Nicole earned her B.S. from UNLV in 2010. Since then, she has been a substitute teacher, taught EFL in China, changed lives through clinical research, dressed her dogs up in costumes, binge-watched Supernatural, and devoured 4750 pounds of hummus. You can message her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DRAGONHEART 3: THE SORCERER’S CURSE
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Julian Morris, Tamzin Merchant, Jonjo O’Neill
Director: Colin Teague
Written by: Matthew Feitshans
Produced By: Raffaella De Laurentiis
In Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse “tart mouthed” Gareth (Julian Morris) goes on a quest for a fallen comet full of riches to buy his way into knighthood, but finds golden eggs and the smooth-talking dragon Drago (Ben Kingsley) instead. Suddenly, Gareth is attacked by flesh-eating nomads and left for dead. Drago instinctually trusts Gareth and saves his life, literally sharing his dragon heart (Get it? Heh, heh) and creating an inseparable bond between the two. Together, they work to unite the entire land, both in the North, where an evil sorcerer named Brude (Jonjo O’Neill) wreaks havoc, and in the South where the tyrannical, poor-excuse-for-a-knight Sir Horsa (Dominic Mafham) steals from the poor. Along the way, they get help from the clumsy Druid Lorne (Jassa Ahluwalia) and the fierce warrior Rhonu (Tamzin Merchant), and Gareth learns the true meaning of what it means to be a knight.
Though the third movie in the Dragonheart series, viewers didn’t necessarily need to see the other two films in order to appreciate or understand this flick. The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action (as well as sensuality). There’s little blood, despite a lot of stabbing. The movie’s many action scenes will probably make the little ones scared, but older ones will cheer at the sword fights and magic tricks. I, however, had a harder time appreciating the action, as the cinematography during the fight sequences was very jarring. Still, I couldn’t help but admire the later shots of Romania’s vast hills and greenery. Costumes and make up were definitely on-point though, and helped me feel engulfed by the fantastical world the movie had created.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like a lot of the characters in the movie. Gareth was distractingly pretty, as well as a selfish gold-digger. (I can think of 101 reality stars I’d like to compare him to.) I think there was supposed to be character development there, but his sudden transition into a stand up guy at the end of the film just didn’t seem genuine to me. Lorne was very clearly The Comic Relief, as the bumbling friend with the lousy Druid haircut, but the clichés simply didn’t work and were way too predictable. Even the villains of the movie, Brude and Sir Horsa, were clearly cookie cutter Baddies. Just look at their names! If you thought “Drago” was an obvious name for a Dragon, calling the brooding guy “Brude” and the knight on the horse “Sir Horsa” is just poor writing.
Drago was fine, but not particularly memorable by movie dragon standards. He was neither adorable like How to Train Your Dragon’s Toothless, nor menacing like the Hobbit’s Smaug. At least he wasn’t annoying (I’m looking at you Pete’s Dragon). But then— he didn’t have time to be. I felt like he wasn’t even the central focus of the movie, simply showing up to randomly say something “wise” or to torch the bad guys when convenient. Further, Drago lacked the visual appeal of more modern cinematic dragons, and came off rather cartoony. However, due to a twist in the story line (the sorcerer’s curse, oh my!), this almost worked out in the movie’s favor. In scenes where Dragon takes on a shadowy, non-corporeal body, the creative team excels, showcasing ghostly, translucent views of Drago’s veins and bones as he glides about.
The film’s saving grace, for me, came in the form of Rhonu! I am not just saying this because GeekGirl World interviewed Tamzin Merchant recently. I’m saying it because it’s true. She was feisty and strong, but had emotions and motive. She was an actual character and not a caricature (just because they sound similar does not mean they are the same thing). The problem is, the writers almost ruined her character by throwing her into a forced romance. Why does this always happen when there is one female character? Why?! Because there’s ONE girl in the movie, she automatically has to be shoved into the arms of the dumb, macho man protagonist? No, thanks. Luckily, a line about “choice” in the movie keeps Dragonheart 3 from being added to the list of family movies that get feminism all wrong. (I feel like there’s an article brewing there. Stay tuned, GGW.)
A bonus to the Blu-Ray/DVD is a fun behind-the-scenes feature of Ben Kingsley doing voice work, called “Bringing Drago to Life.” Kingsley who can do no wrong in my eyes and I love everything he does and hang on every word he says. (I even accept his controversial role in Ironman 3, don’t hate.) In the feature, he charmingly shared with the camera how Comic Con inspired him to do voice work, and discussed the presence of chivalry, kindness, and honesty in the movie. The feature is a must watch!
To be honest, there were things I liked and other things I did not like about the movie. The end result was a simple fantasy film with a few stand out scenes, one likeable character, and Sir-Freakin’-Ben-Flippin’-Kingsley. What did you think, GeekGirl World? Have you seen this movie? Would you want to watch it? Who are your favorite movie dragons? Tell us what you think in the comments section!
“DRAGONHEART 3: THE SORCERER’S CURSE” IS AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL HD FEBRUARY 10, 2015AND ON BLU-RAY™ COMBO PACK AND DVD FEBRUARY 24, 2015FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT!
In 2013, GeekGirl World debuted a feature known as Fan Film Friday (or FFF). Though the segment only included 5 episodes, it celebrated the passion behind fan-made short films that were inspired by all things geeky and wonderful, from Batman to Wolverine. Flash forward to present day! We are going to re-share the old Fan Film Friday videos each week, and new episodes will start up April 10, 2015. If you would like us to review your favorite fan film or perhaps submit a project of your own for consideration, please contact Nicole in the comments section.
An old video does not mean same ol’, same ol’. I want to offer some fresh perspective and fun facts about these oldies but goodies. Though I didn’t mention it in my video, there were a few reasons I made Face Behind the Clown the first FFF. I have been a long-time fan of Batman, but was kind of burned out on all the Dark Knight movies that were coming out at the time, and I didn’t want the Caped Crusader to be the central focus of my review. Additionally, FBtC features my stud muffin boyfriend, Josh Quevedo, in the role of Jonathan Crane. Some thought it was cruel and insensitive that I showed him no mercy in my review, but at least no one can accuse me of being biased or showing favoritism. Sorry, love! Finally, I was present during filming. That scene where the Joker stares out a window at the rain outside? Actually took place in a garage with a hose and a piece of plastic, and I was drenched by take 65397! Brr. Anyway, it was fun to review, and was the start of Fan Film Fridays!
Fantasy fans rejoice! The producers of the Dragonheart films are releasing a 3rd installment with Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse. The latest adventure follows an aspiring knight whose quest for gold results in an unlikely pairing with the dragon Drago, voiced by none other than Sir Ben Kingsley (I don’t even need to list what he’s been in! He is a legend!). Together, the two have a series of escapades, including a run in with an archer named Rhonu, played by the lovely Tamzin Merchant (Georgiana Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Catherine Howard in The Tudors).
GeekGirl World had the opportunity to ask Merchant a few questions about her character, Rhonu, from the film.
GGW: You play Rhonu, the mighty archer. Did you do the actual archery in the movie? If so, what was that like? Do you have any other skills or talents you’d like to share?
Merchant: I did do a lot of the archery but the bows and arrows didn¹t always go where I wanted them to… one time I actually shot through a silk lighting screen… oops. It was a lot of fun! I had strong arms by the end of it. And the sword fighting was really challenging and awesome to learn, it’s actually like a ballet rather than a fight when you film it. But it’s got to look fierce. Skills and talents? I’m currently writing and directing my first short film… but I’ve yet to prove any skill or talent in that department. Watch this space…
GGW: GeekGirl World loves that your character appears to be a very strong female. What advice do you have for girls and women who aspire to be like Rhonu?
Merchant: I mean, obviously don’t stab anyone for real. But apart from advocating non-violence, I say find your cause and fight for it tirelessly and passionately. That’s what Rhonu does.
“Dragonheart 3: the Sorcerer’s Curse” is available on digital HD February 10, 2015 and on Blu-Ray™ combo pack and DVD February 24, 2015 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Stay tuned, as GeekGirl World will have a review of the movie soon!
Readers around the globe are anxiously awaiting Jay Gunn’s comic book debut, Surface Tension. This highly anticipated 5 issue mini-series is already being talked about within sci-fi and horror circles, but not a lot is known about the man behind the project. GeekGirl World had the unique privilege of asking Gunn about his work, feminism, the fate of the world, and what would happen in a celebrity death match between two Zombie Superstars. His eloquent answers left us completely enamored, and if his prose is anything like his graphic novel, then we absolutely can not wait for Surface Tension, which debuts May 2015 via Titan Comics.
GGW: We heard that Surface Tension is creator owned, and you’re both the writer and artist of the work! Nice job. Did you have 100% control over the end product? What was that experience like? Did you prefer any one aspect of the job over another?
Gunn: When I originally pitched Surface Tension to Titan I had written a much longer treatment that focused more on the human relationship drama within the island community. Senior editor Steve White really liked the idea of the story but asked me to cut the page count down by about 50% and to merge a number of the characters. I restructured the story that helped to focus and streamline the action. I’m actually thankful for that initial steer as I’d still be drawing the book years from now and would never finish it!
I tend to think in visuals more than I do words and, if I could, I would prefer to just draw the story right onto the page and think about the words later. I had a very strong idea and vision of the overall story but I’m also a very collaborative artist so I enjoyed bouncing ideas around with others which is something you can do at the writing stage. Drawing is very time consuming, or at least it is for me as I was doing everything, I labour over every panel – what is the meaning in this drawing, what is the feeling I’m trying to convey?
GGW: Surface Tension has been described by Titan Comics as The Walking Dead, meets Studio Ghibli and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. In what ways would you say your work is similar? Were they a conscious inspiration? What other works have inspired your career?
Gunn: I’d say I was more inspired by “Ghibli” and “Invasion of the body snatchers” than I was of “The Walking Dead.” Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Philip Kaufman version) is a masterpiece of building up slow burn paranoia and there are some wonderfully composed street level shots and scenes that work at a subconscious level to make you feel uneasy. It’s such a carefully crafted film, in some ways it is the ultimate ‘nature versus humanity’ film. Everything worked so well, it had a very clever use of location – setting an alien seed pod invasion in San Francisco – the home of ‘flower power’, hippies and alternative psychotherapy. And that ending! Perfection! I tried to capture some of that sense of location in Surface Tension, both beautiful and at the same time a little off kilter.
It may not be obvious from the first episode of Surface Tension but the work of Hayao Miyazaki was instrumental in helping me to have the confidence to tell a story without the need for macho superheroes or overt violence. Underneath the lovely colourful visuals of his films are ideas and a philosophy, they’re not just stories of good versus evil. His films have a lot to say about our relationship with the world around us. I respond much more positively to these sorts of stories and so I wanted to put some of Miyazaki’s philosophy on nature and society, which is very similar to my own, into Surface Tension.
Most of all I wanted Surface Tension to be about my own personal outlook on with the world around me. In the end I was less inspired by the works of others than I was of my own experiences. In the early stages of writing Surface Tension I was diagnosed with cancer and, for a time, I thought I would be too ill to finish the book. I had to take some time out to re-evaluate my relationship with life in order to get better. I started to spend a lot more time outdoors and I started to notice the small things that I’d always taken for granted, the changing of seasons, birds, insects – all of that stuff that happens outside of the home or office. I soon realised that I had become disconnected with the natural world around me, always too busy hurtling from one office deadline to the next working on jobs that didn’t fulfil me and making myself very ill in the process. So I pulled myself together, took a deep breath and went back to the book with a new vigour for life, I wanted to write something that was full of optimism and hope. Even amongst the horror of human bodies falling apart and when most of humanity is threatened – there’s always that glimmer of hope, something to cling on to! So the biggest inspiration for the story was life itself.
GGW: GeekGirl World is excited to see the story appears to contain a female protagonist! Gender in geek culture, specifically comics, is currently a hot-button issue. How would you describe the character? Do you feel as though she would be considered a feminist? What does the word “feminist” mean to you?
Gunn: All my life I’ve been surrounded by strong women. My mother was a home helper for the elderly and people with disabilities such as motor neuron diseases. She would bring them food, cook for them, bathe them and so on. As a child I would sometimes accompany her on these visits and see her helping. I was a little afraid, and sensing my fear the patients would chat me and try to put me at ease. At that young age I witnessed human frailties but there was always a smile, a joke or a story to be had. These people had a strength and a lust for life that, today, I don’t see in people half their age or ability.
It was natural for me to write strong female characters. For me strong female characters come in all shapes, skin tone and age and from all corners of the globe. I’m not overly keen on the ‘superhero’ representation of female strength. The superhero myth perpetuates this idea in society that ‘strength’ always comes down to a perfect physical appearance and who can hit the hardest.
I read a brilliant graphic novel, “The Photographer” that follows Medicins Sans Frontieres and Juliete Fournot who served as the head of a mission to bring aid to those caught up in war torn Afghanistan. Now she was a true depiction of a strong female ‘superhero’, someone brave and strong enough to stand up to traditional male dominated hierarchies, enduring and overcoming many hardships to alleviate the suffering of others. She was a strong and beautiful person!
There are two strong female protagonists at the heart of Surface Tension, Mary and Megumi;
Mary is a kindly 50 something lady who, even in darkest of times, believes in people, the community and the potential of people and humanity. Megumi is a 30 something biologist, she works in the field of environmental studies, going out to disaster areas. Megumi is world wear and has lost her faith in mankind, she now believes that the planet would be better off without us.
There is a debate at the heart of the story between the two female characters – can we be trusted as custodians of the planet, as a species are we cursed with a perpetual desire to destroy each other and everything around us? The outcome of this debate will decide the fate of the human race. The heart of this debate drives the story and the fact that two strong female characters are having this passionate conversation was very important to me and the story.
What is ‘feminism?’ For me, the answer is the same for both men and women – it is a belief in one’s self, to buck conventions (cultural and establishment) and to have the strength and the autonomy to stand up for one’s sense of ideal. Men and women should be the same in these regards, we’re all people prone to same strengths and weaknesses. I didn’t set out to write a pro-feminist story, I just wanted to write a story about men and women being equal, we all bring something different and unique to the table regardless of sex, race or creed.
GGW: Surface Tension appears to take place in a post-apocalyptic world, in which most of mankind becomes ill and walks into the oceans, leaving the planet (and those who remain behind) radically different. Things appear to get stranger on earth when some return from the sea! How do you really imagine earth being 10 years from now? 50 years? 100?
Gunn: I think the Earth will go on with or without us, we might make a mess of it but it will always prevail over us, it’s vanity to think otherwise, the planet doesn’t need us but we need it. Now the future of the human race, that’s a different story! There are times that I can get quite pessimistic about our future. You only have to watch the news to lose one’s faith in humanity; images of war, human greed, clashing of cultures, environmental catastrophes, the list goes on. I feel that things will get even worse before they have a hope of getting better. The human race is just like any one person; it sometimes takes something bad to happen before you realise the error of your ways, something to wake you up! Be that from an unhealthy life style that you know is wrong or a job that is slowly killing you, a toxic relationship, or whatever it may be. Once you’ve had this bad thing happen to you then you might decide to change your life and try to prevent it from happening again. I think the human race hasn’t quite realised how bad things are getting, it is in a collective denial. I’m sure that there will be a major event in the near future that will shake things up and if we’re wise enough we’ll have to radically rethink our way of life in order for us to survive. I don’t think that we can sustain our way of life for much longer, we’re rapidly outstripping the planet of all natural resources without giving back, something has got to give – it always does. And that’s the debate that is at the heart of Surface Tension.
GGW: Who would win in a fight: George A. Romero or Frank Darabont?
Gunn: Who would win in a fight between Romero and Darabont? I see them as two different beasts; Romero I see as an outsider, a wily old coyote, a survivor that’s always circling the chicken coup of Hollywood. And Darabont, well he has way more heavy hitters behind him so he’s more as a big old grizzly bear. Would they fight? I know that they have a mutual respect for each other and they’re fiercely independent so I think that they would sit down together and have an understanding and then they would team up together to fight the suits that threaten their creative existence. :)
ALIEN LEGION: UNCIVIL WAR (COLLECTION #1-4)
Writer: Chuck Dixon (Punisher War Journal, Savage Sword of Conan, Batman and the Outsider)
Artist: Larry Stroman
Colorist: Tom Mason
Creator: Carl Potts
Release date: Wednesday February 11, 2015
Hi, my name is Nicole and I apparently was born in a barn. Prior to reading, “Alien Legion: Uncivil War,” I didn’t know anything about the military unit made up of foul-mouthed, tough, space soldiers who aren’t above getting their hands dirty for safety’s sake. Think: Guardians of the Galaxy, but more structured, and sadly, less funny.
This particular story starts when a mission to assist refugees escaping a civil war turns into a full-fledged battle of epic proportions, with the fate of an entire planet up in the air (no pun intended). The story includes a few inspirational quotes that teeter-tottered between being cliché and being super sentimental. I’m a bit of a sap, so I appreciated glorious lines like, “We can run. We can hide. Or we can fight!” and “’Where we goin’?’ ‘To become heroes, son.’”
Still, to be honest, I had a hard time connecting to this story. As the title states, it’s an “Uncivil War.” So, while I certainly expected sheisty shenanigans in battle, I was still expecting to see two sides to a story. However, the point of view is rather shallow, and there’s clearly the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” It would have been more interesting if the characters and their plights had been more morally ambiguous.
While the art work and coloring were quite nice, and properly depicted the story’s many action sequences, I still found myself wanting to skip ahead to the end. Though the story didn’t hold my interest, I do think I was the minority. Fans of the characters and their history will probably be intrigued to see familiar faces back in action again. However, I just wasn’t as invested.
If Transformers means little more to you than your old, childhood Hasbro toys and Shia LeBouf yelling “Optimus!” into an orange sunset, you might be surprised to know that “Transformers: Prime” is a successful, Emmy-winning, computer-animated show that aired on the Hub. Moreover, you might not know that this week the drama continued on the small screen in the feature-length, 90-minute film, “Transformers Prime Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising.” Is it more than meets the eye, or a cash grab in disguise?
The story follows our transforming heroes, the Autobots, as they attempt to restore their home planet of Cybertron. Meanwhile, super baddy/agent of chaos/destroyer of planets, Unicron, has all but possessed former oppressor Megatron— using his corporeal body to do evil far worse than even he could imagine. To defeat Unicron, the Autobots must team up with their former foes, the Decepticons and the beastly Predacons.
Predacons Rising actually had quite a lot to offer. Fans of the Transformers franchise will be pleased to hear that Peter Cullen reprised his role as the voice of the wise and noble Autobot leader, Optimus Prime. Children, specifically, will be amused with the dramatic fight sequences that incorporate slow motion and first person points of view. One particularly amazing scene to look out for includes the ZOMBIE-CONS, un-dead Predacons who have arisen from their graves. Meanwhile, an older audience can appreciate the themes of good vs. evil vs. REALLY evil. As Megatron muses, “Who to root for? The lines have certainly blurred.”
The Blue-Ray + DVD Combo Pack is unfortunately quite light on special features, only including a look behind the scenes of Predacons Rising. However, the spotlight on the animation team, Polygon Pictures, was quite enjoyable and added a real-life element to the robotic and sometimes bland world of Transformers.
Over all, I would recommend Predacons Rising to fans of Transformers and children. As someone who hasn’t watched the Prime series, it was easy to follow. Unfortunately, I wasn’t terribly invested in the story line. While there were enough cool fight scenes and dramatic quotes to hold my attention, it was fairly forgettable. Much like the toys of my youth and the Michael Bay popcorn flicks that filled my summers, Predacons Rising is an adequate way to spend a rainy afternoon, but that’s about it. I give this one a 6/10.
Confession: my knowledge of Robot Chicken is dwarfed in comparison to my adoration of DC comics. (Hey, you try bring a poor kid with no cable! It’s like living in a cave! I didn’t even get wifi until last year! But I digress…) My point is, while I was only vaguely aware of Robot Chicken’s cult following, I had never seen an episode of the Emmy-winning show. Still, I was really excited to see how some of my favorite comic book characters would be portrayed in this Adult Swim and DC Comics collaboration that originally aired in 2012 but hit stores July 9, 2013.
The result was 22-minutes of stop-animation madness— but in the very best way! The story focuses on the misadventures of the Justice League of America (JLA, holla!), which is comprised of some of DC’s most beloved heroes, such as Superman and Batman. And Aquaman, I guess. Not surprisingly, the King of the Seven Seas doesn’t feel well-appreciated, and things get dicey when he goes to meet up with a clan of evil villains, headed by Lex Luthor!
Through out the special, there are hilarious spotlights on ridiculous characters that (sadly) really exist in the DC universe. There are also some running jokes that had me laughing every single time— they never got old! Quite possibly, the scene-stealer of the whole show was when the dudes in tights decide to flirt with babes at the bar… in costume. It’s so awkward and obscene, but still delightfully amazing.
The two hours of special features on the Blu-Ray definitely make owning this Blu-Ray worth it. There are a lot of fun segments that include the folks “behind the scenes,” such as “RCDC’s Aquaman Origin Story” (where you’ll hear hilariously conflicting stories about who was the brains behind the project) and “5.2 Questions” with the director and producers. I appreciated that you could tell the cast and crew were all super fans of the DC universe, but weren’t afraid to make fun of it, in the same way that only *you* can make fun of your little brother. The entire gang was amazing, including splendid direction from Seth Green (I love you Oz!) and fun voice talent from Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Alex Borstein, among others.
Overall, I had a lot of fun watching “Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special,” and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the show, loves comics, or just wants a good laugh! However, a warning to the faint of heart or children— this special definitely pushes boundaries and might not be appropriate to sensitive or younger audiences… but it’s all in good fun! While, it might not be for everyone, it was definitely a hit with me. “Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special” gets an 8 out of 10!
Enter the GeekGirl World Giveaway to win a free copy of the The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One! DVD! All you have to do is leave a comment on this article identifying one of the Aquabats’ song lyrics I use in my review. A winner will be selected at random on May 28, 2013. Good luck!
In each episode, the Aquabats, led by the M.C. Bat Commander (Christian Jacobs), find themselves pit against a new, colorful, and bizarre rival, one that is often 1/2 classic movie monster, 1/2 a child’s sugar-induced day dream. Some seek vengeance, like Man Ant, an abandoned ant in a suit, hell-bent on ruining picnics. Other baddies are simply misunderstood, like “Tweaky Bird Thing,” a confused and cranky mutant chicken. Alas, many, like Space Monster M, just want to destroy the planet! Thank goodness the Aquabats are around to save the day, often to the sweet upstrokes of a musical beat, and sometimes with a “Learning and Growing” moment that teaches a cute lesson.
Amusingly, the “episodes” even feature hilarious and over-the-top faux commercials made by the fictional company Gloopy. Fans who have seen the Aquabats perform live might remember the commercial for “Handi Gel,” an all around yucky lotion/gel that comes in a leaky bag— perfect for moisturizing while on the B-Ball court. Handi Gel and the other bizarre products featured during the “commercial breaks” are one of my favorite parts of the show. They are completely weird and I love it. It’s not unusual for the Aquabats to find “A CARTOON” airing on a teeny tiny television screen in the middle of an adventure. Naturally, they stop everything they’re doing and watch! Meanwhile, the audience is transported to an anime-styled cartoon featuring the Aquabats in separate journeys across space. Some of the strangest hijinks occur when the Aquabats are in animation-form. The random, odd-ball fun is completely enjoyable and endearing.
Combining corniness, camp, mischief, and magic, the show manages to amuse children and fun-loving adults alike. Rudies skanked for joy when they discovered Netflix had made the show available to customers earlier this year. However, if you’d like to check out super rad Bonus Features like Blooper Reels, commentary on the un-aired pilot, and behind the scenes shenanigans, you’ll have to pick up the The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One! DVD when it hits stores May 21, 2013. The second season will begin airing on June 1, 2013 on the Hub, so stay tuned to your Idiot Box, kiddos! After 13 episodes of sheer delight, it’s very easy for me to give The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One! a solid 8/10.
Should audiences take a chance on Lay the Favorite? Let’s look at the pros and cons (or in this case, the losses and wins) of Anchor Bay Entertainment and Radius-TWC’s latest flick, which hits shelves March 5, 2013.
The characters have little depth.
Instead, the cast is full of caricatures played by familiar faces: Rebecca Hall (The Town) stars as Beth, the small-town dancer with a knack for letters and numbers, who finds herself taking and making bets for professional gamblers after she moves to Sin City; Bruce Willis (The Die Hard Franchise) plays Dink, the short-tempered, slightly suicidal, Las Vegas bookie with a troubled past and a heart of gold who thinks Beth is his good luck charm; Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago) comes in as his fierce yet loving wife who agrees to let Beth work for her husband in exchange for— wait for it—a face lift; Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers) appears (as he often does) as a loud, boisterous, and over-the-top competitor/colleague named Rosie, whose “not totally legal” business ventures are based out of another city; and Joshua Jackson/my 5th grade crush (Dawson’s Creek) shows up as Jeremy, the stable, sane, completely normal, and slightly boring love interest to Beth, who inevitably finds himself caught up in her drama when he agrees to help her with a client. These are all talented actors who have made me laugh and cry in their other work: so why were they so one-dimensional and wooden here? I have to say, I expected more from them (especially you John McClane). Director Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) isn’t off the hook either: he’s been nominated for two Academy Awards for other films and should have been able to bring out better performances.
Locations are under utilized.
I know some films, especially those that don’t have a wide theatrical release, may not have the budget to film at beautiful and exotic locations. Still, if you’re going to make a film about a person whose adventures take her from exciting places like Las Vegas to New York to Curacao and back, I want to see more than 2 slot machines at a seedy casino, a tall building and stairwell that presumably lead to Jeremy’s tiny apartment, and what I am praying was a not a green-screen shot of the sun and water outside of Rosie’s beach-side business. As a viewer, I wanted to get swept away in Beth’s crazy life. That didn’t really happen, and it made me feel detached from her story.
Beth is likable.
What luck, as the whole movie was based on the “real” Beth Raymer’s best-selling memoir, “Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling.” I have decided if I ever meet Ms. Raymer, I will pinch her cheeks, because she comes off as adorable in the film. Her naivety is what really makes her so lovable. I mean, as a Las Vegas local for over two decades, I seriously laughed out loud when Beth said she dreamed of a better life… as a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas! Seriously? Oh, Beth! You have so much to learn! Thank goodness you later smartened up, made a lot of money running bets, took your ABC-order talents to college, and became a writer! At one point in the film Dink describes Beth as a “ganef,” which is apparently “Yiddish for small-time lovable thief.” I really hope that word can be used as a term of endearment because it describes her perfectly. My one comment on Beth is that I would be shocked if Rebecca Hall did not choke on a hair ball after filming wrapped: she girlishly twirled her hair around her finger and put her curls in her mouth during three-quarters of the movie.
The betting lingo is really cool.
That’s right, I said it! This movie made me want to gamble! Except… wait! I don’t know anything about sports or betting. I just want to use the term “lay the favorite.”
Like most bets, the odds of winning are 50/50. I suspect gamblers, sports-lovers, and men’s-men will love this movie for the gaming references, blatant boob shots, and wads of cash. I also anticipate people not enjoying the R-Rated flick for the exact same reason. So, it’s really up to you: are you ready to go all-in with Lay the Favorite? Personally, I give this one a 4/10.
Hi ladies! I may have just found the most addicting and fun web series of 2013!
On January 31st, Machina Prime debuted Sketch Royale, a weekly project on YouTube in which “four teams tackle the same theme to produce four completely different sketches.” The results are often random, awkward, and hilarious, with subscribers unofficially choosing who they feel created the most entertaining video. To date, a variety of actors, comedians, and animators have come together to create videos on everything from Chinese New Year to Valentine’s Day. Sketch Royale has quickly become a YouTube favorite, with videos collecting over 50,000 views in the first month since the project launched. Be sure to check out their page frequently, as new sketches debut each Thursday!
Recently, GeekGirl World had the chance to interview Good Cops and Dr. Coolsex, two of the four contributors who helped launch this exciting project with the first video, titled The Super Bowl. Check out their awesome interviews below and click on the links for more information!
Your skit was about making the perfect Super Bowl commercial. Any favorite (or least favorite) television commercials from Super Bowl XLVII (47)?
Noel (Sledge): Well, I’m a dork who likes to get all emotional, and my family back in Australia are farmers, so I really liked the “God Made a Farmer” spot that Chrysler did.
Jacob (Nicky): Even though we were sort of poking fun at the ‘Doritos: Crash the Super Bowl’ contest with our sketch, I ended up laughing hysterically at that Doritos “Goat” spot. So random, yet so funny.
While this segment was animated, your body of work includes a lot of live-action entertainment as well. What are the pros and cons of each style? Do you prefer one over the other?
Noel (Sledge): Well first of all our animators, Chris and Dustin, do 90% of the work for these and because that is the case it enables the rest of us to work on other projects, so in that regard it’s easier because we can split up the workload. Also, you can make an animated character do anything, be anywhere and have anything happen to them which is freeing and also very fun. That said, because the Internet is such a high-speed, low budget medium, you don’t have time to put in the tiny details with an animated piece that you sometimes wish you could. Live action is almost entirely the opposite. You are fairly limited with what a character can do, where you can put him and what you can do to him, because all of this must exist in the real world, so the writing takes more time and more creativity. But you make up for that with details, you can have a character do something very specific and very unique to a situation and often is is that which makes the piece interesting or noteworthy.
Derek (Perkins): This was my first time doing voice over (Derek voiced the character of ‘The Director’). I’ve auditioned for a few but was never cast, so I was nervous that I wouldn’t have the right stuff. I’ve been working with Clayton (Good Cops Director) for almost 2 years now so I thought I’d been through it all. I was wrong. We spent 5 hours in a studio going through each line, over and over and over again. I drank about 2 gallons of water that day, my voice was sore by the second hour. For one line Clayton told me to pretend I was on death row and I was walking down the green mile. “Be at peace with it.” he said, “Let everything go, you’re walking to your death and you’re fine with it, and ACTION!”. So that was an interesting day.
Jacob (Nicky): One of the pros is just experimenting with our voices for different characters. I revealed my secret skill of doing a ‘heavy metal’ voice with about 3 different octaves happening at the same time. The guys were convinced I was possessed.
Your video revolved around a fan-made commercial contest. Let’s just say there were some interesting winners. Have you ever won a contest you didn’t expect to win, or lost one that you thought you had “in the bag”? Tell us about it! Alex: We competed in SyFy’s “Viral Video Showdown” against the comedy superstars P0ykpac. We did our best, but after the smoke cleared, we found ourselves without the five thousand dollar prize. It would have been disappointing if it weren’t so much fun. Plus, we got to fly out to LA on their dime, so that’s pretty neat. We may have lost the competition, but we’ll always have our Splash Mountain photo.
Viewers loved the fun clothes featured in your video, including a Robocop shirt, a 90s-Nickelodeon-inspired Jacket, and a Wile E. Coyote tie. Where did you find the wardrobe for this project?
Greg: Those clothes are a part of my personal wardrobe– minus the Wile E. Coyote tie, which Alex wears un-ironically to work. All three of us have growing collections of fun clothes that we wear to add some silliness to our already silly videos. Keep an eye out for our matching Adidas track suits in our President Rap music video!
Your body of work includes homages to 90s pop culture, including Nickelodeon’s Doug and Hey Arnold!, as well as Super Mario. How would you compare 90s shows and games to those of today? Do you favor one over the other?
Dustin: We love the 90s because we grew up in the 90s and it strikes a chord with our collective nostalgia. Whether the shows and games of the 90s are actually better than today doesn’t matter, what matters is that they make us feel young again. They remind us of the care free days of Stick Stickly, Gushers and Street Fighter 2. Everyone believes that things were better when they were kids because that’s the time when we had no worries or responsibilities. The 90s were the best because they shaped us into who we became. The 90s are ingrained in our DNA and it’s an instant point of connection to anyone that loved pop culture during that time. We love the 90s because the 90s are us.