become next generation of Star League fighters
- Rights tied up with Universal, Betuel and Warner Brothers who bought Lorimar
- Castle had never worked with visual effects before and the film had everything else going on, drama, comedy, costumes, make up, etc
- Grig's mask was made from plastic, always pushing designers to allow more expression and O'Herlighy's performance show through
- Safan had a full orchestra for a week, scored it to temp f/x of dots on a screen
- F/X crew heard the score and worked hard to make visuals match quality of the music
- F/X took a huge room of computers to accomplish 2 gigs of info, today could be done on cell phone
- Studio executive changed during production who didn't believe in film until first test screening reaction which was overwhelming positive
- Opened in wake of Ghostbusters and Gremlins but did better than studio expected
- Really found audience on video and HBO

It was a great night and the panel was terrific. With another movie playing they couldn't go on for too long which was a shame. Everyone there looked like they reflected on the experience with nothing but fondness and you could tell many of them were still close. It was a great start to the weekend of movie madness and bro'ing out.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weird(cool) Panels: Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos

You know I love a good offbeat issue of comic book heroics. Whether it's Captain America and Backlash fighting bears, date night or a bachelor party, random weirdcool comics is one of my things. Working through the stack of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos acquired from Seattle's Emerald City Comicon I came across the offbeat adventure that is 1968's # 51. Gary Friedrich writes as Dick Ayers pencils with inks by John Severin, lettering by Gaspar Saladino and editing from Stan "The Man" Lee himself. In the opening pages, great German sharpshooter Jorgen Kline is taken by Nazi's for a special mission for Hitler himself. Objective? Kill the big three leaders opposing Germany: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin! If he doesn't do it, his wife and kid are goners.

The Howling Commandos are recruited to provide some security detail so instead of fighting in their fatigues on some bombed out battlefield, they're cleaned up and dispatched to the secret meeting site. Dum Dum isn't too keen on the civilian attire until he's provided a new bowler hat and Fury swaps his cigars for a pipe. Dino Manelli, the movie star Howler who was wounded then set up with a sleeper Nazi agent who can't complete her mission because she loves him, can't partake in the mission and goes to a local watering hole. Not wanting to drink alone he singles out a seemingly nice fella to chew the fat with. That guy? Yup, Jorgen! Things get not so much offbeat as they do sad. Fury and his Howlers fight off some SS bums at the conference then Dino tries to talk some sense into Jorgen when they realize who is who. With his family's safety and the world in the balance, Jorgen takes his own life, knowing Hitler is evil. This leads to a bit of a existential discussion on the meaning of war and how the strength of one nation may or may not be worth the life of a single man. If that weren't enough guts and thoughts for a comic book, Jorgen's now widowed wife has her son taken away by the Nazi's and the issue ends with her holding a gun to her head as death may be the only escape!

Sgt. Fury has always mixed derring-do, action, adventure, banter and bromance with a touch of war torn reality as racism is addressed and a fellow Howler along with a ladyfriend get killed. The stakes actually mean something and can even teach the reader a thing or two about life. I laughed at Dum Dum getting a new bowler and thinking he was fancy and then took a moment to think about people I've lost in life when Dino explains that Jorgen killed himself and how helpless that made the Howler feel. Fury somehow manages to lose his blazer and half his shirt as usual then we end on Jorgen's wife weeping and ready for death. Art imitating life I of the fan letters discuses the Walter Mitty style storytelling of the comics and that also got me thinking about how maybe reading comic books and watching fantasy movies of the 80's might have spoiled me in a sense. With dynamic characters fighting the good fight and doing something because they can with an underlying thread of optimism; I sometimes feel out of place in today's rat race of latest trends, gadgets and material items along with the media's negative depiction of the world.  At least my imagination still works as I can go to another world while still remembering the one I'm in. Until next time keep questioning authority and sticking it to the man while getting the job done, Howling Commando style.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Con-Man: Star Wars Celebration 2015 Saturday

While our limited time at Star Wars Celebration on Friday was fun, Saturday showed some of the cracks of this near regular gathering. First off for some unknown reason, everyone had to enter through a queue that took you to the far end of the convention center, downstairs through an empty area then back up onto the exhibition floor. Mind you this was after the 10:00 AM doors opening. Then since your badges were already mailed to you, it was an effort to try and find a program or lanyard. To be fair, there's an app you could download for the program but it's nice to have a physical copy. Then they ran out of lanyards yesterday or early this morning so we kept having to pull badges out of our pockets. If you're not going to have enough lanyards to pass out, then consider putting a clip on the badge.

Walking around the floor, I realized that it wasn't actually that big. There were plenty of toys, props and artwork to check out but the floor was really missing a full Artist Alley where local vendors could show off their artistic and crafty wares. There was swag galore from all eras of Star Wars licensing with Underoos, Pepperidge Farm Cookies, goblets and lots of stuffed toys. Posters and prints were everywhere and one stand had an awesome array of original film programs! These were full color, magazine sized advertisement/press kits for various flicks like Willow, Buck Rogers, Rocky IV and more. I was really hoping to see one for Masters of the Universe but no luck. Of course Saturday's are always the busiest days at conventions and Star Wars sold out along with 4 Day badges. It was kind of like Disneyland, everything had a line. The escalators, food stands, bars, the Star Wars store (only one?!), Art Show, Arena, etc. While some areas felt spaced out and comfortable, some of the rows of vendors seemed crammed together which made walking, viewing and shopping a little frustrating. I even got my toes partially run over by a wheelchair at one point.

Cosplay wise there wasn't as much as you'd imagine but it is a brand specific show so who knows. The Muppets' Waldorf and Statler as Imperial Officers was great as were some of the Star Wars and Disney mash ups. There's an exhibit of costumes from The Force Awakens but the wait had already stretched to two hours quickly after opening. We checked out a couple of panels in the main hall, the first was ILM and how their work has grown and changed through the years as a ground breaking special effects company. Going from stop motion animation to computer graphics, creating water and fire, miniatures and matte paintings, ILM has kept on the cutting edge of movie making magic. Surprisingly, Star Wars: Episode I had the most miniatures ever used in an ILM feature but the flick's FX scale was even more daunting as a typical blockbuster film employs 400 some shots while E:I had 2,000! Also surprising was the abundant use of fake environments used in flicks today from woods whipping by to highways Transformers fight on. In a nice touch, each room was cleared after each panel so you wouldn't get people just taking up space waiting for the next session.

Next up was Star Wars: The Force Awakens Dream Team that brought together four production designers and artists to talk their careers and the new flick. A stacked group of guests who help facilitate the vision of directors like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Zack Snyder and Roland Emmerich. You know, guys who make big movies. They were tight lipped about the new film but did mention simplifying the story, getting to the core of the characters and not using the whiz-bang of technology simply because they could. It was time for a break but our WonderCon oasis at the Marriott, NFuse, dried up into a shitty hotel bar as they weren't filling the joint and making peeps wait an hour! Guess they don't like money, pfft, later! Mark Hamill's spotlight was packed beyond capacity so we opted for some more floor walking and watched the first part of Empire Strikes Back. It was very cool of the show to screen all six movies over three nights. Only crappy part was that the screen wasn't high enough so if someone tall or with big hair sat in front of you, you were screwed. The new trailer screened again to thunderous applause and the audience was great, waving lightsabers and cheering for each iconic line and character introduction. One thing I really noticed about Empire is how much acting Harrison Ford does by pointing at someone. He's still the OG though.

Some more dranks were had and we dug through some bins on the floor picking up a few little figures and knick knacks like a Chewbacca goblet. A fun show for sure but I'm glad it's not every year. There's just not quite enough going on to keep you busy and standing in line for a couple hours should not be expected of attendees. Next year's show has already been lined up for April in London so I guess we'll have to find a new show to check out. Until then use your harpoons!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

(Pre)Ask Me a Question: The Last Starfighter and 80's Arcade Sci-Fi Cinema

If going to three conventions in a month wasn't enough fun, I've got a couple of packed weeks before taking off for a destination wedding. Coming off of Star Wars Celebration and a slight case of Con-fluenza, I've got one more day to rest up before a weekend full of 80's and 90's goodness starting with a double feature of mother fudging The Last Starfighter and Krull! You know, where a smart kid who lives and works in a trailer park gets the chance to go to space and fight an intergalactic war?! I've never seen Starfighter on the big screen so am very pumped for some innocent, post Star Wars, Spielberg flavored Americana and rising to the outrageous occasion. The American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre, where Dammaged Goods Presents proudly flies it's banner of repertory cinema and special events a la Dolph Night, An Evening With Carl Weathers and The Sunbow Celebration; is hosting a badass weekend of 80's science fiction films dubbed Space Invaders: Sci-Fi in the Arcade Age. Starfighter and Krull kicks things off Thursday with special guests including Star director Nick Castle, cast members Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart, Chris Hebert and Peter Nelson along with composer Craig Safan, producer Gary Adelson and visual effects coordinator Jeffrey A. Okun! Phew! If that weren't enough, there will be a special presentation of rare behind the scenes material as well.

Friday night sees the classic terror then action in space masterpieces Alien and Aliens (aka #HicksLives aka #F@ckAlien3! aka #MichaelBiehnRules aka #HicksHudson86') with special behind the scenes material. On Saturday it's Blade Runner, the Final Cut with more making of materials and Sunday closes off with a Disney double feature of Tron and The Black Hole. Tron will also be a tribute to writer and #MovieBro Jay West who sadly passed recently. Jay was a mainstay on the repertory and genre film circuit as he was a fan, expert and collector of all things Alien and Tron. I found his work through his Beyond the Marquee site of news, reviews, interviews and more. When we saw Alien and Aliens at Hero Complex last year, the stage was adorned with prop xenomorph eggs that came from his personal collection. I introduced myself to the man at Hero Complex's Comic-Con party in San Diego last year and he was very warm and cool to chat with. The Tron evening welcomes VFX supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw and concept designer Richard Taylor along with more behind the magic info.

Information and tickets on the nights can be found HERE. Remember what Centuri said, "If that's what you think, then that's all you'll ever be!"The 80's taught us to believe in ourselves. See ya there!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Con-Man: Star Wars Celebration 2015 Friday

We didn't make it down for Thursday's trailer unveiling with J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and cast but we did show up Friday afternoon for some floor walking at Star Wars Celebration. If you'll recall, I bought tickets for this sumbitch 20 months ago! 20! Originally, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was scheduled to open in May but has since been pushed back to December. Abrams, Kennedy and cast were on hand to show off a goosebump inducing trailer and the show is expected to net 60,000 fans overs four days. We got a sweet suite over at The DoubleTree and walked over to check out the floor for a bit. Surprisingly not a ton of cosplay, mostly Storm Troopers and Han Solo's thus far and lots of peeps brandishing light up light sabers. The floor is spaced pretty well with not as many vendors or an artist alley a la WonderCon. The autograph section is huge and there's various stages for video games, Star Wars shop and Funko's.

Right away we were distracted by the FULL BAR on the floor so we got some Jack and Gingers where our homeboy bartender gave us a little extra and making them into doubles. Thanks, pal. Hope that three buck tip helps you out cause you deserve it. Although we only had about 30 minutes to walk the floor we ran into one Travis Moody from GodHatesGeeks! The Trav showed up to the Sunbow Celebration of Transformers and G.I. Joe: The Movies and here's hoping we collaborate on something soon. Some more walking around and we passed the Tattoo area, a surprising if not surprising rising addition to the convention scene where goers can immortalize their favorite popular culture characters on themselves while being surrounded by like minded peeps.

The Arena has become the Main Stage for panels and events and there's tons more seating on the floor than at WonderCon. Our emcee was voice actor something something who has a panel tomorrow night preceding Mark Hamill's and does the voice for Obi-Wan as well as Fred Flinstone! We were there to embrace one Anthony Daniels aka C-3P0 who came out to the stage then left, then came out again through the audience, shaking hands and getting people excited. I can't really tell you what happened over the nearly 60 minute panel besides it being a lot of fun. Did you know there was a C-3PO cereal and Star Wars Underoos? The gold robot even became the subject of a frigging tape dispenser, that someone in the audience had one of! Questions were asked at random from numbered envelopes and Daniels was a true showman, making jokes, engaging the crowd and thanking them for making his near 40 years with the Star Wars franchise such an enjoyable two way street. Apparently he came out and greeted the huge lines of fans waiting to get into the convention center today.

During his panel, Daniels talked about the enthusiasm of the fans, getting a call from Kathleen Kennedy asking if Daniels would take a call from Abrams and being offered the chance to only voice C-3P0 before declining and performing the part as well. There was the story about the Star Wars Christmas song that saw Daniels hop a Concorde flight to New York, perform the song then hop back on the Concorde and head back to England. Much of it seemed planned out but it was very entertaining. The new trailer was played again and it looks great on the big screen.

It was a fun start to the weekend with incredible energy and a good vibe all around. Looking forward to walking more of the floor tomorrow, picking up some swag and seeing more panels. Until then, I'll see ya over at Tocshe Station picking up some power converters!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Straight Netflix'ing: Daredevil

Oh how time flies. It just seems like yesterday that Marvel and Netflix announced their joint venture to bring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to the small screen. Daredevil shot in New York City between July and December of 2014 then premiered this past weekend with all 13 episodes dropping simultaneously. Early photos and teasers did little to boost confidence in the project as the black clad Charlie Cox seemed like not much of an update from Rex Smith's leotard from 1989's The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. The red suit kept being teased an on the eve of the premiere we got a glimpse of it's tactical and practical motif. Having been a fan of Daredevil in comics, in the Hulk TV movie and Ben Affleck's film version, I was pumped to do some straight Netflix'ing this weekend to see how things turned out. Marvel isn't dumb and Netflix routinely puts out superb original content so I was interested to see if they'd give audiences a slow burn crime drama disguised as a superhero show or a fast paced action hour that took itself a little too seriously.

Seven episodes in and it's great. A nice mix of humor, drama and action. Basically we follow the Daredevil mythos set up by Stan Lee and Bill Everett along with Jack Kirby from 1964. Young Matt Murdock pushes an old man out of the path of a runaway truck carrying toxic waste. The truck crashes, containers open and spill radioactive waste on young Matt who is blinded but gains hyper sensory and "radar" sense. His boxer father "Battling" Jack Murdock pushes his son to use his brains instead of his brawn and after not throwing a fight, Jack is killed, leaving young Matt all alone. Cut to today and Matt is a lawyer along with buddy Foggy Nelson and the duo have opened a law firm to represent those who can't afford expensive legal teams. By night Matt fights thugs and organized crime to save his city, working his way up to Wilson Fisk; a giant of a man looking to save Hell's Kitchen in just a totally opposite fashion than Matt. We see Matt as a bit of an eager pup who has a lot to learn about criminals, being a vigilante and taking on several highly organized crime syndicates more or less all at once.

The interactions between young Matt Murdock (Skylar Gaertner) and Jack (John Patrick Hayden) are particularly effective early on as "bum" Jack does everything in his power to take care of his son. Even at the detriment to his own life. Charlie Cox as the adult Matt is excellent as well; calm, odd and debonair with a lean yet beefy physique that looks capable of running around town fighting badguys but still able to hide under a suit and tie.  Grown up Mighty Duck Elden Henson does a nice job of playing his less handsome and dashing friend and partner Foggy who half wants to go for the money but realizes helping others is important too. Vincent D'Onofrio's take on Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin is a little sad yet menacing as we meet him in the surprising set up of a romantic relationship before watching him explode into mega violence on some gangsters. Deborah Ann Woll does a fine job as would be victim Karen Page who becomes Matt and Foggy's secretary and love interest while launching her own investigations on the side. It's nice to see Vondie Curtis-Hall (Die Hard 2, Broken Arrow) as tired but determined reporter Ben Urich but the biggest surprise for me was Scott Glenn (Vertical Limit, The Right Stuff, Backdraft) as ninja/teacher/mentor Stick. Showing up in episode 7, Stick is like an amped up version of Rutger Hauer from Blind Fury mixed with Sam Elliott from Roadhouse. He's a blind badass who kicks, flips and sword fights while imploring Matt to cut loose of friends and comforts to fight the war on crime that only a few in society can.

Action is pretty top notch in the show with a welcome use of wide angles and long shots showcasing something out of Oldboy mashing with The Raid. Only you get some flash and pizzazz in the forms of jump and spin kicks to go along with the brutality and cringe worthy injuries. Lots of falling through stuff and landing hard on the ground along with manipulated joints. I'm interested to see when the red suit comes in and his trademark billy clubs. There's 3 more shows lined up to follow DD with a possible 4th that combines them all. With Netflix not in the business of releasing view counts I guess we'll only know the show is a success when season 2 is announced. Now the question is do I push on through to finish the series or let it simmer for a few weeks and come back to? Ah #NetflixWorldProblems...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Con-Man: WonderCon 2015 Sunday

Although total attendance for WonderCon is less than half of San Diego, the great alternate show still managed to sell out 3-Day badges as well as Saturday. I always tell people who are discouraged by the coordinating commitment that is SDCC to check out WC as it's a fantastic show in it's own right with plenty of swag, comics, art, games, panels and special events to keep you busy with little of the headache. Sunday we rolled in for the annual Nerdist panel as they keep expanding and have recently moved into new office space. New shows, podcasts, even an improv class is on the way. We found some better convention center food near the arena with sammiches and fajita bowls next to burgers and hot dogs. Some more walking around the floor led to more flipping through comic boxes where it became Liefield Sunday with a haul of The New Mutants as well as finding the last issue of the 2004 6-part mini-series relaunch as well as the Shatterstar mini-series. Back to the Arena we went to catch WB's The Flash panel that had cast members Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton and Carlos Valdes joined by executive producer Andrew Kreisberg. A cool sizzle reel played first showcasing some end of season craziness featuring the Rogues teaming up as well as Gorilla Grodd and another crossover with Arrow. The panel was a lot of fun and they mentioned an Easter Egg I missed. Apparently in a recent episode where you see The Flash fighting Professor Zoom with his mom in the middle, the Flash emblem has a white circle around it versus Gustin Grant's current red. What does that mean? That there's still a mighty big chance that John Wesley Shipp will be revealed as an alternate Flash from the 90's show and give us what we all want! YESSSSSSS!

Some fun cosplay included a Predator and a female Terminator along with a first sight for me, U.S. Agent! When Captain America gave up the mantle under government pressure, Johnny Walker stepped in, a former pro wrestler who had been suped up by the Power-Broker but was also kinda crazy. When Steve Rogers battled and defeated Walker for the title, Walker donned the black Captain outfit Steve adopted during his non-Captain America crime fighting. Thus becoming The U.S. Agent, a more aggressive and maybe psycho version of Cap who would butt heads with Cap's buddy and West Coast Avengers leader Clint Barton aka Hawkeye. The dude was surprised as nobody knew who he was but he looked great. Coolest swag of the day had to have been the comic book and movie themed rugs that included Cap's shield, the Millennium Falcon, Han frozen in carbonite and Space Invaders. I feel like we should have picked one up cause it would have really tied the room together...

Some more walking around Artist Alley and we decided to call it a day. It was another great show and some big news hit at the very end as Comic-Con International announced that they would be moving WonderCon to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2016 over the March 25-27th weekend. This year that would put it up against Seattle's Emerald City Comicon on the west coast but ECCC is expanding to 4 days in '16 and moving to April 7th-10th. It'll be cool to have WC in downtown but I dunno, Anaheim's a lot easier to get around than downtown. There's also only 5,000 some hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center compared to 13,000 in Anaheim and 11,000 in San Diego. There's not much to walk to as L.A. Live will quickly be overrun and the surrounding area doesn't make you feel uber safe as gentrification is butting up right into Skid Row. It's only a one year contract though as Anaheim is scheduled to undergo renovations and expansion. The show has moved before, starting in Oakland, moving to San Francisco then down to Anaheim. It will be interesting to see if there's an uptick in Hollywood studio presence since it's literally in their neighborhood. Until then, see ya in San Diego!

Cro Cop: King Rematch

"Cro Cop smells it!" "What a comeback for the legend!" 

After being defeated by his own weapon of choice 8 years ago, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic avenges one of his most devastating losses. In 2007, Cro Cop had just come from Pride and was expected to meet Heavyweight champion Randy Couture but faced off with the less known and hungry Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga instead. After being taken down and dazed by elbows,the two were stood up where Gonzaga shocked the world by taking out Cro Cop with a high kick. Cro Cop would struggle forever after with mental motivation and physical injuries while Napao would drop a title shot against Couture. With the UFC ever expanding into new markets, the duo headlined Fight Night 64 available exclusively on web based Fight Pass.

Last night, in front of 10,000 fans in Poland, Cro Cop came from behind and delivered a nasty TKO victory. With neither man committing to much in the early rounds, Cro Cop throwing a few jabs and a whiffed high kick, the Croatian found himself underneath the 250 pound Gonzaga at the end of rounds 1 and 2. The two scrambled for heel locks and knee bars with neither in too much danger. While Cro Cop was able to avoid much damage, he took a big elbow to the face that opened up a giant cut on the side of his left eye. To start round 3, Cro Cop easily avoided a takedown attempt but was pushed up against the fence. There, Cro Cop unloaded a huge standing elbow that wobbled Gonzaga before delivering another. A mad scramble saw Cro Cop land a few punches on the stunned Gonzaga who was desperately trying to wrap Mirko up. Cro Cop delivered big elbows to the body and head then finished Gonzaga off with a series of hammer fists.

Both men were bloodied and cut with the bout being deemed Fight of the Night and a $50,000 bonus awarded. Mirko attended the post fight conference while Gonzaga was taken to the hospital as a precaution. This was the first of an alleged 3 fight deal with the UFC. Fans are clamoring for a rematch with Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira after the still active legend said he'd be open for another bout. The 40 year old former Special Forces commando, parliament member and K-1 kickboxer said he was struggling with shoulder and knee issues so may take a quick break before returning to action. With this victory, Cro Cop is now 6-0 in rematch fights.

Workout of the Day: On the Road Again

Another weekend, another convention. With WonderCon being in our backyard down in Anaheim we could pack a few snacks and dranks like Jack Daniels, Crabbie's Ginger Beer, Hershey Chocolate covered Marshmallow Eggs, mini Cadbury Eggs, cookies and more. It's Easter right? Saturday started with a workout at the Red Lion's pretty decent hotel gym where I got in:

Dumbbell Clean & Press/Chins/DB Bench Press
Concentration Curl/Cable Pushdown/Seated Cable Row
DB Lying Extension/Side Raises/Seated DB Curl
Zottman Curl and Seated Calf Raises

                            Each tri-set was done 3 times to get that total body pump.

For calves, just prop up the end of a flat bench, put some dumbbells on your knees and work those calves! A mile on the Elliptical machine followed by 8 flights of stairs made me feel marginally better about the less than stellar meals and dranks to be had throughout the weekend. Before heading over I swung by Subway for at least one light meal with roughage for the day where they had Hulk branded Doritos Jacked 3D?. Remember when Hulk came out in 2003? Tie-ins for pudding, pens, popcorn, pop and so much more was everywhere! Then the movie hit and didn't do so hot...ah well, I liked it.

Con-Man: WonderCon 2015 Saturday

A little late but here comes my wrap up of Saturday at WonderCon this year. Last year Saturday was packed, like felt similar to San Diego packed. With organizers expecting 60,000 attendees this year I was prepared for the crush but honestly it wasn't too bad. The first panel I wanted to check out started at 10:00AM, same time the exhibit hall was supposed to open, but by the time I got there at 9:45, everything was flowing. In a new development, turnstiles and gates were installed outside the convention center so the religious protestor types couldn't mingle too much with attendees. I wonder what their schedule is like, I mean there's crowded sports events every weekend, do they show up to those?   

Superman: The Richard Donner Years Celebrity Super Reunion kicked things off with a massive guest list that included actors Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Diane Sherry, Marc McClure, Jack O'Halloran and Aaron Smolinksi. Sarah Douglas got a flat tire on her way while producer Ilya Salkind was running late and eventually missed the panel. CapedWonder founder and Superman expert Jim Bowers co-hosted and there were several behind the scenes photographs projected to go with the panel. Apparently a book is in the works so I'll be sure to keep my eye out for it. Much love was directed to Donner for making the crew like family during their years together and for being an excellent director who handled each actor individually. Kidder was told to cut loose while Superman Christopher Reeve needed more precise direction which Donner provided. A great story came up when Marlon Brando thought the crew could use a rest but the producers balked at the cost it would take to do so. When pressed for the day to day cost of the shoot, one of the producers answered $350,000 to which Brando said he'd pay. Not sure if that day off actually happened...It was a great panel made even better by a video of Donner who couldn't attend because of Easter weekend and family commitments. A very heartfelt tribute to the films, cast and crew, Donner is always the man.

I wanted to check out Capcom's panel but it was filled and a line had already formed for the session afterwards featuring some podcasting type. That is one of the frustrating parts of these big shows, you never what kind of crowd is going to show up for a panel and then you get people just waiting through one for another. Anywho, some more walking around the floor followed and it wasn't too bad. Maybe the aisles were bigger so there was only congestion in a few spots. Walking around Artist Alley I spotted Captain America and Silver Surfer artist Ron Lim as well as his 90's Marvel mate Rob Liefield. Lim is one of my favorites as I grew up on his Cap work, I wish he would sell some postcards, buttons or some kind of swag so I could support him. Maybe I'll commission a full on Cap sketch to go with the quick freebie he did for me at another show. It was time for Warner Brothers' panel in the arena. Last year WB, Fox and Universal trotted out the likes of Bill Paxton, Gareth Edwards, Simon Kinberg, Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis and Luc Besson but this year film was way subdued with only WB showing Mad Max clips and San Andreas. The Mad Max scenes and trailers look great though; visual, violent and a bit weird. San Andreas director Brad Peyton and lovely co-stars Alexandra Daddario and Carla Gugino were on hand to discuss the film but energy was really lacking. The trio talked about a lot of the practical f/x employed but watching the clips it still looks like a CGI fest and I can't say I'm all that pumped for the flick. Just me? Afterwards we met up with The Arnold Fans maestro Randy who was in town for WonderCon and a fan meetup. It was great to chat with him and here's hoping we collaborate on something in the future.

The bar at the Hilton was SLAMMED so we headed to the Marriott for some snacks and dranks. A couple of whiskey gingers, mac n' cheese and a burger later we were energized to hit the floor again. We checked out Inside The Writers' Room, a panel assembling scribes from shows like Hannibal, The Big Bang Theory, Terminator, The Flash and Firefly. It was an informative session talking about what exactly is a writer's room, how it's good to either know what you want or what you don't want, having to recast actors, writing for certain actors, feeding you formulaic stories without making you feel it's not (cough, Mad Men, cough) and whatnot. We snuck out towards the end to check out Tarzan, John Carter, Doc Savage, The Shadow and Alley Oop: The Martian Legion Arrives! A look at the work of Edgar Rice Burrough's and a new book featuring his most famous creations along with other popular pulp heroes. Burrough's set up shop outside Los Angeles and the town of Tarzana was born. The ranch is now an archive as Burrough's threw nothing out, including a letter from Theodore Roosevelt denying Burrough's membership to The Rough Riders! Several Burrough's projects are in the works as the Tarzan live action movie is in post production, a TV mini-series is in development and a new novel by comic book distributor Jake "Buddy" Saunders is ready for release that teams up John Carter and Tarzan with The Shadow and Doc Savage?!

Even more walking around and we hit up some dolla, dolla bins, ya'll where I picked up some awesome Wonder Man, Incredible Hulk, Sgt. Rock and The Shadow comics. Also got one of those little Mystery Sci-Fi figures looking for The Rocketeer but got a frigging E.T., Damme it! Better luck was had with some Avengers mini bobble heads where we got Captain America, naturally, cause I'm charmed. A fun but tiring day, apparently we walked about 7 miles, phew!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

View In Peace: Geoffrey Lewis

Woke up to the news that awesome character actor Geoffrey Lewis passed away. Known for his many collaborations with Clint Eastwood, I'll always remember him being the dim witted and funny sidekick Orville from Every Which Way But Loose. You know, where Clint Eastwood plays a truck driving bare knuckle brawler who has a pet orangutan won in a fight against four guys? Classic. And as "uncle" Frank Avery from Double Impact as the hard ass veteran helping twin Jean-Claude Van Damme's take revenge on the baddies who killed their parents? Terrific. Besides a half dozen flicks with Eastwood, Lewis appeared in films filled with the likes of Steven McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Redford and Sean Connery in flicks like Dillinger, The Great Waldo Pepper, The Wind and the Lion and Tom Horn for directors including John Milius, Michael Cimino, George Roy Hill and Irvin Kershner.

Lewis was a part of my formative cinema viewing years as Stallone's Captain Schroeder in Tango & Cash, Sheldon Lettich's Double Impact, hard and disillusioned teacher Kerrigan to former student Mark Dacascos in Only the Strong, a Sheriff opposite Dolph Lundgren in Army of One then as banker Eugene in Richard Donner's Mel Gibson starring Maverick before appearing as depressed, suicidal hitman Abner in The Way of the Gun. I'd have to say Lewis's work in Every Which Way But Loose and Double Impact are what I'll always know him for. As Clint Eastwood's buddy and pseudo manager, Lewis is quite funny in the face of rude roadside market shoppers, angry bikers and gets the gal in the form of future Vacation star Beverly D'Angelo.

Double Impact is one of my favorite Jean-Claude Van Damme flicks and it's nice to see the then young and upcoming karate star opposite a few seasoned veterans like Lewis and Philip Chan. I asked Sheldon about how Lewis was cast and if I recall correctly, his name came up through the casting director. The duo would reteam on Lettich's next directorial effort, Only the Strong. Lewis plays Frank Avery, adopted uncle of Chad Wagner (Van Damme), a raised in Paris but living in Hollywood karate and aerobics instructor. Turns out Chad has a twin brother, Alex, in Hong Kong. The duo were separated at birth when their parents were killed by vicious gangsters over a lucrative tunnel construction project. Frank saved the kids, leaving Alex at an orphanage and taking Chad with him. 25 years later, Frank is going to take his revenge and the kids are coming with him. Arming themselves to the teeth, Frank, Chad and Alex take on Hong Kong thugs, greasy haired enforcers, high kicking baddies with spurs on their boots and a buff female bodyguard with thighs that can kill using explosives disguised as cognac, sniper rifles, high kicks, Johnny Walker Red, black silk underwear and lots of flexing. Ah the 90's...

Born in San Diego, Lewis was raised in Rhode Island before moving back to California at age 10.  First appearing on television and short films in 1970, Lewis would earn a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe nomination for 1980's Flo, a CableACE Award nomination for 1984's Maximum Security and a California Independent Film Festival Best Actor award for 2005's Old Man Music.

Weird(cool) Panels: Captain America and the Search for Friendship

This should really be called Weird(sad) panels but we'll get to that. Part of my bounty at one of the many con or comic book sales was a handful of 1982 Captain America's with covers by the awesomely iconic Mike Zeck. For April's # 268, J.M. DeMatties writes, John Beatty Inks, Jim Novak Letters, Bob Sharen Colors, Jim Scalicrup Edits and Jim Shooter Edits In Chief. The story begins with Steve Rogers and neighbor/new ladyfriend Bernie Rosenthal on a date. They've just seen the 1940's smash hit Raiders of the Lost Ark. Audiences loved the flick but what did Steve think of it? That Indiana Jones was amoral! Bernie lets it slip that she loves him but Steve clams up and responds that he cares about her...very much...OHHHHHH! Bernie no like that and the date ends abruptly. But give the guy a break, he's a man out of time and his only previous lady friends were both with him during World War II or became S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents. Anywho, Steve is struck down by some kind of a mental bolt from a friend who's been kidnapped by a secret agency made up of displaced operatives from the FBI, CIA and other clandestine types. Dum Dum Dugan helps locate the secret base Steve's friends are being held at and boom, Captain America is mixing it up with dudes dressed like Roman Centurions and talking about how he's been dodging Nazi Death Rays long before they were born! Apparently these evil dudes want to take out the USSR, the last blockade of lasting peace but Cap socks their leader in the mouth as he works for understanding, not death and represents the American dream not a bunch of borders, boundaries or blind hatred. Highlights of this issue were definitely Steve unintentionally dissing Bernie and a Hostess Fruit Pie starring Daredevil!

# 269 is a nice off-beat adventure, which I love. We start with Steve eating breakfast at his landlord Anna's apartment along with brownstone neighbors Joshua and Mike. Steve is a bottomless pit who eats all the waffles while the other men tap out. That's what happens when you're buff, you gotta eat! Mike mentions some current events with Neo-Nazi's that makes Anna's blood boil, wishing they could lock them all up to which Steve exclaims that we can't take away freedom or deny rights. And that society must be unafraid of ideas however noxious and believe people are wise enough to make the right choice. Bernie shows up and it's awkward city since she just told Steve she loved him last issue and our guy couldn't respond in kind. Ol' Steve-o then jumps on his hog and rides over to a motorcycle exhibition as Captain America. You see, Steve has loved motor bikes since first straddling one during World War II. There's a grace and heart stopping beauty to the machines as well as the potential to rise to another level of power. See how deep this guy is? Stop making him some middle America yokel who likes football. The man is an artist who lost both parents young, grew up sickly then fought in World War II. He's sensitive, Damme it!

At the bike show we meet Team America, a trio of stunt riders named Honcho, Reddy and Wolf. Cap joins their show doing tricks and whatnot before a mysterious vortex opens up in the middle of the arena and a huge, naked bald guy with yellow skin shows up and grabs them. They're all teleported to a picturesque village known as Ponder where they're greeted by none other than Mark Twain and Albert Einstein! It doesn't go full Twilight Zone with a parallel dimension but it's close as we soon learn that other inhabitants of Ponder include Shakespeare, Plato, Abraham Lincoln, Confucius and Socrates among others. All summoned by The Mad Thinker, a man with formidable reasoning powers who can predict just about any action! Also a talented mechanic and designer, The Mad Thinker has built an army of advanced androids and put the consciousness of his favorite historical figures into them. Learning is his god so the replicas keep him company but there's only so much a dead person's personality can provide. Think has been kidnapping Nobel Prize winners in order to spur independent thought in his androids and thinks Cap would be a great addition to his collection of copies. But Cap and Team America destroy the androids which leaves The Mad Thinker depressed as all he wanted was some friends to pass the time with...Super sad, everybody needs friends! Also sad is the lack of cool ads in this issue.

June's # 270 reintroduces us to Steve's childhood friend Arnie Roth. Growing up, Arnie was always there for Steve and had quite the life as a popular ladies man. The two met up again while serving in the military and Arnie couldn't believe how Steve had changed post-Operation: Rebirth. Cut to the 80's and Arnie's life just didn't work out very well, he never got married and is always in trouble with a gambling addiction. The swinger turned loser couldn't believe Steve was still alive and knew his secret identity. Arnie tries to use that knowledge to clear a $50,000 debt or it's curtains for roommate Michael, the only good thing in Arnie's current life. Cap walks into the trap and takes out some thugs before facing off with their big, armored, brain looking monster boss. Just a super weird and kinda sad couple of issues, man. I guess it really is hard to make friends as you get older...Mike Zeck's art has always been among my favorite with lots of dynamic action and jumping poses, angry looking faces and muscularly heroic heroes and villains. He also has some of the most memorable covers of all time across The Punisher, G.I. Joe and Cap.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Con-Man: WonderCon 2015 Friday

We only got about an hour of floor walking in for Friday but it proved very lucrative. It didn't seem too packed around the Anaheim Convention Center yet as most people were walking out as we were headed in. Lots of cosplayers outside by the fountains with Elvira, Xena, Rocket, Groot and Wheeljack from Transformers among them. Inside seems extra cavernous this year but having wider aisle ways isn't a bad thing, at all. Ran into the vendor I bought my Bishop from Aliens from at Long Beach Expo that Lance Henriksen signed. This time they had Neca's Robocop VS The Terminator figures for cheap so it was my first buy of the night. More walking around and we ventured into Warner Brothers' San Andreas Experience which was basically the trailer with 4D f/x, aka The Rock, Carla Gugino, Mr. Fantastic and that guy from Sideways surviving a huge earthquake complete with vibrating and moving chairs. I'm still not sold on the flick but it was a nice addition to the floor. Elsewhere I picked up some issues of awesome movie magazine Cinefantastique with Demolition Man, Captain America, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Robocop II in their extremely deeply researched and reported sights.

Moving onto more of the floor there were big set ups for Valiant and IDW like at last week's Emerald City Comicon along with Image which has several panels this show to highlight their creative owned genre divisions. Boutique Bait had some awesome Street Fighter shirts along with Bruce Lee and Voltron socks! They were right next to Nerdist who had quite the display set up for interviews and podcasts while La-La Records has a show exclusive Masters of the Universe soundtrack featuring 2 CD's of music from the beloved Filmation cartoon. I'm on the fence about picking it up but the bastards also had scores to The Flash from 1990, The Warriors and The Phantom on sale! Arrrgh, choices. I ended up with The Phantom and will contemplate the other titles over the weekend, don't wanna blow my wad on the first night, amirite? Ran into La-La representative and #MovieBro Mike Joffe whom I met through my #ActionBro David J. Moore at Conan the Destroyer as we chatted about all the awesome soundtracks La-La puts out.

It was time to eat but nobody told this guy a frigging Mighty Ducks AND Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Game were going on so getting over to Orange staple The Lazy Dog Cafe seemingly took forever. Luckily their Whiskey Ginger (Jameson & Ginger Beer) along with lots of mac n' cheese, edamame and a burger solved all our problems. Our Lyft driver back was a cool guy, a vegan chef inbetween gigs who loved sci-fi movies too boot. We talked Aliens, Blade Runner, DC versus Marvel, Masters of the Universe and how Dolph Lundgren was a perfect He-Man. Tomorrow will probably be crazy but I'm stoked to walk the rest of the floor as well as check out some panels on writing, pulp heroes, Warner Brothers' presentation and Capcom! See you at the show!