Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman (1989)

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own. Right now, I'm making my way through the entire Batman franchise, and we get to the one that really kicked off this current run...Tim Burton's film from 1989.  This is originally in my notes at April 16, 2016.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman (1966)

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, that thing I do where I blog about a movie I own.  Today, I'm starting something I've wanted to do for a long time:  I'm plowing my way through every Batman movie.  I'm kicking things off with the Adam West Batman from 1966.  This was originally in my notes at April 26, 2016.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Memories of Eternia

He-man Calendar

It was with a healthy dose of nostalgic glee that my brother gave me a Masters of the Universe calendar for Christmas this year.  I was pretty lucky to have a lot of toys when I was a kid, and the holy trinity of the 1980s -- G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Masters of the Universe -- was pretty well represented in my bedroom.  As an adult, looking back, I declare Transformers to be my favourite, but Christmas always makes me the most nostalgic for Masters of the Universe.

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my very first crystal-clear memory of Christmas has to do with Masters of the Universe toys.  I was about six years old.  The cartoon had just premiered, so naturally, I was nuts for it.  We were spending Christmas with my Opa and Oma down in Red Deer.  The German tradition is you open your presents on Christmas Eve, so, there we were, tearing open our presents, and I was overjoyed at the first two Masters of the Universe figures I ever had the pleasure of receiving:  the evil Skeletor, leader of the forces of evil, and his minion Faker, an evil robot duplicate of our hero, He-Man.

And they were the perfect to take command of the biggest gift I got that year:  Point Dread and the Talon Fighter.  Point Dread was a playset:  a tiny tower just barely big enough to hold a single action figure.  But it was just a glorified landing pad for the Talon Fighter:  a jet aircraft designed to resemble an eagle.  And, wouldn't you know it, just big enough to hold two figures!

While in canon as a base of operations for the heroes, it didn't take much imagination to declare Point Dread had been overrun by the villains, and was now a hideout for Skeletor and Faker.  I loved it so much.  I played with it for several months after Christmas.  In Grade 1, we had to keep a daily journal, and I remember several entries dedicated to the machinations of Skeletor and what he was doing with the power of Point Dread at his command.  But my most vivid memory is always of coming home from school one day.  My mother had tidied up my room.  I went to my room to play and there, perched upon my dresser, was the Talon Fighter, perched atop Point Dread, and in the cockpit, Skeletor and Faker were ready for action.  It looked so perfect.  The sun was coming through the window and hitting it the right way.  God, it was like the idol at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And from them on, most Christmases in my childhood were highlighted with a new Masters of the Universe toy or two.  One year an aunt got me Wind Raider.  Wind Raider!  The hero's main jet fighter on the show.  I'd only ever seen it on the cartoon, but never in the stores, so I was starting to think it was made up for the show.  There was the crawling Dragon Walker.  I remember opening up the kitchen table and taking out the centre leaf, and setting it to traverse a wide crevasse, as it did on the TV commercials.

But the one that was long talked about afterwards was the Christmas of two Snake Mountains.  Snake Mountain -- Skeletor's domain, and the second-most famous playset in the toyline, after Castle Greyskull.  Another Christmas Eve at Opa and Oma's.  I tore into my biggest Christmas present to find it was Snake Mountain!  I thanked my uncle.  Then I tore into another one, from another uncle, to find it was...also Snake Mountain!  My uncles shot each other a worried glance, as it turned out they forgot to co-ordinate with each other.  While I tore into one, my uncle said he'd return the second one and get me something else.

I finally got the much-coveted Castle Greyskull earlier that year, for my birthday.  My birthday happened to fall on a Saturday that year, so I was up before anyone else to watch cartoons, as I always did on Saturday.  I quietly crept down to the living room, turned the corner, and was face-to-face with that grim green skull that was the face of Castle Greyskull.  I was quite startled, so I turned around and went back to bed.  A little while later, my Dad got up, and heard me rustling around in my room.  So Dad took me down to the living room, and there it was.  Castle Greyskull!  Battle Armor Skeletor!  Battle Armor He-Man!  Mekaneck!  All for me, and on my birthday!  Greatest birthday ever!

Sadly, by the time I got Castle Greyskull, Point Dread had been well-played with and had actually gone missing, so I was never able to try on of Point Dread's features:  the top half of Point Dread could attach to one of Castle Greyskull's towers, thus creating a Talon Fighter landing pad at Castle Greyskull.

And that's probably why I get most nostalgic for Masters of the Universe.  I don't have anything left.  I still have a few G.I. Joes and Transformers that I managed to hang onto over the years, but no Masters of the Universe stuff.  In fact, Masters of the Universe is the one toy I had where I made the conscious decision to get rid of it.  When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was thinking, "Yeah, I'm done with this," and sold it all at a garage sale.

I've never been the kind to browse eBay and try to re-collect my Masters of the Universe stuff.  I'm more content to just sit back and be nostalgic.  But part of me wouldn't mind getting Skeletor, Faker, Point Dread and the Talon Fighter once again, to perch majestically on my dresser. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Peanuts Movie

Here we go again, on the first Fishing in the Discount Bin of the new year!  Taking a look at one of my favourite animated films of 2015, The Peanuts Movie.  This is in my notes at March 19, 2016.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Good Dinosaur

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I sit and blog about a movie I own.  We return to my beloved Pixar with their other film from 2015, The Good Dinosaur.  This is in my notes at March 16, 2016.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Die Another Day

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  We come to the end of Pierce Brosnan's run on James Bond with Die Another Day.  This is in my notes at March 16, 2016.

I actually sat down and watched Die Another Day on Blu-Ray a few weeks ago, but haven't gotten around to writing this.  I've never had a flu bug like that before.  I had literally 0 energy.  I'd wake up in the morning and lie in bed for an hour just because I didn't have the energy to get up.  That was the first week.  Second week, I finally had enough energy to be moving around.  And then the third week, I was whisked off on vacation.  But now, here I am, to type this up, because in my flu-induced delirium, I was able to watch Die Another Day

And this is how Pierce Brosnan's run on James Bond comes to end...the film where people finally said James Bond had gone too far.  Surfing on Arctic tsunamis...an invisible car...a Madonna theme song and cameo...it was all finally too much.  Now that I own and have re-watched all the Brosnan Bonds, I finally agree:  nothing beat GoldenEye

The film opens with Bond doing an excursion into North Korea to take down a North Korean general who'd begun dabbling in arms dealing on the side.  In what was considered a revolutionary twist for the Bond films at the time, the mission goes south and it ends with Bond being captured.  In another considered-revolutionary-at-the-time-twist, the classic Bond opening title sequence is a stylized representation of the torture Bond endures. 

Anyway, Bond is finally released because of a prisoner exchange.  Because of some terrorist attacks that happened during Bond's imprisonment, M thinks Bond cracked under the torture and revealed state secrets.  Bond denies this, saying the only other possible explanation is there's a mole in MI6.  It would also explain why his mission went south, because he was ratted out.  So, Bond goes rogue to clear his name and sniff out the mole.  It's an investigation that soon leads him to billionaire industrialist Gustav Graves and his orbital super-weapon. 

Of course we need our Bond girl, so we have Halle Berry as NSA agent Jinx Jordan.  Man, there was a lot of hype at the time of giving Jinx her own spin-off franchise, but it never came to be.  But Berry's Jinx is a great Bond girl.  Suave, sophisticated, a tough fighter, quick-witted...very much Bond's equal. 

But yeah.  When we get to Iceland, with many scenes filmed in the famous ice hotel, that's where things get crazy.  That's where we get the invisible car and gadget overload and ice surfing.  Although, the car chase across the ice is pretty cool.  For once, the villain gets a gadget-laden car, too, and is able to fire back at Bond.  But, I remember when I first saw it, the director's stylistic choice of constantly messing with the camera speed to create some pseudo-bullet time effects really comes across as annoying. 

There is some fun, though.  This is the 20th James Bond film, and it was released during the 40th anniversary of the film franchise, so the director dropped in multiple Easter eggs referencing all the previous films in the franchise...most of them are old gadget's in Q's lab.  The rumour at the time was the director believes in the fan theory that "James Bond" is a code name, and that's why there have been different Bonds over the years, and he wanted to use that to have previous Bonds make cameos.  But, the producers nixed him. 

I remember when I first saw it in the theatre.  It was during my time in Japan.  Because of international release dates, a lot of the Christmas blockbusters of 2002 came out in the spring of 2003.  The spring of 2003 was also when the Company told me that they wouldn't be renewing my contract and sending me home to Canada, which really threw me into a depression.  Since movies are my escape, and all the Christmas blockbusters were coming, I was going to see a movie pretty much every week to try to cheer myself up.  I'm pretty sure Die Another Day was the film when the clerk who was always working the nights I went to the movies looked at me and said, in her best English, "Wow, you come here a lot." 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One and Done

Blah blah blah went to city something something Christmas shopping yadda yadda yadda ROGUE ONE, BAY-BEE!

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

Don't know why I went to the 10:30AM show on Saturday.  As was pointed out to me when I bought the tickets, at work I'm back on the morning shift, which means I've got my afternoons free, which means I could have easily gone in the afternoon.  But I didn't.  And I stand by my choices.

So when Disney bought Lucasfilm a few years ago and promised to flood our lives with new Star Wars product, one of the more intriguing things was the proposal of standalone films, aka these "Star Wars stories."  As Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy once remarked, "It's about thinking of the Star Wars universe as a setting, rather than a saga."  And for their first one, they decided to go with one of the more wondered-about untold stories in the Star Wars universe:  how exactly did the Rebels steal the plans to the Death Star from the Empire?

Well, it was a daring mission carried out by Jyn Erso and her crew.  Erso's got a personal connection to the Death Star:  her father Galen was one of its chief architects, until he grew a conscience and walked away from the Empire.  The film opens with the chief of the Death Star's construction, Director Krennick, tracking down Galen to drag him back to the Empire and finish what he started.  We then flash forward to Jyn as a grown-up, who's been living largely on her own in this wartorn galaxy.  But then the Rebels drag her in to the conflict.  A defector brings word of the Death Star nearing completion, and Galen was able to smuggle out a message about it.  Jyn is needed to verify the message and, if possible, help track down her father to find out more about this message.

Of course, we need a crew on this mission.  The standouts to me were the droid K-2SO and Chirrut Imwe.  K-2SO was an Imperial droid who was reprogrammed, but the reprogramming altered his personality, giving him a very dry sense of humour.  Picture C-3P0 with more sass, and in the body of grappler.

Chirrut Imwe was a Jedi temple guard back in that more civilized time.  While he cannot use the Force, he is a firm believer in it, and frequently lets his faith guide him.  His official title was "a Guardian of the Whills," and dude, that's a deep cut Star Wars reference.  "The Whills" was an early name George Lucas had for the Force, and Lucas's original title for the entire saga was "The Journal of the Whills."  Anyway, director Gareth Edwards said that Chirrut was based on the character archetype of the warrior monk, and played by Hong Kong action legend Donnie Yen, he plays that archetype to the hilt.  And much like K-2SO, he's got a dry quip for just about any occasion.

If I do have a problem with it, it has to be with our heroine, Jyn.  I just don't feel like we got enough time with her to get to know her as a character.

Special effects are, of course, amazing.  They give us some great angles of the Death Star that really play up its size and scope.  Thanks to digital technology, there's some gratuitous cameos from long dead characters.  And the final space battle is spectacular.

And, much like Luke's appearance at the end of The Force Awakens, the last 10 minutes are a gigantic nostalgic gut punch that left me in tears.

All in all, I give it a solid 3 out of 4 Nibs.  A great addition to Star WarsFull review on the website.

After that, out into the mall to do a little more shopping.  But now, with my Christmas shopping finished, I thought I'd buy a few frivolous things for myself.  As my mother frequently tells me, "Treat yo-self!"  (Sorry, Aziz Ansari, my mother was saying it before you.)

So I wound up spending a lot of money at HMV.  First, a new Blu-Ray.

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

Long ago,I blogged about the logic of buying a holiday special on home media.  I mean, the one time of year you're going to watch it is the one time of year it's on TV ad nauseum.  But now, I figured out why:  it's the only way to see it uncut.

Going through Facebook's "On this Day" feature, I see I've been making the same complaint about Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town for about seven or eight years now.  In recent years, they've been deleting one of my favourite parts.  And I can see why they cut it.  It's the same reason why it's my favourite.  It's so hilariously out of place.

Using the Christmas song of the same name as the springboard, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town tells us the secret origin of Santa Claus.  Santa, you see, was a rebel, who delivered toys to a town where toys had been banned.  Santa is eventually arrested, and Jessica the schoolmarm tries to rally the people to free Santa.  Through her efforts, she begins to realize she has feelings for Santa, and that's when we realize she is the who will become Mrs. Claus.  And her awakening comes in the form of a very psychedelic musical number.  I mean, it was 1970.  That kind of animation was the rage.  It's very much a product of its time.  And compared to the stop motion of the Rankin-Bass holiday specials, it's very out of place.  Which is why I love it.  And why it's a prime candidate for deletion.

But now I can enjoy it in glorious hi-def!

And even though we live in the era of digital downloads, I bought a couple of CDs.  I've blogged before that I think Michael Giacchino is one of the greatest film composers working today, and now he's done the music for my two favourite franchises with "Star" in the title.  So I picked up his scores for Star Trek Beyond and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Buying Star Trek Beyond was more to complete my collection.  A few years ago, a lot of music labels that specialize in film soundtracks released the complete, uncut scores for every Star Trek movie.  And have them all!  No Star Trek Beyond score was leaving a gap in my collection.  I love the stuff that Giacchino has written for Star Trek.  I easily put the main theme he wrote for Star Trek up there with Jerry Goldsmith's legendary theme.  And speaking of Goldsmith, I swear I can hear echos of his stuff, and James Horner's Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock scores in Beyond.  I especially like the piece entitled Night on the Yorktown, when the Enterprise arrives at the starbase Yorktown for some much-needed shore leave.

And then as others have pointed out, Giacchino seemed destined to do the music for a Star Wars movie.  He's about the only one still doing John Williams-style, full orchestra, "everybody gets a signature theme" film scores.  Some concerns about Giacchino doing the music for Rogue One, as he was a last minute replacement for Alexander Desplat.  Giacchino only had six weeks to pull something together.

And I think he did a great job, listening to some of it on Spotify as soon as it went online on Friday.  Listening to the theme he wrote for the Imperial forces, entitled "The Imperial Suite," reminds me of the variation on the Mission: Impossible theme he wrote for the opening credits of Ghost Protocol.  The notes are there, but there in a different order.  If that makes any sense.  I don't really know a lot about music composition.

My favourite cut has to be "Guardians of the Whills Suite."  This kind of replaces John Williams' "Force" theme, as it comes in whenever someone starts talking about the Force and matters of faith.

Listening to it back-to-back with his Beyond score (as I have been while I write this), yeah, it sounds like Giacchino may have borrowed a little bit from his Star Trek stuff when he put together Rogue One, but the dude was under the wire.  I hope he gets to do another one.  I would love to hear what he can do when he's got the time to do it right.

And that's my latest dispatch from my latest trip to the city.  Last one before Christmas now, as the Christmas shopping is done.