DVD Releases: March 2, 2010

Out this week we have Three DVDs to feature:  Ponyo, 2012, and Ninja.  Do we Love It, Rent it, or Avoid Like Plague?



  • 2012: a disaster film which will feature some of the more scarier natural disasters out there like Yellowstone's super volcano. I’m curious to see how they pull of the message behind the movie but I have seen so many of these go wrong which leaves me leery to watch it. Netflix says I’ll give it a 4.1 so it may be good.  Definitely a renter.

  • Ninja: Do Not Confuse this with Ninja Assassin the Wachowski brothers film that will be released in a couple of weeks.  Ninja is a modern tale about Ninjas with a typical story line:  Main character journeys to Japan to study to be a ninja then gets called back to New York to protect an armor chest with the legendary ninja weapons in it.  I find it hard to place into the not interested category because I’m a sucker for Martial arts movies though every other bone in my body warns me that this won’t be good.  Netflix thinks I will give it a 3 which means it’s a risk.  With that in mind a renter for fans of martial arts movies and not interested for the rest.

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Theater or Renter: November 2009

Theater or Renter: November includes eight SF movies 1/2 of them are books adapted into movies: A Christmas Carol, The Fourth Kind, 2012, Planet 51, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ninja Assassin, The Road.  Will we watch? Will we rent? or do we even care? Rules of the Game: Watch the trailers. Rate the Trailer. Then share with us your comments: does the movie, it’s trailer and buzz make you want to watch it in the theater, rent it, or not interested at all, and why?

A Christmas Carol:

Release Date:  NOVEMBER 6th

Listed as:  Animation, Drama, Family, Fantasy

Studio:  Walt Disney Pictures

Director:  Robert Zemeckis

Produced by:  Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis

Written by:  Robert Zemeckis

Stars:  Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, Molly C. Quinn

The Plot / Story: An animated retelling of the Victorian morality tale A Christmas Carol.  Ebenezer Scrooge an old and bitter miser undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one night. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

The Fourth Kind:

Release Date:  NOVEMBER 6th

Listed as:  Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Director:  Olatunde Osunsanmi

Produced by:  Paul Brooks, Joe Carnahan

Written by:  Olatunde Osunsanmi

Stars:  Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton

The Plot / Story: The Fourth Kind is a reenactment of alien abduction events that are claimed to have actually happened.  An investigator is dispatched to Nome, Alaska to puzzle out a 40-year-long mystery involving an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances in the town. Her videotaped evidence looks to present the most convincing evidence of alien abduction ever documented. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)


Release Date:  NOVEMBER 13th

Listed as:  Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Director:  Roland Emmerich

Produced by:  Roland Emmerich, Mark Gordon, Harald Kloser, Larry J. Franco, Ute Emmerich

Written by:  Harald Kloser, Roland Emmerich

Stars:  John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson

The Plot / Story: The film explores the idea of a global doomsday event coinciding with the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012.  In Guatemala reports start coming in of mass suicides in the Mayan jungles of people attempting to avoid the impending apocalypse.  A secret organization that realizes the world is ending and is constructing of vast arks beneath the Himalayan mountains to save both the Human race and significant animal species when doomsday finally happens.  The disaster strikes all over with super volcano and mega earthquakes from dramatic shifting in the earths crust.  A group of survivors, including Jackson Curtis and his family fight their way to China before they can board the great arks and save themselves from the gigantic tidal waves sweeping across the Earth. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

Planet 51:

Release Date:  NOVEMBER 20th

Listed as:  Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Studio:  TriStar Pictures

Director:  Jorge Blanco

Produced by:  Ignacio Perez Dolset, Guy Colins

Written by:  Joe Stillman

Stars:  Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Seann William Scott, Gary Oldman, John Cleese

The Plot / Story: The film follows a human astronaut, Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker who lands on Planet 51 thinking he's the first to set foot on it. However, he discovers it's inhabited by little green people who live in a white picket-fenced world reminiscent of 1950s America.  The inhabitants of planet 51 are struck with alien fear and Captain Baker struggles to survive and get off the planet before they capture him. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

The Twilight Saga: New Moon:

Release Date:  NOVEMBER 20th

Listed as:  Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Thriller

Studio:  Summit Entertainment

Director:  Chris Weitz

Produced by:  Mark Morgan, Wyck Godfrey

Written by:  Melissa Rosenberg (screen play)

Stars:  Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

The Plot / Story: Based on the book The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Bella Swan is devastated by the abrupt departure of her vampire love, Edward Cullen, but her spirit is rekindled by her growing friendship with the irresistible Jacob Black. Suddenly she finds herself drawn into the world of the werewolves, ancestral enemies of the vampires, and finds her loyalties tested.  (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

Fantastic Mr. Fox:

Release Date:  NOVEMBER 20th

Listed as:  Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Studio:  Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Allison Abbate, Steven Rales

Director:  Wes Anderson

Produced by:  Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Allison Abbate, Steven Rales

Written by:  Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach

Stars:  George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Jarvis Cocker, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Helen McCrory

The Plot / Story: Animated kids film based on Roald Dahl's book Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Mr. Fantastic lives next to the three meanest farmers who push too far.  Now it is time to strike back at them.  (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

Ninja Assassin:

Release Date:  NOVEMBER 25th

Listed as:  Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Studio:  Legendary Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment, Silver Pictures

Director:  James McTeigue

Produced by:  Joel Silver, Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, Grant Hill

Written by:  Story: Matthew Sand  Screenplay: Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski

Stars:  Rain, Naomie Harris

The Plot / Story: Raizo, kidnapped as a child and raised by the Ozunu Clan, is one of the world’s deadliest assassins.  When Raizo’s friend is executed by the clan, he flees into hiding.  Meanwhile, Mika Coretti, a Europol agent, retrieves secret agency files on The Clan. Finding out about the investigation, The Clan attempts to assassinate her, but she is rescued by Raizo.  Reemerging, seeking revenge he must find a way to take down the Ozunu Clan. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

The Road:

Release Date:  NOVEMBER 25th

Listed as:  Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Studio:  2929 Productions

Director:  John Hillcoat

Produced by:  Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz

Written by:  Joe Penhall

Stars:  Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron

The Plot / Story: Based on the book The Road.  A father and his young son struggle to survive after an unspecified apocalypse and make their way toward the coast for possible food, shelter, safety, or to potentially find other survivors of the cataclysmic events. Along the way, they encounter grave struggles and hardships across the barren landscapes, with scarce shelter and resources available to them, and having to avoid bands of cannibals and other desperate gangs looking to pillage valuables and food. (Wikipedia) (The Official Site)

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Ninja Assassin Trailer and Movie Poster

Ninja Assassin, the perfect blending of two things I love in one movie, martial arts films, and Wachowski Brothers films finally has a trailer out and it looks great. Watch the Trailer Below.

The action is stunning.  The part that gives me a lot of hope is the closing scene with the car.  This tells me that the Wachowski Brothers not only worked toward a stunning film with great martial arts but they are also going to use the Hong Kong style.  Blending in moments of humor into the stunning martial arts scenes to help balance out the tension and mood.

The tools of the trade for Ninjas is one of my interests particularly because they are more fluid in form and style.  This is due to the the focus being on success lending to a plethora of modified weaponry.  I like seeing the creativity that goes into those modifications.  Imagine my delight watching this trailer when I got to see in just a few minutes a lot of different weapons... I wonder how that sword works.

The poster below is another great example of the weapons featured.  The Wachowski Brothers did not go for the traditional sword wielding picture but instead are showing off that beautiful modified version of a Kusarigama using a nice dagger instead of a sickle.


Story:  Raizo, kidnapped as a child and raised by the Ozunu Clan, is one of the world's deadliest assassins.  When Raizo's friend is executed by the clan, he flees into hiding.  Meanwhile, Mika Coretti, a Europol agent, retrieves secret agency files on The Clan. Finding out about the investigation, The Clan attempts to assassinate her, but she is rescued by Raizo.  Reemerging, seeking revenge he must find a way to take down the Ozunu Clan.

Ninja Assassin is due out November 24th according to the poster which is in conflict or has changed from the original believed date of November 25th.  I'm not going to hold my breath on either dates and expect latter clarification because the 24th is a Tuesday which is not a typical release day though it is just before thanksgiving weekend so it may hold for that date.  In either case it is too far off I can't wait to watch it.

JMS on Forbidden Planet, World War Z, Lensmen and Last Words

Image via Wikipedia

J. Michael Straczynski has given us a bunch of updates:

Forbidden Planet

I'm on draft two of Forbidden Planet, and the process is going well, very exciting stuff, and I hope I can talk about some of that in more detail soonish (JMSNews).

While I am not a big fan of remakes, if anyone could make this movie right, it's Joe.  Rumors persist that the new Forbidden Planet will be a trilogy explaining what happened to the Krell.  I cannot wait to learn more.

World War Z

About to make the final touches to World War Z, then with any luck we can get this thing into pre-productoin also soonish (JMSNews).

I am a little tired of Zombie movies.  The book was good and the audiobook was better.  I am curious how they are going to do the film.


Draft One of Lensman is in, now working on draft two (JMSNews).

The Lensmen is E. E. Smith's Space Opera masterpiece which defined an entire genre.  The very notion of the creator of Babylon 5 working on what will hopefully be to first film in the series makes me as giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve.  Note to Hollywood: Green light this film!

Ninja Assassin

There have been a couple of previews for Ninja Assassin, and the audience scores have been just terrific. I have a suspicion that this is going to do very well (JMSNews) .

This is the next film from the Wachowski brothers who made The Matrix, V for Vendetta, and Speed Racer.  Need I say any more?

Last Words

The pilot script for Last Words has gone in to Dreamworks, and they're very very pleased with the script. So we'll see where this goes (JMSNews).

Wait a minute... Joe + Dreanworks + pilot = awesome series I need to see.

Other News

Interestingly, due to all the writing work, I've lately begun to be offered directing gigs, most of it in the SF genre (natch). Nothing has grabbed me enough yet to want to tackle it, but we'll see what the future holds. A couple of studios have extended the offer for me to write and direct my own stuff, which is pretty cool.

My agent has forbidden me to take on any other screenplay assignments until March/April, but some projects have begun to circle Casa Straczynski of late, looking for an open place to land when an opening comes. Some very cool stuff on the horizon (JMSNews).

Anything I get from Joe, I am ready to go.  Great news all around.

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Speed Racer Stunning Experience You Will Enjoy

speedracerdvd I am excited that Speed Racer is going to be released on DVD Tuesday September 16th.  At release this film got mixed reviews but most of that was because those that wouldn't get the film didn't.  It's sad because this film was brilliantly filmed, maintained an immaculate reality, and left the viewer with the feel of having watched an intense race.  You can read my full review where I point out the pros and cons of the movie.  For Me it's definitely an owner. stars-5 Get your copy of Speed Racer on DVD here!

Speed Racer is a great story about a young man who has to stand up and fight against tremendous odds and corporate interests who threaten his family and his world view: racing is about the quality of drivers and not a fixed sport.

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Speed Racer Like a Good Race Should Be

Speed Racer Movie PosterReview of: Speed Racer Overall Rating: 10 A+

Watch trailer here

Speed Racer blew me away! The Wachowski Brothers does it again. They took on a challenging project where they had to blend in the anime ascetic, live action and keep to the spirit of the original Speed Racer cartoon which carries the baggage of the late 60's cartooning style.

They actually achieve an immaculate reality with this project. The beginning will be a little rough for some as the audience gets pulled into the story and setting which has a very different visual style than what today's typical audience is used to. They also use the visual and camera style to create a feel that one would experience from watching an auto race which can be jarring and disorientating. Once into that reality they maintain it brilliantly and overall I was left feeling the same way I do after watching a really good race... exhilarated!

Speed Racer also has a great story which is about a young man who has to stand up and fight against great odds and corporate interests who threaten his family and his world view: racing is about the quality of drivers and not a fixed sport.


  • Brilliant balance between action, drama, and comedy
  • Thrilling and suspenseful like a good race should be
  • They were able to take a project where a decent portion of the audience knew ahead of time a lot of the key plot points and yet keep the plot points exciting.
  • Visually stunning and supportive of the story and spirit of racing.
  • the intro: how they broke up the first race with the flashbacks bringing the audience up to speed both on story and on the racing filming effect
  • The cuts to the race commentators was a nice tool to bring in more back story without slowing down the film.
  • The effects are not photo realistic but they were consistent with the film and the style set up so that it didn't pull me out of speed racers reality. Even it takes a few minutes at the beginning of the film to get used to it.
  • The acting was well done.

Dislikes / Concerns

  • concern: the first 5-10 minutes of the film. The Wachowski Brothers had a very high bar to cross to bring the audience into the reality of the setting and so the beginning could be difficult for some to cross.
  • concern: the filming style for the race could be found jarring and confusing turning off those audience members who are more susceptible to motion sickness.
  • concern: those who do not understand or have a background in the anime style may not like the filming style since the Wachowski Brothers did such a nice job adapting that style into live action.
  • Needed more Christina Ricci

For more information on Speed Racer

Get your copy of Speed Racer

Rain on Wachowskis' "Ninja Assassin"

l_d5ac53a69166044eb0a1d13def833f90 The Wachowskis are at it again:

The Wachowski brothers have recruited South Korean ... Rain (aka Jung Ji-hoon) to star in...


A ninja movie from the people behind the Matrix?? Can I get in line now? There is little I can say about this project at this point aside from the excited giggle, but I will be keeping an eye out for more information as it becomes available.

(via Kung Fu Cinema)