Monday, October 28, 2013

Between Books - Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen

I have to make a confession.  My DVR is currently full of Once Upon a Time.  I want to watch it, I really do.  I do enjoy it!  But I have just not had the time to watch this Disney filled show. Ironically, I may not have had time to keep up with the show, but I grabbed a copy of Once Upon a Time: The Shadow of the Queen and devoured it as soon as it hit my hands.

This story is fully set in the fairy tale world before the creation of Storybrooke and after the Queen took the Huntsman's heart.  The story starts with the Huntsman attempting to gather tribute from a silver mining time which has been hit hard in recent years.  The tribute of the last bits of silver they own will likely mean they will not survive the winter.  The Huntsman with no heart tries to take the tribute without violence.  But his efforts are thwarted.  The Huntsman discovers that the silver is being used by the Evil Queen as payment to the werewolves if they track down Snow White.  We discover that the Huntsman has a prior relationship with the werewolves, that is complicated.  In the search for Snow White, the Huntsman reclaims his heart, meets Red Riding Hood, and has to make a sacrifice to set things right.

Really what I enjoyed the most about this book was getting to know more about the Huntsman.  His character was so quickly on and off the screen we never had a chance to get to know him.  And that short time on screen has created mystery around him.  Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen really succeeds in making the reader admire the Huntsman in all of his struggles.  And despite not having a heart, the Huntsman seems to stay on a moral high ground during all of his adventures.  The only thing that I did not enjoy was the hint that the wolves the Huntsman had sacrificed to protect were werewolves.  And his relationship with the werewolves has eroded after he ended the Queen's service.  I would really prefer that they had not changed the wolves he lived with from regular wolves.

Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen is a great graphic novel adventure sent in the Once universe.  It builds on a good foundation to make the Huntsman a complicated hero. With this story published by Marvel Comics, it is proof Disney synergy is alive and well.  And with a story based on ideas by Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, it is likely to please the biggest Once fan.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mousey Movie Preview - Captain America: Winter Soldier

Captain America: Winter Soldier's first trailer has released, and it's a must watch!


Boom, mic drop!

How awesome is that?  Yeah pretty sweet.

Here are my thoughts:
  • This is a S.H.I.E.L.D. focused flick, and in many ways could be the big screen version of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
  • This is a spy thriller and I love it.
  • A helicarrier goes down, but I feel like I have seen that shot in other movies.
  • At least in this trailer, Chris Evans is delivering.
  • I feel like the spy world presented here is full of grey hats, and only Cap is working as the white knight.  I feel like he could be opposed by both Fury and Pierce (Robert Redford).
  • Based on this thriller my expecations are now huge!
  • I cannot wait until spring!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Between Books - The Art of Iron Man 2

Between Books - The Art of Iron Man 2

The Art of Iron Man 2 by John Barber and book design by Maz takes the reader behind the scenes of the 2010's Iron Man 2.  The book is fairly straight forward with chapters on the Iron Man armor, villains, settings, backgrounds and more.  The book is image rich with every page featuring images, concept designs and even story boards.  The text focuses on what was behind the choices that designers and film makers made in building Iron Man's world.

Really the star of the text is the photos.  The captions and text are likely not going to dig deep enough for fans who really want to tear apart of the movie.  For example, I would of really loved more analysis of how Walt Disney had helped inspire the Stark Expo, Disney receives one mention.  But the pictures are really fun and really help you see the evolution of Iron Man on the big screen.  For me one of the most enjoyable features was the close ups of the feebles, the armors made around the globe to attempt to keep up with Tony Stark's technology.

The Art of Iron Man 2 is great for fans who want to look at awesome armor designs and to understand what the filmmakers were wanting.  However, it may not be deep enough for those who want to drink deeply from the Iron Man mythos. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mousey Movie (TV) Preview - Star Wars Rebels

When Disney bough LucasFilm there was a lot of speculation that Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be moved to Disney XD.

Instead it was cancelled.

But hope for Star Wars fans is not lost.  Disney has announced that in 2014 a new animated Star Wars show will make it to Disney XD, Star Wars Rebels.

This new show will be set closer to the Original Trilogy, and closer to the characters that will be used in Episode VII.  And it will play on a period of Star Wars history that more older fans will be familiar with.  And you never know, maybe even Darth Vader could show up.

Dave Filoni, in this video from New York Comic Con, talks about what is happening behind the scenes (lots of Star Wars: The Clone Wars staff are still in Disney employ) and outlines the new villain. 


I think it is The Inquisitor that will catch most fans attention, a new Star Wars villain is a pretty big deal (especially for toys)!

I will say he does seem close to the Darth Maul model, with his double bladed lightsaber.  And it does some interesting that someone who is not a Sith or a Jedi (we think) will be wandering around with this weapon.

I am sure that there will be plenty more news in the next year.  Until then you may want to keep an eye out at  The Empire does need quality Tie Fighters!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Between Books - Remembering Roy E. Disney

Between Books - Remembering Roy E. Disney

I will admit, with all my reading on the Eisner Era, one of the personalities that I have become very interested in is Roy E. Disney.  So, seeing that a book about the younger Disney was being released, it was a must own for me.  I really looked forward to reading a book that was focused on him instead of just seeing him as a supporting actor.

Remembering Roy E. Disney: Memories and Photos of a Storied Life by David A. Bossert is an account of Roy E. Disney written by a close colleague and admirer.  Bossert had worked with Disney on several projects and I believe honestly could say they were friends.  Bossert travels through Disney's life topically with chapters on sailing, Shamrock Air (Disney's private plane), Destino, and his late life divorce from Patty Disney and marriage to Leslie Disney.  The chapters are largely narrated by Bossert but also include personal accounts from figures like Stanley Gold and John Lasseter.  The book is also fully packed with personal photos from Disney's life, with nearly every page including an image.

I find this book mixed for me.  So, lets start with those things I did not enjoy.  When you include the forward the bulk of the first 39 pages explain how the book got written.  I understand that Bossert wanted to establish his personal view about Roy E. Disney and wanted to tell the story of publication.  But for a book that is only around 200 pages this was just too much explanation for me.  I wanted to get into the heart of the text, which really does do a good job of showing the relationship between Bossert and Disney.  Additionally, for a book that is very picture focused and with a Disney label some of the pictures are fuzzy.  The picture of Disney on page 38 is especially fuzzy and I have seen independent publishers do better.  It was really not what I expected from a Disney Editions book.  

The good is really the discussion of Bossert's relationship with Disney.  Disney mentored Bossert.  So it is an account of one man's relationship with Disney for the majority of the book and not a historical biography.  The many stories of Disney's genorcity towards others including Bossert really makes one understand what kind of man Disney was.  And since Bossert often worked close with Roy E. Disney, one feels like you are getting an insider's view of Disney.  You feel like you were included in Disney's inner circle.  Bossert clearly admired Roy E. Disney and based on Bossert's accounts you can understand why.  Bossert really paints Disney as a regular down to earth guy who liked Costco hot dogs (one begins to wonder if his father and uncle's culianry choices rubbed off).

A storied life is a theme explored in the book.  Bossert shows Disney at work and discusses how he contributed to the production of animated features early in the Eisner era.  Bossert witnesses and recounts Disney rolling up his sleeves and working arm-in-arm with the story staff, pitching ideas and providing valuable and frank feedback.  As I think about the Marty Sklar comments that Disney was never in story meetings, it becomes clear that Disney was at least for a part of his Disney career.  A good example is Lilo & Stitch, where Disney's feedback saw a reworking of the story.  In the tradition of story, Roy followed his uncle more than his father in this aspect.

Remembering Roy E. Disney brings the reader close to the life of Roy E. Disney.  Author David A. Bossert worked closely with Disney and grew to admire him in these interactions.  As a reader it is hard to not get caught up in the feeling of respect that falls from these pages.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dreaming Disney - The Iron Man Experience

Dreaming Disney - The Iron Man Experience
Earlier this week Tom Staggs, Chairman Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, announced through the Disney Parks Blog a new addition to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016. 

He wrote,

That’s why it was so exciting earlier today at Hong Kong Disneyland to announce that the very first Disney attraction based on a Marvel character experience will debut in Hong Kong Disneyland. And I’m excited to be able to share some of the initial details with you today about this Iron Man Experience.

Audiences around the world have been captivated by the amazing inventions and innovations of Tony Stark and we’re basing this experience within a piece of the Stark Expo. Located in Tomorrowland at Hong Kong Disneyland, the Expo will allow guests to see firsthand the progression of Tony’s Iron Man suits and many other Stark innovations.

Upon entering the ride vehicle our guests will be able to take flight with Iron Man on an epic adventure that not surprisingly pits Iron Man, and our guests, against the forces of evil. This adventure will take place in the streets and skies of Hong Kong, which will make an even more unique and special experience for our Hong Kong Disneyland guests. In addition, guests will be able to meet and take photos with Iron Man.
Personally, I am really excited about this new attraction.  I think it is fair to say I'm Level Seven excited about this attraction.  I just wish it was in one of the domestic parks.  But then maybe this will serve as proof of concept for the future removal of Innoventions!

Dreaming Disney - The Iron Man Experience
But then maybe this attraction would not work in Disneyland or Disney Hollywood Studios.  As I look at these graphics I wonder, is that a Star Tours' StarSpeeder?

Dreaming Disney - The Iron Man Experience

They really do look simliar!  

So is this a partial walk through with a Hall of Armor concept like was saw at Innoventions last summer combined with a simulator.  I cannot see them using the simulator to have guests stroll through the Stark garage!

Again, I am excited.  I hope this is a huge success.  And I wish it was possible for me to visit Hong Kong in 2016.  

Seriously, Disney, fell free to send me.  I'll put some time on my calendar!  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Between Books - Star Wars: Kenobi

Between Books - Star Wars: Kenobi

As I have noted before I have been attempting to find a Star Wars Expanded Universe title to recommend to a friend.  Mostly I have struck out.  Often some of the best Expanded Universe is either in trilogies or do not feature characters familiar to those fans who have only seen the movies. Being someone who first meet Ben Kenobi, or Obi-Wan Kenobi, on Tatooine and having many friends that met this Jedi Knight there I was hopeful the latest novel would be the Expanded Universe book that I could recommend.  But then my hopes have been dashed in the past.

The first quarter of Star Wars: Obi-Wan by John Jackson Miller focuses on the lives of those hardy folks who live in and around an one-store Tatooine oasis.  Orrin Gault is a wealthy moisture farmer who also leads a local posse of farmers and settlers who protect farms against the raids of Tuskens, or Sandpeople.  A'Yark is the local Tusken War Leader, whose tribe is slowly dying is hatches a desperate plan to save the Tuskens.  A'Yark has a number of secrets and is familiar with the ways of a newcomer in the area, known as Ben Kenobi.  Annileen Calwell is a widow and mother who runs her late husband's store, Danner's Claim.  Annileen is very interested in the comings and goings of this newcomer who always seems to be around trouble.  Those who live in and around the claim live a hard life that is underscored by Tusken attacks and underworld maneuvers.  And in the end, nothing is really what it seems to be in this Sci-Fi western.

For me this book started really slow.  It took me a week to read and the early part of the week was slow going.  Part of this was me asking where is Kenobi?  His early appearances are few and short as Jackson Miller makes his reader familiar with the new characters he has developed.  But by the weekend, the pace had quickened for me and the role of Kenobi, the character I wanted to see, had expanded.  By Saturday night I resented the fact that I was tired and could not keep my eyes open any longer to read the climax of the action.  When I woke up, the first thing I did was finish.  By the end of the book I was sold, and  I think the fact I reached for it first thing shows it had me hooked.

John Jackson Miller has past experience with Star Wars, but often in a different form.  He has written Star Wars comic titles which have been well received.  And he even slips in the names of his original Jedi characters.  Additionally, he has written short stories which were collected as Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories which are highly entertaining snippets.  But all of these stories are generally set thousands of years before Star Wars: A New Hope with this being his first attempt at Original Trilogy characters.  And I would say that he does an excellent job writing this especially iconic character.

I do wonder if in the Disney era if we will see a Star Wars book like this in the near future.  Clearly it was written before the Disney purchase.  The story looks back and references heavily characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and characters that look into the past, not the future and Star Wars: Episode VII.  The shadow of Anakin Skywalker leaves a bigger impact on this story than infant Luke Skywalker or his uncle Owen Lars.  One might expect a story where Kenobi was interacting with the Lars' family.  I think that Disney would have preferred that story, focused on moving readers to their 2015 movies, instead of a series that they cancelled and movies produced before they bought the property.

I would recommend Star Wars: Kenobi to the casual Star Wars fan.  The book is well written and ends with a flurry of action that wraps the reader up.  But this comes with the caveat that it has a slow beginning as John Jackson Miller takes the time to introduce us to his all new cast of characters.