The BATMAN v SUPERMAN IMAX Trailer Debut: A First Hand Review

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As you should all know by now, just under 1 week ago, the first trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice was released upon the world.  Several days before, we were made aware of special event screenings in the USA at select IMAX theatres by the films director, Zac Snyder.  A friend and fellow Geek Speaker, Luis Salazar, was lucky enough to attend one of these screenings and was kind enough to write a review of his experience for us all to read.

Sadly, the day after these screenings were announced, the trailer was leaked online.  Although it was a crappy mobile phone recording, it spread like wild fire and try as Warner Bros might to pull it down, the damage was already done.  Within 24 hours, Zac Snyder released the trailer officially and in doing so, kind of took away from the “event” aspect of what was to happen in only a few days time.  But his hand was forced and I for one felt it was a real shame.  Despite my eagerness and in some ways, desperation to see this trailer, I actually made the conscious decision to not watch the leaked version.  I waited for the real deal and I was not disappointed.

But that’s enough on my thoughts and opinions.  This blog is all about what Luis experienced.  Please enjoy his review.

Luis Salazar
Luis Salazar

Monday 4/20/2015
1:30 PM San Diego, California
United States of America

I was finishing up a quarterly report for work, once I was done writing it, I would give myself permission to call the local AMC theatre and start getting excited about tonight.  Granted, the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice teaser trailer had been leaked a few days prior and subsequently released in HD by Warner Bros. but still, I was excited to attend the official screening of the trailer, something like this (screening a trailer for the public) is unheard of, and despite the despicable leak I hoped fans would show up anyway. No amount of lengthy, soul-stealing reports were going to steal my joy, besides, not everyone who would want to attend this event would be able to, in particular, The Boy Wonder for whom I’m writing this review.

At about 4:00PM Pacific Standard time, I called the AMC theatre and asked if there was a line yet for the Batman v Superman trailer screening, I was informed there were 10 people in line and I thought, ‘Great, there’s definite interest in this event, but not as much as if the trailer had not leaked, I might just snag some good seats tonight!’

I hung up and texted my friend, who would also be my ride to the event, Adam! “Bitch, be ready to pick me up by 4:45PM, so we can be at the theatre by 5:00PM.” He responded in the affirmative and I quickly set out to eat, because I was starving and I would be damned if I was caught starving at a movie theatre where hot dogs are $7.00 and sodas are another $6.00, so once I was done with dinner at 4:40, I text Adam once again, informing him I would be ready by 5:00.

We arrived at the theatre by 5:20 and there were two lines with about 40 people in each. The first line had mostly guys in Batman, or Superman shirts and the second line was comprised of 60+ year old women. I’m pretty sure I knew which line I was going to join.

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I stood next to a pair of young men in their early 20’s who were discussing the merits of the Marvel cinematic universe and how despite Marvel’s track record with entertaining movies, they were ecstatic about seeing Superman and Batman in a film together for the very first time, plus Wonder Woman, I reminded them, the trinity. They agreed and we spent the remainder of our time in line discussing and dissecting the trailer for Batman v Superman, the recently released and awesome trailer for Fantastic Four and why Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were so incredibly badass. The young men had no idea Superman was the very first super-hero ever, EVER. They thought Captain America was the first one, I educated them and we continued with our discussions and our giddiness grew. There was a palpable buzz amongst the crowd and I took pics of the line ahead of us and behind us, the line had grown extensively since I joined it and now easily 60 more people had joined it and the line was now snaking around the corner building, it was now about 6:30pm and this event would be getting underway very soon.  At about 6:45 we were ushered into the IMAX theatre and we chose prime seats.

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A young woman, dressed in business casual clothes walked to the front of the theatre, stood in front of the screen and welcomed us, the crowd roared and she laughed as she reminded us not to record anything on our cell phones and that as thank you for being fans and coming out tonight, we would be receiving one free pass, per person to a screening of Batman v Superman in IMAX, one week prior to release of the film. The crowd cheered and she continued, in addition to the free ticket, we would be receiving one of two posters. With that she thanked us again and the lights in the theatre dimmed.

Zack Snyder appeared on screen, he was on what looked like the set of Batman v Superman and the Batmobile clearly visible in the background. Snyder thanked us for watching the trailer and asked us not to record it, please. I actually became teary eyed at him thanking us, the fans, because someone in Brazil decided to leak the trailer, all that hard work, all that careful planning was trumped by someone’s whim, it made me sad.

The trailer began, just as you’ve seen, but this time I noticed details that I’d missed previously, such as writing etched into the slabs of stone behind the Superman statue, possible names of those fallen during the battle in Metropolis? There was also something I hadn’t noticed, the grandeur of the trailer. Perhaps because we were in an IMAX theatre, but the score, the large screen, the crisp images and the electricity in the air, made the experience surreal, magical even.

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I also noticed the aspect ratio of the screen filled the entire IMAX screen, more on that later. The trailer continued as expected, all previously released, then the last few seconds of the teaser trailer there’s a close up shot of Superman and then a close up shot of Batman and then a wide-angle shot of the two of them facing each other, getting ready to charge toward one another in a truly epic showdown, 75 years in the making. They begin racing toward one another and then the screen fades to black.

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The crowd roared and Zack Snyder came back on the screen, he mentioned the trailer would be shown once again and to pay extra attention to the last few seconds of the trailer, where Superman and Batman are racing toward one another, as that footage would not be shown anywhere else from here on out in any of the trailers, or spots. He also mentioned that a lot of this movie was shot in “native IMAX” including the set up shots with the statue and the fight scene where they are running towards one another. This movie begs to be seen as the film maker intends to be seen, in true IMAX. The trailer was shown again and once again, the crowd loved it, they hooted and hollered and were clearly excited for this movie.

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Do yourself a favour, see this trailer in true IMAX and upon its release, see this film in true IMAX. We exited the theatre, where WB representatives greeted us with a table and a choice, to either choose a Batman poster, or a Superman poster. Of course, being a greedy American, I asked if I could have one of each, but the WB representative said no. So I chose Batman and walked away, my friend Adam chose Superman, good for him. He then handed me his Superman poster told me it was mine and thanked me for inviting him to the event. I was already giddy at watching a great trailer in the glory of IMAX, but now I was beside myself, I got both posters, HELL YEAH!

Luis' invite to see the film 1 week before it's release
Luis’ invite to see the film 1 week before it’s release
The posters he was lucky enough to be given
The posters he was lucky enough to be given
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Looking Back At The Batman Movie Trailers

Trailers

With the world abuzz after the release of the first trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, I thought I’d take a look back at all the trailers for the live action Batman films up to this point and rank them in the order from (in my opinion) best to worst.  Before I begin though, I thought I better explain how I will judge each trailer.  First off and I feel most importantly, I will not be judging the trailer based on the film that it’s from.  I’m going off the trailer only.  Otherwise, I’d just be ranking the films in the order that I like them.  I’ll also be looking at the use of music and the way the trailer is cut together.  Most importantly, I’ll be looking at how much the trailer makes me want to see the movie.  It will be a struggle to judge some of these trailers fairly just because their age in relation to my age and when I first saw them but I will do my best to not let that affect my decisions.  Also, particularly with the later films, they have more than one trailer.  I’m using only one from each film and it’s the one that I feel was the “main” trailer used for it’s release.  I’m not including teaser trailers either.  I know some of these rankings will probably rub some people the wrong way and for that I apologise, to a point.  This is after all, a platform for me to simply voice my opinion.  We all have different opinions and that’s what makes this fun.  With that all out of the way, let’s begin.

8. BATMAN (1989)

Don’t shoot! This ranking is the reason I had the paragraph above explaining my ranking system.  Putting this trailer at the bottom of the list by no means means that I think this is the worst of all the Batman movies.  I’ve gotta be honest though, it’s not a great trailer.  It looks like an early cut of a trailer that wasn’t finished.  It doesn’t flow, the cuts are all quite jarring and there’s very little music used at all.  I understand that this was 26 years ago now but even by the standards of other trailers of its time, it’s very, VERY rough.  I was 5 when this movie was released and I remember all the hype very clearly.  I did not see this trailer though until years later.  I do however understand how well this trailer was received when it was released.  I know that people were buying tickets to movies just to see this trailer and leaving once it played.  I also know that bootleg copies of it were hot property at conventions back in the day.  Ask yourself honestly though – is that because the trailer is good?  Or is it because no one had EVER seen Batman portrayed this way before, in a world pre-internet where the only way you could see a trailer was to go to the theatres or record it off television?  I rest my case.  It’s not all bad though.  I love the last 25 seconds of this trailer.  From Joker’s “Winged freak” line until the very end is great!  I especially love the part where Keaton’s Batman turns as you hear Nicholson’s Joker laugh over the top of the amazing Batman Theme by Danny Elfman.  I also really like how the title card at the very end is just the logo of the film.  If the whole trailer was as good as the last 25 seconds, it would probably top my list because that part really gets me excited about watching the film.  Sadly it isn’t, so it doesn’t.

7. BATMAN (1966)

The first big screen outing for the Caped Crusader comes in 7th on my list. Released decades before I was born, this is the first Batman movie I ever saw.  Like Batman 89, I didn’t see this trailer until many years after my first viewing of the film.  It is a trailer very much of it’s time as well as very much in the style of the TV series it came from.

The reason why it is ranked above Batman 89 is because I think overall it just flows better and is less jarring.  They are the two things I disliked most about the 89 trailer.  Something that makes it feel that way is the use of music.  There is music under the entire trailer and that really helps it.  I do feel like watching this movie after viewing the trailer.  It’s fun, bright and had me laughing along with it, all the things I know I’ll do and enjoy watching the entire film.  I must mention, I just love the way Adam West controls the microphone when he and Burt Ward are talking to the audience.  The way he just flicks it back and forward towards Ward every time he speaks, without making any eye contact or moving any other part of his body makes me laugh every time.

6. BATMAN & ROBIN (1997)

Now we can all agree on one thing – this movie is shit.  Taking that out of the equation and just watching this trailer, it’s pretty enjoyable.  In fact, this trailer is better and more watchable than the entire film!  Take out the “I wanna Car. This is why Superman works alone.” part and it’s pretty much all the best parts of the movie.  Hence why it’s only 2.26mins long.  Seriously though, forgetting the final film, this trailer makes me want to watch a movie like this.  Clooney looks great because the trailer shows a lot of his Bruce Wayne stuff which even in the film is OK.  The setup for conflict between he and Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson due to jealousy over Poison Ivy and lack of trust in their partnership comes across as an interesting story thread due to the fact that they never show O’Donnell’s horrible and whiny side of said conflict.  Add in the part where they show Alfred is dying and you have a trailer that shows a movie where the threat isn’t just coming from the villains, it’s more of a personal and internal conflict.  In theory, that would make for a great Batman movie!  Speaking of the villains, They hardly feature in this trailer which is also a strong point.  “Batgirl” is still eye roll inducing but she too doesn’t feature much here which is also setting this movie up to be worth a watch.

One thing that stands out to me more than anything and really helps in making you want to see this movie based on the trailer is the music.  I guarantee this will come up again when we get to Batman Forever because they do the same thing there as they did here and use Danny Elfman’s score.  It sounds so damn good in this trailer I almost wonder if they’d continued to use it in the Schumacher films instead of the Elliot Goldenthal score (which is present in this trailer but it’s used very minimally compared to the Elfman score) if it would have improved them?  I know it would take more than a good score to really improve this movie but God it sounds great in this trailer.

This is the most difficult of all the trailers to not think about the final film we saw when ranking it but it’s that end result that makes me stand by putting this trailer above the previous two.  The fact that the film is so bad makes it quite an achievement to cut a trailer that makes it, at best, semi watchable.

5. BATMAN FOREVER (1995)

I was really touch and go whether to place this trailer above Batman & Robin or not.  With the films it’s a no brainer (Batman & Robin is always at the bottom. Always.) but not so with the trailers.  There’s a lot of the things I don’t like about the 89 trailer are repeated here, especially in the first 1-1.5mins.  Quick, jarring cuts that don’t flow at all with little, if any, music.  I almost wonder if they were intentionally trying to replicate the feel of the 89 trailer?  Given how desperate Warner Bros was to re-energise the franchise after Batman Returns, I’m willing to bet that was the case.  I think they could cut a minute out and there would be a much better trailer here.  People think that trailers today show too much footage!  There is almost entire scenes in this one!  That really bugged me too.

The reason I did put it above the 89 and Batman & Robin trailers however is because the parts that I do like in this trailer, I really like.  The suit up montage at the start followed by the money shot of the (at the time) new Batmobile as the Elfman score kicks in is great.  The last portion of the trailer when all the actors names are shown before a shot of them from the film is also something I really enjoy, due to Elfman’s score once again.  They use my favourite part of Elfman’s Batman score here.  It’s the music from the climactic shot of Batman 89 with the church bells.  That is my single favourite piece of music in all the Batman films and although it’s never used Batman Forever, it works so well in the trailer that it really makes me want to watch the film.

4. BATMAN BEGINS (2005)

This is proof that I’m not ranking these trailers based on the film they’re advertising because Batman Begins is my all time favourite Batman movie, yet it comes in 4th on my list.  This is the first “modern” style of trailer to make the list.  Gone are the long and scoreless scenes and movie trailer voice over guy.  In it’s place is what movie trailers have become.  Shot after shot from the film, although in quick succession, is much less jarring than previous trailers we’ve examined so far.  This trailer does really well in getting the point across that this is unlike any Batman film we’ve ever seen up to this point.  Wide and soaring shots show that the scope of this film is a huge departure from the films of the past that were shot exclusively on sound stages and back lots.  It also lets the viewer know that this is an epic origin story, another thing we’d never seen prior to 2005 from Batman films, or superhero films in general given that, at the time, the first two Spider-Man films were what audiences viewed as good comic book films.  Don’t get me wrong, they are good comic book films, especially Spider-Man 2 but neither Spidey films were quite to the scale of Batman Begins.  This trailer also had to convey to audiences the then unheard of but now overused move of “rebooting” a franchise. Now a reboot is common place (Spider-Man again!) but in 2005 it was really uncharted territory.  There was so much to get across in one 2:24min trailer and I think it does a terrific job.

Seeing as this heralded in a brand new Batman franchise, gone is the familiar Danny Elfman music from all the film trailers from the first four post 1966 movies.  Instead we get our first taste of the amazing and (depending on who you speak to) now iconic score from the Dark Knight Trilogy composed by Hans Zimmer.  All of the components of this trailer certainly succeed in making me want to watch Batman Begins.

3. BATMAN RETURNS (1992)

If you need any more proof that I’m ranking the trailers only and not the finished film, go no further.  The fact that Batman Returns is ranked so highly is all the proof you need.  Out of all the live action films, Batman Returns is my least favourite after Batman & Robin.  So much shits me about this film that I doubt I could write a blog big enough to explain just how much.  But I digress.  The trailer for this movie achieves the unthinkable and upon re-watching it, had me reaching for my copy of Batman Returns.  Why?  Because it makes the film look like an actual Batman movie!  Batman features more in this trailer than he does in the film, not to mention it appears that the villains of the movie are two of the best loved baddies from the Batman comics, Penguin and Catwoman.  Not once in this trailer do we see the real villain of that movie, Christopher Walken’s fright wig wearing Max Shreck.  What happens in this trailer is what should of happened in the movie – completely cut the Shreck character and use the actual characters that the audience came to see.  When you have a movie with the likes of Penguin and Catwoman to work with, you don’t need to add in your own character to be evil, you have BOTH Penguin AND Catwoman to do that! But again, I digress.  Sorry guys, this movie just really gets to me.  But back to the trailer…

Once again, Elfman’s score reigns supreme as it plays over all the exciting footage from the film.  I also really love the use of the 90’s trailer voice over guy.  It makes this trailer really fun and it does really get me excited about watching a Batman movie (that sadly doesn’t exist – again, sorry). I also dig the hell out of the logo at the end.  The way they took the snow covered logo of the film and made it come to life is really well done and is a striking visual.

2. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

I really can’t say anything else other than I love this trailer.  It almost took out the #1 spot after re-watching all eight trailers again before writing this piece.  This was just as surprising to me as the Batman Returns trailer ranking so high, because like Batman Returns, quite a lot about the finished film of The Dark Knight Rises really bugs me.  I’ll admit, hand on heart, I was IN LOVE with this film when it was released. It was only after the hype died down and I stepped back from it that I realised how much I didn’t actually like about it.  First and foremost, Batman is hardly in it – a problem I also have with Batman Returns.  Also like Returns, it’s a good movie, it’s just not a great BATMAN movie.  There are many more individual elements of the film that I like however, in comparison to Batman Returns where there is significantly less.  Again, I’m not judging these trailers based on the film, but I feel that I need to talk about my feelings on the completed films to really justify why despite those feelings, the trailers are ranked so highly where the films would not be.

My biggest love of this trailer is without doubt the music.  I love how it starts very sparse, with just a few notes on the piano but as the trailer builds, so does the music and when we get to the 1.50min mark, it just takes over.  That Zimmer music gives me goosebumps at that point.  The footage used in the trailer is reflective of the movie itself in the way that Batman is hardly in it and focuses more on all the character surrounding him.  That’s kind of OK though because we’ve grown to care a lot about the supporting characters in the two previous Christopher Nolan Batman movies.  So even though it’s not all Batman, I’m still wanting to watch the film based on what this trailer is showing me.  When Batman does show up though, that’s when it gets exciting!  You see him hurling punches at Bane.  He’s fighting along side Catwoman.  Things are exploding.  All things that I as a Batman fan love to see!  I must give special mention to the line from Catwoman, “You don’t owe these people anymore.  You’ve given them everything.”, followed by Batman’s, “Not everything.  Not yet.”.  Those two lines of dialogue make me want to watch that movie right now.  I remember the first time I saw this trailer and upon hearing those lines, almost welling up with tears while at the same time, jumping up and down with anticipation.  I was so desperate to find out what Batman was willing to do to save his beloved city.  I know what it implied but that made me want to see the film even more.  Taking that into account, his trailer succeeds in it’s mission and firmly earns its place at #2 on my list.

1. THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

Let me take you back to mid December 2007.  I came home from work and turned on my computer.  Now this was pre Facebook and pre broadband for me.  I was still in the dark ages of dial up.  I loaded up my favourite Batman news site to see that The Dark Knight trailer has dropped.  I clicked the Youtube link and waited.  20mins or more I waited (f’ing dial up!).  In the time I was waiting, I called my best mate.  You think having dial up was bad, he didn’t even have the internet at his place!  I told him the trailer had arrived and he said he’d be right over.  He arrived several minutes later, just as the trailer finished loading.  We sat down in my room and I hit play.  We sat silently and watched.  2.07mins later, he turned to me, mouth opened.  All he could say was, “Play that again.”.  I did.  After the second viewing, all I could say was, “Holy shit”.  We were totally blown away by what we’d seen and from that moment on, July 18th 2008 could not get here fast enough.  I’ve never seen a trailer that instantly made me long for a movie more.

Seven years after the films release, people know how great the movie was.  Everyone knows how amazing Heath Ledger was.  Even people who haven’t seen The Dark Knight, know what a big deal that movie is.  Back in mid December 2007, we didn’t know these things yet.  This trailer however, gave us our first real hint that this movie was going to be something special.  And that’s why this trailer is without doubt #1 on my list.  I’ve never seen anticipation for a Batman movie be so instantaneous as it was after this trailer was released.  It was playing on TV shows, they were talking about it on the radio, it was all over the internet.  People seem to have forgotten all these facts and that’s why I’ve always called bullshit on people who say that The Dark Knight only became the $1 billion dollar box office hit it was because people were going to see it due to the very sad passing of Heath Ledger in the January of 2008.  Bull. Shit.  Now I’m not stupid, sure some people who may not usually see a Batman movie went to see it because it was one of Heath’s last films.  Hell, I even know one of them.  But do you think they would have gone several times or spread the word of mouth that he was brilliant in an outstanding film if the film was crap? No!  That film was a success due to three main factors.

1. Batman Begins, although not a massive box office hit, exploded in popularity when it hit home video.  So many people saw and loved the film that they couldn’t wait to see the sequel and get the pay off to the reveal of the Joker card at the movie’s climax.

2. Regardless of the actor playing Joker, this was a film that featured the most popular villain in all comics going up against arguably the most popular comic hero of all time.  There’s a reason that the two most popular Batman movies of all time feature The Joker.  People love seeing those two go head to head.

3. This trailer.  It was the release of this trailer that really started the hype for the films release.  Sure the fans couldn’t wait, but in terms of the mainstream, it was this trailer that made them pay attention.  EVERYONE wanted to see this movie after they saw this trailer.  So when people equate Ledger’s passing to the films success, they are just flat out wrong.  The hype was already there and this trailer is to thank for it.

I could go on for days giving you all the reasons why I think this trailer is perfect and why I love it so much.  I won’t do that.  Instead I’ll just point out a few of my favourite things.

The build up to the reveal of The Joker is awesome.  Prior to this trailer, we hadn’t really seen what he would look like in this movie.  There had been one, maybe two promo shots released up to this point but they didn’t really give a lot away.  The revealing shot after the “Evening Commissioner” line is amazing.

Speaking of Joker’s lines, I really like the way the trailer cuts to black several times and we’re just left hearing The Joker deliver dialogue before we cut back to action shots from the film.

As in all the trailers from The Dark Knight Trilogy, Hans Zimmer’s score sounds terrific.  Not quite as good as in the Rises trailer, but it still works really well.

As I’ve previously stated, no trailer has ever made me want to see a movie more than this one.  What other reason do I really need to crown it the best of them all?

If you’ve made it this far dear readers, let me reward you with one final video, the trailer of the moment, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

-Boy Wonder Brendan

 

 

 

 

Boy Wonder’s Best Of Bond: Part 2 The Gun Barrels

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It’s been sometime since I’ve posted a blog and even longer since I’ve written one on Bond.  Much has happened since my first Bond themed blog, most noticeably the reveal of the title for Bond 24, “SPECTRE”.  I’ll very briefly give my opinion on the title before diving into the theme of today’s blog.  I love it.  Simple as that.  As a Bond fan, I know what the title implies and I think it’s something that both hardcore and general Bond fans have been wanting for some time now – a return to that classic style of Bond film that sees James up against his most famous criminal organisation, led by his arch nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.  Now how they will update Blofeld and his organisation for the modern audience remains to be seen and I can’t wait to experience it this coming November, however let me be very clear:

This film could be the greatest James Bond film of all.  It could make the likes of Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, Goldeneye and Casino Royale look like…..well…Die Another Day BUT – I will still leave the cinema very disappointed if I don’t see one simple thing.  The return of a classic James Bond gun barrel sequence (and I can’t stress this enough) AT THE START OF THE FILM!

Please hear my cries Mr Wilson and Ms Broccoli and EON Productions.  I’m not the only person who is desperate to see this happen.  It is the one element that has been missing from all three of Daniel Craig’s Bond films since the rebooted series began in 2006.  I will admit, the gun barrel sequence in Casino Royal works very well.  In fact, I love that one.  But the two that have followed in Quantum Of Solace and Skyfall have not been good.  Actually, Quantum’s was bloody horrible.  I do understand why, for narrative reasons, the gun barrel was at the end of Quantum but there was no reason to make us wait until the end credits again to see it show up in Skyfall.

My main reason for wanting to see the barrel return to the start of the film is very simple and anyone who has ever seen a Bond film in the cinema pre 2006 will agree.  Nothing beats the feeling of sitting in a darkened cinema, about to watch a new Bond film for the first time.  After seeing the logos from the companies responsible for the film, the screen goes black.  It’s only for a second.  Maybe two at the most.  But in that two seconds, the anticipation is palpable.  You wait for what seems like minutes…..then it happens!  That series of white dots travels from left to right across the screen.  They stop and form that unmistakable symbol that is pure Bond, the gun barrel itself.  And as it moves slowly from the right of the screen, striding along with it dead centre, is the man we’ve all come to see, James Bond 007.  The barrel stops in the middle of the screen and with one swift movement, Bond turns and fires his Walther PPK with his right hand and freezes.  Red blood then runs down the barrel and it begins to sway from side to side before moving to any number of points on the screen and opening up to reveal the first shot of the movie and with that, we’re off!  Nothing and I mean NOTHING can beat that feeling.  It’s the happiest I’ve ever been in a movie theatre.  Sadly, even though I love both the films, Quantum Of Solace and Skyfall have both left me wanting.  I cannot go through that again as I watch the opening moments of SPECTRE.

It may seem like a little throw away moment to many people but to me and many Bond fans like me, it means a hell of a lot, for all the reasons I just mentioned.  With that in mind, allow me to countdown my top 5 James Bond gun barrel sequences out of the previous 23 films.  Let us begin….

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5. Dr No

This gun barrel is unlike any of the ones that followed but it was the one that started it all.  For that reason alone, it makes my countdown.  Created when Maurice Binder (who created the opening title sequences for 14 Bond films) had the idea of opening the first Bond film with a POV shot, looking down a gun barrel at James Bond walking along, supposedly by a rival assassin.  Bond knows he’s being watched and he turns and shoots his would be killer – hence why we see blood run down the gun barrel at the end.  He achieved that signature look of the barrel by sticking a pinhole camera down and actual barrel of a .38 calibre gun.

The soundtrack that accompanies this sequence is very stark compared to what followed in the series, however after the gun shot, we hear the classic John Barry James Bond Theme for the very first time, another reason why it makes my countdown.  Although Sean Connery plays James Bond in the film, it’s actually stunt man Bob Simmons who plays Bond in this gun barrel.  It’s not until the fourth film in the series, Thunderball, that we see Connery himself as Bond in the sequence.  Simmons does it for the first three.

 

4. Tomorrow Never Dies

Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as 007 leaves many fans divided.  One thing that I think is a very strong part of his portrayal is his gun barrel sequences.  I 100% believe that Brosnan is the best of all the Bond actors when it comes to the gun barrel.  His stride is confident and oozes cool.  His turn is so sharp and he without doubt, has the best stance of all the Bonds once they hit that frozen position.  It’s so subtle but I love the way his left shoulder is slightly dropped and he looks so confident.  Argue as much as you want about his performance in the films themselves, but his gun barrels just can’t be topped (including Die Another Day, right up to the point that that stupid 3D bullet flys down the gun barrel, which makes no sense! But I digress.).

I love the Tomorrow Never Dies gun barrel because it is the perfect mix of old and new.  You get a classic James Bond Theme over the top of the redesigned and updated barrel that accompanied the Brosnan films.  For that reason, it comes in at number four on my countdown.

 

3. For Your Eyes Only

It’s no secret I have a real soft spot for Roger Moore and his Bond films.  Roger starred in seven, yes SEVEN Bond films but he only shot two gun barrel sequences.  The first was used in his first two films and the second in the remaining five.  The second also features the signature flared pants that only Roger Moore could pull off in the role of 007.  Although the performance is obviously the same, my favourite of Moore’s gun barrels is from For Your Eyes Only.  I really like the look of the barrel itself.  It’s lighter in colour than the ones that proceeded it and after having seen Roger do the sequence four times already, the slight change up is appreciated.

The thing that really cements this as my favourite of the Moore barrels is the music.  Roger’s previous barrels still have that classic Bond Theme playing over them and although I love that music, the music used here really embraces the feel of the Moore era.  It’s upbeat and funky and embraces that disco beat of it’s time that is also a signature of the later Moore films.  It just makes you feel excited about sitting down to watch a Roger Moore Bond movie.

 

2. Casino Royale

Although not a traditional gun barrel sequence, how can you not love it?  I’ll never forget the first time I saw Casino Royale.  I had no idea what to expect from the first reboot of the Bond series or from Daniel Craig in the lead role.  As the film opened with that black and white scene, I remember being totally confused/annoyed that the gun barrel was not the first thing I saw.  I continued to watch, thinking to myself, “Ummmm hello. Gun barrel? Anyone?”.  Of course I didn’t know what was to come or the fact that what they were doing made total sense in terms of the films plot.  Then it happened.  A gun barrel unlike anything we’d seen or have since.  They actually worked the gun barrel INTO the movie!  It was brilliant.

The look of the barrel itself is very unique compared to all the others.  Due to being worked into the film, there are no white dots leading up to the barrel.  You just see Craig bend over to pick up his gun from the floor, then turn and shoot.  The barrel is very 3D in its look, as is the blood running down, which in my opinion, is the best blood effect of all the gun barrels.  Also, instead of the barrel swaying at the end, it just spirals out of shot, covered by the blood and straight into the opening title sequence as the great Chris Cornell theme plays over the top. To this day, whenever I watch Casino Royale, my heart beats a little faster in the seconds before this gun barrel sequence.

 

1. Goldeneye

I won’t go over why I think Brosnan delivers the best gun barrel performances again.  Nor do I really need to again explain the feeling I get when seeing a new Bond film in the cinema for the first time as the gun barrel sequence begins.  I covered that in my intro.  The reason why the Goldeneye gun barrel takes out my number one position is the combination of those two reasons and the fact that this was the first ever gun barrel I experienced on the big screen.  Goldeneye was the first Bond film I saw in the theatre and to this day, almost 20 years later, I still get goosebumps every time I pop Goldeneye in to my DVD player.  No matter what future Bond films deliver in the way of the gun barrel sequence, this will always be my favourite.  I also really enjoy the music over the sequence.  I don’t necessarily love the entire Goldeneye score but I do love hearing that weird percussion version of the Bond theme as Brosnan turns and fires.

 

So there it is folks.  My Top 5 gun barrel sequences from the Bond films thus far.  If this hasn’t shown the importance of returning the gun barrel to its rightful place, at the beginning of a Bond film, I don’t know what will.

If you want to leave a comment letting me know your thoughts or your favourite gun barrels, please do so.  If you need a refresher on all 23 gun barrel sequences, check out this video that features all of them.  If you don’t want to leave a comment, watch this video anyway because if I’m being honest, all 23 are great!

 

Until next time.

-Boy Wonder Brendan

Actually I lied. THIS is my favourite gun barrel!
Actually I lied. THIS is my favourite gun barrel!

 

 

BATMAN 75 BLOG 2: Zac Mihajlovic Interview

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Not only is 2014 the 75th Anniversary of the creation of Batman, it’s also the 25th Anniversary of arguably one of the most influential comic book movies of all time – Tim Burton’s BATMAN. What better way to celebrate this double anniversary than catching up with the owner of the worlds only street legal Batmobile and friend of Geek Speak, Zac Mihajlovic.  I met Zac in March this year when I was fortunate enough to go for a joyride in his “Burton” Batmobile.  Since then, he’s become somewhat well known globally due to his special car and all the great charity work he does.  I was lucky enough to sit down with Zac and interrupt his busy schedule to interview him for the Boy Wonder Blog.  He even gave me a scoop!

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Zac and his custom built, street legal Batmobile

Boy Wonder: Now, before we talk about your car, let’s go back to the beginning. What is your earliest memory of Batman and were you a fan from that moment?

Zac: My earliest memory of Batman actually comes from the 1989 film. It’s the scene where Jack Nicholson as the joker electrocutes one of the mob bosses. I remember it scared the life out of me because I was only 5 or 6 at the time! Also, the scene where Batman crashes through the glass to save Kim Basinger’s Vicki Vale then escapes in the Batmobile. I was a fan from that moment on.

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Shots of the film that both terrified and excited Zac

Aside from your obvious love of Batman 89, what are some of your other favourite Batman movies and cartoons?

I love the Beware The Batman comic series. I also really like the Batman Brave And The Bold animated series because of the comedy element in the voice acting of Diedrich Bader. For some reason I can only picture him as Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies Movie and it makes me laugh. As for movies, The Dark Knight Trilogy from Christopher Nolan would have to be my favourite trilogy in cinema and The Dark Knight would be my favourite film of all time.

Favourite actor to wear the cowl?

I think the best Bruce Wayne is Christian Bale and best Batman is Michael Keaton. Is that fence sitting?  

I’ll allow it.

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Left: Christan Bale as Bruce Wayne. Right: Michael Keaton as Batman

What is your favourite Batmobile after the 89 version?

The Tumbler. If the Batman Forever Batmobile from 1995 didn’t have neon blue lights it would be a close call for what would be my favourite.

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Left: The Tumbler from The Dark Knight Trilogy. Right: The Batmoble from 1995’s Batman Forever.

When was the moment you decided you wanted to build your own Batmobile and more so, when did you realise it was actually going to happen?

When I met a guy called Scotty Cox and saw some of the things he could build. He could do anything and I thought to myself, if I could have anything it would be the Batmobile. When I realised it could happen was after I built my motorcycle and believed if I could put my mind to something we could get done and if you really want something bad enough you can sacrifice just about anything to make it a reality.

How long did it take to build?

About 12 months to get it to look like a Batmobile. Then it took around another two years to go through the engineering process, make any changes we needed to and then get it street registered.

Since completing the car, I imagine you’ve had some offers to sell it. Have you had any crazy non cash offers?

I had a few people offer me random things as a joke. The funny stuff is when they offer to swap their car and it’s not even worth the registration I need to pay for the Batmobile. I do get the odd sexual request but they haven’t aimed high enough to actually swap what they’re offering for the Batmobile. It’s more like, “will you take me for a ride in the Batmobile if I give you a good time?”.

Has there ever been an offer that you’ve considered if only for a second?

There has been a couple of offers. But there would be no guarantee that I could ever find parts again or get it registered. I’m sure those offers will be there in the future if I really wanted to pursue it.

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Zac at an event for Black Milk Clothing.

You do some great charity work Zac. Are there specific charities that you raise money for?

Yes. Make-A-Wish has made me and ambassador and I also do work for the Starlight Foundation. I have also done some fundraising for local charities and sporting teams. I think in the future I will just stick with the Make-A-Wish and Starlight as I get a lot of requests and I have done a few that I believe haven’t been completely genuine with their stories. So at least if it comes through the charities that I’m involved with I know it is for real.

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For more information please visit http://www.makeawish.org.au and http://www.starlight.org.au

Being in that role would have allowed you to meet some very special and brave individuals. I imagine that as much fun as it is to dress up as Batman and make their dreams come true, it must also be very tough to see suffering as much as you do. Is it hard to do sometimes?

Yes I have met some amazing people and kids. There has been a couple of very sad moments but I feel very privileged and honoured to meet some of them and be able to give them a glimmer of happiness, which in some way, makes it easier to deal with.

I believe you have Warner Bros. blessing to use the car for your charity work?

I have had some great conversations with the Warner Brothers team here in Australia and abroad. The beauty and sometimes downside with the Internet is people can see exactly what is going on. Luckily enough for me it has been good press and my intentions have been well received by the Warner Brothers team.

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The Batmobile on the convention floor at Supanova

2014 has seen you receive quite a bit of publicity around the world. What has been the most surreal moment you’ve had in this regard? For me, after following you online all year, it was hearing Kevin Smith & Ralph Garmin talking about you on their Hollywood Babble-On podcast.

It’s quite hard to explain. When I met you in March, it was starting to take off and you have seen the rise of the Batmobile’s popularity and in turn mine in a weird way. I think the most surreal moment would be the first time I was asked for an autograph at the petrol station. Now people ask for me to be in the photograph with them when taking pictures of the Batmobile which I find a little strange but flattering.

Zac appearing on Weekend Sunrise this past June.
Zac appearing on Weekend Sunrise this past June.

As we look to the future of Batman, I’d like to get your opinion on the new Batmobile that will feature in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. What do you think based on the few photos we’ve seen?

The new Batmobile from Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice
The new Batmobile from Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

I do like it. It’s almost a hybrid of the 89 Batmobile and the Tumbler.

Any chance we’ll ever see you cruising around in that version some day?

Sadly it will be just too wide and massive to be able to register. If I were to build another car, I think the Tumbler would be next…or Barbie’s pink corvette.

  —————–

Zac went on to tell me that he has a plan to get a role in a future solo Batman film. When I asked what the plan was, he couldn’t tell me exactly but with the support of the fans and his continuing relationship with Warner Bros. that it could be a real possibility.  So who knows?  In the future we may see Australia’s Batman on the silver screen with Ben Affleck.  Watch this space…

Left: Australia's Batman Zac. Right: Hollywood's Batman Ben Affleck
Left: Australia’s Batman Zac. Right: Hollywood’s Batman Ben Affleck

*For the record, when Zac told me of his plans about getting the role in the film, I did offer him one of those “favors” similar to those that he’s been offered for a ride in the Batmobile if I can accompany him on his possible trip overseas to be in the film. I don’t think I’ll be joining him.

-Boy Wonder Brendan

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Zac and I about to hit the road in his Batmobile
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A reaction shot straight after my joyride in Zac’s Batmobile. That’s the look of a 25 year old dream that’s just come true.
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Me and Zac’s Batmobile

BATMAN 75 BLOG 1: My Batman Story

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As 2014 winds down, I wanted to do some special blogs to mark that this year is the 75th Anniversary of the creation of Batman. It’s no surprise to anyone who has ever met me, seen me, followed Geek Speak or read this blog in the past, that Batman is my favourite fictional character of all time.  Now there were plans to do some special Sidekick podcasts in the last quarter of the year to mark this occasion but since that show is no more, I’ve decided to do some special blogs instead. This is the first of a few I have planned.  This is pretty much my story of Batman.  How I came to know the character, the highlights of my 25 years of fandom and what he has meant to me over my life.

I can still clearly remember when I was first introduced to Batman.  It was 1989 and I was at my Grand Parents house after finishing my day at preschool.  I would always watch the children’s programming on the ABC whilst waiting for Dad to come and pick me up after he and Mum had finished work.  For whatever reason, one day the children’s shows finished early.  I still had some time before being picked up and my Grandmother grabbed the TV guide to see what she could put on for me.  She turned to me and said “Batman is on if you want to watch that.” “What’s Batman?” I replied.  Nan told me it was a show that my Mum used to watch when she was younger and I may enjoy it, so she put it on.  Little did she know but in that moment, my life would change forever.  I sat there and watched my first ever episode of the 60’s Batman TV show.  I can STILL remember that it was the episode starring Vincent Price as Egghead.  I was hooked. Now obviously if I were to watch that today I would clearly see how campy and “bad” that it is. But as a 5 year old, Batman taking down Egghead was equal to watching Batman taking down the Joker in The Dark Knight.  From that day on, Batman became must watch viewing every afternoon.

Luckily for me it was kind of a perfect storm because this occurred in June 1989.  Any Batman fan knows what that means.  The very reason that Batman was being shown every afternoon was because that Tim Burton’s BATMAN was hitting theatres which also meant that Bat merchandise was EVERYWHERE.  Before long I had my very own di-cast Batmobile from the 89 movie, I was collecting Batman stickers that came free with packs of poppers (juice boxes) and playing Batman and Robin was a daily occurrence at preschool with my best friend Raymond. (That di-cast Batmobile is still on my shelf and I am still friends with Raymond)  I got introduced to the feature version of the 60’s Batman show not long after this and how I never wore the video out was beyond me.  After getting ill and spending some time in hospital, my Grandmother bought me a Batman mask and cape set as a present when I got better.  Now all bets were off.  I could play Batman and actually BE Batman.

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Top: My First ever Batman costume. Below: my first EVER Batman toy, the 89 Batmobile diecast model.

 

That Christmas I received the Batman and Joker action figures from the movie as well as the full size Batmobile for said action figures and a proper Batman costume.  I was in heaven.  Funnily enough, even though my Mother probably paid Michael Keaton’s wage with the amount of merchandise I got from that movie, I never actually saw it at the cinema.  I was only 5 after all and I think Mum knew that this wasn’t the Adam West Batman that I was used to so I didn’t see it until the following year when it was released on video.

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Me on Christmas morning 1989 in my new Batman costume

 

I was a constant Batfan and always played with my Bat toys.  I also received the Batwing from the 89 film for my 6th birthday in 1990.  But let’s skip to around May 1992.  Seeing as there was no internet and I was only 8, I saw photos in a magazine of Batman.  Not only Batman but Catwoman and Penguin.  Batman was returning to the big screen and I was very excited.  I can remember in the lead up to the film being released collecting the Batman Returns Neck Pens that McDonalds were selling and also buying pack after pack of the collector cards released for the movie.  Mum had planned to take me to see the movie in the school holidays but much to my disappointment, someone had seen the movie and told my mother that it was by no means a kids movie and was so much darker than its predecessor.  So yet again, I was showered with Batman Returns merchandise but failed to see my hero on the big screen.  I did see the film late 1993 (as far as my mother knows but I never told her that my Grandmother rented it for me when it came out on video about 6 months earlier) and I liked it but I know I didn’t quite get it.  I obviously got it as I grew older but the reports about the film were correct – certainly not for kids.

In January 1993, my Mum took me to Warner Bros Movieworld.  It was Australia’s newest theme park and it was also where Batman lived.  We arrived on the bus, and went straight to the newly opened Batman Ride.  As much of a fan that I was the character I was NOT a fan of this ride.  It was so rough and threw me around so much that I never went on it again.  Laughable now given that I grew to love the 2nd version of the Batman Ride that opened there in the late 90’s.  But my faith in Batman was restored moments after my ill-fated ride experience because we lined up on Main Street to watch the Movieworld parade.  The parade started with the Danny Elfman Batman theme playing over the PA and at the top end of the street, a flurry of whip cracks.  Catwoman herself was there.  The next second there was a loud bang and a puff of smoke from the top of the building at the head of Main Street and Batman appeared.  He then abseiled down the building and disappeared from sight.  He re-appeared moments later……sitting on the Batmobile.  My jaw dropped.  Batman drove past me in the Batmobile and waved at me.  I wasn’t quite 9 years of age but I can still remember how I felt at that moment on that day in January 1993.  Up to that point, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.  To this day, if I go to Movieworld, every time I see Batman drive past me on the Batmobile, there’s a little part of me that still feels like that child did all those years ago when I first experienced it.

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Left: Me at Movieworld in 1995. Right: Me at Movieworld 2014

 

It was early 1993 that I really got introduced to Batman’s original medium, the comics.  Whilst shopping with Mum one day I came across issue #1 of The Batman Adventures.  This was the comic that was based on Batman The Animated Series (TAS) but again, no internet and the fact we were in Australia, I didn’t know there was a new cartoon series of the caped crusader.  All I knew is that these Batman comics were aimed at my age group and I loved them.  My mother found a local comic shop and spent a lot of time and money at that store making sure I was up to date when every new issue that came out and I thank her for that.  It wasn’t until several months later that the series that the comics were based on hit TV screens over here.  Batman TAS was just breathtaking.  I loved that show.  Still do.  I don’t know a Batman fan that doesn’t.  Paul Dini is, still to this day, my favourite Batman writer.  And just like the movies before it, Batman TAS flooded the shops with mountains of Bat merchandise and once again, thanks to my Mum, I didn’t go without.

Let’s jump ahead 2 years to 1995.  Once again, after seeing pictures in a magazine, I learnt that Batman was heading back to theatres and this time it was Val Kilmer wearing the cape and cowl.  This movie took my Batfandom into the stratosphere.  Not only did the cast change but so did the tone of the films and this time, there was no way in hell I was missing out.  The build up began about a month before the movie hit when McDonald’s released their Batman Forever happy meal that contained 3D hologram badges.  A week later, they also released Batman Forever frosted glasses, one for every character.  Those glasses were very hard to get as they sold very, very well and thanks to my Mum and Grandmother, I got them all.  A complete set of those glasses a quite the collectors item today.  So in June 1995, I FINALLY got to experience Batman on the big screen.  I loved it.  I know Batman Forever cops a lot of shit but I love it and will defend it to this day.  Not only because it was my first cinematic Batman experience but also because despite popular belief, Batman Forever is NOT the same or anywhere near as bad as Batman & Robin.  People also tend to forget just how popular and well received that film was.  It was a huge success!  I still have very fond memories of the film because unlike Batman Returns, that film was made for me.  I was 11 when it came out so I was completely the demographic they were aiming for.  My love for the film reignited in 2011 when I got to meet Val Kilmer.  He was great to talk to, agreed with me and my hatred that the film gets mashed in with Batman & Robin over the years and he signed my Batman Forever “Ultimate Batman” statue that I received for Christmas 95.  Kilmer is still the only Batman that I’ve ever met.  I really hope to add to that one day.

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The items I got signed by Val Kilmer when I met him in 2011

 

To  be honest, nearly all my childhood Christmases were filled with memories of receiving great Batman gifts.  99% of every toy I owned as a child was probably Batman.  All my memories of playing games as a child are either with all my Batman toys and action figures or dressing up in my various Batman costumes.  It’s no exaggeration to say that Batman was my childhood.

My fandom continued over the years that followed and just like most people, I was looking forward to the eventual release of Batman & Robin in 1997.  I was there on opening day and I remember liking it because it was Batman and therefore I HAD to like it.  Obviously I knew deep down that it was terrible and admitted as much not long after the film hit VHS.  The few years that followed, Batman kind of took a back seat as I was now a teenager and far more interested in girls, music and sports.  It just so happened that it was this period of my life that they weren’t making Batman films but if they had been, I would have been just as pumped as I was years earlier.

Jump to 2004.  I was at the movies with an old girlfriend to watch Dodgeball.  A trailer began to play.  It was a teaser trailer.  The voice over started talking about travelling the world after his parents were murdered and I was sitting there thinking “Holy shit that sounds just like Batman”.  Next thing there was a flash on the screen and a brief shot of Christian Bale as Batman then cut to black.  The new look Bat Symbol emerged on the screen followed by the words Summer 2005.  I couldn’t believe that a new Batman film was being released and even more, I couldn’t believe that I didn’t know about it!!  As soon as Dodgeball had ended I raced home and tried to find as much info as I could about this Batman Begins movie.  It was that night that I happened upon a website called Batman-On-Film.  I have visited that site virtually every day since.

In 2005 and the lead up to the films release I rediscovered Batman.  I hated the fact that Batman had taken such a back seat that I didn’t even know a new film was being released.  I hit up the local comic book store frequently and started to buy comics and graphic novels like they were going out of fashion.  (This lead to striking up a friendship with store owner and Geek Speak Co-creator Todd) I was introduced to Batman: Year One, Hush, The Long Halloween, Knightfall and many other Batman classics that I had heard of but never read.  Today my comic collection is thriving.

Batman Begins hit theatres and so did I.  4 times in 3 days in fact.  That movie connected with me on a level that I never thought possible.  It was the greatest Batman movie I’d ever seen and all of a sudden I felt like I hadn’t felt since 10yrs prior in 1995 – I loved being a Batman fan and deep down I knew that he would never take a back seat again.  And he hasn’t.

3 years later when The Dark Knight hit theatres my fandom was at an all time high.  1995 had nothing on 2008.  What I saw in that cinema wasn’t just a Batman movie.  It was a bloody masterpiece and for the first time that I could ever remember, everybody agreed with me.  Not just my friends or Batman fans but the public, critics and well, everyone!  Enough has been said about the brilliant performance by the actors in that film, especially the late Heath Ledger so I won’t go on about it here.  When I think back to the year 2008 I think of 2 things immediately.  1, it was the first year that I was dating my now wife and 2, The Dark Knight.

Speaking of my wife, the day I met her she was wearing a Batgirl t-shirt.  Now she is not a fan to the obsessive degree that I am but she is a fan of Batman and the DC Universe as a whole and it was one of the first things we bonded over. Meant to be??

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I made the local paper with Jess in 2008 when The Dark Knight hit theatres.

 

So jump to the announcement of The Dark Knight Rises and that it’s to be Nolan’s last film and the final part of a trilogy.  At first I was bummed because I want more and more Nolan Batfims but at the same time, I was excited.  This had never been done before in comic book films.  And for Batman moives, it was the first time that the same lead actor and director would be taking the reigns in a 3rd film.  I followed the making of this film just as I did the 2 before it but even more so as this would be the last build up to a Batman movie for God knows how long. (As it turns out, not very)

I went to the cinema and watched The Dark Knight Trilogy on the big screen in its entirety, ending at midnight with the screening of the final instalment, The Dark Knight Rises.  When it was over, I was very happy but at the same time, very sad.  I had experienced a Nolan Batfilm for the last time.  My younger brother said something had hadn’t occurred to me. He said that he felt like a part of his childhood died.  Seeing as there’s a 10yr age gap, these movies are to him what the 90’s films are to me, the films that shaped his childhood whereas for me, they not only shaped my 20’s but also they are the film that returned Batman to my life and reminded me what it is like to be young at heart. It also lead me back to comic shops. That in turn has allowed me to meet friends I wouldn’t have otherwise and I’m talking life long friendships. I met my wife through a friend I met through the comic shop. That also lead me to Geek Speak. Something that I’ve loved and been very proud to be a part of over the last few years. None of that happens if I hadn’t watched that episode of Batman 66 when I was 5 years old.

It’s now 2014. 25 years since I became a Batman fan and the 75th Anniversary of the characters creation. There has been many events and milestones all year and the world over to mark this occasion. Batman is currently in the process of returning to the big screen in maybe the biggest way with filming on Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice filming through the year. We also got our first look at our new Batman, Ben Affleck, in costume. (For the record, I think he looks amazing and should crush in this role).  For me, I’ve also had some awesome Bat things happen throughout the year. Two spring to mind straight away.  The first was on my trip to America and Canada in January.  Whilst in the USA, Jess and I visited and toured the Warner Bros. back lot.  There, I got to see all the screen used Batmobiles as well as virtually all the costumes from Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.  I was beside myself at being able to see these things for real, especially after our tour guide told me there were no Batman things on the tour because he wanted to surprise me.

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Me and the 89/92 screen used Batmobile

 

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Me and the screen used Batman Forever Batmobile

 

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Me and the only Batman & Robin Batmobile ever made. I never liked this version but it’s actually really impressive when you see it for real

 

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Me and the screen used Tumbler

 

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Me and the screen used Batpod

 

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Me with Christian Bale’s Batman costume from The Dark Knight Rises

 

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Me with Heath Ledger’s Joker costume

 

The second was living out a dream that I’ve had since the first time I saw the 60’s TV show 25 years ago. I got to go for a joyride in the Batmobile. Zac Mihajlovic owns the worlds only street legal 1989 Batmobile and was in my city for a pop culture convention.  When the opportunity came up to go for a joyride in the car, I jumped at the chance.  It truly was a dream come true.  I also want to give a special shout out to Zac who was above accommodating on the day but who is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.  The man has not only built the car that every man dreams of owning, he has also turned down millions of dollars from people wanting to buy his Batmobile solely for the purpose of charity.  Zac spends his days making the dreams of sick and dying children come true by allowing them to have access to the car.  He is also constantly raising money for charity at events he attends with his car.  The guy is virtually Bruce Wayne.  As I told him earlier this year, he truly is doing the Lord’s work.

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Me with Zac’s street legal Batmobile.

 

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Zac & I about to hit the road

 

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Jess & I behind the wheel

 

If I had to sum up why I love the character so much, I don’t think I could really give a definitive answer. There are so many reasons.  I guess all I could say is that whenever I sit down to read a Batman comic, watch a Batman movie or cartoon or do anything associated with Batman and his world, it doesn’t matter that I’m 30 years old.  I feel like a kid again.  In the world we currently live in, given all the bad stuff that is constantly happening, who doesn’t want to escape into something that takes them back to a time where that stuff just didn’t matter.  A time of fun and innocence.  That’s what Batman does for me.

-Boy Wonder Brendan

Boy Wonder’s Best Of Bond: Part 1 The Movies

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Before I was the Boy Wonder Brendan and Geek Speak Sidekick Brendan, I was Geek Speak’s Batman & Bond Correspondent. With that in mind and the fact that we are very close to Bond 24 going into production, I want to start an ongoing series where I look at the many facets of the Bond franchise and list some of the best (and worst) things from it’s 52 year history and 23 (soon to be 24) films. Oh, and let me just say before I go any further, these lists are made up of the actors and films of the OFFICIAL EON PRODUCED Bond series. So if you’re gonna be one of those dickheads who’ll leave comments like, “Barry Nelson was the first James Bond” or “What about Never Say Never Again?”, you can take a leap off a snow capped mountain minus a Union Jack parachute as far as I’m concerned.

As a die hard Bond fan the two questions I get asked more than any are, “Who is your favourite Bond?” and “What is your favourite Bond Movie?”. The truth be told, they’re impossible questions to answer. I’m telling the God’s honest truth when I say I don’t have a favourite in either category. I really like each actor who has played the character and I like all 23 films. Sure there are some I don’t like as much as others and there are some I don’t revisit that often but I’m sure that’s a list for another day. So, I may not be able to answer those two questions, what I can do is tell you my favourite films of each of the 6 Bonds and that is what I plan to do right now.

SEAN CONNERY

Connery

FAVOURITE: DR NO

This is the one that started it all. It gives us all the things that we still look for and get excited about 52 years on. The gun barrel, the theme song, the girl, the action, the sex and probably the best ever version of the classic “Bond. James Bond” line. The only element missing is an appearance from Desmond Llewelyn’s Q.  Out of all of the Connery films, this is the one I revisit the most. As you’ll see as the list continues, the film that is my favourite and the one that I revisit the most aren’t always the same but in this case, they are. Whenever I read on of the Flemming novels, the Bond I picture is Connery but specifically, Dr No Connery. This is when, in my opinion, he is at his absolute best in the role and for that reason it remains my favourite of his films.

RUNNER UP: YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

I know that From Russia With Love and Goldfinger are considered Connery’s best and you may be surprised that one of those isn’t in this spot. Although I do enjoy both of those, especially From Russia With Love, after Dr No this is the Connery film that I revisit the most. Although Connery is clearly over playing the role at this point and he declared this his last Bond film, I love the plot of this film, its locations and its climax scene in the greatest villain lair of all time. How can you not love Donald Pleasence’s Blofeld being revealed in a hollowed out volcano? C’mon!

GEORGE LAZENBY

Lazenby

FAVOURITE: ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE

Well what else could it be? Poor old George is always a tough one to rate given that he only ever did the one film. But what a film. The sad thing is the “OHMSS” always gets overlooked and often put on the bottom of lists when ranking the Bond films and I think it’s because Lazenby never returned to the roll and the reasons why. Not to mention this is a Bond film that was the first to have it’s own individual feel. On the plus side, as the years go on, history is being more and more favourable to this film and it has achieved cult status not only among Bond fans but cinema fans in general. If you’ve never seen this movie or have tried to watch it and didn’t enjoy it, I emplore you to give it another shot because the final 5 minutes of this film makes it all worth while. It has the most heart breaking ending to any movie I’ve ever seen and leaves you feeling like you’ve been kicked in the guts but in a good way (as crazy as that sounds).  It’s for that reason that even if George had returned for at least one more film, “OHMSS” would still rank as my favourite.

ROGER MOORE

Moore

FAVOURITE: LIVE AND LET DIE

I must say this before I go on. I love Roger Moore period but I REALLY love Roger Moore as Bond. I can take his films for what they are and although I prefer Bond to be a bit of a bad ass, I enjoy the more lighthearted and fun aspects that came into the franchise when Moore took over the role. The reasons why Live And Let Die is my favourite of the Moore films are many. It features one of the best theme songs. It features my favourite of all the Felix Leither’s, David Hedison. Jane Seymour’s Solitaire is by far one of my favourite Bond Girls. Kananga is one of the best Bond villains. The film also features some of my favourite set pieces, including James running on the backs of alligators to escape certain death. It’s pure Moore and it’s pure fun. I just love it so much.

RUNNER UP: OCTOPUSSY

Moore’s second last outing as 007 is my runner up. I know that once again I’m going against what I’m supposed to have as my runner up with The Spy Who Loved Me always being the most popular Moore film (Even Roger himself rates it as his best Bond film) but for me, Octopussy just narrowly beats it for my runner up. After Live And Let Die this is the film I revisit the most of all the Moore films. I just really enjoy the plot of the film. I love the crazy elements that the circus brings to it. I also really like all of the scenes that take place in India. It must be said that the theme to the movie, “All Time High” is maybe my least favourite of all the Bond songs but it doesn’t diminish my love for the film overall. This film tops The Spy Who Loved Me purely for the scene where Bond beats Kamal Kahn in a game of backgammon by using his own loaded dice against him.

TIMOTHY DALTON

Dalton

FAVOURITE: LICENCE TO KILL

Given that there are only two Dalton films to choose from, it was a 50/50 for which would take out the favourite. To be honest, I have to give it to Licence To Kill mainly out of nostalgia. It was the first Dalton film I saw and it was at a time when I was really discovering the Bond films. It features David Hedison as Felix Leither once again and I also really love the theme song. I know that out of the two Dalton’s that this is the most criticised, mainly due to the very dark and violent aspects to the film which, were not only knew to the Bond franchise but given that this film was only the second film in four years after Roger Moore’s long run, it really shocked audiences at the time of its release. I do honestly believe that this film was ahead of its time. If this film had been made twenty years later and starred Daniel Craig, no one would bat an eyelid at it. Another saving grace would be that it wouldn’t feel so 80’s because of the five Bond films released in the 80’s, boy does it feel the most 80’s! I can’t talk about this movie and not mention the truck chase and explosion from the films climax. Even by today’s standards it’s pretty spectacular and this is before the days of CGI.

RUNNER UP: THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS

If the entire film was just the first half hour It’d probably be my favourite of the Dalton’s. The way he is introduced as Bond in the pre-credit sequence is great. Follow that with the sniper scene which is pretty much ripped straight from the Flemming short story from where the film gets its title and you have me hook, line and sinker. Sadly the rest of the film doesn’t keep me engaged as much as that first half hour or so. The Living Daylights is still a very enjoyable Bond film but a few aspects just let it down slightly. For me, the biggest let down is the villains. Koskov and Whitaker just don’t ever feel like any sort of threat to Bond.

PIERCE BROSNAN

Brosnan

FAVOURITE: GOLDENEYE

Is there any real competition for what is my favourite? Not really. This film is by far Brosnan’s best outing as 007 and that’s if I take nostalgia out of the equation. But I’m not going to do that. This was the first Bond film I saw on the big screen and essentially the reason I’m such a Bond fan today. Before this film was released, I was aware of James Bond and had maybe seen part of Moonraker on TV once but all of my fandom was devoted to Batman. That changed one night when I watched a TV special “The World Of James Bond” released to promote Goldeneye. After seeing it, they played Live And Let Die. I was in. I asked my Grandmother to take me to see Goldeneye and the rest is history. How can you not love this movie? Brosnan owns the role in this movie. You have the amazing dam bungee jump opening, the fantastic theme song from Tina Turner, Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp (who’s method of killing people is still the way I wanna go), gave us Judi Dench as M and the fact that after many people thought Bond was dead, relaunched the franchise for an entirely new generation. Did I mention Xenia Onatopp??

RUNNER UP: TOMORROW NEVER DIES

This is one of the occasions where the runner up is the film I revisit more than my favourite. In fact, it may be one of the Bond films I revisit the most. It’s by no means better than Goldeneye and certainly not the best overall but I just find this movie a great deal of fun. It’s a Bond film for when you can’t decide which Bond film to watch. It’s over the top, it’s a bit silly and it doesn’t require you to think. All that said, I do actually think that the pre-credit sequence is one of the best ever.

DANIEL CRAIG

Craig

FAVOURITE: CASINO ROYALE

It’s pretty much the perfect movie isn’t it? This film is special for so many reasons. I don’t know if there’s ever been a more controversial movie casting apart from maybe Micheal Keaton as Batman. But much like Keaton, once people saw the movie, the haters shut up very quickly. It was also a reboot to the Bond franchise. You must remember that this was a time when reboots where still a very new thing. We really only had Batman Begins one year prior as an example of a reboot and even then, people still thought it was a prequel film. This film also (finally) got to bring the original (and best in my opinion) Flemming story to the big screen properly. It succeeded in all aspects. I went in to this movie with mixed emotions. I was so excited to see a new Bond film after a four year absence but I was not sure what to expect from Craig. I’d never seen him in anything before and he just didn’t look like Bond. But I kept an open mind. I was sold the second he turned and shot the guy in the bathroom, revealing the gun barrel as the films theme song,”You Know My Name” kicked in. The rest of the movie had me riveted. I loved the way it remained so faithful to the source material while fleshing it out and updating it for a modern audience. It gave us the perfect Bond film without giving us many of the beats we expect from a Bond film. The thing I really credit this film for doing is bringing a new audience to Bond. I know of so many people who had never watched a Bond film before or if they had, they didn’t like it, who went and saw this movie and absolutley loved it. And guess what? They’ve seen every new Bond film since. Have they gone back and watched the twenty previous films? No. But that doesn’t matter. They will continue to see all the new ones even after Craig hangs up the Walther PPK.

RUNNER UP: SKYFALL

Probably more globally praised than Casino Royale and the first Bond film to gross over $1 billion. Released in 2012 which coincided with Bond’s 50th Anniversary on the big screen, Skyfall was the perfect storm. Craig was back after four years. Adelle who was the biggest singing star on the planet provided the theme and the world was just hungry for a new Bond film and they ate it up.  The film was also highly regarded by critics and took home several Oscars as well.  It is also without doubt the most beautifully shot Bond film of all time.  This film, like Casino Royale almost feels like a reboot but a soft reboot at that. Audiences were left disappointed after Quantum Of Solace (a film I really like) so Skyfall, to me, felt like the film audiences wanted Quantum to be. We’re left with a fully developed Bond, a new M and Moneypenny and Q make their debut in the new series. It left you desperately wanting the next movie and we’re only one year away from getting it.

So, do you see what I mean? There’s no way I can answer those two questions I always get asked. I love each actor and all the films so much that it’s impossible to pick an overall favourite. But now that I’ve had my say, I’d love to hear what some of your favourites from each actor are. Let me know by leaving your comments below or on the link on the Geek Speak Facebook page.

Boy Wonder Brendan Will Return….

 

GOTHAM: MY THOUGHTS AFTER EPISODE ONE

Gotham

Let me just say right off the bat (no pun intended) that if you’re familiar with me at all and know that I’m kind of the “Batman Guy” of the Geek Speak crew, you’ll probably expect me to have watched this show through rose coloured glasses given that it is a show set in the Bat universe. Not so. In fact, I’m even on record in some of the Sidekick podcasts as being very “meh” about this show being made. The reason for that is purely because of Arrow. I love that show so much and it does such a good job of giving me a weekly DC fix when it is airing. It’s very “Batman” in its feel and even uses many of the Batman rogues. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to Gotham hitting screens but I wasn’t going to be too upset if it was crap because I still have Arrow to enjoy. I watched the first episode of Gotham yesterday and once again today and I’m pleased to report that I’m no longer “meh” about it at all.

I don’t want to write a full on review here but rather just give some of my thoughts and opinions of what I thought of the series debut. I won’t go into deep detail about every character and plot point either. I’ll just touch on some of the things that stood out to me and let you know if I liked, or in some cases, disliked what they did. I also won’t venture too far into spoiler territory. I won’t give away any major plot points or big story beats. However, I will be talking about things that do happen in the show that could be considered spoilers, so you have been warned.

First up, the show is called Gotham, so let’s start with the city itself. I really like the way the city looks. It’s quite stylised and has elements that remind me of the Anton Furst Gotham from 1989’s Batman, while at the same time, also feels like it’s set in a more real world city. The fact that most of the show is shot on location in New York instead of a back lot helps greatly. That is my problem with the early Batman films. The city of Gotham always looks great in those sweeping shots of the skyline but when you get down to street level, you lose all of that grandeur and can tell it’s shot on either a back lot, or in Batman Returns case, inside on a sound stage. That’s where Nolan got it right and took it to the real world using real cities but the downside was you never really got that “gothic” feel. The Gotham created for this show seems to have the mix just right.

The show opens with the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. This is without doubt the most gruesome live action depiction of the Wayne murders. Thomas and Martha lay covered in and in pools of their blood as Bruce kneels down between them in the iconic shot from Miller’s Year One. David Mazouz plays Bruce Wayne and I cannot say enough about this young actor. His reaction to seeing his parents killed in front of him and the scream he gives as he kneels between their bodies is chilling. Just like Gotham itself, this is better than any previous big screen version of the same scene. Bruce appears in several scenes throughout the episode and every time he does, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Mazouz does such a great job of making you believe already that he will one day become Gotham’s Dark Knight. You can see it in his eyes, his voice and the way he carries himself after he makes the change from being a very scared and very sad little boy directly after his parents are murdered.

Before I move on to the stars of the show, I just want to briefly give Alfred Pennyworth a mention. Sean Pertwee plays the Wayne’s faithful butler in this incarnation and although his appearances in this episode are brief, he managed to standout to me. When we first see Alfred he arrives at the scene of Thomas and Martha’s murder to collect Bruce. When Bruce see’s Alfred he runs up to him and Alfred gives Bruce an embrace that instantly shows how much he cares for his young master. I get the feeling that this Alfred has had the tough, military background and may be influenced by the Alfred from the Earth One comic. His voice is very gruff with a strong cockney accent and everything he says is very direct. My favourite moment with Alfred was quite subtle and I only caught it on my second viewing of the episode. As he is walking Bruce away from the scene of his parents murder, he quietly tells Bruce, “Head up. Eyes forward. Don’t let them see you cry”, as he walks him towards the crowd of reporters gathered at the scene. Perfect.

The stars of the show are young detectives James Gordon and Harvey Bullock played by Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue. McKenzie is great as Gordon and steals every scene he is in, in a good way. You really buy that he is a good cop in a dirty city. He has his back against the wall from the start and he knows it but it doesn’t stop him. Bullock on the other hand, knows exactly what he’s up against in the city of Gotham and does whatever he can to stay out of trouble and play the game. Logue very much looks the part of Bullock but I wasn’t as big of a fan of his acting as I was McKenzie’s. I’m not saying he’s bad, I just didn’t enjoy his performance as much. I do think he’ll get better as his character develops with the show. I come in to Gotham having never really watched any previous work from either actor which I find a good thing because it allows me to see them just as Gordon and Bullock. The only real past experience I have is with McKenzie when he voiced (funnily enough) Batman in the Year One animated film from 2011. I never really liked his Batman but after one episode, I dig the hell out of his Gordon.

We get to see quite a few supporting characters in this episode. Barbara Kean (Gordon’s fiance), Renee Montoya and Carmine Falcone to name a few. However I’m just going to focus on two for right now. Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith and Oswald Cobblepot, played by Robin Lord Taylor. I expected going in that the weakest link in this show would be Pinkett Smith and I was right. She’s not horrible by any means but I just found her to be a little too “hammy”. Her delivery of some lines were too over the top and didn’t really mesh well with what the other actors were bringing around her. She did have a few nice moments though. At one point she is on the phone to one of her lackeys and turns on a dime into full on bad guy and I thought that was her best performance in the episode. Just like everything else, I’ll see how she and her character develop before completely writing her off.

The Character of Oswald Cobblepot is interesting. I’ve never been a big Penguin fan to be honest. Whether it be in comics, live action or cartoon form, I always feel a little bit bummed when the story is Penguin centric. I don’t hate the character, I just prefer several other of Batman’s rogues over him. This version of the character has me very intrigued and his arc in this episode left me wanting to see much more of him. Robin Lord Taylor very much looks the part and has some great moments where you can really see the potential evil in his eyes. My only issue I had with the character is the same I had with several other characters and it was also my biggest issue I had with the entire episode.

On several occasions, Oswald is referred to as “Penguin” and it just feels so forced. The way it is said by the actors was in a way where they just stopped short of winking at the camera. The same can be said for the very brief introduction of Edward Nygma, played by Cory Michael Smith (geez they love their three name actors on this show!). Nygma works for the police force in a forensics type of role and just like the mane dropping of the Penguin, they over play and force it way too much to get across that this is one of the future Batman baddies. In fact, Nygma is worse than Fish Mooney. He is channeling Frank Gorshin from the 60’s Batman series in the way he delivers his lines and it just didn’t work for this version of the character. It kinda shit me both times I’ve watched the episode to be honest. I don’t know where they’re going with Nygma in the series but from his brief appearance in this episode, he served no purpose other than villain name value. We also meet a young Poison Ivy in the show. Gone is the name Pamela Isley and instead we’re introduced to Ivy Pepper. Ivy is the daughter of a criminal named Mario Pepper. Again, I don’t know where they’re planning on taking the Ivy character but if the purpose is to just add another future villain for name value, why couldn’t her father be Mario Isley and her name just be Pamela? I do understand to a degree why they dropped all the names. I get that it’s for the benefit of the mainstream audience and not for the people like me who know this world and its characters inside out. I still feel that it could have been handled a little better.

Forcing the name checking of future rogues aside, I really did enjoy this episode. They set up some great character relationships as well as a story that really has me wanting to come back to see where it goes. What else can you really ask of a series pilot? The thing that does have me hopeful is that this IS a pilot. There are many shows that I love that I’ve gone back several seasons in and re-watched the pilot and thought, “man, that was kinda crap. How did I like this show based on that?”. I’ll use Arrow as an example. I wasn’t a fan of its pilot episode. In fact when I first saw it, I didn’t go back to the show until the first half of season one had aired and I was told by friends that I really needed to watch the show because it improved so much. It’s now my favourite show and has been for almost 2 years. If Gotham can follow suite and only improve upon it’s pilot episode, then I think we are in for some great TV and great Batman TV at that. The Batman fan in me is very happy about what lies ahead.

-Boy Wonder Brendan

Welcome!

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Welcome to my new blog page!
First of all I guess I better let you all know why I started this page. Well, it’s pretty much so I can pass on my thoughts, feelings and opinions on all things that I would usually cover with my role at Geek Speak and, as the description says, anything that tickles my fancy.
“But Why? Don’t you already have the Geek Speak Sidekick Podcast for that?” I hear you say? Well you may have noticed there hasn’t been a new show for some time now. Sadly I must say that there will not be a new episode. Much to my disappointment, Steve has had to resign from his role at Geek Speak due to several reasons, namely a new job that will cut in to much of his time now which means he can no longer commit the time needed to bring the show to you. The Sidekicks are no more. Let me state for the record, I have no ill feelings towards Steve and there has been no personal falling out. For those who have followed Geek Speak from the beginning, this is not a repeat situation of when previous hosts have “moved on”. Steve and I are still friends folks so there’s no drama to report. (Although I could make something up if you want. Like I overheard him tell someone that Transformers 4 is a much better film than any Nolan Batman film. Enraged, I told him he was no longer my Sidekick and I threw all his belongings on the road and burnt all our photos together whilst crying and listening to “Everybody Hurts”)
This has put me in a slightly shitty situation though because I’m still part of the team and the whole reason we started Sidekick was because we couldn’t always be on the Geek Speak Live podcast seeing as we don’t live in the same city as Todd and Wade, plus our schedules don’t really line up with when they record. That is still the case for me. We are going to try some things out though that will allow me to be on “Live” more often. I’m going to try and record some short audio bits that the guys can slot in to their show, when I can I’ll join the show via skype and when ever I get the chance, I’ll join them up in Toowoomba and record with them.
Those opportunities however are not as regular as I would like and without my own show to give thorough and more frequent opinions on things, I thought I would try writing as opposed to talking. I tested the waters recently when I wrote a short review of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film on the Geek Speak Facebook page and it seemed to be well received. This blog page will allow me to do things like that but not only in much more detail than a Facebook status, nor do I need to wait several days or sometimes weeks to vocalise my opinions in podcast form. I can give it to you straight away.
Now I’ve never had a blog before, nor have I ever written anything noteworthy. This will very much be trial and error. I’ll post the links to all new posts and updates on the Geek Speak Facebook page and I hope you take the time to read them. I know this won’t fill the void left by the Sidekick podcast but I hope that you will enjoy it none the less.
-Boy Wonder Brendan.