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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

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Vendors take down displays and cover their stock at the close of Fantastic Con on Friday night.
Vendors take down displays and cover their stock at the close of Fantastic Con on Friday night. (Photo: Steve Kabelowsky)

First night of Fantasticon a reflection of MKE's greatest traits

When Fantasticon opened its doors officially at noon on Friday, it marked the first official comic-con in Milwaukee. And the first day of the con reminded me of what everything this city really is – cozy.

If you talk with people who travel around the U.S. or the world, and have also been through Mitchell Airport, then they understand the compliment when you call it a, "Mom and Pop" airport. The convention was the same, like our airport, as everyone was nice, it wasn’t too crowded, it is easy to get to where you want to go. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy like when you are wrapped up in a favorite blanket. You are cozy, you feel safe and taken care of. People are there to ensure you have a great time.

If you have had the pleasure of going to much larger comic conventions, then you know how rare this is.

It was a good kick off for the three-day event being held at the Ramada and Crowne Plaza off College Avenue near Mitchell Field. The special guests who were signing autographs were friendly and approachable … ask them how the day was going, or how was the trip in, and they had a response for you. Not just that. They had a response that was genuine, unforced and made you feel like a million bucks if you were a fan. If you participated in a gaming demo, the people putting them on not only wanted you to learn about what is out there, but they also cared that you had a good time.

There are two main days left – today and Sunday. And you don’t have to be a fan of anything to enjoy the time at the convention. Even if you just want to check out the spectacle of what it is … it is worth the effort to check it out.

The vendors set up their wares and there is merchandise for the die-hard fans of comic books, games, movies, anime, cosplay, art and pop culture. And there are items for people who are not more than a casual observer, or enjoy a simple character on a TV show.

For those who wanted the experience Friday, they participated in a meet and greet session …

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"Million Dollar Arm" comes out on Blu-ray and digital HD today.
"Million Dollar Arm" comes out on Blu-ray and digital HD today.

Teamwork, commitment and family are at the core of "Million Dollar Arm"

While necessity is the mother of all inventions, it must be desperation that brings forward the best ideas.

In "Million Dollar Arm," a Disney sports film that comes out on Blu-ray and digital copy today, a sports agent finds his heart on his journey to find the next Major League Baseball star.

From the studio team that directed and produced "Miracle," and "Remember The Titans," the formula used for "Million Dollar Arm" is similar to the other two films. Based on a true story, it is really a story about personal connections more than it is about an athletic feat of any kind.

AMC’s "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm plays agent JB Bernstein who travels to India and runs a TV reality show called "Million Dollar Arm." The thought was to take cricket bowlers and transform them into baseball pitchers. Twenty finalists travel to compete, and two of the players will win the chance to go to America for a professional tryout.

Actors Suraj Sharma ("Life of Pi") and Madhur Mittal ("Slumdog Millionaire") play Rinku and Dinesh, who become the first players to get a major league tryout in MLB history. The first marketing stunt of the tryout doesn’t go well, but serves as a great lesson for the players and the agent himself.

Look for spectacular performances from Bill Paxton and Alan Arkin that were unexpected.

On the Blu-ray I enjoyed the short on the real-life characters and their hope that this film can fuel the dreams of children that anything is possible. The music composed by Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman wonderfully connected India and the United States. The featured short offered some insight to his influences in his first shot of producing music for a sports film.

The alternate ending isn’t needed for the story of the film, but it showed how much fun the actors had in making this film.

If you haven’t downloaded the Disney Movies Anywhere App, this would be a good time to do it and load the code for this film. Disney is offering a bonus deleted scene that can only be seen in …

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"Bedknobs and Broomsticks" hit the big screen in 1971. This fall, Disney released the Blu-ray, DVD combo pack.
"Bedknobs and Broomsticks" hit the big screen in 1971. This fall, Disney released the Blu-ray, DVD combo pack.

"Bedknobs and Broomsticks" entertains 43 years after original release

When England was hit with heavy air raid attacks in WWII, many children in the cities were sent out to the country side to live with community hosts. The action put more children out of the way of possible harm from the Nazi bombing runs, but the long move to live with someone you didn’t know was pretty hard on the young ones.

This time seems like a dire moment in history to place a Disney musical film, but the children living in the 1940s needed a fun escape the same as children of the late 1960s did. It was a time of unrest and uncertainty, with Vietnam, Watergate, escalating prices and a looming gas shortage.

In late 1971, Disney released the part animation, part live-action film, "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Using state-of-the-art special effects of the time, this colorful, funny tale still holds up in story and song if it fails on the now-cheesy light parade.

Perfectly timed for Halloween, the combo pack, Blu-ray, DVD was released this fall. I had the opportunity to screen the Blu-ray, which included some extras that came out with the original laser disc release. It was wonderful to see both Sherman brothers share their perspective on working with Walt Disney with the music for this film at the same time they were finally winding down production on other recent projects, like "Marry Poppins."

Carrie, Paul and Charlie find out their host, Miss Price, played by Angela Lansbury, is actually a witch who is studying by correspondence school. She is able to make the bed a time and space travel device which Dr. Who fans would understand in all of its timey-wimey, wibbly- wobbly greatness. Along the way they find the spell book with missing pages, the street-hustler warlock teaching the class with David Tomlinson as Emelius, a lion king who likes soccer and a museum where they bring the armor to life to fight the German army.

I really enjoyed the featurette, "The Wizards Of Special Effects," hosted by Jennifer Stone from Disney’s "Wizards Of Waverly Place," and a…

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"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is available on combo pack, Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is available on combo pack, Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday.

Rare plot, storyline make Captain America's second movie one of the best

High speed interstate crashes, rounds of bullet casings falling to the ground below, and cars being thrown about as they weigh nothing to take out trucks and buses. Action like this is what we come to expect from summer block-buster films.

But twisting plots with traitors, blurred lines of command, and a blending of who is good and evil is usually lacking in action-packed thrill rides. That is why finding the world of intrigue wrapped up in an action film is rare, and finding it in a comic book movie is unheard of. That is until "Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

The digital 3D combo pack, Blu-ray and DVD will be on store shelves tomorrow. I’ve had the opportunity to screen the Blu-ray over the weekend.

There is no doubting that some of the best character development and storytelling for the past few decades were found in the pages of graphic novels and comic serials. The box office results from the past, say 10 years, have proven that. But what we have with this home entertainment release could very well be the best comic book movie ever made for non-comic book loving people.

All there has to be is a love for great storytelling, for good detective work and for conspiracy reaching the top levels of the new world order and governments. Heck, the story was so good that Robert Redford said yes to taking a role.

Captain America, Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury team up to take down Hydra, which has infiltrated the highest reaches of  S.H.I.E.L.D. Newcomer, Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, provides the air support when the Captain needs it the most.

The film is action packed, and the extras are a fun watch after taking in the film and finding out who is on Cap’s side and who isn’t? Extras include the making-of featurettes, never-before-seen deleted scenes, a blooper reel and the audio commentaries that add so many layers to the storytelling of storytelling. 

The only t…

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