About Caliban

I'm a long time fan of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, gaming and the like. Also a former Employee of Wizards of the Coast, and one of the founding members of the Camarilla Fan organization. Follow me on Twitter @caliban1227.

Fanboy News Network Episode 72

“Gone with the Wind part 2”

The boys talk about having seen Avengers: Endgame and a lot of the details surrounding it.

Jeff talks about the movies We have always lived in the Castle and John Wick 3

Daniel talks about wanting to see Shadow, the follow up to Hero.

The end of Game of Thrones.

Why we are tired of all the petitions.

A shout out to the cameo episode of What we do in the Shadows.

Daniel finally catches The Umbrella Academy.

Just discovered the Wrestling Community on Twitch.

What the boys are reading.

Fanboy News Network Episode 71

“In the Name of the Mouse Thou shalt be entertained”

Daniel’s adventures in New Mexico is briefly recounted.

Yet again an episode is recorded before the most recent big event, in this case Avengers: Endgame.

A review of how Emerald City Comicon dealt with the entrance issues.

Daniel’s excitement at getting to meet Tim Curry at RCCC.

Jeff talks about Shazam, Hellboy, US, and Horror Noire.

Daniel talks about finally catching up on Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.

Jeff covers the TV series version of What We Do in the Shadows.

The boys talk about the final season of Game of Thrones.

Discussion of the problematic season finally of The Magicians.

Daniel finished Space Opera and is now reading the Star Wars novel Bloodlines

Jeff has finished Seanan McGuire’s The Ain’t Witchcraft and is moving on to a new series with Every Heart A Doorway.

Jeff discusses his plans to see a preview night showing of Avengers: Endgame at the local drive-in.

A look at the new Disney+ streaming service.

Review: Upgrade

Upgrade flew largely under the radar when it came out last year, which is a shame. So, I am doing my part to get it a wider audience by reviewing it. Upgrade is a near-future cyberpunk/action/horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell and produced through Blumhouse.

The story follows Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), a mechanic that specializes in restoring vintage cars. After delivering a car to high-tech billionaire Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson), Grey and his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) have their car hijacked, leaving Asha dead and Grey paralyzed from the neck down. Eron approaches Grey in the hospital with an offer: he has created a microchip (called STEM) that will allow Grey to regain his mobility. However, as the development is not cleared for human experimentation, Grey will need to keep it secret. He agrees and receives the chip, whereupon he learns STEM’s artificial intelligence can communicate with him and, with his permission, assume control of his body. The AI (voiced by Simon Maiden) helps him to track down the attackers and under STEMs control, he becomes a hyper-competent fighter.

The movie becomes a race for Grey to learn why he and his wife were targeted for attack, while staying ahead of Eron, who is not pleased with how Grey is using STEM. The attackers, led by Fisk (Benedict Hardie), are hunting to learn who is taking them out. And then there is Cortez (Betty Gabriel), the detective investigating Asha’s murder. She suspects Grey is killing Fisk’s men despite appearing to be a quadriplegic.

Leigh Whannell, best known for writing the Saw franchise for James Wan, has branched out from writing to directing. He brings a distinctive visual feeling that shows influence from Wan, while still remaining original. Made on a typical Blumhouse shoestring budget of $5 million, every cent shows on screen, from the near-future cyberpunk aesthetic to the brilliant cinematography whenever STEM assumes control of Grey’s body. The movie is paced like an action film but builds tension like a horror film.

The cyberpunk setting is handled well. There is no year given, which will help the movie from dating itself too much. The advancements we see – self-driving cars and voice-activated devices making meals and helping around the house – are excellent extrapolations of current tech. This helps to ease the audience into the more advanced tech that drives the plot.

As the lead, Logan Marshall-Green does an amazing job.  Due to his resemblance to Tom Hardy, there are some inevitable comparisons, but by the end of the film Marshall-Green’s abilities truly shine through. He conveys Grey’s frustration and grief, but also plays his shock and confusion when STEM is in control and performing some truly impressive choreography.

Betty Gabriel, best known as the maid in Get Out, does a good job as Cortez. She does well in showing her simultaneous confusion at how Grey could possibly be taking out trained killers from a wheelchair and her certainty that he is doing it. Harrison Gilbertson is serviceable as Eron. The character is meant to be creepy, which he brings across, but there is not much else to the character. Benedict Hardie’s Fisk is the weak link in the acting. He is never anything but an over-the-top fanatic. This is very evident in scenes with Marshall-Green who brings a much more nuanced performance. Simon Maiden manages to steal the movie as the voice of STEM. He manages to be sympathetic and menacing, often at the same time.

I give Upgrade a grade of B. It is a solid movie that genre fans will embrace whole-heartedly. Non-genre fans should still enjoy it for the tight action and pace.

Fanboy News Network Episode 70

“We’re Back”

The first new episode since the hiatus and the first in Jeff’s new studio.

The boy’s talk about what is going to be happening on Fanboy News Network going forward.

Honoring the passing of the great Stan Lee.

Emerald City Comicon and the issues surrounding how they are arranging the entrances.

Jeff talks about Captain Marvel and the obnoxious behavior being directed at it by extreme factions in fandom.

Jeff has discovered a still operational Drive-In theater, the Rodeo Drive-in, near his new home.

A discussion of the plan to end Arrow on CW next season during the annual crossover.

The boys talk about The Umbrella Academy.

Jeff is catching up on Mike Schur shows.

Daniel talks about the demise of Wynonna Earp.

DC comics and the need for them to get on top of their production schedule.

The books the boys have read during the hiatus.

The Return of Fanboy News Network in 2019

Hello Everyone.

I’ve been quiet for a while, so I wanted to pop in and give a quick status update for Fanboy News Network.

Back in mid-June, I put the podcast and the site on hiatus while my wife and I sold our house. We completed the move and started getting things set up again, but life threw some complications at us. So now, several months later, I am taking stock of what I want to do with the site.

When I stopped writing articles for FNN in 2015, I thought it would be temporary. But the new job I started did not leave me with the time or the brain bandwidth for writing. That has changed. So, my immediate goal is to begin writing articles again. Site statistics show a lot of traffic on those older articles and they are the main way that new people discover the site. If all goes to plan, expect to see the articles start again by mid-March. As before, the articles will be a mix of current events in geek culture, media reviews, and examining the foundations of geek culture.

Daniel and I still intend to bring the podcast back. Our challenge is that we now live an hour apart, instead of 15 minutes. We are looking at the logistics and once we have figured it out, we will bring the podcast back. The podcast will continue to center on recent events in geek culture.

I will also introduce a new feature to the site soon: videos. With help from my friends at The Video Nasty Project, I will start to make videos in a studio we are setting up in my house. These videos will focus on the early movies that formed the foundation of modern geek culture with the occasional side series and commentary. Expect this series to start by early summer.

I look at Fanboy News Network as a labor of love. I do it and will keep working on it because it brings me joy to do so. But as a wise man once said, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” To that end, I am finally working on setting up a Patreon account. Expect to see that go live around the same time as the videos.

If you want to keep up with what I have been doing during the hiatus, check out The Video Nasty Project where I am a regular reviewer. I also pop in from time to time as a guest commentator on the podcast Don’t Read the Latin.

It feels good to be back.

Fanboy News Network Episode 69

“Hubward bound”

The boys dance around the obvious jokes related to it being the 69th episode.

There will be a hiatus due to the studio moving.

We celebrate Momocon on doing inclusion right.

Daniel Sees Avengers: Infinity War and Rampage allowing him and Jeff to finally talk about them.

Nostalgia from the boys on the movie clue

Daniel talks about Ocean’s 8 and finally seeing Coco.

Jeff talks about Hotel Artemis.

Jeff abandon’s the last four episodes of Arrow.

News out of E3 on the upcoming titles Fallout 76, Cyberpunk 2077, and Elder Scrolls 6.

Jeff talks about old role-playing games he owns that he will get access to again soon.

Daniel prepares to read all the Discworld novels and is debating on what order to take read them in.


Fanboy News Network Episode 68

“I have no sense of blasphemy”

News about a potential hiatus for the podcast

In cons behaving badly, Fan X in Salt Lake City revisits the issue of inviting a guest with a history of Predatory behavior to their convention.

The boys review Deadpool 2 and Solo.

Jeff can’t decide if he is going to Hotel Artemis or Ocean’s 8 opening weekend.

Jeff talks about a little known comedy from the 90s called Oscar.

Celebrating the Expanse being saved by Amazon.

Jeff degress into stories that show that neither of them have a real sense of what would be considered blasphemy leading to awkward social situations. This leads Daniel to talk about phrases from books that have no meaning anymore due to how society and technology have advanced.

Also why Daniel always always say “its a love story” in awkward situations. It invovles Dracula.

Daniel talks about his birthday present which brings the whole episode full circle.


 

Fanboy News Network Episode 67

“You deserved Cable’s back story”

Jeff talks briefly about Comicgate and Origins having a Sad Puppy as a featured guest and Daniel talks about the disappointment of Adam Baldwin still getting work.

Jeff sees Infinity war again and talks about memes and improve. Also an unfortunate event at a showing.

In honor of Deadpool coming out Jeff explains all of Cable’s backstory to Daniel.

Anticipation of Donald Glover in Solo.

Daniel talks about seeing Isle of Dogs and his feelings about Wes Anderson.

Discussion of the future of Movie Pass

The cancelation bloodbath: who lived, who died, and which decisions do we disagree with.

Rumors of yet another DC reboot abound.

Jeff has an idea for a new podcast venture.


 

Fanboy News Network Episode 66

“LeVar Burton is disappointed in you.”

A look at the debacle that was Universal Fan Con.

A discussion about the criminal case involving Smallville star Allison Mack.

Jeff talks about the new TV series Strange Angel about the life of Jack Parsons.

Jeff and Daniel attempt a spoiler free review of Avengers: Infinity War.

Daniel finally sees Shape of Water.


 

Fanboy News Network Episode 65

“Geeks of a certain age”

Jeff talks about attending Norwescon 41.

What we know about the new Star Wars Attractions at the Disney Parks.

Jeff reviews Pacific Rim: Uprising.

The countdown to Avengers: Infinity War and Marvel Phase 4.

Daniel review a Wrinkle in Time.

Jeff talks about the Netflix movie Mute.

Jeff sings the praises of the TV Series The Magicians.

Daniel talks about Series of Unfortunate Events and Into the Badlands.

Legends of Tomorrow and a journey into meta.

Jeff talks about spending most of Norwescon playing Artemis: Starship Bridge simulator.