Movie Review – Gone Girl

October 3, 2014

Affleck at his least hateableThe wildly popular 2012 novel ‘Gone Girl’ has had a lot of hype about it since its premier at the New York Film Festival, in late September and festivals afterwards. The Gillian Flynn book, adapted for the screen by Flynn is directed by the director of The Social Network (2010) and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), David Fincher. Gone Girl could be worthy of the very early Oscar buzz it’s receiving, as it is a truly gripping tale of a disintegrating marriage that becomes national news. The writing is crisp and purposely throws curveballs to the audience. If you’ve read the book and see this film in theaters, count the number of quizzical murmurs during key scenes. So much effort and detail in crafting a taught, thrilling composition is almost award worthy…almost.


The Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya houses over 174,000 men, women and children that were victims of the various conflicts, civil wars and failed governments throughout the Horn of Africa. Over 55% of the refugees are from what is now South Sudan and The Republic of Sudan. Known as the Lost Boys of Sudan, they’ve walked hundreds of miles to the Kenyan border. Since 1992, during the height of the Second Sudanese Civil War, Kakuma is a haven for the displaced; but it’s struggling with disease prevention, assault, rape, murder and overcrowding. It’s a problem that isn’t limited to the Sudanese. Those that oppose the current regime in Ethiopia are imprisoned and/or killed. Homosexuals, or even those rumored to be gay in Uganda are charged with a capital offense and sentenced to death. And in Somalia…well it tried to replace its dismantled government 14 times; and was finally successful in 2012. For an impossibly lucky few, the United States government and United Nations has a program that will allow those “randomly selected” via a lottery to leave the camps for the opportunity of a better life in America. For Mamere, Jeremiah and Paul Deng; divine providence will lead them to the far off lands of Kansas City, Missouri. 

MCI Airport


Movie Review – The Equalizer

September 25, 2014

Being very loosely based on the 1980’s CBS show of the same name; The Equalizer stars Denzel Washington as Bob McCall. His days as an agent in one of the alphabet soup of federal agencies, Bob, a widow, lives alone in his cozy Boston apartment. He spends his days working at Home Mart, a Lowes/Home Depot knockoff and his many sleepless nights at a local diner. At the diner he befriends Elena (Chloe Grace-Moretz), a teenage Russian prostitute who stops in to grab a bite to eat in between jobs. Uh OhWhen Elena is hospitalized by her pimp, Bob does the honorable thing and tries to buy Elena’s freedom. Just under $10,000 should cover costs, but as you may have guessed by the picture above; negotiations break down quickly and five dead Russians in a pool of blood is all that remains. 


We all know it when we see it, but how does one define happiness? Where does it come from and how do we get it? Much like describing color to the blind; the ideal of happiness is as common of knowledge as the sky being blue. For Hector, a London psychiatrist who lived a painfully routine life. On paper he had it all, a good job that he likes, a girlfriend named Clara that he adores and caters to his mundane, well planned existence. 



Hector eventually realises that he may not be actually happy. Content, but not happy. Lingering feelings for an old flame and the constant fear of being mocked by Clara’s peers; Hector decides to throw caution (and his checking account) to the wind in search of happiness. Makes sense. How can a psychiatrist council the depressed, when he isn’t happy himself? With his notebook and pen at the ready, Hector embarks on a journey of self-discovery and the real pursuit of happiness. 


A Walk Among The Tombstones

Based on the 1992 Lawrence Block book of the same name, A Walk Among The Tombstones isn’t your typical Liam Neeson movie. Neeson as retired Detective Matthew Scudder, does possess a certain set of skills. Skills used again the criminal element of New York city in the 1990’s. The recently retired Scudder free-lances as a private detective part-time; unlicensed and therefore unregulated, Scudder does “favors” for people, accepting “gifts” as the only payment. Peter Kristo needs a big favor. His brother’ Kenny’s wife Carrie was kidnapped. The ransom was set and paid, but Carrie was returned to Kenny in many, many pieces.  (more…)


James Dashner’s 2009 novel The Maze Runner starts with a bang. Actually a series of speaker rattling bangs and passing lights, as our elevator ascends to its top floor destination. The only cargo in the elevator is a nameless boy who doesn’t remember his name, nor how he got in the elevator. He isn’t alone though; greeted by the residents of this walled oasis known as The Glade (shot in rural Louisana); the nameless boy has a lot of questions with little hope of finding answers. The square mile wide Glade is actually the center of a life-sized maze. How the residents got there and why remains a mystery, yet life isn’t all bad. The Gladers, as they’re known; are as ethnically diverse, as they are mild-mannered. Leader Alby has been in the Glade the longest and has three simple rules. 

  1. Do your part, no freeloading
  2. No fighting
  3. DO NOT enter the maze (except Runners)

Seems easy enough. The all male Gladers have fire, tools for crafting and vegetation, the essential for maintaining some quality of life; while Runners set out daily into the maze hoping to find an exit.  The nighttime shrieks of something known only as Grievers, along with the noises of the ever-changing maze itself shatter the calm of the Glade and reinforce the ideal that the maze must be something more. But what?



It’ll be a weekend of firsts starting Friday, September 12, 2014. The Wizard World Comic Con will invade the Greater Richmond Convention Center for the first time. The year-long comic con tour will stop in more than a dozen cities from Portland, Oregon to Philadelphia and other major cities in between. Comic Cons in general are great people watching events. Cosplayers throughout Central Virginia and surrounding areas have an opportunity to show off their costumes, on a scale never seen in Richmond before. You won’t have to fight the crowds of San Diego or New York, nor will you freeze to death in Boston. For three days, the place to be is in Richmond, and Reel Film News will be there to cover it all. 



When it comes to action films, there are likely only a handful of action stars that may come to one’s mind.  However, for my money, Mr. Michael Jai White would absolutely be a name found on my list.  With an impressive body of work that includes larger than life real life figures, iconic superheroes as well as memorable villains, Mr. White has “been there and down that,” starring in projects such as the television movie, TYSON, as well as the films, SPAWN, THE DARK KNIGHT, UNDISPUTED, and BLACK DYNAMITE (to name a few).  Recently, I took the opportunity to speak briefly with the actor/director at the Wizard World Comic Con event in Chicago. (more…)

Photo Credit: Angela Marklew

Photo Credit: Angela Marklew

This past spring, the horror film, ALTERGEIST, kicked off its festival run at the prestigious BIFFF 2014 (Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival) to enthusiastic and vocal audiences.  Because of all the buzz the film generated there and elsewhere, the film enticed many territories at the Berlin Market to consider it for distribution.  A plan, which (as we speak) is still in the process of being done.  This of course does not include the unique domestic distribution planned for the film.  Directed by TERMINATER 3:RISE OF THE MACHINES and TANK GIRL scribe, Tedi Sarafian, the film follows six paranormal investigators who travel to King’s Ransom Winery in the hopes of finding evidence of what lies on “the other side.” Led by Theresa Augland (KRISTINA ANAPAU), the team soon bears witness to the strange happenings and horrors awaiting them on the Winery’s grounds. 

Recently, I spoke with Ms. Anapau to chat about her experiences working on the film.  In the interview, I not only inquire about what draws her to a given project, I also manage to ask her about her memorable stint on TRUE BLOOD as the faerie, Maurella!  Check it out below… (more…)

“A spy is never out of his game.” So says the poster of The November Man, Pierce Brosnan’s latest film; that is more ‘Bourne’ than ‘Bond’. Most will gripe at the clichéd rich script and not too subtle foreshadowing; but The November Man is what it is: A dim-witted spy/action thriller that lacks depth and emotional content, but entertains by stringing along a series of tense action sequences. 

The large gas explosion while walking away  has been done to death. It's always pretty cool.

The large gas explosion while walking away has been done to death. It’s always pretty cool.



Growing up, there was a phase (as I’m sure there was with many kids in 80’s and 90’s) in which I was obsessed with the Ninja Turtles.  Today these four teenage brothers still strike a chord with youngsters (and even adults) thanks not only to the hugely popular Nickelodeon animated series and extensive merchandizing (i.e. toys, games, etc.) appeal, but also the cult appeal of the former live action franchise from the 90’s.  Add to that, the recently reimagined live action film, which opened to huge box office numbers just a week ago, and the Turtles truly appear to be a force to be reckoned with.  But how did such an unusual idea become so HUGE?  Well, that’s the question that TURTLE POWER aims to answer. (more…)


Perhaps due largely to the remarkable success of Marvel Studio‘s Shared Cinematic Universe, it would appear that many studios and networks are keen to participate in the growing trend of creating superhero franchises and/or universes of their own, be it on the big screen or the small screen.  One example of the trend would be the CW as they prepare to unleash their Arrow spinoff series, The Flash, later this fall.  Inspired by the DC Comics superhero of the same name, the series follows Central City police scientist Barry Allen, an everyday guy with the heart of a hero and the genuine desire to help others.  After an unexpected and devastating accident at the S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator facility strikes Barry, he finds himself suddenly charged with the incredible power to move at super speeds.  Starring Grant Gustin (Arrow) in the title role, the series also stars Candice Patton (The Game), Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries), Danielle Panabaker (Necessary Roughness), Carolos Valdes (on Broadway: Once), as well as Tom Cavanagh (Ed), and Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order).  (more…)

Otakon 2014: Day The 3RD

August 15, 2014

Day 3: 12:30pm  Kingdom Hearts Photo Shoot (Charles Street Lobby) 

Day Three of Otakon 2014 felt like the end. The crowds were thinner, the lines were shorter. It felt as if the circus were leaving town and wouldn’t be back for another year. While the workshops were concluding, I as in the lobby for the Kingdom Hearts Photo Shoot. One of my favourite video game series of all time, Kingdom Hearts has been a source of pride, joy and heartache for the last twelve years. 

The Gang's All Here



The finals of the Ultra Street Fighter 4 Tournament.

The finals of the Ultra Street Fighter 4 Tournament.

Day 2: 2:05pm Video Game Room (Hall A)

The Video Game Hall was buzzing with excitement, as the Ultra Street Fighter 4 Tournament continued. I made my way over to the Sega Dreamcast for some Street Fighter Alpha 3 action. I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t terrible against the field, going 4-6 in 10 games. Then I jumped over to WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64. I only managed to play one match. It was a triple threat ladder match for the WWF Championship that lasted 38 minutes. I lost the match and the title but the experience was amazing. 


fenix rage icon

Though the many offerings available at SDCC are often overshadowed by the respective movie and television presences, one offering that I made sure to hit before concluding my time there were the videogames!  Therefore to cap off my coverage of San Diego Comic Con 2014, I stopped by the Xbox Gaming Lounge at the Manchester Grand Hyatt to check out the demos to some of the year’s most anticipated games.  Among these games that I was afforded the opportunity to check out was the upcoming 2D action- platformer known as FENIX RAGE.  (more…)

It’s easy to bash a movie like “Let’s Be Cops”. The wafer thin premise, that should-be a two-part episode of ‘The New Girl’, also starring Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr.; gets back filled with gross out humor, implausibilities and a smattering of real laughs. But, that’s to be expected from director such Z-grade films as: “Something Borrowed”, “The Girl Next Door” and the rob Schneider tour-de-force, “The Animal”. With my expectations lowered to the smallest; I wanted to go soft on “Let’s Be Cops” and accept it for what it is. A throwaway movie that could work if presented in a uniquely original way. But I actually walked away from “Lets Be Cops” full of surprise.  This movie is actually worse than I would’ve possibly imagined.



What happens when an outbreak forces a couple to isolate themselves in a cabin in fear of what lies beyond its doors?  This is the question that is examined by the upcoming horror/psychological thriller, DEAD WITHIN.  Set six months after a deadly outbreak has all but ended the human race, writer/director Ben Wagner tells the story of a man and a woman that have boarded themselves up in a remote cabin to protect themselves from the dangers that lie outside.  However, now starved for resources, they must not only confront the horrors that threaten them outside… They must also contend with the horrors within.  (more…)


One of the few delightful, unexpected gems to come out of this year’s Comic Con was a series that I discovered called Nobility.  Often described as a cross between Serenity and The Office, this quirky, dramedy from Cowboy Errant Pictures takes us 700 years into the future as we (as the viewers) get to know the eclectic crew of the starship known as the C.A.S. Nobility.  Composed of a wildly underrated cast that includes Christopher Judge, Adrienne Wilkinson, and Doug Jones (just name a few), the series promises to be quite a unique show… (more…)

Day 2 begins

After a successful Day 1 of Otakon 2014 and only 4 hours of sleep; I was ready for Day 2. On the agenda were a few more photo shoots, including: Marvel vs Capcom, Assassin’s Creed, Resident Evil and Kingdom Hearts. What I missed were the anime screenings and workshops. There were philosophical discussions on the prominence of the Devil in anime. Or, how-to workshops on illustrating and publishing were available. As for the anime; Kill La Kill, Card Captor Sakura, Sailor Moon Crystal and the 1993 classic Ninja Scroll, were a few of the many Anime shows and movies being screened throughout the weekend. With the ability the view these films later, I made my way to… (more…)


Aside from the cool panels, awesome exhibits, and priceless swag that any given attendee can experience or have (in the case of swag) at Comic Con, one of the other crazy elements that occur at the event each year are its parties! With the all the craziness that can (and often does) happen on a given Con day, going to these parties are a great way for people to unwind.  Particularly, for the celebrity guests who often have endless streams of press conferences, interviews, and panel appearances to attend in a given day.  (more…)


(left to right) Morris Chesnut, Sean Bean, and Ali Larter star in TNT's Legends.  Photo Credit: Marco Grob

(left to right) Morris Chesnut, Sean Bean, and Ali Larter star in TNT’s “Legends.”  Photo Credit: Marco Grob

One of my first few stops at this year’s Comic Con was the pressroom for TNT’s Legends.  Based on the novel by Rob Littell, the series follows undercover agent, Martin Odum, who has the uncanny ability to transform himself into a completely different person for each job.  Working for the FBI’s Deep Cover Operations (DCO) division, Martin begins to question his own identity when a mysterious stranger suggests to Martin that he isn’t the man he believes himself to be. Also starring the likes of Ali Larter (Heroes) as Crystal Quest, a fellow operative who has a history with Martin; and Morris Chestnut (American Horror Story, Nurse Jackie) as Tony Cimarro, a smart, quick-witted and charming DCO agent; the series has all the ingredients to debut big this Wednesday on TNT.



Ali Larter as Crystal in the Pilot Episode of "Legends."  Photo Credit: Richard Foreman

      Ali Larter as Crystal in the Pilot Episode of “Legends.”            Photo Credit: Richard Foreman

Set to make its debut this Wednesday on TNT, the television series, Legends, is poised to make quite a splash this fall thanks to its interesting premise and its impressive ensemble.  Including the likes of actors Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) and Morris Chestnut (BOYS IN THE HOOD, THE BEST MAN franchise), the show, which examines the world of deep cover agents, will also boast the talents of Ali Larter, who portrays the character, Crystal, in the upcoming series.  (more…)

 Day 1 8PM (Pratt Street Lobby) 

I made my way from the video game hall to the Pratt Street lobby for the different photo shoots. Cosplayers from their respective shows meet up for one large photo shoot. Anime conventions, more than most; give an unscheduled entertainment in cosplaying. Like the red carpet ceremony at an awards chow, everyone wants to know who’s who and who’s wearing what. 


Otakon 2014

The annual celebration of everything anime; another Otakon is upon us. The Baltimore Convention Center, for the next three days, has been transformed into the cultural capital of Japanimerica. In its 21st year, Otakon has come a long way from its small beginnings in a State College, Pennsylvania Days Inn. Now it’s filling the Convention Center to its capacity with characters from the farthest reaches of the Multi-verse. It’s my first Otakon and luckily I was able to capture the frivolity; because some of the things seen at the Con are absolutely indescribable. 

The Eternal Dragon Shen Long

There isn’t enough time to cover 100% of the Otakon experience. Believe me, I’ve tried. With that said, the following real-time rundown of DAY 1 of Otakon 2014, is only a taste of what is offered. the full schedule can be found on the Otakon website. 


Papa vs Mallory When tragedy in the form of political unrest strikes the Kadam family’s Mumbai restaurant, they pack up and head to London. If home is where the heart is, the heart is in the flight path of one of Europe’s busiest airports. The Kadam family is on the move again. After car trouble stalls them outside of a small town in Provence, France, the headstrong but stubborn patriarch, Papa (Om Puri), falls in love with a space that was formerly a restaurant. The rest of the family has reservations, especially since nobody eats Indian food in the South of France. Undeterred by the family or the locals, Maison Mumbai will open, come hell or high water. Led by the talented Hassan (Manish Dayal) in the kitchen; will the restaurant survive in a land where their culture doesn’t exist? (more…)


Since Into The Storm is about a series of tornadoes that threaten a small Oklahoma town; let’s get one thing clear, from the beginning. This movie isn’t Twister. It’s as relatable to Twister, as Showgirls is to Jersey Boys. Sure, both Into The Storm and Twister follow storm chasers into Tornado Alley, for research. Both movies exploit the raw, destructive power of tornadoes. That’s where the comparisons end. Into The Storm takes a different approach. Using found footage from the omnipresent cameras of a group of storm chasers that roll into Silverton, Oklahoma. Along side the two students that are recording their high school graduation, these indestructible cameras record all the action. With the acting being slightly better than basic cable, Into The Storm relies heavily on visual effects. I guess you’d have to if you didn’t have Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman at your disposal. 


Starting next Thursday, August 7th, 2014, Baltimore, Maryland is turning Japanese. No, Zero’s aren’t circling Camden Yards, but Otakon 2014 is upon us. The Reel Film News team will be out in full force, covering the convention from all angles. Keep this space refreshed for the latest updates from Otakon 2014 in Baltimore, August 7th-10th.Otakon 2014Anime enthusiasts from across the universe will descend on the Baltimore Convention Center. It’ll be a celebration, 21 years in the making. Over 100,000 Cosplayers, gamers and friends of an Otaku Generation attended last years festivities; making it the largest Otakon to date. From its humble beginnings in a rural Pennsylvania Days Inn, to one of North America’s longest running Anime conventions, Otakon isn’t only for die hard fans. It’s the best way to immerse yourself in Japanese and other East Asian cultures without the 20 flight. From sumo wrestling, sake tasting, concerts and more; Otakon 2014 looks to be the biggest one yet. 

Each celebration gets increasingly bittersweet, as Otakon prepares to say goodbye to the Baltimore Convention Center. Its home since 1999, the BCC presents Otakorp, Inc. with a good problem to have. Otakon’s increasing popularity has outgrown Baltimore; and it will move back to Washington, D.C. At the end of last year’s con, it was announced that Otakon will move to the Walter Washington Convention Center, starting 2017. 

Guardians AssembeledI’m going to start this review with a note of caution. I want to make things very clear from the beginning that, this will not be a normal review.You won’t find any spoilers in this space. Nor will you find any discussion of the plot at all. This is because of the notion that you follow one of two schools of thought about this film. You are reading this review to either confirm your suspicions of how awesome the movie really is; or, you’re on the fence about seeing a movie that stars a raccoon and an emotional tree. I found myself in the latter camp and wasn’t impressed by the 17 minute IMAX 3D sneak peek, shown last week. I knew little about the Guardians going in and had little faith in James Gunn, whose credits include Slither (2006) and a little movie called Super (2008). 



(L to R) Z (Chelsea Alden), Jax (Cole Shoemaker), Eve  (Stephanie Koenig), Alaric (Eric Carpenter), and Cas (Zach Bostrom) Photo Credit: Jerry Buteyn

(L to R) Z (Chelsea Alden), Jax (Cole Shoemaker), Eve (Stephanie Koenig), Alaric (Eric Carpenter), and Cas (Zach Bostrom) Photo Credit: Jerry Buteyn

What happens when you have a woman, with a mysterious need to die and resurrect, cross paths with an eclectic band of individuals with their own unique set of supernatural abilities?  The answer is the new paranormal webseries Necrolectric set to release this summer.  (more…)

“You think you know the real story of Hercules? Think again.” Unfortunately, that translates into: You thought you were seeing an updated version of the story you know and like. Think Again. From the beginning, the marketing for Hercules had me convinced that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would become the son of Zeus. But, as suggested by the narrator, I don’t know this story of Hercules. Based on the Steve Moore short series, Hercules: Volume 1: The Thracian War; this story takes place in Thrace, not Greece. Cotys, the King of Thrace seeks the help of Hercules and his band of merry men. Bandits threaten the land and Thrace’s unqualified army won’t cut it. But, expectantly, not everything in Thrice is as it seems. 

Apparently Hercules was a master strategist and proponent of dental hygene.

Apparently Hercules was a master strategist and proponent of dental hygiene.


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