May 2018~ Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

This was the second HVFF event put on by FanFest in London. It’s a far better organised event than its sister show, WalkerStalker Con which had some problems this year. For me though the big difference is the fan base. The fans that attend HVFF are far friendlier than those who attend WSC- they seem to really believe they are in a zombie apocalypse and can act like arseholes!

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Like last year the event wasn’t oversold which meant you could move around without too much hassle. I’d rather pay more for that to be honest than pay a cheap entry/autograph price and be packed in like sardines.

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Over the last  year I have really gotten into Arrow- I already watch most of the other Arrrowverse show including Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow but quickly caught up with Oliver Queen and co. Just The Flash to do now. All of the guests I was interested in meeting were from one of those shows. They were Caity Lotz (Sara Lance- LoT/Arrow), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance- Arrow), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak-Arrow), Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow- Arrow), David Ramsey (John Diggle- Arrow) and Juliana Harkavy (Dinah Drake/Black Canary- Arrow).

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All of the guests were lovely to meet and its especially nice when a guest actually remembers you and your name. They do pay attention! (Thanks Caity Lotz!)

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I also attended a number of panels, including John Barrowman Unleashed which was absolutely hilarious. John came on in a Wonder Woman costume!

The Torchwood Panel, again with John and the rest of the cast which was equally as funny. Eve Myles paid a touching tribute to JB at the end, telling everyone how selfless he is and how giving.

The Arrow villains panel with Josh Segarra, Kirk Acevedo and Katie Cassidy gave a good insight as to what it is like to play a villain on the show and how intense it can be.

Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow panel was equally as interesting and was hilariously moderated by Aisha Tyler (of Archer fame). It saw Stephen’s young daughter come on stage and tell everyone about his secret identity. Stephen also came down into the audience to comfort a young child who was trying to ask him a question but was too overcome with it all to ask the question. A truly lovely guy!

Finally, I sat in on the Gotham panel. I’ve never watched the show but after hearing the actors talk I may just have to.

The photo op section was run like a well-oiled machine and I had my prints and FREE digital download within a minute. The print quality is awesome.

As usual, there were lots of people in cosplay. Some amazing, others not so but at least they tried!

A big thanks to my friend Fudge for giving me one of her BOGOF VIP tickets and letting me share a couple of her photo ops! Roll on HVFF 2019!

May 2018~ Starfury Ultimates

This event was announced shortly after the previous years’ event (it may even have been at the event itself) and last year had got some very mixed reviews. It had been a number of years since I attended a Starfury event so I kept a close eye on the guest list.

A number of guests were announced, mainly from the DC shows Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Gotham plus a number of guest from Agents on SHIELD and Jessica Jones. This was enough to get me interested so I purchased a weekend ticket as all the gold had sold out. The one good thing I like about the weekend or gold tickets is that all the autographs for regular guests are included. Any bonus or extra guests that are added you have to pay for but are still cheap as are the photo shoots of which I purchased eleven in the end.

As the event drew nearer a number of guests cancelled. It’s unfortunate but happens if the working actor gets offered a new role. My photo-ops were refunded at the event via a credit note which enabled me to buy a few more.

The event venue was the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool. A fairly run-down venue but large enough to handle the sheer number of attendees. Luckily I wasn’t staying at the hotel but somewhere nearer the centre of Blackpool. I arrived midday Friday and went to collect my pass and photo-op tickets. I then went back to my accommodation for the night to chill out.

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I arrived the next morning bright and early as I had photo shoots with a number of guests. 6 on Saturday to be precise. I must admit that apart from the big signing events like WalkerStalker and Heroes & Villains, these were by far the smoothest photo-ops ever. Very long, yes, but well run. Both Floriana Lima and Chyler Leigh were beyond amazing. Friendly and beautiful both insde and out! Elizabeth Henstridge took one look at my matching cap, shirt and lanyard and proceeded to call me a SHIELD nerd which she though was funny! Too cute!

I then proceeded to watch a few panels by various actors including the SHIELD panels, Supergirl and Jessica Jones panels. They were both insightful and hilarious and gave a great sneak peek into what goes on behind the cameras.

After that, it was autograph time. We were called by badge number and yes, once again it was busy but fun. Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward- SHIELD) did deface my badge with some Hydra propoganda! He’s well known for it and very funny-cool dude!

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It was then I collected all my photos from earlier in the day. All professionally printed on glossy 10×8. Very nice!

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I then hung around for the costume contest and as usual there were some awesome entries. Thanks to those people on the Facebook Ultimates group for letting me steal some photos as I had an issue with my phone and didn’t get any!

I then headed back to chill about before doing it all again the next day.

More photo-ops….

More panels….

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More autographs….

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and lots more costumes.

A big thank you must go to all of the stewards, staff and the organiser, Sean Harry for an amazing event.

Hopefully I get to do it all again next year when the event moves to Birmingham

Most of all a HUGE thank you must go to all the guests. Without them doing what they do and being the fun people they are, the event would have been nowhere near as good!

Thanks to:

Krysten Ritter & Carrie-Ann Moss (Jessica Jones)

Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Mallory Jansen, BJ Britt & Max Osinski (Agents of SHIELD)

Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima & Briana Venskus (Supergirl)

Willa Holland & Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)

Violett Beane (The Flash)

Maggie Geha (Gotham)

 

May 2017~ Wonder Woman

SPOILER FREE REVIEW-I do mention some things seen in the trailers but that is it!

I’ve thought about adding Film Reviews to my site for a while now so why not start with my most recent viewing.

Warner Bros. have struggled to bring the DC Cinematic Universe to successful fruition over the past few years. Man of Steel was ok at best. Batman Vs Superman was, to be honest, awful. Ben Affleck was not bad as Batman, Lex Luthor was doing great up until the last quarter of the film and then went terribly wrong. Wonder Woman’s brief appearance helped immensely. Don’t get me started on Suicide Squad- let me just say Harley Quinn saved that movie from be totally rubbish. Jared Leto as the Joker? No thanks. I preferred the Lego Batman version!

I was hoping that Wonder Woman might reverse the trend and start being on-par with Marvel’s best.

Gal Gadot, a former Miss Universe and Israeli Army soldier was cast in the role and made a brief appearance in Batman Vs Superman. She is also slated to continue the role in the first Justice League movie.

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The film had its UK premiere on 31st May 2017. It was supposed to be a star-studded, red carpet event, but the Manchester Bombings the week before caused WB to cancel the event and downgrade it to a charity gala with some (very) minor celebrities and contest winners. They had a good display of costumes from the film inside the cinema, but they would be gone by the time I went in for the midnight screening.

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The film begins on the island paradise of Themyscira, which is hidden from the outside world, stuck in time. We meet a young Diana, headstrong and adventurous, who receives training in various forms of combat from Antiope (Robin Wight). There are no men on the island and all of the women are warriors! We see Diana as a young girl (aged around 6/7) then as a teen and finally as a grown, but naive young woman.

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Diana sees a airplane crash into the ocean and soons rescues its pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and he tells her of a Great War taking place. Diana decides she must go to help end the war.

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What follows is a great film filled with humour, action and a touch of romance as well as the usual over-the-top finale fight scenes you expect to find in any big-budget superhero or sci-fi film.

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On the whole the script is good. There is an amazing scene on a boat between Diana and Steve. I won’t say anything else but it is great. There is also an awesome fight scene that takes place on the island beach.

The fight scenes are amazing and it’s almost like you are watching Diana dance rather than fight as her movements are so smooth and fluid-like. Excellent fight choreography!

The costumes are also excellent, both for the Amazon women, Diana’s main costume (what’s not to love) and the period costumes for the early 1900s. The VFX are pretty much awesome!

It was also great to see Etta Candy, a badly underused character in general through the history of Wonder Woman being brought to life by Lucy Davis.

Gal Gadot as Diana should prove to be a great role model to all young women out there. She is strong-willed, ambitious yet caring and has a strong sense of justice. Just like how I would like my niece to be (She’s halfway there!)

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Yes, it has its flaws as does any film. Some of the supporting cast are underused and there is the aforementioned fight scene where German soldiers just stand around whilst all hell breaks loose around them but that is about it. To counter what one “critic” said, this film is not about Diana/Wonder Woman (a name never mentioned in the film) ending the war. That is what she sets out to do, but she is young and naive. It’s about the growth and change in her character, set against the backdrop of The Great War. It’s about trust. It’s about love.

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I LOVED this film. You may not, it’s up to you. As I said I would happily rate this alongside Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy and fully intend on seeing it more than once (or twice!)

I look forward to the Justice League movie, due out in November 2017 and also hope that Patty Jenkins signs on to direct a sequel as she did an amazing job. (Update: She has! Wonder Woman 2 comes out December 2019!)

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UPDATE: JUST AS AWESOME AFTER THE SECOND VIEWING!

UPDATE: JUST AS AWESOME AFTER THE EIGHT VIEWING!!

 

May 2017~ Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is run by the same company that run the awesome Walker Stalker Cons that also take place at Olympia in February/March. I planned to go to this event from the day it was announced and it would also be the first event my brother would attend with me in 4 years, so I was hoping it was going to be good.

I knew how Fanfest ran their Walking Dead events, and yes, whilst they are pricey compared to events run by UK based companies, you have to take into account a variety of things. Such as the fact that they are a US based company so would be liable to pay some sort of business tax in the UK, they actually pay their staff (yes, they have some volunteers) whilst most UK event organisers run on volunteers alone (except for “management”), they bring a lot of their own equipment with them from the US and they cap numbers and still use two halls in Olympia. Personally, I’d rather pay more for a pleasant, organised experience rather than attend a cattle market, one such event was set to take place the exact same weekend!

Looking back at the guests they normally get for their US based events, it seemed to be a good mixture of people from DC and Marvel Superhero TV shows and Films plus guest from other popular shows thrown in for good measure.

The final line-up was announced over a series of months, with Stephen Amell from Arrow and Melissa Benoist from Supergirl headlining the event. My brother was interested in meeting both, whilst I wanted to meet Melissa, plus a few other of the other guests. 31 guests were announced in total. Unfortunately, 5 had to cancel for various reasons, including Melissa Benoist.

About 3 weeks before the event, someone introduced me to a new show. Designated Survivor. It stars Kiefer Sutherland (from 24) and also Italia Ricci who was attending the event as she had appeared in Supergirl as Siobhan Smythe/Silver Banshee. Now I don’t normally like political dramas but this was like The West Wing meets 24. I was hooked and polished off the whole series in about 5 days. I then made the choice to add Italia to my ‘to meet’ list and, as you will read, it was a good choice!

The week of the con arrived. An event occurred that could potentially cause problems. A terrorist set off a bomb at a music concert in Manchester, killing 22 (including children) and injuring many others. The UK threat level was increased to its highest level-critical. Would HVFF back down, or show these people that in the face of terror you never give in and let them win. Rather than cancel, HVFF beefed up security, and whilst it would mean things might be a bit slower, it would hopefully keep us all safe. It was the right thing to do. Show these people that no matter what, you can’t keep us down.

The day of the con arrived! I arrived with my brother at around 10.30am and he was finally able to meet my mate Fudge as she was there to satisfy her Stephen Amell addiction (which she did). I had a few photoshoots (as you will see below) and then my brother and I spent the day browsing the vendors, watching some panels, including the cosplay contest and meeting guests. My brother met Emily Bett Rickards from Arrow and Shantel VanSanten from The Flash. I think he preferred the latter! I spent some time chatting to Richard Brake who plays the Night King in Game of Thrones and was fascinated to hear how his costume and makeup (which takes 6 hours to put on) actually causes him to bleed when he wears it and, if not careful when using the toilet, he could lose an important body part!

We left at about 4pm after an awesome day.

At this point I would like to give a big shoutout to the HVFF disability team. My brother is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and at the moment am unable to stand in one place for extended periods. The whole setup for disabled people was awesome. From line access to guest booths, to queuing for photo shoots and the quiet room. It was all awesome. I made sure on Sunday to take some cupcakes to the ladies (Steph & Anne) running the quiet room as they did an awesome job.

Day 2 came and I had a couple of photo ops left plus I wanted to watch the Captain America panel with Stanley Tucci (Dr Erskine) and Hayley Atwell (SSR Agent Peggy Carter). The panel was great! Both guests bounced off each other very well and the host did a good enough job not to be too intrusive and get in the way.

Apart from my final photo ops and autographs, my final task was to meet the awesome and very lovely Italia Ricci (and her husband Robbie Amell, who wanted my tee-shirt). I’d had some pins made in the style of a Presidential Election Campaign and had put her character from Designated Survivor (Emily Rhodes, White House Chief of Staff) on as you can see below.

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I also had a matching shirt made, which Italia first saw in the photo-op (see below) which she thought was awesome.

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Italia liked the pin and said she would have liked one for the director and for Kiefer Sutherland. Luckily I had more. I then had a quick chat, grabbed a selfie and off I went! Both Italia and Robbie are awesome and make a lovely couple. Plus, Italia loves pizza so HAS to be awesome!

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I had a final wander around the stalls, managed to avoided buying a very expensive Captain America shield and left at around 4pm.

Overall, it was an absolutely awesome weekend. I could not honestly find fault with anything. The organisation was spot on and there was so much space it was great! You could move around without problem.

My final guest list was:-

Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy/The Walking Dead)

Brandon Routh (Chuck/Legends of Tomorrow)

Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Stanley Tucci (Captain America/The Hunger Games)

Richard Brake (Game of Thrones)

Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow/Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Italia Ricci (Designated Survivor/Supergirl)

I can’t wait until the 2018 event and I’m hoping that all of my brothers family are able to attend as well. The kids would look great dressed as Superheroes!

If you’d like to find out more, then head over to:- heroesfanfest.com