Watch the Selkie-riffic Trailer for Song of the Sea

Friday, December 12th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

I’m a fan of the gorgeous animated film The Secret of Kells, released in 2009 by Cartoon Saloon and directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey. So I was very pleased to hear that Cartoon Saloon’s next feature, Song of the Sea, premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, back in September, and will go into wider release later this month.

Song of the Sea is the tale of Ben and Saoirse, who live in a lighthouse with their father, and the strange shell flute Saoirse discovers that unlocks a magical secret from their mother’s past. The voice cast includes Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter‘s Mad Eye Moody), David Rawle as Ben, and Lisa Hannigan.

Song of the Sea was directed Tomm Moore. Check out the strikingly beautiful animation in the trailer below. It will have a limited release here in the US starting on December 19, and I’ll be certainly keeping an eye out for it.

Benedict Cumberbatch Confirmed as Doctor Strange

Saturday, December 6th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Benedict CumberbatchA few weeks ago, Marvel Studios leaked that it was in discussions with Benedict Cumberbatch to take the lead role role in its upcoming superhero film Doctor Strange. Several outlets picked it up as a news story, but I thought it was strange. Who announces they’re “in talks?” Don’t you keep that quiet until terms are concluded? Cumberbatch is about as hot as a young actor can get, what with the title role in Sherlock, and his roles in Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hobbit, and The Imitation Game. Making a big noise in the press about your top choice before you even start negotiating seems like a sure way to drive up the price for the talent — or to end up disappointing fans.

Well, either Marvel knew the outcome in advance, or they just really know what they’re doing, as this week they announced they’d reached terms with Cumberbatch. He will appear in the film version of Doctor Strange, to be released in 2016 as part of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Producer Kevin Feige said:

Stephen Strange’s story requires an actor capable of great depth and sincerity. In 2016, Benedict will show audiences what makes Doctor Strange such a unique and compelling character.

Doctor Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963 (not long after they co-created Spider-man). As I said when we first discussed it here, I hope the film draws inspiration from Ditko’s fantastic art, and especially the way he portrayed the dimension-hopping adventures of his sorcerer-hero. Marvel announced the director would be Scott Derrickson (who directed the fabulously creepy Sinister, and Deliver Us from Evil), back in June.

Doctor Strange is scheduled to be released in November 4, 2016. It will be directed by Scott Derrickson, from a screenplay by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus).

Goth Chick News: Dr. Jekyll Meets The Incredible Hulk on British Television… Kind Of

Thursday, November 27th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Dr. Jekyll Meets The Incredible Hulk-smallThis all seems kind of inevitable when you think about it.

Here in the good ol’ US of A, superheroes have been reigning supreme on the big screen for some time, while zombies are unstoppable on the small. So if you’re a British television executive gazing longingly across the pond at the entertainment bank being made over here, you’re probably also thinking how to capitalize on it at home without seeming so…well, American.

That’s when you decide to take a very English literary character (no ghastly dime-store comics here, I can tell you) and make him into a superhero – well sort of. But he’s not going to be happy about it because by God we are British after all. So he’s going to be rather tortured and guilt-ridden and all that – none of this happy swinging from spider webs or flying around in iron suits. Oh, and there will be monsters mixed in there too.

And this is how we get a new television series starring Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, commissioned by the oldest commercial network in the UK.

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Review of Sinister: Is Bagul the New Bogeyman on the Block?

Monday, November 24th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

Irelyn Ozment's depiction of a "bad robot," November 2014

Irelyn Ozment’s depiction of a “bad robot,” November 2014

Anyone who has used the search engine Google more than once knows that it automatically generates ads based on your search terms that are then embedded into your search list. Aside from a little yellow “Ad” button, they look deceptively like more search results, tricking the unwary 2-a.m. web surfer into accidentally clicking on them and then being nightmarishly whisked off to some random retail site. The algorithm often creates nonsensical advertisements, proving yet again that we are still a long way off from AI (or even, in some cases, from I).

When I did a search for “Bagul,” aka Mr. Boogie aka ancient Babylonian deity who consumes the souls of children, the following three ads popped up at the end of my first page of hits (actual web links redacted, because I do not want to be responsible for you unleashing Mr. Boogie onto yourself or your family):

1. Bagul Store: Bagul: super cheap Hurry while stocks last!

2. Bagul – 70% Off – Lowest Price On Bagul: Free shipping, in stock. Buy now!

3. Bagul up to 70% off – Bagul sale: Compare prices and save up to 70%

If you’ve seen the 2012 film Sinister, the thought of having Bagul shipped to you for free should be absolutely chilling. Even if he is up to 70% off. Just 30% of Bagul will probably still mean certain death for you and your loved ones. In fact, someone inadvertently clicking on one of these ads could be the premise for Sinister 2, the sequel.

On the recommendation of several people (well, two — but since one of them was Black Gate ed-in-chief John O’Neill, that should count as several), I selected Sinister as my Hallowe’en 2014 viewing. After the last peals of “trick or treat” had long since dwindled away down the dark, cold streets, and our own little homespun Mrs. Munster (yes, that is what my 5-year-old specifically chose to be this year) and zombie cop had been tucked into their beds to sleep off their Hershey/Mars/Nestle comas, my wife and I inserted the Blu-Ray we’d rented into the player. My wife promptly fell asleep, but that has no bearing on the quality of the movie in question. For the next hour and fifty minutes, I was transfixed. I’ve got to concede: for this genre of film, this one is a high water mark.

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Firefly Friday: Leaves on the Wind Comic

Friday, November 21st, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Serenity_Leaves_on_the_Wind_HC_coverThe film Serenity brought a fair amount of closure to fans of Firefly, but as with any great story it didn’t end there. Each character goes through events in the film that transforms them in some way, and the story is never over. The classic hero’s journey ends not with the climactic battle, but with the return. The hero comes back to where he (or she) began and, through the events, has been transformed. Indeed, often their home itself has been transformed in some way, even if only in the way they view it.

The 6-issue limited comic book limited series, now collected together in Serenity: Leaves on the Wind (Amazon) completes the “Return” aspect of the hero’s journey for our crew … and since it’s a story in its own right, it also contains a full journey within it, with a new call to action, a new conflict, a new shift under the feet of the heroes. New allies and enemies are introduced, and the crew continues to change.

The series begins in the aftermath of Serenity, where the revelations about the origins of the Reavers spark heated debate across the ‘Verse. While pundits debate the veracity of the allegations, both the Alliance and a growing New Resistance movement are looking for the man who started it all: Malcolm Reynolds.

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Goth Chick News: From Hell Gets the Small Screen Treatment from FX

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

From Hell Alan MooreThe FX Network is making bank giving us the creeps.

Earlier this week, IMDB reported the network responsible for the nightmare-inducing American Horror Story is developing a TV series based on Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s critically acclaimed graphic novel From Hell.

From Hell was published in comic form from 1989 to 1996. It totals 572 pages and I own every one, having purchased the entire series in mint condition at a flea market.

Do not underestimate the opportunities at a flea market.

The comic book series depicts a fictional account of the gory Jack the Ripper killings in Whitechapel, London as part of a conspiracy by the Freemasons and the royal family. The series also used some historical facts and actual people involved with the case to create a narrative for the story.

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Culture, Corporate and Otherwise

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!It’s been a while since I posted anything here at Black Gate. There’s no one reason; a number of things have kept me busy or occupied, most recently a persistent head cold and ear infection. I mention this because being under the weather has indirectly to do with the following post. Firstly, being sick led me to watch some TV shows which I now want to write a bit about. Secondly, my mental state shaped the way I thought about what I experienced; I can only hope now to capture the sense of coherence I had then. This essay will be more shapeless than usual, I’m afraid, an attempt to explain the connections that drifted through my mind between Alan Moore, Doc Savage, and Scooby Doo, among others.

When you’re feeling sick — or at least when I’m feeling sick — it’s sometimes restful to read or watch something familiar. As it was coming up to Halloween when I caught a bad cold, I decided to watch something spooky but unchallenging. And it turned out that Canadian Netflix had both the very first Scooby-Doo TV series, 1969’s Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears), and the most recent, 2010’s Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated (created and produced by Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone, and Mitch Watson).

I’d read some very good things about the latter show, some here on this blog from Nick Ozment, so I decided I’d rewatch the series I knew from my youth and then see the modern reboot. Because curiosity takes many odd forms, I also ended up drifting around Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database, reading up on the creation of both shows. Which touched off a few reflections on the shape of stories, generational differences, and popular culture.

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Firefly Friday: Better and Not-So-Better Days in Serenity Comics

Friday, November 14th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

SerenityBetterDaysNext week will mark the release of the hardcover collection of the Serenity: Leaves on the Wind (Amazon) limited series, which marks the first official story set in the post-film Serenity ‘Verse.

However, this is actually the fourth collection of Serenity comics. I previously reviewed the Serenity: Those Left Behind comic story, which was published before the release of the film Serenity. Two additional stories have been released as comics to tell further adventures of the Serenity crew since the film came out, but these were telling stories that took place before the film.

Serenity: Better Days (Amazon)

The second limited series to get collected together, Better Days tells the story of a mission that goes surprisingly right for the Serenity crew. It sets them on a path where they all might be able to live their wildest dreams. More importantly, though, the series is set before the events of Serenity – so the series includes characters who don’t make it out of the film alive. We get yet another glimpse of some of our favorite characters all together.

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Firefly Friday: Going Behind the Scenes

Friday, November 7th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Firefly the Official Companion-smallThe cornerstone of the fans’ love affair with Firefly is the 13 television episodes, culminating in the film Serenity. But if you’re a fan of the show, you’ve probably watched all of the episodes numerous times – maybe even with the audio commentary from Whedon, the stars, and other show creators. For real fans, though, this may not be quite enough. Is there any way to dive into the individual episodes more deeply?

Titan Books helped out the fans by publishing a series of stunning, glossy fan-gasmic volumes that include not only images of the props and various production stills, but also full scripts of the episodes of the series. Across these three books – ultimately collected into a single volume – there’s a glimpse into nearly every aspect of the production process on the series, why it was ultimately cancelled, what the various actors felt about their characters, and even some new stories.

And so very many shiny, shiny pictures.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Elementary is Back

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Elementary_PosterIn September of 2012, Elementary debuted on CBS television in America. It was a modern day Sherlock Holmes series, set in New York City. It followed closely on the heels of the BBC’s Sherlock, which had aired three episode seasons in 2010 and again in 2012.

The BBC series was a clever updating of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories (at least, it was until the third season) and was full of Easter eggs to please old school Holmes fans (like me), while appealing to a new generation (including females who swoon at the sight of Benedict Cumberbatch: ‘Cumberbunnies’).

Elementary sprinkles in bits from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works, but it’s really a police procedural with a Holmes overlay. I think it’s inaccurate to say it’s based on Doyle’s stories.

Holmes is a recovering drug addict who sleeps with women. Watson is, well, a woman who starts as Holmes’s life coach. Mycroft is nothing like the original and his relationship with Sherlock has even less to do with the stories.

Irene Adler and Moriarty were completely transformed. Gregson (who was the best of a bad lot) is actually a competent policeman, which is a nice change. On the other hand, there are bits for Sherlockians, such as Holmes keeping bees on the roof and being an expert single stick fighter.

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