Tuesday, February 26, 2013

SDCC Plan your attack Part 4

All the pain and annoyances are worth it if you have the means to attend. Funny things happen that you will not expect. For instance, Adam Savage from Mythbusters wandering around in a Ring Wraith costume, a member of the Supernatural cast going for a morning run past people in line waiting for panels and watching girls break their places in line and make a futile effort to run after him, people protesting Comic-Con...

Yeah, I forgot to mention that. So heads up, because if you attend Comic-Con, you are apparently a sinner and will go to hell unless you repent. So says the people who make their pilgrimage to SDCC to remind you of that fact. But nerds being the creative types and all, just take it in stride and have a little fun with it.

And speaking of fun, of course you get to see all the people who dress up.

You can even join them if you are so inclined. And no one will think you are weird.

Then there are other events such as The Nerd HQ, and hopefully another w00tstock that will be happening independent of the convention. The best time my wife and I had while at SDCC was outside the con at w00tstock. Point being, if you didn’t get a pass for every day, there are other things to do.

Now if you plan everything and don’t get passes, it’s not the end of the world. San Diego Comic Con happens every year. And look on the bright side, you saved your money. Money that you can use to live it up at another good, and probably not as commercial or expensive, convention. Or save it for next years Comic-Con. Or use it for something else. Just having saved money around is never a bad thing.

If you can’t make it this year, you can make it another year. One day you will make your pilgrimage and it will be a moment in you life you will never forget.

SDCC Plan your attack Part 3

If you have never been to San Diego Comic-Con, the experience can be overwhelming and intimidating. There is literally a lot of ground to cover and a lot of things to see and do with a lot of people around you. And as the Con gets closer you get tense wondering when the schedules for the panels will come out. Well, maybe that’s just me. But it is a concern. God forbid the panels for your favorite TV show and Movie are at the same time. Or maybe the panel for you favorite artist is in one room and takes place right after the panel for your favorite show in a different room, which is all the way on the other side of the convention center. But if you go to the panel for your favorite artist you won’t make it back into the room where your favorite TV show was where the panel for the next big comic book movie is gonna be right after a panel for a a show or movie that you could care less about. Oh, did I mention while all that is going on, another panel that you really want to attend is happening not in the convention center, but at the hotel next door.

Yeah, it’s like that. SDCC will release the schedule before the con. Don’t worry about that. But be prepared to compromise. You may get lucky and all the panels you want to get into happen at convenient times and places where you can hit them all. But don’t be surprised if you have to sacrifice one or more to see another. So prioritize. And be ready to change your plan if your spot in line ends up too far back to get into the panel you want.

When you hit the dealer floor one side will be the big movie studios and publishers with their giant, fancy booths pushing the latest movies, titles, and merchandise.

On the other side will be the independent dealers where you can find your t-shirts, hard to find toys, posters, buttons, etc. and yes, believe it or not, people will actually be selling comics.

Some where in the middle and mixed into different places will be the writers and artist signing and selling their work.

If you want a celebrity autograph, be prepared to pay for it, wait in line, and possibly having to draw a number to see if you can even get in line. All that info will be released by the Comic-Con people ahead of the convention.

Oh, if you want a San Diego Comic-Con t-shirt, get in line as early as you can. I waited till Sunday last year and all the had left was XXL and XS sizes.

Now if I have not stressed you out enough, you can actually have a good time.

SDCC Plan your attack Part 2

How are you getting to San Diego? The obvious choice for a lot of people is to fly. But lets say those airline tickets are looking like a bit much. Then there is dealing with security, baggage fees, and just dealing with the whole airport experience in general. Have you ever considered going old school and doing the great American road trip? Takes longer, yes, but hear me out. What you spend on gas is pretty close to what you will pay for a single round trip ticket. Now, if it was just you, it doesn’t make much difference. But if it you and your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, and/or friend(s) traveling by air is gonna add up really quick. With a reliable car everyone can travel for the price of one and no baggage fees. Also, depending on the size of the car, truck, or SUV and the size of the group, you may be able to carry more stuff to and from SDCC. You can also plan your route ahead of time and work in some sight seeing. For example, my wife and I took in the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam last year. Make a vacation out of it.

No what to wear at the convention? It is a causal affair. But at the very least I’d invest in comfortable shoes. Because you will be standing in line.

A lot.

Like really a lot.

Standing for hours depending on what panel you want to get into. And sleeping outside if necessary for some panels like the Firefly anniversary panel last year. A water bottle and snacks can come in pretty handy too if you don't want to get out of line for over priced food.

Which bring up something to sit on. This couple we were inline with lat year had these great little collapsible chairs that folded up and stored in a backpack.

For this year I'm opting for something a little bigger with more seat room like this:

Some of you younger people out there may not be affected by all the standing, but my ankles were sore for a few days after I got home. I should also mention that awesome cosplay idea you are working on. You might want to work out the comfort level in to the equation. Heels may look good, but will they feel good after a whole day on your feet? You might also be sweating all day depending on what your costume is made of.  So breathable materiel might be a good idea if at all possible.

You will also want cash on hand. I remember only one ATM. Could be more but not many and I didn’t care to see the fee for using it. Taking a shot in the dark, but I'd guess the fee was pretty high. All the vendors take cash and I didn’t see any with credit card machines. Some might be able to take credit, but   why complicate things?

All this is supposed to be fun right?

Anyway, you got your passes, transportation, place to stay, and all your gear and cash.

SDCC Plan your attack Part 1

So you want to go to Comic-Con?

Are you prepared for the chaos? Are you ready for standing for hours? Do you really want to go to nerd Mecca? Presumably the answer is yes or else you would not be reading this. While it is pretty much to late to get passes for this year, you can plan for the next convention. So what to do? Let me tell you what worked for me.

Save money and make a budget. Figure out all the things you could possibly spend money on as best as you can and then round up a little. Comic-Con will cost you. As much of a pain as getting passes may be, those may be the least of your financial concerns. It can get expensive. Well, expensive for us normal people. And things will be easier to enjoy without having to worry about your monetary situation

So let’s say you got your passes. You need a way to get over there and you need a place to stay. First lets tackle your living accommodations. While there are several hotels that are going to have deals with the Con, that is going to be a whole new piece of tension and drama competing with others to get rooms. Not to mention how much extra you will be paying to be downtown and next to the convention center. Do some research and look for hotels next to or near the trolley line in San Diego and the surrounding communities. I'm not saying staying next door wouldn't be worth it, because it would be. But if you don't have the means or the time to get online and compete for those hotels, you do have other good options.

You can buy a trolley pass for 4 days and not have to worry about gas or cab fair. I used it last year and I was really happy with how it worked out. Plus the Imperial Transit Center, where all the lines meet, is a block away from the San Diego Convention Center.

You can find the trolley map, fares, and schedule at http://www.sdmts.com/trolley/trolley.asp

In case your curious, here is the link to the convention center: http://www.visitsandiego.com/

So that actually takes care of your transportation and accommodations while at Comic-Con.

Now how will you get there and what will you wear?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is the band getting back together?

If we can believe recent reports, Harrison Ford is coming back to be Han Solo. Now Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are in talks as well to return to our favorite galaxy far, far away. Could this be the Star Wars we have been waiting for? The prequel trilogy may or may not have lived up to the hype depending on what generation you were born into and on the individual person. But to have the original cast come back is something I am sure would make every fan curious and excited. Mark Hamill has said that he would not do it unless everyone came back. Everyone. Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, etc.

(SPOILER ALERT for anyone who has not read or heard of the books and comics)

But what kind of story would that be. Unfortunately the cast has gotten to old for the fantastic Heir To The Empire trilogy written by Timothy Zahn. Had I a time machine and any kind of influence, I would have made those books the next three Star Wars movies. But there is still an opportunity for a great film. Or more likely films. I have not followed the books for years, but there is plenty of cinematic material to be mined. Especially with the children of Han and Leia. All three becoming Jedi and one going to the Darkside. I’d also really like to see Hamill show us Luke as the older, wiser Jedi Master and Fisher become Leia, the Jedi Knight. Han will always be Han of course. Although Harrison Ford has been sticking to his guns about Han dying ever since Return of the Jedi. So would that happen? And what about Chewie? In the books Chewbacca died years ago saving the live of one of Han and Leia’s children. Will a new film even follow the books?

Everything right now would just be rumor and speculation. But the bigger question is still will J.J Abrams be able to give us a Star Wars that everyone will love? It will make money either way. But will we love it?

(UPDATE: Carrie Fisher says "yes", her rep says "no" she was "joking", but Lucas says yes about all three.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is it time for Kingdom Come?

With the success of The Avengers, DC is rightfully looking to attempt their own team film with the most legendary team of them all, the Justice League. But how to pull it off? There is the very good argument to use Marvel’s template. Each member of the League will have his and her own film, with each tying into one story that will bring the team all together. But first, you have to test the waters. A Justice League film will depend on the success of the new Superman film, Man of Steel. If that is successful, a new Batman film will probably be green lit and so on. But honestly, since the Justice League is loaded down with some seriously heavy hitters, you need a seriously huge conflict to bring them together. But at what point does it look like you are trying to copy the Avengers?

Perhaps DC should take a different route? The big three of DC, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Women, have been in the collective consciousness of pop culture for a long time. We knew them and their stories better than most Marvel characters for a long time. So do we need to start from the beginning and reintroduce them all? Or should we just introduce a world where they already exist? Either way, we need an epic story. So why not Kingdom Come? In a world going mad with super beings fighting each other without thought to the destruction around them, Superman leads a team with Wonder Woman and other original and more traditional heroes to rein in the irresponsible destruction. Batman heads his own team in an attempt to stop an all out war. It’s a gritty story created by Alex Ross and Mark Waid where we see these iconic heroes pushed to the edge and forced to make tough choices. Superman almost losing his love for humanity, an elderly Batman who uses technology to continue his crime fighting, and a Wonder Woman in full on warrior mode. We even get a huge battle royal at the end. It is a Lord Of The Rings scale story that would need at least two films to tell. But a successful trilogy could boost DC into direct competition with Marvel's movie universe. They could make a lot of money and we could get a lot of good entertainment. But would any studio be bold enough to try?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Natalie Portman, Queen of Sci-Fi

It’s hard to argue against Natalie Portman being the most successful actress in science fiction right now. I always thought she was good at what she does. But I really took notice, or should I say, my nerd side took notice, when she took the role of Evie Hammond in V For Vendetta, one of my favorite movies. Her performance, to me anyway, was severely underrated and should have gotten some form of award attention.

Portman has also immortalized herself by becoming a member of the Star Wars franchise. Yes, the new trilogy came before V, but the prequel trilogy didn’t live up to the hype in my opinion. And I’m not going to get into and old vs. new debate here. But I thought Natalie did well as Padme Amidala despite her character’s passing due to the lack of the will to live. Anyway…

It took a literally crazy good performance in Black Swan to get Natalie Portman the recognition she has deserved for quite some time. However the nerd world has held her in high regard before her Oscar. Now she is reprising her role as Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World. Maybe a studio will wise up and give her a starring role in her own super hero movie. At one point she was attached to play Lizzie Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, based on the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, a parody of the Jane Austen novel. It would also be interesting to see if she returns to the Mathilda character in another The Professional movie. Natalie Portman as a lethal assassin? You know you'd want to see Mathilda: The Professional. And you know you want to see her center stage as the lead in a sci-fi project.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence, the girl on fire

Though she isn’t a girl, Jennifer Lawrence is a rising force in Hollywood. Here first big role in Winter’s Bone gained her an Oscar Nomination for Best Actress. But us geeks know her best for her portrayal as Raven Darkholme in X-Men: First Class and of course as Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire.

One of the most notable tings to me is her sense of humor and how grounded she seems for someone who has earned the right to have maybe a little chip on her shoulder. But instead we get the young woman who makes her costars laugh on set and reminds is that her first SAG (Screen Actors Guild) job was playing a stereotypical wannabe princess in a My Super Sweet Sixteen commercial for MTV. And now it looks like she may be on her way to another Oscar nomination and possibly a win for her role in Silver Linings Playbook.

But the geeks in us are waiting for her other rolls. Namely a return to Raven in X-Men: Days of Future Past and the next chapter of the Hunger Games, Catching Fire. (Like you don’t know this already.) A franchise that Lawrence carries on her shoulders.

Jennifer Lawrence has chosen to play strong women on screen and given fans of sci-fi another great actress to bring strong rolls to life. Lets see what she chooses next.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Will the Hulk go to war?

According to Latino Review, (which has been a pretty good source of information on Marvel movies) we may see the Planet Hulk and World War Hulk storylines as a part of Marvel’s Phase 3. In case you were wondering, the movies leading up to and including The Avengers was Phase 1. Phase 2 is currently in progress with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, and of course The Avengers 2. Guardians of the Galaxy is also part of Phase 2 with the rumor of Iron Man being lost in space at the end of Iron Man 3 and meeting up with the Guardians in some way or another. And the Doctor Strange movie will be somewhere in the mix as well.

But back to the Hulk. The current Rumor is that Avengers 3 will be based on the World War Hulk plot. And before that we’ll have a stand alone Hulk Movie that will cover Planet Hulk. And Mark Ruffalo does have a multi film contract with Marvel. For those of you who never read the series, (spoilers ahead) basically Marvel’s heroes decide that Hulk is too dangerous and exile him to an uninhabited planet. Instead The Hulk lands on a different planet, is enslaved, forced into gladiatorial games, breaks free, leads a revolution, frees the planet, falls in love, loses his love, gets really mad (like really, really mad) and returns to Earth seeking revenge. In World War Hulk, The Hulk leads his Warbound (fellow gladiators and friends) in an attack on the Earth and defeats everyone. Chaos ensues, etc.

There is also a very interesting plot point that has to be discussed if this is in fact where Marvel is going. In a key moment in the story The Hulk faces the champion of his captors who is also a slave. In this brutal match, both are freed when the devices that are used to enslave them are damaged. In the comic, The Hulk battles the Silver Surfer. Which would mean Galactus would be around in the Marvel movie universe. Of course that all depends on if the Marvel secured the rights to Galactus and the Silver Surfer. I couldn’t tell lat time I checked. In the animated film, The Hulk battles Beta Ray Bill, an alien who is an ally of Thor in the comics and once wielded Mjolnir. So if the movie happens, what champion will the Hulk face and what will that signal for the movie universe in the future?

Of course right now this is all rumor and speculation. But to borrow the title of one of Marvels own comic books, What IF?

(UPDATE: Joss Whedon shoots this rumor down. It's not gonna happen.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

And Star Lord Is… Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt has been officially confirmed as Star Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Pratt, most known for his comedic roles especially in the TV series Parks and Recreation, has also shown that he can handle serious roles such as a Navy Seal in Zero Dark Thirty. We should also expect that Pratt will get into at least something close to the Navy Seal fighting shape when he stars in this chapter of Marvels Phase 2 of films.

Star Lord, Peter Quill, is a human and the leader of a team that takes a proactive approach to protecting the galaxy instead of waiting for a crisis to react. The team in the upcoming film will include Gamora, the last of her species and a skilled assassin who in the comics was trained by Thanos (the big purple guy at the end of The Avengers for you non comic readers), Drax The Destroyer, a former human whose spirit was placed in a new body for the purpose of killing Thanos, Groot, a sentient plant being who can absorb wood and control trees, and Rocket Raccoon, a raccoon that was genetically enhanced to have human level intelligence and can talk.

Is it appropriate that Pratt be given a role where his costar is a talking raccoon? It will be interesting to see who will next be chosen to fill out the roster.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Rise of Shadowcat?

With the next X-Men film being titled Days of Future Past, there are a few questions that are going to come up. Mainly, how closely will it follow the original plotline of the legendary story from the comics? It seems pretty close. The older and younger version of Professor X and Magneto will be represented by their respective actors. And of course Hugh Jackman will be Wolverine. In the comic, it was Kitty who was sent back in time to change the future. So where does all this stand?

It appears we will get the story we are hoping for. Ellen Page has been confirmed to reprise her role and it has already been confirmed that time travel will play a big role in the film. So will this mean her role, as Kitty, will be brought more into the spotlight? I hope so. Mark Miller, Fox's Marvel Consultant did say that "Kitty Pryde fans will not be disappointed." We only got to see a little of what Page could do with the character in X-Men: The Last Stand when she took over the role. She did very well with the limited amount of screen time she had. The Last Stand and Inception proved that Page could step out of the world of indie films and handle the weight of Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters. Now she may have the chance to prove that she can lead one. So, Ellen Page, sci-fi action star?