Category: Comics

‘Logan’ star Patrick Stewart talks future of Wolverine, Prof. X

For me, over the years, diversity and contrast has always been high on my list of why I would want to do a piece of work as opposed to anything else. Logan keeps the professor at a remote, abandoned smelter in the Mexican desert and tries to bring his mentor enough medicine to keep him harmless and lucid.“I realized that there was something quite unexpected going on in this movie,” Stewart says, about his first reading of the “Logan” script. And I very quickly realized that this Charles Xavier was not completely the Charles Xavier of the other movies. Suffering from brain seizures and intermittent dementia, he’s losing control of his formidable psychic powers and has become a threat to mere homo sapiens. That’s nothing, though, compared to what’s happened to the aged Xavier. “It was so bizarre and unexpected and inexplicable that I was immediately grabbed.

It’s taking a lot longer for his body to heal from wounds these days, and those adamantium claws aren’t popping out with the alacrity that they used to. Logan long ago chucked the costume and is working on the down-low as a limousine driver in El Paso, Texas. Well, not entirely the case, at least at the start of “Logan,” which takes its name from Wolverine’s alter ego. The film, directed by “The Wolverine’s” James Mangold, is set in 2029, after most mutants have apparently died and new ones haven’t emerged for a decade.

Most fans have heard that “Logan,” Fox’s third spinoff movie featuring Wolverine, is supposedly Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as the most popular X-Man of all.But what about Professor X, the wheelchair-bound leader of the mutant hero group who has long been a father figure to the semi-immortal, rage-fueled slasher? That other series stalwart, Patrick Stewart, who’s played the older version of the powerful telepath in six previous movies, is the only major franchise mainstay to share the screen with Jackman in “Logan.”
And you will understand, I have already been vaporized three movies ago! I mean, Jean Grey, she just fragmented me. I’ve got to tell you, that was an uncomfortable experience. “It’s entirely out of my control. It lies in the hands of Marvel and Fox. And much as this second R-rated, ultrabrutal X movie (“Deadpool,” though kind of its own thing, counts as the first R of Fox’s Marvel mutant properties) feels like a Wolverine send-off, Professor Xavier’s fate seems decided in it as well.But don’t be so sure about that, Stewart cautions.“I cannot say,” the 76-year-old English Shakespearean says of whether we’ll see him as Charles again. But here I am, still upright, speaking full sentences and apparently not vaporized at all.”

Disney’s ‘Moana’ brings a brave young heroine home on DVD

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NEW FILMSMoanaJackieIncarnateCold War IIThe Eyes of My MotherTanna100 StreetsBad Kids of Crestview AcademyCheck PointI Am MichaelMan DownPocket ListingTrespass Against UsTELEVISIONSaving Hope: Season 4The Americans: Season 4You Me Her: Season 1

“Moana” is filled with clever, entertaining moments like when Maui’s tattoos come to life, making his body an animated cartoon strip, but the best part is Disney has provided a smart, intrepid heroine to inspire young girls for years to come.‘Jackie’Pablo Larraín’s “Jackie” tries to flesh out the story of history’s most-famous widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, after the assassination of her husband. Despite the volumes written about the Kennedys, Jackie’s life is sometimes reduced to the image of the woman in the blood-spattered pink suit or in black, veiled and mourning her husband.
Her companion is a daffy chicken named Heihei (Alan Tudyk). Instead, they eventually take on bigger obstacles, including a giant crab, who sings the Bowie-esque rock number “Shiny,” performed by Jemaine Clement, one of a number of infectious numbers by Lin-Manuel Miranda in the film. The two bicker, but the film from Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid”) wisely avoids turning it into a boy-girl thing. After confronting violent seas, Moana finally finds Maui, who turns out to be more of a teen himself.
The film examines the point where truth and myth meet, though whether “Jackie” sheds any more light on the story or contributes to the haze is debatable.The film from the Chilean director is a patchwork period piece, jumping between times and blending re-creations with original footage but always keeping the tragedy in the foreground. So it never strays from emotional trauma but creates some odd moments, which help lessen what could have been a dour process. The glamorous and popular First Lady was a private person, which only added to her mystery.

Oscar nominee “Moana” is a delightful animated musical about the daughter of a Polynesian chief seeking her destiny. If you saw her singing at the Oscars on Sunday, you already know that 16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho is a talent and if you’ve seen the character of Moana, then you know the teen looks like she stepped out of the film.When the isle she lives on experiences a famine, Moana — who has been prevented from venturing out on her own — sets out on a journey over the sea to find a demigod called Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) to ask his help in order to restore ecological balance.


What to watch: Marvel’s Iron Fist and ‘Underground’ war secrets among top TV bets

As he investigates, River finds himself talking to the spirit of his old partner and realizing what he didn’t see before. River, who witnessed it, isn’t sure if it was murder, suicide or a hit and run. He’s haunted by visions of the recent death of his colleague, “Stevie” Stevenson (Nicola Walker), who was hit by a car. Catch up onRiver: (Netflix) If you like to settle down with a good British mystery, this six-part series from 2015 created and written by Abi Morgan (“The Hour,” “The Iron Lady”) is just the thing. “River” has all the conventions of a standard mystery, while at the same time being unconventional. It stars the terrific Stellan Skarsgård as John River, a London Police detective.
Monday on Smithsonian) A documentary about the discovery in Northern France of a vast underground city beneath a farm field where World War I soldiers, on both sides of the conflict, took refuge a century ago.Cries from Syria: (10 p.m. Wednesday on OWN) This drama is set within a black megachurch in Memphis and focuses on the Greenleaf family, which runs the church. Keith David plays the family patriarch and bishop of the church. Monday on HBO) Helen Mirren narrates the documentary from Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky about the humanitarian crisis in Syria.Greenleaf: (10 p.m. This weekAmericans Underground — Secret City of WWI: (8 p.m.
All 13 episodes stream today.The Originals: (8 p.m. Marvel’s Iron Fist: (Available Friday on Netflix) Fourth Netflix Marvel series stars Finn Jones stars as Danny Rand, a martial-arts expert with the ability to call upon the power of the Iron Fist. Friday on CW) Fourth season of the “Vampire Diaries” spinoff.Striking Out: (Available Friday on Acorn) USA premiere of the hit Irish legal drama.

Guests (and puppet voices) include Carol Burnett, Alec Baldwin, Ellie Kemper, Josh Groban, and David Hyde Pierce. Namour: (Available Wednesday on Netflix) Drama acquired by Ava DuVernay’s production company follows the experience of an Egyptian immigrant living in Los Angeles.Snatch: (Available Thursday on Crackle) Series is an adaptation of the 2001 Guy Ritchie movie and stars Rupert Grint.Deidra & Laney Rob a Train: (Available Friday on Netflix) Movie dramedy is about a smart high school senior, Deidra, who has been helping to raise her younger sister and brother but not has to bail out her mother, too.Julie’s Greenroom: (Available Friday on Netflix) Julie Andrews hosts a new Jim Henson Company-produced children’s series.


How Disney scored new music for “Beauty and the Beast’

Disney’s 1991 cartoon hit, after all, was nominated for four music category Oscars — original songs “Belle,” “Be Our Guest” and the title track, the latter of which won the statuette, as did Alan Menken’s original score — and provided the sonic foundation for a successful Broadway musical.So it was a no-brainer to bring Menken back to do the new film’s score and compose three new songs with the stage show’s lyricist, Tim Rice. A big part of re-imagining “Beauty and the Beast” as a live-action movie was figuring out what to do with the soundtrack. (Howard Ashman, the wordsmith who, with Menken, was instrumental to the Disney animated musical renaissance begun with “The Little Mermaid,” “Beast” and “Aladdin,” succumbed to AIDS months before his second cartoon feature was released.)
“This was the first successful one in a long time; the audience could accept the conventions because it was animated. The new film’s director, Bill Condon, a lifelong fan of musicals who previously brought “Dreamgirls” to the screen, wanted this “Beauty” to echo some of Hollywood’s most memorable production numbers with state-of-the-art special effects pizzazz.“When the animated movie opened, it had been a desert for movie musicals; the genre was basically dead,” Condon points out. But actually, if you look at it, it was very inspired by previous movie musicals.
The new ditties are “Evermore,” an emotional ballad Dan Stevens’ Beast sings when he’s convinced he’s lost Belle forever; “Days in the Sun,” a melancholy remembrance of freer and/or more human pasts sung by Stevens, Belle player Emma Watson and the actors who voice all the anthropomorphic household objects; and “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” in which Belle’s father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), drops hints about the family’s origins.In addition, Ashman lyrics not heard in the cartoon have been added to the live version’s renditions of “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

I love Ravel and Satie and French music in general, so it was an opportunity for me to add some color.“And then there was going to be an emphasis on more backstory for the main characters,” Menken continues. “We wanted to emphasize more the 18th century, make it feel more grounded in period. The songs that were in the animated movie are still the basic tent poles of the live action, though.” “Those are decisions that affected where the new songs might go. “We wanted to open things up musically,” Menken says about the new, people-starring “Beast” movie. And we wanted it to feel more French, which was certainly big in influencing what I was going to write musically.


‘Marvel’s Iron Fist’ takes things slow in first season

Like the others, “Iron Fist” downplays the supernatural aspects of the story for a grittier take. They think he’s crazy and believe he is a threat, especially telling people he was living in K’un-L’un, which no one can find on a map.“You can’t get there from here,” Danny explains, but one thing for certain is that Danny has some crazy martial-arts skills. So if you are looking for explosive moments, they are few and far between early on. If he is who he says he is, he would be heir to the majority holdings in a major corporation now run by the children of his father’s business partner and childhood friends, Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey).
The biggest problems with it is pace and familiarity. In the meantime, the mystery drips out. “If you wish to see the truth, hold no opinions,” he advises. Very little is revealed about what his company is up to, although we know they have henchman.Unlike the other three, Danny hasn’t been on the streets. Harold Meachum (David Wenham), his dad’s business partner, is supposedly dead but isn’t and is behind the scenes pulling strings. He’s far more spiritual. This makes him an odd fit in “The Defenders.” The lack of punch at the beginning of “Iron Fist” may seem a mistake, but bludgeoning action, which the other series also avoid, isn’t the answer.

“Marvel’s Iron Fist,” the fourth of the “Defenders” series to stream on Netflix, starts off slowly.While this may be disappointing to fans of “Luke Cage,” “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil,” the series rests on a very different type of protagonist. The others have built-in edges to their characters: blindness in Daredevil’s case, while Cage and Jones have underdog status and live in a tough neighborhood.“Iron Fist” is the story of Danny Rand (Finn Jones from “Game of Thrones”) the only son of billionaires who mysteriously shows up barefoot in New York City some 15 years after he supposedly died along with his parents in a plane crash over the Himalayas.
By the second episode he’s locked up in a psych ward where he tells the doctor he had been a warrior in a mystical realm. He also says he was a sworn enemy of The Hand, a supervillain organization that has appeared in other Marvel propertiesObviously, Danny feels out of place back in New York. The doctors believe he is delusional, having experienced a tragedy. He tells them he has superpowers.“I know if I focus my chi, I can summon the Iron Fist,” he says.So his big struggle at the beginning is to find himself.


‘Beauty and the Beast’: What you need to know

Love the original “Beauty and the Beast” and can’t wait to see the new one? Here’s a rundown on the 1991 original and the updated characters from the current film — plus some fun facts to get you started.WHO’S WHO IN ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’BelleWho: A bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle.Played by: Emma Watson.Originally voiced by: Paige O’Hara.Fun fact: Belle in this film is the inventor, not her father Maurice, as part of her backstory on why she was treated differently by the villagers.
He is suave and a gracious host.Played by: Ewan McGregor.Originally voiced by: Jerry Orbach.Fun fact: McGregor was unsatisfied with his French accent, so he completely re-recorded his part during the film’s post-production.Mrs. PottsWho: The matronly head of the castle kitchen transformed into a teapot.Played by: Emma Thompson. Played by: Josh Gad.Originally voiced by: Jesse Corti.Fun fact: The name LeFou in French means “the idiot,” “the fool” or “the insane.”LumiereWho: The Casanova of all candelabras.

Originally voiced by: Bradley Michael Pierce. Originally voiced by: Angela Lansbury.Fun Fact: Originally named Mrs. Chamomile, but name was changed to Potts because it was easier to rhyme.Chip PottsWho: Son of Mrs. Played by: Nathan Mack. Fun fact: Chip originally had one line of dialogue, but Pierce impressed filmmakers so much they expanded his part and cut out the role of a mute music box.CogsworthWho: The Beast’s gruff but loyal butler, who was transformed into a mantel clock. Potts, a charming teacup who befriends Belle.

BeastWho: A prince transformed into a monstrous creature for his arrogance and has to learn humanity to break the spell.Played by: Dan Stevens.Originally voiced by: Robby Benson.Fun fact: The beast’s real name is Prince Adam.GastonWho: Egotistical hunter who vies for Belle’s hand in marriage and is determined not to let anyone else win her heart.Played by: Luke Evans.Originally voiced by: Richard White.Fun fact: Gaston eats five dozen eggs for breakfast daily.LeFouWho: Gaston’s long-suffering sidekick.


‘Sing’ hits the notes kids like, while ‘Insecure’ and ‘Master of None’ are unexpected gems: DVDs

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In a sense, these are fish-out-of-water stories, but told from different perspectives and with verve. Writer and actress Issa Rae, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, used elements of her own life for “Insecure,” which is about a black woman who feels somewhat unsure in the mostly white world she works in but is also uncomfortable when she goes back home. “Master” stars Aziz Ansari and the series is loosely inspired by the Indian-American actor-comedian’s own life. ‘Insecure’ and ‘Master of None’HBO’s “Insecure” and Netflix’s “Master of None” are two terrific sitcoms and two reasons why television has become so much more adventurous than film.

It’s essentially time-travel, action, violence and a waste of a good cast, including Michael Fassbinder, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Kenneth Williams.‘Miss Sloane’Jessica Chastain plays an unlikable Washington lobbyist in the political thriller “Miss Sloane.” The film from John Madden with a screenplay by Jonathan Perera undercuts itself too often to keep up the tension as Chastain’s character takes an unexpectedly principled stand, but the actress is worth watching throughout. ‘Assassin’s Creed’“Assassin’s Creed,” directed by Justin Kurzel and based on the popular video game, would be baffling if you cared.
“Julieta” is a thoughtful, measured portrait of a woman — if not in crisis — in a sea of uncertainty. We see the younger Julieta taking an unexpected detour for love and then another one because of tragedy. The titular character is played by Adriana Ugarte as a young woman and in Emma Suárez when older. After being introduced to the older Julieta, the story — based on three Alice Munro short stories — takes a chronological journey. Perhaps not one of Almodóvar’s great works but in the upper echelon. All of this impacts the woman she becomes. ‘Julieta’Pedro Almodóvar’s latest movie, “Julieta,” is a melodrama about a middle-aged woman who reminisces about her past as she ponders what to do with her life.
NEW FILMSSingAssassin’s CreedLive by NightMiss SloaneJulietaFire at SeaA Kind of MurderBakery in BrooklynIn Dubious BattleTELEVISIONInsecure: Season OneMaster of None: Season OneWolf Creek: Season One
It’s not a kids’ song. The animated “Sing” is as calculated as you can get, but it works if you’re trying to entertain young kids — although parents might get sugar shock in the process. The story involves a singing contest. Voice talent includes a couple of Oscar winners — Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon — although McConaughey doesn’t sing. The premise is simple — a bunch of cute animals sing jukebox hits. Songs include “Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Under Pressure,” “Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing,” and for some reason the umpteenth version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Doesn’t anybody listen to the lyrics?


How ‘Life’ is found on Mars in new space horror film

“They are really trying to solve the problem, but this is a life form that is so adaptive it keeps a step ahead of them.”The filmmakers relied on real scientists to help create the alien.“We wanted the film to feel grounded and real, a science ‘fact-ion’ version of this story,” says Reese, who notes that we are still finding new species on Earth even as we look toward Mars. Calvin, as it turns out, quickly outgrows the cute phase.“We wanted to make it sort of out of the frying pan and into the fire for the astronauts, who aren’t stupid,” says Wernick.
NASA, by the way, has a mission in 2020 that would lead to getting Mars samples, and China may even be digging up the moon next year. Once the crew’s lead scientist (British actor Ariyon Bakare) manages to stimulate it, the cell starts to multiply. “Life” stars Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson as three of the six astronauts on the station where a Mars sample containing an inert single-celled organism is being studied. News is sent to Earth that extraterrestrial life has been discovered, and in a contest an elementary school class names it Calvin.
A geneticist suggested that Calvin could be a weird funguslike creature that seemed capable of rudimentary learning. Later Espinosa took the ideas in the script about how Calvin might develop to his friend, a famed Swedish graffiti painter called Ziggy. “He has a very stark sensibility,” says the Chilean-born, Sweden-based director. He then had the artist work with a scientist on the designs of Calvin.“While the film is a very fun, roller-coaster ride for audiences” Espinosa says, “as a director, I had other things I was interested in.”

Fans of nature documentaries are used to seeing life-and-death struggles between species, sometimes with bone-crunching endings. There is a possibility that we could find life on Mars, and if we did find some evidence, we would send it to the International Space Station.” The new sci-fi action film “Life,” directed by Daniel Espinosa (“Safe House”) and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (“Zombieland” and “Deadpool”), puts that fight for survival on the International Space Station and, unlike most others in the genre, takes care to give it a real-life edge.“What got me so scared,” says Espinosa about the script, “was that it could actually happen tomorrow.


How Jessica Chastain confronted tough decisions of WWII drama ‘Zookeeper’s Wife’

Would you have done what Antonina Zabinski did?She is the title character in “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” the true story of a woman played by Jessica Chastain who sheltered Jews and resistance fighters in the Warsaw Zoo right under the Nazis’ noses during World War II.“That’s the big question of the film: What would you do if something like this happened today?” says Chastain about the film, which opens Friday. She opened her doors to strangers.” “So many of us would immediately jump to, ‘Of course, I would help others.’ But to do that is to trivialize the danger. Antonina sacrificed the safety of her children to be compassionate.
To prepare for the film, Chastain talked with the couples’ daughter, Teresa, who was born during the war.“She told me things that weren’t even in the book about Antonina,” says the actress, who also visited Auschwitz “because though I had studied concentration camps, I wanted to know what it meant to be on the ground.” As the war went on, much of the burden for hiding refugees and members of the Polish underground fell to Antonina after Jan joined the resistance and was captured in the Warsaw uprising of 1944. After the war, the state of Israel honored the Zabinskis for their efforts.

Chastain notes there are many films about World War II and the Holocaust, but most are from a male perspective.“We’ve had many films that focus on the darkness and the violence and murder, but we’ve never had a film that focuses on the light and the goodness in people during the time of war — and the feminine and the compassionate.” The actress credits Caro for that. So getting “The Zookeeper’s Wife” to the screen was a slog. The director was first approached about the project some seven years ago.
The film by Niki Caro is from Diane Ackerman’s book, which is based on the diary of Antonina Zabinski, who, along with her husband, Jan Zabinski (played by Johan Heldenbergh), had been running the zoo before the war.The Zabinskis had until then led a fairly idyllic life caring for their son and the animals. Secretly, though, they began to hide Jews and even smuggled them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Some of the animals roamed the city until they were shot down.A Nazi zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), took the best of the surviving creatures for his selective-breeding program, but the Zabinskis persuaded the Germans to use the zoo as a pig farm to provide food for Nazi soldiers. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they ruthlessly bombed the city of Warsaw, including the zoo.


How legendary John Dykstra brought ‘Ghost in the Shell’s’ effects to life

well, I don’t know, existence. “It’s anime and the graphic novels. They have a certain caricature quality; the villains are bigger than life, the heroes are bigger than life, and the existential crises are bigger than … Dykstra came in after production was underway to oversee execution of several specific elements and, perhaps also, to lend his keen perspective on visual narrative to the overall project.“The thing about ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is it’s an interpretation of a different storytelling medium,” the 69-year-old Long Beach native points out.
Whatever baggage you bring to the live-action “Ghost in the Shell” movie — that it seems more like “Robocop” than the complex, forward-looking science fiction found in Shirow Masamune’s original manga comics and Mamoru Oshii’s anime features or that star Scarlett Johansson isn’t the least bit Japanese — you have to concede one point: This thing looks amazing.Some of that can be attributed to John Dykstra, the legendary special-effects specialist whose eye-popping career includes the original 1977 “Star Wars,” the first TV iteration of “Battlestar Galactica,” 1979’s first “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” several mid-’90s “Batman” movies and early 21st century “Spider-Mans,” a couple of recent Tarantinos and “X-Men” outings and “Kong: Skull Island,” released earlier this month.
“As a result, the setting for this has to carry the mentality of the conventional blockbuster, and as a result, the environments have to be different from what you’ve seen before but carry the personality that the animes had.”Among the most amazing examples of that are the multistory high holograms throughout “Ghost’s” urban center, which The Major and her crime-fighting Section 9 comrades often run through during chases and escapes. Dykstra, who calls the towering 3-D projections “solograms” (“That’s a fake word for not-really-solid-gram,” he laughs), lent a hand in making them look real. “But it’s not the clear-cut kind of story that more traditional blockbusters pursue,” Dykstra notes.
Weta also made many other aspects of this future when humans and machines are merging like never before, such as the Japanese franchise’s signature assassin geishabots. And with costume designers Kurt and Bart, the team helped create the iconic flesh-colored, form-fitting thermoptic suit worn by Johansson’s character, The Major, a terrorist-fighting cyborg with a human brain. Much of “Ghost’s” futuristic Asian urban setting, which can loosely be described as “Blade Runner” on steroids, was designed and executed by New Zealand’s fabled Weta Workshop, Peter Jackson’s special-effects house adjacent to his studio where most of the movie was shot (along with location work in Hong Kong and Shanghai).


WonderCon, and its colorful costumes, are back in Southern California

On the exhibit floor, comic artwork and merchandise hang in various exhibit booths. A Newport Beach retailer, Toddland, has a booth decorated like the hamburger counter of the Fox animated TV show “Bob’s Burgers.” Indiana artist Terry Huddleston has his pop culture booth festooned with the colorful faces of comic book and video game characters.Fans lined up with a toy in hand to grab a signature from Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano on “Star Wars Rebels,” an animated TV show and the founder of HerUniverse, a superhero clothing brand for women.
But here, I feel free.” ANAHEIM >> There’s a fake black dragon draped over Janet Alvarez’s shoulder.Barf from “Spaceballs” is roaming around, and so is a child – with a plastic knife, splattered with play blood in hand and dressed as Chucky, that creepy doll that comes alive in horror movies.After a one-year hiatus in Los Angeles, the popular WonderCon is back in Anaheim through Sunday, and that means fans are out in force for one of the largest comic, science-fiction and pop culture conventions on the West Coast.“It’s hard growing up a nerd,” said Crystal Schaefer, 22, of Riverside.” You get bullied and harassed.

She had on pointed dog ears and was carrying an empty Milk bone box, dressed as Barfolomew, the half-man, half-dog played by John Candy in the 1980s science-fiction spoof “Spaceballs.”“I’m at home,” Schaefer said.A smaller version of San Diego’s Comic-Con, organizers are expecting 60,000-plus to converge on the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend. Here, they’ll geek out on everything nerd – buying toys and the latest comic books, participating in panels, and learning how to expertly play a card game, Magic: The Gathering.
They will see a  premiere of “Class,” a spinoff of the British sci-fi TV show, “Doctor Who,” and get a preview of what’s coming at Warner Bros.“There’s a lot of camaraderie here,” said David Glanzer, a spokesman for WonderCon, in existence since 1987. Glanzer said WonderCon will remain in Anaheim for at least the next couple of years. “I’ve been coming to comic conventions since 1978, and these conventions … have grown considerably.“It’s a place where people with the same common interest and appreciation can come together,” he said.The convention moved to Los Angeles last year because of construction at the Anaheim Convention Center.


‘Rogue One’ tops this week’s list of DVD releases

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is the first one-off story of the epic franchise, and it worked pretty well within its parameters.Directed by Gareth Edwards, it leads into “Episode VI,” the original “Star Wars” movie. The actress — an Oscar nominee for “The Theory of Everything” and known for dramas like “The Invisible Woman” and “Like Crazy” — pulls off the tough-girl role convincingly. Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, a tough, independent fighter who leads a motley band. “Rogue” is the story of a Rebel squad that steals the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s planet killer that Luke Skywalker would ultimately destroy in the first film. Like “The Force Awakens,” it has a female as the main protagonist.

As for the plot, well, you know where it’s going.‘Paterson’Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” wanders through its story like an improvised poem, which makes sense since it’s about a bus driver who is a poet.In fact, his poems appear on screen as they are read aloud by the author, Paterson (Adam Driver). And there is a new droid — tall and imposing and voiced by Alan Tudyk — that offers comic relief. Nothing much happens in “Paterson.” Our driver mostly kisses his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) in the morning and ambles off to work, where he takes in the city of Paterson, New Jersey, while people get on and off his bus.

The rest of the crew includes some pretty interesting actors, including Riz Ahmed and Diego Luna.There is also a lot of cool stuff in the movie — like recreating Peter Cushing who played Grand Moff Tarkin, the Empire’s strongman, in the original film. The actor died in 1994, but thanks to digital technology, he and his character have a substantial speaking role in “Rogue One.” In fact, there are numerous winks and references to “A New Hope” including Darth Vader being voiced once again by the great James Earl Jones.

If you wonder where this is all going, then you probably won’t have patience for this Zen-like approach. Call Jarmusch’s film a portrait of an artist who likes his routines. Paterson, by the way, was the home of William Carlos Williams, a poet who continued to practice medicine. Sometimes he hits a bar. All of this is fodder for his writings.

NEW FILMSRogue One: A Star Wars StoryOffice Christmas PartyPatersonThe Bounce BackDon’t Hang UpDon’t Kill ItBook of LoveWe Don’t Belong HereTELEVISIONDCI Banks: Season 5


‘Archer’ returns as a private eye in a big sleep

What: The eighth season of the animated spy show takes a ’40s noir twist.When: Premieres 10 p.m. Wednesday.Where: FXX.


Meanwhile, he is hired by Mother (Jessica Walter), a mob boss in the ’40s (and his mother in the show’s real world), to keep an eye on a rival, mob boss Len Trexler (voiced by Jeffrey Tambor).For this season, titled “Dreamland,” the series has been shifted over to FXX.All the characters in Archer’s life are back in one form or another. In this scenario, Woodhouse was Archer’s murdered partner, and the PI, a WWII army vet with flashbacks, is out to find the killer. On-and-off girlfriend Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) has morphed into a sultry nightclub singer who does a sizzling version of “Fever.”
Jon Benjamin) is a private eye taking cases from sexy women while irritating the LAPD. As the eighth season of “Archer” begins, the words “O death, where is thy sting?” from “1 Corinthians” are being intoned over the grave of superspy Sterling Archer’s manservant Woodhouse, but Archer himself remains oblivious in a hospital where he has been in a coma for three months.His mind, however, has been transported back to the late 1940s, where Archer (voiced by H. It’s like this faux James Bond has become a faux Philip Marlowe.
As kind of a combination of the sisters in “The Big Sleep,” Charlotte is trying to escape a “quasi-incestuous” relationship. This looks like the best season of “Archer” yet. “Do your worst,” Charlotte says. To take the case, she offers Archer $100,000 and herself.

Like Marlowe, Archer juggles cases, including one from a manic heiress to a publishing fortune, Charlotte Vandertunt (Judy Greer), who asks him to kill her. He’s a little dense sometimes. Archer falls for her immediately, but she shrugs him off with, “I’m going to leave you here between hope and despair,” a classic-sounding noir line, which the private dick doesn’t get. The bartender then grossly enlightens him on what she meant.The series has always moved between clever parody and outright silliness, but this year “Archer” seems to be paying more attention to the plot along with the jokes. The dopey PI almost takes her literally until she informs him it’s part of a scam.


‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Lion,’ ‘Veep’ top this week’s DVD list


Eventually, the women are given a chance but only because a few people believed talent trumped race. Henson plays Katherine Goble, a math prodigy who is finally assigned to a team that calculates launch coordinates. The staff — particularly a lead engineer (Jim Parsons) — are not keen on her or even that she help herself to coffee.Dorothy (Spencer) and Mary (Monáe) also face racial barriers — Dorothy with her immediate boss (Kirsten Dunst) and Mary with Virginia’s Jim Crow laws when she tries to take graduate courses. The country was rewarded when the three make key contributions to the program.

NEW FILMSHidden FiguresLionMonster TrucksThe Bye Bye ManToni ErdmannWalking with the EnemyWorlds ApartBelieveBrimstoneClaire in MotionWar On EveryoneTELEVISIONMars Season 1Silicon Valley: The Complete ThirdTangled: Before Ever AfterTop Gear 23Veep: Season 5

The second part brings us a grown-up Saroo (now played by Dev Patel) who has been adopted by an Australian couple (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman).His life seems to be working out. He moves to Melbourne to study hotel management where he falls in love with an American, Lucy (Rooney Mara). But, of course, we know that his past still tugs at him and that it will eventually obsess him. The first part of the movie finds the young boy navigating this strange world, which Davis conveys smartly through the visuals and editing.

Fortunately, “Hidden Figures” imbues its heroines with more than mathematical skills and the grit to stick it out. The story is a familiar one — in that it’s about those who persevere despite racial injustice — but it’s one that needs to be retold. It allows them to be people, including a sly romance between Katherine and a military officer played by Mahershala Ali, Oscar winner for his supporting role in “Moonlight.”‘Lion’Garth Davis’ “Lion” is based on true story but told in a way that will get viewers to pull out their handkerchiefs. It begins in 1984 Calcutta when a little boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) follows his brother to a train station and accidently boards an out-of-service train that takes him a 1,000 miles away to a city where people speak a different language.

Based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s nonfiction book, the Theodore Melfi-directed film tells the story of three African-American women who worked at NASA while the 1960s space race was at a fever pitch.Though they had each proved their worth before, the three toiled at data entry jobs and were denied promotion based on nothing more than race. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe — would perform crucial roles in our nation’s efforts. Nevertheless, the trio — played by Taraji P. “Hidden Figures” is about wrongs being belatedly made right.


Meet the farm girl who became Disney’s ‘Moana’

“I found that interesting.”Right now, Cravalho is working on the nuances of trigonometry while going around the world to support “Moana.” Her only acting experience had been some school plays and “being the director and producer of my backyard plays,” the young actress says tongue-in-cheek.So performing and singing in a recording booth was new.“Sometimes I’d record a line up to 40 times, and the way I’d raise my voice or add a little bit of a question could change the emotional alignment of the scene,” she says.

She is tremendous poised beyond her years,” says Musker. Once he assured the directors he was confident she could handle the singing responsibilities in the movie, all they had to do was run it by Disney animation chief John Lasseter, “He fell in love with her voice,” says Clements.“Auli’i wasn’t afraid to do anything. “It was my first time in California,” she notes.There, the filmmakers had her perform more scenes and learn one of the songs written for the film with the musical director. “She’s fearless and smart and cheeky, like Moana, basically.”

Auli’i Cravalho has the grace, charm and down-to-earth quality of someone much older, but the high-school junior “kinda grew up on a farm. So he put her up for the role.The film’s directors, Ron Clements and John Musker, first auditioned her online — where she sang a song in Hawaiian. A casting agent in Hawaii had seen Cravalho in a public service ad and thought she stood out. I’m pretty much a small-town girl who was not expecting this really big role.”In fact, Auli’i (pronounced ow-lee-e) was the very last person to audition for the role. They were impressed enough to fly her to Burbank to meet her. We had chickens and pigs, and I went outside to climb trees.

Clements says it wasn’t a requirement that she look like the Moana they created. “That’s just a happy coincidence.”And one they took advantage of.In a CGI-animated film, the characters have to be created early, so it is nearly impossible to change them. But as Cravalho already resembled Moana, the animators were able to study videotapes of her performing and build in her expressions and mannerisms into the animated character — such as her smile or the way she would tie up her hair or stood or reacted.


‘Hamilton’s’ Lin-Manuel Miranda talks Disney’s ‘Moana,’ Trump

Though it took Lin-Manuel Miranda six years to get it to Broadway, the hit show “Hamilton” propelled him to new heights. “There are things you want to say if you’re a writer, but when you have opportunities come along, you say no to them at your our peril. He co-wrote the music for Disney’s new animated film “Moana,” and is rehearsing for “Mary Poppins Returns” with Emily Blunt, which is set to shoot early next year.“I’m where you always want to be, or at least some version of it,” says Miranda. You never know when they might come along again, and I’m struggling to find that balance.” The 36-year-old won a Pulitzer Prize, two Grammys, an Emmy, a MacArthur “Genius” Award and three Tonys.

“I get to do my David Bowie impression,” says the composer.He also managed to squeeze in another Disney writing gig during that time. “I said, ‘Hey, if you need some music for the cantina scene, let me know,’ and he says, ‘I do need music for the cantina scene.’ ” Abrams, who was completing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” saw “Hamilton” and afterward “was effusive about the show,” the composer recalls. Director J.J. His favorite song from the film is “Shiny,” sung by Jemaine Clement, who plays a giant jewel-encrusted crab.
Now getting a ticket to the show — based on the 2004 scholarly biography “Alexander Hamilton” by historian Ron Chernow — is nearly impossible.Writing for “Moana” required Miranda to be aware of the rhythms of Polynesia. He credits Foa’i for helping with that. “But it’s fun and challenging and pushes you outside what would be your comfort zone.” “He’s the greatest cultural musical ambassador from that part of the world,” says Miranda, and he quickly learned to take the rhythmic lead from him.“I remember bringing a song to Opetaia, and he said, ‘That’s your island’s rhythm, not my island’s rhythm,’ ” says Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent.

At the time, he was working on “Hamilton” in which he played the title character.So sometimes he would be in his “Hamilton” costume while working with his “Moana” co-writers over Skype.“It was a great break. One of those opportunities was to write music for “Moana” with New Zealand songwriter Opetaia Foa’i and composer Mark Mancina. So it has been an eventful couple of years. His son was born in November 2014, and “Hamilton” debuted off-Broadway in January 2015, and this year the awards began piling up. When I was sick of the Founding Fathers rapping, I could steal across the sea with ‘Moana.’ ”About the time Miranda got the “Moana” gig, he found out his wife was pregnant.


‘Moana’ screenwriter talks about what he had to cut from the film

But everyone also said it did not advance the story, the film ground to a stop.”Bush and the other writers, directors and artists had to go back to the drawing board several times and “tear the film apart and throw the parts out that don’t work into the trash.”Which can be disheartening, but that doesn’t stop Bush or the other writers at Disney Animation. When that happens, the notes fly in from everyone, and those notes are not always positive.“We had this great comedy sequence — everyone loved it.
Being a writer for a Disney animated film is a collaborative effort, and that’s just fine with Jared Bush.“It’s not for everybody, but when we sit around a room and try to solve problems together, that’s one of the pluses,” he said.Bush is one of five credited as writers on “Moana,” the latest offering from Disney Animation, and also served as a writer and co-director on the studio’s hit “Zootopia,” released earlier this year.Disney’s animated films can take up to five years to complete, Bush says, but even with that amount of time, the writers have to work fast.
“We try to solve the major story problems before we bring the storyboard artists in, because then we go from a few people to 20 to 30 people working on the film,” he said.In the initial phases, Bush and the other writers are frequently writing dozens of pages a day to get a story like “Moana” into shape.Bush said the film’s idea sprang from the co-directors, Ron Clements and John Musker — the same team that directed “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” for Disney. They share writing credits with Bush on this film, along with Pamela Ribon and Taika Waititi.

Bush said that as the story and script developed, the team had to find ways to avoid cliches that can frequently spring up when writing as a team.“Sometimes we can write directly at the cliche, then flip it and surprise the audience,” he said.Once the story is written, and the storyboard artists have made their contributions, the team takes the storyboards and puts them on film, creating an animatic of the entire film with a temporary soundtrack, and show it to just about everyone in Disney Animation.


Batman, Superman attain superhero sainthood in ‘Ironic Icons’

Comic book heroes and religious iconography are joining forces at the Long Beach Museum of Art. “I love that combination of when you have a classical base, but then someone takes it to that next step in a very smart way, and I love that about this work.” “They’re smart, beautifully executed,” he said. Combining Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman with traditional religious iconography transforms the characters into saintlike figures in “Ironic Icons: The Art of Valentin Popov.” “I think the work is going to speak volumes,” said Ron Nelson, executive director of the Long Beach Museum.
12 and runs through March 19 at the Long Beach venue. It features about 85 works, including paintings, photographs, ceramic sculptures and a large-scale piece inspired by a classic painting. In Russia, the word ‘icon’ — it’s classic religious object, which you have at home or you see at a church.” The modern painter’s work on display at the museum will feature the familiar images of such comic book heroes as Superman, who is depicted with a stern face tearing off his suit and getting into his hero threads. “It’s playing on classic sayings,” Popov said a few days before the opening. The exhibition by the Ukrainian-born artist opens Jan. “Icons here (in the U.S.), we’re talking pop icons; it’s a human.

Popov, who first began mixing the religious icons that were part of his Ukrainian childhood with the superheroes that he discovered in American pop culture in 1993, sees a lot of similarities between religious figures and these caped crusaders. Another depicts Wonder Woman, standing strong with her fists closed and placed confidently on her hips.The pop icons are displayed at the center of elaborately engraved and embossed sterling silver- or gold-plated covers that are either original centuries-old and once used to frame religious Russian icons, or covers that were re-created using original techniques.

“Look at Batman. He decides who’s right, who’s wrong and then takes care of the matter. “I was shocked by parallels,” Popov said. He acting like God, and then I was thinking maybe he is a kind of a god.” The Oakland-based artist’s work has been shown at the National Museum of Ukrainian Art, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and the Metropolitan Museum Art in New York.This exhibition, which marks his first show at a Southern California museum, also includes a large-scale painting called “Early Morning.” He’s a human like Jesus.


‘Drabble’ creator Kevin Fagan’s accidental journey to a life in comics

It’s not like I’m doing work. Yet, despite all those would-be self-imposed roadblocks, here he is, still drawing and writing “Drabble,” the comic strip he syndicated into a few hundred newspapers when he was still a student at California State University, Sacramento in 1979.“I work pretty much every day except Sunday,” Fagan says. “And I love it. And now maybe see his protagonist, the hapless college student Norman Drabble, make the jump to the stage as a musical comedy in similar fashion to his hero’s iconic character, Charlie Brown? Schulz? How did a kid who collected “Peanuts” books grow up to become a close friend of that strip’s creator, Charles M. I’m totally opposite of the thought ‘I hate Mondays.’ I love Mondays.”So how did all this happen?
I still can’t. “I liked to think that those ‘Peanuts’ kids lived right around the corner in my own neighborhood, even though it didn’t snow in Inglewood.“I always enjoyed imitating the artwork and trying to draw the characters and seeing how close I could get it. And they’re very difficult to draw. In one of his fondest childhood memories he recalls how his mom often took him to the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, and on the way home always stopped at the same bookshop to let him pick out a new collection of “Peanuts” cartoons.“I would get lost in those books,” he says. I can’t draw my own characters very well, now that I think about it.”
His drawing was never all that good, he says in what soon is apparent as Fagan’s typically self-deprecatory manner. “It’s still kind of crummy,” he says.Fagan, who grew up in Inglewood, had no idea what he wanted to do after graduating Mission Viejo High School in 1974. “I said, ‘Oh, no, I wouldn’t know how to do that,’” Fagan says. “No thoughts, total dumbbell, you know.”And when a friend at Saddleback College suggested he put himself forward for an opening as a cartoonist on the school paper, his deep-rooted shyness made him dismiss it out of hand. To hear Kevin Fagan tell it, he probably never should have made it as a successful comic strip creator.

I have them all out in my studio still.” Always modest, Fagan credits everyone from his mother, Billie, to his musical collaborator, the jazz pianist David Benoit, while seeing himself as the beneficiary of a series of fortunate events – though isn’t there an old saying about one’s luck being self-made?“I read the comics in the newspaper but I started collecting books when I was a kid,” says Fagan, 60, a married father of three grown kids. “The ‘Peanuts’ books and ‘Dennis the Menace,’ ‘B.C.,’ and a lot of those.


‘Deadpool’ creator Rob Liefeld enjoys action-packed year

“Because ‘New Mutants’ was a dog. It was in bad shape.”Deadpool was the next major character he created for the series, the superhero, or super-anti-hero, identity of mercenary Wade Wilson who, after he has developed terminal cancer, agrees to a dangerous experimental treatment that unlocks powers, including the ability to self-heal from any injury, making him more or less unkillable but also horribly scarred and seeking revenge. “They said, ‘If you want this, you can have it.’ I said, ‘That’s my baby.’ ”After Cable, a menacing mercenary, was introduced, sales of the series jumped higher, Liefeld says, and Marvel gave him freer rein to make more changes.“At that point, they said, ‘Whatever you got, Liefeld, go with it,’ ” he says. “I took over a dog book and I was determined to turn the train around,” he says.

Liefeld, who started working for Marvel and DC within a year or so of graduating from Whittier Christian High School, says he felt good about “Deadpool” for a handful of reasons.“My comp that I tracked it on was the first ‘Ted’ movie, where you’ve got a foul-mouthed teddy bear, and it did big box office,” he says. “And then there was the pent-up demand for Deadpool from the fan base and the quality of the material, which had been there since the writers turned in their script.”Those last two points had a long history. We’ll start with the backstory of red-and-black-suited, criss-crossed, katana sword-wearing Deadpool’s journey to the cinema first, which begins in 1989, when Marvel Comics gave Liefeld control over its “New Mutants” series, one of the poorest-performing offshoots of the “X-Men” franchise.

After all, who’d bet against a funny, foul-mouthed, horribly scarred, violent and slightly deranged mercenary winning the hearts and minds and box-office dollars of moviegoers the world over?“Trust me, I was the most bullish on ‘Deadpool,’ ” says Liefeld, 49, an Orange County native who lives in Yorba Linda. “When I was day one on the set, I said, ‘This is going to open at $75 million,’ and they all said, ‘Shut up, Liefeld; you’re jinxing us.’ ” Comic book legend Rob Liefeld had a hunch that one of his most-loved characters was poised for a very good year.

It turns out, he wasn’t nearly bullish enough, as the Ryan Reynolds-starring Marvel movie hauled in $132 million on its February opening weekend — $152 million if you count the Presidents Day holiday that Monday — on its way to the fifth-highest box office domestically this year with $363 million to date.To add a tad more context, that’s the biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie ever. It’s the biggest debut for any comic book adaptation from the “X-Men” universe. And it’s the second-highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, about $7 million behind Mel Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ.”