Friday, October 31, 2014

Begin Again

Released this week on Blu-ray and DVD, writer/director John Carney's tale of the unexpected friendship between a down-on-his luck record label exec (Mark Ruffalo) and a heartbroken singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) ranked at the top of my favorite films from the first-half of 2014. My opinion hasn't changed.

With a pair of terrific leads and a talented support cast that includes Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, Adam Levine, Mos Def, and James Corden, the movie works as well on home video as it did in theaters as the mismatched pair of attempt to record an album on the fly around New York City in an enterprise that is at least as much about getting over life's recent hurdles as the finished project. For more, read my original review.

The Blu-ray includes music videos for the movie's big numbers and a single behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film.

[Anchor Bay, Blu-ray $34.99 / DVD $29.98]

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - A Fractured House

When HYDRA mercenaries begin publicly targeting high-profile targets under the guise of being S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Coulson (Clark Gregg) orders his various agents around the world to go to ground and sends May (Ming-Na Wen), Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki), and Hunter (Nick Blood) to prevent the next attack. The poor publicity, the need for a politician on their side, and the unique leverage they can bring to bear also causes Coulson to reach out to Senator Christian Ward (Tim DeKay) who is either kinder or most sadistic member of the Ward family depending on who you chose to believe.

Ashley, Melanie, and Samantha are the Belles of the Ball

Ashley Tisdale, Melanie Iglesias, and Samantha Hoopes all received their own cover shoots for the August issue of Bello Magazine. You can find pics from all three photo shoots inside.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arrow - The Magician

Alliances shift quickly in "The Magician" as Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) arrives in Starling City in search of Sara and her killer as well as bring news of Malcolm Merlyn's (John Barrowman) survival of the Undertaking. From the looks of things in this episode Oliver (Stephen Amell), Thea (Willa Holland), and Malcolm are going to be tiptoeing their way around the truth quite a bit this season before all secrets are eventually laid out on the table.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #39

Old Hob's would-be mutant army gets its first test when Pigeon Pete accidentally leads Rocksteady and Bebop right to them. Of course, it doesn't take long for all hell to break loose. Realizing the danger her former enemies are in, Alopex steps out of the shadows and enlists the help of Angel and her high-tech suit. Donatello it seems has other plans.

Arrow - The Complete Second Season

Past mistakes loom large in Season Two of Arrow as old friends and enemies make their way to Starling City and Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) journey from killer to vigilante to hero continues. Split between flashbacks from the island and his time in Starling City following the Undertaking, the show's Second Season forces the Queen family to deal with ghosts from their past and the arrival of another madman who has plans to burn the city to the ground.

Much of the season revolves around Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) who returns home, much like Oliver, changed by her experiences following the shipwreck. Flashbacks deal with Slade's exposure to the super-serum that makes him a mentally-unstable but nearly unbeatable warrior and the end of his friendship with Oliver. Slade's arrival in Starling is slow to unfold, choosing to work through subordinates such as Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro) to build an army of warriors and destroy the city Oliver swore to protect.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Keira Knightley is beautiful in nothing but a towel

Keira Knightley recently became the 50th subject of photographer Mario Testinto's Towel Series (low-key behind-the-scenes photographs of actresses and models in nothing but a towel).

The Flash - Going Rogue

Introduced way back in 1957 Captain Cold quickly became a staple of the Flash's Rogues Gallery. Although the comic character was responsible for building the device which game him his name, the television series otherwise stays relatively close to his origins of Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller) as the skilled thief whose latest heist was stopped by the Flash (Grant Gustin) and decides he must step-up his game by upgrading his weaponry. Getting his hands on stolen Star Labs tech, which we learn was originally designed by Cisco (Carlos Valdes) as a method for stopping Barry if he proved dangerous, the newly-dubbed Captain Cold takes his freeze gun to both complete his robbery and kill off Central City's new hero.

Star Wars Rebels - Rise of the Old Masters

"Rise of the Old Masters" teases the appearance of another Jedi Master on the run, although it proves to be nothing more than a trick to lure the crew of the Ghost into a trap in the heavily guarded prison known as The Spire on Stygeon Prime it does provide the first face-to-face meeting between Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Ezra (Taylor Gray) and the show's coolest bad guy The Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs).

Taylor Swift - Out of the Woods (Jimmy Kimmel)

Here's Taylor Swift's performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live of "Out of the Woods" from her album 1989.

The Blacklist - The Mombasa Cartel

There's a nice reveal in "The Mombassa Cartel," although it has nothing to do with what is hiding behind Lizzie's (Megan Boone) secret door or the odd collection of characters Reddington (James Spader) sends the FBI after in the show's latest episode. The personal reasons for which Red tasks the FBI with taking down the Mombassa Cartel responsible for animal smuggling, trafficking, and murder on a global scale isn't revealed until late in the episode (although the pre-credit sequence does ruin the impact of the surprise a bit).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Castle - Meme is Murder

When a killer (Jared Kusnitz) begins targeting social media celebrities and using his own anonymous account to taunt the police about his crimes Beckett (Stana Katic) and Castle (Nathan Fillion) are on the case. At first the evidence seems to point to a former police officer (David Marciano) of the cybercrimes division but the pair soon discover their killer is simply toying with them all the more by framing the man for the crime. Finding the link between the retired cop and killer eventually leads to his capture, but Beckett has to work fast to break the young man before two more victims are added to his list.

Scorpion - True Colors

Told in flashbacks after the team's attempt to recover a stolen painting ends in disaster (or does it?), Walter (Elyes Gabel) and each member of Scorpion are forced to submit to individual psychological evaluations to determine their fitness to continue working for the FBI as consultants for Agent Gallo (Robert Patrick).

Atomic Robo: The Knights of the Golden Circle #4

Atomic Robo's Old West adventure continues as the time-displaced science-adventurer and his new companions Doc Holliday and U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves face off against the army of cyborg warriors created by Baron von Helsingard's in his secret war zeppelin factory hidden in the Rocky Mountains from which he plans to attack the United States. Got all that?

Monday, October 27, 2014

New York Comic Con - NYCC 2014 Cosplay

Once Upon a Time - Breaking Glass

Pushing Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) together to find the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) and the missing Elsa (Georgina Haig), whom the Snow Queen has taken prisoner, "Breaking Glass" plays on a long-running theme in exploring Emma's unhappy past and distrustful nature (which is something she comes to realize she and Regina have in common). Through flashbacks into Emma's past (involving a girl with an intriguing birthmark...hmmm?) we see another example of where her initial distrust of strangers comes from while also providing a clue to Emma's relationship with the Snow Queen which goes much further back than anyone suspected.

Hawaii Five-0 - Ho'oilina

On the fourth anniversary of his father's (William Sadler) death McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) learns of an unsolved homicide that continued to haunt the Hawaiian police officer and left a young girl without a father. Befriended the woman (Mirrah Foulkes), now an assistant prosecutor for the state, McGarrett decides to reopen the case an attempt to do what his father never could - bring the man's killer to justice.

Supergirl #35

After leaving this title during Kara's run as a Red Lantern I return to find an unexpected guest-spot by the Red Hood in as compelling use of the character as we've seen in the New 52. Despite her initial distrust of Batman's former partner, Kara agrees to the unlikely team-up to help Jason Todd stop the supply of alien weapon technology on the black market.

Doctor Who - In the Forest of the Night

Magic trees. In the latest episode of Doctor Who a new forest has sprung up across the world much to the surprise and consternation of the local populace. Arriving in London, The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) begins to investigate the phenomena which one of Clara's (Jenna Coleman) students brings to his attention. Initially ignoring the girl's insight, the Time Lord discovers that Maebh (Abigail Eames) is unusually tuned to the odd happenstance and may be the key to understanding what is going on. The show has certainly gotten its money's worth of introducing Clara first as a nanny and now as a schoolteacher allowing children to become involved in multiple episodes which it uses again as a strength with talented child acting.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Transporter: The Series - Trojan Horsepower

Casting Chris Vance as a stand-in for Jason Statham, Transporter: The Series follows the further adventures of Frank Martin in his role of a former British SAS operative and trained driver who sells his services to those in need of his special skill-set to have something, or someone, transported safely. In "Trojan Horsepower" Frank's mechanic Dieter Hausmann (Charly Hübner) enlists Frank's help for a friend (Moon Dailly) in need of transporting the only existing prototype of world-changing engine which men will kill to never see unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.

Sunday with Shay

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures #16

The main story of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures #16 features Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael following their senei around New York City on a wild goose chase all to discover where Splinter disappears to every year on this day. The chase leads the Turtles to battle Mousers, Fishface, and Rahzar, but end up no closer to learning about the moment Splinter spends in secret with his daughter in honor of her birthday.

Star Wars Rebels - Fighter Flight

Forced to work together on a supply run after the rest of the crew gets sick of their constant fighting, Ezra (Taylor Gray) and Garazeb (Steve Blum) do a bit of bonding while stealing fruit from Imperial Stormtroopers and making off with a TIE Fighter which comes in handy helping a local farmer (Liam O'Brien) who is arrested after refusing to sell his land to the Empire.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Daredevil #9

While mulling over the pros and cons to selling his life story for a boatload of cash, Daredevil has his first run-in with the progeny of the Purple Man (who despite throwing himself in front of a trolley car is feeling much better now). The format of the issue involving Foggy warning Matt against dredging up painful memories which might destroy the happy life he's carved out for himself only to have the Purple Man's children do exactly that is a little too convenient. One of the strengths of Mark Waid's take on Matt Murdock is he hasn't been haunted and overburdened with his dark past (except when he was gaslight by the Coyote during the low point of Waid's run). Returning Daredevil to a more grim title may not necessarily be the best thing for his character or Waid's work on the series.

Stalker - Phobia

The latest case for Beth (Maggie Q) and Jack (Dylan McDermott) involves a sadistic stalker (David Chisum) who finds his victims on dating sites to learn about their darkest fears and later tortures them with those fears for his own amusement. Whether it be invading a victim's (Rachael Carpani) house to throw her into complete darkness and watch her struggle to find her bearings, plant 32 snakes in the house of a woman (Andrea Bogart) who is deathly afraid of the creatures, or weight a woman (Daphne Avalon) down in a slowly filling bathtub to play on her fear of drowning, the team needs to find the violent man before his elaborate scenarios harm more victims.

Less Than Heavenly

Orlando Bloom as a blacksmith turned soldier defending a stone fortress against a vast army, or a man who falls in love with a married queen from across the ocean? Liam Neeson as a dying knight with an apprentice? Haven’t I already seen this before? Kingdom of Heaven features a fine cast and some good visuals, but I think you will find, as I did, that much of the story is a little too familiar, much too preachy, and more than a little dumb.

Rocket Raccoon #4

Rocket Raccoon #4 wraps up the two ongoing stories of the series as Rocket comes face-to-face with both the other raccoon who has been framing him for murder (who turns out to not be a raccoon at all) and the army of pissed-off princesses who he each saved, dated, and unceremoniously dumped.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Arrow - Corto Maltese

In an episode used to continue to develop Arrow's supporting characters and move them a bit further on their journey to likely one-day becoming full members of Team Arrow, Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Roy (Colton Haynes) head down to Corto Maltese to convince Thea (Willa Holland) to return with them to Starling City unaware that she's been living and training with her not-so-dead father Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) for the past several months. Doing a favor for Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), Diggle (David Ramsey) accompanies the group to find a member of A.R.G.U.S. that turns out to be more complicated than he was led to believe and plants a seed of doubt about A.R.G.U.S. which may come to bloom later this season (especially if he learns of Ollie's own experiences with the group).

Avengers: Age of Ultron first teaser trailer

We now have our first trailer for next summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron featuring the Avengers coming back together to deal with the new threat of the robotic villain Ultron (James Spader). Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Cobie Smulders all return. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Paul Bettany also star. The movie opens in theaters on May 1st.

Person of Interest - Prophets

Other than being forced to live their days in their new cover identities and be far more careful of helping the numbers delivered to them by The Machine, the world of Finch (Michael Emerson) and his friends hasn't been largely effected by Samaritan going online. That all changes here. In an episode that offers flashbacks to Harold's own difficult creating a trustworthy artificial intelligence, "Prophets" showcases what a system without his painstakingly-created safeguards is capable of accomplishing in almost perfect secrecy.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - A Hen in the Wolfhouse

Stuck in a no-win situation, Raina (Ruth Negga) attempts to appeal first to Skye's father (Kyle MacLachlan) and then to Coulson (Clark Gregg) in order to retrieve the obelisk before Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond) makes good on his threats. Jeopardizing Simmons' (Elizabeth Henstridge) undercover mission as a scientist for HYDRA, Raina hopes to force Coulson's hand and tempt Skye (Chloe Bennet) into meeting the man she has been searching for her entire life. Luckily for Simmons, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new director has a plan-B.

The Blacklist - The Front

While Reddington (James Spader) reaches out to both an asset at the DMV (Clark Middleton) and Aram (Amir Arison) to find his missing daughter (Scottie Thompson), the FBI work to track down a cult whose leader (Michael Laurence) plans to use a sample of plague to cure the world of the evils of humanity by infecting his followers and spreading the disease across the globe. Red's trips to the DMV provide the episode's lighter moments while the tension of the episode comes from the plague plot which eventually is squelched but not before infecting both Lizzie and Navabi (Mozhan Marnò).

Earth 2 #27

With Power Girl and the Huntress returned to their own Earth, and the latest issue of Worlds' Finest turning its attention away from the heroines, I decided I'd give Earth-2 a shot. Despite the fact it concerns a dystopian world still fighting armies of Apokolips, I was pleasantly surprised in this character-driven story centered on the relationships of Kara, Helena, Thomas Wayne, Red Tornado, and Val-Zod. Whether intentional or not, the current feel of Earth 2 (with a black Superman, elderly Batman, and robotic Lois Lane) feels more like the early days of Marvel's Ultimate line than the New 52.

The Flash - Things You Can't Outrun

In an episode that builds on the backstory of both Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) by offering flashbacks to the night of the accelerator accident which appeared to kill Caitlin's fiance (Robbie Amell), "Things You Can't Outrun" features the Flash (Grant Gustin) attempting to stop the Mist (Anthony Carrigan) from completing a killing spree whose intended victims include Joe West (Jesse L. Martin).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Scorpion - Plutonium is Forever

Tensions run high when the team is brought in to stop a nuclear meltdown at a government facility using antiquated (and failing) technology which should have long ago been retired or replaced. If the situation wasn't stressful enough, the team also has to deal with the man responsible for bringing the situation to Scorpion's attention: former member Mark Collins (Joshua Leonard) who no one, aside from possibly Walter (Elyes Gabel), is happy to see return.

Uncanny X-Men #27

In an issue that teases possible serious repercussions for both teams of X-Men going forward, Cyclops reluctantly agrees to help Wolverine's team and S.H.I.E.L.D. stop Matthew Malloy before the mutant is overcome by his restored powers no longer kept in check by the recently deceased Charles Xavier.

Castle - Child's Play

A murder mystery involving the seemingly-unrelated deaths of an ice-cream truck driver, mob enforcer, and retired police officer send Castle (Nathan Fillion) undercover at a local elementary school in hopes of uncovering the identity of a 2nd Grade witness to one of the shootings. While dealing with twentysome unruly children and a teacher (Michael Hyatt) with serious doubts about their plan, the mystery writer will have to find a way to forge a bond strong enough with the class hoping that one student will fill safe enough to come forward with what they saw.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Doctor Who - Flatline

In an episode that could have easily been entitled "Honey, I Shrunk the TARDIS," roles are reversed when The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) becomes trapped in an increasingly shrinking time machine whose energies are somehow being absorbed by two-dimensional beings who have already killed several locals while learning about three-dimensional beings. Taking zombie-like control of their victims, the two-dimensional beings (named the Boneless by The Doctor) begin chasing Clara (Jenna Coleman) while hunting for their next victim.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sick Day

The awesome will continue once I start feeling better.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

DC Universe Super Powers Batman

Nostalgic for the old days, Matty Collector is offering a limited run of 30th Anniversary oversized versions of the original classic run of DC's Super Powers action figures (a handful of which I still own). I just couldn't resist picking up Batman who matches up pretty well compared to both the original Super Powers action figure and the Justice League International Batman figure.

Astro City #16

Born out of an unpublished Superman script that was never published, Kurt Busiek's "Wish I May..." examines the tragic super-hero/super-villain relationship between teen hero Starbright and his high school nemesis Simon Sez. With a pair of different narrators, both looking back from the future, the structure of Astro City #16 is more complicated than your average comic book put the pay-off is certainly worth it.

Percy Jackson (Double Feature)

Based on the young adult novels of Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and its sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters come off as Harry Potter-lite with a Clash of the Titans-level understanding and use of various mythological elements.

Centered around Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) - the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), and his fellow demi-gods Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), both films feature the threesome embarking on some kind of quest to both learn about themselves and retrieve a powerful mythological weapon which has been stolen.
In Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (read the full review) Percy learns of his true parentage and sets with his two new friends to retrieve the stolen lightning bolt of Zeus (Sean Bean). In the second movie (read the full review) the group must retrieve the Golden Fleece and stop the resurrection of Kronos (Robert Knepper) and the Titans.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Batgirl #35

DC Comics' decision to end Stephanie Brown's days as Batgirl reinstating Barbara Gordon as the character with the launch of the New 52 never sat right with me. First, despite loving writer Gail Simone's work, I don't want a gritty Batgirl comic. Second, Stephanie brought a youthful energy to the character that had been lacking for years. And third, Barbara Gordon (handicap and all) is a far more interesting character as Oracle rather than a role she outgrew years ago (long before being confined to a wheelchair).

Arrow - Sara

The death of Sara rocks the team as Oliver (Stephen Amell) hunts down assassin Simon Lacroix (Matt Ward) who has been hunting down and killing those involved in a lucrative oil deal with a bow and arrow and whose brand of weapon makes him the obvious suspect in Sara's murder. The loss of Sara also heightens Oliver's fears about not hearing from Thea (Willa Holland) who has been secretly training with her not-so-dead birth-father Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) over the past few months.

Grendel vs. The Shadow #2

The three-issue mini-series resumes as Grendel continues to grab control of the city's various crime families and bring them under his banner while ruthlessly killing any who stand in his way. Grendel vs. The Shadow #2 also gives us the first meeting between the pair which both Lamont Cranston and Hunter Rose will think long and hard about in the days to come as each has apparently met an adversary they may not be able to defeat.

Despite the $6 price-tag, Matt Wagner again delivers with a terrific double-sized prestige comic pitting the iconic hero against Wagner's greatest creation. Following the battle, much of the comic is set aside for each man to contemplate his enemy. Hunter Rose also continues to make a professional splash in his new home, and charm a crime boss' daughter as well. And Grendel gets the best of The Shadow not once but twice. First, despite his defeat, he survives and escapes their initial encounter (something few villains can brag about accomplishing). And second, he immediately recognizes Cranston as the man behind the scarf setting up another battle in the final issue. Must-read.

[Dark Horse / Dynamite, $5.99]

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New York Comic Con (NYCC2014) - Cosplay Music Video

Person of Interest - Brotherhood

When two young children (Amir Mitchell-Townes, Kaci Walfall) steal the cash from a drug sale gone wrong they become the targets of the baddest new gang in town known as The Brotherhood and run by a mystery man named Dominic who no one outside the group can identify. Under his cover as a NYPD Homicide Detective, Reese (Jim Caviezel) works with DEA Agent Erica Lennox (Rosie Benton) to find the kids and the missing $500,000 before the gang find them first.

Alessandra Ambrosio strikes a pose for Vogue Brazil

Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio appeared in the September issue of Vogue Brazil. You can find the pics from her photo shoot inside.

Fairest #30

Along with the continuation of Reynard's storyline in which Meghan discovers the truth about her new lover while on the run, Fairest #30 features multiple mysteries on the Farm where Clara and Wilfred are on the case to discover who stole one of the Glamours from the Pumpkin House before the lottery, why someone would vandalize the Beehive, and just how the two cases are connected.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Face My Enemy

Discovering another example of the alien writing (on the back of a "miracle painting") which drove Garrett insane and continues to obsess Coulson (Clark Gregg), the team's leader and May hit a swanky party to make off with the artwork but don't count on HYDRA having similar plans. With HYDRA's big guns recently taken out by Coulson's team, they are forced to use more delicate methods by replacing Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) and later May to get the painting and learn more about the new S.H.I.E.L.D. by adopting mask technology from the 80s Mission: Impossible TV-series leading to some memorable May-on-May action.

The Flash - Fastest Man Alive

As Barry (Grant Gustin) begins his role as the city's new hero he must face the disapproval of Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), the questions from Iris (Candice Patton) about his odd behavior since waking up from a coma, a series of mysterious black-outs, and concerns from the Star Labs team about how much Barry is pushing himself. Despite Joe going from complete disapproval to supportive in speeds that would give the Flash whiplash (this turn could have been better explored over a couple of episodes), "Fastest Man Alive" continues to sell me on the premise and style of the show (even while featuring the hero in a costume that needs a serious upgrade).

Star Wars Rebels - Droids in Distress

The first episode following the two-part opening movie delivers a pair of familiar faces as the crew of the Ghost run into C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 while stealing a shipment of T-7 Ion Disruptors for crimelord Cikatro Vizago (Keith Szarabajka). Given the fact that the now illegal weapons wiped out his homeworld, Garazeb (Steve Blum) has mixed feelings about the entire deal (which nearly gets him killed).

The Blacklist - Dr. Linus Creel

Secret government mind-control experiments are the target of the latest episode of The Blacklist when Reddington (James Spader) points the FBI to a series of stable people with no history of violence conditioned and pushed into committing murder. The trail eventually leads back to Dr. Linus Creel (David Costabile) whose research into the Warrior Gene allowed him to handpick subjects for his experiments and slowly isolate and infuriate them, pushing them into actions to prove his pet theories about how easily someone can become a killer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Castle - Clear & Present Danger

Despite getting off to a shaky start this season, "Clear & Present Danger" begins a return to form for Castle that hopefully will continue throughout the rest of the year. Castle (Nathan Fillion) is overjoyed with the latest case involving a pool shark, a shadowy secret government agency, the Devil, and the Invisible Man, but Beckett (Stana Katic) focuses her attention on finding a plausible explanation of just how an invisible attacker killed his victim and attacked both her and Castle as well.