Monday, November 28, 2011


The Darkest Hour is an alien invasion movie that follows two other alien invasion films released to theaters in the past year. Battle: Los Angeles was released March 11 this year and met with critical indifference and only moderate financial success (it grossed $85 million dollars and cost $70 million to make). Skyline was released on November 12, 2010 and met with critical loathing and financial failure (it grossed $21 million dollars and cost $10 million to make). I personally liked Battle: Los Angeles more than Skyline, but found things to like about both of them, while still finding them to be flawed.

The Darkest Hour is coming out with very little fanfare or “push” from its distributor Summit Entertainment, other than a modest trailer and TV advertisement campaign. Its estimated budget is $44 million dollars, so one would think to be financially successful it would have to make about twice that much domestically. The trailer shows high production value and emphasizes the attractive cast and extensive sci-fi special effects. Other than the fact that our cast of characters seem to become involved in some sort of alien resistance, little else of the plot is revealed.

This is only director Chris Gorak’s  second feature film. I haven’t seen his first film, the modestly budgeted 2006 thriller Right At Your Door, so I don’t have any idea what level of skill or sophistication that he might bring to this film. The screenplay is by Jon Spaihts, who has no other writing credits; but is listed as the writer of the screenplay for Ridley Scott’s upcoming science fiction film Prometheus, so we can hope that he is more than just competent.

The lead actor appears to be Emile Hirsch. The only film I’ve seen him in is Speed Racer, in which he played the title character and it certainly didn’t give him much of an opportunity to show his range as an actor. Rachael Taylor is apparently the female lead. The only film of hers I’ve seen is Transformers, in which she played one of the consulting computer geeks to the military. Her character, Maggie Madsen, seemed smart and quick witted, but she really didn’t have enough screen time to judge her as an actress. The rest of the “American” cast - Olivia Thirlby, Joel Kinnaman and Max Minghella – are all attractive young actors whose work I’ve never seen.

One thing The Darkest Hour has going for it is that it is set in and was entirely filmed in and around Moscow, Russia, which is still a location that most American audiences are not well familiar with. The set pieces – particularly the exterior shots – look outstanding, so this gives the film a “one up” on recent alien invasion films that have been very American-west-coast centric.

All of these unknowns do not bode well for The Darkest Hour being a great or even good film. Still, the trailer has a certain “gosh-wow” appeal and that just might be enough to get this sci-fi geek into the theater after the crazy that is Christmas. Watch the trailer for The Darkest Hour and judge for yourself! The Darkest Hour is being released to theaters December 23 2011.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


In Part Ten, the final episode of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon, Major Maniac is sitting on Zombzany’s throne, slurping down the last of his coffee and entertaining Bill E. Bones, who is sitting by his side. Zombzany stands impatiently to the side, holding his necromancer’s magically charged staff menacingly and inquires of the Major that now that the Sci-Fi Marathon is concluded would he be “blasting off” the premises soon?

 Major Maniac reluctantly concurs that he will indeed be leaving Zombzany’s tomb now because he is starting to feel “like a gopher whose exits are all cut off.” Major Maniac reminds Zombzany to “cut loose” once and a while and then leaves exclaiming his famous sign-off.
As soon as Major Maniac has withdrawn from his tomb, Zombzany returns to his rightful position on it.  Zombzany inquires of his zombie slaves why they did not come to their Master’s aid when he was being attacked by Maniac’s “demon”. When he receives an unsatisfactory reply, Zombzany tosses Bill E. Bones back into his dungeon cell and warns his other zombie slaves that he will receive an adequate answer even if he must wait all night. With a flash of his powerful staff, Zombzany bids his viewers a “frightful farewell.”

Enjoy Part Ten of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


In Part Nine, the penultimate episode of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon, Zombzany is laying prone pinned to the ground by an alien creature. Major Maniac approaches the entangled combatants and encourages the alien “critter” to stop playing with his food. Slowly, Zombzany and the “critter” become untangled and Zombzany demands to know who and what the alien creature is. Major Maniac explains that Grimlin, or “Grimer” as Maniac prefers to call him, is a shape-shifting alien that rescued him from an “involuntary spacewalk” that involved Russian cosmonauts and an empty bottle of Vodka.
 Zombzany quickly tires of Major Maniac’s dialect-infested discourse and demands an answer as to why Maniac has invaded his sacred cemetery by crash-landing his space vessel in it. Major Maniac tells Zombzany that “fer a dead galoot, you sure is impatient,” and then proceeds to explain to the hoary horror host that he needs a lesson from himself in “how to host a real nitro orbital zippy Sci-Fi Marathon!” Maniac invites himself into Zombzany’s tomb, where he can fill in for Zombzany as the host for the final flick of the evening.

Enjoy Part Nine of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon!

Monday, November 14, 2011


In Part Eight of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon, Zombzany is stalking through his graveyard, using the light of his necromancy-charged staff to find his way through the smoke enshrouded night. Zombzany has sent his slow and dimwitted zombie servant Sebastian ahead to the underdeveloped region of Zombzany’s cemetery to investigate the cause of the crash, but as usual the zombie appears to have gotten lost. Zombzany is forced to explore the area himself, when he is taken by surprise and attacked by an unknown creature. Zombzany seems to be held captive by the creature, so he calls for help from all his zombie slaves.
In the meantime, Bill E. Bones has returned to the safety of Zombzany’s tomb and has actually taken a seat on Zombzany’s “throne”. Bill hears Zombzany’s summons for assistance, but still upset at being bashed and banished by his Master, he chooses to ignore it. Instead, Bill E. Bones introduces the next sci-fi film of the Sci-Fi Marathon.
Enjoy Part Eight of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


In Part Seven of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon, Zombzany exclaims that the end of the previous film has brought on the night. Bill E. Bones is a little too excited and breaks out into song, which Zombzany brings to an abrupt end with a well-placed blow to Bone‘s thick skull. Zombzany tries to recall something about the next sci-fi film of the marathon, when Bones disturbs him several times with an emergency. Zombzany declares that his zombie servant has interrupted him for the last time and hurls Bones into the ether with some type of spell.
Almost immediately thereafter, a loud crash can be heard in the distance and Zombzany is suddenly pelted with debris and smoke from the unknown craft or object. Undaunted, Zombzany orders Myron the zombie cameraman to start projecting the next film, while he exits his tomb to confront whatever or whoever has dared crash land in his cemetery!
Enjoy Part Seven of Zombzany and Major Maniac's Sci-Fi Marathon!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I have never, nor will I ever be likely to, play the role-playing video game Dragon Age II. I do however enjoy well-produced fantasy films and TV shows. What got my attention in regards to Dragon Age: Redemption is that it is a web series written by and staring Felicia Day. For those of you who are not fans of original web series (shame on you), Felicia Day is the creator, writer and star of The Guild; a web series now having just completed it's fifth season. The Guild revolves around the lives of an online guild, The Knights of Good, who play countless hours of an MMORPG video game, aptly named "The Game".

While The Guild is funny and satirical, Dragon Age: Redemption is decidedly played as straight adventure-drama. Dragon Age: Redemption is a six-part web series set in the world of the EA/Bioware RPG Dragon Age. The series tells the story of Tallis, an Elvish assassin, who gets a last chance at redemption when she's sent to capture a rogue Qunari mage intent on wreaking havoc in the world.

Directed by Peter Winther
Written by Felicia Day
Executive Producers: Dan Kaplow, Felicia Day, Kim Evey
Executive Producer: Greg Aronowitz
Produced by Peter Winther, William Mesa, Emily Wallin
Written or Contributed by: Jeremy Shane
Starring: Falicia Day, Marcia Battise, Doug Jones and Adam Rayner

Check out the trailer and see if Dragon Age: Redemption is for you!