Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yes, Please!


Just 2 months and 5 days to wait now...

OK, here's the full poster, with more of the cast and all of the credits:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Alien Sequel Coming From District 9 Director?

This all seems a little out of left field to me, but Variety is reporting that District 9 director Neil Blomkamp is going to start work on a new Alien sequel. I liked District 9 well enough but it was pretty low-budget and I'm not sure that I'd trust its director with one of my favourite movie franchises, personally.  Not that there haven't already been some bad films in the series but... oh, who am I kidding?  Considering how much I adored Prometheus and the recent Alien: Isolation video game, I'll probably be one of the first in line to see this, whenever it comes out.

Another Example Of Bad Science Rears Its Ugly Head

This time it was fairly close to home, geographically-speaking, as it was the Toronto Star mistaking correlation as causation in their ridiculous story about the HPV vaccine.  Like the "MMR vaccine causes autism" bullshit that started with a British doctor's falsified data, this has the potential to cause all kinds of real harm as it drives gullible people away from life-saving vaccinations.

The inability of some members of our species to understand basic science is eventually going to wipe us out courtesy of Climate Change, so I guess 'small stuff' like this doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.  But it's still embarrassing on some level, if you ask me.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

No Brother Of Mine Now Available In Printed Form On Amazon.Com

After a few hours of work by me over the weekend, along with some generous time from Carl Pettypiece to slightly reformat the cover, No Brother of Mine is now available to be printed on demand via Amazon.com. It's priced at $9.99 US there, which should make it reasonable even if you're paying to have it shipped to Canada.  And since it's a regular Amazon item, you can always get free shipping if you order enough other stuff with it.

I've wanted to get my novels onto another print distribution channel for a while, and this is my first step in that direction.  I'll be putting at least Old Wounds and Leap of Faith, as well as any future novels, out there for sure. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Humans On Mars In The Next Decade?

I'm never quite sure how seriously I should take the Mars One mission, as it vaguely feels like some bizarre combination of prank, scam and pipe dream.  But they're now in the process of narrowing down the field of volunteers who've applied to go on the one-way trip to our nearest planetary neighbour, which definitely has the effect of making it seem at least somewhat more real.

So is it really going to happen?  Will we actually have human beings on Mars in about 10 years' time?  If so, wouldn't that inevitably be the Story of the Century, or at the very least, the most popular Reality TV program (on short time delay) of all time?  Who wouldn't want to follow the day-to-day activities of the first humans to live on another planet?!

Anyway, I hope it happens.  I'm not about to volunteer for the journey myself, as I'm pretty happy right where I am.  But I'd be fascinated to see a few others do it, if it's really possible.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Retiring The Blog Point Board

It's been up there at the top of this page for ages, but I haven't bothered to post anything involving Blog Points in years, so it's time to finally take it down and free up the real estate.

For the record, the tally ended as:

Vicki - 55 BPs
Hinckley - 43 BPs
Shane - 37 BPs
PeterJ - 30 BPs
Tammy - 23 BPs
Tim - 17 BPs
Boneman - 12 BPs
Croptop - 10 BPs
cjg - 6 BPs
AgileBoy - 1 BP
Man from Mars - 1 BP

Thanks to everyone for playing!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Sherlock Holmes As An Old Man

I'll be all over this particular interpretation of an aged Sherlock Holmes, as portrayed by Ian McKellen:



It looks awesome, based on the trailer!  Speaking as one Mr. Holmes to another, that is...

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

To Kill A Mockingbird Sequel (Sort Of) Coming In July

This story is really quite fascinating: Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, actually wrote a second novel back in the 50s but never attempted to get it published.  In fact, over all that time, she's remained a recluse and has never published anything else.  Now that old manuscript of hers, entitled Go Set a Watchman, has been rediscovered by Lee and she's shown it to enough trusted friends to believe that it's worth publication.  So it'll be released in July for all of us to enjoy, and apparently it features a grown up Scout (from Mockingbird).  How cool is that?

[Update later that same day:] Or maybe it's not so cool, after all.  Hmmm....

Monday, February 02, 2015

This Year's SuperBowl Made Up For Last Year's

Last year's 'contest' between the Broncos and Seahawks was over well before halftime, with Seattle making Peyton Manning look like an amateur early and often (starting with a safety on the first snap of the game, if memory serves).  It was a snoozer that we gave up on early in the 3rd quarter.

This year's big show between Seattle (again) and New England was much, much better.  It came down to the final few seconds, looking like the Seahawks were going to take the lead with less than 30 seconds left.  Then Russell Wilson threw an interception in the end zone and Tom Brady got his 4th SuperBowl ring just when it seemed certain that he'd be denied.  The final two minutes of game time featured a couple of unbelievable plays, the latter of which was the pick made by Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler on that final Wilson throw.  On that same Seattle drive, however, Butler managed to break up a catch attempt by Jermaine Kearse, resulting in the ball bouncing around but somehow never quite hitting the ground before Kearse reached out and pulled it in while on his back.  It was one of the most unusual and impressive completions I've ever seen, particularly given the significance of it, in terms of setting (final minutes in a close SuperBowl), yardage (long) and the fact that a second New England defender had a chance to knock the ball away, but didn't.

All in all, this year's was one of the classic SuperBowls.  Therefore it deserved some classic commercials, and apparently it got at least one (besides the cool Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, of course):



Ah, Walter White... gone but certainly not forgotten!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Novel Update

It's been a few months since I put anything on this blog about my fifth novel, though I've posted brief updates on Facebook over that stretch.  The current status is that I'm nearly done the 8th chapter, though that still leaves me a little shy of the midway point since the chapters are tending toward shorter-than-usual this time around for some reason.  It's been going well lately, in general, but I'm still finding it difficult to get into the right frame of mind for writing all too often.  At this point it's definitely looking like a Fall release rather than a Spring one, as there's no way I'll get it done in time for April or May.

I did find my cover photographer nice and early this time around, however, and he's mulling over possible approaches to take already.  Unfortunately I don't have a good, representative cover image in mind yet, making it more like Leap of Faith (where it was Dana Chapman who came up with the specific look of the cover) than any of the first three novels for which I knew what I wanted before engaging the artist.

So things are progressing on the project, just slowly.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Boyhood Receives 6 Oscar Nominations

The 2015 nominations for the Academy Awards were announced this morning, and Boyhood, my personal favourite film of 2014, received 6 big nominations:

  • Richard Linklater got 2 nominations, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director
  • Ethan Hawke is nominated as Best Supporting Actor
  • Patricia Arquette seems to be a favourite for Best Supporting Actress
  • Sandra Adair is up for Best Film Editing
  • and the film itself is nominated for Best Picture
This is a huge accomplishment for an independent film!  Considering how few people have viewed this little gem up to now (a tiny, tiny fraction of the audience for any of last year's blockbusters), and how many additional eyeballs this may bring to it, these nominations could go a long way toward expanding its fan base.

I somehow failed to write a blog post about Boyhood right after Vicki, Tammy and I saw it in Toronto last year, but I can say that it was one of the best movie-going experiences I've ever had.  I was emotionally drained by the end of it.  There's something surreal about watching the characters, especially the two children, age a dozen years over the course of a few hours.  I think the story itself could've been slightly more compelling, but that's a very minor complaint against an otherwise amazing production.  I encourage anyone who enjoys good movies to seek Boyhood out (I have a Blu-Ray copy that can be borrowed by anyone with the appropriate player, including a PS3 or PS4).

With the competition for all of the awards as fierce as always this year, it's possible that Linklater's classic will be shut out completely in terms of golden statues.  But here's hoping that isn't the case, and that it takes home at least a couple of them.  It definitely deserves the accolades.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Rarified Air

It's not every day that I get to see my name in a list of acknowledgements that includes J Bone (the comic artist), John Cassaday, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, but today is that day:


This is the first page of the Dave Gibbons Watchmen Artifact Edition that I contributed a scan to, back in March of last year.  It's a monster of a coffee table book, only equaled in size by the Alien Illustrated hardcover that I bought in Las Vegas a couple years ago.  And it has my name it!  Sweet.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The DC Universe, 1970s Style

Just an amazing image, which apparently has been up in the lobby of DC Comics in New York City for decades. Surprisingly, there are at least a couple characters in this shot that I can't identify off the top of my head (click for a closer look):


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

As 2014 Ends, Let's Look Into The Future (Of Movies)

Specifically, I've been meaning, for awhile, to post a calendar of upcoming films that I'm looking forward to or am otherwise intrigued by.  These are mostly superhero flicks but with a few other types thrown in for good measure.

2015

May 1st - Avengers: Age of Ultron - This is probably my most eagerly-anticipated entry on this list, as Ultron has long been one of the scariest Avengers villains, and of course the first Joss Whedon-directed film was unbelievably cool.  The fact that they've retained all of the original characters and added Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Watch makes me very happy.  I sincerely hope not to be disappointed by the sequel, and for now I'm confidently placing my faith in Joss.

June 12th - Jurassic World - I want this to be good, even though the previous Jurassic offering was pretty crappy.  The original, on the other hand, like the book it was based on, was quite excellent.  I'll wait and see what the early reviews on this one are like before committing any cash to it.

July 1st - Terminator: Genisys - I'm a sucker for the Terminator franchise, having seen each of the films many times and sticking with the TV show right to the bitter end.  This film came about after the rights were sold off to the highest bidder, I believe, which makes it an interesting experiment, if nothing else.

July 17th - Ant Man - Marvel Studios can seem to do no wrong lately, as even Guardians of the Galaxy was much better than I'd expected.  I liked GotG well enough as I watched it, though I've yet to have any desire to see it again.  I expect Ant Man may fall into the same category, although anything with Evangeline Lily in it usually warrants a second look, so who knows.

August 7th - Fantastic Four - This is either going to be an utter train wreck or something quite... fantastic, I think.  It's a reboot, which isn't bad in and of itself considering how lackluster the two previous FF movies were.  However, I've read just enough about its setup and approach to cause me to scratch my head, as it doesn't appear to stick at all closely to what's been done in the 50+ years of comic stories.  If I had to put money down right now, I'd put it on train wreck.  Happy to be proven wrong, though.

December 18th - Star Wars: The Force Awakens - As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the prequels, I clearly don't have the highest standards (or expectations, at least) when it comes to Star Wars installments.  I personally consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the peak of the franchise, which seems to be a pretty common stance, but I also find the original Star Wars to be fairly blah.  Plus I remember well how excited the fans of the original trilogy were when the first trailer for The Phantom Menace debuted, and we all know how that worked out.  But having said all that, I'm mildly excited at the thought of a new Star Wars movie to take us out of 2015.

2016

March 4th - Prometheus 2 - I'd call the existence of this film and its release date both tentative at this point, because neither have been officially confirmed.  However, I really, really want to see Ridley Scott deliver a sequel to 2012's Prometheus.  While I readily acknowledge the many flaws in that feature, I'm not sure I could love it any more than I do!  Vicki and I went to the theatre to see it twice, something we almost never do.  And then we promptly watched it a third time as soon as the Blu Ray for it came out.  I think we may have even seen it again since then, which would make four viewings in just two-and-a-half years!  Like the video game Alien: Isolation which came out this year and became my obsession for awhile, Prometheus totally scratched the itch that I have for anything Alien-related, and did it very well.

March 25th - Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - A film that pits Superman against Batman, with Wonder Woman somehow involved as well, and which is a lead in to the first ever Justice League feature?  My drool bucket runneth over!  I liked but didn't always love Man of Steel, so that's a bit worrisome considering that its director and star have carried over to this, but maybe Zack Snyder can rise to the occasion this time around.  And Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman, while raising a lot of eyebrows when it was announced, could end up being brilliant considering that Affleck is often a very good actor.  I'm frustrated that this film is still almost 15 months away, considering that it's been filming for ages already, but if taking their time adds to the quality of the final product, I'm all for it.  In terms of anticipation on my part, BvS is nearly as high as the 2nd Avengers flick.

May 6th - Captain America: Civil War - Did I mention my drool bucket was quickly filling up?  The second Cap film, The Winter Soldier, was mind-blowingly good and didn't have a bad scene or dull moment in it.  So any sequel with the same production crew is sure to grab my attention right out of the gate, and then adding Robert Downey, Jr to the mix is just incredible.  To think that just a few weeks after we get Batman fighting Superman on the big screen we're going to be similarly treated to Cap versus Iron Man, I sometimes wonder if this is all just a dream I'm having back in 1978.  I honestly wouldn't have believed, back then, that we'd ever get this many high quality treatments of superhero stories at the movie theatre.

May 22nd - X-Men: Apocalypse - The last two X-Men films, First Class and Days of Future Past, upped the ante on the franchise something crazy.  Each of them put the original three to shame, and I say that as someone who liked that first trilogy and thought the second part was especially good.  Therefore, my expectations are high on Brian Singer's next foray into mutant territory, even though I couldn't really care less about Apocalypse (the villain) as he was introduced into the comics after I'd stopped following anything X-related.

August 5th - Suicide Squad - The comic series by this name that started in the 80s and ran for several years was a real sleeper.  It didn't have any hype behind it and I actually ignored it for the longest time, until I started hearing some of the buzz around it.  When I finally checked it out, what I quickly realized was that the strange concept behind it - a secret government agency blackmails imprisoned supervillains into running potentially-suicidal missions for it by promising them their freedom if they succeed or instant death if they try to make their escape - was actually the secret to its appeal.  Many of the members of the team were third- or even fourth-tier villains, and therefore the writers could do virtually anything with them over the course of a story / mission.  The upcoming film, on the other hand, seems to be leaning toward bigger name villains - Lex Luthor, the Joker, Harley Quinn, for example - and that probably means there won't be quite as much freedom for the characters to be killed off, maimed, or otherwise damaged.  Still, with some of the interesting actors involved (including Jared Leto), I can see a lot of potential here.

November 4th - Doctor Strange - I've become a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan following his three seasons (and counting) on Sherlock.  At this point, he pretty much walks on water as far as I'm concerned, so while he wouldn't have been my first thought for playing Stephen Strange, I can certainly see him pulling it off.  Strange is one of those characters who's always been hit-and-miss for me, as most comic writers who've tackled him haven't really known what to do with a Master of the Mystic Arts.  Given Marvel Studios' recent track record, though, I'll extend them the benefit of the doubt and assume that won't be the case with his big screen debut.

December ?? - Avatar 2 - I loved Avatar, so I welcome more magic from Canada's own James Cameron.  Bring it on, I say!

2017

June 23rd - Wonder Woman - Now we're two-and-a-half years into the future, and about all we really know about this feature film is that Gal Gadot will play the Amazonian warrior and Canadian Michelle MacLaren will direct her in it.  I guess we'll all have a much better idea where Warners plans to go with the character once Batman V Superman drops, but until then I'll remain cautiously optimistic that the greatest superheroine of all time will get good treatment at their hands.

July 28th - Thor: Ragnarok - With 2014's Sexiest Man Alive in the starring role, what's not to like about a third Thor movie?  (The ladies who get dragged to these things by their boyfriends and husbands deserve at least that much, don't they?)  The first two features were solidly entertaining fare, and that's what I expect from Ragnarok.  That title (meaning the end of the world for the Norse gods) certainly suggests that it could be the final installment, making room for other Marvel characters to get films.  I'm OK either way, personally.

November 3rd - The Black Panther - Speaking of new characters, T'Challa is an amazingly rich one to tell stories about, being an African prince, spending time as an Avengers, and having been married to Storm (of the X-Men) for awhile, to name but a few elements.  I have no idea which parts of his history they'll choose to explore in the screen version, but I look forward to finding out.

November 17th - Justice League Part 1 - A film so great, they had to... split it in half?  What the -?  Oh never mind, it's what all the cool kids are doing these days (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Hobbit, etc, etc, etc) so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  My initial reaction to this news, I'll admit, was excitement.  After all, getting two films has to be better than one, right?  More room to tell a more complete story, to focus on character development or just have more cool action scenes.  At least in theory.  I've dreamed of a big budget JLA film since I was a kid, and in a little less than three  years it looks like I'll finally get my wish.  Please please please don't blow it, Warners!

December ?? - Avatar 3 - Yes, assuming # 2 is good.

2018

March 23rd - The Flash - Doesn't he already have a TV show?  Oh wait, this is the completely different version that's in the Justice League movie, which shouldn't be at all confusing to fans.  Hmmm.  Reserving judgement on this because... it's still more than four years away, for crying out loud!

May 4th - Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 - Again with the breaking the story up over two films!  Still, it's Avengers, and it'll probably rock!

July 6th - Captain Marvel - Not to be confused with the Captain Marvel who says Shazam! to change between Billy Batson and his superhero identity, this is Marvel Comics' current iteration: a strong female character who has a ton of potential.  I love seeing non-white and/or non-male heroes being developed, and both Black Panther and Captain Marvel (not to mention Wonder Woman from Warners) are great steps in that direction.

July 27th - Aquaman - Another Justice League spinoff, with more still to come.  They've cast one of the Game of Thrones actors for this role, and he was fine in GoT so... sure, let's see what he's got!  Done right, the king of the seven seas can be a fantastic vehicle for telling great stories.

November 2nd - The Inhumans - Fans of the SHIELD TV show have already seen the seeds being planted for this, I think, as the blue alien that Coulson and the rest have discovered is actually a Kree.  They're the alien race who created the Inhumans in the comics, you see, which is likely where that storyline is headed.  Rumour has it that the Inhumans basically replace the X-Men (or mutants in general) in the Marvel TV and film universe, since they can't use any of the mutant characters who 20th Century Fox currently own (in terms of cinematic rights).

December ?? - Avatar 4 - I'm sensing a pattern here, perhaps inspired by Peter Jackson and a little trilogy you may have heard of, called The Lord of the Rings...

2019

April 5th - Shazam - Hey, we were just talking about you!  My guess is that Warners will call the character 'Shazam' rather than 'Captain Marvel' in order to avoid confusion with the other one.  But they really shouldn't, as this Cap was Cap long before Marvel Comics even existed.  In the comics, Shazam was the old wizard who told Billy Batson to say his name (SHAZAM!) whenever he wanted to change between boy and superhero.  Anyway, I hope they don't blow this too badly.

May 3rd - Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 - I can hardly wait to see what kind of cliffhanger we were left with at the end of Part 1!

June 14th - Justice League Part 2 - Ditto, although this one at least comes out on a great date!

2020 (No, I'm not kidding!)

April 3rd - Cyborg - Another Justice League member, leaving only one more to go...

June 19th - Green Lantern - ... and here he is!  Not Ryan Reynolds this time around, thankfully, but probably Hal Jordan once again.  This means that all of the JL heroes will get their own chance to start or continue franchises... Wow.  That's a lot of faith in the brand, on the part of Warners.

Whew.

And this expansive list doesn't even touch on the upcoming Netflix series starring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and them teaming up as the Defenders, nor any of the other TV shows, some of which have turned out be great.