Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, July 13, 2018

July Shenanigans

Well, things finally cooled down enough that I could have a little leisure time.  Summer is a busy time for us radio folk, with a multitude of festivals and events to go cover, and small market is no different.  Luckily, while things were busy in June, it appears as though, this year, things peaked on Canada Day, and now July is relatively quiet, until the fairs of August.  So when I was done covering all the various Canada Day celebrations, I finally had a chance to run into the city and see Incredibles 2.

Incredibles 2 Movie Poster

At the start of this decade, when Pixar started cranking out sequels to their hits, #1 at the top of everyone's wish list was Incredibles 2.  Yeah, Finding Dory was nice and Cars 3 was certainly a movie, but we all wanted to see the further adventures of the Parr family.  Well, it was kind of tough, as writer/director Brad Bird wandered off to try his hand at live action, giving us Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland.  But once that was out of his system, he went, "Ya know, I think I finally have an idea for Incredibles 2."  And here we are.

Picking up immediately where the first film left off, Incredibles 2 opens with our heroes...being detained, because, in this universe, being a superhero is still illegal.  On top of that, the government agency that used to relocate them after such outbursts has been shut down, so they're on their own.  But then, enter the billionaire industrialist twins Winston and Evelyn Deavor.  They're big superhero fans, and want to launch a PR campaign to start lobbying the government to legalize superheroes.  Their plan:  send Elastigirl back into action to show what good she can do in the world.  Mr. Incredible, who doesn't get to go back into the field just yet because the numbers show he causes way too much collateral damage, becomes a stay-at-home dad to look after the kids.  So while Elastigirl does battle with a new super-villain called the Screenslaver, Mr. Incredible does battle with young Violette's adolescence, Dash's math homework, and baby Jack Jack's emerging powers.

Brad Bird once again brings it.  What made the first film so amazing (and what made Bird a fan favourite to do Fantastic Four someday) is he perfectly nails the family dynamics in a family of superheroes.  The action scenes are bigger and bolder than the first film.  And the characters in new and brilliant ways.  And Michael Giacchino once again knocks it out of the park with his music.

But, of course, I have a quibble.  Just about every animated film I've seen lately has the big twist of "trusted friend and ally being the REAL villain," and I'm getting pretty darn tired of it.  Even Incredibles 2 falls back on that, so it was mildly annoying.

In the end, Incredibles 2 is a very worthy sequel that's just as good as the first film.  Highly recommended.  3.5 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

And then, a few short days after the Canada Day weekend, comes that other momentous July holiday...my birthday!  I celebrated in the traditional manner...dinner and a movie with my folks, because I'm cool like that.  And I knew exactly what I wanted for dinner.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is now open in West Edmonton Mall.

Ah, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  A delightful throwback to the 1990s, and the heyday of gigantic theme chain restaurants like The Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood.  They all kind of imploded in the early 2000s, but Bubba Gump Shrimp survived.  The restaurant is themed around the film Forrest Gump, and since Forrest Gump made his millions running a shrimp boat and having a shrimp company, about 90% of their menu is shrimp.

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And, needless to say, because they've only been open for about a week, it's busy AF in there right now.  I hit the mall at around 4PM and started chatting with the hostess.  Here's how it works, when you're venturing to Bubba Gump.  Go talk to one of the hostesses standing around outside.  They'll put your name on the list and get your phone number.  When your table is ready, they text you.  I figured I may as well put my name on the list right away, rather than wait for my parents to show up.  So I did, and the hostess told me it would be about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Perfect!  We wanted to eat around 5 anyway.

So then I started hanging out at the Mall.  Then my parents showed up.  Then I started hanging out at the Mall with my parents.  Because I'm 41 and cool like that.  We wandered around, Mom and Dad caught me up on the family gossip, and before you knew it, my phone beeped and it said our table was ready.

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We went back to Bubba Gump, I showed them the text, and then they told us to go stand in line inside the restaurant!  But, to be fair, once your reach this stage, the line moves pretty quick.  Chatted with the inside hostess for a bit, where we shared our knowledge of Forrest Gump, and I let her vent a bit about the people who didn't know the system and tried to cut in line and would cuss out the hostesses.  Calm down, people!  Enough shrimp for everyone.

We got to our table, and it's in the bar section.  Which is cool.  We're all adults.  As is to be expected, the walls are covered with stills and promotional pictures from the film.  Above the bar, there were three TV screens:  one showing the World Cup, one showing that night's CFL game, and the third, of course, showing Forrest Gump.  Our very friendly waitress soon came by to take our orders.  But I didn't need to see a menu.  I've been studying the menu online ever since the Edmonton Bubba Gump was announced back in December.  I immediately blurted out, "Shrimper's Heaven!"

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Four kinds of shrimp:  grilled, fried, tempura, and coconut.  Served in four overflowing cones, and with three dipping sauces.  And oh, it was so good.  The grilled shrimp was OK.  It had kind of a generic chain restaurant BBQ sauce flavour.   The coconut shrimp was nice and crispy.  The tempura shrimp was the biggest of them all.  I tell ya, man, it was a heck of a lot of shrimp, but I managed to get it all down.

For my drink, I had this mango peach slushie concoction which was very sweet.  And because I mentioned it was my birthday, I got a free cupcake.

In the end, I quite enjoyed my trip to Bubba Gump Shrimp.  I'll probably go again...in about six months, once the crowds have died down a bit.

And then it was time for the movie.  For the annual tradition of my birthday movie, this year, I had chosen Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  To me, it made perfect sense.  I always loved those dinosaur movies, and for my birthday movie 25 years ago, I saw the first Jurassic Park.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom poster

It's a few years after Jurassic World.  Claire, the former manager of Jurassic World, now heads up a charity dedicated to preserving the dinosaurs and letting them live in peace.  But, it looks like the dinosaurs are going to die out all over again, as the volcano on the island has begun to erupt, and will soon destroy the entire island.  Claire is soon approached by Eli Mills, who represents John Lockwood, John Hammond's original partner and one of the original investors in Jurassic Park.  They want to save the dinosaurs and re-locate them to another island.  And, they need Claire's help to re-activate all the old tracking implants in those dinosaurs so they'll be easier to track down.  They also want Blue, the last surviving velociraptor, for Reasons, so Claire also recruits former raptor wranglers Owen.  And they return to Jurassic World...only to be promptly betrayed my Mills' men.  Turns out he wants the dinosaurs for his own sinister plans.  What are those plans?  And will Claire and Owen be able to stop him?

This is probably the most horror-oriented of the Jurassic films, as there are a heck of a lot of jump scares.  There's some surprising emotion, as well, as we're forced to watch the extinction of the dinosaurs all over again.  Claire and Owen, again played by Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, are again some very likable heroes, and they work well together.  And if that ending is to be believed, looks like the next film will finally be the "dinosaurs rampaging on the mainland" that we've been promised ever since the T-Rex got loose in downtown San Diego in The Lost World.

So, yeah.  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was fun, and for me at least, the novelty of the dinosaurs hasn't worn off yet.  I give it 3 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

And that was about it with my latest big city adventures.  Not much more to add.  Just, as always, thank you to my parents for the lovely time. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Thor

Rolling along on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  Simple as that.  I'm working my way through Marvel's Phase I, and today I get to Thor.  Actually, I got to Thor back on January 21, 2018.  I'm just now posting it.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Iron Man 2

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it is, I watch a movie and blog about it.  I'm working my way through Marvel's Phase 1, and today we get to Iron Man 2.  Well, I actually got to it on January 21, 2018, which is when I originally wrote this.

Iron Man 2 poster

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Incredible Hulk

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  It's just that easy.  I'm currently doing a run through Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and today we land on The Incredible Hulk.  I did my run through and originally wrote this on January 14, 2018.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Iron Man

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own then blog about it.  Easy as pie.  I figured it was time to revisit the origins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so let's kick it off with Iron Man.  This is in my notes at January 14, 2018.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Lego Ninjago Movie

Fishing in the Discount Bin!  I watch one of my movies, and then blog about it, because I really need to get out more.  Today, I'm giving The Lego Ninjago Movie a spin.   This is in my notes at January 7, 2018. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Talkin' Trailers: Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I occasionally lament that I don't blog about trailers the way I used to.  I've shared this lament before.  It's become so much easier to just throw up the link on my Facebook or Twitter and go, "OMG!  Check this out!" rather than sit down at the blog and write out, "Oh my gosh!  Check this out!"  I've thought about maybe doing something like "Trailer Tuesday" where every Tuesday I blog about a trailer that caught my eye, but then the problem becomes content.  Trailers seem to come in surges.  We'll get a week full of really, really good ones, and then we'll hit a dry spell for a while.

And this past week, well, it was a week of good ones.  For animated sequels, we got our latest look at Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, and our first look at The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.  For Oscar bait, there was a thrilling one for First Man, a biopic on Neil Armstrong from the creators of La La Land.  And there was much buzz about the trailer for A Star Is Born, the latest remake of the oft-remade tale of a famous singer who begins romancing and mentoring a young ingenue, only for the relationship to start crumbling when her star starts taking off as his starts to fade.  In this latest remake, Bradley Cooper is the singer and Lady Gaga is the ingenue.

But there were two in particular that made me feel like dusting off the blog and jotting down a few thoughts.  The first one is Bumblebee.

Yes, Paramount and Hasbro want some of that sweet, sweet, cinematic universe action, and so they're trying to build one out of Transformers.  First out of the gate, Bumblebee, a solo film for everyone's favourite little yellow Autobot.  A prequel to the Michael Bay films, Bumblebee takes place in 1987 -- 20 years before the first Bay film -- and follows Bumblebee's adventures as he begins settling into his life on Earth.  Hailee Steinfeld plays Charlie Watson, the teenage girl who winds up buying Bumblebee as her first car, and WWE superstar John Cena plays Agent Burns of Sector 7, whom you may remember as the secret organization monitoring Transformers on Earth.

Michael Bay takes the producer's chair on this one.  Directing it is Travis Knight, who gave us the stop-motion animated film Kubo and the Two Strings.  (And he's also the son of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike.)

All I can say is...wow.  I'm almost taken aback at how this lacks the bombast of the Michael Bay films, and instead looks to be almost a smaller and quieter film.  I'm especially picking up a strong E.T. vibe between Charlie and Bumblebee in those garage scenes.  Which is weird, because that's how Bay and Steven Spielberg sold the first Transformers film, before Bay made them all explody.  Oh, yeah, didn't you know?  Spielberg has been a producer on every Transformers film.

And from a nostalgia standpoint, I love that Bumblebee is a Volkswagen Beetle again, Starscream is in his original red and white colours, and Bumblebee's general robot design tends to have a smoother, sleeker, G1 inspired look.  While the commercials alone for Transformers: The Last Knight made me give up on the franchise in exasperation, this is actually kind of getting me excited again.

Bumblebee hits theatres December 18.

Next up, we have Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  I will never not get excited for a Spider-Man movie.  Way back in college in the 1990s, when I discovered the Internet late one night in the Augustana computer lab, the first words I ever typed into a search engine were "Spider-Man movie," because I wanted to know if the rumours I'd heard for years were true.  And that's when I discovered the lawsuit.  There had been some shenanigans over the years over the movie rights to Spider-Man, which led to a long and drawn-out court case to figure out who owned them.  But it was in Y2K when it was finally determined that belonged to Sony, Sony fast-tracked the first Spider-Man movie for a summer 2002 release, and the rest is history.

That was also a time when we were coming off a period in animation known as the Disney Renaissance.  I'm a guy who's always believed that animation and superheroes are a medium and a genre just made for each other.  Whenever there's an animated superhero movie coming along, I'm there.  Loved The Incredibles, loved Big Hero 6, and I still believe that the 2007 animated Ninja Turtles film is the best Ninja Turtles film.  So when Sony announced they'd be expanding the Spider-Man franchise by doing an animated Spider-Man film, I was in.

To set it apart, though, they decided to focus on Miles Morales.  For those who haven't been keeping up with the comics, Miles Morales started off as the Spider-Man in a parallel universe...the Ultimate Universe.  Morales was also bitten by a radioactive spider, but he was too frightened of his powers to use them.  When the Peter Parker Spider-Man made the ultimate sacrifice in his final battle with the Green Goblin, Morales was guilt-ridden that he didn't help out in the battle.  Learning the lesson that with great power comes great responsibility, Morales took on the mantle of Spider-Man.   Since then, the Ultimate universe has been merged with the regular universe, and Peter Parker has taken on a mentor role to the young Morales.

And that looks to be the general plot they're taking with the animated film.  When Morales starts discovering his powers, Peter Parker steps in to start mentoring him and teaching him the ways of the Force...er, I mean, spider-powers.  Shameik Moore voices Miles Morales, and Jake Johnson is voicing Peter Parker.

The script was written by The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and they also take on a producer role.

Ok, so when the first teaser premiered back at Christmas, I wasn't quite sold on the animation style.  But now that I get a better sense of it in this trailer, I'm starting to come around.  I get what they're going for now, in making it look literally like a comic book come to life.  And I may have let out a little  yelp when Spider-Gwen showed up at the end.

OK, Spider-Gwen.  For those who haven't kept up with the comics.  In yet another parallel universe, Peter Parker's longtime girlfriend Gwen Stacy was bitten by that radioactive spider on that fateful field trip instead of Peter Parker.  So she became that universe's Spider-Woman and started fighting crime.  But because there have been like, eight people to carry the mantle of Spider-Woman, the fans dubbed her Spider-Gwen to set her apart.  And, looping back to Bumblebee, that's Hailee Steinfeld voicing Spider-Gwen. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits theatres December 14.