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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Movie Review: Into The Woods


"Into The Woods" is based on the 1987 Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine and is the ultimate mash-up of familiar fairy tales.  And, what better musical for Walt Disney Studios, which is built on fairy tales, to take on.  While the story involves such famous characters as Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone) and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), the film really revolves around the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who are wanting to have a child.  It turns out that their neighbor, a witch (Meryl Streep), had placed a curse on his father years ago after the father took some vegetables and magic beans from the witch's garden.  The witch tells the Baker and his wife that she will reverse the curse if they can obtain four ingredients for a potion - the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn and the slipper as pure as gold.  And, it is through this search the the famous fairy tales are brought together.  But, this musical fairy tale is not wrapped up in a tidy bow as Disney's famous versions always are.  There are lessons to learn about being careful what you wish for,

I'll start off by saying I am a big fan of Sondheim's and Lapine's stage version of the show. I have listened to the soundtrack countless times, seen a few stage versions and watched the original Broadway version on VHS (and now gloriously through Google Play on my Chromecast).  It is my favorite Sondheim musical of all time.  So, I was quite familiar with the musical going in.  And, I have to admit that I had a lot of questions.  I will admit that there was a lot of excitement, followed by some trepidation.  How would they do some of the things that were in the stage version, like the narrator or some of the ensemble numbers?  And, knowing Disney was doing it, I admittedly wondered how well it would be done.  Don't get me wrong. I am a big Disney fan.  But, let's face it, the live action movies branded with the Walt Disney Pictures label has been hit and miss for me lately.  So, I wondered if Disney could actually not only pull off something this complex, but pull it off well. Well, I am happy to report that I believe this is the best live action film to come from Walt Disney Pictures in years.

I am writing this review after not only a second viewing, but after watching a filmed version of the original Broadway version as well.  Before I get started, there will be spoilers in this review, so if you're not familiar with "Into The Woods," stage or movie version, and you don't want to know what happens, it's best to read this after.  Although, if you have seen the stage version, chances are, this won't spoil anything but, rather, answer questions.

First of all, I think the film not only looks beautiful, but it has this magical dreamlike quality to it.  I am usually a fan of giving musicals a "big" feel.  I think musicals are intimate and the scenery should never take away from the heart of the production, which is the music.  The cinematography in this movie is so amazing, though, and manages to make "the woods" a vibrant character in the film.  With its wonderfully magical looking and stylized trees and beautiful forest lighting, you really feel like you're in the middle of a fairy tale.  And, what better way to feel than in a movie musical about fairy tales.

I will admit I panicked a little when they announced the casting.  I wondered if they chose casting based on who is popular as they did with musicals such as Mamma Mia and Les Miserables.  While I had an idea that Meryl Streep could sing, I didn't know how much she could hold her own to such a Broadway diva as Bernadette Peters who originated the role of the Witch.  I enjoyed her in Mamma Mia, but, it didn't really give me the full range of her singing abilities.  But, Streep, I think, holds her own.  She, at times, channels Bernadette in terms of power of her voice while, at the same time, bringing on her own unique interpretations.

Then, there were actors such as Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt.  Kendrick I had heard sing before, but, again, I had also heard Amanda Seyfried sing and she was one of the weaker performances in Les Miserables.  And, to my knowledge, I had no idea that Chris Pine or Emily Blunt could sing at all.  They were all amazing, though, particularly Chris Pine who, along with Billy Magnussen, steals the show with "Agony."

And then there was Johnny Depp as the Wolf.  I know a lot of people love him, but I am not one of them.  He has had a lot of misses for me.  But, he didn't bother me here.  And, honestly, given that the Wolf is meant to be creepy, I think he plays it quite well.  I'm glad they kept him in a limited role as I can only take him in doses, though.

But, my hat is really off to Lilla Crawford and Daniel Huttlestone who are the youngest members of the cast.  They really shine in this film.  I knew Huttlestone would be great, though, as he played Gavroche, in Les Miserables and was one of the highlights of the film for me.

I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by all the performances in the movie version.  I didn't think there was anybody that was miscast or that couldn't hold a tune.  With Les Miserables, there were some that could sing, but others that really could not, try though they may.  With Into The Woods, I did not wince once during any of the performances.

Now, on to some of the comparisons with the stage version.  First of all, there was some worry that Sondheim and Lapine would have to dumb down the musical to make it more family friendly for Disney's targeted audiences.  At one point, Sondheim, who later said he was misquoted, implied that thing like the affair between Cinderella's Prince and the Baker's Wife would be excised from the movie version at Disney's behest.  So, I was so glad, after hearing the soundtrack which was released before the movie came out, that the two songs that constitute the affair were still in the film and equally excited that Chris Pine and Emily Blunt played it so well.

The one rumored changes that did end up true was that Rapunzel does not die in the movie version.  I'm only speculating, but I can imagine Disney probably worried that a film bearing their name aimed at family audiences might traumatize some children if they were to think one of Disney's most beloved princesses died.  I read one review that said that taking away Rapunzel's death ruined the emotional meaning of the "Witch's Lament" and diminished the Witch's motivation for the rest of the film.  But, honestly, I really don't think it did.  There is something about being rebuffed by one's daughter with the finality of wishing never to see her again that still makes up for it.  To be honest, I wasn't always satisfied with the way Rapunzel's death played out in the stage musical anyway.  So, I guess, if you loved her death scene, you might feel the same as others.  If not, I think you'll forgive the change.

One of the other changes is the loss of the Mysterious Man through the play.  Again, he wasn't really a highlight for me in the stage version and seemed a little intrusive to me.  I liked that the Baker and his wife had to figure it out themselves without the Mysterious Man getting involved. I think it made their characters stronger.  The only sad part is that with his removal, save from one final scene at the end, meant the removal of the song "No More" which is sung by the Baker and the Mysterious Man.  I love that song and it is the only song I wish had remained.

And, the final major change was that the outside narrator was now gone, giving the role to the Baker himself.  But, again, while humorous, given the more serious tone the Disney version took in the movie, an outside narrator would have been a distraction, especially during the part in the stage version where they break the fourth wall and the narrator becomes part of the story.  It would not have worked in this.  And, I kind of like how the Baker's storytelling during the finale mirrors the narration at the beginning, bringing us full circle.

It's also interesting to read reviews from people who were NOT familiar with the stage version.  They tend to think it drags at the end of the movie, feeling cheated of the happy ending that we are all familiar with.  But, again, to me, the point of the musical was not about happy endings, but about being careful what you wish for.  And, really, I can't think of what else they could have taken from the second act or even the first act to make it shorter.

For me, the movie version of "Into The Woods" is one of the best adaptations of a movie musical in a long time and one of the best live action Disney films in years.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Missed Opportunity for Disney, Marvel & Big Hero 6


As we all know, last year, Disney officially announced that the 54th animated feature to come from Walt Disney Animation Studios would be based on an obscure Marvel Comics property called Big Hero 6.

And, while there has been consultation with Marvel Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, both Disney and Marvel were quick to point out that this film would be a Disney take on a Marvel property and not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Marvel Comic Universe. 

Director Don Hall told the Los Angeles Times, "I was looking for something on the obscure side, something that would mesh well with what we do. The idea of a kid and a robot story with a strong brother element, it’s very Disney."

Later, he told moviefone, "...Marvel was super encouraging to not tie it to their mythology at all. It was like -- 'Create your own universe, create your own characters, and don't worry about anything else.'"


This all makes sense because Walt Disney Animation Studios has always done their own versions of various properties.  For example, while we can say FROZEN was based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale "The Snow Queen," it probably has as much in common with the original source material as Big Hero 6 does.

Regardless, because of the unorthodox source material for Disney, there has been a certain level of expectation that the film will somehow be tied to Marvel.  So, recently, Newsarama did a story about how Marvel had no plans to re-release any of its Big Hero 6 comic books nor did it have plans to add Big Hero 6 back into the current Marvel Comic Universe.  Comic Book Resources confirmed this with Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso who said, "The characters and stories that have appeared in our comics are very different from what they are in the film. Releasing material that would be viewed as movie tie-in product would be a disservice to filmgoers. We wanted the Disney folks to be able to create their own unique style and story, unencumbered by those older stories."


Again, this made sense to me because the characters are very different from the original source material.  They wouldn't fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe nor would they really fit into the Marvel Comic Universe.

Alonso also added, "we have a catalog of stuff that we can reprint, but we have no intention of doing anything related to the movie."

And, this is where I think a missed opportunity has taken place.  Again, I get the fact that Marvel doesn't want to reprint the old stories because they don't really sell well.  And, because the characters are different, I get they don't want people to assume that this is the NEW Big Hero 6 in the Marvel 616 Universe (to those who don't speak Marvel-ese, the Marvel 616 Universe is the universe in which all the classic Marvel stories have taken place).  

But, the missed opportunity comes with his saying that they have "no intention" on doing anything related to the movie.

Why couldn't or shouldn't they release a comic book based on the Disney film?  It seems like a great opportunity to introduce kids to comic books.  No, these characters do not need to be in the proper 616 Universe, but, why can't they exist outside that universe in a book aimed specifically to younger readers (or even better - ALL AGES) in the same way it releases Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man Adventures and Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H.  It doesn't even have to bear the Marvel imprint if they don't want a connection.


And. it's not like Marvel hasn't taken on Disney properties before.  It currently has the Disney Kingdoms comic with a very popular Figment storyline now being published.  The first and second issues even sold out and a second printing had to be done.  And, its doing what the series hoped to accomplish, bring in Disney fans who don't normally read comics.


The truth of the matter is that Disney owns a successful comic book company and it seems a shame that its not using this synergistic opportunity to create a comic book line based on a property based on a comic book.  I feel the same way about how they haven't used the opportunity to produce a The Incredibles comic book or books based on Wreck-It Ralph...among others.  Imagine if Disney had seized upon the opportunity to further market the Sugar Rush characters from Wreck-It Ralph.  With the right creators, it could have had a similar girl, yet very crossover, targeted audience that IDW's My Little Pony enjoys today.

Disney is honestly missing a great opportunity here.  I hope that both Disney and Marvel will eventually re-think this opportunity and eventually plan a Disney's Big Hero 6 comic book. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy


When they first announced they were doing a "Guardians of the Galaxy" film, I was super excited.  While the media is quick to point out that this team is "obscure," to me, they've always been an integral part of the Marvel Universe, whether it be the old team with members such as Yondu, Charlie-27 and Vince Astrovik or the newer current team on which the film is based.  I knew if they got this movie right, they could easily open the door for Marvel to cosmic storytelling.

Before I get into this review, like I have with my other reviews, I do talk about things in the movie.  So, there are SPOILERS in this review.  If you don't want to know certain things that happen, come back and read the review after you watch the movie.  Moving on, consider that my SPOILER ALERT...


I have been so excited about this film that I was almost scared to watch it for fear that I had raised my expectations so high that I'd ultimately hate it.  Thankfully, I can say this is not the case and the film did live up to my expectations.  Is it a perfect film?  Perhaps not. I agree with some of the reviews that there is a whole lot going on.  I can imagine for those not familiar with Guardians of the Galaxy or the cosmic side of the Marvel universe could potentially get overwhelmed.  For a fanboy like me, my mind was swimming with references to the Kree, Cosmo, Nova Corp, the Kyln, Infinity Stones, and so on and so forth.

That said, I don't think it's the same kind of overcrowding that has happened in certain Spider-Man films where you can't figure out what to focus on.  The film very early on establishes that the people you should focus on are Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot.  And, the film develops these characters very well.  You get a great sense of who they are and how they come together as a team.  You genuinely come to care for these characters and that is what Marvel Studios does well.


Also, for me, in a "comic book movie," I need to feel like a little kid again opening up a favorite book and reading it for the first time.  This is something that has made Marvel Studios movies so special.  And, Guardians of the Galaxy did not fail to deliver this for me.  While I felt it in many places during the film, for me, my little geek heart burst watching Rocket and Groot in particular come to life.  They are my favorite members of the Guardians of the Galaxy and it really felt like I was in the middle of a comic book watching them interact.

Before I watched this film, I kept hearing how funny the film is.  In fact, it was heard so many times, you'd almost think the whole thing is a comedy.  And, certainly, there is a lot of humor in the film...perhaps more than most Marvel Studios films.  And, this is a good thing to utilize to utilize the strengths of Chris Pratt in particular.  He is known for his comedy and he is in top form here.  But, I don't think the film downplays the threat that brings the Guardians together.  There is a definite darkness.to the film which, again, reminds me that a film can be dark without being depressing.


And, that's another thing  it reminded me of...that space movies can be fun!  It seems like most movies these days that take place in space are about some post-apocalyptic situation, some dystopian society or aliens hunting humans.  While there is a very real threat in this film, it was nice to just see some good old fashion adventuring going on and heroes rising to the occasion.

I did wish that we could have gotten a little more of Gamora's back story.  It seemed a quick transition from being adopted daughter of Thanos in the employ of Ronan the Accuser to Guardian of the Galaxy.  There is some explanation in there, but I would have liked to have watched it rather than just heard about it.  Also, the most jarring representation from comic book to movie on screen was that of Yondu.  In the comic book, I always imagined him being graceful and the movie version was anything but.  That said, the version of him in the movie made sense.  And, to me, these criticisms are small in comparison to the joy the film on the whole gives me.

Finally, be sure to stay through the credits.  While the scene may not have any consequence to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, there is a cameo there that will make Marvel fans geek out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Disney At San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 (UPDATED: 7/18/14)

UPDATE: I have included a few more updates since the original posting. [7/18/14]

Hi, All!  So sorry I've been so absent lately.  I've been so busy in real life that it's left me little time for social networking.  That said, I'm trying to get ready for San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 and I always like to check out all the Disney related stuff.  I've been going for the last several years, but I always seem to miss something.  So, I've been trying to do as much advanced research as possible.  I figure there are other Disney fans out there trying to do the same thing, so I'm trying to compile them all here.

I've gathered these from various sources and have tried to give credit where credit is due.  So, please be sure to click the links for pictures and/or additional information.  For expediency, I have cut and pasted from different sources and, by no means, claim this news as reported by myself.  I'm extremely grateful to all the news sources that have been reporting what's going on at San Diego Comic-Con this year!

Also, I'm sure I've missed things.  So, if you know of anything that should be added, please let me know!

This list compiles is broken down by Disney related booths on the Convention Floor, Panels & Presentations, Offsite Activities, Signings & Autographs and Comic-Con Exclusives!

CONVENTION FLOOR

ABC Castle (#4245)
Disney/Disney's Big Hero 6 Booth (#3635)
Marvel Booth (#2329)
Lucasfilm LTD (#2913)
Disney Publishing Worldwide (#929)

PANELS & PRESENTATIONS

THURSDAY

Marvel: Breaking Into Comics The Marvel Way (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Thursday, July 24 - 10:00-11:00 am
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

Have a passion for the inner workings of the comics industry? Curious about breaking into the field as a writer or artist? Marvel professionals from every corner of the business give insider tips, advice, and first-hand accounts of what it takes to start a career in comics today. Panelists include editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, talent scout C. B. Cebulski, and a slew of Marvel talent! (Source: SDCC Thursday schedule)

Toy Story That Time Forgot Panel (ABC Networks Presentation)
When: Thursday, July 24 - 11:15 am-12:15 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6A

On Thursday, July 24, ABC and Pixar Animation Studios will give fans a first-look sneak peek with a panel on the original holiday special, ‘Toy Story That Time Forgot.’ Go inside the show as the panelists give you an exclusive inside-look at the sketches, storyboards and concepts that went into the making of this Disney•Pixar special! Join producer Galyn Susman (‘Toy Story OF TERROR!’), director Steve Purcell (‘Brave’) and head of story Derek Thompson (‘WALL•E’) for a moderated Q&A panel from 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in Room 6A, followed by a special autograph session from 1:00-2:00 p.m. at the ABC Castle on the Convention Center Floor, booth #4245. (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Marvel: House of Ideas (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Thursday, July 24 - 1:00-2:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

Love having the best comics in the industry on your mobile devices? Want to know how Marvel stays on the cutting edge of technology while bringing you what you love? Want to learn more about Infinite Comics? Well, this panel is for you, True Believer! Get exciting news from Ryan Penagos (executive editorial director of digital) and other guests on what's happening with the Marvel Comics App, Marvel AR, Marvel.com, Marvel's vast social media presence, and more in this can't-miss panel! (Source: SDCC Thursday schedule)

The Art of Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios Presentation)
When: Thursday, July 24 - 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents director Don Hall, producer Roy Conli, production designer Paul Felix and character designer Shiyoon Kim as they share the visual development of Walt Disney Animation Studios' November 7, 2014 film,Big Hero 6. The action-packed comedy adventure tells the story of robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who learns to harness his genius - thanks to his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends: adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to his closest companion - a robot named Baymax - and transforms the group into a band of high-tech heroes determined to solve the mystery. Inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name. (Source: SDCC Thursday schedule)

Wander Over Yonder (Walt Disney Television Animation Presentation)
When: Thursday, July 24 - 2:00-3:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 25ABC

Creator Craig McCracken and stars Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), April Winchell (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), and Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) explore the wonders of Disney XD's newest series Wander Over Yonder. Find out what's in store for the friendliest face in outer space with exclusive clips from upcoming episodes and an audience Q&A. The panel will also feature sneak peeks of two new animated shows coming to Disney XD! (Source: SDCC Thursday schedule)

Marvel: Avengers & X-Men AXIS (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Thursday, July 24 - 4:30-5:30 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6DE

Are you ready for Marvel's biggest event of the year? In Avengers & X-Men: AXIS, the Red Skull has enslaved thousands, has amassed an army, and now broadcasts his message of hate across the world. Earth's last hope hinges on the fragile alliance of two estranged teams-the Avengers and the X-Men! A who's who of Marvel talent and editors will be on hand to discuss this Marvel blockbuster! Plus, find out the latest on current and future X-titles! Join editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, executive editor Mike Marts, senior editor Nick Lowe, Avengers & X-Men: AXIS writer Rick Remender, and other Mighty Marvel guests for a rousing discussion and Q&A session! (Source: SDCC Thursday schedule)

The Heroes of Star Wars Rebels Panel (Lucasfilm Presentation)
When: Thursday, July 24 - 6:00-7:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6BCF

Lucasfilm’s special panel, The Heroes of Star Wars Rebels, will feature executive producer Dave Filoni, as well as the first panel appearance by executive producer Simon Kinberg and stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, and Taylor Gray. They’ll discuss making the show and will reveal exclusive content from the upcoming series for fans in attendance. Star Wars Rebels continues the epic tradition of the legendary Star Wars saga with all-new exciting, action-packed adventures. It is a dark time in the galaxy, as the evil Galactic Empire tightens its grip of power from world to world. As the series begins, Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet, ruling with an iron fist and ruining the lives of its people. The clever and motley crew of the starship Ghost is amongst a select few who are brave enough to stand against the Empire. Together, this ragtag group will face threatening new villains, encounter colorful adversaries, embark on thrilling adventures and become heroes with the power to ignite a rebellion. Scheduled to premiere in the fall as a one-hour special telecast on Disney Channel, it will be followed by a series on Disney XD channels around the world. (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

FRIDAY

Marvel: Avengers & X-Men AXIS (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 10:00-11:00 am
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6DE

It's the most epic Spider-Man event of all time as every Spider-Man EVER come together to face a world-ending threat! Senior editor Nick Lowe, Dan Slott (Amazing Spider-Man) and Mark Waid (Daredevil) will be taking any and all questions from you, the fans! This is one panel no Spidey fan can miss! (Source: SDCC Friday schedule)

Star Wars Origami (Lucasfilm Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 10:00-11:00 am
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

Origami Master folder Chris Alexander (author of Star Wars Origami) demonstrates and teaches the master folding techniques to make Star Wars origami figures. Attendees will fold an exclusive Comic-Con model along with other art from the Star Wars universe. Materials included! (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy (Lucasfilm Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 11:00 am-12:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

For the first time, Lucasfilm has opened its Archives to present comprehensive storyboards for the original Star Wars trilogy — the world-changing A New Hope and its operatic sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi — as well as never-before-published art from early conceptual and deleted scenes, in a new book from Abrams: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy. Former ILM art director Joe Johnston will discuss the newest addition to the Abrams Star Wars library, and the singular experience of creating the iconic trilogy’s storyboards with his stellar art dept team. Johnston won an Academy Award for Best Visual effects for his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and has directed Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo, and Captain America: The First Avenger. Moderated by Lucasfilm editor J.W. Rinzler. (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

Hasbro Star Wars (Lucasfilm Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 12:00-1:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

Join members of the Hasbro brand and design team including Jeff Labovitz (director, Global Brand Marketing, Hasbro), Bill Rawley (design manager, Hasbro), and more as they discuss the popular Hasbro Star Wars line. Attendees will also get a sneak peek of upcoming, never-before-seen action figures from the highly anticipated Star Wars Rebels animated series. (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

Resurrection Panel (ABC Networks Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 12:30-1:30 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6DE

On Friday, July 25, what if someone you lost…returned? For the first time ever, ABC brings hit-drama ‘Resurrection’ to Comic-Con! Join moderator Michael Schneider, TV Guide Executive Editor, on a panel with executive producers Aaron Zelman (‘The Killing’), Michele Fazekas (‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’) and Tara Butters (‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’), along with Omar Epps (‘House’), Kurtwood Smith (‘That 70′s Show’), Frances Fisher (‘Titanic’) and Devin Kelley (‘Chernobyl Diaries’), as they explore the mysterious return of residents of Arcadia, MO. Get an exclusive first look into the new season and join us for a Q&A panel full of surprises. 12:30-1:30 p.m., Room 6DE. Don’t miss out on an autograph session from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at the ABC Castle on the Convention Center Floor, booth #4245. (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Marvel: The Avengers (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 12:45-1:45 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6BCF

Find out what's going on with your favorite Avengers titles in this can't-miss panel! (Source: SDCC Friday schedule)

Gravity Falls (Walt Disney Television Animation Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 1:00-2:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6A

Creator and executive producer Alex Hirsch (Grunkle Stan) is joined by series stars Kristen Schaal (Mabel), Jason Ritter (Dipper), and Thurop Van Orman (L'il Gideon) to uncover the mysteries of Disney Channel's hit series Gravity Falls. Find out what's in store for television's spookiest town with exclusive clips from the show's exciting upcoming season and an audience Q&A. The panel will also feature sneak peeks of two new animated shows coming to Disney XD! (Source: SDCC Friday schedule)

Star Wars Collectibles Update (Lucasfilm Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 1:00-2:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

Join eFX, Gentle Giant Studios, Kotobukiya, and Sideshow Collectibles for product development insights and exclusive previews of the latest in Star Wars collectibles. Moderated by Anita Castellar of Lucas Licensing. (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

Star Wars: A New Dawn (Lucasfilm Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 1:00-2:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

The new era of Star Wars storytelling begins in September with Star Wars: A New Dawn. Join New York Times bestselling author John Jackson Miller, Shelly Shapiro (editor, Del Rey), Frank Parisi (editor, Del Rey), Jennifer Heddle (senior editor, Lucasfilm), Pablo Hidalgo (Lucasfilm Story Group), Vanessa Marshall (Hera in Star Wars Rebels), along with Dave Filoni (executive producer, Star Wars Rebels), as they discuss the planning and process of Star Wars: A New Dawn, and present the list of upcoming Star Wars novels from Del Rey. (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

Marvel Television Presents Panel (ABC Networks & Marvel Studios Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 3:00-4:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20

On Friday, July 25, prepare yourselves for the Marvel Television Presents panel, moderated by Jeph Loeb, Marvel’s Head of Television, which promises exciting news and fun surprises for fans! Join Jeph and ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ executive producers Jed Whedon (‘Dollhouse’), Maurissa Tancharoen (‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’) and Jeffrey Bell (‘Angel’), along with cast members Clark Gregg (‘Marvel’s The Avengers’), Ming-Na Wen (‘ER’), Brett Dalton (‘Killing Lincoln’), Chloe Bennet (‘Nashville’), Iain de Caestecker (‘The Fades’) and Elizabeth Henstridge (‘Reach Me’); as well as must-see midseason series ‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’ executive producers Tara Butters (‘Resurrection’), Michele Fazekas (‘Resurrection’), Christopher Markus (‘Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier’), Stephen McFeely (‘Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier’) and Louis D’Esposito (‘Marvel’s The Avengers’), with series star Hayley Atwell (‘Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger’), in this can’t miss Q&A panel that will take you behind the scenes and into the future of Marvel’s live action television series. 3:00-4:00 p.m., Ballroom 20. An autograph session for ‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’ precedes the panel from 1:00-2:00 p.m. at the Marvel Booth (#2329) on the Convention Center Floor. On Saturday, July 26, meet the ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ cast and executive producers for an autograph session from 10:00-11:00 a.m. at the Marvel Booth (#2329) on the Convention Center Floor. (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (Lucasfilm Presentation)
When: Friday, July 25 - 3:00-4:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB

Ralph McQuarrie’s art for the original Star Wars trilogy is introduced to a new generation of young readers in Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Join New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi as he talks about the conceptualization of this project and the process, challenges, and privileges of writing to the works of a legend. Moderated by J.W. Rinzler (executive editor, Lucasfilm). (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

PLAYBACK: Featuring Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Horns, Snowpiercer and FOX Theatrical
When: Friday, July 25 - 3:30-6:45 pm
Where: The Playback Room, Omni Hotel, 4th Floor Ballroom

Please note: these rebroadcasts and playbacks will include only the panel discussions and special on-stage moments with the panelists. None of the film clips or footage shown at the live events will be shown here (Source: SDCC Friday Schedule)

SATURDAY

Phineas and Ferb (Walt Disney Television Animation Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 10:00-11:00 am
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6A

"Mom! Phineas and Ferb are doing a Comic-Con panel again!" Show creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, along with voice talent Vincent Martella (TheWalking Dead), Alyson Stoner (Step Up 3D), and the stars of the series present an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what's to come for Disney Channel's hit animated series, including a sneak peek at this summer's epic crossover event: Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars. The panel will also feature sneak peeks of two new animated shows coming to Disney XD! (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

PLAYBACK: Featuring The Simpsons, Warner Brothers and Once Upon A Time
When: Saturday, July 26 - 10:00 am-12:45 pm
Where: The Playback Room, Omni Hotel, 4th Floor Ballroom

Please note: these rebroadcasts and playbacks will include only the panel discussions and special on-stage moments with the panelists. None of the film clips or footage shown at the live events will be shown here. (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

Marvel Animation Presents! (Marvel Animation Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 10:30-11:30 am
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6BCF

Jeph Loeb (Marvel's head of television; Hydra Agent) returns for what's become one of the most popular television panels at San Diego. Join Jeph, Stephen Wacker (VP -animation & writing panel blurbs), Cort Lane (huge nerd, VP), and Eric Radomski(giant dork, SVP) for the latest news on the House of Ideas' hit animated shows:Marvel's Avengers Assemble and Marvel's Hulk & The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Plus: See the eye-popping world premiere of Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors' history-making epic: "Spider-Verse"! Double plus: A special exclusivesurprise for Marvel fans that you will all be talking about for the rest of the convention! (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

Once Upon A Time Presentation (ABC Network Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 11:00-11:45 am
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20

Once Upon a Time has Frozen over! As Elsa enters Storybrooke, she brings an icy new twist to the lives of the rest of the fairytale inhabitants. Co-creators and executive producers Edward Kitsis (Lost), and Adam Horowitz (Lost) along with Lana Parrilla (24), Josh Dallas (Thor), Emilie de Ravin (Lost), Colin O'Donoghue (The Rite), Jared Gilmore (Mad Men), Robert Carlyle (SGU) and Jennifer Morrison (House) discuss the upcoming season of new characters, new adventures and new rivalries. (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

Marvel Video Games (Marvel Games Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 12:30-1:30 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6A

The Marvel Games team and some of the most talented developers in the industry cover nearly 15(!) awesome Marvel gaming experiences spanning all platforms-many of which feature the Guardians of the Galaxy! Whether it's exclusive announcements regarding one of the year's biggest console titles (Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes), updates to current favorites (Marvel Avengers Alliance, Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel: War of Heroes, X-Men: Battle of the Atom, Marvel Pinball), or entirely new game announcements, there's something here for every True Believer of the digital age. Also, a surprise special guest appearance-and the coolest giveaway this panel has ever handed out! (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N Superhero Science Analysis (Marvel Entertainment Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 1:30-2:30 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 5AB

S.H.I.E.L.D. science advisors Ricardo Gil da Costa (Neuroverse Inc.), Preston Dyches(JPL), Randii Wessen (JPL), Leonidas Moustakis (JPL), and Sebastian Alvarado(Thwacke) will brief participants on the case files of the superheroes who make up the Avengers Initiative. For the first time, S.H.I.E.L.D. divulges some of its most confidential scientific findings on what makes these superheroes unique. Moderated by Agent Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy), this training session is for S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents at Level 4 and above. (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

Marvel: Cup O' Joe (Marvel Entertainment Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 2:45-3:45 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6BCF

Join Marvel's chief creative officer Joe Quesada for this no-holds-barred exposé on everything Marvel. Got a question about a favorite hero? Want to hear groundbreaking news straight from the source? Need a rundown on breaking developments in Marvel comics, film, and T.V? This panel is for you! Featuring editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, talent scout C. B. Cebulski, senior editor Nick Lowe, editor Jordan D. White, writer Dan Slott (Amazing Spider-Man), and other Mighty Marvel guests! (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

Hasbro: Marvel (Hasbro Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 4:00-5:00 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 25ABC

Adam Biehl (vice president, Global Marvel Line at Hasbro), Jesse Falcon (director of hardlines, Marvel), Dwight Stall (senior Marvel product design manager, Hasbro),Bobby Vala (Marvel product designer, Hasbro), and Laura Guilbault (senior manager, Global Marvel Line at Hasbro) discuss Hasbro's popular Marvel action figure lines. Attendees will also get a sneak peek at upcoming action figures. Adam, Jesse, Dwight, Bobby, and Laura will also host a Q&A for your burning Marvel action figure questions! (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

Marvel Studios Presentation (Marvel Studios Presentation)
When: Saturday, July 26 - 5:30-6:30 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Hall H

Marvel Studios President and Producer Kevin Feige and special guests will provide an inside look into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  No further details have been given, but it is expected that there will be news about Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. (Source: SuperHeroHype!)

PLAYBACK: Featuring The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and Marvel
When: Saturday, July 26 - 5:30-7:00 pm
Where: The Playback Room, Omni Hotel, 4th Floor Ballroom

Please note: these rebroadcasts and playbacks will include only the panel discussions and special on-stage moments with the panelists. None of the film clips or footage shown at the live events will be shown here. (Source: SDCC Saturday schedule)

SUNDAY

Marvel: Women of Marvel (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Sunday, July 27 - 11:15 am-12:15 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 5AB

From Ms. Marvel to Black Widow, from Twitter to tumblr, women in comics has been one of the most talked-about topics in the industry recently. Join the conversation as women from every discipline in the creative process at Marvel discuss what it's like working as a woman in comics today and what it means for the future of the industry. Panelists include producer and photographer Judy Stephens, Marvel's The Watcher host Lorraine Cink, Marvel Studios asset manager Alexis Auditore, artist Katie Cook (All-New Marvel NOW! Animal Variants) artist Rachelle Rosenberg (Amazing X-Men), and special guest editor-in-chief Axel Alonso! (Source: SDCC Sunday schedule)

Marvel: Next Big Thing (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Sunday, July 27 - 12:30-1:30 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6DE

Gather 'round friends and family to pay respect for our honored dead-the legendary X-Man, Wolverine! The Death of Wolverine is here and it will rock you to the core! Plus, what happens in the wake of this summer's murder mystery mega-event Original Sin? Join executive editor Mike Marts, senior editor Nick Lowe, and writers Gerry Duggan (Deadpool), Charles Soule (Death of Wolverine), and Mark Waid (Daredevil) for a panel discussion on the next big storylines of the Marvel Universe! (Source: SDCC Sunday schedule)

The Official Disney Publishing Worldwide Fall Book and App Preview! (Disney Publishing Worldwide Presentation)
When: Sunday, July 27 - 12:30-1:30 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 8

Disney Publishing Worldwide gives SDCC attendees a special sneak preview of upcoming books from Disney Press, Disney-Hyperion, Marvel Press, and Disney Lucas Film Press, along with their interactive storytelling and creativity apps. Moderator Rose Brock (award-winning librarian) and panelists Nachie Marsham(executive editor for Disney Book Group), Michael Siglain (executive editor for Disney Lucas Film Press/Disney Book Group), Tomas Palacios (editor for Marvel Press), Dina Sherman (senior marketing manager for Disney Book Group/School & Library Division), Michael Zagari (lead producer for Disney Digital Media), andBrooke McKnight (marketing manager for Digital) will demonstrate and talk about some of the exciting new reads and apps coming from DPW. Disney cosplay fans are encouraged to come-as long as costumes are kid-friendly! (Source: SDCC Sunday schedule)

Disney's Master Teachers' Life Drawing For Animation (Walt Disney Animation Studios Presentation)
When: Sunday, July 27 - 1:45-2:45 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 5AB

Disney has a long tradition (dating back to the 1930s) of running life drawing classes for its animators. The idea is that understanding and mastering actual anatomy improves animated drawings and gestures. Disney's current master teachers -- Karl Gnass, Mark McDonnell, and Bob Kato -- will talk about their creative philosophies, their approach to life drawing and gesture, how classical drawing translates to animation, and what animation studios look for in artists. Best of all, they'll alert you to the classes they run for civilians. Disney visual development artist Dan Cooperwill weigh in on how these classes have improved his animation skills. Moderated byFast Company's Susan Karlin. (Source: SDCC Sunday schedule)

Marvel Comics' 75th and Daredevil's 50th (Marvel Comics Presentation)
When: Sunday, July 27 - 1:45-2:45 pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 6DE

75 years ago the Marvel Universe first came to life with the release of Marvel Comics #1 (soon to become Marvel Mystery Comics), featuring the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. The company was called Timely then, but as you can see, the word "Marvel" was already part of its comics world. Continuously publishing since 1939, Marvel revolutionized comics in the early 1960s with the help of legends such as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko. Ever since then, Marvel has proven what remarkable staying power and worldwide appeal these characters have. Daredevil celebrates his 50th anniversary this year, for one! Newer waves of talented artists and writers have all taken the helm at developing these beloved characters' storylines and influencing their looks and appeal into the 21st century. Moderated by Mark Waid (Daredevil), Comic-Con special guests Dan Slott (writer, Superior Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man) and Joe Quesada (chief creative officer, Marvel Entertainment) will be on hand to discuss these heroes and what keeps them fighting the good fight. (Source: SDCC Sunday schedule)

OFFSITE

ABC's Branded Pedicabs
When: Throughout the weekend
Where: Gaslamp District

Fans can also enjoy the enchantment of ‘Once Upon a Time’ as they catch rides throughout the city on one ABC’S branded pedicabs. Come take a ride on the Evil Queen’s carriage or Hook’s ship! (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Maker Studios Stage at NERD HQ  - NEW UPDATE 7/18/14
When: Throughout the weekend
Where: NERD HQ, Petco Park, San Diego, CA 92101

Maker Studios will have an exclusive stage at this year’s NERD HQ. In conjunction with Maker’s gaming network Polaris, the Maker Stage will feature performances and panel discussions from various partners including Dodger, Stampylonghead, JonTron, Markiplier, Jesse Cox, The Game Grumps, CaptainSparklez, and Ninja Sex Party among others, with appearances by comedy and lifestyle talent including KassemG and Amy Pham. Everything from Polaris by Maker @ NERD HQ will be featured as a post event digital experience on Maker’s proprietary web platform Maker.tv. Get all the updates from Polaris by Maker including exclusive giveaway and surprises by following #MakerLIVE. - See more at: http://www.thenerdmachine.com/nerd-hq/#sthash.rE7j1XEr.dpuf (Source: NERD HQ)

Microsoft Game Lounge  - NEW UPDATE 7/18/14
When: Throughout the weekend
Where: San Diego Hyatt, 1 Market Pl, San Diego, CA 92101

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes will be showcased and fans will have the opportunity to get hands-on time with the game. (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Disney Infinity Pop-Up Shop - NEW UPDATE 7/18/14
When: Wednesday, July 23 - Saturday, July 26, 5:00-10:00 pm
Where: 343 4th Avenue, San Diego, Calif. 92101

From July 23-26, the Disney Infinity Pop-Up Shop, located at 343 4th Ave. (between J & K streets), will be the official headquarters of Disney Infinity. Open to the public from 5PM-10PM each day, fans will have their first hands-on experience with the game where they can play in both the Play Set mode as well as the newly updated Toy Box mode. Fans will be able to pre-order Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and be treated to special guests, giveaways and other surprises. (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Marvel Unlimited Plus Preview of Disney Infinity 2.0  - NEW UPDATE 7/18/14
When: Thursday, July 24, 3:00-5:00 pm
Where: 343 4th Avenue, San Diego, Calif. 92101

Members of Marvel Unlimited Plus will be allowed exclusive access to the Disney Infinity pop-up shop in its off Comic-Con site location for a special preview of Disney Infinity 2.0.  Members will be allowed special hands-on access to the game.  Special surprises and giveaways will be in store for Marvel Unlimited Plus members.  Members are allowed to bring one (1) guest. (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

D23 Preview of Disney Infinity 2.0
When: Saturday, July 26, 2:00-4:00 pm
Where: 343 4th Avenue, San Diego, Calif. 92101

Gold and Silver members of D23, the Official Disney Fan Club, will be allowed exclusive access to the Disney Infinity pop-up shop in its off Comic-Con site location for a special preview of Disney Infinity 2.0.  Members will be allowed special hands-on access to the game.  Special surprises and giveaways will be in store for D23 members.  Members are allowed to bring one (1) guest. (Source: D23 (through Stitch Kingdom, through Pink Bunny))

SIGNINGS & AUTOGRAPHS

Toy Story That Time Forgot Autograph Session
When: Thursday, July 24, 1:00-2:00 pm
Where: ABC Castle, San Diego Convention Center Floor (Booth #4245)

Following the moderated Q&A panel for Toy Story That Time Forgot, panelists will be available for special autograph session at the ABC Castle.

Jeffrey Brown Star Wars Insider Autograph Session
When: Friday, July 25, No exact time given (check schedule)
Where: Star Wars Insider Booth, San Diego Convention Center Floor (Booth #5537)

The writer/artist of Vader’s Little Princess and other classic all-ages Star Wars books, Jeffrey Brown, will be signing copies of Star Wars Insider #151 for fans at the Titan Publishing booth. Brown created an original cover just for this issue!

Marvel's Agent Carter Autograph Session
When: Friday, July 25, 1:00-2:00 pm
Where: Marvel Booth, San Diego Convention Center Floor (Booth #2329)

Preceding the moderated Q&A panel for Marvel's Agent Carter, cast and crew will be available for a special autograph session at the Marvel Booth.

Resurrection Autograph Session
When: Friday, July 25, 2:30-3:30 pm
Where: ABC Castle, San Diego Convention Center Floor (Booth #4245)

Following the moderated Q&A panel for Resurrection, cast and crew will be available for a special autograph session at the ABC Castle.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Autograph Session
When: Saturday, July 26, 10:00-11:00 am
Where: Marvel Booth, San Diego Convention Center Floor (Booth #2329)

Cast and crew for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be available for a special autograph session at the Marvel Booth. Please note that this is the day after the Marvel Television Presents panel.

Once Upon A Time Autograph Session
When: Saturday, July 26, 12:15-1:00 pm
Where: ABC Castle, San Diego Convention Center Floor (Booth #4245)

Following the moderated Q&A panel for Once Upon A Time, cast and crew will be available for a special autograph session at the ABC Castle.

EXCLUSIVES

Disney's Big Hero 6 Exclusive Baymax Figure from Bandai
When: Thursday through Sunday, July 24-27
Where: Disney's Big Hero 6 Booth, San Diego Convention Center Floor (#3635)

Be the first to own Baymax from Disney’s upcoming feature film Big Hero 6, in theaters November 7, 2014. This six-inch tall First Edition Baymax action figure is armored up for flight and might, where he comes to life with a powerful punching feature straight from the movie. To help him defeat evil, just pull his fist back and let it fly! Baymax comes in exclusive premium packaging with metallic paint decoration on the figure. Available exclusively at Disney’s Big Hero 6 booth at San Diego Comic Con, with limited quantities available each day. Don’t miss out!
Price: $30.00

Purchasing instructions: Due to the limited quantities, tickets to purchase the item will be distributed Thursday through Sunday morning starting from the show opening, in Disney’s Big Hero 6 booth. Sales to exhibitors are limited to Sunday only. (Source: Vinylmation Kingdom)

MARVEL’S THE THANOS IMPERATIVE LEGENDS Action Figure Pack
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Hasbro Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#3213)

The battle to save the universe is on, and this ragtag alliance of interstellar heroes is just the bunch to save the day! Based on the cosmic Marvel Comics story THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, this special edition collection features five exclusive 6-inch-scale MARVEL LEGENDS INFINITE SERIES figures—BLACK BOLT, STAR LORD, BLASTAAR, MARVEL’S MEDUSA and MARVEL’S GLADIATOR. The cosmic favorite come in a special-edition package designed to look like the GALACTUS ENGINE, the ultimate weapon from THE THANOS IMPERATIVE. Following the convention, a limited number will be available on HasbroToyShop.com. *this will also be available at global conventions (CA & Asia). Prince: $99.99 (Source: The Fwoosh)

MARVEL’S THE INFINITY GAUNTLET and 3.75” Action Figure Pack
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Hasbro Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#3213)

Based on the classic Marvel Comics cosmic story THE INFINITY GAUNTLET, this special edition pack is your chance to wield the mightiest weapon in the universe! The set includes four exclusive 3.75-inch MARVEL INIFINITE SERIES action figures—THANOS (w/ INFINITY GAUNTLET), MISTRESS DEATH, MARVEL’S NEBULA and MARVEL’S STARFOX. Plus, continue the action with the included wearable foam Infinity Gauntlet glove, a role-play replica of the reality-controlling artifact! Following the convention, a limited number will be available on HasbroToyShop.com. Price: $74.99 (Source: The Fwoosh)

STAR WARS® THE BLACK SERIES 6-­‐INCH JABBA THE HUTT™ THRONE ROOM ACTION FIGURE Set
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Hasbro Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#3213)

The fan-­‐favorite STAR WARS THE BLACK SERIES 6-­‐inch action figure line jumps to hyperspace in 2014 with the introduction of iconic in-­‐scale vehicles and alien creatures, all featuring the incredibly accurate design and high level of articulation fans have come to expect from THE BLACK SERIES collection. Fans will have their first opportunity to collect a 6-­‐inch scale JABBA THE HUTT at San Diego Comic-­‐Con with the JABBA THE HUTT’S Throne Room Action Figure Set, which comes with exclusive railing, hookah, and in-­‐scale articulated SALACIOUS CRUMB action figure. The figures are packed out in a special, scene-­‐accurate display that depicts JABBA’S throne room, complete with space for last year’s HAN SOLO in Carbonite figure (no longer available). Following the convention, a limited number will be available on HasbroToyShop.com. Price: $64.99  (Source: The Fwoosh)

Hot Wheels® Star Wars™ Darth Vader™ Vehicle
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Mattel Store Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#2945)

Prepare to take a ride on the dark side with the FIRST EVER Hot Wheels® Star Wars™ vehicle, modeled after one of the most iconic villains in film history – Darth Vader™! What better way to display your 1:64-scale die-cast car (with real rubber tires) than inside Vader’s lightsaber, complete with red glowing lights, lightsaber sounds and heavy breathing from the Sith Lord himself. You won’t want to miss out on this epic Comic-Con item – it’s unlike any across the galaxy! Price: $40 (Source: MattyCollector)

Disney•Pixar Cars 2014 Special Edition Neon Racers Gift Pack
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Mattel Store Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#2945)

In Japan, the presentation of a gift is as important as the gift itself. You can experience this Japanese tradition with the 2014 Special Edition Neon Racers Gift Pack. The specially designed furoshiki, Japanese wrapping cloth, features comic book-style illustrations of the Neon Racers story. Open the wrap and you’ll find a racing diorama with die-cast characters Lightning McQueen and Shu Todoroki illuminating the streets of Tokyo in their amazing customized lighting and neon deco. Price: $50 (Source: MattyCollector)

Pixar Villains Disney Vinylmation Exclusives - NEW UPDATE 7/18/14
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: TBA - Although rumored Funko Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#5343)

Not much information has been given, but the line up should be Hopper (A Bug’s Life), Zurg (Toy Story), Stinky Pete (Toy Story 2), Chef Skinner (Ratatouille), Randall (Monsters Inc.) & Incrediboy (The Incredibles) (Source: Vinylmation Kingdom)

Disney's FROZEN Funko Pop Vinyl Exclusive Figures
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Funko Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#5343)

Funko will be releasing THREE (3) Disney's FROZEN Pop Vinyl SDCC Exclusives - A mid-transition Elsa, a Frozen Anna and a Glow-In-The-Dark Olaf. (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Flocked Rocket Raccoon Funko Pop Vinyl Exlusive
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Funko Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#5343)

Flocked Rocket Raccoon is a super-stylized 3.75” Pop! Vinyl Figure Bobble-Head with flocking that comes in a window display box. Flocked Rocket Raccoon Pop! Vinyl Figure Bobble-Head will sell for $15.00 (Source: Marvel)

San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive Disney Mystery Minis by Funko
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Funko Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#5343)

This Disney Mystery Minis set comes with SDCC Exclusive characters, sculpt, and paints! Each character has a 1/12 rarity, so each set will come with one of each character! Individual pieces will sell for $7.00. Full sets will sell for $84.00 (Source: SDCC Blog)

San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive Marvel Mystery Minis by Funko
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Funko Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#5343)

The Mystery Minis set will feature twelve special edition characters with new paints and sculpts. The special characters include: Metallic Hulk, Hulk, Metallic X-Force Deadpool, Blue Deadpool, Deadpool, Thor, Glow in the Dark Phoenix, Phoenix, Spider-Man, Metallic Spider-Man, Thanos, and Ultron. The rarity scale is 1/12. Mystery Minis will be available to purchase individually or as a complete set. Individual pieces will sell for $7.00. Full sets will sell for $84.00 (Source: Marvel)

Black & White Rocketeer Super7 ReAction Exclusive Figure
When: Throughout the weekend (While supplies last)
Where: Funko Booth, San Diego Convention Center (#5343)

Take flight with the Black and White Rocketeer! The Rocketeer comes equipped with a removable helmet and jetpack for his adventures in flight! (Source: SDCC Blog)

Exclusive Once Upon A Time Pins
When: Throughout the weekend
Where: ABC Castle, San Diego Convention Center Floor (Booth #4245)

Fans will get to visit Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop and pick up an exclusive custom pin! Those who collect all five pins will win passes to the ‘Once Upon a Time,’ ‘Resurrection’ or ‘Toy Story That Time Forgot’ autograph session (subject to availability). Price: Free (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent



Before I start this review, I will point out that there will be SPOILERS. So, consider this your SPOILER ALERT.

First of all, I find it very difficult if you are involved in any social networking at all to avoid reviews of any films. While I tried to stay away from reviews of Maleficent, I couldn't help to notice that it was not getting the best reviews.  So, with that, I just tried to keep my expectations low and my biggest Disney fan eyes open.  But, even with that, while I did find the film enjoyable (as in, I wasn't bored), I just had a lot of problems with the film.

Maleficent begins with both Maleficent and the future King Stefan as children who befriend each other.  Maleficent, who has wings, is from the Moors where the fairies live and Stefan is from the neighboring kingdom ruled by a greedy king and the two kingdoms are at war with each other. Yet, the two form an "unlikely friendship" that leads to a burgeoning romance.  But, as time moves on, the two grow apart as Stefan gets more involved in the business of humans and Maleficent becomes the protector of the Moors as the humans try to encroach on the land of the fair folk.  When the king is injured in a battle with Maleficent and the Fair Folk, he asks for somebody to avenge his death.  He who does so wins the hand of his daughter and will become the future king.  Stefan seizes the opportunity and uses his relationship with Maleficent to trick her. He cuts off her wings and brings them to the king as proof that he has vanquished the protector of the Fair Folk.  The king does good on his promise and Stefan becomes King Stefan as Maleficent's heart becomes twisted and declares herself Queen of the Moors.


Later, Maleficent hears news that King Stefan and his Queen are having a baby.  And, very similarly to the scene in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, the three fairies come to the kingdom to bestow gifts on the child only to be interrupted by Maleficent who places her curse.  And, like in the Disney version, Aurora goes to live with the three fairies who have disguised themselves as human while King Stefan orders every spinning wheel destroyed.

And, this is where it takes a giant turn for it turns out that Maleficent, while, at first, hating Aurora with all her heart, becomes the one to really take care of her.  The three fairies are too bumbling to take care of her, so she feels she must.  But, does it from afar.  And, then, one day, Aurora finally meets her and says that she knows that she is her fairy godmother who is always watching over her.  Maleficent starts to become attached to Aurora and even genuinely grows to love her.  She realizes she made a mistake about the curse.  She even tries to remove it, but she put a stipulation on her own spell that it can never be reserved until the end of time. But, Aurora continues to be woefully unaware, enjoying her time with Maleficent and being with the Fair Folk.  She tells Maleficent that she plans to live with them in the Moors and is going to tell her "aunties" (the three fairies) of her plan.  And, along the way, she meets Phillip from a neighboring kingdom who is looking for King Stefan's kingdom.  The two look smitten with each other and Maleficent's raven servant Diaval suggests that Phillip might be the one to provide true love's kiss to break the curse.

Aurora goes to tell the three fairies of her plan to move to leave and they let the cat out of the bag about how she's actually a princess who had a curse put on her and they've been trying to protect her.  She puts two and two together and realizes the woman she's been calling godmother all this time was the fairy who cursed her.  So, she runs off to the kingdom to see her father.  Stefan, instead of being excited to see her, is consumed with his revenge against Maleficent and has Aurora locked up in her room.  But, Aurora doesn't want to be locked up and manages to escape, only to find herself succumbing to the curse.  She pricks her finger on the spindle of the spinning wheel and falls asleep.

Meanwhile, back in the Moors, Maleficent and Diaval run across Phillip and they race him to the kingdom to hopefully save Aurora's life.  They get him in and he discovers Aurora, but when he kisses her, nothing happens.  Maleficent, overcome with grief, apologizes to the sleeping Aurora and gives her a kiss on the forehead.  And, guess what happens.  Yes. Maleficent is the one who provides true love's kiss.  Aurora wakes up, but Maleficent is attacked and turn, not herself, but Diaval, into a dragon.  Aurora tries to help Maleficent by freeing her wings which Stefan has kept over the years and Maleficent gets her wings back. Maleficent and Stefan then engage in combat and Stefan loses. Big time.  But, in the end, everybody except King Stefan lives happily ever after.


Maleficent is not so much a retelling of Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty through the eyes of Maleficent, but a complete retelling of the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" and using the names and likeness of the characters in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty.  And, right there was my first problem. I probably wouldn't have had such a problem with the movie if they didn't go to great lengths to use the Disney names for the characters.  In fact, when Maleficent comes to place her curse on Aurora, the dialogue is almost lifted directly from the Disney version.  The marketing also suggested that this was one of the most beloved Disney classics told from the perspective of Maleficent.  But, it really isn't a story told from the perspective of Maleficent, but a complete reworking of the story making Maleficent the hero.

And, I guess, if you want Maleficent to be a hero, then this story is the one for you.  But, I just didn't get why.  She is one of the most beloved Disney villains of all time.  So, when I went to see this movie, I was expecting to see WHY she became that villain.  Instead, I saw a story about how this villain was maligned and misunderstood and is ultimately the hero of the day.

I was just having a conversation about Once Upon A Time and how the villains are not all bad.  While it would be difficult to compare Once Upon A Time to Maleficent because they're different things, I think it does exemplify that even villains, no matter how good they might try to be, are still villains deep down.  Regina still has the insecurities that lead her down the evil path and Rumplestiltskin still has a little bit of the Dark One in him.  In Maleficent, she is completely and systematically stripped of her evilness.  So, the evil fairy that addressed the royalty, nobility, the gentry and...how quaint...even the rabble (I couldn't resist) with a curse even stronger than the one in the Disney version quickly becomes so softened that I don't even recognize her.  And, in the climactic scene in which she is supposed to transform herself into the iconic dragon, she can't even do that.  Instead, she transforms Diaval into the dragon.  Instead, for some reason, she turns into Catwoman with wings.


And, speaking of beloved characters from the Disney version that were needlessly transformed...the three fairies.  They will always be Flora, Fauna and Merryweather to me...not Knotgrass, Thistletwit and Flittle.  I'm not quite sure why they decided to change these names, but it seemed senseless, especially since they went to all the trouble of naming the characters after those in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty.  Also, in Disney's version, the three had distinct personalities.  They might not have been powerful and a little bumbling, but their love for Aurora is strong.  In Maleficent, they are portrayed all as the fairy version of the Three Stooges.  Knotgrass is Moe, Thistletwit is Larry and Flittle is Curly.  And, they almost seemed to be unaware of Aurora for the most part of the movie.  So much so that Maleficent herself has to take a motherly role from the background.  And, frankly, I don't want to even discuss the hideous CGI designs of the characters.

What I'm wondering about is why did King Stefan, who's kingdom was at war with the fairies and, it appeared, his first meeting of the good fairies was at their daughter's birth, trust them with the lives of his daughter.  In the Disney version, it made sense because they were trusted by the King and Queen.  Here, they are pretty much strangers.  Did anybody ever raise a child in this kingdom outside of, apparently, Maleficent who would have won the mother of the year in this movie?


Now, let's move to King Stefan.  I actually thought the back story was interesting.  But, unfortunately, they never really fleshed out why he became so greedy that he would cut off Maleficent's wings and betray her like that.  Yes, the narrator TOLD us this, but, without seeing it on screen, it was really hard to fathom why he would do this to somebody he loved like that.  I would have liked to have seen some compassion on his side.  Even Maleficent, you know, the Mistress of Evil, had compassion for his daughter and, ultimately, what she did.  This just made the story even more one sided as if we have to be slapped in the face with who to root for in the film.  I, ultimately, thought it would have been more interesting and more believable if they resolved their issues at the end, but, the filmmakers were so hellbent on making Maleficent a saint by the end of the film.

And, Prince Phillip.  Let's take, perhaps, Disney's first most fleshed out Prince and flatten him in this movie.  Honestly, if he didn't wake Aurora with true love's kiss, there wasn't really a reason to have him in the film at all.  I would have rather they done that then to devolve him into this puppet that everybody needs just for his lips.


Another problem I had with this version is that, as Aurora spends more and more time with Maleficent and with the Fair Folk in the Moors, wouldn't she, at one point, have mentioned this to her "aunties" who have been taking care of her?  Like, when they are eating a meal, wouldn't she have once mentioned, "Oh, by the way, I met my fairy godmother and she looks like a tall lady dressed in black with horns." Or, "Guess where I spent my day? With a whole bunch of fairies in the Moors."  I mean, at one point, wouldn't there have been a red flag raised somewhere?  Oh, that's right. No. Because the three fairies were pretty much non-existent in the film.  Out of sight, out of mind.

I would also like to say that Angelina Jolie was great as Maleficent.  I think she had her down, but, ultimately, was given a script where she had to downplay a lot of the evilness.  And, Elle Fanning was quite charming as Aurora.  She really did feel like a ray of sunshine.  But, again, she wasn't given much to work with.


I think the only think I liked that they added was that they gave a human form to Diaval.  If they were going to soften Maleficent up, at least it made sense in making a friend that she could talk to.  Sam Riley was quite likable in this role

I know I'm probably being extremely hard on this film, but mainly because my expectations were high, despite my trying to keep them low.  Like for many, Maleficent is one of my favorite villains.  And, mostly, because I was expecting to see more about how she devolved into evil.  I wanted to savor more of the moments like when she delivers the curse because she was scorned by King Stefan.  This, to me, was one of the highlights of the movie and was what I had hoped to see more of.  But, her sudden change from darkness to light was too fast for me.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Movie Review: X-Men: Days Of Future Past


X-Men: Days of Future Past is based on the iconic comic book story of the same name by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin in which the consciousness of X-Men Kitty Pryde in the future is sent backward in time to prevent the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly by Mystique, unleashing a wave of anti-mutant hysteria that leads to a Dystopian future in which mutants are being systematically hunted.  But, due to the changes between the comics and the movies, the change from Kitty Pryde to the more established Wolverine was made.  And, instead of the assassination target being Senator Kelly, it is now Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels.

Before I go any further, I do want to warn you that there will be SPOILERS.  So, if you don't want to know what happens, please read this after you've had a chance to view the film yourself.  Again, this is your SPOILER ALERT.


Okay, that said, here we go...

I've been trying to digest my overall feeling about X-Men: Days of Future Past.  I don't know if it was the anticipation or the tweets I kept seeing that said things like "Best X-Men Movie Ever" that had my expectations high for this film.  But, while I very much enjoyed this film, I don't know if it lived up to my expectations.  Don't get me wrong, I thought there were a lot of great moments in this film, but there were so many holes that I just couldn't stop thinking about them.

I'm not talking about holes as in, "Hey! This didn't happen in the comics." I totally understand comics have to be adapted for the films, especially because there's so much continuity involved that would boggle the mind of the average filmgoer.  For example, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is very different from the iconic "The Winter Soldier" storyline by Ed Brubaker.  But, they had the spirit of the source material. I also believe X-Men: Days of Future Past has the spirit of the source as well.

And, it's not that I'm all about continuity.  The X-Men films have changed up the classic roster of characters and, for me, as long as it's interesting and there is reverence for the source materials, I'm fine with change ups.  There are so many X-Men and mutants that have been created over the years and I know that some are more interesting or popular than others.  

But, adapting comic books for the movies does create its own continuity that I would hope they'd adhere to, unless they outright reboot the franchise as Sony has done with Spider-Man.  Now, admittedly, that's no easy task.  The first three X-Men films are very different than 2011's X-Men: First Class, even though they are supposed to be in the same timeline.


Now, melding all these films together so that they fit into the same continuity, I'm sure, was no easy task and I do think, for the most part, Bryan Singer managed to do it well.  My biggest complaint about X-Men: First Class was that, while I enjoyed it, it did not feel like an X-Men movie to me.  Bryan Singer brought it back to feeling less emo and more like a superhero comic book movie to me.  It honestly lacked the joy or the nod-nod-wink-wink of an X-Men film.  The opening scene in the future featuring the X-Men battling the adaptoid Sentinels was quite breathtaking.  And, whenever I am watching a superhero movie, I LIVE for moments in which I feel like a little kid watching my childhood heroes come to life.  These scenes really made me feel this way.  Blink using her blink powers! Iceman in ice form! Sunspot! Bishop! Warpath! Even Halle Berry as Storm felt so much more like the Storm I know in this film.

Speaking of great moments, the scene in which Quicksilver (Evan Peters) helps break Magneto (Michael Fastbender) out of his maximum security prison is absolutely wonderful.  In fact, it is, perhaps, one of the only truly joyous scenes in the film.  While this Quicksilver is not necessarily the Quicksilver I've known and loved, I did think he was a great character.  Honestly, I loved the scene so much I'd pay full price just to see it again.  And, based on what I've read from other people's reactions, he's left a big impression on people which will make it interesting to see how people react to Marvel Studios' version of Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron which will be an entirely different Quicksilver.  


[A side note: For those of you not in the know, Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch are two characters that fall into two different franchises.  They are mutants and were introduced in the X-Men comics, they are also members of the Avengers.  So, when Marvel and Fox negotiated the contract, these were the two characters that could exist in both worlds.  The rub is that Fox's X-Men movies can not reference them as Avengers and Marvel Studios' films cannot call them mutants or X-Men.]

Another thing that the film does well is it makes Mystique much more interesting than she ever was in any of the other X-Men films.  The first three films, I felt, while she was badass, seemed like an over glorified lackey of Magneto.  She just seemed to be his blind follower and that's not really the Mystique I knew in the comics.  One of the things I did like about X-Men: First Class is that it made Mystique a contemporary of Magneto and Professor X, leaving the door open for being the seasoned mutant villain she eventually comes.  So, with X-Men: Days of Future Past, I really got to see the Mystique I feel I know. And, it's amazing how much Jennifer Lawrence has matured as an actress in the last three years. To me, her performance in this film eclipsed Rebecca Romjin in the first movies.


Okay, now...going to the holes that bother me.  Now, the premise of the film is that Wolverine jumps back into his past self to stop the assassination of Bolivar Trask by Mystique and her subsequent capture that leads to the development of the adaptoid Sentinels.  Wolverine must work with a young Professor X (James McAvoy) who knew Mystique when she was younger and appeal to the part of her he knows is good and would not kill. This is my first major hole.  Why did they change her assassination target from Senator Kelly to Bolivar Trask?  Well, doesn't anybody find it ironic that, in the movies, Magneto, with the help of Mystique, end up killing Senator Kelly in X2?  Maybe not at gunpoint, but he does die by their actions.  And, in the first films, that's not the only killing she contributed to.  So, if future Charles Xavier didn't think she would kill, why did he not remember many of the other people she killed or helped kill?

And, in the final showdown, after Magneto has attacked the White House and is about to kill the President, his Secret Service Men, Trask and a bunch of politicos, Mystique saves them all and nobody kills anybody.  Again, not that I want Magneto and Mystique to really kill anybody, but the premise that Charles knows they are better than that just doesn't fly for me because they've already proved themselves to be killers in the future.


Here's another big hole for me.  Why didn't Magneto's ultimate actions of attacking the White House in the way that he did ultimately ignite mutant hysteria where people would want to see something protect them?  Was it because Mystique saved the politicos?  It doesn't make any sense to me because she was really there trying to kill them in the first place.  I feel like people said, "Oh, well! Even though this mutant just laid waste to Washington, DC with his powers and basically threatened everybody on television, this other mutant who tried to kill our nation's leaders just saved them. I guess we don't need to worry about it."  And, honestly, did we think this was going to actually stop Trask from developing more anti-mutant weapons or stop at getting more of Mystique's genetic materials considering he already has her blood? It just seemed a convenient ending.

And, speaking of convenient endings, I get how changing the action was supposed to change the future and possibly to a brighter future, but, how would it all lead to Jean Grey not becoming the Dark Phoenix as she was destined to become? Admittedly, I rolled my eyes, even though it was really cool to see James Marsden and Famke Jannsen reprise their roles as Cyclops and Jean Grey respectively.

All this said, I'm not saying that X-Men: Days of Future Past is not worth the price of admission.  Again, there is lots of great things to be said about it, but I couldn't help but get caught on some of the holes that just bothered me.