Better than Streaming: My first time in two whole years to watch a movie inside the local cinema

I finally did it! After two years of living with the COVID-19 crisis, I finally returned to the local cinema at Commercenter in Alabang recently where I saw The Batman on the big screen. The day was March 5 (Saturday) and it was a very notable experience for me personally and I can say that the theatrical experience is still better than watching movies via streaming.

To be very clear, it has been months since the cinemas all over Metro Manila reopened and as the months passed by, moviegoers have gradually returned in relation to what films were screened, what the local Alert Levels were and what health protocols were implemented. The reopening of cinemas went a long way since the 1st quarter of 2021 (for references click here, here, here and here) and the Philippine cinema industry as a whole is trying to recover what was lost over the past two years. At one point, the movie theaters employed over 300,000 employees nationwide.

On my way to watching The Batman at the cinema with my ticket!

Going back to my return to the local cinema, I want to make clear that currently the cinemas will only accept people who have been fully vaccinated (meaning two doses of most COVID-19 vaccine brands were injected) which is why vaccination cards/passes are required for verification BEFORE any ticket will be sold. As such, I showed to the theater ticket seller my vaccination card and eventually I was allowed to purchase a ticket for The Batman which was P320 (more than US$6). I should state that it was also there at the Commercenter cinema where I last saw a movie in 2020…just before the first lockdown happened.

More on rules, it has been declared already that food and drinks are prohibited in Commercenter’s cinemas and that moviegoers are to wear their masks on as they watch a movie. Again, the prohibition on food and drinks at the said cinema were in effect when I viewed The Batman on March 5. According to a March 9, 2022 report by the Manila Bulletin, some theaters allowed their moviegoers to have food while watching.

For transparency, these are the rules for you to see.

While having no food and drink was a bummer for me as a paying moviegoer, I decided to just let things be and focus strongly on the narrative of The Batman which has a running time of almost three hours! That being said, as the movie went on, I was compelled to really focus on the story, the details and the dialogue (note: I turned my smartphone off as soon as I sat down). I also realized something that movie theaters can instantly provide that streaming apps and the home-based theater cannot – complete privacy and immersion.

In other words, there no distractions from external forces (examples: smartphone updates through the Internet, in-home telephone ringing, a noisy neighbor, someone knocking on the door, the house doorbell ringing, a motorist driving a car with an overly loud sound outside the house, etc.) and as such I experienced this strong engagement in watching the Matt Reeves-directed Batman movie. I also noticed that not only does Colin Farrell looks truly unrecognizable as the new cinematic Penguin, there were two moments I noticed he sounded and spoke like Robert de Niro!

I should also state that there were several other moviegoers who occupied seats on rows behind and in front of me. Clearly the attendance of that very screening was below 50% which only reminds me that the pandemic is still ongoing here in the Philippines. Fortunately, everyone was well behaved and in-theater noise and distractions were non-existent.

After waiting until the very end to see the very short and cryptic end-credits scene, I finally left the cinema satisfied and entertained. I found The Batman a worthy movie to watch on the big screen but to judge its quality and emphasized my observations about it, I would do that in a possible movie review.

Nothing like looking at what films are being shown before you reach the ticket counter.

My return to watching a movie in the local cinema was a really interesting experience. It was also my first time in many years to watch a movie on the big screen without consuming any drink or food. Still, I got my money’s worth overall and I really hope that what I paid will keep helping not just Commercenter cinema but the entire movie theater industry to achieve economic recovery with the pandemic still ongoing. The more people who get fully vaccinated, and the more fully vaccinated people who get boosted, the better it will be for movie theaters in terms of qualified moviegoers.

When it comes to spending time inside Commercenter, be aware that the mall has really nice places to enjoy delicious meals before or after you watch a movie at their cinema. You love ramen and Japanese meals, go to Sigekiya Ramen. You want to try Greek cuisine? Visit Akrotiri. You like good food and wine? Visit The Black Pig.

To those of you reading this, if you have the means and if your local cinemas are allowed to operate, I encourage you to buy tickets and watch your desired movie on the big screen inside the cinema. I suggest you stop streaming temporarily and help the movie theaters achieve economic recovery from this pandemic. For The Batman, I say screw HBO Max and HBO Go!

Remember this: Streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming. What you pay for movie tickets will help not only the cinema operators and their respective employees, you will also help the local authorities by means of tax collection and keeping the local area in order.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Better than Streaming: Dune (2021) 4K Blu-ray coming out on January 11, 2022

Welcome back, fellow geeks, Blu-ray collectors and movie buffs! The 2021 movie Dune (directed by staunch cinema defender Denis Villeneuve)can be viewed in the comfort of home in a much better version than HBO Max/HBO Go on January 11, 2022 as its 4K Blu-ray combo (4K Blu-ray disc, Blu-ray and digital code) will be released on that very day! There will also be a Best Buy-exclusive steel book version released as well.

The good news this early is that Dune (2021) 4K Blu-ray will come with native 4K visuals! While its price and the official start of pre-ordering the product have yet to be announced as of this writing, you can find its Amazon listing by clicking here. If you really are interested in the movie’s 4K Blu-ray combo, I encourage you to keep revisiting the Amazon listing for updates.

To put things in perspective, posted below are key details from the Blu-ray.com article about Dune (2021) 4K Blu-ray combo. Some parts in boldface…

The front cover.

Special Features and Technical Specs:

  • DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
  • DOLBY ATMOS AUDIO TRACK
  • Featurettes:
    • The Royal Houses
    • Filmbooks: House Atreides
    • Filmbooks: House Harkonnen
    • Filmbooks: The Spice Melangelnside Dune – The Training Room
    • Inside Dune: The Space Harvester
    • Inside Dune: The Sardaukar Battle
    • Building the Ancient Future
    • My Desert, My Dune
    • Constructing the Orniyhropters
    • Designing the Sandworm
    • Beware the Baron
    • Wardrobe From Another World
    • A New Soundscape
  • 4K Blu-ray subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Parisian French, German, German SDH, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Greek, Korean, and Hindi
  • Blu-ray subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Portuguese-Brazilian, Bulgarian, Czech Republic, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, and Hindi
The rear cover.

Posted below are the other details from Dune’s (2021) own page at Blu-ray.com…

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, 1.78:1

Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1, 1.43:1

Audio

English: Dolby Atmos

English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Note: All Dolby Atmos tracks have a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) core

SubtitlesEnglish SDH, French, Spanish

Discs4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, Two-disc set (1 BD-100, 1 BD-50)

Digital – Digital 4K, Movies Anywhere

Packaging – Slipcover in original pressing

Playback4K Blu-ray: Region free, 2K Blu-ray: Region A

While Dune (2021) has been playing in the local cinemas here in my native Philippines for weeks now, I’m still waiting for the film to be screened on an IMAX cinema operated by SM Cinema (which itself started to gradually reopen). I am aware that the film is being shown on another cinema with IMAX with Laser technology but that cinema’s price is simply too expensive for me. Dune (2021) was filmed with Arri Alexa LF IMAX and Arri Alexa Mini LF IMAX cameras and that alone convinces me to watch it on an IMAX screen. In relation to SM Cinema’s reopening, the nearest IMAX cinema should reopen on November 30.

While I am not a fan of the Dune literary series as well as the failed 1984 movie, this year’s cinematic version looks grand under the passionate direction of Villeneuve and it has an ambitious cast that includes Aquaman Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, and Rebecca Ferguson to name a few. Given the fact that the movie was released on HBO Max, it looks highly unlikely it will achieve a tremendous ticket sales success just as more cinemas are reopening worldwide as more people got vaccinated for COVID-19. When I say tremendous ticket sales, I’m talking about grossing $750 million worldwide. As of this writing, Dune (2021) grossed $365.5 million worldwide while theater-exclusive movies No Time to Die and F9: The Fast Saga have grossed over $700 million worldwide each. Very clearly, the HBO Max-theaters hybrid release of Warner Bros. is a big mistake. Remember, what people pay for on streaming goes to the service, not the movie.

Now that Dune (2021) 4K Blu-ray combo is set for a January 11, 2022 release, does this latest development spark your interest? I myself am eager to see how the IMAX-recorded footage will turn out in 4K Blu-ray visuals.

In closing this Better than Streaming piece, posted below are some Dune-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Also included are a few videos about the 1984 Dune movie.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

Better than Streaming: SM Cinema is reopening nationwide!

Welcome back, fellow geeks and movie buffs! If you are present here in the Philippines and you really crave for watching movies inside the cinema, then you will be happy to know that major cinema operator SM Cinema is gradually reopening its cinemas around the nation complete with safety measures related to COVID-19 (note: SM Cinema has been certified by the Safety Seal program) and the stuff that people enjoy watching inside an SM-operated movie theater.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from SMSupermalls.com. Some parts in boldface…

A premium cinema with leather seats. (photo source – SM Cinema)

First to reopen is SM Cinema Aura Premier on November 17, Wednesday. The newly redeveloped theaters at SM Cinema North EDSAMall of Asia and Megamall will be reopening on November 24, while SM Cinema Grand Central, the newest SM Cinema branch, will be on November 26. SM Cinema FairviewSouthmall, Manila, BF Parañaque, Clark, San Lazaro, Baguio, Dasmariñas, Sta. Rosa, Sucat, Sta Mesa, and Bicutan will reopen to the public on November 30.

As one of the first establishments to acquire a Safety Seal, SM remains committed to the safety and wellbeing of their mallgoers. SM Cinema, in partnership with Hygiea Innovations and Technology, Inc, have installed MERV filters and air purifiers to ensure safe and clean cinema for everyone. A health and safety officer will be present for every screening while movie theaters will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized regularly. SM Cinema employees are fully vaccinated and will be at your service in full PPE gear.

Before you head off to the cinemas with the entire family in tow, take note of these important reminders:

  • Safety protocols will be strictly implemented within the cinemas.
  • Moviegoers, from adults to kids, must be fully vaccinated to be allowed inside the cinemas.
  • They must also wear well-fitted face masks at all times and face shields are non-mandatory and voluntary. A health declaration must be presented upon ticket purchase.
  • Temperature and symptoms will be checked upon mall entry

SM Cinema is making every step of the theatergoing experience as contactless as possible to give customers what they’re ultimately looking for these days – a safe and clean environment. Reopened SM Cinemas will have capacity restrictions to allow customers to social distance one seat apart from each other. Bringing of food inside will be prohibited for now, although drinking water will be allowed in consideration of possible emergencies and health risks. Audiences will be asked to remain in their seats during the duration of the movie, and cashless payment options will be available via GrabPay, GCash, or credit or debit card.

With a wide selection of movies genres perfect for both adults and kids, much anticipated films like Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Eternals,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” “Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City,” and “No Time To Die;” are just some of the movies waiting for cinephiles at SM Cinemas!

K-Pop fans will also have “Black Pink The Movie” and Monsta X: The Dreaming to look forward to, and Pinoys can get their fill of local movies like “Encanto” and “Kunwari Mahal Kita,” which will premiere starting November 24. Plus, the Metro Manila Film Festival will run from December 25 to January 7, 2022, with more Filipino movies to enjoy!

Given how dedicated SM Supermall and SM Cinema really are when it comes quality, sanitation and efficiency, it comes to no surprise that no expense was spared to make SM Cinema branches safe and the best they could be during this time of pandemic. The cinema workforce is fully vaccinated and they have the equipment needed to sanitize the movie theaters and keep it safe for incoming moviegoers.

For the newcomers reading this, cinemas in Metro Manila officially reopened on November 10 in relation to the easing restrictions as the daily count of new COVID-19 infections nationwide fell down dramatically. With the lessening restrictions, more people are allowed to go out and more businesses were given more freedom to accommodate more customers (both indoor and outdoor depending on the locations of their respective joints). Movie theaters or cinemas are obviously part of the businesses and now is the time for them to cater to people who want to experience once again the greatness of watching movies on the big screen which is something that streaming movies or TV shows at home can never match.

There are also other advantages that cinemas have over those streaming apps such as premium seating (note: SM Cinema has the Director’s Club line that offers extraordinary cinema comfort with leather seats, in-house butler service, and an exclusive food menu for guests), technologically advanced big-screen technologies (examples: IMAX, 3D and 4D) and premium sound systems (note: Netflix, HBO Go, HBO Max, Disney+ and all other streaming apps really have nothing to offer when it comes to top-notch audio.)

For those of you who really have decided to return to cinemas for your movie viewing pleasure, remember that what you pay for will not only help the cinema operators but also contribute to the economic recovery our nation badly needs to rise from this COVID-19 crisis. The money you pay for streaming services really do not help at all.

Once again, I encourage you all to take time out to support local cinemas with your family members or your friends. The cinema viewing experience is always better than streaming!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

COVID-19 Crisis: OCTA Research favors the suggestion about not requiring moviegoers to wear face shields inside the cinemas

Here in metropolitan Manila in the Philippines, local cinemas are set to reopen on November 10, 2021 which will be a very important day for the cinema operators and their respective employees as the restrictions related to lockdown and the current COVID-19 crisis kept them closed since March 2020. For updates about Metro Manila cinemas, I encourage you to follow the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP) Facebook page.

As the reopening of Metro Manila cinemas gets closer, it was reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) that the OCTA Research group favors the suggestion that the wearing of face shields inside cinema should NOT be required as such things are not only uncomfortable but will surely make movie viewing an unpleasant experience. Take note that only fully vaccinated people (those who got vaccinated with two doses of most brands of COVID-19 vaccines) will be allowed to pay and enter cinemas (limited to 30% seating capacity) under the rules of Alert Level 3. Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila was recently extended.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Inquirer news report. Some parts in boldface…

The OCTA Research said Tuesday it supports the suggestion on not requiring the wearing of face shields in cinemas.

For OCTA Research fellow Guido David, watching movies will not be enjoyable if the audience will be required to wear face shields. He noted that removing the requirement of wearing face shields in cinemas was also brought up in a forum.

We should still wear face masks, but face shields, that’s a different topic. That can be discussed, because in fact we were in a Go Negosyo forum and they were discussing about removing the requirement for face shields in theaters because it actually makes sense. If you go to a theater, it would not be an enjoyable experience if you are wearing a face shield,” Guido told ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

Asked if he supports removing the requirement of wearing face shields in cinemas, David said: “We would support it because I think the move is to allow only vaccinated people to enter theaters.

The reopening of cinemas was earlier allowed in Metro Manila as the region shifted to Alert Level 3. However, only fully vaccinated people will be allowed in theaters with an indoor seating capacity of 30 percent.

From this point on, we will find out soon enough how the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Metro Manila Council (MMC) will react to what OCTA Research declared about face shields inside the cinemas.

Whatever their reactions will be, I urge Metro Manila readers among you my readers to support the local cinemas not simply for the sake of just supporting the cinema operators and their employees, but also to practice your freedom of choice for entertainment on the big screen!

If you want the best value for your money when returning to the cinemas starting November 10, I would suggest watching Dune (2021) in an IMAX cinema as that movie has scenes shot with IMAX cameras. The visual spectacle captured can be fully enjoyed on an IMAX screen and there is absolutely no way such greatness will be seen via streaming. In short, if you want the best Dune viewing experience, screw HBO Go, screw HBO Max, screw the pirates and go watch the film in the local IMAX cinema. For the residents of South Metro Manila reading this, the nearest IMAX cinema is inside SM Southmall in Las Piñas City. Better start making inquiries via social media now if you really want the IMAX experience.

Whatever your choice of movie or local cinema, I suggest you check out the most updated listing of movies and schedules. The cinematic viewing experience is always better than streaming. Don’t forget to check updates from CEAP.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? Are you excited to return to the local cinema to watch movies with the big screen experience once again? Do you think the MMDA and Metro Manila mayors will make new moves to hamper the cinematic experience of moviegoers or even hamper the scheduled reopening of local cinemas? When was the last time you saw a movie inside the cinema? When was the last time you saw any movie inside the IMAX cinema?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Better than Streaming: The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray coming out on October 26, 2021

Welcome back, fellow geeks, film enthusiasts and Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray collectors!

What I mentioned would happen has indeed happened! Warner Bros. officially announced that James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is coming out on 4K Blu-ray on October 26, 2021 and the good news is that its visuals are native 4K! As of this writing, pre-orders have yet to start but you can visit the DC Comics movie’s Amazon page to anticipate it.

This is what the 4K Blu-ray combo box looks like.

Posted below are key details of The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray combo from its Blu-ray.com page.

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10+

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.90:1

Audio

English: Dolby Atmos

English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1

Subtitles

English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (1 BD-100, 1 BD-50)

Digital

Digital 4K

Movies Anywhere

Packaging

Slipcover in original pressing

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

The back of The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray combo.

And here are details of the special features and technical specs…

  • DOLBY ATMOS AUDIO TRACK
  • Gag Reel
  • Gotta Love the Squad
  • The Way of The Gunn
  • It’s a Suicide Mission Scene Breakdown
  • My Guns Bigger Than Yours Scene Breakdown
  • Harley’s Great Escape Scene Breakdown
  • The Fall of Jotunheim Scene Breakdown
  • Starro: It’s a Freakin Kaiju!
  • Bringing King Shark To Life
  • War Movie Retro Trailer
  • Horror Movie Retro Trailer
  • Buddy-Cop Retro Trailer
  • Directors Commentary by Director/Writer James Gunn
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes
  • Optional English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Castilian Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Teleugu, Hungarian, Tamil, Hindi, Italian, Greek, Romanian, Polish, Finnish, Danish, and Canadian French subtitles for the main feature

I personally am excited about The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray combo’s release. Where I am located at, local cinemas have remained closed since March 2020 and as I want the best possible home viewing experience, I deliberately avoided streaming. Definitely my money will NOT go to HBO Max nor HBO Go to watch The Suicide Squad (which has lots of scenes filmed with IMAX cameras and the IMAX footage is better viewed on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray disc than streaming).

As of this writing, The Suicide Squad is the most exciting 4K Blu-ray release for the month of October. As far as DC Comics movies on disc format goes this year, I’m more excited for the James Gunn-directed movie than the recently released Zack Snyder’s Justice League 4K Blu-ray.

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-rayV: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review), V: The Final Battle Blu-rayHighlander 4K Blu-rayThe Suicide Squad, Super Dimension Century Orguss Blu-ray, Unbreakable 4K Blu-ray and Injustice 4K Blu-ray.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #13 (1988)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of Wonder Woman! In case you missed the updates, the new movie Wonder Woman 1984 will eventually be released in 4K Blu-ray format although there is no release date announced yet nor a price. As the nearest cinemas remain closed, it looks like buying the movie in 4K Blu-ray is the best alternative for me and at the same time I am not a fan of streaming movies. Let me point out that what customers pay to stream Wonder Woman 1984 does NOT pay that movie’s producers, investors and creditors! You want to make a difference for the people behind Wonder Woman 1984? Buy movie tickets to watch it in the movie theaters (you will also help the theater operators and their employees) and for home viewing, buy the movie on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray in the near future.

Anyway, we are here to look back at the comic books of Wonder Woman as rebooted by the creative duo of George Perez and the late Len Wein. We are going to examine the Challenge of the Gods storyline (started in issue #10) which I personally find really intriguing and engaging to read. It is the struggle of Wonder Woman with a really strong fantasy and mythology flavor that made it stand out among superhero comic book stories in the late 1980s. Last time around, there were these great revelations about an untold chapter of the past of the Amazons as well as greater focus on Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyte who joined in the dangerous trek.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Wonder Woman #13, published in 1988 by DC Comics with a story written George Perez and Len Wein. Perez drew the comic book with ink work done by Bruce D. Patterson. This is the 4th chapter of the Challenge of the Gods storyline!

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the armored Queen Hippolyte staring at a huge, deformed man-like figure made of rock which she realizes is none other than Heracles, the same man who deceived and abused her long before the birth of Diana. She reflects on her personal hatred of him that lasted for centuries and remembers that her years in Themyscira taught her the folly of anger. She wonders what Heracles had committed to be condemned the way he is. Noticeably, anything that pierces the stony surface causes great pain and tears from Heracles.

Hippolyte moves on toe find a sleeping cyclops in a lair filled with skeletons. Behind him is a tunnel that she believes her daughter took. As she quietly sneaks, she looks back at Heracles and actually hears him mournfully moaning louder as if he was calling to her.

Among the skeletons in the cyclops’ lair is a horned human skull which Zeus and his fellow deities in Olympus believe belongs to Pan. They realize that the Pan who had spent a lot of time with them is an impostor and this causes division among them. Hera speaks out again Zeus pointing out his enormous pride and arrogance as sources of trouble. Hera believes that Gaea’s destiny will be fulfilled through the Amazons and she will not allow Zeus to abuse them.

Hera then sends Hermes to reach Wonder Woman who just joined the company of several superheroes in the California citadel of the Green Lantern Corps…

Quality

The tremendous impact of the challenge felt.

This is another high-quality creation by Perez-Wein and the stakes for not only Wonder Woman but also her mother has been raised even further. As if that was not enough, there are also some solid revelations (pertaining to the Amazons, their heritage and their destiny under the Olympus deities) and in-story surprises that made the story very engaging. As the challenge for Wonder Woman continued on, Queen Hippolyte’s involvement grew even bigger and this added and connected smoothly with her daughter’s struggles. In terms of characterization, the bond between Diana and her queen mother is dramatically deepened and their respective purpose in life got emphasized a lot more.

In terms of spectacle, this one is very loaded with action while still having a very strong fantasy element behind it all. Seeing Wonder Woman and her mother engage the minotaur and mythological creatures are sights to behold. George Perez expectedly visualized everything with high details and well-constructed panels that moved the action.

Conclusion

Wonder Woman and her mother in the heat of battle with the evil creatures.

No doubt about it! Wonder Woman #13 (1988) successfully kept the Challenge of the Gods storyline compelling and at the same time stay fresh by pulling off strong revelations that will make you think deeper about the Amazons, their heritage and their future. The portrayal of Wonder Woman here shows how pure she is as a purposeful protagonist who simply won’t give up in fulfilling the challenges, proving her true worth and making a major impact to all around her. Her role as a daughter is also very well defined.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #13 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Wonder Woman #13 (1988) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Wonder Woman 1984 4K Blu-ray listing spotted online

Welcome back, fellow geeks and Wonder Woman fans!

Have you seen Wonder Woman 1984 yet? I have not and I am waiting for local cinemas to reopen to screen it. The pandemic really brought down movie theaters which is really bad not only for their industry but also because a lot of employees of cinemas lost their jobs. I’m not just talking about the people handling the tickets but also those who work to cook food, prepare drinks and serve them to moviegoers.

More on Wonder Woman 1984, the film is available for viewing via HBO Max (mainly in the United States) without a premium fee required. This, in my opinion, is a terrible move by AT&T-controlled Warner Bros. because customers’ payments for HBO Max do NOT really go to the producers and financiers who made the Patty Jenkins-directed sequel.

As I mentioned before, I prefer to watch Wonder Woman 1984 in the movie theater instead of streaming it. Back in June 2017, I went to the local IMAX cinema to watch Wonder Woman by buying a premium movie ticket, buying popcorn and a drink, sat comfortably and watched the movie in its full greatness. Truly, VOD streaming will NEVER match the experience of the cinema. Right now, I’m waiting for the opportunity to watch Wonder Woman 1984 in the local movie theater.

As for home viewing, I personally prefer watching movies via optic disc media over streaming. Blu-ray is notable for advantages over streaming. That being said, there is a much better option to view Wonder Woman 1984 in the comfort of home – the upcoming 4K Blu-ray combo release of Wonder Woman 1984!

When it comes to watching Wonder Woman 1984 in the comfort of home, this is the BETTER option than streaming! (source – Blu-ray.com)

Recently Wonder Woman 1984 has been listed at Blu-ray.com to be released in 4K Blu-ray disc format along with a Blu-ray disc (1080p) and a digital copy. While this is not in any way an official announcement (note: as of this writing, the listing does not have a release date yet), it is inevitable that Wonder Woman fans and consumers will have the option to buy the new movie in 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs.

According to the listing at Blu-ray.com, Wonder Woman 1984 4K Blu-ray will have a native 4K (3840x2160p) resolution. This alone is a major improvement over the upscaled 4K resolution (read: fake 4K) that the Wonder Woman 4K Blu-ray had. Upscaled 4K means digitally stretching a lower resolution video until it reached 3840x2160p resolution. Native 4K means the footage truly got rendered in 3840x2160p resolution, and this means more detailed visuals! Take note that the new movie that starred Gal Gadot had scenes filmed with IMAX cameras and their high visual details should translate nicely in 4K Blu-ray.

More on Wonder Woman 1984 4K Blu-ray, its original aspect ratio is 2.39:1, its audio has Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 confirmed, its subtitles are in English, French and Spanish. For playback, the 4K Blu-ray will be region-free while the Blu-ray (1080p) will be coded for Region A.

How much will Wonder Woman 4K Blu-ray combo package cost and when will be released? We will find out soon enough. Personally, as soon as it becomes available for ordering at Amazon, I will order it. It should be noted that what you pay for Wonder Woman 4K Blu-ray (or the standalone Blu-ray 1080p release), part of your money will go to the movie producers and investors who are struggling to recover their investment. This is another solid reason why I will not stream this movie. Dump HBO Max!

If you are looking for more Wonder Woman-related content, just search here in my website’s search engine. For those who have not seen Wonder Woman 1984, I recommend reading my retro review of the 1987 comic book Wonder Woman #9 which itself is required reading to get yourselves oriented about the first full appearance of Cheetah (Barbara Minervia). Also check out my most recent Wonder Woman retro review as well as my 2017 Wonder Woman movie review and my No Man’s Land scene special feature.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Christopher Nolan slams AT&T-controlled Warner Bros. over plan to release new movies in cinemas and HBO Max simultaneously

I am not a fan of director Christopher Nolan but I say he still deserves credit for the massive contributions he made in cinema, specifically with the Dark Knight trilogy (which strengthened the superhero film genre) and IMAX (Dunkirk and Interstellar come to mind.)

Director Christopher Nolan. (photo source – IMDB.com)

Very recently the acclaimed movie director and producer made tremendous buzz in the news as he slammed AT&T-controlled Warner Bros. over their plans to release their seventeen 2021 movies in both movie theaters and the streaming app HBO Max. As you already know, the much-awaited Wonder Woman 1984 is just the first of many WB films that will debut inside cinemas and via streaming on the same day. HBO Max is currently way behind rival streaming services Disney+ and Netflix in terms of subscribers, and this fact makes Warner Bros. look not only desperate but traitorous towards movie theatre operators (who lost money and have struggled to retain their employees).

Going back to Christopher Nolan, read closely below the excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter article.

For many in the movie business — producers, directors, stars and their representatives — Dec. 3, 2020 is a day that will live in infamy.

“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” filmmaker Christopher Nolan, whose relationship with Warners dates back to Batman Begins in 2005, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Nolan added: “Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don’t even understand what they’re losing. Their decision makes no economic sense and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”

Personally, I agree with the Batman films director. Even with the ongoing pandemic, it still does not make sense economically to release brand new movies in both cinemas and online streaming simultaneously. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t want to leave their homes to watch a movie because of fear that they will get infected with COVID-19. I noticed a few people who posted on social media that the movie theatre is a death trap of COVID-19 and they disregarded the efforts movie theater operators made to have their facilities sanitized, cleaned and practiced social distancing. This contributes to them relying on streaming to watch brand new movies in their homes.

The WB plan to release new movies in both cinemas and HBO Max only made the tough situation of movie theater operators even worse. Cinemas have been struggling to survive and badly need customers to buy tickets, snacks and drinks, and most notably enjoy the grand experience of watch films on the big screen which streaming will never ever match nor replicate. It should be noted that the business model of standalone movies recovering the negative costs (production, marketing and others covered by movie producers and investors) by means of movie ticket sales (plus merchandising) followed MONTHS LATER by revenue from sales/rentals of DVD/Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray, cable TV, pay-per-view services, and public TV showing is still the best even though several theaters have been closed down due to the pandemic.

It should be noted that the fact that WB does not charge a dedicated upfront fee for viewing Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max only means that the said movie’s producers won’t be collecting proceeds from the payments of subscribers. If you are a dedicated fan of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and you want to see more Wonder Woman movies in the future, you are better off skipping streaming and instead pay for the movie by buying movie tickets, buying the movie’s eventual releases on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray, pay for the movie’s eventual pay-per-view release, pay for the future rental service of the movie, etc. Paying HBO Max only pays for the service, and not for Wonder Woman 1984. Streaming will NOT help Wonder Woman 1984’s producers, investors and filmmakers, and it also will NOT help movie theater operators.

As for me, I’ll make it a point to watch Wonder Woman 1984 in the local cinema (especially IMAX) a number of times and then anticipate its release on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray. I will not stream to watch it!

Going back to Christopher Nolan, he is not alone with his reaction towards WB’s plan. Major cinema chain AMC reacted negatively as well. Below is an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter story.

“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max startup,” said Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC Entertainment, in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”

The move will see the studio’s 17-film slate hit HBO Max for a one-month window that starts the same day the titles will be available in theaters in the U.S. The move comes after the studio had already revealed plans to release Wonder Woman 1984 day-and-date on Christmas Day, a plan that AMC says it was notified about.

“These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height,” read a statement from the exhibitor, which added, “However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theatre business is expected to recover.”

CEO Aron added that the company has already started an “immediate and urgent dialogue” with the studio. AMC, which announced today that it would be selling 200 million shares in the hope of improving its liquidity, has seen its stock fall some 16 percent by Thursday afternoon.

You heard about the Independent Cinema Alliance? They too are disappointed with Warner Bros. They called for a return to theatrical exclusivity and expressed that releasing films solely in movie theaters for a period of time is “what drives that value – not streaming.” Below is the full statement of ICA from the Variety report.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. The Independent Cinema Alliance, however, is disappointed in WarnerMedia’s questionable decision to release its entire 2021 film slate simultaneously in movie theaters and on HBO Max. WarnerMedia is correct that its content is extremely valuable, but it also must know that theatrical exclusivity is what drives that value—not streaming. Given that COVID-19 vaccines will begin distribution in the coming weeks, the ICA calls on our partners at Warner Bros. and other studios to help write the industry’s comeback story with a recommitment to exclusive theatrical content.

The ICA welcomes short-term, innovative film distribution models developed to bridge the coronavirus pandemic. It is important that our studio partners support independent exhibitors during this crisis with new theatrical releases backed by robust marketing campaigns. For our part, exhibitors will bring the magic of moviegoing to communities across America while implementing expert-backed, industry-specific health and safety protocols.

But let’s be very clear, it is essential to the success of the entire motion picture ecosystem that hybrid distribution models influenced by the pandemic properly reflect appropriate terms for movie theater owners. It is also imperative that these reactionary policies made in response to a public health crisis do not reflect long-term, formal shifts in distribution strategies for studio films. A theatrically driven business model is vital to the success of movie theater owners, studios, and the creative community. The ICA looks forward to collaborating with our partners in Hollywood on deliberate, innovative solutions that build a brighter future for this great industry.”

The hybrid film release model of WB is not only harming movie theater operators, it is also destroying the mutual trust movie theaters have with movie studios as we know it. As seen with Christopher Nolan, his long-time business relationship with Warner Bros. looks like it will crumble. Nolan might as well leave WB and find another Hollywood studio that agrees with him.

Not only that, Warner Bros. long-time business relationship with Legendary Pictures is in danger as well. Legendary Pictures co-financed WB’s upcoming films like Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune, and according to a Variety report, they may take legal action against the studio over its plan on launching movies in both cinemas and HBO Max. Here’s an excerpt from the said report.

It’s unclear what legal grounds Legendary would use to challenge the decision, though it would likely involve some breach of contract.

Legendary declined to comment, as did Warner Bros.

Part of Legendary’s frustration is that despite largely bankrolling “Dune” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the production company didn’t have much of a say in how its buzzy titles would be released. Moreover, the company felt that Warner Bros. wasn’t being transparent with its intentions. Months ago, Netflix had discussed a possible sale of “Godzilla vs. Kong” for a hefty $250 million but WarnerMedia, the parent company of Warner Bros., blocked that arrangement.

Denis Villeneuve, the director of “Dune,” is similarly disappointed with the HBO Max plan and would prefer a traditional theatrical release for his movie, according to insiders.

As if that was not enough, it has been reported that movie piracy has been rising as the studios skipped the struggling cinemas. Even Disney’s live-action Mulan was shared millions of times in the form of unlicensed copies! Below is an excerpt from the report by Bloomberg.

Studios have tried to salvage some of their big-budget films this year by selling them through streaming services for $20 to $30. But that business model has made it easier for pirates to illegally copy and share new releases, with an estimated loss of millions of potential customers for the production companies.

Unlicensed downloads of Walt Disney Co.’s most-recent picture, “Mulan,” have outpaced those of other movies since its Sept. 4 U.S. debut on the Disney+ streaming service, according to TorrentFreak, a website that tracks pirating activity on public servers. Compared with “The Lion King,” which came out last year in theaters, “Mulan” saw about twice as many downloads in the days and weeks after its release.

When a traditional movie is released in theaters, thieves struggle to obtain high-quality recordings of it, often resorting to bootlegging with a hidden camcorder. With digital releases, pirates use technologies not available to most consumers to make perfect copies quickly.

On the other side of the spectrum, Warner Bros. Entertainment chairman and CEO Ann Sarnoff defended her company’s decision and specified that they have “many movies which are ready to go, and they’ve been sitting on shelves. So we thought this was the most creative and win-win situation to bring them not only to theaters but simultaneously for 31 days on HBO Max.”

The same CNBC report also states that Warner Bros. did not consult the actors, the directors, the agents with regards to the 2021 movies, and that they did not make distribution deals with the cinemas.

In ending this, here is an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter’s report. Play close attention to the details.

The Warners move poses big, maybe even existential questions: How do theaters survive this supposedly one-time, excused-by-the-pandemic move? Genies are hard to put back in the bottle and no one believes Warners intended this to be temporary anyway. What damage will be done to exhibitors by training customers that if they sit on their sofas, the biggest movies will come? And will Warners face serious backlash from important producers, filmmakers, guilds and on-screen talent? “Warners was the quintessentially talent-friendly, filmmaker-friendly studio,” says one agent. “Now Warners isn’t the first place, second place or third place you want to go.”

Many in Hollywood think WarnerMedia jumped at this drastic move to play to streaming-infatuated Wall Street and re-do the botched launch of HBOMax, which netted a dismal 8.6 million subscribers. But one prominent agent notes that the top executives at WarnerMedia and its parent — AT&T CEO John Stankey, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar and, of course, Sarnoff — “don’t understand the movie business and they don’t understand talent relations.”

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Wonder Woman 1984 is coming to BOTH movie theaters and HBO Max streaming service on Christmas Day

The news has spread like wildfire in such a short time and unsurprisingly hashtags like #WonderWoman and #WW84 got really active again on social media. It has officially been announced that the much-delayed Wonder Woman 1984 (starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig) will indeed open in movie theaters in America on Christmas Day PLUS debut also via Warner Bros. own streaming service HBO Max.

Watch the confirming video below…

Already cinema chain AMC is supportive of the movie’s scheduled theatrical release.

“We hope movie lovers enjoy ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ during the holidays this year at AMC,” AMC Entertainment CEO and President Adam Aron stated.

Personally, I am surprised that Warner Bros. decided to do the simultaneous theater-and-streaming approach because the move is pretty risky in terms of doing business as well as reaching out to the many millions of fans willing to pay to watch the movie. It is a fact that a lot of movie theaters in America remain closed and families are forced to stay at home especially in states where the state governments strictly implemented lockdowns due to the COVID-19 crisis.

It is also a fact that HBO Max is not exactly massively large with its subscribers. According to a Variety report, HBO Max users grew to 8.6 million at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2020. Also reported was 28.7 million customers described to be eligible to avail of the mentioned streaming service. Combined subscribers of standalone HBO and HBO Max in the United States reached 38 million as of the end of September. When it comes to the global scale, 57 million subscribers of both HBO and the streaming service were reported. The numbers look big but there is no guarantee that 100% of standalone HBO subscribers will actually avail of HBO Max for WW84. There is also the issue of generating a lot of funds to help Warner Bros. recover their investment in making and marketing Wonder Woman 1984.

As I stated before, the best way to watch Wonder Woman 1984 is still in the movie theater for it is a fact that it is such a very big production as a whole and it has certain sequences filmed with IMAX cameras (the highest quality visuals of which will not be captured perfectly via streaming). While it is a fact that way below 100% of movie theaters worldwide are open for business, it is now high time for Wonder Woman fans, superhero movie enthusiasts and geeks to contact their local cinema operators and find out once and for all if they will screen Wonder Woman 1984. Don’t just sit down waiting for something to come to you, take action by reaching out to the movie theaters online or by the phone if you really want to watch the movie!

If there is an AMC theater near you operating (or planning to open for the Christmas holiday), you are fortunate because WW84 will be screened. If there is an IMAX cinema near you that will really play the movie, go for the movie there for the best visual experience!

While I noticed online that there are a lot of self-described Wonder Woman fans who arrogantly disregard movie theater operators only because they selfishly want WW84 to be streamed directly to them, I myself will not avail of the movie via streaming because there is a better option for home viewing that has yet to be announced…Wonder Woman 1984 on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray. Personally, I don’t have anything against VOD streaming services but when it comes to enjoying movies at home with the HDTV, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime! Blu-ray has undeniable advantages over streaming!

What I intend to do on watching Wonder Woman 1984 is quite simple: movie theater first followed by Blu-ray months later. Really, I’m not rushing to avail HBO Max this Christmas.

Going back to movie theaters, Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins announced via social media a program is in development to allow moviegoers, fans and other people to be able to rent their own theaters out to screen the movie with group safety in mind.

“We will try to help to bring it to as many of you as we can and thank you all for your support,” Jenkins stated via Twitter.

For its part, AMC Entertainment made moves to not only screen Wonder Woman 1984 but also ensure safety and reducing health risks. Check out the full statement of AMC CEO and President Aron below:

Movie fans across the United States, Europe and the Middle East will be excited to learn that the release of Wonder Woman 1984 this holiday season is right around the corner, and that AMC will show this eagerly awaited movie on our big screens all across our global network.

For many months, AMC has been in active and deep dialogue with Warner Brothers to figure out how best this cinematic blockbuster could be seen at AMC Theatres in these unprecedented times. Given that atypical circumstances call for atypical economic relationships between studios and theatres, and atypical windows and releasing strategies, AMC is fully onboard for Warner Brothers’ announcement today.

AMC continues to believe that exclusive theatrical releases benefit consumers, filmmakers, studios and exhibitors. Even so, we also have clearly demonstrated this year that we are flexible and remain open to evolving long-standing business models, provided that we do so in ways that improve the industry ecosystem for all players. We have instituted novel approaches with other movie studios this year. We are doing so again, this time with Warner Brothers to facilitate the specific release of this important movie.  We hope movie lovers enjoy Wonder Woman 1984 during the holidays this year at AMC.

In showcasing Wonder Woman 1984, we especially note AMC’s commitment to the safety and health of our moviegoing guests and associates at our theatres. Our comprehensive and extensive AMC Safe & Clean protocols were unveiled this summer, having been designed in consultation with current and former faculty of Harvard University’s prestigious School of Public Health and in partnership with Clorox. Our commitment to AMC Safe & Clean already has allowed us to responsibly and safely welcome literally millions of moviegoers to enjoy seeing movies at AMC Theatres.

To put things in perspective, AMC has around one thousand movie theaters and over 10,000 screens worldwide. That being said, their support to screen Wonder Woman 1984 is crucial not only for Warner Bros. and the fans but for the movie industry as a whole. Also I am confident that other cinema operators (who are already struggling financially and have been trying to retain their employees) are observing and may decide soon to follow AMC’s move. The more movie screens for Wonder Woman 1984, the better!

In ending this piece, here are some Wonder Woman-related videos for your enjoyment. Also check out my retro reviews of the George Perez-drawn Wonder Woman comic books such as issue #1 and issue #9 (required reading as it includes Cheetah). Check out also my review of the 2017 movie as well as my feature of the No Man’s Land scene.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com