Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Written by Michael Diaz

It is really hard to believe that it has been over nine years since Marvel Studios premiered with the first Iron Man. When watching the brand new studio logo at the beginning of their fifteenth film, I knew I’m in for another awesome blockbuster. Just like the first, we have new set of awesome songs (no pun) and some good comedic dialog put well in serious situations. However, I was watching the film, I begin to question certain  moments throughout the film that perhaps didn’t seem right.

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The Great Wall – The Official Movie Novelization

One of the “Wonders of the World” is the Great Wall in China.  Why was this gigantic wall built?  It was to keep out evil monsters that appear every 60 years.  This is the big budget East/West production by Legendary Pictures directed by award-winning Zhang Yimou.  “The Great Wall” stars Matt Damon as the mercenary William Garin.

In search for fame and riches, mercenary William Garin and his men find themselves in remote China.  His remaining men are tired and hungry after days of being hunted down by bandits in the region.  As they rest for the night, they encounter a mysterious creature.  William is able to fend off the beast by cutting its talon off.  William and fellow survivor Pero Tovar stumble upon the amazing gigantic structure – the Great Wall.

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The Assignment Vol. #1

From the Hard Case Crime imprint, this collects the 3 issues of Walter Hill’s The Assignment.  With the upcoming movie starring Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this trade paperback.

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Hekla’s Children by James Brogden

Four teens on a outdoor hiking trip disappear.  A day later one of the teens return alive.  Hekla’s Children starts out like an episode of FOX’s Bones with sci-fi/fantasy elements.

Teacher Mr. Nathan Brookes with his “Team Leftovers”: Ryan Edwards, Catharine “Scattie” Powell, Olivia Crawford and Brandon Whitehead go on a outdoor hiking test.  During the hike, they find themselves in a different part of the park and seem to be transported to the past – the “Bronze Age.”  One survivor Olivia Crawford reappears traumatize and without memory of what happened.

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The Great Wall – The Art of the Film

thegreatwallbookThis weekend Legendary Pictures releases one of their big films of the year into the multiplexes – The Great Wall starring Matt Damon.  Suppose the Great Wall in China was not just built to defend from the human element but also “monsters.”  Actor Matt Damon and the all-star Chinese cast look to defend the Great Wall and humanity from these evil beasts.  Titan Books official companion guide The Great Wall – The Art of the Film takes a behind-the-scenes at the epic production.

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Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories

annodracula1899Over the years of reviewing various novels and comics for Retrenders, I’ve enjoyed reading the many tales of Kim Newman’s vampire creation Anno Dracula and world of characters around him.  “Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories” is a collection of short stories to get fans primed for the upcoming novel Anno Dracula 1899: Daikaiju.  Not only that, Titan Comics will kick-off a brand new Anno Dracula series by author Kim Newman and art by Paul McCaffrey launching in March 2017.

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Mini Reveiw: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

resident-evil-7-hands

Since 2005, the Resident Evil franchise had begun to move away from the traditional survival horror genre everyone loved it for and focused more on an action/3rd person shooter type of game.  Gone were the days where you walk down a corridor, with 9 bullets left in your gun, hoping a scare didn’t pop out the corner.  With Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6, the guns and ammo were plenty.  When they announced this game, and released the demo, I will admit that it scared me a bit.  It did its job, as I didn’t want to play it after the sun went down, and it reminded me of all those scares I had playing the original and it’s sequels. [Read more…]

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xandercage“You know how I came up with the idea of the Triple-X program?  Skateboards and swimming pools.”  (Augustus Gibbons)

I remember watching the first Triple-X in theaters and I had to say, I enjoyed watching the Vin Diesel popcorn flick.  Bypassing Ice Cube’s xXx sequel, like Brett Ratner’s X-Men 3, Vin Diesel reprises his role as super punk-rock agent Xander Cage.  I now find myself reading xXx:  Return of Xander Cage – The Official Movie Novelization and just maybe watching this Fast and the Furious wannabe at the multiplexes.

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Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series

batmanclassictvseriesI remember watching the 1960s Batman TV show with my grandfather in our living room.  We would have a blast watching these reruns.  Now to celebrate this iconic TV program, Titan Books has released Batman – A Celebration of the Classic TV Series.

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Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

startrek50I remember watching this “old” Star Trek TV series as a kid.  “Trek” didn’t really resonate with me until Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager TV series.  Over time I went back to watch this original Star Trek series and films with the original cast.  This year mark the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek TV series and this poster size hardbound title Star Trek 50 Artists 50 Years celebrates the iconic sci-fi TV program.

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The Marvel Vault – A Visual History

marvelvaultupdatedI remember as a kid in the 1980s, you were either a Marvel Comics or DC Comics fan, there was no in-between.  I didn’t get serious into collecting comics until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Marvel had an amazing staple of talents like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefield, Marc Silverstri, Whilce Portacio and Jae Lee, just to name a few.  Every week I had a stack of Marvel comic books and a issue was like .75 cents!  If you know you have a Marvel fan this Holiday season, then The Marvel Vault – A Visual History will make a great gift item.

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Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s Cookbook by Janice Poon

hanniballcoverI’ve stated many times before when I watch K-Dramas, I get Korean cuisine cravings.  Watching a cute petite actress eat Jjangmyun (black bean sauce noodles), Mandu (meat dumplings), Bulgogi (BBQ beef) or Dukbokki (spicy rice cakes) just makes me hungry to munch on something.  Now back to the topic at hand, the NBC psycho-drama Hannibal.  Question, have you seen the past 3 seasons of Hannibal?  If not, go stream it somewhere!  Besides the incredible acting and visual images, it was also about the deadly appetizing food on the show.

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The Art and Making of The Flash

flashtvshowWith season 3 of The Flash under way on the CW Network, fans will enjoy the companion guide, The Art and Making of The Flash by Abbie Bernstein.  Critics and fans alike may nick pick here and there, but for me it’s an enjoyable escapism.  I’m a huge fan of the CW DC superhero universe and make it an appointment television to watch.  One of my favorite shows is of course The Flash and The Art and Making of The Flash takes fans behind-the-scenes.

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Comic Preview: Mechanism # 5

Mechanism5coverA story of the aftermath of an alien invasion and a prototype military robot who is attached to a group of survivors.  If you are looking for something new, away from “The Big Two”, try your hand at this Top Cow book.  I mean, who doesn’t love aliens and robots?  If you don’t feel like hunting for the books, Mechanism Vol. 1 (#1-5) comes out January 2017.

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The Art of Titanfall 2

artoftitanfall201Video game enthusiasts and critics enjoyed playing Titanfall 1, now comes Titanfall 2.  Strap-in and get ready to pilot another Titan.  Titanfall 2 features new locales for battles, new weapons and new robotic mechs.  The Art of Titanfall 2 goes behind-the-scenes of the making and creation of the Titans.

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Cinema Alchemist, A Memoir – Roger Christian

cinemaalcoverImagine yourself in 1970s Hollywood and you’re on set meeting a nobody director at the time George Lucas, who is wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.  He talks to you about this secret script named Star Wars.  What would do?  This was before so-called “Hollywood blockbusters”, before movie franchises, before green screens, and before SFX studios like ILM.  Roger Christian accepted the gig and of course, the rest is history.  Cinema Alchemist, Designing Star Wars & Alien is a memoir by Oscar-winning Roger Christian.

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Kidrobot x Street Fighter V Vinyl Toy Series

krxsf5-caseKidrobot is back with another Street Fighter vinyl toy series.  This Street Fighter V series features some new characters and new artistic design.  Vinyl Pulp host Eddie does an unboxing and review of these new 3″ art toys.

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Arrow: Oliver Queen’s Dossier

arrowcoverJust in time for Arrow Season 5 on the CW Network.  This companion book is Oliver Queen’s Dossier, it is Oliver’s notes and clippings on his battle to fight crime in Starling City.

img_1667Oliver gathers up newspaper clippings, government documents, images, blueprints and maps while writing down his notes and opinions on post-its.  The dossier profiles allies, friends and enemies.  The book also provides information on weapons and vehicles used on the show.

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The Art of Deus Ex Universe

deusexartbookHave you played Deus Ex:  Mankind Divided?  Go play it!  Have you read Deus Ex: Black Light?  Go read it!  After doing all this now you can enjoy this by Titan Books – The Art of Deus Ex Universe.

deusart001Video game journalist Paul Davies takes us to EIDOS Montreal and interviews the players – the design and art teams behind the Deus Ex universe.  The artist and designers talk about the incredible world building and designing the right characters.  They also talk about building the atmosphere and emotion to get players into this world.  The art book contains over 300 images, art pieces, concept designs, character profiles, CGI art and sketches from Human Revolution and Mankind Divided video games.

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Deus Ex: Black Light by James Swallow

deusexblacklightcoverBased on the video game series Deus Ex, this new official “canon” novel Deus Ex: Black Light bridges the gap between the end of the video game Deus Ex:  Human Revolution and prequel to the new video game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.  Author James Swallow who has already penned various Deus Ex original novels starts Black Light like the first Bourne Identity, as Jason Bourne, I mean ex-cop and ex-security Adam Jensen is found at sea and has no memory of his last mission.

Our cyber “augmented” hero Adam Jensen must piece together his past and retrace his steps to find what is going on and all roads lead him back home to Detroit and his former employer Sarif Industries.

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Suicide Squad – The Official Movie Novelization

suicidesquadnovelI will stay out of the critics/fans Suicide Squad movie squabble mess.  Yes, the movie had some misses, like the under-character development of various characters and the overly long 3rd act, but overall I enjoyed director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad as a just a fun summer popcorn action flick.  With the hoopla surrounding the Suicide Squad movie, I was intrigued with the Suicide Squad novelization by long-time DC comic book author Marv Wolfman.

The U.S. government appoints Amanda Waller to establish Task Force X part of the A.R.G.U.S. program to use super criminals locked-up in prison for special government missions.  Dr. June Moone aka Enchantress finds a way to raise his trap brother Incubus back into the world of the living.  Together they have a plan to destroy and rule the world.  Waller taps Colonel Rick Flag to be the liaison for this “Suicide Squad” team and assembles Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, El Diablo and Slipknot to stop the Enchantress and her brother Incubus.

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ALIENS – The Set Photography

aliensartbookOne of the huge blockbuster movies that made a strong impression on me growing in the 1980s was James Cameron’s ALIENS.  It was scary with kick-ass action, had a memorable cast of actors and just a great science fiction storyline.  With a collection of artwork, on-set location pictures and behind-the-scenes photographs, author Simon Ward takes us ALIENS fans on a journey with ALIENS – The Set Photography by Titan Books.

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Tarzan on Film by Scott Tracy Griffin

tarzanHere’s a good Trivia-pursuit question, what is the longest running film franchise?  The James Bond series or the Godzilla monster movies?  Nope.  It’s Tarzan!  Tarzan on Film by Tarzan fanatic author Scott Tracy Griffin explores the over 90-plus years of Tarzan films, from the Hollywood silent film era, the animated versions, the made-for-TV films and network television runs.

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The High Ground by Melinda Snodgrass

thehighgroundWhen you have Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin giving praise about this book, it got my attention.  The High Ground – The Imperials Saga is the first book in an epic science-fiction trilogy by author Melinda Snodgrass.  The heart of the story, a handsome lower-class boy Thracius Belmanor aka Tracy working his way up the class-system falls in love with Princess Mercedes Adalina Saturnina Inez de Arango.  It’s mix of BBC drama and a Kdrama love triangle set in outer space worlds.

By year 2100s the Earth is mostly uninhabitable and humans have conquered other worlds in galaxies far away.  In Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek when Warp engine technology was discovered it was about the search of new worlds and exploration, but here in this universe, when Fold technology is discovered, humans created a backward class-system hierarchy to control the galaxy and subjugated all the aliens they have conquered like the Haijin, Isanjo and Cara’ot races into “servants”.  The Imperial Family, the father and king Fernan Marcus Serverino Beltran de Arango has a dilemma on his hands.  His 5 wives only gave him daughters and no sons to inherit the throne.  He wants his eldest daughter Mercedes to inherit the kingdom.  The Princess has other plans like attending the military school – The High Ground.  She will be the first woman admitted to school on a large city-port space station.   On the other side, is Tracy whose father is tailor to the “rich” and while Tracy wants none of the class system BS, he is “forced” to go to the High Ground military school.

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Escapology by Ren Warom

escapologyThe post-apocalyptic future Earth is unkind to the masses.  It’s little like Kevin Costner’s ill-fated Waterworld and Mad Max: Fury Road, well kind of.  The world is more of a mix between anime Garganita on the Verdurous Planet without the mechas and Brian Wood’s comic The Massive as an environmental disaster destroys most of the Earth.  Land dwelling places to live are scarce the exception of mega-cities or large ship-cities that rule the seas.  And the internet is run by one gatekeeper, this is the first novel by author Ren Warom – Escapology.

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