Mick Foley shares all about Christmas, Santa and a little bit of wrestling

Mick Foley is a former WWE Champion and one of the most recognizable names in wrestling lore. However, he is no stranger to projects outside of the squared circle and has pursued comedy, book writing, TV shows and many other things. Mick is the star in holiday documentary, I Am Santa Claus and recently chatted with BuzzFocus to share all things from being Santa to being beaten down by The Rock.

Thanks Mick for chatting with us today. So the first question is how does I Am Santa Claus stand out against everything else you’ve accomplished on TV and movies.

Mick Foley: Oh man, any documentary is a labor of love and you set out with realistic goals to make a really good movie that you hope people will eventually find. I really enjoyed being a part of it not only on screen, but also behind the scenes helping to shape it. I was really proud of it during occasions as I saw it, especially while watching it with an audience seeing the way the movie moves people and makes people think differently of the men in the red suits.

What’s some of your personal history with Christmas, Santa and your children?

Mick: Seen in the film, I try to pass myself off as Santa on Christmas Eve and I thought it would take my son 2 minutes to see that I’m not the real deal — it literally took him two seconds. He’s a pretty sharp kid and I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. We took the kids every year to a place in Jefferson, New Hampshire called Santa’s Village and so in the Foley photo album we photos of the past 20 years of all my kids sitting with Santa at Santa’s Village. Every year we go and every year we take a photo. I remember how important those photos were to me they were always on display in my parents’ room and it’s a moment to be treasured. So I’m really honored when I have the chance to create those memories for other families.

Are there any other traditions you celebrate during Christmas?

Mick: There’s a year round Christmas room so there’s a tradition to celebrate little bit of Christmas every day and keep the spirit of Christmas alive. People are actually surprised that I don’t have an elaborate, Clark Griswald-like Christmas display outside, but in no way, shape or form is the sight of me on a ladder (starts laughing) add to the Christmas spirit.

What was your favorite Christmas moment as a child?

Mick: Oh man, honestly as a child, being taken to Santa’s Village in 1968 and 1969 had a big effect on me. Although they took me in the summer, I guess this is where this kind of love for a year round Christmas started. I remember opening up Talking Football when I was 7 years old and I thought it was the greatest gift I ever received. Even now I go into storage and I’ll see the game and it no longer works and it’s all warped — I cant bring myself to throw it out I just have to hold on to it as it has a great memory for me.

And how about your favorite Christmas memory after becoming a WWE Hall of Famer and multiple time world champion?

Mick: I’m lucky to have been part of the the 1999 documentary film Beyond the Mat and it is very dear to me, but it also contains probably the worst moment for me as a dad. I was bludgeoned by The Rock in front of my children. Conversely, I Am Santa Claus contains my best moment as a dad when we receive a surprise gift from the “real Santa” on Christmas Eve. So that’s the memory I’ll hold with me for the rest of my life and I’m really glad that it’s captured on film.

I know that there have been many screenings already, so I bet that it’s been great to watch with an audience.

Mick: Yeah it’s fun. Most people will be able to see it on DVD and on demand services; but it’s really fun to take this movie in with the audience and they tend to get the subtleties and humor and it’s great to hear people laughing out loud where you’d hope they would.

You recently had an appearance on WWE television with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in the ring. How did that come about?

Mick: I received a phone call asking if I’d be interested and at first I said I can’t, because I had press to do — we had the world premiere in Hollywood on Sunday night and I had press that I committed to. But after a couple of phone calls and Kevin Smith was kind enough to do the podcast after the premiere, I was on a red-eye and whisked in behind a veil of secrecy and put in the ring with two of today’s top stars.

One last thing, I know you’re very focused on this movie, but are there any projects or future projects you would like to share about?

Mick: This movie is a big deal to me and I appreciate every one to give it a try. The response has been really positive, the general feeling is that the movie hits people by surprise with the depth. They think it’s going to be Mick’s fun Santa project and they come out of it realizing it’s a movie with substance, too. And I’m continuing tour around with my one man shows and I love them. I believe we will be having a television special in the near future which will give people a much better idea of what I do and make their decision to attend a much easier one.

Thank you, Mick.

Mick: Thank you. Have a nice day.

‘Big Hero 6′ is a bright and bold collaboration between Disney and Marvel

Originality, inspiration, heart, life lessons, and exciting animation, Big Hero 6 has it all as the first big screen collaboration between Marvel Studios and Disney Animation.

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Welcome to San Fransokyo, where technology and robotics have become part of the nuts and bolts of our culture. Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney) is a student at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. He invented and developed Baymax, a personal healthcare robot who is amazing not only for his thorough service, but he is inflatable. But this story is less about them, and more about Hiro (Ryan Potter), Tadashi’s 14-year old brother, who likes to dwell in the underground, back-alley bot fights, hustling for money. He uses his big brains in ways that will get him by, but never ahead. Tadashi takes Hiro under his wing and takes him to his university, to meet his classmates, to introduce him to technology icons, to channel new ways to use his mind, and help facilitate new ways to approach life.

Taking the knowledge he used to create his fighting robot, Hiro develops an invention that could revolutionize the world and shows at the university’s symposium. If successful, Hiro could achieve admission to the university as a prodigy, but his work also draws the interest of Alistair Krei (Allan Tudyk) of Krei Tech who offers to buy the technology for millions. Instead, Hiro takes the advice of Professor Robert Callaghan (James Crowell) and declines Krei’s offer and accepts enrollment at the Institute. But after a fire breaks out at the event, a big explosion kills many, including Tadashi and Callaghan.

In the wake of the tragedy, Hiro shuts himself in, does not return phone calls from Tadashi’s classmates, until he unintentionally deploys Baymax who tries to step Hiro through his depression. By following his protocol, Baymax winds up getting Hiro out of the house to discover his new purpose. It’s like therapy 101 with a big talking balloon.

If it sounds like a comic book, that’s because it is. Big Hero 6 is a dusted-off Marvel comic book that director Don Hall stumbled upon shortly after the Disney acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Big Hero 6 was created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, two members of the creative studio Man of Action who have gone on to help create several successful creator-owned comics and TV series including Ben 10, Generator Rex, Bakugan, and Ultimate Spider-Man. Some of the characters have been taken out since they’re part of the X-Men universe and would therefore infringe on Fox Studios’ right to use anything from that specific vault of characters. Baymax got a complete and huggable makeover and some new characters were created to complete the 6. The spirit and concept is still there, but there’s no denying it’s been made over into a much more cuddly package. The compromise also made it a more obscure entity and allows fresh eyes to be brought to the theater before the flood of the all-ages sensibilities come rushing towards you in 3D.

Another big plus was seeing a majority of the cast be diverse both on screen and in voice, especially in the main characters. It’s not stately obvious, but in looking back, what a breath of fresh air it was to see Hiro of mixed Asian and Caucasian descent, (Potter is also of mixed descent) and his inspiration be his brother (Henney was born to a Korean adoptee mother and American-Irish father) raised by their caring though sometimes spacey guardian, Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). It’s an unconventional family but is such a great representation of the modern American face. Hiro and Tadashi are two of the best Asian-American inspired characters on screen since we were introduced to Russell in Up. Hopefully this approach becomes more and more commonplace in live-action film too.

The rest of the Big Hero 6 roster doesn’t fall through the familiar pitfalls of minority characters that we’ve seen so many times. For one, they all have great scientific minds, so that already bucks the stereotypes of their compartmentalized cultures that typically define them, whether it be their native food, slang, or fashion–that alone is worth commending. GoGo (Jamie Chung), another Asian-American, has a tough exterior and is athletic. Wasabi (Damon Wayans), the team’s African-American, is an overly cautious neat-freak with an equally precise weapon, but he serves as the moral compass. Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) plays to the girls who like to accessorize but is also a lovable and undeniable chemistry nerd. And then there’s Fred (T.J. Miller) who just unfolds his multiple layers through to the very last second of the film (yes, that’s a clue that you have to stay after the credits, because this is after all, a Marvel film, and a fine scene it is). You never feel like the team is a formula, but rather a cross-cut of personalities to help Hiro and Baymax shine.

One never goes hunting for life lessons in children’s movies, but as a parent, I can tell you that it never hurts to see them done so well like they have recently in movies. Kids are invariably going to watch these films on multiple occasions whether it’s in the theaters or once they are home releases. So it does make you feel better when you see ways to spark the interest in the science fields, trusting others for help and teamwork, pushing through life’s failures, or how to channel and cope with the anger and emotions of experiencing personal loss–it’s quite a change from waiting for Prince Charming to come along. How to Train Your Dragon 2 dealt with some similar themes, very powerfully I might add. It’s a sign that we’re in a great period of all-ages films.

Now, I’m not quite as sold on how great Frozen is being perceived to be, but I do understand why it’s popular. Wreck-It Ralph was another modern-day Disney classic that blended all of the things you want to see in an all-ages movie, while pulling in adults with nostalgia. Even though Disney’s Planes was a mess, Planes Fire and Rescue was a pleasant surprise and recovery. We’ve never been shy to show our love for Tron: Uprising at Buzzfocus, even though it never found its audience. Still, it was a risk taken, and Star Wars: Rebels looks like another winner. Now with Big Hero 6, we can see Disney slowly evolving from what they used to be, while still finding their place in the present landscape and still understanding how best to utilize all of the assets acquired throughout the years in fun and imaginative ways. These are exciting times at Disney Animation.

The result of the Marvel-Disney collaboration on Big Hero 6 translates into magic, with plenty of big super hero moments that older audiences have always been drawn to recently, and enough Disney elements to capture the minds of a five or six-year-old without the need to bring in the scarier elements that they’ll surely graduate to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s no rush though, that world will be around for decades.

San Fransokyo is an awesome and opulent visual delight. It might be hard to pull yourself out of the story and appreciate the level of detail and complexity of this animated world but this is a big and beautiful world the animators have created. There are a few moments that make you stop and gape, like you’re watching a new Hayao Miyazaki world unfold before you, but it’s still very much a Disney film. It certainly strengthens the faith in the Marvel-Disney collaboration and reinforces the team concept of the film, that they can be stronger in this instance, working as a team.

BH6 has the beats of an all-ages superhero film & wonder of a world’s fair wrapped into a fat burrito ready for consumption by today’s hero-hungry world. Baymax is a character who will be–and should be–plastered all over the world. It is funny, inspiring and full of grin-inducing moments that places it immediately amongst Disney’s modern-day successes. Big Hero 6 is a franchise with some seriously long legs.

Blast Off #30: Black Panther & Captain Marvel lead Marvel’s Movie Rampage on DC

The Team Focus Blast Off is back, with Ernie Estrella making his triumphant return. From The Flash. Arrow, Gotham and Agents of SHIELD to the Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Avengers: Infinity War movies, we’re talking about the comics storm taking place on TV and in Film. How do you think the Film/TV war is stacking up between the two comics publishing behemoths?

Listen to the Team Focus Blast Off #30 with Bags Hooper and Ernie Estrella below:
[podcast]http://www.buzzfocus.com/blastoff/Blast-off-30.mp3[/podcast]

Tune in regularly for more discussion by Subscribing to the Team Focus Blast Off on iTunes.

Follow @bagshooper and @ernieestrella on Twitter.

The Sims 4 and Disney partnership ideas

EA and their partnership with Disney has already blossomed some very cool character implementation in The Sims – Star Wars costumes! Darth Vader, Leia and Yoda can all be cosplayed as and, although no additional content has been confirmed, opens the door for more possibilities. Below, I have come up with a trio of cool ideas I would love to see put into The Sims 4 that would make clever and interesting use to the many Disney owned characters. Keep in mind that these are all ideas that would keep The Sims 4 fundamentally the same game.

More costumes and clothes

This is sort of a no-brainer and will most likely come, but there should be more lovable characters represented in clothing and costumes. I’m sure an Incredibles T-shirt or a Princess Elsa dress would go over well with fans and players can truly express their fandom through their Sims. Star Wars was a nice start, but there are fans of other series and franchises playing the game, too.

Toy Story characters come alive

There should be a way to put some toys in a room that include the likes of Woody, Buzz and the rest of the Toy Story gang. Then, when your Sims leave a room, they should be seen walking and talking about. They don’t have to be doing anything major, but just enough so we know they’ve come alive. Finally, when a Sim enters a room again, the toys could drop dead as if nothing happened.

Superman to the rescue

Ok, not Superman, because that’s DC and not Disney-owned Marvel, but some heroic figure can come swooping in when a Sim is in danger. During a recent preview of the upcoming inclusion of pools into The Sims 4, you can barricade Sims into a pool and drown them. So with this Disney feature, the game will recognize a player is intentionally trying to kill off a Sim and have Spider-Man or Iron Man come and save the day. It doesn’t have to happen all the time, but something along the lines of 1 out of 20 times as an Easter egg would be cool to see.

If you have any cool ideas of your own, leave a comment.

The World’s Most Awesome Surfing Locations

888poker presents the Top 10 list of Biggest Surfing Wave Locations in the world. We’re talking 90ft waves that make King Kong look like Mickey Mouse. Get ready to experience an adrenaline-loaded journey into the heart of the Big Blue – anywhere and everywhere the biggest waves rule. Get your sex wax ready, don your wetsuit and hang on for dear life – this is point break like you’ve never seen it before!

Our quest for the world’s most awesome waves begins on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, where 20ft swells have challenged plenty of surfers. We move on to Mexico’s Puerto Escondido at #6 with 52ft Mexican Pipelines; ending up in Cortes Bank, California with massive 90ft waves.

Our Top 10 list takes you from Fiji all the way to Ireland, dishing up more monstrous waves than you can handle!

Top Ten Best Places to Surf

Via: 888poker

Slotomania free slots for everyone

The gaming industry can amaze us all every month: new games, new slots and new apps for iPhones come out and sometimes we might even feel embarrassed about what apps to choose for a game we like to play.

This can be frustrating, we do know, and for this reason we want to give you a few tips, in case you love slots.

Kinds of slot games

First off download iTunes. iTunes will enable your computer to download and install the free app Slotomania. The Slotomania Free slots app will let you enter the world of the first social video slots game in the  web. You can choose among the 55 slots games featured by Slotomania and try to get a special bonus by playing.

A few titles you won’t miss to check are “House of Fun”, “Slot Journey”, “Lucky Slots”, “Slots Wheel Deal”, “Xtreme Slots” and many more.

Remember that Slotomania free slots are advertised also on Tv and you can find online all the “seen-on-Tv” games such as “Escape to Ancient Egypt”, “Escape to Wonderland”, “Caesars Slots”, “Scratch That!”, “Slotomania HD”.

Responsible gaming attitude

With Slotomania you can play enjoying a non stop fun.

Remember that slots can give you addiction as well as any other kind of game. So, when playing try not to exaggerate: games are made to have fun, not to destroy people’s life. Try to establish a fixed budget in case you are playing slots for real money and play using only the sums of money you get as a winning. This will help you save the starting budget.

Do not hesitate to visit the website of Slotomania free slots and to learn more about the existence of strategies or tips to win more often. We are sure you are going to have much fun with Slotomania free slots!

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ braves new worlds for Marvel fans to devour

If you’ve been waiting for just one shoe to drop for Marvel Studios and their streak of entertaining superhero films to end with Guardians of the Galaxy, you had better hold your breath… at least until the Ant-Man movie. When first announced, Guardians of the Galaxy was met with skepticism and trepidation (myself included) given that there was no link to the Avengers in any sort, the story took place in deep outer space, and it featured a gun-toting smack-talking raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and a living tree (Vin Diesel). But anyone who has read or is reading the comics, both the current run, and the essential Volume 2 (2008-2010) by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, knew its potential for taking the Marvel Cinematic Universe to places where there are no limits–if they could pull it off. Boy, did they ever.

nebula

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted by aliens shortly after experiencing personal tragedy and 26 years later finds himself in a intergalactic heist story, too far away from Earth to tell if he’ll ever see home again. The only thing he has to remember where he’s from are his memories, an old cassette walkman (that’s before compact discs for all you young-ins) with an eclectic mix tape and an unwrapped present from his mother. His life is like that of a scavenger from the wild west, retrieving artifacts or people and selling them to the highest bidder. He learned much from his abductor, Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) but his latest score draws the attention of the ruthless Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a servant of Thanos (Josh Brollin) who last made a brief appearance in the credits of the Avengers. Bounty hunters, galactic police, and planet destroyers all come after him and amongst those hunting him down is Thanos’ adopted daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to retrieve the orb.

This cast is extremely charismatic and jells together before too long, which contrasts the Avengers, who by design, bicker and clash constantly. Pratt is going to win over anyone who wasn’t already a fan of his work in Parks and Rec. As the lone link to Earth–actually, there’s a big soundtrack of recognizable rock and soul hits from the 1970s–the audience doesn’t need to work hard to like Quill. He’s a renegade jokester, is brash and arrogant but never tries to skate away from danger. He takes it head on. Though she’s been in other team genre films like The Losers and Star Trek, Saldana gets the right amount of screen time is noticeably at ease as Gamora. As for the rest of the Guardians, Bautista’s Drax is hard to embrace at first, but quickly grows on you by the end of the film and Rocket and Groot as anticipated, steal the entire freaking show.

groot

On the other side, Karen Gillan’s Nebula is a lovely femme fatale in blue, and also sporting that hue is Rooker’s Yondu, who is anything but good, but is not necessarily evil either. It’s clear that there are bigger and badder things in store for Thanos down the road, but Ronan is plenty wicked enough. The subversive relationship he has with Thanos makes for a tumultuous relationship that’s ready to boil over. Unfortunately, with so many moving pieces and characters, Ronan gets a similar treatment to the Red Skull in Captain America, where one can run wild at the thought of his brutality, but we simply  don’t see enough of it. Much of his dirty work is feared through conversations, so there are some missed opportunities there. Don’t worry Marvel-ites, my greed only comes from good results.

For comic book and science-fiction nuts, there’s plenty to gush over, including imaginative spaceship designs, gadgets, quick cameos and eye-gaping worlds realized like the inter-dimensional outpost/observatory, Knowhere. I wished Marvel was a little more creative in the design of its alien races since most are a humanoid form with some differences in radiant body paint and wardrobe and curiously, they all spoke English. Still, these are minor quibbles rather than overall deficiencies, of which there are none that truly weigh the story or pace down.

GotG

Fun is an overused adjective to describe Guardians, but it is exactly that in both tone and spirit. Why complicate an uncomplicated film? Humor is infused at all the right spots and calling any specific moment out would just ruin the experience. Viewers will be flooded with that feeling of unbridled joy, more consistently than Avengers, and be rewarded for taking the chance with a ticket in hand. Outside of a few relationships being under developed (Quill and Yondu for example) and some more desired screen time for a few other cosmic beings, Guardians is as tight of a space romp since The Fifth Element. From Rocket and Groot, the dozens of characters introduced, to exploding the MCU far beyond the Nine Realms seen in the Thor films, success was achieved. There was little that misfired. It was ambitious to build several worlds from scratch and hope the audience wants to take a ride with unproven drivers behind the wheel, but they did it and  this is a film that is sure to grow on viewers with each repeated viewing. If you weren’t inundated with fans yelling “Hail Hydra” after The Winter Soldier, just wait for the choruses of “I am Groot!” to ring out.

Director and co-writer James Gunn came up with a terrific tale with Nicole Perlman; they extracted the most translatable elements of Abnett and Lanning’s comic run and executed a polished space adventure with legs. Seeds are planted for the scheduled sequel and future threads into the upcoming Avengers films. Now new franchises can be explored without little effort, like Nova or Adam Warlock. Warner Bros. and DC Comics would never admit to it, but Guardians of the Galaxy achieved everything they wanted to do with Green Lantern and more, with what looked like less effort. That gives hope to the future of Marvel Studios, in being able to sustain itself after Robert Downey Jr. eventually walks away. Eventually, whatever momentum it builds for itself will merge with the Avengers films. Think about that for a second.

Eat like Galactus, Marvel fans, there’s still much more to consume.

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ displays precise and patient storytelling

Planet of the Apes is not an easy franchise to embrace. There’s the classic original Planet of the Apes and its sequels of varying quality, then there’s the terrible Tim Burton remake and finally Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which breathed new life. Would the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes take off from that launching point, or would it become another forgettable sequel?

dawn of the planet of the apes

Much like the end credits of Rise suggested, the opening credits of Dawn show the spread and lasting effect of the Simian flu/ALZ-113 virus on the world, wiping out a large portion of the human population, creating pockets of survival, leaving many without the false comforts of technology and electricity. Supplies are becoming scarce and many of the post-apocalyptic staples are present, but conceptually, most fit very well into this specific instance. To many survivors, apes are wrongly viewed as the source of the virus, when in fact it was the work of scientists who were looking to cure diseases we struggle with today like Alzheimers. Ah, you have to love threats that evolve out of a good place.

Dawn opens in Muir Woods National Monument, completely overgrown and overrun by apes– with ten years elapsed from the previous film. The pivotal ape in Rise, Caesar (Andy Serkis) is now grown into a true alpha male, and fostered a new civilization for the apes to thrive in their natural habitat, and look out for one another. Without the influence of humans for a decade, and contact with a human in two years, the apes have thrived off the land. Humans though do exist. The apes’ sanctuary is infiltrated by a small party of human survivors, searching for access into dam nearby that could generate hydroelectric energy to restore power to the ruins of San Francisco. A loose cannon (Kirk Acevedo) in the group shoots an ape in fear, and forces Caesar to take action, sending his right hand ape Kobo (Tony Kebbell) to spy and discover where the humans are hiding.

Like Caesar, Kobo is a former lab ape, but experienced much less compassion and care than his fearless leader. Kobo resents humans and wishes to extinguish any threat of them swiftly. Caesar holds him back and reminds him that they are different because humans are willing to kill each other. Apes would and should never do that. They treat each other like family, not a species. Throughout the film, Kobo parallels the qualities of a good soldier but also a radical, twisting Caesar’s teachings for his own agenda. He is a leader in his own rights, and is a heavy influence on Caesar’s older son. The rest of Caesar’s pack start to wonder if Caesar is going soft on them or if he’s just that much more intelligent than them.

As the politics within the apes play out, a small group of humans tries to broker peace with Caesar long enough to gain access to the dam and get it up and running again so that they may reconnect with other survivors who are capable of mobilization and relief. Malcolm (Jason Clarke) believes he saw reason in Caesar and takes with him his second wife Ellie (Keri Russell), a former CDC nurse, and his teenage son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who brings with him a well-read copy of Charles Burns’ Black Hole. The rest of the human cast are collection of one-note buffoons who will stop at nothing to repeat the stupidity of man, all in the name of preservation. Gary Oldman plays Dreyfus, the leader of the survivors and is great for one-liners but carries the shield of survivor a bit too heavy. The most frustrating antagonist is Acevedo’s Carver who not only initiates all of the conflict at the beginning of the film, but continues to needle the situation until he breaks the skin and strikes blood before hitting bone.

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But the one thing that is especially enjoyable about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is that it takes its time. I’ve lost count with the (summer blockbuster) films that have ambitiously tried to cram too much in too little time, or are just a string of action sequences without taking a few moments to allow audiences to catch their breath long enough to connect with these characters. Dawn does that extremely well, taking time to show the culture of the apes, their hierarchy, and their plight. This is a very small story in the grand scheme of this damaged world, but it didn’t feel the need to explain what was going on with the rest of the planet just to satisfy those audience members with attention deficit disorder.

Still there’s plenty to gloss about the memorable images that have been created in this film like apes riding horses wielding machine guns, a dystopian San Fran, and countless scenes of apes running amok through the forests and ruins of the city. It’s a wonderful achievement in set design and visuals by Weta Digital, plus there’s a powerful and thrilling score composed by Michael Giacchino.

There’s no doubting who the stars of the film are though–it’s the apes. From the visual artists, to the performances of Andy Serkis, Tony Kebbell and Karin Konoval, this world is believable, despite the rather absurd cut of the trailer. Over half of the dialogue and most of the film’s most intense moments are between apes. It’s a lot of heavy lifting by anthropomorphic beasts, but it never gets silly, nor are you ever taken out of the moment– and 3D is absolutely unnecessary.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a sequel that surpasses its predecessor. It is well-balanced, even paced and is strong in the story and character development departments–all of which have become an endangered species in this world of Hollywood blockbuster. Jason Clarke continues to surprise as a leading man and hopefully the acting of Serkis and Kebbell don’t go unnoticed. Most of all, this installment builds real momentum for what is sure to be another installment of the franchise while finding a good place to conclude. There’s lots to like about Dawn, so go bananas!

Watch The Grand Budapest Hotel be built out of Legos

Grand Brick Hotel

There are fans of Wes Anderson films and then there is Ryan Ziegelbauer and his team of eight model builders who used 575 hours of their lives constructing the Grand Budapest Hotel entirely out of Legos. Using a massive amount of those new pink Lego bricks for something other than girlie constructs and Homer Simpson’s car, and over 50,000 pieces from collectors and wholesale sources in Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Germany, Italy and 14 different states in the U.S. This batboy weighed in at over 150 pounds and stands 7 feet tall and 6.5 feet wide.

This video of their momentous achievement is to raise awareness of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s June 17th blu-ray and DVD release of Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which we adored, and maybe there’s some cross promotion with The Lego Movie, which is also due out on the same date – no thanks to Amazon – except the amount of glue that is used in the construction of the #GrandBrickHotel is a little disconcerting. Did Emmet and the “Man from Upstairs” teach us anything? Oh well. This is still pretty phenomenal. Sit back and enjoy.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/oJ2ezbi3ZCc[/youtube]

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’ will cause a supernova in your mind

Cosmos Blu-Ray

Science has been under attack of late and I’m not sure why. Some want to tear down the discoveries and words of caution by scientists, as if to discredit them like an urban legend. No one wants to put money into space programs anymore, and there are those who continue to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to the environment, greenhouse effect, global warming and other scientific truths. It’s not always easy to understand science but to outright deny it is a movement that is befuddling as much as it is frustrating. So what better time than to revive Cosmos, the TV show hosted by the late scientist Carl Sagan, who succeeded in breaking down the walls of science, putting the discoveries in a digestible format that would help communicate the wonders of science to non-scientists.

Led by his widow Ann Druyan and Steve Soter, Sagan’s collaborators on the original series, and producers Seth McFarlane, Brannon Braga, Mitchell Cannold, and Jason Clark, networks Fox and National Geographic just finished airing the 13-part series that used a combination of storytelling devices such as visual effects, animation, re-enactments, and the soothing demeanor and charisma of astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to explore and challenge the horizons of viewers’ minds with factual science. They traveled the world, charting the scientific achievements and created captivating television, dazzling viewers visually, audibly,  and intellectually. The blu-ray presents the following in stunning 1080p and in 1.78:1 aspect ratio:

collision

Ep. 1 Standing Up in the Milky Way – Breaks down the concept of the Cosmic Calendar and its use as a metaphor for the series.
Ep. 2 Some of the Things That Molecules Do – Origin of life and Evolution, including the Tree of Life, genes and mutation.
Ep. 3 When Knowledge Conquered Fear – Pattern recognition and early astronomy/astrology including the Oort Cloud, and the understanding of the Milky Way based on the work of Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley.
Ep. 4 A Sky Full of Ghosts – The speed of light and deep time to pinpoint the Big Bang and age of the universe; also Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, black holes, and dark stars are discussed.
Ep. 5 Hiding in the Light – Wave theory of light and the visual spectrum of light, spectroscopy, and Joseph von Fraunhofer.
Ep. 6 Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still – The cosmos on the atomic and mice scales, as well as, the work of Greek philosophers Thales and Democritus and how they theorized matter being comprised of atoms and how carbon and its chemical nature.
Ep. 7 The Clean Room – Determining the age of the Earth with Clair Patterson’s work.
Ep. 8 Sisters of the Sun – Composition and life cycle of stars as well as the cataloguing of the stars through the work of women such as Annie Jump Cannon, Cecilia Payne and Henrietta Sean Leavitt.
Ep. 9 The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth –  Paleogeography and plate tectonics as well as the asteroid impact that created the mass extinction of animal and plant life (including much of the dinosaurs)
Ep. 10 The Electric Boy – The work of Michael Faraday
Ep. 11 The Immortals – Life on Earth and potentially other planets
Ep. 12 The World Set Free –  The Greenhouse effect and the damaging effects of the rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
Ep. 13 Unfraid of the Dark –   The work of Fritz Zwicky, Victor Hess, Edwin Hubble, Vera Rubin and interstellar travel.

cosmic calendar

Many of Sagan’s Cosmos’ most endearing devices like The Ship of Imagination and the Cosmic Calendar were updated to put the viewer front and center to profile many of our greatest scientists, and whether their studies and findings were celebrated during their respectable living years, their discoveries are presented while trying to expand the audience’s limitations to what lies beyond our current knowledge.

Today’s sofa chair critics are a hard crowd to please, but the animation sequences, done in “moving paper” style, do help to convey complex concepts and what would be a dry presentation if it were just talking heads. They have a graphic novel look to them and help break up some of the dense knowledge that Tyson throws at the viewer. Some of the featured voices include Patrick Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Richard Gere, Marlee Matlin, Amanda Seyfried, Julian Ovenden, Carl Elwes, and prominent voice actors including Phil LaMarr, Martin Jarvis, and MacFarlane.

As someone who started out in science and worked as a chemist, I was blown away at how all of this dense material was presented. It was so much more inviting and creative that you’re able to get past that wall of science-speak that many can’t get beyond. I wished more science classes on the high school and college were taught with this show in mind. Because once you’re able to see past those and get at what the series is trying to show you, the explosions of imagination, wonder, and limitless horizons will go off in your mind. Other times the episodes are a call to action, and can be inspirational to those who want to be a part of positive change in our planet. That’s a pretty awesome thing to feel when watching something like this, so I wonder why people would try to discourage or take steps back from that kind of thinking and prefer ignorance.

Regardless of how many people were reached during the original broadcast, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey might have greater importance on the home market, where one can commit to these episodes, free of commercials, inviting viewers to rewind, consume and properly digest each episode. To have it be passed along and shared, or simply used as a teaching tool in schools, Cosmos can help quench the thirst for science, to inspire future chemist, biologists, physicists and engineers. If we’re to reverse the direction of our declining environment, or we’re to ever find out what lies beyond our galaxy, science will be the root by which we make those achievements.

bruno

DVD Extras
There weren’t as many extra features as I had hoped but what is here is good material for fans of Sagan and Cosmos. There’s a great audio commentary on the premiere episode with Ann Druyan,  Mitchell Cannold, Brannon Braga, Jason Clark, and Kara Vallow; I just wish there were twelve more like it on the rest of the series. I would think that each episode had its own unique circumstances and stories, and there were enough contributors who could’ve given insight from various angles.

On Disc 2, a 35 minute celebration of Carl Sagan is shown where Seth MacFarlane spoke about the dying of science in our society following the 1990s and Neil deGrasse Tyson who speaks about his handful of encounters with the late Carl Sagan, and Druyan who  in front of the Library of Congress Dedication. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey at Comic-Con 2013 - takes 40 minutes to look at the San Diego Comic-Con panel in 2013. Finally, on Disc 4 is Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – The Voyage Continues is a 41-minute breakdown of how the new series came to be along with an Interactive Cosmic Calendar which allows users to go to any month and explore the calendar month-by-month for our universe’s biggest cosmic moments.

All of it is presented beautifully in high definition, and interested viewers will want to see this on blu-ray over a standard DVD. It won’t take much to convince lovers of science to view Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. There’s plenty to devour. But this is essential and required viewing for those who would normally avoid this kind of programming because this is the most creative and cinematic way – at least since Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage – to help show why science is so cool.