Niko (Level 8)

Back from recording over three hours of @CineGeek webcasts. Now to get to @MTAC work... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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"Parallel universe or alternative reality is a self-contained separate reality coexisting with one's own." - Wikipedia

Rebooting a franchise is difficult, especially one with such a history and fandom as the Star Trek fandom. One needs a thick skin and a love for the franchise and the fandom. J. J. Abrams has definitely proven that love and care over the course of two hours that is the new Star Trek, which manages to start a completely new thread of story telling that old fans know nothing about without screwing up what they already know (already no small feat) while still paying a faithful homage to the original (perhaps an even larger feat). All the while, Abrams creates a fun and entertaining movie that is easily accessible and doesn't require intense experience of the franchise to understand or enjoy (probably the largest feat overall).

Besides, it's not the first time the franchise has played with alternate realities. Mirror universe, anyone?

Abrams and his writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman manage to create fun-filled and entertaining ride while simultaneously remaining unshackled by and utilizing the original Star Trek canon. The story is eventful and action-packed, but it has meaning aside from being a simple summer blockbuster. Indeed, the Federation and the galazy are in danger again, and it's up to Kirk and crew to save it both once more and for the first time.

Is this confusing anyone? Time travel tends to do that. Don't think about it too hard and enjoy the movie.

Back to Kirk and crew, you'll find many of the actors doing their roles incredible justice. The three that particularly come to mind are Karl Urban (Bones), Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov). You'll almost have a hard time believing they aren't the incarnations of the late Deforest Kelly and James Doohan and the thankfully still-with-us Walter Koening while they are also able to stand independent of their seniors in their roles. Zachary Quinto of Heroes fame does a great job of Spock as well, made all the more intriguing with Leonard Nemoy actually Spock as well, giving two different takes on the same character that both fit incredible well. Chris Pine does a good job capturing the essence of Kirk, as does Zoe Saldana with Uhura, but they don't seem to adapt their senior actor's performances as much as they make the parts their own. It does not detract from the movie or their roles, however, as they perform just as well as everyone and make their parts believable (some heavy-handed romance not withstanding).

With the villain of the movie, Nero (played by Eric Bana), his actions and mannerisms seem befitting someone with his situation and experience. He is not a great military tacticion, instead acting out of emotion. This brings a slightly-more unbridled fury not typically seen in major Star Trek villains that tend to be more cold and calculating. This does not seem out of sync with the franchise though as his origin and methodology fits in quite well. It is a turn to the more action orientation this film has over some previous films. However, Nero's rage and the subsequent battles that stem from it are very fitting.

And of course, one cannot forget the most important member of the franchise: the NCC-1701 USS Enterprise. She's pretty. Very pretty. There's a lot of nice shots of the ship in space, in combat and generally in any sort of action or just being stationed. She seems a faithful redesign of the original. The sets of the interior (and the technology overall) do a good job maintaining something that would look futuristic to us but not too futuristic in the Trek time line. Be warned though for those with intimate Trek ship design knowledge, I can't speak to the sets staying to scale inside the ship there they would actually fit, although talking with friends tell me that might be just as on par with the original series as most everything else.

Now in full disclosure, I consider myself a Star Trek fan. I'm not to the caliber of many people I know, especially not with an encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise or the technical data of every ship. Aside from Enterprise though, I have seen either a good majority, if not all, of every series and movie ever since I was watching The Next Generation as it aired on television. I used to run around as a little kid with a little TNG Starfleet emblem stuck on my shirt and even made my own cardboard Enterprise-D set for my action figures.

Speaking as a fan of the franchise, I enjoyed this movie and its faithfulness to the characters and the overall story. Speaking as someone who typically enjoys summer blockbusters, this won't disappoint and does not require heavy Trek experience to understand or enjoy. This summer will be packed with blockbusters from pre-existing franchises, such as Transformers: Rise of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. With any luck, they'll be just as accessible and entertaining while full of fan service as Star Trek is. I recommend seeing this movie.
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Free Comic Book Day is the first Saturday in May when Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. actually does something good for the world of comics and works with the big and small publishers alike to produce and distribute free comics to be obtained at participating comic book shops around the nation.

But don't take my word for it. Listen to famous celebrity Hugh Jackman!


About 40 different comics were made for the day. I could only get my hands on three of them before my guilt of taking too many would kick in. Here's the rundown on what I got.

Blackest Night #0

Hal Jordan and Barry Allen (He's back if you missed a step) discuss the loss of friends and colleagues, as well as their own respective funerals, over Batman's grave. Hal makes note of how vulnerable the JLA has become since Barry's death and despite he and Bruce not getting along much, Hal still considers Bruce a friend. Then Black Hand of the Black Lantern Corps. comes to raid dead heroes' graves for fresh recruits

(Side note: Sue Dibney has a slightly bigger, more imressive tombstone than her husband Ralph, a.k.a. Elongated Man. Poor Ralph.)

The rest of the book is a mini enclypedia covering the different colored lantern corps. It's a good catch up for people who didn't know green and yello weren't the only colors anymore.

The Avengers

This book pits the New Avengers and the Dark Avengers (What, no Mighty?) begrudgingly working together to defeat a frost giant and save the world. Oh, and Thor's there for a little bit. The story is told from Spider-Man's view, which is obviously a great vantage point to see how screwed up it is to have Norman Osborn lead the Avengers, and even moreso when he actually makes sense (Those must be some powerful meds).

Also, just have to say, I love Venom back to the old spider symbol on his suit. Is anyone else waiting to see the Iron Patriot be painted green and purple though?

Shonen Jump Special: Karakuridoji Ultimo

Stan Lee's manga drawn by Shamen King creator Hiroyuki Takei makes its stateside debut. This crazy, old scientist (who bears an uncanny, amazing, incredible, fantastic resemblance to a certain comic creator) creates two mechanical boys that embody perfect good and perfect evil, names Ultimo and Vice respectively. Then time jump 1,000 years and Ultimo shows up to fight a giant monster.

Not much to the story in these few pages. However, this free comic has some neat extras, namely an interview of Lee by Takei, as well as a two-page wide centerfold with the Lee-esque scientist on the front. Finally, the book contains liner notes of other Shonen Jump series in the back.

So there you go. Three of the many books available for free from comic shops around the nation. If you want to know what the others are like, head to your local shop and see if they have any left. They are free after all.

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It was a good day, a productive day. Even got a Gurren Lagann shirt on sale, and then managed to lose it somewhere in the mall. There goes a formerly well-spent $10.
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US anime distributor Central Park Media filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to ANN and Crain's New York Business. CMP owes around $1.2 million to creditors and hasn't released anything in 12 months.

CMP, and its divisions like US Manga Corps and Anime 18, have released prominent titles in the US in the past. This includes Grave of the Fireflies, Utena, Patlabor, Record of Lodoss War, Slayers, Project A-Ko and La Blue Girl.

Chapter 7 means that the company has closed down and faces liquidation, as opposed to allowing to restructure. The future of its currently-own titles is unknown. Who wants to bet FUNi saves some?
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ANN reports that reports that Sunrise wants to simultaneously release Gundam Unicorn worldwide. This has me psyched. Sunrice has yet to announce a release or distribution method though. It could be a full series, an OVA, a movie, a flip book, pictures we see on passing cars to give us the illusion or animation, etc. I'm betting on a short 12-26 episode series, which we'll get streaming, but Sunrise could surprise us.
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