Monday, March 12, 2018

Ayreon Universe, Judas Priest Firepower, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Animated Movie Trivia, New Releases, and More!

Some music, movies, and books news and reviews for you today - plus a little movie trivia!


Ayreon - Universe

Ayreon Universe is Ayreon live in concert for the first time ever, organized and arranged by Arjen A. Lucassen and Joost van den Broek. The Ayreon Universe set list features selected songs from all Ayreon albums plus a selection of Star One songs.

Vocalists include Floor Jansen – Nightwish, Damian Wilson – Threshold, Hansi Kürsch - Blind Guardian, Tommy Karevik – Kamelot, Anneke van Giersbergen - The Gentle Storm, Marco Hietala – Nightwish, Jonas Renkse – Katatonia, Mike Mills – Toehider, Marcela Bovio - Stream of Passion, Robert Soeterboek - Star One, John Jaycee Cuijpers - Praying Mantis, Edward Reekers – Kayak, Maggy Luyten – Nightmare, Lisette van den Berg - Scarlet Stories, and Jay van Feggelen and Irene Jansen - Ayreon

This concert is available in many different boxed sets (audio, video, t-shirts, signed, etc.) and comes out on March 30. I will definitely be picking up the pack with all of the CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays!

And just to whet your appetite:

Judas Priest – Firepower review

The metal gods are back with their umpteenth latest album!
First of all, it’s so refreshing to see people rocking out who are much older than me.
Secondly, don’t think these are a bunch of has-beens churning out crap for a quick buck. One thing I’ve always admired about this band is that they put their heart into doing the best they can. They are absolutely a fan-centered band.
I’m pleased to report this is an excellent album. It’s probably their best since Painkiller. While there isn’t a signature track, every song is solid without a dud in the bunch.
If you’re a fan of the band or old-school metal, you won’t be disappointed. Halford’s vocals sound amazing and relatively young Richie Faulkner tears it up on the guitar.
Highly recommended!


Some news from JoBlo:

Aerial footage of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge theme park.

The latest addition to the Disney theme park arena is the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction, which will allow visitors to immerse themselves in the world of Star Wars. The park is still under construction and won’t be open until 2019, but you can take a look at the foundations and sheer scope of the park in this new video released by Disney. Here, there is some aerial drone footage of the park, showing off the massive soon-to-be-completed structures.

Watch Tommy Wiseau (from The Room) get inserted into a bunch of disaster movies.

The video posted by Screen Junkies arrives just a few days before THE DISASTER ARTIST, a film based on Wiseau's unique experiences while making "the Citizen Kane of bad movies," THE ROOM, makes its Blu-Ray and DVD debut. When making the parody video, Screen Junkies invited Wiseau to stand in front of a green screen while reacting to each of the films selected. Once Tommy was done being Tommy, the outlet cut it all together to hilarious effect.

Denis Villeneuve plans to remake Dune.

Over the years, Frank Herbert's "Dune" has proven to be a notoriously difficult project to adapt. As the novel is quite dense, it's been almost impossible to whittle down the story in order to get it to fit into a single film, but it seems that Denis Villeneuve may have found a way around that. The BLADE RUNNER 2049 director will be the next to tackle DUNE, and he offered a quick update (via The Playlist) while speaking to a packed house in Montreal’s Place des Arts’ Théâtre Maisonneuve for the Rendez-Vous du Cinema Quebecois this week.
Dune will probably take two years to make. The goal is to make two films, maybe more.


Available March 15 –

Blue Sludge Blues by Shannon Lawrence
A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how much we have to fear…
Find it at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

Last Call by Tara Watson
Newly-single attorney Gwen Cooper’s list of things that make her happy is pretty simple:
1. her teenage sons
2. her stilettos
3. finally taking control of her own life
Find it on Amazon

Available March 16 –

The Thick of Things by J.L. Campbell
When love takes you by storm, hang on for the ride of your life.
Find it on Amazon

Computer Animated Movie Trivia

Since Coco just came out on DVD, let’s do a little movie trivia on computer animated films. Name the movie from the actors and year.

1 – Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, 2002
2 – Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, 2012
3 - Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, 2001
4 - Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, 2011
5 - Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, 1998
6 - Patton Oswalt, Brad Garrett, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, 2007
7 - Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, 2016
8 – Bruce Willis, Gary Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner, 2006

Answers on March 26!

Impressed by the Ayeron concert footage? Fan of Judas Priest? Ready to explore the new area of Star Wars at Disney World? Think Dune needs another remake? Picking up any new books this week? And can you guess the trivia?

I will be visiting family the third full week of March and won’t be online. However, I will have a really unique post March 19 at the IWSG site on lessons learned from really bad movies.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Insecure Writer’s Support Group #IWSG, March Movie Preview, Radius Review, and New Releases

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

Today’s optional question - How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

I celebrate by taking a day off from writing! I usually don’t do anything really special, but I do relax and do something non-writing related.
Like watch a movie.
I watch a lot of movies…

Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime - and IWSG Anthology comes out May 1!

Pre order at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo
Find on Goodreads

Plus there is a Facebook-Tick Tock Mystery and a Tick Tock Mystery blog - check them out!

Radius Movie Review

A man wakes after a car crash with no memory and soon discovers anyone who gets within fifty feet of him dies instantly.
It got great reviews and I was curious – how could they maintain a whole film if no one could get near him? The movie handles that well with a woman who was also in the car crash with him and has no memory or identity on her. The film focuses on the two trying to figure out what is happening and who they really are.
This science fiction thriller definitely has you guessing. The two characters start to have flashbacks from their lives before the crash, increasing the mystery. And of course some of the problems stem from a lack of full disclosure. (Why don’t people talk to each other?) It’s a quiet film that moves at a good pace and makes you think.
You may or may not guess the truth before the end reveal. (My wife made a wild guess halfway through and was actually right!)

New Releases

Clowders by Vanessa Morgan
When Aidan, Jess and their five-year-old daughter, Eleonore, move from America to Clervaux, it seems as if they've arrived in paradise. It soon becomes clear, though, that the inhabitants' adoration of their cats is unhealthy. …
Find it at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Amazon FR

Corners by Corrina Austin
Everyone needs their own special corner...
Find it at iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon, Nook, Amazon CA, and Goodreads
Plus there is a book trailer on YouTube

March Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for March! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

9 –

A Wrinkle in Time
After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him.
Director: Ava DuVernay
Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine, Bellamy Young, Reese Witherspoon
Bad buzz could put a wrinkle in this film’s profit.

The Hurricane Heist
Thieves attempt a massive heist against the U.S. Treasury as a Category 5 hurricane approaches one of its Mint facilities.
Director: Rob Cohen
Stars: Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Ralph Ineson
The trailer makes Sharknado look pretty by comparison.

16 –

Tomb Raider
Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.
Director: Roar Uthaug
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Kristin Scott Thomas
Will this finally be the film that breaks the video game to movie curse?

23 –

Pacific Rim Uprising
Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Stars: Scott Eastwood, Adria Arjona, Tian Jing, Charlie Day
Sad that Guillermo del Toro isn’t directing but happy giant robots and monsters will continue to beat the crap out of each other.


Ready Player One
When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Letitia Wright, Hannah John-Kamen, Olivia Cooke, Mckenna Grace
Hope it rocks, but even a sub-par Spielberg film is better than most of what’s out there.

How do you celebrate after hitting a writing goal? Excited about Tick Tock? Have you seen Radius? New books you want now? And what movies do you want to see this month?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Black Panther, RiffTrax Live Kickstarter, The Ritual, and Movie News

Black Panther Review

First off, I really did enjoy the film.
However, I am confused by the over the top superlatives and praise. The movie I saw didn’t redefine the super hero genre nor was it different in tone or style from the other Marvel films. The focus was less on the super hero than the man, but that was seen in Iron Man III.
It is a very fun film though. It’s an origins story, not of Black Panther but of T’Challa becoming king.
T’Challa and the Black Panther are actually the least interesting characters. His sister and general more than made up for this though. All three female leads were great. It was also fun to get behind the scenes and see all the tech of Wakanda.
As far as villains, I liked Killmonger, but he was a little too two-dimensional – all hard edge with no compassion.
Overall I enjoyed it. Not my favorite but another strong entry into the Marvel universe.

RiffTrax has two films planned for this summer and have opened a Kickstarter fund to make them happen.

To fund this duo of amazing RiffTrax Live shows, we need your help! The up-front cost to pull it all off is beyond doing on our own; but with a little help from our fans, we can make it happen. In exchange, we've come up with some exciting rewards and VIP packages just for you, including movie and MP3 downloads, creating a new nickname for David Ryder, an exclusive Kickstarter backer shirt, autographed posters, and NEW this year, soft enamel lapel pins!
So, friends - please join us once again and help us make another year of hilarious RiffTrax Live adventures possible: SPACE MUTINY on June 14th; KRULL on August 23rd; both broadcast LIVE to hundreds of movie screens all over the USA.

They are really close to their goal of $250,000. MST3K did Space Mutiny years ago and it was hilarious. And we all know what a train wreck Krull is! Help make them happen and get some free goodies by funding their Kickstarter.

The Ritual Review

A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that's stalking them. A UK movie filmed in Romania.
A review of this at Cinemarvellous sparked my interest.
Lately NetDlix has been dropping some interesting films. This one is built around the framework of a very clichéd plot device in horror movies – the old hikers lost in the woods. But here’s the amazing part – this one actually works.
I can’t say much about the film without spoiling it. It went places I didn’t expect it to go, which was refreshing. Kudos to the director and cast. A scene involving an overnight stay in a cabin is really disturbing. The film builds layers of tension and dread.
Overall, I found it to be a very effective genre film.
Highly recommended

Movie News and More

17th Annual Golden Schmoes Movie Awards - the voting is now open!
The 17th Annual JoBlo Movie Awards (aka The Golden Schmoes) is in YOUR control, so hit the booth and cast your votes! Final voting runs from Tuesday, February 13th through Wednesday, February 28th, with winners to be announced on Friday, March 2nd, just ahead of the Oscars!

JoBlo posted some great news about Aquaman:
Warner Bros. reportedly held a test-screening of James Wan's AQUAMAN last night, and Batman News was able to speak with several of the people who attended. Keep your salt shaker at the ready, but the reaction towards the film, which is obviously still in an unfinished state, was quite positive, with it being described as an "emotional action movie" with elements of humour and horror as well. Compared to WONDER WOMAN in tone, Batman News says that AQUAMAN will also include STAR WARS-like underwater battles and a few scary monsters.
AQUAMAN will hit theaters on December 21, 2018.
Aquaman is my favorite superhero and I’m really looking forward to this one!

Available February 28:
Twin Sacrifice by Jennifer Lane
Psychological Thriller
My twin brother is determined to kill himself, but I won’t let him.
I just discovered the sacrifice he made for me when we were young.
Now it’s time I return the favor. This time I’ll be the one with the secret.

I won’t have a post on Monday so I’ll see you Wednesday, March 7 for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post!

What did you think of Black Panther? Ready for two more awesome RiffTrax shows? Seen The Ritual? Voting for The Golden Schmoes? And did you enjoy the Winter Olympics?

Monday, February 12, 2018

G3 Concert Review, Cloverfield Paradox Review, and Science Fiction Movie News

G3 Concert

The G3 project was started by Joe Satriani to bring two other extraordinary guitarists together to play mostly instrumental guitar music on a fun tour. Each iteration of G3 is a different lineup. This year, Dream Theater’s John Petrucci and Def Leppard’s Phil Collen accompanied Joe. As a guitarist, this is a dream tour, especially with two of my favorite guitarists performing.

Phil opened the concert with his new blues band, Sugar Shack. Which surprised me – I didn’t know he had a bluesy streak. Don’t think he forgot the rock, though. This was one rocking blues set! I’ve always thought he was an accomplished guitarist, but not only is he versatile, the man’s got some scary fast fingers. Phil ripped through songs and solos with ease while backed up by the only singer of the evening.

Then came John… I’m a huge fan and possibly biased, but he’s one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Backed by fellow Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini and a bassist, he proceeded to bring the house down with a blistering set of guitar virtuosity. The crowd went berserk! In his own words, he was there to bring the metal. It was mind blowing. He literally humbled an entire room filled with mostly amateur guitarists. If the show had ended with an alien ship taking John back to his home planet, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Then came Joe… Oozing with coolness and the confidence of a man who has mastered his instrument. Joe is just so much fun to watch. Not only is he an amazing musician but a great front man – he knows how to entertain the crowd. His set contained a lot of songs from his new album which was fine by me as the latest album is incredible. His playing is so effortless. He pulls off runs and fingering that most guitarists would find impossible, but it’s just so easy for him. His guitar is literally a voice that sings every song.

And then came all three… with no disrespect to Phil, watching John and Joe trade licks was phenomenal. They ripped through Highway Star by Deep Purple and Superstition by Stevie Wonder with plenty of time in the middle for riffing and soloing. Judging from the grins of all three men, they were having the time of their life playing together.

I knew I’d enjoy this show but not that I’d love it as much as I did. Truly a guitarists’ dream come true and a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Cloverfield Paradox Review

Due to an energy crisis on Earth, the Cloverfield Station is testing a particle accelerator in space when things go wrong and it opens a portal to another dimension.
Like the last Cloverfield movie, the monsters take a back seat to the people. Most of the story focuses on the crew and their attempt to sort out the strange happenings and get back to their own Earth. It also jumps to the husband of one of the crew members and his attempt to survive whatever is now happening on the ground.
The story is intense. While the film Life was predictable and often just dumb, this one plays it smart and keeps you guessing. The acting is also top-notch.
The special effects are incredible – NetFlix spared no expense. It’s a big-budget movie release and I would’ve paid money to see it in the theater.
Some critics think it’s a weak entry that doesn’t explain anything. I thought it fit nicely with the others (and they are all very different from one another) and added more clues as to where the monsters came from.
My personal theory – all three movies represent different dimensions. The station’s test tore a hole in the fabric of space and time, a dimensional riff possibly even on a quantum mechanics level. All of the films show a different dimension disrupted by monsters and a general breakdown in reality. (That’s my belief until the next movie proves me wrong!)
Streaming on NetFlix, I highly recommend it.

Science Fiction Movie/Show News

JoBlo featured the Justice League Deleted Scene - Superman Black Suit. (You only need to watch the first minute here or on YouTube. ) Justice League hits Digital HD February 13 and Blue-ray March 13.

Recently announced - Stranger Things season three will have eight episodes. They are also giving Will a break. According to SyFyWire:
The other thing fans can look forward to is the show being set a year later. With the time it takes to film a season, and the rate at which kids age, creator Matt Duffer explained the time jump. "It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing," he told The Hollywood Reporter last year. "It's cool, though. The audience is going to be able to watch these kids come of age every year. The closest example is Harry Potter. Watching those kids and actors grow up in front of the camera was, to me, very powerful."

Second Deadpool trailer (which is very funny!):

Fun bit of trivia from SyFyWire – if you play the first and third Cloverfield movies in sync side-by-side, something wild happens:
In the original Cloverfield, the monster-earthquake that signals the start of all the alien creature chaos occurs at exactly the same moment as Paradox’s system-overloading particle accelerator comes to life, tearing open a dimensional rift that sends the crew of astronauts to an alternate dimension.
It’s a jolting moment with character reactions that precisely line up in each film, and it’s easy to believe that it’s something Paradox’s creators meant to do. But, producer J.J. Abrams confessed to fans in a recent Facebook Live Q&A that — while really cool — the whole thing is nothing more than a “bizarre coincidence.”

Plus don’t forget – Black Panther comes out February 16!

Fan of Joe, John, Phil, or their bands? Have you watched The Cloverfield Paradox? Enjoy the trailers? And did you enjoy all of the IWSG posts about favorite genres?

Since Monday, February 19 is a holiday, I’ll be offline and not posting. (Check my Twitter for my thoughts on Black Panther or wait until February 26 for a review here.) Enjoy President’s Day weekend and the Winter Olympic games!

And I’m visiting Untethered Realms on Tuesday and discussing the realities of space travel!