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The Front Row View: Take Your Stinkin’ Paws Off the Original Movie!!

Howdy—the other night on Mad Men they had two of the characters at a movie house watching the original 1968 Planet of the Apes. They showed the famous Statue of Liberty in the Sand ending while the two characters in the movie house gaped in awe (the show is set in 1968, so this was the first time that the world had seen it).

This got me thinking about how perfect the 1968 original was. Watching it on network television for the first time when I was a child, it was one of my first non-Disney movie memories. It had a lot to offer—an interesting plot, great (non-digital!) action, some interesting musings about society, some rousing (some would say over-the-top) acting, and some extremely convincing make-up, especially for it’s time. It still remains an experience that shows viewers what movies can be capable of.

My question: why redo it if it’s perfect the first time?

Hollywood’s unspoken answer: DINERO!!!

Which is why they went ahead and “reimagined” it in 2001.

The remake was mediocre at best, the most positive thing that could be said about it being the improved make-up. But realistic make-up does not a good movie make. The new film was pretty hum-drum. Despite my usual enjoyment of Mark Wahlberg, let’s face it—endearing overactor that he was, Chuck Heston could’ve eaten Marky Mark for breakfast in this one.

I won’t pick on the amazing 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes, as I don’t consider this a true “remake.”

Some other contenders for the Why Bother to Remake It award:

Poseidon—a good meat and potatoes disaster movie all in all, but the more realistic take wasn’t anywhere near as entertaining as the campiness of the original Poseidon Adventure. I also missed those two great old hams Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine—“HOW MANY MORE LIVES??!” “ALL RIGHT YOU—THAT’S ENOUGH!!” Classic.

Superman Returns—Christopher Reeve did it proud in his first two movies as the Man of Steel—what Brandon Routh did in 2006 was to offer a Christopher Reeve impression without any of his charm or likability. Deeply disappointed in Kevin Spacey’s Luthor (should have been great) and in Bryan Singer’s directing (this was the guy who did The Usual Suspects and the first two X-Men after all).

The Amazing Spider-Man—not a bad flick on it’s own, but did we really need a retelling a mere ten years after the first Spiderman? Emma Stone is amazing, but I think she needs to start turning down scripts that require her to still be in high school.

Does anyone have any other contenders?

Hope that everyone’s enjoying the day!


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Fresh Popped Corn: May 2013 Movie Trailers

Great Stories’ new column for our movie trailer preview series is here.  Once per month, we will be taking a look at movies released for the upcoming month, and telling our readers where we would be spending our movie dollars each week, based on the look of the trailers.  Links to the chosen trailers will be provided so you can see just what we are so excited about.


May 3rd

May is officially the start of the summer movie season, and this one starts off with a bang.  Iron Man 3 (which actually opens two days early on May 1st) features the return of Robert Downey Jr to the role he was born to play.  Keanu Reeves stars as an escort service driver for two dissimilar women and the friendship that they form amidst  the destructive lifestyles they lead in Generation UmGreetings from Tim Buckley is about the true life coming of age for a young Jeff Buckley who has to rise from his folk singer father’s shadow.  What Maisie Knew, with Julianne Moore,  is about a little girl whose parents split under auspicious conditions and forge knew relationships with some unexpected results.  And The Iceman depicts a family man whose secret life as a hitman is revealed after two decades of carnage, starring Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, James Franco, and Ray Liotta.  This movie looks outstnanding, and seems like a must see, but there is just no way we can miss Iron Man 3.  The Marvel Comics studio machine is churning out great action and iconic character studies, and Robert Downey Jr is a personal favorite.  Check out the trailer below!



May 10th

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the big screen adaptation of the literary classic The Great Gatsby, with some help from Tobey Maguire.  Bruce Greenwood plays a shell-shocked Advertising CEO who wakes up from a couch potato session only able to communicate in commercial catch phrases in And Now a Word from Our Sponsors.  Craig Robinson and David Alan Grier do the Meet the Parents formula in Peeples.  Eli Roth battles natural disasters and desperate people in the thriller Aftershock.  Aaron Eckhart follows up his role in the entertaining Olympus Has Fallen with a starring role as an ex-CIA operative targeted for assasination, along with his daughter,  in Erased.  And finally Sightseers brings us two new lovers out for a drive where events lead them down a murderous path in this dark comedy.  Truthfully, it looks like a weak offering.  We wanted to like the trailer for The Great Gatsby but am just not feeling it.  Erased and Peeples look underwhelming at best, and our recommendation is to catch The Iceman, in its second week of release!  Check out the trailer below!



May 17th

The third week of May brings us JJ Abrams follow up to his successful Star Trek relaunch.  The second film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, brings back the previous film’s cast as they deal with a terrorist in their midst that threatens to destroy everything they know.  Black Rock pits Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell, and Kathryn Aselton against a group of men when a chance meeting on a remote island leads to a misunderstanding leading to a horrific chain of events.  The English Teacher features Julianne Moore in her second starring role of the month, as a teacher whose life of books and siamese cats gets far more complicated when she becomes involved with a former star pupil who returns home after trying to make it as a playright in New York City.  The pick of the week has to be the JJ Abrams-helmed Star Trek sequel, especially after the great re-launch of the franchise.  It very well could be that this man has the midas touch!



May 24th

Fast and Furious 6 hits the big screen with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, and Michelle Rodrigues all returning to reprise their roles.  The Hangover III staggers into theaters with not much interest from us.  Before Midnight has Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy attempting to convince themselves of their love for one another.  And finally, our pick, Epic features the vocal talents of Beyonce, Colin Farrell, Johnny Knoxville, and more.  Here is a look at what looks to be a fun time for the whole family.




May 31st

After Earth reunites Will Smith and his son in a sci fi actioner that sees the aforementioned stars return to Earth after the planet had been abandoned to find a world fraught with danger.  Kings of Summer gives us three boys looking to escape from their parents and deciding to build a home in the middle of the woods where they attempt to survive and get some life lessons along the way (emoting a bit of Stand By Me).  Now You See Me is our pick of the week, with an outstanding cast that features Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Isla Fisher in a film about street magicians who perform huge bank heists.  Take a look at the great trailer below.



Thanks for checking our Great Stories May movie picks.  Next up is a mystery blog by our friend Jim Cannizarro!  Hope you all have an imaginative week.  🙂


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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New Writers at Great Stories

Hi Everyone,

Checking in again this week to let you all know that we have our very first guest bloggers appearing for Great Stories starting the week of April 29th, and continuing through the week of May 6th.  It has always been a goal to have this blog offer up some opinions outside of what the proprietors of Great Stories, Inc have to offer, and we are excited to begin this pursuit featuring two very good friends of ours.  Please indulge me for a couple of moments of your time as I give a little preview of who your blog authors will be in the next couple of weeks!


Jim Cannizarro is no stranger to the blog world, and had his own blog dedicated to movies, a major passion of his.  His blog was active through 2005 until pursuits both personal and professional took him in other directions, but he was eager to brush off his great writing talents and theatrical insights for us.  Born in Philadelphia in 1965, Jim moved to the New England area quite a few years back.  His love of movies is so deep that he can recite every Best Picture winner since the inception of the Oscar ceremonies at will!  He is also not just a fan of this creative medium, but also a trained actor.  Jim had leading roles in community theater productions of The Odd Couple, Flowers for Algernon, and A Christmas Carol to just name a few (and close to twenty productions in all).  He is also no stranger to both big and small screen with appearances in a major hollywood movie, A Civil Action, as well as the independent production Romeo and Juliet, and local commercials.  We are not sure what his plans are for his blog entry, but we know that it will be an interesting read during the week of April 29th!


Robert Fossey, a fellow Stonehill College graduate of mine and dear friend of over twenty years will be making a guest spot appearance during the week of May 6th.  Fiercely loyal to his friends and to the creative works that inspire his imagination, Robert is sure to bring an enthusiasm to whatever topic he chooses.  He’s a devotee of George Lucas, Lord of the Rings (for which he even has a credit on, and the artwork of Joe “Mad” Madureira.  And he is a fine artist in his own right, published in a college magazine, whose work will also be featured by the Great Stories brand in the future.  With a mind full of incredible ideas and the talent to put them into action, we at Great Stories have hopes that you will one day find his work available in a commercial capacity in a time not too far away.


Thank you all for welcoming these fine people into the Great Stories family and giving them a chance to inspire you.


See you next week for our May movie previews.  Summer blockbusters start here!


Chris (for the Great Stories Team)

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Divided Attentions

Greetings Everyone,

I am writing today to admit that I have a problem to you all.  I suffer from an acute form of ADD when it comes to my reading habits.  No, it is nothing that I have been to a doctor about.  It is not a problem for which I seek any medicinal treatment.  It is just one of those self-diagnosis issues for something that I simultaneously revel in and get frustrated about.


You see, I have this inability to read one book at a time.  My reading assignment list is reminiscent of that of a college student engaged in multiple classes with a heavy workload.  It is a personal chaos within which I seem very comfortable yet not as efficient as I would like when there is so many incredible works and worlds to become a part of.


Of course, there are rules within the chaos.  I can never read two books that have themes that run too close to one another.  This would lead to cross-pollination of characters and confusion.  Another rule is that the book I choose to read at any given moment is geographically driven.  I have a book that I read at work, one that I read when I am at my fiance’s home, one that I have in my bedroom, and one random book that I will read “anywhere else”.  Yes, you could call that some kind of OCD issue, but I would prefer you didn’t.  Haha.  I already feel odd enough about my reading habits! 🙂


At this time, here is a look at what I am reading:


On my bedroom nightstand is


At my fiance’s house is

At work, I am reading


And the book I am reading at random times and in random places is



And with my personal life being so busy these days (as you can see I am getting ready for a gigantic event in my life), I have not been very good about finishing any of the books that I am currently engaged in reading.  House hunting, house selling, wedding planning, and packing have been dividing my attentions in a way that has not been conducive to my reading agenda.  Please don’t read this as much of a complaint.  I am thankful for all of the great things that are happening in my life and a more normal routine will return at some point soon.  But I wonder at how much more enjoyment would be reaped  from my moments of literary escape had I a more focused set of habits.

Is there anyone else out there who has similar quirks, or even other unorthodox rituals when it comes to reading?  I’d love to hear from you!


Great Stories will be back with another blog this week, so check back with us soon!


Chris (and the Great Stories team)

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Fresh Popped Corn: April 2013 Movie Trailers

Great Stories’ new column for our movie trailer preview series is here.  One per month, we will be taking a look at movies released for the upcoming month, and telling our readers where we would be spending our movie dollars each week, based on the look of the trailers.  Links to the chosen trailers will be provided so you can see just what we are so excited about.


April 5th 2013

The first week of April’s biggest and most talked about releases are a remake and a re-release, which does not impress too greatly.  First is Tri-Star’s re-imagining of the Sam Raimi horror classic, Evil Dead.  Does the trailer look creepy?  Sure. But, it is hard to wipe away the image of Bruce Campbell showing off his chin and his scream king qualities in a role that made him famous.  Moving on, we have Jurassic Park 3-D.  Have to say that this 3-D thing is getting far overdone, and this release just does not offer anything new.  This has shameless cash grab written all over it.  Julianne Moore stars in a horror flick called 6 Souls, which is sure to get the “quick to DVD” treatment as horror fans flock to the aforementioned Evil Dead.  Then there is The Brass Teapot, starring Juno Temple, which features a recently married couple who discover a unique item that gifts them money for all the pain they inflict on themselves.  In an effort to prevent a sudden urge for slef-flaggelation, we shall wait for the DVD release.  And with that, we bring you the Great Stories pick of the week.  It is the Robert Redford/Shia LeBeouf drama, The Company You Keep, which tells the story of a suspected 60’s era radical who is sought for a crime committed years before and his efforts to clear his name.  Check out the trailer below, which caught our attention!



April 12th 2013

The second week of April sees the release of the much-anticpiated Jackie Robinson story, 42, starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford!  After that, we suffer through Scary Movie V, which by all rights should have just quit after the first two.  Disconnect, which stars Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, and an ensemble cast about the struggles of people in a modern information age society where technology exacerbates their issues and failings as people looks interesting.  It’s a Disaster is a comedy starring Julia Stiles which we predict will be dead on arrival in terms of comedic delivery.  And finally, there is Ben Affleck following the brilliant Argos, with the artsy romance of To the Wonder.  Great Stories is going to go with 42, which combines a sociological history lesson with America’s past time in what sincerely looks to be a fine sports drama (with Harrison ford, no less!).


April 19th 2013

Oblivion with Tom Cruise is the big budget release of the week and looks promising with Morgan Freeman in support.  The sci-fi actioner is looking to help Cruise rebound from the sluggish ticket sales of his last effort, Jack Racher.  Home Run gives us another baseball themed drama, with Scot Elrod playing the role of superstar Cory Brand, whose bad boy antics get him suspended from his team and he goes home to find redemption coaching a Little League team.  Kon-Tiki is the true story of a 1947 expedition from Peru across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft by a small team of Norwegians who are out to prove that Polynesia was settled by similarly sea-faring South Americans.  Rob Zombie returns his directorial talents to the big screen with the much-anticipated Lords of Salem, which tells the story of a modern day coven terrorizing Salem, Massachusetts.  As much as we are excited to see the Massachusetts-based horror effort, we were stunned by the beauty of the cinematography for the Kon Tiki trailer, and it looks like just the kind of movie you would want to see on the big screen!  Check out the trailer!

April 26th 2013

Pain & Gain is the new Michael Bay produced off-beat actioner starring Mark Walhlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as two body builders setting out to make something of themselves and end up caught in a kidnapping/extortion plot.  The Big Wedding brings Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and more together, as a very religious and traditional family are set to join in union with a family that boasts the opposite values.  Laughter ensues.  Dennis Quaid stars as a family farm owner whose son (played by Zac Effron) forgoes the family trade to become a race car driver in At Any PriceFilly Brown tells the story of a talented urban writer who forges ahead to make a name for herself amidst the chaos of a broken family by becoming a hip hop artist.  Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children tells the story of two children born within moments of India’s newly gained independence from the British Empire in what looks to be a gripping drama.  Colin Firth plays a man who changes his identity to start a new life when he meets a thief (Emily Blunt) who is similarly trying to escape her own past in Arthur Freeman.  But the winner for us in the final week of April looks to be Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey as a fugitive living in the woods who forms a friendship with two boys who help him evade the bounty hunters looking for him while he seeks to be reunited with his true love.  After seeing the trailer, this could be the role that re-establishes McConaughey as a big name in Hollywood, especially after some great buzz at Cannes!

Thanks for checking out Great Stories movie picks for April, and we welcome your thoughts on what has you excited to visit the theaters this month!

Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Genius: Morning Glories

Dear Readers,


Comic Genius is a brand new featured series at the Great Stories blog that shall serve to promote what we think are the best stories being told in the graphic novel format.  The suggested reading material may represent something quite fresh and new, or it may be a call to re-visit an old and forgotten yet classic book/tale. 


I must cop to being a gigantic Marvel Comic fan, and spent many years reading those books under the Marvel flag almost exclusively with forays into some DC Batman titles, as well as the occassional Dark Horse Comics project.  I was turned off by McFarlane’s Image Comics in the 90’s from a creative standpoint, though I was very sympathetic to the business reasons for its creation.  That being said, Image has really been impressing me of late with some very solid book series.


This month, Great Stories would like to raise your awareness of an awesome series called “Morning Glories” written by Nick Spencer with interior artwork by Joe Eisma and cover art by Rodin Esquejo.  Spencer wrote Existence 2.0 for Image Comics, also the flagship for Morning Glories, and it was well-liked enough to be optioned as a movie by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes studio and is currently in development.





Morning Glories was one that I happened upon when walking into a New England Comics store to visit a friend, and the conversation turned to the subject of the incredible TV show, Lost.  And with that perfect segue, he handed me a copy of the first trade paperback of the aforementioned title.  I opened my wallet and, after reading the first few pages, knew it had been money well spent.


Morning Glories tells the story of a group of very special students recruited from around the world to attend the prestigious Morning Glory Academy.  What the students don’t know is that Morning Glory Academy is not at all what it seems, and the students all share something in common that goes beyond the normal.  The characters, at first, seem like the typical line-up of high school archetypes.  Casey is the intelligent and beautiful blond with perfect parents who has it all going for her.  The Indian-American Zoe is the tough as nails, mean, and pretty cheerleader.  Hunter is the almost invisible book nerd raised by a single Dad.  Ike is the spoiled rich kid with a sordid past.  Jun is a principled and serious student from Japan.  And Jade is the moody emo-girl, also raised by a single parent.




Although the stereotypes are all typically present, the events that ensue are anything but.  The comparisons to Lost, as alluded to in the author’s own description of his book, are well founded and present in the flashback stylization that helps to flesh out the characters in awesome detail.  The characters have been written intelligently with actions that are consistent with the individual motivations and character traits born within.


It is quite simply very difficult to keep from being pulled into the writer’s world.  And the artwork by Joe Eisma is very good, capturing the essence of the story well within the panels and giving it a very clean look that suits the material well. His characters are drawn expressively, which I appreciate, and lends to more effective storytelling.



I want to say so much more about the book, but to do so would betray the great plot developments that author and artist have in store for the reader.  25 issues into the monthly comic, you can pick up the first 19 issues in trade paperback form in three collections starting with “For a Better Future” (collecting issues 1-6), continuing in “All Will Be Set Free” (collecting the second story arc issues 7-12), and “PE” (collecting issues 13-19).  The fourth collection, “Truants” will be released this May.


Spencer has mapped out a complete beginning to end story that runs 100 issues, which is eight years of comic life.  If the next six years of story are anything like the first two, we are all in for a treat.  Not to mention that you could very well be looking at a perfect candidate for a TV pilot, able to match the success of the last graphic novel to small screen adaptation that has taken the industry by storm.  Oh yes, that little show called “The Walking Dead” is exactly what I am referring to.


I sincerely hope you give this book a look and come back to let us know your thoughts!  Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and come back again soon for another visit.  🙂


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Great Stories Business Update

Greetings to everyone in the blogging community!


We just wanted to take a brief detour from celebrating the creative aspects of our world to let you know that Great Stories has hit a major developmental milestone as a formally created corporation.  We are now officially Great Stories, Inc.  It is a very exciting time for our business, and we wanted to share with you all that the small seed of an idea that began in December 2011 has indeed grown into something more in these past fifteen months.


It all began as an e-Bay business, which soon expanded to Amazon.  Following the successful launch of a self-operated business retail site in July 2012 (, the entity grew social media arms through Facebook, Twitter, and of course this very blog.  We have had a very eventful first year, and will continue to seek new venues and marketplaces to grow the Great Stories brand.


As we mentioned in the very first post on our blog, there are great plans ahead.  This is only the beginning of a journey that we anticipate will bring many surprises with it.  Thank you for being a part of the evolution of a brand new start-up company that shares your passions of creativity and adventure.


Our next blog will cover a very cool graphic novel series that we hope you may add to your reading list.  Look for it to appear here in the next few days!


Chris (on behalf of the Great Stories team)

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Fresh Popped Corn: March 2013 Movie Trailers

It is the first Friday of March, and that can only mean that it is time for Great Stories to preview and give our quick thoughts on the March movies release schedule based on the trailers we have seen.


March 1st

21 & Over (Relativity)- From the makers of The Hangover, comes the latest in trip down debauchery lane.  Just replace the wedding party with college-age kids intent on making their passage to 21 a memorable occasion.


Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros)- Bryan Singer, director of the X-Men, brings along Ewan MacGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Stanley Tucci into the fabled world of Kings and Giant-kin, based on the well-known children’s story.


The Last Exorcism II (CBS Films)- Eli Roth produces the sequel to the successful original which sees the return of Ashley Bell as the young demon-afflicted girl who now deals with her condition in the aftermath of her family’s demise.


Phantom (RCR Media)- Ed Harris plays a Soviet submarine captain and David Duchovny returns to the big screen as a KGB agent with his own agenda in this underwater thriller.


Great Stories Pick:  Jack the Giant Slayer

The trailer to Jack the Giant Slayer had us genuinely excited for a big screen excursion.  Bryan Singer is a proven commodity as director, and the film just has fun written all over it.  Solid cast, and what it not to like about creating a “larger than life” representation of such a great children’s classic?  You may not be able to bring your overly young children to see this one with the PG-13 tag, but it is certainly something the older kids and you could enjoy!  21 & Over had that been there and done that feel to it.  Heck, the trailer had already screamed out The Hangover even without the crack marketing team telling you it was from the same people who brought you said movie.  The only thing that caught the eye was the appearance of a certain Dharma Initiative celebrity (for you Lost fans out there).  The Last Exorcism was an excellent movie, filmed in that lost footage style with plenty of atmosphere and good acting from a cast of unknowns.  The trailer for the second movie has us far less interested, as this sequel takes on a narrative style approach.  It is good to see Ashley Bell return to her role, but the premise seems to take away from the mystique of the origiinal’s surprise ending.  Phantom, on the other hand, had us very interested when reading the synopsis.  Another tale in the mold of Hunt for Red October screamed for attention, especially with Ed Harris, whose acting chops are well known and David Duchovny of X-Files fame playing the role of the antagonist.  But the lackluster preview trailer dulled our excitement.  Again, Jack the Giant Slayer looks to be the sure-fire winner of the week!


March 8th

Dead Man Down (Film District)- Colin Farrell tries to amend his ways after the terrible Total Recall remake with this moody mutual revenge flick.


Oz the Great and Powerful (Disney)- Another classic children’s tale re-done with a new spin will attempt to bring families flocking to the cineplex with James Franco and Mila Kunis taking the leads.


Emperor (Lionsgate)- Tommy Lee Jones plays General MacArthur as he visits Japan just after their surrender in WWII, charged with the responsibility on how to deal with Emperor Hirohito.  Matthew Fox (of Lost fame) co-stars as General MacArthur’s chief investigator.


Great Stories Pick:  Oz the Great and Powerful

Let it not be said that this was an easy call for us.  Emperor looks fantastic, and history/WWII buffs will probably be in for a treat with this picture.  But Oz the Great and Powerful looks to be another winner for Disney.  James Franco is one of Hollywood’s great young actors with many good roles to his credit, and this one seems to hold a bit of magic and wonder for all ages.  Add in the beautiful Mila Kunis, as well as supporting roles by Michelle Williams and Rachel Wiesz and it is hard to argue with the strength of the cast.  As for Dead Man Down, the trailer makes a strong case for some attention, but we are a bit trigger shy after the last two big screen appearances from Farrell in the terrible remakes of Total Recall and Fright Night.  It makes one wonder if his script choices are a reflection of a poor agent or his fading star.  Maybe we can be pleasantly surprised?


March 15th

The Call (TriStar)- Halle Berry stars as a 911 call operator who is witness to the repeated crimes by a sadistic killer and is forced to take a more active role in catching him before he commits his next crime.


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros)- Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi star as childhood friends who are bonded together by their love of magic and make a carreer of it until their commercial appeal is replaced by a new magician in the public eye.


Spring Breakers (A24)- A group of wayward young girls (including Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens) steal some money to afford the spring break of their lives when they meet a local drug runner/arms dealer (James Franco) who takes them even deeper into the underbelly of the criminal world leaving the girls to ponder the choices that led them there.


Upside Down (Millenium)- Kirsten Dunst stars in the sci-fi drama about the inhabitants of twin planets who share incredible proximity and atmospheres but strangely different gravitational rules.  Also separated by socio-economic differences, a man and a woman defy their societies and risk it all to be together.


Great Stories Pick:  The Call

The Halle Berry movie seems to have enough tension and excitement to carry us through the weekend without falling asleep in that nice comfortable stadium style seat at the local theater.  And after playing it safe with two family-style films in the previous weeks, we felt the need to charge up the adrenaline a bit.  As for the other releases, Steve Carrell’s comedic take on the business of magic and illusion had some appeal, but not enough to sway us.  After all, comedies are just as good on the small screen, so we can wait.  Spring Breakers makes James Franco a bit of a commercial cannibal as he will have had two straight weeks of film release.  His portrayal of a scummy drug dealer is certainly a far cry from his wholesome image in Oz.  While the film has potential, we will just have to wait and see.  Upside Down screams art-house independent  and introspective.  We love that movies can have a higher level of sophistication, but we prefer to read those types of things as opposed to seeing them on the big screen.  Maybe good for a rental?

March 22nd

Admission (Focus Features)- Tina Fey stars as a Princeteon admissions officer who visits an alternative high school on a recruitment assignment and discovers a previously unknown connection to a very gifted student, as we as finding romance along the way.  Paul Rudd also stars.


The Croods (Dreamworks)- Animated family feature about the first pre-historic family and their first adventure together as they travel from the safety and confines of their cave home.  Stars the vocal talents of Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Nicolas Cage, and Emma Stone.


Olympus Has Fallen (Millenium)- Gerard Butler stars as a haunted secret service agent on the President’s (Aaron Eckhart) detail.  When a full scale invasion of the White House by terrorists threatens the leadership of the country, it is up to him to set things right and find redemption.  The ensemble cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Dylan McDermott, Rahda Mitchell, and Angela Bassett.


Great Stories Pick:  Olympus Has Fallen

We are locked and loaded for a a pretty exhilirating looking thriller, and Gerard Butler has a certain appeal in these types of roles.  We haven’t seen D.C. threatened like this since Jack Bauer was all over our TV screens, which seems like forever and a day.  And who didn’t like Jack Bauer?  That’s right!  As for the other releases, The Croods family fare is great for the little kiddies, and is sure to drum up some decent ticket sales.  As for Admission, well, what can be said?  That is one that we will be refusing to pay for at the Box Office.


March 29th

The Host (Open Road)- Teen dramas just got another potential flagship franchises as Saoirise Ronan takes on alien hosts that are taking over earth one body at a time, in this Body Snatcher-type sci fi flicks.


Tyler Perry’s Temptation (Lionsgate)- Brandy Norwood, Vanessa Williams, and yes, Kim Kardashian, appear in this drama about an unhappy wife in a marriage that is going through the motions when an attractive stranger enters the picture threatening to turn everyone’s workl upside down.


Family Weekend (Arc Entertainment)- Matthew Modine and Kristen Chenoweth star as a couple of very unconventional parents whose child-rearing style are rubbing their eldest daughter (Olesya Rulin) the wrong way.  The motivated teen gets the idea to re-educate her parents in this quirky comedy.


The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features)- Ryan Gosling plays a carnival stunt motorcyclist who returns home to rekindle romance with his old flame (Eva Mendes) and is surprised to learn he has a son.  Meanwhile, star rookie police officer (Bradley Cooper) is out to make a name for himself as well as a difference under the shadown of a corrupt police chief (Ray Liotta).  The paths of the two men are inextricably linked when Gosling chooses a life of crime to provide for his new family.


The Evil Dead (TriStar)- The remake of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead promises big scares and a new facelift to the franchise which spawned the cult-classic Army of Darkness.


Great Stories Pick:  The Place Beyond the Pines

The trailer for Pines looks fantastic, and the talents of Gosling and Cooper as two of Hollywood’s fast rising stars is undeniable.  Factor in a dash of Ray Liotta, and you are in for some great entertainment.  It is a little bit funny that Drive was a movie that starred Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who turns to criminal activities.  Is he risking being typecast as a stuntman?  LOL.  But the story looks solid and we can’t wait to see how it all plays out.  As for the other entries for the last weekend in March, The Host looks to be one of those tween movies that could go either way.  Movies marketed towards the teen audience are a tough game, as they tend to be what a Snackwell is to the dessert world.  A treat that just isn’t all that fulfilling without the real ingredients.  In this way, the stories they tell tend to lack edge and sophistication.  Family Weekend might be a good rental, in that same vein as the off-beat Juno.  We refuse to see anything with Kim Kardashian in it, so Tyler Perry’s Temptation is off the list.  The Evil Dead remake is intriguing, but we are more interested in a sequel to Army of Darkness and a continuation of Ash’s story as opposed to yet another Hollywood reboot.


Chris & the Great Stories team


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Comic Genius: Capital Punishment

Greetings Dear Readers,

Today’s post has nothing to do with civil rights or the justice system in America.  No, that is better left for other blogs.  This post is dedicated to Greg Rucka and his run on The Punisher/Punisher War Zone for Marvel Comics.  As a huge fan of Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, I could not be more thankful for the incredible storytelling and characterization of my favorite comic personality over the past two years.  When Marvel handed the reigns of Frank Castle’s lore to Greg Rucka, I am not quite sure they even knew or appreciated the depth of talent, thoughtfulness, and inspiration that resided in this man’s mind.  Rucka also had the help of Marco Checchetto and Carmine Di Giandomenico who took Rucka’s vision and brought it to life on the page in a way that this fan had never before seen.  These are undoubtedly two of the fastest rising stars in graphic novel art today!



The character I love so dearly has been through a sort of creative purgatory over the course of the past twenty years.  Originally appearing in Amazing Spider-man #129, in the 1970’s, Punisher began as a mercenary hired to end the famed hero.  Gaining popularity after more guest appearances in various stories, a limited series was launched in the mid-80’s at a time when gun-toting action stars ruled the big screens.  Modelled after Charles Bronson’s Death Wish character and Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, Frank Castle was a Vietnam vet who came home from one war and found that he could not escape it when his family was gunned down after witnessing a mob execution.  He survived to wage a one-man campaign against organized crime, murderers, and deviants of all stripes.  Somehow becoming what he despised most, yet keeping a code of honor simultaneously.  The perfect Great White Shark of graphic novelty.




After many years of popularity, the Punisher went through a bit of a transformation as Marvel saw fit to have Castle go off the rails and assasinate Nick Fury (as known to most audiences as the cool head of SHIELD portrayed by Samuel Jackson in the current Avengers series).  This led to Marvel coming up with the terrible idea of making him the head of a crime family.  That short-lived incarnation later led into the character becoming some tool of divine judgement using angelic weapons (in a thankfully shorter lived series), before Garth Ennis saved The Punisher character by returning him to his roots…..fighting a dirty mob war without the supernatural enhancement package (sarcasm mode off).  Garth Ennis righted the Punisher ship for many years giving fans just what they wanted.  It was a no holds-barred Frank Castle.  A force of nature doing what he does best.  But he kept him mainly in his own little corner of the Marvel world, separated from the larger Marvel cast of characters.  And when he did write Castle in a space occupied by the superhero community, he did so in such a way that reflected the writer’s own feelings on spandex-clad characters.  He just didn’t like them, and it showed.  Following Ennis’ departure, Matt Fraction took over the Punisher storytelling to mediocre result, followed by Rick Remender who in spite of his talent decided to drop the character down one of the weirdest rabbit holes in all of comic history.  Killing the Punisher in one of the most epicly horrific ways, and having him reassembled into some Frankenstein creature.  ACK!  Somebody stop the madness!




Enter Greg Rucka!  Returning Castle to his roots, Rucka created a world heavy on supporting cast, which was a huge departure from the previous 10-15 years of Punisher storytelling.  Fleshing out the world around him, and allowing Castle to be a shadowy force of nature working in the story’s backdrop proved to be masterful.  Introducing characters that people could care about (two detectives assigned to solve the Punisher killings, the lone survivor of a mob execution that wiped out an entire wedding, the leadership of a new crime syndicate called The Exchange), while also intergrating in existing supporting characters from other Marvel books, and then having some very logical appearances from other featured Marvel heroes, Rucka’s Punisher run can only be considered a shining moment in history for the character.  Sixteen issues of a regular series returned Castle to being what I believe he always was at the heart of the character.  A highly principled killing machine that also happens to be a brilliant field strategist and soldier.  Rucka knows Frank Castle, and it is apparent that he holds the character in the highest respect by not minimalizing his attributes.


By the end of the 16 issue run, we are left with a sincere and deep interest in Frank, his relationship with Seargant Rachel Cole-Alves (lone survivor of her ill-fated wedding), and where the story would go from there.  There is some real gut-wrenching stuff in these pages.  And the artwork is spectacular.  If gritty could ever be beautiful, it is demonstrated here.




After finding out that Marvel was going to add Punisher to a team book, Rucka knew his run would have to come to an end and he delivered the 5 issue Punisher War Zone to bring his story to a grand finale.  What happened in the pages of the preceding 16 issue run causes The Avengers to stand up and take notice.  Something would have to be done to solve the “Castle problem”, and Rucka masterfully develops a condensed character study on each of these Avengers, which is reflected in the progression of events and in the actions/words of the heroes with respect to dealing with the Punisher.  It is great to see a writer go to great lengths to honor the histories and motives of the many characters in the story.  In life there is rarely the black and the white.  Most live in the gray, and I think the sophisticated storytelling by Rucka relfects in this work perfectly.




I just read the final issue, which was released to stores today, and I have to say that it is the finest run of all Punisher stories.  I say that with great joy and also a feeling of great remorse.  Knowing that it is not likely that we will ever see Greg Rucka deliver another Punisher story to the masses is a bitter pill, but I am most thankful for his time with the character that got me started in comic books so many years ago.  I raise a celebratory glass to you Mr. Rucka (and to both Marco Checchetto and Carmine Di Giandomenico) for two years of graphic novel bliss.  Thank you for returning Frank Castle to such a high place creatively, with honor, respect, and dedication to your art.


As for me, I will be seeking out Greg Rucka’s past, present, and future projects with eagerness.  And I encourage any of you readers out there to do the same.  The Punisher trade paperbacks would be a great place to start!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Storm of the Century

Greeting Everyone,

I’d like to apologize for the extended absence, as it is my intention to update this blog at least once per week.  Some weather patterns that moved into the New England area caused some changes in our update schedule as we worked to unbury ourselves and our neighbors.  That being said, we are right back to it, and thankful in some ways to this recent storm and the additional snowfall we are getting at this very moment to inspire the next topic of discussion here at the Great Stories blog.


For me, these winter days make me want to find some warm and comfortable place in the house and open a good book.  In between the shoveling, frostbite, and watching the neighborhood kids laugh and play, there really is nothing better than to grab some hot chocolate and some peaceful reading time…at least for me.  In keeping with the theme of winter storms, Stephen King has provided us with a great haunting tale sure to keep your eyes glued to the page and pull your family a little closer to you.  “Storm of the Century”.




King originally wrote this story back 1999 and it was released as a screenplay with a TV movie released to viewing audiences directly after.  The book form is actually in screenplay form, which is exactly how King wrote it, which makes for a vastly different reading experience.  The premise of the screenplay centers on the community of Little Tall Island, off of the coast of Maine which is in preparations for the biggest storm to hit in 100 years.  With access to the island being blocked off by the impending blizzard, the town suffers a tragedy as one of their residents is brutally murdered by a mysterious stranger named Andre Linoge, who seems to know all of the dark secrets of the town and makes a promise to spare the town if given a young child in exchange.  You see, Andre is an emissary of Satan himself, and he needs to train another soul to take his place in this unholy mission.  As King reveals the true nature of the antagonist and the hold he has over the town, we the readers are left with only shock, amazement at the plight of this town, and a shiver in our bones as if the cold of the Storm of the Century was ours to experience.


I cannot recommend this decade plus old story enough to you all the next time you are snowed in, and feeling warm and cozy in your favorite chair, under your most comfortable blanket, and sipping at your mug.  Escaping into the imagination of a great storyteller can be just the thing to pass the time.


What story can you recommend to those of us, who don’t mind feeling a bit of a chill in the comforts and safety of our own homes?


Until next week,

Chris & The Great Stories Team