Category Archives: [experience-it-all]

My thoughts on Netflix’s summer surprise, ‘Stranger Things’

Well that completely came out of nowhere.

Every now and then, a show comes along that reaches out and grips you with its claws and never lets go. Enter STRANGER THINGS, a new Netflix sci-fi drama. After scrubbing through a trailer last month, I quickly dismissed it and I wouldn’t have given it a chance if it weren’t for two of my friends reaching out and demanding I tune in. Word of mouth can be a powerful thing.

STRANGER THINGS is a true amalgamation of every genre I love. When people ask me to describe it, I gush like this: It’s an adrenaline rush of pure adventure, a tale told from the innocent, wide-eyed perspective of a ragtag team of kids. It’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller with nuanced scares that make your imagination do most of the work. There’s conspiracy theories and weird science to wrap your brain around. And it’s all set in an eerie town where nothing is exactly what it seems.

In a nutshell: THE GOONIES + THE X-FILES/FRINGE + TWIN PEAKS = STRANGER THINGS

And let’s throw CLOVERFIELD in the mix for good measure; there’s a Monster here that would make J.J. Abrams and even Guillermo del Toro proud.

Holding this all together is a thick coat of nostalgia. From the neon bright opening credits to an original electronic soundtrack pulsing with 80s flair, STRANGER THINGS is intrinsically a warm, inviting series that draws you in with its recognizable throwbacks. (I mean, look at this poster!) What’ll hook you, though, is the utterly unexpected places it will take you. Well, that and the unbelievably talented cast of unknown kids. They will make you laugh, they will make you cry, they will leave you begging for more.

Now go enjoy this eight hour movie. Happy binging!

On the scene: ‘Making A Murderer’ defense attorneys go on tour

When I found out the defense attorneys from Netflix’s Making A Murderer were going on a national tour to discuss the Steven Avery case and the American criminal justice system in general, I nabbed a ticket on the spot! I saw Dean Strang and Jerry Buting at the Beacon Theatre in New York City tonight and the conversation, though not revelatory, was very engaging.

You might think that there’s a niche audience for this kind of thing, but they managed to nearly fill up the entire theatre with fans of the documentary, public defenders, and lawyers. The moderator led the discussion based on questions provided by the audience.

Strang said he experiences “lasting discomfort” with the Avery case. They both “long for” his exoneration. It was clear that the case emotionally impacted them and still sits with them to this day. Though they remain disheartened about the conviction, they are enthused that the worldwide exposure of the case is opening up a discussion about reforming the criminal justice system. “The needle is finally moving,” said Buting.

And yes, in case you were wondering, Strang was called a “beloved hero heartthrob” on stage and he told his admirers that they “need to get out more.” Ha! The two were also asked how many marriage proposals they’ve gotten since the doc came out. “Too many to count,” deadpanned Buting. Elsewhere, Strang performed a riveting Donald Trump impression and that alone made the cost of admission totally worth it.

Speaking of which, the attorneys shared that some of the ticket proceeds are going to the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, the innocence project that is currently aiding Brendan Dassey’s ongoing case. #TheyDidntDoIt

Inside The 1975’s album release NYC pop-up shop

Rising British band The 1975 released their second studio album today, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. A mouthful, I know; apparently that’s something frontman Matthew Healy said to an ex-girlfriend. Anyway, to celebrate their new LP, The 1975 hosted a pop-up shop in New York City and I was there to take in all the excitement surrounding the anticipated release. READ MORE Inside The 1975’s album release NYC pop-up shop

Letter from the editor: The future is brighter

Dear readers, this April marks the blog’s seventh anniversary. Can you believe it? I hardly can; time flies when you’re doing what you love, I guess. Way back in 2009, I started experience it all as a hobby of sorts. At the time I was interning at G4’s Attack of the Show (RIP), and I found its premise completely fascinating; it was a program that smashed together technology and pop culture. I grew up taking apart and building computers with my Dad. In high school, my utter obsession with TV began thanks to 24Lost, and Prison Break. When I was young I was always dumbfounded by my parents when they could list off every actor on screen at the movies, and now my brain somehow manages to process, store, and regurgitate everything pop culture. In sum, my creative outlet was an inevitability.

A spark was ignited the summer of ’09. From AOTS I ventured to 30 Rock working at TodaySNL and Late Night when Jimmy was there. And then I moved my life to Los Angeles to work in TV production and development at Nickelodeon and 20th Century Fox. Throughout it all, across all seven years, experience it all never wavered. A single day hasn’t gone by since its inception that I haven’t thought about making it better. It has been rewarding to see it transform from a hobby into a professional destination for the latest industry coverage. My blog stands for everything I am so passionate about: entertainment, technology, and pop culture collide here, under my terms and in my own words. From CES in Vegas to E3 in LA and San Diego Comic Con, it’s been a wild, exhilarating ride covering these ever-evolving industries for you. And I’m happy to report that there’s no end in sight. To celebrate seven years, I’ve updated the site with a brighter theme featuring colors that pop and text that’s easier on the eyes. It plays nicely on mobile devices now, too. I’ve maintained the minimalism, because at the end of the day it’s always about the content, front and center. I’m always open to feedback, of course.

The future is brighter at experience it all, and you can expect even more fun and unexpected content to make its way here (hint: it’s about time I fired up YouTube again). From me to you, thanks for going on this journey with me. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner. -sm

Comic Con: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ brings together entire main cast & the fans get a concert (Behind-the-scenes video inside)

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It’s a funny thing, really. Though little was divulged in terms of new announcements at the Star Wars panel at San Diego Comic Con 2015, it turned out to be the most amazing Con experience and one I will never forget.

A packed Hall H chants “Let’s go Star Wars!” and claps as if we were at a sporting event. Only at Comic Con, am I right? In time, moderator Chris Hardwick (the Talking Dead host and Nerdist leader was everywhere this year!) came out to introduce producer Kathleen Kennedy of Lucasfilm, director J.J. Abrams, and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. Abrams talked up Episode VII‘s reliance on practical effects over CGI, and he made a point by bringing out a new character named Bobba Joe. The creature, operated magically by five people, managed to walk across the stage twice without falling over or bumping into anything. The oversized puppet really impressed the audience with its finesse. Abrams says to expect many characters like this in the film.

“We aren’t ready to show you scenes from the movie or a new trailer, but we wanted to bring something that was as unique and unexpected as we could,” Abrams told the crowd. The behind-the-scenes reel shown to panel attendees brought tears to many eyes–it encapsulates the sheer force of the Star Wars franchise and does a great job of sharing the level of detail and blood, sweat, and tears that Abrams and co. are putting into this thing. Also, Simon Pegg pops up in a surprise cameo! You can watch nearly 4-minute clip after the break.

The cast came out next. Our three heroes John Boyega (Finn), Daisy Ridley (Rey), and Oscar Isaacs (Poe Dameron) and then the villains Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), and Gwendolyn Christie (Captain Phasma) and then the legacy players Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), and Harrison Ford (Han Solo). And yes, the crowd went more than wild at the sight of all this talent, especially when Mr. Ford entered the scene. He received the biggest standing ovation by a mile. Gleeson accidentally leaked the name of the villains’ base: Starkiller Base. Beyond that, nothing new was announced here. A handful of first-looks at practical effects characters were displayed, and you can see those in the gallery.

Just as the panel felt like it was wrapping up, Abrams said this: “Who wants to go see a live Star Wars concert right now? We only have room for all of you. We are literally all going to walk to a location together and experience a Star Wars concert tonight.” It’s hard to describe the rush I felt along with everyone else there. It was like a wave of excitement crashed into the crowd and all of sudden we were all high on life all at once. And with that, the entire Hall H–over 6,000 people–proceeded to collect their belongings and follow a procession of Stormtroopers to the Embarcadero Marina Park South where the San Diego Symphony was waiting to perform selections from the iconic Star Wars score. The walk took about 45 minutes or so, but that wasn’t a problem for anyone. With our exclusive lanyards we walked proudly behind the convention center and slowly made our way to the secret venue on the water. Once everyone was situated with free colored lightsabers, Abrams and the entire cast came out again to introduce the symphony. Composer John Williams wasn’t on hand, unfortunately, but he did pre-record a message wishing the fans a good time and “May the force be with you.” The sun set, the music played beautifully against a backdrop consisting of classic scenes spanning all six films, and just when we all thought it couldn’t get any better, fireworks exploded in the sky just as the Star Wars main theme kicked in at the end of the concert. A rainbow of lightsabers showered the symphony with love.

This was truly a shared experience to cherish for a lifetime.

READ MORE Comic Con: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ brings together entire main cast & the fans get a concert (Behind-the-scenes video inside)

Comic Con: You Know Who was not resurrected at the ‘Game of Thrones’ panel, and other highlights (Audition reel inside)

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This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 5.

Game of Thrones has finally caught up to the books. What did that mean for its panel at Comic Con 2015? Author George R.R. Martin was a no-show because he’s shackling himself to his typewriter to complete the next book in the Ice and Fire saga. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss also were not present. So who did show up? Director David Nutter, EP Carolyn Strauss, and stars Carice van Houten, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Turner, Alfie Allen, Hannah Murray, John Bradley, Maisie Williams, Conleth Hill, Liam Cunningham, and Gwendoline Christie.

Since Martin, Benioff, and Weiss are keeping season 6 plot details to themselves for now, the cast has absolutely no idea what’s coming next for them. The most tantalizing tidbit? Nutter, who directed the season 5 finale where beloved character Jon Snow is murdered, confirmed the death of the fan-favorite with an entertaining story. Apparently President Obama directly asked Nutter if Snow was really dead, and Nutter replied, “John Snow is deader than dead.” So there you have it. Also dead is Stannis Baratheon; although viewers weren’t privy to Brienne’s Oathkeeper chopping off the True King’s head, Nutter confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that “from the very beginning, and [through] the script process, that was the intent–he’s dead.”

Since there was no fresh intel to share with the crowd, how did they keep us entertained? Well for one thing, the infinitely adorable Maisie Williams shouted out an “Oysters, clams, and cockles” for the crowd when a girl dressed as Arya Stark holding a basket of foodstuffs approached the mic. And John Bradley, who plays Sam, shared this gem: “Before Gilly, Sam thought of sex as most people thought of space.” Moderator Seth Meyers went on to screen an audition reel showing early versions of many Thrones characters including Brienne and Ygritte; watch it after the break. Below, images from the panel; see if you can spot the Sons of the Harpy cosplayer sitting conspicuously close to the fan questioner.

READ MORE Comic Con: You Know Who was not resurrected at the ‘Game of Thrones’ panel, and other highlights (Audition reel inside)

A note from the editor: Meet Super Creative

Hi readership! I have some exciting news to share with you today. I’m teaming up with LA-based production company Super Creative to assist in the development of their editorial offerings. Super Creative hails from Kevin Pereira, former host of G4’s Attack of the Show, and Yaniv Fituci, who also comes from the recently disbanded tech network’s crop of talent. Together they’ve created a unique digital content platform supporting podcasts and various web series; see Kevin’s Pointless podcast and check out their music-meets-tech web series Enter the Playlist.

Today, Super Creative is primed to spread its reach by adding live Twitch broadcasts and new editorial content to its arsenal. Kevin and SC producer Alex Corea are hosting The Attack Morning Show which debuts today at 10am PST. In addition to video game shenanigans, you can expect much hilarity to ensue as the two discuss the latest in tech and beyond. Also launching today is my very first SC blog post and it’s all about Google Glass; I discuss the future of the wearable and dream up a wish list of apps for it.

Kev & Yaniv’s site is still in an experimental state; with the exciting launch of The Attack and editorial segments, Super Creative is bound to grow exponentially as it’s proven to be a breeding ground for high-quality digital content. Explore the site, tune into today’s live-stream, and peruse the new Glass post. This is the birth of a bold collaboration, and I hope you will join me for the ride! -sm

COSMOS: my thoughts

Completed Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Thank you to host Neil deGrasse Tyson, composer Alan Silvestri, executive producer Seth MacFarlane, executive producer, writer, and director Ann Druyan, and of course the late, great Carl Sagan. Cosmos is a true masterpiece of knowledge and wonder. Spectacular, from top to bottom: live, on-location shoots; cinema-level CG animation; stylized traditional animation; an inspiring host in Dr. Tyson, who makes all of the science exciting and easily digestible; and a magical score imagined by Silvestri. Traveling through space and time on the modernized Ship of the Imagination across the past, present, and future is a wildly entertaining, visually breathtaking, and wholly educational experience. Personally I’ve always been fascinated by science; Cosmos has opened my eyes even wider to the enormous spectrum of knowledge out there today and the knowledge waiting to be discovered. How exactly does dark matter and dark energy work? Will alien life ever discover our Voyager spacecraft? What happened before the Big Bang? What lies beyond the Observable Universe? Equally as important, Cosmos reaches out and grips you about the concerning realities about how we are treating our planet and it envisions very different futures for us depending on the vital actions we take next. A “Cosmic Calendar,” introduced in the first episode of the 13-part series, visualizes and condenses our universe’s 13.8 billion year lifespan into a single, glanceable year; it might make you feel tiny in our vast universe (humanity occupies the last day in the last second of the entire calendar) but it provides such amazing insight into our existence, where we come from, and where we may be heading next. In sum, I highly recommend you carve out time in your lives to take an exciting journey into spacetime; it’s unlike anything else you’ve seen on TV before and you’ll come out of it awestruck, inspired, and most of all, with an expanded mind and a new passion to question everything around you.

My take on ‘Orphan Black’

It’s safe; you are now entering a spoiler-free zone.

Orphan Black is easily one of my favorites series of all time. There, mhm, I said it.

The sci-fi-tastic plot; the small yet distinguished cast of characters you care about; the score; cinematography. All brilliant.

Tatiana Maslany. Her nuanced skill is mesmerizing. Sarah, Alison, Cosima & Helena were seemingly played by different actors. She rocks.

Shouts to Jordan Gavaris (Felix) for bringing laughs and heart to the table. And to Skyler Wexler (Kira) for being so freakin adorable.

Gotta throw this in: I really, really enjoyed the thrilling score throughout. My favorite is the loud streaks for Helena’s theme.

Most of all, what made this series so much fun to watch: the pacing. 10 episodes, all plot momentum & character development, no fluff.

So much went down & there are still mysteries left dangling. Cannot wait to see what’s next when season 2 premieres April 2014.

Side thoughts

Orphan Black brings up a bold point: I’d prefer a shortened season (10-13 episodes) full of momentum & zero filler to a “full” 22-24 episode run. Cable networks are keen on tighter storytelling, and even some broadcast nets are getting in with “limited” series & runs. Color me curious for the future of scripted TV.

I just got out of ‘Pacific Rim’…thoughts!

Stream of consciousness…go!

Wow wow wow. Pacific Rim exceeded my expectations and then some. Guillermo del Toro has crafted the ultimate modern monsters versus machines movie here. I was absolutely blown away by the special effects, the art direction, and of course, Ramin Djawadi’s impressionable score. (I am running out to get the soundtrack now.)

The big battle sequences are well constructed as the scientifically enhanced Jaegers prove to be formidable opponents to the otherworldly monstrous Kaiju. Obviously del Toro owes inspiration to classic monster movies like Godzilla (in fact, he dedicates the movie to Ray Harryhausen and Ishirō Honda, pioneers of the genre) and it certainly invokes nostalgic thoughts underneath all that metal and monster guts. The heavy duty battles were so much fun to watch, as was the intimate yet powerful human vs. human fight sequence between leads Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi. (And speaking of the cast, I gift honorable mention to Charlie Day and Burn Gorman who played a bizarre coupling of scientists with contagious wit and charm.)

What really had me gasping in excitement were the hard sci-fi elements incorporated into the film. In the future, humans will invent a way to create a neural bridge between minds: cool! And on top of all the flashy gizmos and Jaeger-bombs (heh, get it?) del Toro managed to weave an deep mythology concerning the Kaiju. Where exactly do they come from and why are they being sent to Earth to destroy mankind (and previous to this, the dinosaurs)? It’s all intriguing stuff and he’s left some questions unanswered and hopefully they will be addressed and padded with more Kaiju/alien mythos in the next one (yes a sequel is in the works).

Overall, Pacific Rim is a massively fun thrill ride packed with truly epic action sequences and curious mythology. Del Toro let his imagination run wild and the result is nothing short of awesome. When it ended, I felt a charge of electricity run through my veins–I still feel amped as I’m writing this! As a fan of monster movies and the hardcore sci-fi genre, this one sits near the top of the heap.

Side note: It’s best seen in IMAX 3D; the larger screen, the added depth and perspective, the bigger sound–this movie is meant to be experienced in the highest quality theatre.

Oh, and Idris Elba’s “cancel the apocalypse” speech will never get old.

FRINGE: It’s time to say goodbye

I’ve been dreading this moment but it’s time to face the music. The 18th of January marked the final Fringe Friday. Over the course of the past five years we laughed, we cried, and we believed in Olivia Dunham, Peter and Walter Bishop, Astrid Farnsworth, Phillip Broyles, Nina Sharp, September the Observer, and everybody else who came and went on this epic, far-out journey about what it means to be human. As expected the bald-headed baddies were destroyed (well, erased from time if you want to be precise) and our Fringe family went on to live their lives in peace. Even Walter who was forced to sacrifice himself and live in a distant future apart from his son and granddaughter–lord knows he’s having all kinds of fun with the scientists in Oslo, Norway talking them into accepting the “anomaly” Observer as an appropriate form of human evolution. What is humanity without the power of emotion beating inside it?

I’ll be short and sweet, just like the final season of the show. My thoughts on the series finale: It was all I hoped it would be. Intrinsically beautiful, exciting, emotional, poignant, satisfying. The series in general? One of a kind.

Over the years I shared my passion for Fringe in exactly 53 posts total including this one. From the intense teaser trailers to the unforgettable Comic Con panels to the nail-biting season renewals, Fringe has been an exhilarating roller coaster from shaky start to fantastic finish. From a mysterious plane crash to a portal aimed at the future, from The Pattern to The Plan, Fringe rose above its cult status and shined like a glimmer of hope.

After the break you can watch one last video featuring the main cast discussing the ramifications of the final episode. It’s time to say goodbye. Like family these characters will always remain in my heart. READ MORE FRINGE: It’s time to say goodbye