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“Walking Dead” Season 3 Premiere: Review

It’s the creepiest show on television – and one of the highest-rated – “The Walking Dead” kicked off its third season by consuming the ratings and becoming the highest-rated television series premiere this fall.


Andrew Lincoln as Sheriff Rick Grimes in a scene from “The Walking Dead” season 3 premiere.  

The Season 3 premiere walked away with over 10.9 million total viewers (a 50% increase over last seasons “Walking Dead” premiere) and is now ranked in the basic-cable history books as the biggest telecast of any drama series.

For fans of the show, the stats shouldn’t be a surprise, for viewers new to the show however, a Walking Dead Episode Guide will come in handy. But if you’re like us, you glued yourself to your television screen for possibly the best hour of scripted television currently on air.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The Season 3 opener (titled “Seed”) is set a few months ahead of Season 2 and starts as our band of human survivors are scavenging an abandoned house for supplies. As faithful viewers recall, Season 2 abruptly ended with their former sanctuary, going up in flames when it was overrun with zombies. The group is again on the move, critically low on ammunition as well other supplies.

Eventually, their quest rewards them, when they find a maximum-security prison nestled in the woods. The prison’s heavily fortified walls could give the group all the protection it needs. But there’s one problem: The place is crawling with the undead. Zombie prisoners lumber alongside still-uniformed prison guards in riot gear. Rick and team make quick work of the walkers, then find a part (C Block) of the massive prison complex they can seal and guard effectively.


What’s scarier than a zombie? A zombie wearing riot gear.

Search and Destroy
The next day, Rick leads part of the group on an exploratory mission to find the prison commissary and armory. This goes about as well as you’d think it would considering the surprises that lurk around every corner – and to save you the grief of us spoiling too much – a few of those surprises include an team member amputation and zombies, who aren’t quite zombies…

Like every episode of “The Walking Dead” the writing is exceptionally sharp, plus the actors are in their third season stride and have long settled into character. Speaking of characters, “Seeds,” introduces the cloaked figure we got a glance of last season: Michonne is a female warrior whose preferred method of zombie killing is lopping the heads off with her katana. Michonne makes for a very interesting survivor, especially since she always got two zombies in tow, courtesy of a chain around their necks.

The show contains as many soap-opera elements as zombie themes, so the Season 3 opener also had to deal with Rick’s killing of Shane—his former best friend—which was a huge plot development in the series’ history. In “Seeds,” Rick tells Lori (who had a brief affair with Shane in Season 1, when she presumed Rick had died) about what happened and how Shane was about to kill Rick before Rick beat him to the punch. Lori pulls away from Rick in shock and disbelief. This underscores the growing tension between Rick and Lori, which remains a constant drumbeat in the Season Three opener.

Another complication is revealed when Lori confesses to Hershel (who has been the closest thing to a group medic, based on his previous occupation as a veterinarian) that she has grave fears about the health of the baby she’s carrying, including the possibility that the child might be born as a zombie, or could transform into one over time.


Michionne played by actress Danai Gurira will have a major role in season 3.

“Walking” Tall
What’s next for “The Walking Dead”? Tune in each Sunday night at 9pm EST to find out. The show’s third season will be split into two batches. The first eight episodes began with last night’s installment. Afterward, the program will go on hiatus until the spring, when the remaining eight episodes will be presented.

“The Walking Dead” is only beginning its third season but it’s already made TV history. It’s easy to see why; “The Walking Dead” is a gripping story of group survival punctuated with gruesome moments of pure horror. The story is compelling and its often nauseating special effects rival anything put on film. No wonder it’s a hit both with horror fans as well as those interested in learning how to create special effects.


“Walking Dead” Special FX Makeup Designer Greg Nicotero digitally zombified celebrities…such as “Lord of the Rings”/“The Hobbit” director Peter Jackson. (See the rest of the zombie celebrities at AMC’s “The Walking Dead” web site.)

If you haven’t gotten bitten by “The Walking Dead” yet, there’s still plenty of time and opportunities to get up to speed on TV’s greatest thrill-machine. In fact, you can start watching the show from the beginning: NetFlix has each episode from the first two seasons online and available as instant (and commercial-free) streaming video. (And for a brief time, the “Walking Dead” web site has the Season 3 opener online for free viewing whenever you want.)

Check in with us for future updates about “The Walking Dead.” We’re eagerly watching each Sunday night. And just like the zombies, we’re always hungry for more.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

The 50th Anniversary of James Bond: The Best Bond Movies

This year a major British institution celebrates a major milestone: It’s been 50 years since James Bond first exploded onto movie screens. The cinema’s greatest action hero has been on the job ever since.


This summer, Daniel Craig stars as Agent 007 in “Skyfall,” the 23rd James Bond film.

Licensed to Thrill
The Bond character has been played by seven actors in 23 movies (including the upcoming “Skyfall,” due out later this summer). James Bond has endured as a movie mainstay because he always delivers the goods. And while not every Bond flick turns to cinematic gold, audiences keep coming back because he’s one of the best-drawn and most complex film characters ever created.

And for anyone interested in learning how to make a movie or learning film production and special effects, Bond flicks are showcases for how big-budget action movies were meant to be made.

As part of our extended tribute to “Bond…James Bond,” we’ve watched all the Bond films and selected our picks for the top five Bond movies:

1. “Goldfinger” (1964) 007: Sean Connery

Sean Connery as James Bond, wearing his signature white cocktail tuxedo. 

Why It’s On The List: ”Goldfinger” is the “gold standard” in the film franchise, and the film all other Bond flicks are still compared with. One reason for its success: timing. By this point, Bond mania was everywhere, rivaling only The Beatles as a pop-culture phenomenon. “Goldfinger” is pure film excitement.

Key Scene: It’s known on the Internet as the James Bond laser scene. Bond, abducted by villain Auric Goldfinger, is strapped to a table while Goldfinger aims an industrial laser at him. Sweating bullets, Bond defiantly asks, “Do you expect me to talk?” Goldfinger: “No, Mister Bond…I expect you to DIE!”

The action eventually lands in Fort Knox, Kentucky—and a 24-karat robbery of all the gold in the U.S. reserves located there. Add in a woman murdered by being covered completely in gold paint (she dies of skin suffocation), a massive and deadly silent henchman named Oddjob and the first appearance of Bond’s tricked-out Astin Martin sportscar (complete with passenger ejector seat) and you’ve got possibly the best vintage Bond ever.

2. “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) 007: Roger Moore

Roger Moore takes aim as James Bond in “For Your Eyes Only.”

Why It’s On The List:  “For Your Eyes Only” is the only serious-minded and less gimmick-happy Bond film of the 1970s. During the 70s, the Bond franchise starred Roger Moore, who made seven movies. And while Moore had a near-impossible job in replacing much-beloved Sean Connery, the decade wasn’t Bond’s best. ”For Your Eyes Only” returned the secret agent to a more serious tone.

Key Scene: During the opening sequence, Bond is strapped into a helicopter being flown by remote control by Blofeld, head of the evil society known as SPECTRE. After climbing into the cockpit (from outside the chopper) and disabling the remote control, Bond starts flying the whirlybird. He uses the helicopter skid to hook Blofeld’s motorized wheelchair, then flies it to the top of a factory smokestack. Bond tilts the chopper’s nose downward, releasing the villain into the smokestack’s narrow opening. We hear Blofeld’s echoing screams as he takes the big plunge all the way down. Now that’s entertainment…

3. “GoldenEye” (1995) 007: Pierce Brosnan

“GoldenEye” not only made Pierce Brosnan an action star, the film also spawned a hit Nintendo video game that still has a cult following today.

Why It’s On The List:  It’s the first Bond flick not based on one of Ian Fleming’s series of Bond novels. “GoldenEye” was also the first time the role was played by dapper Pierce Brosnan, who may actually have been closest to the author’s idea of the Bond character.

Here Agent 007 is working overtime to keep an evil arms syndicate from causing a global financial meltdown by using the GoldenEye satellite weapon against London. This film marks the first Bond picture made after the fall of Communist Russia, causing Bond to hang up his Cold War efforts against SPECTRE and become more of a global policeman working against rogue villains who operate without a political agenda.

Key Scene: Bond’s about action, right? Well, it’s hard to find more thrilling action than during the breathtaking bungee jump in the opening sequence. Shot at a Swiss dam, the 720-foot leap into oblivion was voted the best movie stunt of all time in a 2002 Sky Movies poll. At the time, it set a record for the highest bungee jump ever successfully completed off a fixed structure.

4. “Casino Royale” (2006) 007: Daniel Craig

At first, Bond fans protested the casting of actor Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale.” Now it’s almost unthinkable that anyone else could play him as well.

Why It’s On The List: By the time the franchise turned 40, it was in sore need of rejuvenation. Luckily, actor Daniel Craig entered the picture, bringing some much-needed muscle and menace back to the part. Less suave and witty, Craig’s Bond is more athletic and somber. The film that introduced Craig as Bond was a franchise reboot in the best possible sense.

Key Scene: There are quite a few in this film: the brutal torture Bond suffers while being interrogated, the final fight scene where Bond battles baddies as a building in Venice, Italy collapses in on him. But the best scene in the film—and the one that made fans believe in Craig as Bond—happens at the beginning of the movie, as James Bond parkour chases a terrorist down through the streets of Madagascar. And yes, that’s Daniel Craig doing all of his own stunts.

5. “Thunderball” (1965) 007: Sean Connery

“Thunderball” culminates with a massive underwater war, with teams of spear-gun carrying divers. A pair of armed nuclear weapons hangs in the balance. Check out the “Thunderball” trailer.

Why It’s On The List: In terms of sheer movie coolness, no Bond was ever frostier than Connery in the fourth flick. Much of it takes place in the Bahamas (a key Bond locale) and “Thunderball” features a sensational villain in the eyepatch-wearing Emilio Largo and one of the most gorgeous of all “Bond women” in French actress Claudine Auger.

More than any other early Bond flick, this one (the all-time box office champ among Bond movies) provides the blueprint for the modern action film. It’s stuffed with amazing action sequences, including one of the biggest underwater combat scenes ever filmed, complete with spear-gun warfare.

Key Moment: In the opening, Bond attends a funeral, only to later go into hand-to-hand combat with the “widow,” who is actually a male SPECTRE agent in drag. After Bond snaps the villain’s neck with a fireplace poker, he casually grabs a handful of flowers and tosses it on the dead man’s corpse—strictly for his own amusement. Then Bond straps on a Bell Rocket Belt jet pack and flies away as the villain’s henchmen stare in dazed wonder.

Coming up next in our extended tribute: 50 pieces of James Bond trivia.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Official Trailer: “The Dark Knight Rises”

Barreling upward through floor after floor of Gotham’s blue/gray skyscrapers…the camera rises steadily, acting out the verb in the movie’s title. Then come the words, whispered with urgency. “If you make yourself more than just a man…if you devote yourself to an ideal…then you become something else entirely. A story…a legend.”


Christian Bale suits up for a third – and last – time as Batman, Gotham’s protector.

The rapid-fire action comes hard and heavy—with a caped crusader using superior fighting skills and hot-shot technology to wage a one-man war on crime. There are jaw-breaking brawls. Things are exploding. And we’re getting a better look at “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s wildly popular “Dark Knight” series, which releases everywhere on July 20th.

The Bankable Batman
As with “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” the caped crusader will be played with total intensity by Christian Bale and his performance will be supported by Hollywood heavyweights like Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The last Batman movie created a full-blown international sensation. “The Dark Knight” (helped by its IMAX presentation) dominated the 2008 box office, earned more than $1 billion worldwide, and served up Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Editing. That film remains the eleventh highest-grossing movie of all time and features a performance for the ages—delivered by the late Heath Ledger (who won an Oscar posthumously for his performance). His turn as The Joker electrified theater audiences and redefined super-hero villains.


Brains and brawn, Bane (Tom Hardy) brings the pain mentally and physically. 

Bane vs. Batman
This time out, Batman faces the brutal arch criminal Bane, portrayed by actor Tom Hardy. To bulk up for the role, Hardy gained 30 pounds. “Bane, to me, is something we haven’t dealt with in the films,” commented director Nolan. “We wanted to do something very different in this film. He’s a primarily physical villain.”

The actor was even more specific about what Bane is capable of: “The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty,” said Hardy in a recent interview. “Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action.”

In one clip, Bane has beaten Bruce Wayne nearly to death, then taunts the caped crusader, “When Gotham is ashes…you have my permission to die.”


Anne Hathaway roars into “The Dark Knight Rises” as Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman.

Trailer Frenzy
The Dark Knight Rises” had some big shoes to fill, but Warner Bros. responded by unlocking its war chest and giving Nolan a $250 million budget for the final installment. In May 2011, Warner Bros. launched the film’s official website and recently released the third trailer for the film.

Like “The Dark Knight” (not to mention Nolan’s “Inception”), the new official trailer for The Dark Knight Rises contains plenty of elaborate set pieces and mind-blowing effects:

Expectations are running high for the third Christopher Nolan Batman film. Will it surpass the whopping billion-dollar box office of “The Dark Knight”? Stay tuned to this Bat Channel…

The End of the Beginning?
One of the most intriguing aspects of Warner Bros.’ marketing of “The Dark Knight Rises” is the slogan on the film’s poster: “The Legend Ends.” Is this the end of Batman? Unlikely, a money-maker like Batman will be rebooted by another director in the years ahead.

Superheroes and movie franchises are constantly being reinvented for new generations of film audiences. Effectively taking beloved characters and relaunching them with today’s latest Hollywood visual effects requires lots of creative energy, as well as a solid education learning how to create special effects. Why not spend your summer at film camp and learn how you take million-dollar ideas and transform them into box-office blockbusters? Maybe in future years we might be lining up for your big Hollywood premiere.

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How to Celebrate “Star Wars Day” & Father’s Day…with Darth Vader

“Star Wars Day” is May 4th. In honor of that occasion and Father’s Day (which is also right around the corner), we’ve found a piece a piece of pop culture that “Star Wars” fans are gonna love…and if you’re looking for the perfect gift for dad, look no further.


Darth Vader takes little Luke Skywalker shopping. Ah, the joys of parenting. A panel from “Darth Vader and Son.”

Ever wonder what Darth Vader would have been like if he raised Luke Skywalker as a child? Thanks to cartoonist Jeffrey Brown, we’re about to find out. In Brown’s new book, “Darth Vader and Son” (from Chronicle Books) which releases on May 4th, the artist explores the legendary relationship in a fresh and funny new way.

“Luke…I am Your Father!”
Officially licensed by LucasArts, the book imagines what might have happened if Darth Vader—despite his ominous role as the Dark Lord of the Sith—had actually been present and actively involved in raising his son, Luke Skywalker.

The concept started out when Brown was approached by Google to create a Father’s Day-themed Google Doodle. While the idea was ultimately abandoned, Brown liked the concept so much that he asked Google if he could pursue it on his own. Google agreed and Brown took the concept to Chronicle Books, which helped broker a deal with Lucasfilm and George Lucas, the rights holder.


Brown’s whimsical illustrations show warmhearted father/son activities such as Trick or Treating.

For Brown, it was a dream project. “‘Star Wars’ was the first film I saw in the theater,” he said an interview, “And half my toys growing up were ‘Star Wars’ toys.” He also got complete creative control over the project from Lucasfilm – something that Lucas is not known for. Aside from suggesting a few minor corrections here and there, Brown said he received no interference whatsoever.

Another bonus for Brown was being able to reflect the very real relationship he has with his young son, who was four during the creation of the book. “I think part of what was so fun about this idea is like, as a parent, there’s things you just kind of have to put up with,” he explains.

“They can be really frustrating. So the idea of this dark master, lord of the Sith, having all that power, and in the end, here’s this 4-year-old who can be, ‘No Dad. I don’t want to do it.’ And he’s powerless against it. He’s gotta maintain that presence of power in the universe, but when it’s his own son, he has to rein it in a little bit. That tension is what was fun to play with.”

If the book is successful, Brown hopes to do a follow-up featuring Princess Leia. (That seems very likely since pre-orders for “Darth Vader and Son” have far exceeded the publishers expectations.) “Darth Vader and Son” can be pre-ordered through Amazon and Chronicle Books – just in time for Father’s Day (June 17th).


Even the Empire supports “Take Your Kid to Work Day.”

Creating Character
“Star Wars” has provided a treasure trove of entertainment for generations of moviegoers. Not only did the franchise create characters that have stood the test of time, but George Lucas created an entire universe with special effects that sparked the imaginations of writers, directors and others for years to come.

Creating comic book characters or learning the art of Hollywood visual effects can get you into the film or publishing industry. And before you know it, you could be the creating the next “Star Wars”-inspired blockbuster or fan comic that becomes a bestseller…like “Darth Vader and Son.”

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments