Inside Pulse A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse Monday Morning Critic – Is Pitch Perfect Another Generation’s Franchise Level Footloose? A look at Anna Kendrick and the Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:26 +0000

You know what’s crazy? Sometimes I tend to think that without Up in the Air we’d have written off Anna Kendrick as a serious actress a long time ago because of her association with the Twilight franchise.

There’s a residual stench to it to anyone but the “Twi-Hards” that turned a substantial young adult novel series into one of the highest grossing film franchises of all time haven’t supported anything the cast has done en masse. Taylor Lautner went from being a movie star on the rise while in the franchise … to being just another face in the crowd after Abduction failed to do anything commercially or critically. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have predictably struggled to find a foothold in their careers since the franchise concluded, both intrinsically identified with it because of their prominent roles, and the rest of the prominent members of the cast have returned back to their pre-Twilight levels of fame and prominence.

Anna Kendrick, though … we really don’t associate her with it despite her involvement in every film of the franchise. In part it’s because we as a movie going audience kind of understand that sometimes you have to slum it for a bit to do the films you’re meant to. Matthew McConaughey was in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, among other things, and now he’s an Oscar winning leading man of substance. In the end game we’ll chalk it up to a young actress establishing commercial bona fides without becoming a tabloid star in the process. Not every film is a masterpiece, or something to be proud of, but a good cinematic resume does require some dues paying in the process.


With Up in the Air we saw something that said that Kendrick was someone who had talent. We saw that she could be great in the future given the right project, and we got with a film about acapella groups in college. It simultaneously poked fun at the coming of age tropes while also being a great coming of age film. Pitch Perfect helped to establish the bona fides of a number of people from the cast, most of whom are returning, and landed Kendrick a legit Top 40 hit with “Cups.”

But without Up in the Air we probably would’ve seen the same thing happen to Kendrick, I think, that happened to Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner. In less than two years they went from major celebrities to actors that you can’t remember what their last project was. She’d have been washed out in the tide like Ashley Greene, another young actress who can show up at conventions for 20 years and make a nice living with autographs like an ‘80s pro wrestler or a slasher movie heroine in between indie projects.

Up in the Air garnered her an Oscar nomination and tons of accolades, of course, but the thing that stuck with me the most is that it reminded us of how good, charismatic and interesting of an actress she can be. Admittedly it’s when she isn’t playing second fiddle to Kristen Stewart in campy, dinner theatre wannabe productions that play to the most basic among us. We could kind of forgive her for those horrible films because they were paycheck roles. She kind of got a pass because this franchise, and the paychecks involved, got her into films we could care about.

The whole trajectory of her career was changed overnight with that film because we saw a glimpse of what she could be on a grand scale.

Crazy enough Pitch Perfect might wind up being the franchise we remember her most in as opposed to the one that will have made significantly more money at the box office. Kendrick in the lead of the Pitch Perfect is more fitting and more memorable for any number of reasons. The key is that it inspires a different emotion than the mockery that Twilight did. For all the cultural zeitgeist that Twilight was, spurring the young adult novel film movement (and giving plenty of work to young actresses), Pitch Perfect has a shot at being the sort of film franchise that can be looked back at like Footloose is today: genuinely fun.

I remember what I wrote, and what I thought, when I saw the trailer for the first film in what I presume will probably wind up being a three film franchise. In fact, with the beauty of the internet, I can link it here and quote it directly. AHEM.

“Singing films are like films about dance crews: you know they’ll suck, they know they’ll suck and everyone just waits for them to stop with the crappy acting to get to the cover songs.”

I was coming off a weekend of insulting the faith based film Last Ounce of Courage, which did garner my first physical threat. So perhaps I wasn’t in the best of moods … but to be fair that’s usually par for the course. I had been making fun of it since the trailer was first released and it easily was the biggest surprise of the year. I paid to see the film three times by the end of its run in theatres, which is a rarity because I normally don’t see a film more than once in a theatre.

I wound up calling Pitch Perfect one of my Top 10 of the year for 2012 and has easily been one of the more rewatchable films from 2012 in the two years since. It’s found a significant fan base on DVD after being a minor hit, making well over $100 million worldwide off a budget of less than $20 million. It made sense for a sequel to be greenlit, despite not really being necessary, because Hollywood has traditionally been in love with franchises.

So now, two years after Pitch Perfect became a hit and Breaking Dawn Part 2 finished up that particular franchise, we’re in a much different cinematic landscape. And out of that entire cast, all mailing it in for a miserably awful franchise, Kendrick’s rise to prominence afterwards has been remarkable.

And now she has her chance at immortality with a franchise that’ll have a chance to do something remarkable in the summer movie season. Next year is going to be the year where “Hollywood is resurging” with a new Star Wars, another Avengers film and any number of substantive films coming out. The narrative will be there, especially after a down year like 2014 is going to wind up being. And Pitch Perfect 2, situated as perhaps the best of counter programming, has a shot at doing something wild.

While this is the era of the costumed hero, replacing the era of the movie star, we’ve got a chance at a genuinely fun franchise for the first time in a while.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Travis tackled the latest Hunger Games film.

BC with some thoughts on 22 Jump Street.

And now on MMC … we watch Melvin Manhoef get planked.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

I didn’t have the chance to watch anything new on DVD this week … thus I say this: have a good Thanksgiving.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Horrible Bosses 2 – The trio is back for more, ahem, shenanigans.

Skip it – The first wasn’t all that funny and this promises to be far, far worse.

Penguins of Madagascar – The side characters get their own film many years after it would’ve been relevant.

Skip It – The final cash in for the franchise and counter programming opposite a hard R rated film.

The Imitation Game – The story of Alan Turing vs. Nazi machines. In limited release.

See It – Benedict Cumberbatch is getting strong Oscar buzz for a reason.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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Amazo Virus Review: Justice League #36 By Geoff Johns And Jason Fabok Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:53 +0000

Review: Justice League #36

“The Amazo Virus Chapter One: Quarantined”
Published by DC Comics
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok
Coloured by Brad Anderson

The Plot

The story begins 24 hours after the end of the last issue with Metropolis now under quarantine. A few guys are looking to steal some money and are interrupted by the World’s Finest. They want to help the men because they are sick, but the men attack with some powers that manifest from the virus. Superman is able to withstand their attack and Batman still tries to save them nonetheless. The other Leaguers are sick with the exception of Luthor and Wonder Woman. With their time for survival limited, Luthor reveals that he can save everyone that is infected. However, he needs to find Patient Zero and Steve Trevor has no choice but to trust in Luthor. Even though Metropolis has been quarantined, the virus is showing signs of spreading. Meanwhile Batman and Superman face a good news, bad news scenario. Good news is that they find Patient Zero and the bad news is that they find Patient Zero.

The Breakdown

Another solid issue of this consistent title. The Amazo Virus seems like a legitimate threat and its effects will make for an interesting arc. The creative team did an effective job at showing the threat level with the city being so barren and empty. The virus is airborne and there is a real sense of urgency with Batman and Superman as they desperately try to find a cure. The reasons why Superman and Wonder Woman not getting infected work for me and there is something else that I noticed. With Cyborg being amongst the ill, perhaps this answers the question of whether or not he is human. If he really just was a software and hardware that thought he was a human then he wouldn’t be sick. I’m curious to see how the advanced stages of the virus affect metahumans. I’m also interested to see what kind of blowback this entire situation is going to have on Luthor. This issue was good at setting up the mood and making everything seem so dire. I’m glad that this issue jumped forward 24 hours because it helped the pacing and just makes the story less decompressed. I’m looking forward to seeing who’s working against Luthor behind the scenes. The conclusion of the issue was decent because since Patient Zero has made an appearance, it’s easy to figure out that the rest of the struggle isn’t going to be very straightforward. Last issue I was a bit sad about the departure of Mahnke from the title, but damn did Fabok ever show up for this issue. Getting another quality talent on art makes for such an easy transition. I liked his stuff over on Detective Comics and the only reason I left that title at the time was the refusal to actually put the number 900 on what was technically the 900th issue of the title. That just annoyed the hell out of me for some reason. I’m also really digging Wonder Woman’s outfit in this issue and Fabok did a badass job with how he depicted her. Anderson’s colours suited Fabok’s art quite well and this has me looking forward to seeing more from this art team. Maybe with the nature of the virus, we could see J’onn show up in this arc. I’m not banking on it, but it would be nice to see. This title continues to show consistency.


The issue wasn’t perfect, but there wasn’t anything that stood out as bad for me in it. I suppose I would like to start seeing a bit more Captain Cold though. The images of the League after Forever Evil made it seem like he was going to have more of a role, but it could be a slowburn and if so I’m fine with that. This isn’t directly related to the issue, but it annoys me that when I read the word “quarantine” I say it in my head as “quantrantine” (thanks Trailer Park Boys).

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Buy It. This continues to be a good read and I’m really liking the art team a lot. I like the nature of the story as it isn’t another typical bad guy threatens the League type of arc. The timing of this arc is coincidental, but strange nonetheless considering recent real life events. 36 issues in and this title is still feeling fresh. I’m glad that the Justice League title is receiving the attention that it deserves in terms of creative teams because it really shows in the quality of the work. Looking forward to issue 37.×120.jpg

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The Theory Of Everything Covers Everything About Stephen Hawking Without Giving Us An Insight Into The Man – A Review Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:00:33 +0000
Unremarkable biopic about a remarkable man

There’s a moment towards the end of The Theory of Everything that gives you an insight into the world of Stephen Hawking. Hawking (Eddy Redmayne) and his first wife Jane (Felicity Jones) are at Buckingham Palace, invited to meet the Queen of England, and Jane remarks that the moment is incredible. Being at Buckingham Palace as guests of British royalty, et al, is something she couldn’t have fathomed doing. Hawking, by this time completely crippled by ALS and using a computerized voice to communicate, can only remark at how amazing the couple’s trio of children are. It’s a rare moment where the moment doesn’t feel as big as it could be; Hawking is watching his children and is still in wonder that he could help create them.

The problem is that The Theory of Everything isn’t filled with enough of these sorts of insights into his life, focusing instead on his disability and physics career to the point where it feels like a greatest hits compilation of his career as seen through an epic length mini-series edited down for a feature length film.

The Theory of Everything is a biopic of Hawkings, one of modern history’s greatest minds in physics, as detailed by his first wife Jane. Diagnosed with ALS as a young man, he was given two years to live. He defied the odds, losing his ability to move (and eventually his ability to speak) but managed to be among the foremost minds when it comes to physics in the modern era. The film follows him from the moment he met his first wife Jane as a graduate student in physics through their marriage, his body deteriorating along the way, through both of their second marriages.

The problem of the film is that it tries too hard to focus on the bulk of his career, from graduate student to one of the world’s eminent scholars, and compresses too much into the film’s running length. The most interesting parts of the film are the first act, when he goes from an awkward but brilliant student to one with a veritable death sentence, and the film grinds its way through the rest. Seeing Hawking as a young man, dealing with his illness (and losing all muscle control over the years), is fascinating because it forces Eddie Redmayne to act.

This portion of Hawking’s life is interesting because seeing how he reacts to it all is far more interesting than merely him doing a contortion act to mimic Hawking with his ability to move taken away. It’s nothing new for an actor to have to act by not using his body, as both Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside) have done it as well, and Redmayne gives us an insight into the locked in aspect of Hawking’s life. The problem is that once he arrives at this place the film doesn’t do much beyond give us a glimpse into the man’s history beyond the obvious.

It’s that first portion of his life, the years before he was fully crippled, where the film genuinely shines. The film posits the romance of Jane and Stephen as a childhood love that probably would’ve disappeared if not for Hawking’s illness. They don’t have a great love affair, only one that accelerated seemingly out of necessity, and the film tackles this as they deal with the profound complications of being good people … but not right for one another. Their relationship becomes interesting to look at through that lens and becomes part of the film’s focus.

And if we saw the Hawking marriage through that glance, and with Felicity Jones and Redmayne alone, this would make for a much more interesting film than what is put on there. The early years of their marriage are incredibly interesting … but the film itself can’t sustain this early brilliance.

Director: James Marsh
Writer: Anthony McCarten based off the novel “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen” by Jane Wilde Hawking
Notable Cast: Eddy Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis

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Damian Wayne’s Robin Rises Part 4 Review & Spoilers: Batman And Robin #36 By Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray From DC Comics’ New 52 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:00:05 +0000
Batman and Robin #36 Robin Rises Part 4 Spoilers and Review 1 Batman and Robin #36 Robin Rises Part 4 Spoilers and Review 2

BATMAN & ROBIN #36 Review & Spoilers

“Robin Rises, pt. 4: Chaos” (20 pages)

Story by: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils by: Patrick Gleason
Inks by: Mick Gray
Colors by: John Kalisz
Letters by: Carlos M. Mangual
Covers by: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz; LEGO cover by ???
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Be afraid of the Big, Black Bat as he storms through Apokolips!!

To say that Batman is (o)mega-pissed is a gross understatement. Even in the most out-of-his-element scenario, he tears a new one all through the infernal planet. Glorious Godfrey happens to be the unhappy recipient of his wrath. GG immediately rats on Darkseid’s forsaken son Kalibak, the Cruel. Even though GG clearly explains the use of Damian’s body I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all. This is desecration and defilement at its most disgusting!!! Number one of two best lines — when Batman tells GG “Go be gloriously unconscious.” It’s perfectly natural that Bruce would be enraged as he continues to cut a swath to the main culprit. Now he has to deal with some alien infection within his armour.

The back-up brigade has arrived!! Batgirl, Red Hood, Red Robin, Titus and special guest-star Cyborg. They land smack-dab in the middle of a pack of Hunger Dogs. Only one way out of this pickle! Luckily, the melee doesn’t last long. Batgirl tells Titus not to look back as the pack spit-roast one of their Apokoliptan steeds.

I’m dying (no pun intended) to see Damian return!! It makes my blood boil how his innocent, lifeless body is used in such a diabolical scheme. Kalibak has ambitious plans. Who wouldn’t?? It seems like in this reality he doesn’t want to please Daddy Darkseid but surpass him in greatness. He laser-blasts an underling for daring to suggest he consult Darkseid first. Kalibak becomes annoyed with the news of one lone trespasser since he’s confident his soldiers can handle it. HAH! As if!!

The next six pages are double-spread and so they should be. There’s no other way to show the scope and range of the epic one-man war Batman is waging. This man has brass balls!! He plops right outside the citadel and takes down a horde of Parademons with his specialized batarangs. Not even a mecha-dino is a match for him. Second of two best lines — “Want to know who I am? I’m BATMAN!” I can hear that raspy, raging voice in my head. If I were to write the script, I’d add an expletive to really emphasize his identity. The HellBat armour is appropriately named because not only is Bruce wreaking havoc he’s raising all levels of hell here!! Just when things were going swimmingly, capture!

The supporting crew catch up to him. As Bruce becomes more consumed with anger, he plays three painful scenarios in his head all connecting to Damian’s death: Talia, The Heretic, and Ra’s Al-Ghul (I decided to go in reverse-order). Cyborg is awestruck by this single man’s stamina and steadfastness. A quick reality check is done by showing the ‘R’ emblem which represents everything Bruce is fighting for. Cooler heads prevail for sure. Just as he’s about to reprimand the Bat-Squad for abandoning Gotham, he dials it down and accepts their decision. He’s also pleased that Cyborg had a change-of-heart despite the dirty trick Bruce pulled on him.

Ever the master tactician, Bruce relays how he was making noise all along and wanted to be the target of Darkseid’s attention. That’s the only way he can truly get to Damian and spare him from further monstrosities. Jason gets in a quip by stating that Bruce went all ‘Red Lantern’. Bruce retorts that there were no fatalities and instructs Jason to use the stun setting to incapacitate the oncoming enemies. No fatalities?? Really?!? Could’ve fooled me!

Bruce is content to see the Robin uniforms on his partners. That’s two compliments in a row! Is he getting soft? Even in the most perilous of situations, there’s nothing like humour to diffuse the tension. One of the many lackeys communicates to Kalibak about committing suicide since he was incapable of stopping the ‘lone worm’. Kalibak wants him to load the Chaos Cannon before that happens. *chuckle* That moment of levity is all too brief as Bruce delivers a most POWerful punch! Red Robin shouts that Titus has found Damian. Cyborg proceeds to dismantle the cannon. Batman gets the better of Kalibak by taking his laser staff and blasting him halfway across the room. Touché! Or is it zappé?? Speaking of which, Cyborg gets majorly zapped by none other than…

….Darkseid!! Looks like Bruce’s mission was a success. I love his snarky remark: “About time you showed up.”

I’m glad that this time around I’m not reviewing the beginning or end of a storyline and/or issue. It’s refreshing to look at something halfway or in this case four-fifths. (Technically, this is a 7-part storyline but 5 parts within the main book). I collect this title and have been even before the New 52. I, like many other Damian fans, was sad/shocked/enraged/upset when he died. Since his absence, Peter Tomasi has been delivering his most poignant work. It’s all deliberate, mind you. Bruce has had to go through all the stages of grief and let time heal all wounds. In real time, it’ll be almost two whole years (Feb. 2013) since his departure and now inevitable return. I really hate reading spoilers X( At any rate, Tomasi was building up a beautiful relationship between father and son. It’s painfully obvious (pun intended) how much Bruce is hurting. This isn’t just a sidekick role that needs to be filled. He needs his biological son to be back at his side, to ground him, and to learn from him. The Robin uniforms first shown and donned last issue cannot be a more touching tribute. This was an easy and quick read but understandably so. It has to be fast and furious to convey the necessity of returning the Robin to the fold in one form or other.

Patrick Gleason is another bona fide professional in the ever-changing industry of rotating creative teams. He’s been on this title since day one (as well as issue 1). His art is wickedly versatile. At this point, he’s done it all: still, quiet moments, fast-paced action, and bombastic battles like in this very issue. He effectively uses three double-spreads (as previously mentioned). Plus, the last page is truly killer. What could be more ominous that a giant shadow looming over another darkly-clad character? Even though it’s black-on-black, I like how the outlines distinguish the two forms and do not mesh. This is apart from the red in the visor, of course.

Speaking of lines…Mick Gray is another consummate working man who’s been by Gleason’s side from the get-go (excluding the Villains Month issues). He brings Gleason’s designs to the forefront with sharp ‘cuts’. Never has Batman been as menacing as he is here. Take a gander at pages 1 and 9, page 11 panel 2, page 12 panel 3, and page 19, panel 4. Batman literally looks like a bat out of (rather in) Hell.

Red is the colour du jour and John Kalisz dabbles deftly in the damask. Black would be the secondary colour for obvious reasons. Apokolips really wouldn’t be a nice place to visit with all those fire pits and raving lunatics. C’mon, red is specifically mentioned for Hood, Robin, and even Lantern!! He has a bit of contrast to play with via Batgirl’s yellow gloves as well as Cyborg’s silver sheen.

Carlos M. Mangual expertly highlights Batman’s speech through that spooky suit. Plus, he antes up with two of the longest onomatopoeia I’ve ever read. The way he stretches out BRAKAKOOOOM is astounding. Also, FRAKKRAKSLAMWHAMSMASH is the best mash-up of sounds I’ve glanced upon. Way to go in terms of the full effect!!

Given Damian’s current age (10), I give this issue a knuckle-breaking 9 on the smash scale.

Robin Rises House Ad×120.jpg

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Open Mike Night: Spider-Verse’s Spider-Woman #1 (2014) / Uncanny X-Men #150 (1963) Sun, 23 Nov 2014 18:30:24 +0000

Spider-Woman (2014) #1

Written by: Dennis Hopeless
Penciled by: Greg Land
Inked by: Jay Leisten
Colored by: Frank D’ Armata
Lettered by: Travis Lanhom
Cover by: Greg Land + Morry Hollowell
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Maillaro: So…uhm…I guess I need to apologize to Weaver once again.  You see, my hetero-lifemate here is an old school comic reader and doesn’t keep up too much with current comics.  So, when I propose doing reviews, I always try to pick first issues or something with a new creative team so we’re on even footing.  But, now two weeks in a row, I’ve hit him with first issues that were parts of massive crossovers (last week it was Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, part of Axis).

This week, I hit him with Spider-Woman, which is a Spider-Verse tie-in.  And once again, Marvel doesn’t seem to think they need to tell the reader what’s going on, or even who the players are.  Spider-Woman gets a real brief sentence or two on the title page.  And other characters show up throughout the issue without any explanation at all beyond “some of these characters are alternate reality Spider-Man (and Women)…and some aren’t,”

Weaver: You know, you’d think it would have been hard to hit the ground running here, but it wasn’t that bad for me.  They explained everything well enough in asides and through dialogue cues that I didn’t feel too lost, except when Pete shows up with reinforcements at the end and starts talking more about the Spider-multiverse and whatnot.  But even that, I could handle.

It made me curious about the Prohibition Spider-Man, and Black Cat as a speakeasy host, but ultimately, I’m not curious enough to track anything down.  The worst part of this is that it definitely started in the middle of the story.  Cap and the Mighty Avengers at least seemed like the beginning of a story…not the beginning of the first story of a team, but the beginning of a story.  Spider-Woman felt like I walked in on the third reel.  It was easier to get up to speed on, though.  Spider-Man and Spider-Woman are pretty classic archetypes, and just throwing a little modifier on to it…like “This is the 20’s Spider-Man”…was enough.

Maillaro: Prohibition Spider-Man is actually Spider-Man Noir.  I’ve never read it, but I did play Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions where he was one of the playable Spider-Men.

The problem for me was that when 616 Spidey showed up at the end…they don’t explain Silk’s reaction (there is a creepy pheromonal attraction) or who the other characters were.  I keep forgetting Julia Carpenter gave her costume to Arana…and Spider-Gwen.   Actually the whole “swap teams” thing was real odd.  Why did they bother starting with Silk, Noir, and Spider-Woman just to change them all up at the end.  It just seemed like a real strange and seemingly random move to me.  Not particularly bad, just strange.

I also thought some of the dialogue, especially on the first page was clunky.  Instead of showing the world, we get “We’re riding giant lizard donkeys through purple sand heading for a Manhattan carved out of gold.”  Uhm…yes…we can see that.  Thanks for the closed captioning….

Weaver: Well, at the end, clearly, we’re going to move over to a Silk focus, and I assume Jess is going to end up having to rescue her.  But yeah…Spider-Gwen and Arana are basically just, “Hi, we’re here, we exist, bye.”  Which for minor characters in a crossover, I need a little more than that.

Also on the Manhattan made of gold…I feel the closed captioning was necessary because honestly, the art focused so much on the lizard donkeys that I never really got that the city was that grand.  Also, in a city of gold, it’s hard for me to believe there would be an “Aladdin” moment, but…okay, the setting for the first part was pretty underexplored compared to the promise of it.  If you’re giving me a purple sand lizard donkey city of gold, please remember to make it majestic.

Maillaro: Jess is off Silk duty (that is why Spider-Gwen and Arana showed up)…I think Silk is being dealt with on one of the many tie-in series. Peter says they have another mission for Jessica.  Which made this comic even odder, since it spent so much time focusing on Silk.

BTW, both Silk and Spider-Gwen will be getting their own titles soon.  I don’t think we’ve ever had so many “Spider-chick” books at the same time.  We could argue if they are needed, of course, but I am always happy to see female characters get a bigger focus.

Weaver: Okay, I’m sure that they needed to show up because of their titles coming up soon.  That makes sense to me.  But in that case…I agree with you, it’s a terrible bait and switch.  I just assumed Jess would have to audible back to Silk duty.

I think I agree, that sounds like dangerous levels of oversaturation, especially given that none of them have huge intrinsic fanbases.  However…I also am happy to see more female leads in comics.  I’ll leave the jury out for now.

 Maillaro: So, I know a lot of people hate on Greg Land, but I’ve been a fan since Sojourn.  I thought this book really looked good…though I agree the city of hold could have been a lot more majestic.  I especially loved how he drew Peter…there was no doubt in my mind when he showed up that was 616 Spider-Man.  And I loved the “why are we all crouching?” gag.

I would definitely give it a 5 for art.

Weaver: I liked the character art, but you need to wow me more with golden Manhattan.  The Spider-Man pose was great, and…I’ll give it a 4.5.  I can’t get over not being wowed by a golden city.  Sorry Greg Land.

I actually liked the story quite a bit.  I’m also going to hit it with a 4.5, so straight 4.5’s.  It wasn’t a great first issue, which is why it’s docked there, but it is a really good issue period, in my eyes.

Maillaro: I would probably go a little lower on the writing.  4.  It was a good read, but I definitely think Marvel needs to put a little more effort into actually MAKING FIRST ISSUES ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS!  It is like they have given up on even trying to sell a new series.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #150

Written by: Chris Claremont
Art by: Dave Cockrun, Josef Rubinstyein, Bob Wiacek
Colored by: Glynis Wein
Lettered by: Tom Orzechowski and Jean Simek
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: 75 cents ($1.99 on Comixology)

Maillaro: I typically let Weaver lead when we talk old school X-Men, but I just wanted to explain why we picked this issue.  A while back, we reviewed Uncanny 1…then Uncanny 50.  I sort of semi-joked that I wanted to do a review for every “50th” issue of X-Men.  Uncanny 150 went on sale last week on Comixology, so I figured it was time we continued the series.

Okay, now here’s Weaver with the actual review:

Weaver: Oh man.  You know, I hold 80’s X-Men on a special pedestal, and this issue is a really key issue with Magneto sinking the Russian submarine which we’re going to hear about every ten issues from now until the end of time, but I have to admit this was kind of a mess and doesn’t hold up well.  The good parts were good.  Storm’s crisis of whether to kill Magneto or not.  Magneto starting to reveal more about his history…I’m not sure he ever talked about the Holocaust before this.  The high fashion of Scott and Lee.  Random Cthulhu sculptures.

On the flip side…I’m pretty sure that Storm needs to go through the concussion protocol before returning to team duties.  She gets knocked out by Wolverine’s head, then passes out from whiplash, and then gets smacked in the head by a Magneto propelled Colossus.  I felt like she had grounds to sue for being put back in the game after that.

Cockrum’s roots are in science fiction stories, notably Legion of Super Heroes, and while that sort of thing can be cool and all, I really didn’t feel like it was the right look for this book, especially given that it comes pretty soon after the gritty realism of Claremont/Byrne X-Men.  Why did Magneto launch a Cthulhu island up to the surface?  We’re not really sure, but we do know that he somehow knew it was there and chose to send it up.

<Also, and I hate to narrate a lot here (although Claremont didn’t hate doing that…zing), but you’ll see a few things in this issue that are contradicted by later canon.  Nightcrawler talks about how he was a great acrobat even before his tail, which now he’s been born with.  Wolverine’s claws have nothing to do with his mutant power, and he doesn’t bleed popping them without a healing factor.  These things are just interesting to me, neither good or bad because they were true at the time.

Maillaro: I haven’t read this issue in a long time.  Like you said, that nuclear sub ends up being a major issue for years to come…but no one bothers to mention that bastard also ripped a damn volcano up in the middle of a Russian city…but slowly so people had time to evacuate.  I laughed at that point.  Thanks Magneto…you’re not the total asshole we all thought.  You just demolished the whole town…but everyone can leave if they choose.

I totally disagree with you about this issue not holding up.  I thought of the X-Men comics we’ve reviewed so far, this one has held up the best.  Yeah, it’s not perfect, but I thought it presented a clever scenario (the X-Men facing Magneto with no powers), some great action, and some serious moral dilemmas for both Storm and Magneto.  And it was all basically done in one issue (though double-sized).  I really can’t ask for a lot more than that in a comic.

Weaver: I can’t believe you’re throwing Steranko under the bus like that.  Blasphemer.

Maillaro: The art was great in 100…the writing…uhm…yeah…not so great ;)

Weaver: The “slow volcano” is pretty hilarious.  Especially when you consider that they specify everyone in the town was asleep at the time.  “Wake up, comrades, Magneto is being…well, Magneto!”

So, the Lost island here…I believe the X-Men are camping out here until Magik falls into a random Limbo portal…this is the worst idea for a hangout ever, even worse than Thunderbolts’ Mt Charteris.  And I think we NEVER find out what the hell was up with it.  Just some random something that Magneto magically found.  Then again, Claremont always left a few things unexplained intentionally.  This seems to be one that should have gotten at least something.  Maybe I’m wrong.  If so, I’m sure I’ll get a comment about how I need to research.

Maillaro: It isn’t that much odder than them hanging out in Australia to guard a magic portal.  Sort of got away from the protect a world that fears and hates us.  Which is odd for me to complain about, since I actually liked the Outback X-Men stuff..even if it was not quite X-Men.  It was basically “hey, I have a great idea for a superhero comics…let’s use these existing characters, even if it doesn’t quite make sense.”

Weaver: As for fighting powerlessly…and moral dilemmas…these were kind of frequent occurrences in this era.  I dunno.  Neither felt super fresh to me.  Also, clumsy Wolverine.  Poor clumsy Wolverine.  He almost falls to his death twice.  I think that’s my biggest gripe here…there seems to be certain things that just keep happening.  Storm’s knocked out.  Storm’s awake.  Storm’s out.  She’s awake.  Wolverine slipped.  Nightcrawler saved him.  Wolverine slipped.  Nightcrawler for the save.  And Colossus already knew…in an issue also featuring a volcano…that fighting Maggie as steel was a bad idea.  He spent 15 issues crying about how much it bothered him that he could just be ragdolled.  It bothers me that it takes him by surprise here.

Maillaro: To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of double sized comics in this period (well, not with one story covering the entire comic at least), so I would blame some of the odd repetition there.   I think you are just being extra harsh just because you love this era so much.  I definitely didn’t have many of those complaints.

One of my favorite moments in this book was when Storm was yelling about Magneto hurting “my kitten.”  Maybe I am just terrible immature, but that cracked me up.  And I loved Kitty’s Luke Skywalker impression at the end when she was pretending to use the force to lift the Blackbird out of the water (with an assist from Colossus).  I thought that was real clever.  Maybe I am just a real easy audience…

And as always, I am amused by the extensive expository dialogue.  Scott goes all Ocean’s Eleven here in pointing out the various skills of his teammates…

Weaver: X-Men had been double sized just about one year exactly previous…137…and that comic was one hell of a story without a lot of strange repetition.  I think beyond me loving this era, we also have me disliking space stuff, and Cockrum infuses quite a bit of space style scenery here.  I dunno.

>The best moment of this comic, and really, one of the best moments in Claremont/Cockrum Part II The Revenge, is Storm thinking about stabbing Magneto while he’s sleeping.  It feels very much like a variation on the classic “Would you kill Hitler if you met him as an art student” thought exercise.  I’m still not sure if she would’ve eventually talked herself into it if he hadn’t woken up, even though the panel where he woke up has her saying she can’t.  That’s just such a pregnant moment, I love it.  Even the peas and gravy plate, which was a great detail.

I know you read this digitally, but my print copy has coloring issues that creep up a lot, like Kitty’s green forehead.

Even if I don’t like the style for the story, I think Cockrum and company did a good job here, lots of details, Ronald and Margaret look recognizable (sometimes difficult in comics), and really, just…while the scene felt strange to me, it still was crisp and well-detailed.  I’m going to hit the art with a 4.

Maillaro: Yeah, I definitely didn’t have any coloring issues.  I actually didn’t realize Marvel went back and tweaked their comics that way when they did the digital versions (or maybe for later trade versions).  Huge props to them for that.  It’s probably an unnecessary cost, but it definitely helps the comics hold up better.

Other than those ridiculous outfits Scott and Forrester were wearing, I thought the art was real good throughout.

I can definitely go 4 out of 5.  And a 4 for the writing too.  I thought this was a real balanced comic.  Not quite perfect, but nothing that really pissed me off about it.

Weaver: I ragged on it, but I still like it.  I’ll give it 4’s, especially buoyed by the ending Star Wars gag.  It needed that light heartedness.  Four and four and four and four for 150.

Maillaro: I assume we are taking off next week for the holiday?

Weaver: I’m going to say yes, but I’ll be spending part of it finishing reading Squadron Supreme…I forgot how dense that was.

Maillaro: I am probably going to be reading The Haunt over Thanksgiving weekend.  The character has appeared a few times in Spawn, and I was real curious to see more of him.

To all our readers, Happy Thanksgiving!  And thanks for checking us out!

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
Spider-Woman #1 4 4.5 5 4.5
Uncanny X-Men #150 4 4 4 4×120.jpg

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I Is A Movie Without An Ending Or Cliffhanger – A Review Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:04:58 +0000
Just another brick in the wall

Remember that scene in Spaceballs where Yogurt is talking about merchandizing and how that’s where the real money from the movie is made? Well, this is true for some properties and may explain why movies like Cars 2 exist (who’s in the mood for some Kraft Mac & Cheese in the form of Lightning McQueen and Mater?). But the real stinger is the choice studios make to take the last chapter of a successful book series and make it two movies. This unnecessary need to sequelize franchises isn’t for the betterment of creativity, it’s all about pleasing a studio’s bottom line, so it can keep the cash rolling in as long as possible. Following in the footsteps of the Harry Potter and Twilight series, Lionsgate takes all the momentum that was built with the finale of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and quashes it with Mockingjay – Part I, the first of the final chapter of a saga that includes neither Hunger Games nor an ending.

A year after the events at the end of Catching Fire, where heroine Katniss destroys the force field containing the arena of the quarter quell, which gave her temporary paralysis and saw Peeta and two other district tributes captured by the Capitol, we return the world of Panem and the continuing power struggle between President Snow (the delicately tailored and beard-trimmed Donald Sutherland) and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). Having had the previous movie end in such dramatic, cliffhanger fashion one would think Mockingjay to have a quickening pace to build on the momentum. Instead, it slows down considerably. The forethought to break the finale into two sections subjugates viewers to repetition and posturing for the camera.

Having seen the supreme power that President Snow wields, with her home of District 12 seemingly wiped from existence except for the skeletal remains, Katniss is brought into the underground realm of District 13 (remember that District that was said to be completely destroyed? Guess what – it’s a rebel militia!) and asked to become the face of a rebellion masterminded by Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Coin (Julianne Moore). They want her to star in a series of a propaganda pieces – they call them propos – but Katniss is reluctant to be their puppet. But with Snow on the offensive, himself using Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) as a form of propaganda, Katniss can’t resist the urge to make herself visible. So she walks among the concrete rubble of her homeland, tours a makeshift infirmary in a neighboring district, and sings a limerick from her youth. The images and sound captured of Katniss in the open help fuel the propaganda machine.

The switch from Katniss being a pawn in the Hunger Games, where she grows strength with each obstacle, to becoming a pawn in a rebellion where she is powerless in an underground bunker, may be a benefit to her character, though I don’t see it. Going from coiling vengeance to a more contemplative nature is a bore and allows for a sluggish narrative. More time is spent on getting the viewer familiar with the underground world of District 13 than to establish some of the new supporting characters. Even some of the already established characters are rarely seen. Newly sober Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) pops in a few times and glamour-less Effie (Elizabeth Banks) tries to make military garb sheik. The biggest causality is poor Sam Claflin. I think Buttercup the Cat gets more screen time than his Finnick.

Jennifer Lawrence manages to hold the film afloat as best she can; she is the fire of this dysotopian saga. At times her performance teeters, like when she has a crying episode, but Lawrence does the best she can under Francis Lawrence’s direction. He returns to the director’s chair after Catching Fire and you see the percolation of a rebellion that is about to let loose a full-on assault, but for now we are treated to a few sequences of district residents toppling Capitol guards, getting the better of them while escaping to trees or bombing a hydro-electric dam.

When Mockingjay – Part I reaches its undramatic conclusion audiences realize that there is no ending or cliffhanger to be had. They have been duped. What is offered is a down note, which does little to entice next year’s conclusion. Without a great payoff, after two hours we are left with a hollow film where Katniss and the other children of the revolution are just another brick in the wall waiting to be loosened.

Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer(s): Peter Craig and Danny Strong; based on the novel “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
Notable Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Sam Claflin×120.jpg

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DVD Review: Duck Dynasty: Duck the Halls Sun, 23 Nov 2014 15:55:59 +0000 DD fan, you'll be in hog heaven. ]]> The one thing Lionsgate and A&E have figured out when it comes to Duck Dynasty is that you can release a handful of individual, themed episodes on one DVD and people will eat it up. Fans of the show will buy all the t-shirts, etc, thus individual DVDs of themed episodes will do enough business in the retail market to make money for all involved. Thus comes Duck the Halls, a Christmas themed episode that arrives just in time for Thanksgiving … and to find its way into Wal-Mart discount bins.

Duck Dynasty: Duck the Halls follows the Robertson family as they engage in their southern fried shenanigans over a pair of episodes edited together for one. As always this is the sort of DVD that’s designed for fans of the show and nothing more. If you’re not a fan, like I am, it won’t get you to like or want to see the show again. If it is you’ll be in hog heaven.

A number of fairly insignificant extras highlight the single disc release.

Lionsgate presents Duck Dynasty: Duck The Halls. Running time: 64 minutes. Rated . Released on DVD: 5.20.2014.×120.jpg

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UFC Fight Night 57 Results: Frankie Edgar Beats Cub Swanson, But Is Conor McGregor The Real Winner? Sun, 23 Nov 2014 06:17:12 +0000 With a dominant win over Cub Swanson, Frankie Edgar has put himself in the title picture.

Swanson had been guaranteed a title shot against Jose Aldo if he was able to get past Edgar at UFC Fight Night 57, but the match was a one-sided affair from the opening bell. Edgar seemed to be able to take Swanson down at will and it honestly looked like the pressure might have gotten to Swanson as he didn’t seem like himself from the time the match started.

The fight wasn’t close as Edgar won every round and Swanson could only take solace in the fact that he made it to the fifth round. Edgar landed more than 246 strikes and spent more than 15 minutes in the top position on the mat.

Swanson tapped out with just four seconds to go in the final round after Edgar secured a picture-perfect rear naked choke and it was the latest finish in UFC history.

The loss means that Conor McGregor or Ricardo Lamas will likely get the next shot against Jose Aldo for the belt.×120.jpeg

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Blu-ray Review: 22 Jump Street Sat, 22 Nov 2014 20:00:09 +0000 One of my sometimes rather time consuming quirks when it comes to watching sequels is that I like to catch up on all the previous installments of the franchise beforehand. Having not seen 21 Jump Street since watching it back in 2012 when it was first released, I thought it best to check it out before watching 22 Jump Street, even though some may think it’s silly to do so for a comedy, as how vital could the continuing plot really be?

Well it turns out in this case it was the right choice, as not only does 21 Jump Street hold up incredibly well years later (it’s easily one of the best comedies of the past decade or so) but with Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill returning to craft the story for the sequel (with Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman writing the screenplay), the comedic callbacks to the first film throughout the sequel are in abundance. That’s not to say 22 Jump Street wouldn’t be damn funny if you didn’t just watch the first movie; however, I’d recommend doing so just for the added bonus laughter it brings – and there’s lots of it.

Much like the first, 22 Jump Street breaks the fourth wall from time to time without making it blatantly obvious. Take the plot for example: once again Schmidt and Jenko have to go undercover to stop a new drug that’s getting popular before it spreads to other schools. Yep, it’s the exact same plot from the first movie, except they’re in college. The exact same plot. And do you want to know the best part? They acknowledge it multiple times throughout! That’s part of the joke – that the film is a sequel, and sequels usually try to do the same thing, only bigger.

To avoid revealing any spoilers, that’s really all you need to know about the story, except for the fact that it’s not a carbon copy movie. While the plot is the same, the fact that the movie is aware of this makes it different, so it’s not totally obvious how things will play out. And even where it is clear what’s happening, it’s still sidesplittingly hilarious to watch Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill work together on screen once again.

The key to a successful buddy comedy – even above the comedy itself – is the chemistry of the buddies involved. You can have a hilarious script, but if the two lead characters don’t mesh, then the delivery will be off and a lot of jokes will fall flat. Hill and Tatum have chemistry than an AP Chemistry class. Regardless of how subtle the joke is, or even if it’s just simple banter back and forth between the pair, it all works. It works so well that you’ll likely miss some of the jokes because you’re laughing so hard at others.

Also returning are Ice Cube and Nick Offerman, as Captain Dickson and Deputy Chief Hardy respectively. Like the first film, Offerman is only around briefly, but his scene is gold once again as he calls out sequels in general, much like he did reboots in the first. Ice Cube is around a bit more this time, and while he could’ve been reused in the same way that most of the jokes were, he’s actually given some great stuff to work with that really elevates the story and comedy. And of course, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are back, which really serves the movie well, as it’s their unique vision and sense of humour that really helps these films deliver the goods.

The credits are filled with even more jokes, as the series starts throwing out titles for 23 Jump Street: Medical School, 24 Jump Street: Foreign Exchange Students, all the way to 2121 Jump Street – a futuristic space romp and the franchises 12th or so installment. But with the huge success that this series has had so far, don’t be surprised when a 23 Jump Street is actually announced, and with how smart the writing of the first two has been, I’d expect it will take things in an entirely new direction, all while delivering more of the same.

After revisiting 21 Jump Street and laughing just as hard as I did the first time out, I have no doubt that 22 Jump Street will hold up just as strongly. In fact, it’s so funny that it should come with a warning that you may laugh your dick off.

Sony did a great job on the video transfer of the film! The colours are vibrant and sharp, and everything just looks beautiful. There are quite a few scenes that take place at night, yet there are no washed out blacks or poorly converted tones. All in all this is one great looking film. On the audio front it sounds beautiful! The soundtrack fits the film perfectly, and really elevates most scenes where it’s highlighted. The sound mix overall is top notch and those with nice sound systems will reap the benefits here.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary – Up first there’s a fantastic audio commentary involving Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, as well as Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. This is what most fans of films wish their commentaries were like, where everyone shows up and has a good time. Okay, more dramatic films may want some more in-depth knowledge into the filmmaking process; however, having the stars alongside the directors is always a treat, and here the four just have a blast for the entirety of the commentary. Sit back and enjoy!

Deleted/Extended Scenes – There are lots of deleted and extended scenes to check out if that’s your thing. I’ve never really been a fan of them, as I find they were cut for a reason, and usually in comedies they’re such brief snippets out of the flow of the film that the jokes usually work even less than they did before they were cut.

The Perfect Couple of Directors – This featurette comes in at just under 10 minutes in length and talks about returning directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and how they’ve worked together for over 15 years on projects. They talk about coming back for the sequel, as well as various things that happened on set. It’s a very fun watch, as are most of these featurettes!

Everything is Better in College – This featurette comes in at just under eight minutes in length, and talks about the transition from high school to college, and how that opened up so many more doors for jokes and story in the sequel.

Janning and Chonah – This featurette is roughly eight minutes in length and talks about the chemistry between Tatum and Hill. It’s hilarious to watch them interact here, and it’s clear that the two get along incredibly well, as it translates perfectly onto the screen in a way that usually can’t be faked.

New Recruits – This featurette comes in at just under 10 minutes in length and talks about the new cast members brought on for the sequel, and how their comedic timing and deliveries helped get them the jobs.

Don’t Cut Yet – This featurette is just under nine minutes in length and looks at how much improve takes place on set. Let’s just say that I’d be shocked if most of the cast and crew don’t wrap these Jump Street flicks with abs of steel, as the laughter has got to be off the charts while filming.

Joke-A-Palooza – This six minute piece are just alternate takes on various jokes in the movie. It’s a fun, quick watch!

Line-O-Ramas – This is an extension of the previous extra, as it’s more back and forth between characters, and alternate takes of various scenes. It’s another quick watch, so it’s worth checking out for the laughs it delivers.

The Dramatic Interpretation of 22 Jump Street There’s an explanation at the start of this extra that says how comedic films don’t often translate well overseas, so alternate cuts are sometimes asked to be made to make them into a crime drama or whathaveyou. The result of this is a 9 minute and 30 second version of 22 Jump Street that you can watch in its entirety. All jokes have been removed, and yet, it’s still hilarious to watch – after you’ve seen the film, of course!

Zook & McQuaid Scout Reel – Here’s the reel that the pair made for their football recruitment video in the movie. While it’s not bad, it’s definitely funnier in theory.

Jenko Split – Some may remember the Jean-Claude Van Damme splits commercial that went viral earlier this year. Well, here is Channing Tatum’s 22 Jump Street spoof of that, which is quite funny whether you’ve seen the Van Damme version or not (if not, you should look it up, as it’s crazy impressive and makes this even funnier.)

Sony Pictures Presents 22 Jump Street. Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller. Written by: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman. Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Peter Stormare, Wyatt Russel, Amber Stevens, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Nick Offerman, The Lucas Brothers. Running time: 112 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: Nov. 18, 2014.×120.jpg

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Jon Jones Jokes About Rape Allegations Against Bill Cosby, Doesn’t Believe Accusations Sat, 22 Nov 2014 04:56:46 +0000 TMZ has done it again.

The news service caught the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, outside LAX and asked him about the Bill Cosby situation

Jones started by saying, “I love Bill Cosby.” He then was confused about the situation asking, “Oh yeah, supposedly, what’d he do? He raped somebody, right?”

Then he proceeded to say that the comedian was too classy and too big of a celebrity to be a rapist.

“Nah..nuh uh, not the Jello Pudding,” Jones said, launching into in a Cosby impersonation while laughing.

“Nah, I don’t think Bill Cosby would do that. I’ve never met him but from what I’ve seen, he seems to be a class act. You know? I kind of grew up admiring him as a black actor and um…I really hope that’s not true. I mean, he’s Bill Cosby, he shouldn’t have to take it they should be…”

It got worse as Jones then made hand gestures with one of his associates laughing in the background as he suggested that women throw themselves at Cosby.

Here’s the video:×120.jpg

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