Unthinkable Wins the 2010 Straight-to-DVD Movie Awards

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Terrorism thriller Unthinkable has taken the crown in the 2nd Annual Straight-to-DVD Movie Awards, grabbing Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Action/Thriller. This year’s winners were spread among a variety of films, unlike the inaugural awards, which were dominated by horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat.

Donnie Yen took home the prize for Best Actor as the lead in Ip Man while Natasha Lyonne won for Best Actress for the horror satire All About Evil, which also won Best Comedy. The Worst Picture kudo went to Corey Feldman’s other horror flick this year, Terror Inside.

The Monica Bellucci/Sophie Marceau headlined Don’t Look Back won for Best Horror while on the other end of the spectrum, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue won for Best Family Film, an award won by its predecessor, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, last year.

Best Documentary went to Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, which also won the top prize at the Reaper Awards. DC Comics’ animated Crisis on Two Earths won for Best Sci Fi/Fantasy.

While a number of Title-So-Bad-It’s-Awesome votes went to Sharktopus, it turns out that film premiered originally on television, and isn’t even out on DVD just yet, so that award went to the latest installment in the series that won last year, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.

Here is the full list of winners:

Best Picture: Unthinkable

Best Actor: Donnie Yen, Ip Man

Best Actress: Natasha Lyonne, All About Evil

Best Director: Gregor Jordan, Unthinkable

Worst Picture: Terror Inside

Best Comedy: All About Evil

Best Horror: Don’t Look Back

Best Action/Thriller: Unthinkable

Best Family Film: Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

Best Documentary: Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Best Sci Fi/Fantasy: Crisis on Two Earths

Title-So-Bad-It’s-Good: Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus

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Snipes, Van Damme, Others Pulling Double Duty in ’11

December 13, 2010 by David Dylan Thomas  
Filed under Action, Featured, Horror, News, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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Moviehole’s list of 20 Direct-to-DVD Movies Coming in 2011 brings to light the fact that Wesley Snipes, Richard Grieco, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Billy Zane will be making appearances more than once throughout the year. Snipes, apparently knocking out as many films as possible before entering the clink, will be in Game of Death and Gallowwalker next year, while Grieco, who’s actually been acting pretty consistently since his 21 Jump Street days, will appear in both Cats Dancing on Jupiter and Almighty Thor. Van Damme and Lundgren will appear in yet another Universal Soldier sequel and while Lundgren also stars in a Uwe Boll-directed sequel to In the Name of the King, Van Damme will star in the actioner Weapon. Billy Zane will appear in the latest Scorpion King sequel and hit man road movie Guido.

Check out the full list, which features films starring Hilary Swank, Val Kilmer, C. Thomas Howell, and more.

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Superman/Batman: Apocalypse: The Straight2DVD Review

October 19, 2010 by Jason Govern  
Filed under Action, Featured, Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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In case you didn’t know, Supergirl is back. Actually, she’s been back since 2004. See, prior to that, she was dead in the DC Comics Universe because she was killed in 1985′s Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline after 26 years of faithful hero service since 1959 (Sheesh, so that’s how those DC editors reward a life of sacrifice).

Anyway, last month saw the release of yet another DC Universe Animated Original Movies direct-to-DVD with Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (seriously, they are pumping these out faster and faster). This is an adaptation of “The Supergirl From Krypton” storyline from issues #8-13 of the Superman/Batman comic series. And unlike those comics written by the great Jeph Loeb, this DVD is instantly forgettable due to poor screenwriting choices and so-so animation. Superman-batman_8_cvr_-_large

Loeb’s storyline spoke to the importance of family, with Superman having found an actual relative from Krypton alive and wanting to keep her safe, no matter the cost. The DVD version, while following the comic’s storyline and touching on the family theme, focuses more on the old Spider-Man theme of “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

The voice cast is strong, with Tim Daly as Superman, Summer Glau as Supergirl, Andre Braugher as the villain, Darkseid, and in a really strange casting decision, Ed Asner as Granny Goodness. Yes, that Ed Asner… playing a woman. I guess he needed the money?

The quality of the art is touch-and-go. Sometimes it looks very close to Michael Turner’s (of Witchblade fame) original artwork, and sometimes it looks like 1980s cheap Saturday morning cartoon. One thing that drove me a little crazy was the occasional odd proportion in the faces, in particular, Batman’s and Superman’s. Sometimes the chin would be huge, and other times, the space between the nose and mouth would be way too big.

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Super-huge-bat-chin!

In terms of what else is different between the comic and DVD, there’s an added shopping montage, a short flashback of Krypton, and some of the action sequences have been lengthened and/or simplified (i.e., characters removed). Some minor enemies have changed form for no reason, but it’s not a big deal. A final battle that moved from Earth into space has been kept on Earth, and the outcome of that battle simplified from one that I admit was a little odd in the comic.

Given the amount of girl-on-girl battle in this story, I would have thought the screenwriter would try to impart some greater message about female empowerment (you know, for kids), but there isn’t one. Maybe the added shopping montage was a (lame) way to reach out to the female audience. Whatever the case, it all fell apart for me when the line “surrender now or the bitch dies” was uttered.

Yeah, I know it’s 2010 and this is a PG-13 animated flick, but still, this one line really threw me off. I went back and looked in the comic book. There, the line is simply “Surrender now. Or Barda [the character] dies.” That means this was a change that Tab Murphy, the screenwriter (seriously? Tab?), made when adapting the comic. Sorry, but in my mind, the word “bitch” has become way too common in our media. It’s a cheap, go-to pejorative term used (mostly) between females in combat, and frankly, it has no place in an animated DC Comics movie. Seriously, DC, what the hell? Shame on you for thinking this was okay because I’m sure there are girls (and boys) younger than 13 watching this and while some of you might be thinking “oh relax, it’s just a word,” it was a really unnecessary change that does no one any good.

So skip this one. Read the comic instead; it’s cheaper, the artwork is better, and it doesn’t insult anyone.

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Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Interview: Screenwriter Tab Murphy

September 23, 2010 by David Dylan Thomas  
Filed under Action, Featured, News, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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Home Media Magazine has an interview with Tab Murphy, screenwriter of the latest DC Comics straight-to-DVD title, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.  This sequel to Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is based on The Supergirl from Krypton storyline which re-introduces Supergirl to the DC universe (by the way, totally called that).  In the interview, Murphy discusses how the animation style of the film was meant to be a tribute to the late Michael Turner, the artist behind the series.  Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy reprise their roles from Public Enemies as Superman and Batman, respectively, and are joined by Summer Glau as Supergirl, Andre Braugher as Darkseid, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, and Ed Asner as Granny Goodness.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse arrives September 28th.

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All Star Superman Cast Announced

September 20, 2010 by David Dylan Thomas  
Filed under Action, Featured, News, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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The Heat Vision blog reporting that James Denton, Anthony LaPaglia, and Christina Hendricks will voice the newest D.C. Comics animated adaptation, All Star Superman.  Based on the series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, the story has the Man of Steel facing his own mortality and taking the steps of a superhero who knows his time is short.  Denton will play Superman, LaPaglia Lex Luthor, and Hendricks Lois Lane.  Film also stars Ed Asner as Perry White (you’ve gotta love that), Frances Conroy as Ma Kent, and Linda Cardellini and Arnold Vosloo in yet to be announced roles.  Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths co-director Sam Liu and writer Dwayne McDuffie reprise their roles for the production (Liu helms this one solo, and is listed on IMDb as co-directing Batman: Year One as well).

All Star Superman arrives Spring 2011.

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Phoenix Talks Vamps, Cars, Robots

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Moviehole has an exclusive interview with Tanit Phoenix, star of upcoming direct-to-video entries in the Lost Boys and Death Race franchises. It has since been confirmed that she did not get the Megan Fox role in Transformers 3, but she talks briefly about her audition. The rest is devoted to her work in Lost Boys: The Thirst, “I wanted to play a bad girl, and I finally got my chance,” and Death Race: Frankenstein Lives, “I get to navigate, and I do major stunts from climbing out of the speeding car and shoot other convicts, to being shot out of the car and landing with a safety chute. I also have an amazing scene with Sean Bean, one on one!”

Read the full interview.

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Gina Torres on Female Empowerment in Crisis

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Gina Torres of Whedonverse fame (first the Big Bad of Angel Season Four and then kick-ass right-hand-woman Zoe on Firefly) has some choice words about the value of female role models in comics.  She tells ENewsi.com all about it in an interview about her role as Superwoman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

“There aren’t really any skinny bitches in the world of comic books. They’ve got muscle. I like that. I appreciate that. They’re strong. And it’s important to have strong images of women out there, women who aren’t afraid of expressing themselves, women who aren’t afraid of taking chances, women who aren’t afraid of their own power.”

Read the full interview.

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Justice League Second Best Selling DVD in the Land

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Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths debuting at number two on the overall DVD sales charts for the week ending February 28, 2010, just behind the second week of release for Law Abiding Citizen.  Flick was far and away the best-selling straight-to-DVD title of the week, nearing $2.7 million in sales.  Warner Bros.’ next most recent DC Universe release, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, debuted at $3.3 million and went on to earn $6.6 million.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths trailer…

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Planet Hulk Orbits $3 Million in Sales

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After debuting at number one on the straight-to-DVD sales charts (and number five overall) for the week ending February 7th, 2010, Planet Hulk maintained the number one slot in its second week of release (dropping to 16 overall).  After a north of $2 million bow, Hulk tacked on enough sales the following week to break $3 million.  Last year’s Hulk Vs. DVD opened to $3 million and went on to gross $6.5 million.

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Rhames, Bean, Trejo Sign on to Death Race Prequel

February 18, 2010 by David Dylan Thomas  
Filed under Action, Featured, News, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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And the casting news just keeps on coming.  Now that Death Race: Frankenstein Lives has begun shooting, more casting news has come to light, and the good folks at Dread Central have it.  Ving Rhames will play a Rupert Murdoch-type in charge of the titular competition, Sean Bean a mob boss, and Danny Trejo our hero’s prison pal.

Read the full article to see who’s just been announced as reprising their role from the original.

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