Larger Than Life Movie Villains Revealed!

May 9, 2013 at 8:19 am

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!


If I may quote Mission Impossible 2:

“Every search for a hero must begin with something which every hero requires…  A villain.”

We all love great villains.  They are the reason our heroes are called to action in the first place.  Throughout history we have been blessed with iconic and unforgettable villains.  The Wicked Witch of the West, Hannibal Lector, Darth Vader, Auric Goldfinger, Nurse Ratched, The Joker, Norman Bates, Freddy Krueger, Verbal Kint, Biff Tannen, Bill the Butcher, Doc Ock, Tommy DeVito, Alex DeLarge…

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

Dramas, horror, thrillers, comedies…  Every genre has it’s classics but no group faces more scrutiny that the Summer Blockbusters.  Big franchises, sequels and the unstoppable force known as the comic book movie.

It’s the first question we all ask when a giant blockbuster is announced.  Whether it’s a new franchise or a sequel we all want to know who our favorite heroes will fight next.  How will these villains look?  Sound?  Move?

Fans crave every detail leading up to the movies they cannot wait to see.  I remember staring at this image wondering what Christopher Nolan’s Joker would be like.

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

The Joker was brilliantly realized by Nolan and wonderfully portrayed by the late Heath Ledger.  However, by the time the movie arrived, we had several trailers, clips and more that took away at least a little of the mystery. Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  We live in a different time.  I suppose the question is…

Can you keep a big villain secret?  Should you?

I wonder how much scrutiny Darth Vader would face if Star Wars was released today.  A world where studios preemptively release images from sets in order to beat the spies to the punch.  Every time a movie shoots an exterior scene, images shot on cell phones pop up online.  We live in an age of social media.  An era where promotion is 24/7 and fans are closer than ever to the development process.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat.  Here I am, discussing my relentless craving for new villain reveals while complaining that we know too much before they are unleashed.  I just appreciate the evolution of the villain reveal.

We may have 4 or 5 trailers for each big blockbuster these days but I could choose to avoid them.  I just don’t.  I simply cannot resist pressing play and envisioning the adventures that await on the silver screen.

There are filmmakers out there who work tirelessly to keep their big projects a secret.  J.J Abrams immediately comes to mind.  When he and his team produced Cloverfield, it nearly broke the internet when they unveiled the mysterious trailer.  What the hell did the Cloverfield monster look like?

Cloverfield awesome monster movie

Personally, it drove me nuts for months.  The director repeated this tactic when he created Super 8. It’s a proven way to generate interest in a film.   Super 8 was actually my favorite movie of 2011.

He’s doing it again with Star Trek Into Darkness.  Who is John Harrison?  Is it really Kahn?  The answers are coming.

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

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Honestly, I can’t decide which side I’m on.

Do I prefer the shroud of secrecy and the anticipation it ignites?  Or do I want a constant stream of updates and risk burning out before the lights dim?


In the last few weeks, we were treated to new trailers that revealed Superman’s enemy Zod and Thor’s next challenge Malekith.  Both look incredible.

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We were also given a glimpse of Jamie Foxx as Electro in next summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2:

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

Would you rather wait to see the villain?

I’m not sure if you can argue one way or another which approach is better.  Secrecy is frustrating but could ramp up the hype to impossible heights.  On the other hand, transparency invites discussion online and the promotion never stops.  There are pros and cons to both.  Sometimes too much secrecy can be seen as a weakness or a lack of faith in the studio.  Sometimes, a villain is revealed and hardcore fans tear it apart in vicious blog posts, tweets and parodies.

Yet sometimes, magic can be captured in the imagination of a film fan’s curiosity.  The same blogs and tweets can also be overwhelmingly positive.  Take Electro for example.  I think he’s going to look awesome on the big screen.  I can’t wait to see what he looks like with added effects.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how or when a villain is revealed.  Whether it’s a year out or opening night, the only thing that really matters is…  The story.

The next generation of heroes and villains are coming.  Which ones will claim their place amongst the greatest of all time?  That’s a search that will never end.

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10 Awesome Movies Like Looper

February 7, 2013 at 9:49 am

10 Movies Like Looper | Looper 2012


Looper was one of my favorite movies of 2012.  I absolutely loved it.  It was such a great take on the familiar Time Travel genre.  Director Rian Johnson did a remarkable job creating a fascinating character driven tale.  If you haven’t seen Looper ignore the other films on this list and watch it immediately!  But then watch the other ones anyways.

I don’t think movies like Looper have to incorporate Time Travel though many do.  I associate Looper with many intimate science fiction tales with BIG ideas.  These movies take a much smaller approach to science fiction.  I suppose the opposite end of the spectrum is home to movies like Star Wars, The Matrix, Inception, Pacific Rim, Back to the Future etc…

XTRA | Looper Review


Science Fiction Element: Aliens/Monsters

Monsters is the very definition of big ideas with intimate approaches.  Monsters is very much about aliens on our world but the real focus is on it’s two main characters.

REVIEW | Monster amount of character


Science Fiction Element: Time Travel

To me, Frequency is one of those movies I could watch any time.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film.


Science Fiction Element: Time Travel

Once you get your head wrapped around the technology behind this movie, you’ll start wondering whether it’s really possible.


Science Fiction Element: Aliens/Monsters

A marketing campaign that captivated movie bloggers world wide.  What does the Cloverfield monster look like!  It’s a question that made the wait that much more satisfying when I finally saw the movie.


Science Fiction Element: Super Powers

Found footage.  Check.  Strange powers.  Check.  Somehow, Chronicle manages to shed it’s familiar plot devices and tell a touching and painful story about power.

REVIEW | Chronicle, Action Figures & The Super Power Dream


Science Fiction Element: (Can’t ruin movie)

The story of a man who works alone on the moon is definitely worth a look.  More of a psychological dissection than any other on this list.  Fantastic movie.


Science Fiction Element: Time Travel

Before The Matrix came along, this was the penultimate ‘Whoa’ movie.  To this day I pick up something new whenever I watch it.


Science Fiction Element: Time Travel

I’d put Source Code right next to Frequency.  Director Duncan Jones created a phenomenal follow up to the highly entertaining Moon.  They’re both entertaining and thought provoking though I’d give the edge to Source Code.

REVIEW | Go back in time and see Source Code again.


Science Fiction Element: Aliens/Monsters

Aliens as refugees.  When I saw the trailer for the first time I was blown away.  It was one of those awesome trailers that didn’t spoil the movie.  In fact, District 9 far exceeded it’s trailer’s ambitious promise.  I can’t wait to see Director Neill Blomkamp’ follow up Elysium.


Science Fiction Element: Aliens/Monsters

Super 8 was my favorite movie of 2011.  Like the kids in the film, I grew up at that time making movies with my friends.  Super 8 captured my imagination like no other film in 2011.  I loved it.

REVIEW | Super 8 Unspoiled

COUNTDOWN | J.J Abrams’ Best Work

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Countdown: The Best of J.J Abrams

January 25, 2013 at 8:00 am

The Best of J.J Abrams | 14 Awesome Projects J.J Abrams has been involved in


It’s hard to argue that J.J Abrams is one of the most successful producers on the planet.  Especially when it comes to television series.  He’s been a part of so many incredible projects.  When it comes to filmmaking, he’s achieved even greater success having been a part of several HUGE franchises.

He’s about to add the biggest franchise to that list when he takes on Star Wars Episode VII.  Questions have already begun to float around the internet.  Can he handle both Star Trek & Star Wars?

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Given his track record, I think he’s more than earned a shot at the Mouse House that George Lucas built.  Now that he is officially directing Episode 7, I thought it would be great to look back on my favorite projects he’s been a part of.  There are many.  I had to focus on the projects I’ve actually seen so series like Felicity are absent from my list.  Regardless, there was plenty more to choose from while scanning his IMDB page.

With Star Trek Into Darkness around the corner and Star Wars Episode VII on the horizon, the best is yet to come.


TV Series (Producer)

I tried to get into this series when it premiered in 2012 but I just couldn’t.  It made this list purely on the ambition that fuels each episode.



This was a movie I rented long ago with some friends and really enjoyed it.  I had no idea he was a producer.



I may be wrong but this appears to be J.J Abrams first foray into space! Many people dislike the film & Michael Bay but I’m a fan.  Armageddon is an epic action story co-written by J.J Abrams.  It’s one of those movies you spot scanning the TV guide and before you know it, you watched the whole thing.  Especially if it’s a Sunday and you have nothing else to do.  Explosions.  Space.  Brainless entertainment.


TV Series (Producer)

I liked Alcatraz and was disappointed when they cancelled it after a single season.  I think a big part of the problem was the lack of answers.  With Lost, J.J Abrams and co. got away with it.  People weren’t willing to wait this time and I’ll admit the show was a tad frustrating at times.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested in the answers.


TV Episode (Director)

I’m obsessed with The Office.  I’m still coming to terms with Michael Scott’s departure and the upcoming series finale.  I had no idea J.J Abrams directed an episode back in 2007.  It’s no surprise it involved big character moments like Roy finding out Pam kissed Jim.


TV Series (Producer)

My wife and I loved the first season of this show.  It seemed like a simple tale at first following a villain of the week structure.  Slowly, we became fascinated by the characters.  I haven’t had a chance to catch up on season two yet but it’s on the list.


TV Series (Producer, writer)

Arguably the series that really put J.J Abrams on the map.  (Or at least nerd’s maps.)



Brad Bird’s first live action movie was extremely entertaining and a worthy follow up to the third installment directed by J.J Abrams.

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One of the first film’s to truly showcase J.J Abrams’ secretive approach.  The marketing campaign’s behind Cloverfield and later Super 8 were phenomenal.  I couldn’t wait to see these monster movies.


TV Series (Producer, writer)

I’m in the middle of Season 3 on DVD right now so don’t ruin anything!



One of my favorite opening scenes of all time.  Owen Davian vs Ethan Hunt.



I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up.  Yet, J.J Abrams created a Star Trek I loved and ignited my interest in the legacy that came before the reboot.

2. SUPER 8


My favorite movie of 2011.  An astounding movie about young kids making movies together and the monster they discover in the process.  It’s exactly how I grew up…  Except there was no monster.

XTRA | Super 8 Unspoiled


TV Series (Producer, writer)

I didn’t see an episode of Lost until a few months before Season 5 premiered.  A friend of mine loaned me his DVDs and I absolutely crushed every disc like it was my job.  For weeks I would attempt to watch ONE episode but I couldn’t resist hitting play again.  Lost is one of my favorite television shows of all time.  It also changed the way we looked at scripted television forever.

Years after it’s finale, we are still hoping to find the next ‘Lost’ every Fall.

SPOILER WARNING: Don’t click play if you haven’t seen Lost.  It just happens to be my favorite promo for the show.

What’s your favorite J.J Abrams project?

Click here for more Movie Countdowns

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The Athletic Nerd’s Top 5 Movies Of 2011

January 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

The Athletic Nerd's Top 5 Movies Of 2011

This year’s top 5 is kind of incomplete.  I started off 2011 on a tear.  I had seen so many movies including nearly all of the summer blockbusters.  But when it came down to the awards season, I missed out on a ton of great movies.  So while I wait for films like The Descendents & The Artist to be released On Demand, I have to go with what I’ve seen.

This year’s top 5 includes several that inspired the filmmaker in me including the awesome movie sitting in the number 1 spot.  As a result, I don’t think there is a movie I missed that could knock out this year’s champ.  It’s a film that I’m proud to put next to 2009’s Paranormal Activity and 2010’s Inception.

5. Source Code

Source Code really surprised me.  I highly enjoyed Duncan Jones’ Moon and he raised the bar even higher with Source Code.

4. 50/50

50/50 was a perfect balance of humor and drama.  Personally, I was really interested to see how this movie accomplished that balance.  About 3 years ago, I created a film with similar themes that also balanced humor with the serious subject of cancer.  Watching 50/50 was a phenomenal experience as both a filmmaker and a film fan.

It was touching, sad, enlightening, inspiring, funny, depressing, interesting and heart warming.  Seth Rogen & Joseph Gordon-Levitt are a perfect team.

3. Drive

The last movie I saw in 2011 skyrocketed up my rankings to land in the top 5.  It’s such a well told and stylized film with a wicked performance from Ryan Gosling.

2. Warrior

Warrior wins the award for longest wait.  I couldn’t find the time to see it in theaters and when it was released on video I still couldn’t set aside a couple hours to watch.  It was well worth the wait.  I loved Warrior.

1. Super 8

I grew up in the 80s making movies with my friends.  We used to walk to the dollar store, purchase toy guns and spray paint them black as we completed our action movies, war epics and comedies.  This movie was made for me.  Super 8 inspired me and it still does when I think about how much fun I had in the theater that day.  (And how much fun I had making movies as a kid.)

2011s top movie…  Super 8.

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The Athletic Nerd: J.J Abrams Tribute

June 10, 2011 at 11:44 pm

The Rundown Ep. 25 | J.J Abrams Tribute | 2011 Super 8 Coverage

I’ve decided to dedicate this special 25th edition of The Rundown to J.J Abrams and continued coverage of the amazing Super 8.

J.J Abrams has yet to be involved in a project that I didn’t absolutely adore.  The man is one of the most gifted pure storytellers on the planet.  He’s been handed the keys to several huge franchises like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek and he exceeded expectations every time.

But it’s his original projects that make him great.  He has given us amazing feature films like Cloverfield and unbelievable television projects like Lost, Fringe and Alias.


Now, the director has teamed up with Steven Spielberg and created one of my favorite movies of all time.  Super 8.


I remember thinking that the film could crack my top 10 of all time about 30 minutes into the film.  There was no monster yet.  There was only a group of kids dealing with very real and very relatable issues.

In an interview over at /Film, Peter Scirreta made a comment that was spot on:

“Most action movies these days you don’t care much about the characters.  This movie, I could have seen a whole movie in an alternative reality where the train never crashes and it’s just a Stand By Me-style drama following the kids and I would have still loved it.”

J.J Abrams’ response was fascinating to me:

“I love that you said that.  Thank you so much for that.”

The Rundown Ep. 25 | A Tribute To J.J Abrams | 2011 Super 8 Coverage

His intention was to make a movie that could stand on it’s own without the monster becoming a crutch as the story moved along.  Super 8 is more about the kids than the monster yet it’s still packed with action and thrills.

The full interview is a great read with J.J commenting on everything from working with Spielberg, to Lost’s infamous smoke monster.


Courtesy of Time

A lot of the talk surrounding Super 8 was the power house team up of Spielberg and Abrams and their quest to bring back the magic of films like E.T.  They definitely succeeded.

The Rundown Ep. 25 | A Tribute To J.J Abrams | 2011 Super 8 Coverage

Many young filmmakers started out much like the characters in this story.  Much like Abrams and Spielberg.  I grew up making movies myself.

Super 8 was definitely made for me.  For us.


The story behind Super 8 is just as intriguing as the movie itself.  Abrams describes how the story came to be in an interview posted on Flicks and Bits.

“Super 8 came out of two separate ideas. One was an idea of doing a film about kids making super 8 movies in the late 70’s, early 80’s. And the other one was an idea of a monster movie that I’d had. One was a group of characters I had loved, but without a story that I thought would compel people to go and see it. And the other was a compelling premise but with no original characters. So I kind of combined the two and found that they serviced each other in a cool way.”

From a screenwriting perspective, the idea of combining two completely separate ideas is both inspiring and terrifying.  You’ll never know what happen if you take the best elements of two ideas and combine them.

Why not try it?

Courtesy of Trailer Addict & SciFi Mafia

For more great interviews click here and here.






The Rundown Ep. 25 | A Tribute To J.J Abrams | 2011 Super 8 Coverage

Super 8 definitely inspired me.  As I stated in my review, it’s easily my favorite film of 2011 thus far and could very well crack my top 10 all time.

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I’m already looking forward to what will surely be an amazing Blu Ray release.


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TV Series | Producer

Teaming up with Jonah Nolan!? I’m there.

Feature Film | Producer

Will we find out more about the creature’s origins?  Will it be a prequel or sequel?  Will it even happen?  Director Matt Reeves has stated it will.  I can’t wait.

TV Series | Producer

This series tops my most anticipated list.

Feature Film | Producer

I can’t wait to see what Brad Bird does with the Mission: Impossible series. Especially with Abrams involved after the stellar third installment he directed.

Top 5 movies J.J Abrams coming soon

Feature Film | Producer/Director

Still waiting on official word that this movie is happening but I loved the first and I’ve never been a Star Trek guy.