It is that time of year again! The color changing leaves, fresh autumn smell, harvesting the pumpkins, pumpkin everything, to say the least, and of course, zombies, ghosts, the horror, the spooky, and the Halloween!
Each year, Southern California attracts hundreds of thousands of guests and fans throughout theme parks, mazes, haunted houses, and other Halloween themed events to get their scares and screams out! It seems Monsters, Inc was not the only company collecting screams.
This year I had the wonderful chance to return to Universal Studios, Hollywood for their annual Halloween Horror Nights! The last time I had the opportunity was in 2011, when the park featured mazes and haunts from feature films such as Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Psycho.
For 2014, Universal Studios brought the onslaught of Horror for a total of seven mazes; from themes such as Alien vs. Predator, The Walking Dead, and American Werewolf in London.
The night is full of fun, scares, laughs, screams, sometimes cries, and all together an incredible night. I surprised my girlfriend this year for her birthday, which was on Friday as well, and we set out to Universal’s HHN! The park closes down and reopens for HHN guests, when regular admittance is 7:00 pm, while VIP admittance is 6:00 pm. However, I found it interesting and useful that the park allows regular-attendees early access as well if you enter through a side gate to make the Terror Tram (Studio Tour Tram) your first ride. But the best part, this line is not really ‘cut-off’ or separated from the park, so you are essentially free to roam to any part of the park! That was pretty awesome, as we entered the park at 6:15 instead of what seemed to be a 7:00 opening.
We made our way down to the lower lot where Jurassic Park, The Mummy, and the [fairly] new Transformers rides are located. Also down below, the mazes include The Walking Dead, AVP: Aliens vs Predator, From Dusk Till Dawn, An American Werewolf in London, and Clowns 3D: Music by Slash; [the lower lot also featured one of five scare zones, this location holding The Walking Dead scare zone.]
Our first stop was AVP, which in order to get to, you go through The Walking Dead scare zone, through tunnels, broken down cars, gated areas, and a few stairs and hills. Luckily our AVP wait was only 10 minutes, as well as the other mazes; soon after, the wait shot up to over 115 minutes for the popular mazes!
AVP was a pretty fun maze; cool Alien props of the face-huggers, broken containment shells as well as some with face-huggers in them; a cool entrance of a crashed ship; as well as in the beginning, the Predator from the end of AVP, with a burst chest and the glowing green blood everywhere! Throughout the maze, Aliens and Predators would burst through windows and doors, while face-huggers slammed against windows, and a few spots where real actors were being attacked or some fake bodies either skinned or already being eaten alive! Towards the end, the Queen rests against the wall waiting for dinner (you) to arrive! Overall, however, I was a bit disappointed with this maze; After watching videos of the AVP maze in Universal Orland0 (here) it is clear that Universal Hollywood is not up to par whatsoever (Hollywood video here)
You would think being the ‘movie capital’ Hollywood would have the better mazes with more interactions and features, but, oh well, at least we got an AVP maze!
Next up we had The Walking Dead maze which is right next to AVP; this was set up to the prison scenario as in Season 3 and 4. It was overall a very well designed and fun area! Walkers at every corner, bodies being eaten, crashed cars burning areas and everything you would want in a Walking Dead maze! Not much to say, let alone complain about this one, but definitely an attraction NOT to miss for fans of The Walking Dead or simply fans of zombies! The only ‘confusing’ thing I would say, is the initial walk down to the maze, there are signs for Terminus as well as inside the maze, different sections relating to Terminus . . . so it seems they mashed the two when I personally would have liked just one or the other.
After the first two mazes, we set way for the Transformers: 3D ride, as well as Jurassic Park, the classic and favorited ride in Universal Studios! This was our first time on Transformers, and overall I give it a 9/10! Fun filled ride hunting down and battling Decepticons, sitting/riding in a random autobot (well not random, but I forgot the name). It is an actual roller-coaster like ride, similar to The Mummy, but with the Simpsons ride feel as it goes through different animated and film screens along with built sets. Throughout the bottom-lot, costumed walkers roamed the area, on stilts, they were dressed in goat-like and other cattle like creatures! Full gowns, masks, and amazing stilt-walking skills! They were not so much as scary but more fun to watch and run around with.
Heading back up to the top lot, we merged over to The Simpsons Ride, (an all time favorite, yet I am still saddened that E.T. was removed!) So far lines have been short and no issues there! A quick stop through the Kwik-E-Mart for a look around then it was off to The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride! This was the longest line of the night et, almost an hour waiting, but totally worth it for a first time rider! I love the outdoor displays and design, as posters were set up to resemble a WWII style propaganda to join “Gru’s Army” as a minion. Prior to boarding the ride, a another waiting area is set to resemble Gru’s living room, and large screens above the doors to show Gru introducing you to the start of the ride! Riders are placed in separate cars similar to The Simpsons, BUT all the cars are in one room and it is just like the old Terminator Ride (another I am saddened to see gone). Again, I would give this ride a 9/10, it is fun, cute, silly, if you are a fan of Despicable Me than you will love it; only complaint here is that it is just too short of a ride!!
Throughout the rest of the park, we encountered a few more ‘scare zones'; as mentioned before, The Walking Dead zone is in the lower lot, and the upper lot has the Masquerade theme and Dark Christmas themed zones. The masquerade is a victorian style scare zone; ol’ wigs, englishman, women in large gowns showing the enormous hips, hangings and an ol’ dinner table full of dead diners! Then the ‘Dark Christmas’ theme, my personal favorite of the scare zones! Evil creepy elves, Santas, Mrs. Clauses, zombie reindeer, evil giant nutcrackers, and more! It is a step-up from a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ style, but so much fun to be around! It truly is a “nightmare” before Christmas! The main entrance, well almost to that, had a Purge themed scare zone; I am not fully familiar with the Purge films, but there was a ‘spokeswoman’ on a stage of bodies, with masked men running around chasing you with chainsaws! And of course, bodies, bodies, and more, bodies.
The last three mazes we went through this night were Sci Fi’s Face/Off, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Dracula. From Dusk is actually a tv show (who knew? I did not!) and they had scenes playing on a screen outside the building and a few actors who would go through the lines reenacting scenes from the show too. The maze itself is in essentially a strip club called ‘Twister’ with creepy bloody strippers and strip-club-attendees attacking you. Meh.
Then the Dracula attraction was a bit more pleasant; essentially vampires and ghouls and goblins jumping out chasing you throughout Dracula’s mansion area place thing. . .
BUT Face/Off was absolutely incredible!! One of my favorite attractions for the night, and I am so glad Universal Studios brought this theme into the 2014 HHN! From Sci Fi’s hit television series, Face/Off brings makeup artists in a competition to design, build, paint, mold, scrap together the best creatures, monsters, beasts, aliens, any sic-fi related being! And all the previous designs were brought into this maze! Each creature had their own theme, then before exiting, it becomes a giant rave with strobe lights, heavy EDM music, and a big ol’ party! Definitely the mazy to hit on the way out to end the night on a good, I mean, great note!
As for the rest of the night’s adventures, I was happy and surprised to see Star Wars merch in the gift shop( including the awesome Yoda Jedi-training back pack!!), snagged the giant Lard Lad’s Donut from the Kwik-E-Mart, and found some cool Minion displays, tried on Arnie’s jacket from Terminator 2, as well as won some Minion plushes for my girlfriend!! I also included a photo of the wait times to show how much the wait had increased early in the night. (My apologies for this and other blurry photos, it is hard to snap good photos on an iPhone when running through a theme park!)
This night was not just a fun filled, Halloween adventure night, but also a night for my girlfriend’s birthday! Shoutout to Mayra, my beautiful churro (yes I’m cheesier than nachos) hope you enjoyed it babe!
And hope all my followers and readers also enjoyed the post and get a chance to visit the park!
Another con, another year, and another weekend which Long Beach has become a growing center for Con goers and comic book lovers.
This is the fourth year , (if I remember correctly) returning to Long Beach Comic-Con (LBCC), and another year of fantastic fun! This year did see a few changes, but nothing too dramatic, nor anything to sway you away from attending the show next year!
LBCC has been constantly growing over the years, with last year’s 5th Anniversary Show being one of the biggest to date! It almost feels like a mini-WonderCon – less crowded, but still full of fans, collectors, readers, vendors, artists, writers, special guests, cosplayers, panels, and more!
To start with the few ‘negatives’ of this year, there were no movie cars outside the convention center! Unless they were on display for Saturday (I only attended Sunday) usually the movie cars are available both days. Made the outdoor patio seem a bit empty. Another downfall (not the fault of LBCC, just a resulting issue) were the absence/unknowing-arrival of guests. Certain artists and writers would just have signs on their tables stating “so and so will not be here today” or just an empty table . . . also some guests I could not find at all, with no table numbers or notice of their “spot” in the program online.
NONETHELESS, LBCC 2014 had some fantastic pros and bright sides! For one, the new “signing area” implemented in the back right corner of the center; though a little less traveled, it is a great new feature to the show to highlight special guests for their own signing times and areas.
Another great thing is the space . . . LBCC doesn’t try to pack as many vendors and tables and areas into the already smaller convention area. They space out the setting, allow for free room to move around, and plenty of air circulation! (that doesn’t mean you should forget the deodorant!) Also, the special guests, writers, artists, and freelance artists also appearing had some pretty impressive displays! I encountered numerous artists (unfortunately typing this away from home, so I do not have their business cards to add) who had amazing work on Pacific Rim and Godzilla mashups, Star Wars, Minions, and more!
And of course, you can not forget the cosplayers! Smile X Villain Co, Trinity All Stars, Lonstermash, Mini Boba Fett, and more of the usual fan friendly and cosplay loving groups! (Photos are included below!)
There we have it folks! LBCC 2014 is a wrap, and next is already set for September 12 and 13, 2015!
Be sure to like my page @ Facebook.com/Earth2Geek
LBCC Photo Gallery:
For those in California, coming up in a few weeks is Long Beach Comic Con!!
This small convention has grown and grown over the years to become the next best Convention in Southern California!
[Without the crowds of SDCC or WonderCon ;)]
LBCC takes place at the Long Beach Convention Center on September 27 & 28, with weekend passes still available for $45! Single Day Passes are also available, $30 Saturday, $20 Sunday, as well as a few
Special Guests this year include Tone rodriguez, Brian Buccellato, Bernard Chang, Amanda Conner, Kyle Higgins, Tom Hodges, Scott Koblish, Mike Mignola, Todd Nauck, Jimmy Palmiotti, Marc Silvestri, as well as a whole lot more of amazing exhibitors including CGC, Aspen Comics, Eat Geek Play, Tee No Evil, Top Cow, Phat Collectibles, and many many more!
And don’t forget all the cosplayers! Be sure to bring a camera or two, your cellular device equipped with a camera, and snap away!
Come on down, enjoy the beach weather, enjoy some comics, make new friends, and have fun!
Below are links to previous LBCC and LBCE coverages!
“He’s Not a Monster . . . He’s A GOD”
This first part of my review will cover the ‘updated’ review; I first saw Godzilla opening night at 7:00pm Pacific time, and again the next day at 7:00pm again! Within 24 hours seeing Godzilla on opening weekend and not only am I adding some more plots to my review, but upping my score. That will come soon ;)
So to start off, after seeing the film again, I was able to focus and capture more of the score and music. It has to be one of the best scored films I have seen in quite some time. The riveting echoes of the instruments with every roar of the MUTO, every stomp and rise of Godzilla, every death, every suspenseful moment, nothing was missed to ensure the score would enhance each scene. I am no expert in music, scores of films, instruments, and so on, but let me tell you, when you just listen, and take in the sounds instead of just watching the death, the fire burning, the lost hope, or the joy and victory, it truly emulates a new feeling for movie-goers. Just as the Star Wars has had the marvelous John Williams, each scene is echoed through the score. Godzilla did not disappoint.
Another thing I did not touch too much on in my original review was the aspect of Godzilla himself and the MUTOs, in regards to destruction; (read below for my thoughts on the design and development). Stating again, I love the new design of Godzilla, very ‘classic’ like, with deep green eyes, a ferociously-fearsome-cringing roar; and the MUTOs, male more of a moth+bat cross, and female of a spider crossed with Cloverfield. But as far as destruction to the cities and world itself . . . it felt almost like any other Godzilla film, plus a few cities. Not to spoil anything, but the destruction path is from Hawaii, Nevada (Las Vegas), then San Francisco . . . and that is all about that is shown. With the sheer magnitude of 3 MUTOs, the destructive force of the American Military, and the path all three were on, I was hoping and EXPECTING a more Pacific Rim type or hell even War of the Worlds types of destruction. (By the way, those who have seen WotW might recognize some similar scenes *cough burning train cough flaming tanks cough*). Honestly, the destructive path seemed minimal; would it have hurt to add some footage here and there showing each or at least the major cities affected? Sheesh one MUTO came all the way from the Philippines!!
But again, as I brought up in the original, there was major lack-of-Kaiju-love and too much human drama; some moments were essential, some moments were done very well . . . while other moments could have been shortened, or removed completely. I would not have minded an extra 20 minutes of film time to get more Kaiju action, Gojira vs. MUTO.
It is time for my new score, and besides doing a full run-break down-average, I will stick with my usual straight up one line score; this time I give it a 9/10.!
Godzilla has roared back into theatres for 2014 . . . BUT did all the hype really live up to her . . . I mean, his name?
Directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, the movie almost no body has heard about unless you live in the UK, sorry chaps) also starring Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Aaron Taylor Johnson (Kickass), Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai), and David Stratairn (Bourne series) Godzilla has an all around great cast to coincide with the giant lizard-dragon-dinosaur, but there actual roles don’t seem to live up to a Godzilla-szied film. **[For review's and readers' sake, I will include the plot/spoilers at the bottom of the article so everyone can still read my thoughts] **
Godzilla in 2014 is very classically designed, with the monstrous legs and body, screeching roar very unique to himself, and of course the special-bonus-attack-move you will have to watch the film to see for yourself! Overall, the new Godzilla design had me skeptical at first, thinking the head is too small, the body is too fat, the roar sounds too much like the THX surround . . . but after finally catching all the viewpoints and sights of this God, I have to say it is my favorite Godzilla and probably the best there has been! (My second favorite being Godzilla 1998, DON’T HATE! I love the giant iguana-dino look and plus how can you hate Matthew Broderick??) Any who . . .and the design of the MUTOs, well . . .I was never really a fan of the other beasts and creatures from the Godzilla series (don’t get m started on space-zilla) but these MUTOs looked very robotic, moth-like, and still freaking cool. The male, smaller, with wings, and the female, much larger without wings, huge spider like legs, and a roar incomparable to Godzilla, but still menacing and turning heads!
Now for the acting . . .I am a HUGE Bryan Cranston fan . . . without spooling anything, all I will say is that they basically used him as little as possible while still being a huge contribution to the plot. But, for the moments he was included, Cranston brought his usual and absolute A+ game, with strong emotions, riveting cries, and the kind of acting you will always recognize as that of Bryan Cranston.
Aaron Taylor Johnson, the famed Kickass star playing . . . Kickass . . . was, well, he had a very Kickass-personality like. He was serious for most of the film, not much change from stern to grief to fear, with few moments of joy. I find it difficult to pinpoint my thoughts on Johnson, as he is a decent actor, but even his public appearance hinders his roles; I saw him during the SDCC 2013 panel for Kickass, and not once did he look up to the crowd, or speak in an amplified volume, very low, calm tone and personality; maybe that implies his acting style, but none the less, not a terrible choice for the film.
Dr. Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe, a some-what infamous actor, not to the fans who recognize and followed him through Inception, Batman: Begins, or The Last Samurai, but still not as big as Cranston. I personally loved his casting, having a very poetic, sensei type, depicting right from wrong, but even then, it seems as though the writers did not know how to really involve him with the film . . . or they just did not want him speaking so much. Either way, I am a fan of his and enjoyed the moments which counted with him.
Other than these three, I don’t really see any other actor or actress worth mentioning, as the rest were portraying either minor to minimalist roles.
Overall, between Godzilla, the MUTOs, and human characters, there was definitely NOT enough Godzilla!! What gives!? The TITLE of the film is G-O-D-Z-I-L-L-A! Major fight sequences did not take place until the last third of the film, and even then, the first moments were blinks of roars or bites seen through smoke or the goggles of the para-troopers. There was definitely a low focus on not only Godzilla fighting, but also Godzilla’s appearance until the second half, as well as the overall story and origin of Godzilla himself . . . the story mostly focuses on either the MUTO creations or uprisings, and Ford Brody’s (Johnson) life and family. Considering all the hype and trailers showing the king of Kaijus, I would have liked even more Godzilla! Hell 1998 Godzilla popped him out of the ocean in the first half hour! But, don’t get me wrong, the few scenes with Godzilla DID make my jaw drop, gasp for excitement, and cry for joy to see Gojira roar and bite and stomp and swim away!
Lastly for my review, the plot . . . again, as mentioned before, overall it mostly focuses on Brody’s (Johnson) character;s life and family, as well as MUTO, and not so much Godzilla. Viewers and fans essentially get the idea, and, straight from Serizawa (Watanabe) that Godzilla is a defender of the human race, an alpha predator come to bring balance to nature’s forces. Not a destructive creature sent or created by nuclear tests to destroy New York or Tokyo . . . but instead San Francisco (why? I have no clue). But the ‘origins’ are minimally stated and not so much discussed even with sightings throughout history of the monster. What I am mostly concerned of is the future of this new Godzilla reboot. After seeing this film, any movie goer, whether liking it or not, will or at least should think ‘they will make a sequel’. But per Gareth Edwards’ kind words, he says the film was made “as a beginning and end; if the film is good, others can come; but let’s just pay attention to this and not get sidetracked by other things”. To me, it seems Edwards is very uninterested in a sequel and figured he can cash in on a single film . . . yet the ending will leave you wanting and KNOWING that more Kaiju (or King Kong) will rise and Godzilla will return to fight another day!
Before seeing this film, I also highly recommend purchasing the new graphic novel ‘Godzilla: Awakening’. A fantastic read (which sold out almost everywhere on day 1) and shows a start or awakening of Godzilla. For Pacific Rim fans, if you read ‘Tales from Year Zero’, it is similar as a prequel to the film!
My overall score? this will be the first time I divide scores and put an average, as well as a direct rating, versus my usual review method of balancing out a final score. So here is my breakdown:
Godzilla/MUTO design: 10/10
Potential story for a sequel: 9/10
Godzilla-ness [was there enough Godzilla?]: 6/10
Reflection of Classic ‘Zilla: 10/10
Total Average: 81/100, essentially 8/10
My usual grading: 8/10
So they work out to be just the same, but I still highly recommend this film, go out this weekend, grab some popcorn, sit back, relax, and let the roar of Godzilla sway you into an eye popping experience.
***WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD***
So, the film starts off similar to the Godzilla (1998) film with black and white images and clips of nuclear testing, Gojira sightings, military personnel, classified info, the whole hush-hush stuff. After the intro, it slowly transitions from scientist Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) finding a very interesting find of giant fossils, to Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) who is the plant manager of the Nuclear Power Plant in Janjira, Japan in 1999. ‘Seismic Activity’ as what it is known as, eventually causes a major disruption and sort of the ‘news lead’ of the modern day into the monsters of the film. The seismic activity causes blackouts and the fall of the plant, also killing Brody’s wife. 15 years later, to today 2014, Joe Brody’s son, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor Johnson) is in the military as an explosives ordinance disposal unit, and has a wife and son; his father still in Japan investigating on his own the causes of the incident at Janjira and others around the world. He persuades his son to go back to their home near the plant to collect old data he had before the plant collapsed. Military personnel ‘arrest’ Joe and Ford and interrogate Joe; but he knows there is something out there as Serizawa watches through the one-way mirror, knowing this man is the key to it all. The place they are taken is a ‘testing’ area built atop the old nuclear plant, where a cocoon is found housing some sort of organism, which releases seismic activities and EMP waves knocking out electrical equipment. The now MUTO arises and stomps away, obliterating the area with the sheer size and power, critically injuring Joe Brody and eventually, after escaping, bringing in the US military to take control of the situation. Unfortunately, Joe Brody (Cranston) dies shortly thereafter, leaving fans thinking what was the point of casting him if his role was so grand yet had nothing after the first 20 minutes. To cut out some non-important pilot points, essentially the MUTO which escaped is the female with eggs, later arising a male MUTO outside Las Vegas, and again later arising GODZILLA from the ocean depths to hunt the MUTOs. Basically, the MUTO’s are nuclear-based organisms who feed off anything radioactive. Godzilla, not he other hand, is an ancient ‘dinosaur’ or creature which has stood against the test of time, and nuclear attacks, to become the alpha predator. Eventually, the three end up in San Francisco, have their big battle, writers making us think Godzilla almost dying twice, both the MUTOs dying, and of course, Godzilla unleashing his super-sonic-plasma-blue flame-roar of death and destruction!! The best part being the death of the female, when Godzilla rips open her mouth, and implodes the nuclear roar into the body, ripping off the head. Of course, before the epic major fight, there are plot points here and there which, sort of add to the overall story, but there is minimal focus on the Kaijus throughout the film, and even less of Godzilla himself until the end. Godzilla also almost dies twice, then come to find out he is only unconscious, and at the end swims away back into the ocean . . . sequel?
WonderCon has come and gone again to Anaheim, CA.
This was my third year attending and each year of WonderCon is even better than the last!
Of course, one of my and everyone else’s favorite parts of WonderCon are the vast array of Cosplayers! Young and Old, DC and Marvel, Anime and Video Games, thousands of cosplayers coming together for the love of the convention!
Below I have the full gallery of my photos taken during WonderCon, as well as a link to my Facebook page with the album!
If you see yourself or a friend in the photos, please feel free to share or download them! ALL I ask is that you please mention me/my blog/my pages of where you got the photo from! I am still an amateur and plus having a passion for it, I won’t charge or restrict anyone’s photos if they are in it! My simple request is a mention/tag/shoutout of my page!
Hope you all enjoy!
It is that time of year again folks! The Comic-Con season is in full swing with Cons across the country, from Seattle, Austin, New York, and now reaching Southern California!
San Diego Comic-Con’s sister convention, WonderCon, is taking place in Anaheim, CA the weekend of
April 18-20, 2014, (yes Easter Weekend), at the Anaheim Convention Center across from Disneyland.
WonderCon has shifted from Northern California, in the SanFran/Oakland area, and over the years the fans up North have had quite some words to Comic Con International (CCI) about bringing it back; all I will say is that WonderCon was up there for 24 years, and has just recently moved to Southern California, only since 2011. So quit complaining!
Any who, this post will be all about the tips, hints, secrets-of-the-trade, and advice for WonderCon attendees! Everything from panels, autographs, exclusives, hotels, transportation and parking, local eats, and more! Whether it is your first time, third time, or tenth time, I hope you enjoy the read and take something with you!
So far, WonderCon is sold out for Saturday and three day badges; Friday and Sunday are still available, but unsure how much is still available; CCI members had the opportunity to volunteer as well, but that is already closed!
Helpful hint for 2015, make sure to have your CCI account registered and check back for volunteer opportunities, a simple 3-hour shift each day gets you the rest of the Convention for free! On the bright side, WonderCon is a very reasonably priced Comic-Con, only $50 for the weekend! As compared to SDCC which is about $175 for four days . . . but it is all about perspective and the price is very well worth it.
For the first few tips, let’s talk about the Convention itself and what 2014 has to offer, or what changes were made!
one change in exhibits is Gentle Giant, (for the collectors); I am a huge Gentle Giant fan and collector, but unfortunately, they will not be having a booth this year! Some other notable companies exhibiting this year will include:
20th Century Fox (1468)
YES! Anime (1438)
Superhero Stuff (526)
Nerdist Industries (1410)
DC Entertainment (401)
Dark Horse Comics (519)
Things From Another World [TFAW] (431)
ACME Archives (121)
Cheap Graphic Novels (726)
LOOT Crate (175)
The list above are just a few of my favorites I return to each year! And below are the more interests and hobbies incorporated, including
501st Legion (1187)
R2 Builders Club (1191)
WALL-E Builders (1189)
Agents of C.O.S.P.L.A.Y. (F-17)
Mandalorian Mercs (F-01)
*Check http://www.comic-con.org/wca for full listing*
What else is there other than booths, exhibits, and astromech builders? There are autographs! Movie Stars! Celebrities! Writers! Artists!
Each year WonderCon brings in a wide array of Comic-Book stars for fans to enjoy, whether it be comic book sketches, signing comics, meeting your favorite star to sign an autograph, or just chat and get to know them! In past Conventions, I have met stars such as Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) , Sara Underwood (G4TVs Attack of the Show), Ray Park (Darth Maul), The Soup Nazi (Seinfeld), Lou Ferrigno (Hulk), Jordan Hembrough (The Toy Hunter, Travel Chanel) and many more!
This year’s notables include
Jim Lee (DC Comics)
Once Upon A Time Signing (Saturday, 10am)
Larry Thomas (Soup Nazi)
Claudia Wells (Jennifer, Back To The Future)S
Liam Mcintyre, Ellen Hollman, and Stephen Dunlevy (Spartacus)
Matt BATT Banning (AA-167)
Ale Garza (AA-190)
Matt Hawkins (AA276)
Tom Hodges (AA076)
Be sure to check all their schedules, signing times, panels, and more for opportunities to meet them! *Check http://www.comic-con.org/wca for full listing*
Now onto programming; for this section I won’t list my favorites or notables, as there are just so many panels and options to choose from, each person really has to take a look at their schedule. My best advice for this, if it is a larger room holding a larger, popular panel, get in line EARLY.
I volunteered for WonderCon 2013 and my shift ended about an hour prior to a Pacific Rim panel with Guillermo del Toro . . . and they closed the line! Though WonderCon is not as big and bold as SDCC, do not underestimate the power of the Con! WonderCon has been growing in popularity year after year, just as SDCC, and especially with Saturday passes sold out so soon, it will be quite a busy year!
Now for some tips and helpful hints to make WonderCon a successful event!
I won’t be including any info on hotels or lodging, as it is pretty close to the date and you should already have a place to stay! But, I will say, if it is quite a distance from the Convention Center, ask your hotel or place of stay if a trolley or shuttle is available to and from the center; parking will not only be a hassle but eat up more spending money from your wallet and not let you splurge as much in the convention!
So here are the tips of WonderCon! (These tips have been cumulated over the years of personal Comic-Con experiences, as well as tips gathered from Tony B Kim (@Crazy4ComicCon) Shawn Marshall (@The_Con_Fluence) and the SDCC Unofficial Blog! (SD_Comic_Con)
1) HAVE FUN! I can not embrace or say this enough, just have fun! Whether it is your first time, last time, you cosplay, you go as a movie buff or comic junkie, a collector or just a patron checking the day out, have fun! Nobody wants a Depressed Darth walking around
2) Get there early! If you have panels to attend, people to see, items to buy, get there early! The earlier the better, and if you didn’t know, Comic Conventions have become worse than Disneyland for lines . . . speaking of lines . . .
3) Lines will become your most treasured asset! Be friendly, talk to strangers make new friends, meet new people; be sure your electronics are charged and connected to WiFi if available! And be sure to hop in the correct line! Don’t know how many times lines will merge or split or be a cluster of geeks, causing someone to lose their spot or their line at all! And sometimes people just do not know what line they are in!
4) Plan Plan Plan! Plan your days, create a schedule, map out the Convention floor, download apps, print a map, anything to be sure you know where you are going, know when you will go, who will be there, and what to do!
5) TWITTER!! Twitter is a life-saver, an oracle, and simply works magic during Conventions! Follow the studios, companies, vendors, and stars attending the show for up to the minute updates, surprise appearances, giveaways, freebies, scheduling announcements and more!
6) Business Card; whether you have a blog, retail, shoot photos, buy, sell, or just to mingle, business cards are a fast, simple way to exchange information! Be sure to include only the information you want for people to find you via social media or other platforms of your choice!
7) Food! I can not urge you enough not to eat inside the Convention Center! The food is expensive, low quality, and not worth the wait! WonderCon 2013 introduced food trucks lined up outside the center in between the two hotels, and those were a huge hit! Great food, great prices, and gives you some fresh air outside the event! Also near by, there are plenty of fast food places, sit down restaurants, and even Downtown Disney is walking distance from the center!
7.5) this will tie into tip #7 regarding food; though I urge not to eat inside the center, don’t rely on constantly eating out as well! You might be sitting in a panel or line for hours, forget what time it is and forget to eat, or even work up an appetite throughout the day! I always bring a small backpack with water bottles, snack bars, apples, bananas, and/or homemade sandwiches like pb&j. These are great for on the go, sitting in a panel, or just taking a side break to people watch!
8) Storage. Backpacks are an important item that will house your foods, purchases, or other items you may bring or obtain during the day. But be sure not to put cell phones, wallets, or other items of importance in their as pick-picketers could slide in and swoop them out! Have pants with buttons or zippers on the pockets, or even wear a fanny pack! And no you will not be embarrassed or look like a fool, it is normal!
Also if you collect posters, bring or find a poster tube to keep them protected.
As for comics, books, and others, I suggest a binder, folder, or home-made cardboard-comic-book-protector to protect comics from bending! I saw the homemade protector at Long Beach comic Con last year; simply take two pieces of cardboard (small enough to carry around) tape or staple in a “pocket” and clamp them shut! Good for a few comics but still works!
9) Bring a Camera!! This will be a life-long memory so be sure not to miss any of it! Have it charged, bring your charger and extra batteries, memory cards memory cards and memory cards! Have it strapped around your neck or around your arm, and you are set!
10) Wear comfortable shoes and clothing! There will be walking, walking, and more walking! (No running allowed in the halls!) Be agile, quick, and comfy!
11) Deodorant! you know why.
12) Cosplayers: ALL weapons are checked! In the past there have been tags or ties wrapped around triggers or handles that could launch a projectile, that could be the case this year as well; some swords are also tagged to their holster or belts, but do be careful and courteous! And be sure to get rest, hydration, and be nice to the fans!
13) Fans photographing cosplayers or with cosplayers: BE RESPECTFUL!
I have cosplayed in the past and plan to cosplay this year as well, and I can not tell you how much disrespect is seen in and out of the costume. Guys: BE RESPECTFUL to the ladies! Do NOT grab their butts, chests, do not fondle or harass or attack them, and do not make obscene or provocative gestures! Sure there will be a few ladies fun and outgoing and explicit such as that, but do not ensue or start it! Politely ask for a photo with the cosplayer, and snap! Same for those muse photographing them, there will be others wanting photos too, be patient, respectful, and allow others space to take a shot as well.
14) Check outside offers and programs too. Local eateries will usually give discounts or promos if you show your WonderCon badge! Some will give you freebies or other offers as well. A lot of places will continue WonderCon or hold special events outside of the convention center so be on the lookout through social media and the convection days for what’s to come!
As we approach WonderCon, I will update and adjust my lists and tips for more information and make sure you are all readily available!
For more experienced members of the Comic-Con family, be sure to follow them on Social Media:
Tony B Kim
SDCC Unofficial Blog
Enjoy the show!
Well well, it has been quite some time since I have written any film reviews, and, honestly, I think the hiatus was quite well deserved, because the only film I have felt the need or drive to write a review for has just been seen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Sure I have seen Thor: The Dark World, Man of Steel (which came a few months late for me), and a few others, with college, work, family, friends, it has been hard enough for me to even see as many films as I would like or am used to.
ANYWAYS, on to The Winter Soldier!
First off . . . 10/10 TEN OUT OF TEN
Not just a “5 star film” a knockout, 10 out of 10 is my score for this film! A MUST see for any fan! Or even anyone who likes to go see a [kick-ass] [action-packed] [jaw-dropping] [heart-racing] [suspense-filled] [government-corruption-revelations] film!
Now, just as i was sharing my comments on Facebook, someone shared with me their opinion that ‘It’s not as good as The Avengers‘; well, in my opinion to counter that, first, Avengers is in a whole different class of films; one that probably will not be touched until Age of Ultron; and second, for stand alone superhero/MARVEL flicks, I think this one tops the charts! Right there with Iron Man, and Dark Knight Rises (again, my opinion) with the level of ‘super-hero-aspect’ and emotional drive of the film . . .well more towards Iron Man 3 for the emotions but you get the idea.
So, what makes The Winter Soldier such a beloved film? Well first, it’s Captain America and MARVEL . . . MARVEL has been continuously stepping up their game, film after film whether stand alone or team-films, each has it’s own story connecting to not just the previous in that line, but to each character and sub plot. But still, you might ask what is it about The Winter Soldier? It compels the audience to grip and contemplate the sequence, the moment, the action of the attack (or defense). It shows a greater ‘emotional’ story than did Iron Man 3, as well as The Dark Knight Rises. Rogers, still adjusting to the affects of his new era, his new life, is stricken with the constant reminder of his old pal Bucky, his trust with S.H.I.E.L.D. and what he is doing as “Captain America”.
This film is able to capture the true essence of not only a hero, but one who is a soldier, other soldiers in the line of duty (i.e. Falcon, Fury, Black Widow) and the villains who, well, I won’t spoil anything, so you will have to see for yourself! I will say that the villain, obviously The Winter Soldier, has a strong impact in the film’s emotional aspect as well.
As for the action, fighting, kick-assery, it was quite pleasant to the Comic-Book fan! The movements and choreographs of each fight sequence were fast, sharp, edgy, martial-arts style, and just kicked-ass left and right! I was NOT able to capture any random bodies flying off screen from a ‘punch’ or any stray bullets apparently hitting anyone, so either they were very, very minimal and/or minute, or there were none at all! Great sign! Each character is given a unique fighting style, a unique set of attacks, and a portrayal of their weaknesses or points of lag, so to speak. The attacks and defenses by Cap and his shield were thrilling and Vibranium-hitting fun!
Black Widow, as usual, has her smooth, crisp, and flexible attacks, pinpointing each hit and kick; Falcon enters the arena with some air-attacks and agile moves, and Fury is just Fury!
The acting is flawless, usually these films will be dulled by one or two minor rolls, or even one big roll causing a halt in the drama and sequence, but The Winter Soldier had a well rounded, fundamental cast. With returning stars such as Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, and Samuel L Jackson, as well as some newbies like Anthony Mackle, Emily VanCamp, and Robert Redford, all bring an ensemble of every aspect of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its enemies.
While some superhero films stray from comics or other story lines, The Winter Soldier stays true following the first film, The Avengers, onto Age of Ultron, as well as the regular comic-book line. Unfortunately, I have not read much of the MARVEL comics in line with the films, but a good friend of mine whom I saw the film with, updated me of each major plot-point and whether it aligned more or less with the comics; overall, the majority of the story was in line and comic-book fans should not have to worry! Just remember, IT IS A MOVIE! The studios always like to have their way with things so don’t go just to criticize what should and should not be in the film, go to enjoy the hero and the film and the comic frame!
The story has points of suspense, whether it be death, destruction, plot-twists, or whatever else you can think of; it also has enough humor in it to get a chuckle and even a good laugh! (Unlike Iron Man 3 which tried way to hard to be more of a comedy)
Quite honestly, the only thing I wish they would have included more of or emphasized more would be Cap’s sort of ‘love interest’ or relationships; Romanoff mentions how Cap should ask out this nurse or that girl in accounting, and as the film goes on you see a small scene of Cap making a subtle move on a neighbor who is a nurse; I won’t spoil anything as it turns out to play a big part, but just some more side interests or side roles would be nice! It would add more to the emotional drive or aspect as well, and show the differences in Steve Rogers’ attributes.
But like I said, a minute plot point that would have been nice, but did not ruin the film because it was not included.
that should just about do it for my review! Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the next stepping stone until Avengers: Age of Ultron, and they even let you know at the end of the film! Oh by the way, there are TWO scenes after the film, one before and one after the credits! Don;t even think about leaving until you see both! AND Stan Lee makes his usual cameo appearance, do not fear, no spoilers here of either the scenes or cameo!
A 10/10, plain awesome, kick-ass film, loved every moment of it and Age of Ultron is SURE to please after this!