Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Sleepy Hollow

Here we are again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly watching and viewing of one of the many films I own.  The time, we peek in on one of my favourite directors, Tim Burton, and his 1999 film Sleepy HollowThis shows up in my notes at February 17, 2014.

Sleepy Hollow Movie Poster



Monday, December 15, 2014

News from Markworld: December 2014

 As always, I'm blogging my Christmas card letter, so folks whom I may have drifted away from who may be googling my name one night can also know how I'm doing.

News from Markworld: The Chaos in a Box newsletter


Good day,

‘Tis I, Mark Cappis, once again including a nice little form letter in this Christmas card to let you know what’s been going in my life, especially in this year, 2014.

As always, writing this letter is difficult for me, as I can’t figure out enough ways to say “nothing.”  My life is still rather quiet and uneventful.  I get up, go to work, come home, watch a lot of TV.  That’s it.  My apartment doesn’t allow pets, so I can’t even get “crazy cat guy” on the go.

Work is still going fine.  As you may recall from last year’s letter, I am the afternoon show host and music director for 97.9 the Range in Westlock, Alberta.  (“Music director” at a radio station is the guy who actually picks the music the station plays, for those not in the biz.)  Well, there has been a notable addition to my duties.  In my little cluster of radio stations, 93.5 Prairie-FM in High Prairie switched to country music.  So the Company said, “Since we’ve already got a perfectly good music director for country music, let’s have him do both stations!”  So I do the music for both 97.9 the Range and 93.5 Prairie-FM now. 

Not much else of note happened.  I won a contest and got to be on TV.  CTV Edmonton was having a contest to give away tickets to the Indiana Jones exhibit at the Telus World of Science.  For the heck of it, I entered, and for the heck of it, I won.  Part of the prize was I got to go sit in the studio audience for CTV Edmonton Morning Live’s special Indiana Jones show.  That was a lot of fun!  Haven’t used my free tickets to go see the exhibit yet, but I’ll probably do that first thing in January.

And I’m still quite active on the social networks, if you ever want or crave more frequent updates as to the nothing that goes on in my life.  I finally brought back my podcast, too.  That ran last year from January until June, when things started getting busy at work.  Looks like things will be getting quiet again in January, so I’ll be able to launch the 2015 series really soon.

As always, my social media map:

Main site:  www.chaosinabox.com

Blog:  chaosinabox.blogspot.com

Facebook:  facebook.com/officialchaosinabox

Twitter:  @chaosinabox

YouTube:  youtube.com/mcappis911

Instagram:  instagram.com/chaosinabox

Google+:  google.com/+MarkCappis

I’m on LinkedIn, too, but I’m still new to that and figuring it out.  And I got my Ello invite the other day, but I’m not there yet.

Oh, and I got a new printer, too.  Which is why you’ll see this card has a nice printed label instead of being addressed by hand.  I may have lost some of that hand-made quality, but my wrists are thanking me.
And that’s all from my tiny apartment in Westlock, Alberta.  Have yourself a Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2015.

Hail Hydra!


Mark Cappis

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - That Thing You Do!

Here we are again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of some movie I own, only for me to sit and blog and rant about it.  This time out, we're doing Tom Hanks' writer and directorial debut, the 1996 comedy That Thing You Do!.  This is in my notes at February 16, 2014.

That Thing You Do! Movie Poster



Sunday, December 07, 2014

Sunday Morning Movie Stuff

Well, yesterday, it was off to the city to do some Christmas shopping.  I won't tell you my usual tales of big city adventure, though, as it mostly involves stressed out Christmas shopping, and you are no doubt currently living your own version of that tale.  I hope, though, that you are finding time in the stress to take a moment for yourself, as I did when I wandered into a movie theatre to finally see Interstellar.

Interstellar Movie Poster

Christopher Nolan, the man behind the last trilogy of Batman movies and Inception is back with a science fiction epic about wormholes and distant alien planets.  How awesome does that sound?  As it turns out, it's very awesome.  Much like Gravity last year, this is a sci-fi epic that sought to root itself in real physics and the real science of what may be residing out in the vastness of space.  And much like Gravity, I was in awe at how they managed to capture the vastness of it all.  I almost regret not paying the extra to see it in IMAX, because if I got that overwhelming sense in just a regular theatre, I'm sure IMAX would have melted my brain.

In the not-too-distant future, humanity is dying out.  Planet-wide plagues have left food scarce.  Cooper was once one of NASA's best and brightest pilots, but when NASA was dismantled so its resources could be used feeding the world, Cooper became a farmer.  But a mysterious presence in his daughter's bedroom leads him to the secret bunker where the remnants of NASA continues working.  Out near Saturn, a wormhole has been discovered, leading to life-supporting planets in another galaxy.  Cooper is soon implored to lead the expedition through the wormhole, find the astronauts who've been sent ahead to survey the planets, and begin laying the groundwork for a colony.  Perhaps humanity can be saved by moving it to another planet.  Will Cooper survive the mission and return home to his family?  Or will his daughter be forced to continue his work?

In a way, Interstellar tries really hard to be this generation's 2001, only with a more linear plot.  The vastness of space...the big science ideas...and for the most part, it works.  It's incredibly tense and exciting when you see what can really happen out there.

The only thing that I really didn't buy was the ending.  After all the real science, the ending got a little too "wibbley wobbley timey wimey" for my tastes.  But, you'd come this far, you may as well see it to the end.

I enjoyed it quite a bit.  3.5 out of 4 nibs.  The full review is over on my ol' website.



Well, with all the trailer goodness we've had over the past few weeks, what with Star Wars and Jurassic World and all, it only made sense that eventually one would come along that I'd great with a resounding "meh."  And that trailer is for Terminator Genisys, the big reboot to the Terminator franchise.

Terminator Genisys Teaser Poster

I've never been too crazy on the idea of all these Terminator sequels.  The first one and T2 form this wonderful 2-part story, full of awesome action and just enough weighty sci-fi concepts to push it over the top.  I went to the theatre to see Terminator 3 back in the day, and while it was enjoyable, it really didn't bring anything new to the table.  I was excited about Terminator Salvation because a prequel about the future war is something I'd craved for ages, but again, I walked away thinking that it really didn't offer up anything new.

And sadly, in this first trailer for the reboot, I'm not seeing anything new.  Kyle Reese is once again sent back in time to protect young Sarah Connor from a Terminator, sent back in time by Skynet in a last-ditch effort to win the war against humanity.  But when Reese arrives in the past, it's not the past he was told about.  Rather than a meek waitress, Sarah Connor is already a hardened soldier, and her adopted father...is a Terminator.  Reese must get to the bottom as to how and why the past has already changed, while staying true to his mission of protecting Sarah Connor.

Alan Taylor, the director of Thor: The Dark World is directing it.  Emilia Clarke is the new Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney is the new Kyle Reese, and Arnold Schwarznegger is back as the Terminator.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Lee Byung-Hun as the new T-1000, as I thought he was pretty cool as Storm Shadow in the live-action G.I. Joe movies.  Oh, and the Doctor himself, Matt Smith, is in it as well.




Terminator Genisys, in what's hoped to be the start of a new trilogy, hits theatres July 1.



And of course, there was the big James Bond announcement.  We have the title of the next James Bond film!  In November 2015, James Bond will return in...

Spectre teaser poster

Spectre.

This makes me very happy.  At the end of Skyfall, I said I felt like that the James Bond reboot that began with Casino Royale was finally complete.  We had a new M, Q was back, Moneypenny was back....everything was back.  If only they could bring back James Bond's arch-enemy Blofeld and his terrorist organization known as SPECTRE.

Long story short:  due to some legal wrangling over ownership, the James Bond producers actually lost the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE.  But, last year, after years of negotiations (and with all the involved parties who took it personally having finally died off), they were able to reacquire the rights.  So, for the first time since 1971, it looks as though James Bond will finally be doing battle against his arch-nemesis.

Along with the poster and the title, this official plot synopsis was revealed:

A cryptic message from an unlikely source sets James Bond navigating the layers of a sinister organisation known as SPECTRE. As M continues fighting political pressures that threaten the future of MI6, Bond draws closer to uncovering a hidden truth that threatens to destroy everything he has fought to protect. 

The cast was revealed, too.  Alongside Daniel Craig back as Bond, our villain is known as Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz.  His henchman is Mr. Hinx, played by Dave Bautista.  For our new Bond girls, we've got Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra and Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann. 

Filming begins on Monday for a November 6, 2015 release. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Alien Resurrection

Time for Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about some movie I own.  We finish our voyage through the Alien franchise with Alien Resurrection.  This shows up in my notes on January 26, 2014.

Alien Resurrection poster



Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Rocky Balboa

Well, we're at the end of my journey through the Rocky franchise as we get to the only Rocky movie that I've seen in the theatre, Rocky Balboa.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Peanuts Movie Trailer

While I`ve had a lot of fun blogging about the new crop of trailers over the past week, there's one that's been going by with not much notice that I've wanted to talk about, and that's for The Peanuts Movie.

The teaser poster for The Peanuts Movie:  Snoopy sleeps atop his doghouse, with Woodstock sleeping on his belly, and the tag line "Dream Big."

Charlie Brown in animation is a subject that's always fascinated me.  Almost 50 prime time animated specials, 4 theatrically released features films, an 8-episode mini-series, and a Saturday morning cartoon.  Can you think of any other comic strip that's had as successful a career in animation?  I'm pretty certain, thanks to the cartoons, I was fully aware of Charlie Brown and Snoopy long before I knew it was a comic strip.

When I was a kid, Fisher Price made this toy.  You'd get these 1-minute long movies on these big yellow cartridges.  You'd plug the cartridge into the special movie viewer, turn the crank, and watch the movie.  I got it for Christmas when I was 4 or 5 years old, and it was my favourite toy, and no doubt started my path to movie geekdom.  And one of the cartridges I had was a Snoopy one.  Woodstock was on a raft in stormy seas, but it was eventually revealed he was just daydreaming in his bird bath.  Snoopy pulls him out and dries him off with a blow dryer.  That was it.  My first exposure to Charlie Brown in animation.

And then there were the TV specials, which I'd watch occasionally.  It wasn't until college that I really started appreciating the pathos in A Charlie Brown Christmas.  And when I was a kid, I did have a friend who had A Boy Named Charlie Brown on VHS, and wound up watching it a lot over at his place.  I caught a bit of it on TV a few months ago.  Since it was made in the 1960s, I forgot how the animation got a little...psychedelic in places.  

So, as you can see, nothing but heaping waves of nostalgia when I learned that this new, CGI movie is in development.

Apparently, Charles Schutlz's son and grandson came up with the story idea back in 2006 and began shopping it around Hollywood.  They eventually found a home at Blue Sky Studios, the animation studio responsible for the Ice Age and Rio franchises.  Steve Martino directs, and he gave us the Blue Sky films Ice Age: Continental Drift (aka the fourth one) and their adaptation of Horton Hears a Who.  In fact, it was Martino's adaptation of Horton Hears a Who that won him the gig, as the Schultz estate was impressed with his faithfulness to the original book.  I should mention that the Schultz estate does have complete creative control over the project, to maintain faithfulness to the characters.

And faithfulness does seem to be a key word in the production.  The producers have also acquired the rights to Vince Guaraldi legendary jazz scores to the various TV specials to be used in the film.  Bill Melendez, who directed the vast majority of TV specials and original animated films until his death in 2006, will once again be voicing Snoopy and Woodstock thanks to archival recordings.  And the voice cast was announced last week, too.  Following the tradition of the franchise, all the voice actor are age-appropriate kids. 

I just can't get over the animation in this trailer.  Even though it's modern-day, 3D, computer animation, the pains they've gone through to make it look like Charles Schultz's original 2D art is astounding.  The music, the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock, everything works great to successfully pull on the nostalgic heart strings.

Then the present day pop song strikes up and we get some 3D Snoopy vs. the Red Baron action and something about it starts feeling a little bit off. 

But it leaves me feeling cautiously optimistic.






The Peanuts Movie hits theaters on November 6, 2015. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Upon the announcement that we'd be getting our first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens by the week's end, I couldn't help but flash back to an earlier time in my life when I was counting down to a Star Wars trailer.  It was another wintery November, but back in 1998.  I was still going to college, and lucky for me, the dorms had been wired into the campus computer network over the summer...and it's high speed Internet.  Thanks to that, it was absolutely no problem to download the first teaser for Episode I.




One of the main lecture halls had even been outfitted with a projector that summer, so I politely asked one of my professors if we could use it after class one day to see that trailer on the big screen.  It still stands as an excellent trailer...which made the resulting film and the entire prequel trilogy just the tad more disappointing.

I've been saying for a few years now that I couldn't help but feel burnt out on Star Wars.  After watching the abysmal Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, I just threw up my hands and said, "I'm done!"  I've been told that the resulting series gets better than the movie, and even though I tried to binge watch it on Netflix, I got bored and wandered off about halfway through the third season.  It just seemed like Star Wars had nothing new to offer me.

And yet, when Disney bought Lucasfilm two years ago, and announced Episode VII for 2015, you couldn't help but feel a twinge of excitement.  George Lucas had long been declared the scapegoat for how poorly the prequels turned out.  Would new creative talent really be the answer? 

From what I gather, a lot of directors actually turned down the job, fearing the pressure that would come with doing a new Star Wars films.  One of my favourite directors, Brad Bird, was an early contender, but Bird's official reason for declining the offer was to finish up his new film Tomorrowland.  The one who finally rose to the challenge was J.J. Abrams, whom many felt would be a good choice, as his Star Trek reboot had long been branded a Star Wars ripoff anyway.

A screen grab from the trailer:  a figure in black stands in a wintery forest.  He weilds a lightsaber, but this one is shaped more like a broadsword, complete with two energy discharges near the base that form a hilt.


Very little about the plot and characters has been revealed at this point.  We know that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are all back as much older and wiser versions of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo.  With five confirmed actresses in key roles, it already has more female characters than the entire original trilogy.  Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi back in the day, is back, co-writing alongside Abrams.

The Millenieum Falcon, flying over a desert, takes on two TIE Fighters.

Many are praising the look of the trailer for focusing on the new characters and not nostalgia, but I disagree.  The nostalgia is there in spades.  The familiar sight of X-Wing fighters, skimming across the surface of a lake.  An R2-droid, but he has what looks like a soccer ball for a body.  And many online are describing a swell of emotion upon seeing the Millennium Falcon fly again, taking on two TIE fighters, but this time over a desert instead of in the depths of space. 

Much fuss is being made over the new lightsaber, and how it has two smaller blades shooting out the bottom, forming a hilt.  Many question its practicality.  But then, how practical was Darth Maul's double-bladed lightsaber?  Would you not accidentally cut off your own arm if weren't careful with that?

So the nostalgia's in the trailer.  It's taking the very familiar, and presenting it in new contexts and a new light.  Unlike the prequels, which emphasized the new.  This is saying, "Hey.  This is everything you loved, but in a new light."

Yeah, I've watched this trailer a dozen times now.  Am as I excited as I was on that wintery November night in 1998, when I was the Episode I teaser for the first time?  No...I don't think anything will ever top the excitement I felt back then.

This feels new, and different, yet familiar.  There's not so much excitment, but cautious optimism.  I've been down this road before, so I'm trying to avoid heartbreak once again.

But seeing X-Wings in flight again just looks amazing.




Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theatres December 18, 2015. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Alien 3

Fishing in the Discount Bin once again, where I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  Way back, last January, I picked up the Alien franchise from a discount bin, and I've been re-establishing my nerd cred by watching them.  Today, we get to the third in the franchise, Alien3.  This was originally watched and blogged about on January 25, 2014.




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jurassic World Trailer! Oh, and Strange Magic, too.

Jurassic World teaser poster


With my main focus for the summer blockbusters of 2015 being on Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a new Star Wars and a new James Bond, I keep forgetting that we're also returning to Jurassic Park.

Even though the third one kind of underwhelmed way back in 2001, rumours of a fourth film have persisted for years.  And, a couple years ago, Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and Universal Studios finally got their stuff together to make it happen.  Spielberg's just producing, though.  For our director, we have relative newcomer Colin Trevorrow, who gave us the 2012 indie time travel film Safety Not Guaranteed.

Back on Sunday night, we got a 15-second preview of the trailer.  I don't know why, but that 15 second preview gave me goosebumps.  I've never been able to put my finger on why, but I just love the Jurassic Park franchise.  It's dinosaurs!  Who doesn't love dinosaurs?  And in that 15-second clip, to hear the classic Jurassic Park theme played slowly and hauntingly on a piano...beautiful.

The trailer was supposed to come out on Thursday, but got bumped up to Tuesday.  I think the move-up in the time table had to do with the announcement that we're getting our first Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer on Friday, and that'll soon be the new king of Trailer Town.

Well, without further ado, are you ready to return to Jurassic Park?




First up, I totally geeked out at the end when we saw our hero riding the dirt bike in the middle of the herd of velociraptors.  I read Michael Crichton's literary sequel, The Lost World, as soon as it came out back in the mid-1990s.  There was a motorcycle/velociraptor chase in the book's climax, and I was upset it didn't make it to the movie.  So it looks like we're finally seeing that on the big screen!

And I also liked the bit with feeding the great white shark to the giant aquatic dinosaur.  No doubt a tip of the hat to Spielberg's legendary hit Jaws.

The trailer kind of confirms the plot that's been circulating online for a while now.  It's 22 years since the original incident at Jurassic Park.  InGen, the company that actually cloned the dinosaurs, was bought out, and under new management, John Hammond's dream finally became a reality.  But, tickets sales are starting to slump, and the novelty of actual, living dinosaurs is wearing off.  So, to create a bigger star attraction, those wacky geneticists start combining dinosaur DNA to create a bigger, badder, Franken-saurus.  And, because it's a Jurassic Park movie, it escapes and starts eating people.  

Chris Pratt, fresh from saving the universe as Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, is here as Owen, the game warden at the park who gets nervous at the thought of this Franken-saurus.  Bryce Dallas Howard is Claire, the park's manager.  The only returning character from the earlier films is B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu, the geneticist who actually clones the dinosaurs.

My only complaint is that some of the CGI of the park itself looks a little too generic "future city."  But that being said, I'm actually kind of jazzed.

Jurassic World hits theatres on June 12.





And while I'm talking trailers, here's one that came out about a week ago that wasn't on a lot of people's radars, but it caught my eye.  It might very well be George Lucas's final movie.  And that's Strange Magic.

About 5 or 6 years ago, I read a blurb that Lucas was developing an animated film about fairies.  At the time, the rumoured director was Kevin Murnoe, fresh off directing the CGI TMNT film (which, IMHO, is the best Ninja Turtles movie).  And that was all I heard, until the trailer came out last week.

The director, in the end, is Gary Rydstrom, who'd been circling directing an animated feature for some time.  Rydstrom started his career as a legendary sound designer at Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic, where he won Oscars for creating the sound effects for Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Titanic and Saving Private Ryan.  He started getting involved in animation when he did the sound design for Pixar's first crop of films, including the first two Toy Stories and Monsters, Inc.  From there, he directed the Pixar shorts Lifted and Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation.  He also directed the English dubs of the last crop of Studio Ghibli films, including The Secret World of Arietty and Miyazaki's swan song The Wind Rises.

The official plot description is a little strange, describing it as a jukebox musical (that means it's a musical where all the songs are familiar pop songs) loosely based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as various fairies, goblins, elves and imps do battle over a magic potion.  George Lucas himself gets a "story by..." credit, and that's why I'm saying this could very well be his final film, as now that he's sold Lucasfilm to Disney, he's probably chillin' on a pile of money and not doing much filmmaking anymore.

The voice cast includes Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristen Chenowith, and Maya Rudolph.  The animation studio that actually did the animation was Lucas's Lucasfilm Animation Singapore (which Lucas formed to do the animation for Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Lucas's legendary special effects house Industrial Light and Magic (whose only other animated film is 2011's Rango).  So while the voice cast sounds great, and the animation looks gorgeous, the entire trailer has me going, "I don't know about this...."

I just may go when it comes out, because I am mildly curious.  Strange Magic hits theatres on January 23.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Rocky V

Continuing my voyage through the Rocky franchise, we come to the one I'd been dreading to watch, Rocky V



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Aliens

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of a movie I own.  Apparently, I broke a co-workers heart with last week's entry on Alien.  He read that, and then came to me the next day, "Dude, does that mean you're watching Aliens tonight?  I love Aliens!  Can I come over and watch it, too?"  That's when I had to break it to him.

For those just joining us, when doing Fishing in the Discount Bin, I'm working about six months ahead.  I watched this movie and jotted down this entry about six months ago.  That's why, in these intros, I always put down the date I originally watched the film and wrote my rant.  It was primarily to explain why you'd be reading entries about Christmas movies in July.

So, to my co-worker, I'm sorry you missed my Alien binge-watch by, wow, 10 months.  I'm working 10 months ahead now.  Anywho, time to continue the journey with Aliens.  I watched Aliens and wrote this ramble on January 19, 2014. 

Aliens Movie Poster

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Rocky IV

So I'm finally scratching the Rocky franchise off my cinematic bucket list, and now we get to one of the most beloved and most memorable of the series, Rocky IV.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fear

Maybe it's my old age.  Maybe it's a shade of PTSD from when I hit that deer almost 2 years ago.  Maybe it's because the first real cold spell of the year always brought out a raft of car problems in my old Dodge Neon that I could barely afford to fix.  But for the past few years, whenever that first snowfall comes, I start to get really, really, really nervous about driving.  Especially driving into the city.  What if I break down on the side of the road when it's -40 out?  What if I slide through an intersection into oncoming traffic?  With everything that can go wrong when you drive in the winter, most winter days I feel more like just hunkering down on the couch rather than going out.

But I like to watch movies.  And movie theatres are in the city.  Suck it up, soldier.

And so, this past Saturday, with a bundle of nerves as my co-pilot, I headed into Edmonton.  There were a few things I needed, and a movie to be seen, so I was off.  I recently had the tires rotated and some leaky tires patched up on my car, and ever since then, the acoustics have been off.  My car just doesn't sound right.  I'm certain everything is fine, and it's just because the tires are different now, but it's enough to drive up my paranoia.

But I just turn up the music to drown out the sounds of the road, and just keep moving forward.  Having been binge-watching the Rocky franchise on Netflix, I spent the 99¢ to get Gonna Fly Now on iTunes.  A good, inspirational tune for when things are rough.  Yeah, it's cliched, but cliches become cliches because they work.




I've said before that I tend not to fret about spending too much money in the city if I buy at least one thing I genuinely need.  Lucky for me, this was a day of mostly things I need.  Now that winter is here, and I'm sliding off the boots and switching them out for shoes more and more, the socks wear out quicker.  So I bought some new socks.  And then some pants I liked were on sale, and some shirts I liked were on sale, and I just kind of lost myself.

From there, did a quick browse through Best Buy.  I always feel kind of sad when I walk out empty-handed, but there's really not much on my Blu-Ray shopping list right now.  From there, it was a hop, skip, and a jump to my beloved West Edmonton Mall.

The Mall is currently undergoing some renovations, and there's nothing wrong with that, although it does throw off my routine somewhat.  Down in the food court, they got rid of the fountain that used to be there, replacing it with a sunken seating area.  I decided to eat my lunch down there in order to take in the new ambiance, and I quickly had kudos for the Mall as to what they have down there.  They have cellphone charging stations.  Electrical outlets that also have USB ports built in, so you can plug in your wireless devices and charge them up.  Now that's a public service in this day and age.

Browsed through the Mall for a bit.  I decided I may as well start working Phase I of my Christmas shopping into the day.  As I blogged in the past, I tend do my Christmas shopping in 2 phases.  Phase I is just browsing and window shopping, getting ideas as to what to get people.  Phase II is when I've got that stuff figured out and actually buy the stuff.  Lots of others must have that idea, as the Mall is starting to fill up with the holiday shoppers.  I think I saw the ad somewhere that yesterday was when Santa made his big arrival at the Mall.  We may roll our eyes, but the Christmas shopping season is here.

Finishing my browse, I glanced at my watch and saw my movie was about to start.  I usually don't eat at the movies anymore.  With my preferences for matinees, I just find that I'm full from lunch.  However, now that I'm all bundled up in winter gear, I found that browsing in the Mall dehydrated me somewhat, so I hit the snack bar to grab a frosty beverage and some Twizzlers.

So what film was I heading off to see?  Well, with my love of Disney and superhero movies, you just know that Big Hero 6 was on my radar for this holiday movie season.

Big Hero 6 Movie Poster


When Disney bought Marvel Comics about 5 years ago, everyone started wondering if this meant we'd get some Disney animated films based on classic Marvel characters.  Everyone was surprised when Disney animation dove into the Marvel archives and surfaced with Big Hero 6, a barely-remembered mini-series from the 2000s.  That was a time when anime was starting to dominated cartoon line-ups, so Big Hero 6 wound up being Marvel's interpretation of many of the superhero tropes from Japanese pop culture.  There was a guy who turned into a Godzilla-like monster, a boy and his robot, a Sailor Moon-esque "magical girl," and such-forth.  So what did Disney do with this?

In the city of San Fransokyo (a mash-up of Tokyo and San Francisco), we're introduced to Hiro Hamada, a science prodigy who finished high school at 13.  Fascinated with robotics, he now makes his money hustling in back-alley robot fights.  One day, he visits his equally-prodigious brother Tadashi at the university lab where he works.  This really sparks Hiro's imagination, and he begins applying himself to get into the university.  He makes it with his invention of microbots...tiny thought-controlled robots that can do pretty much anything you imagine.  The project gets Hiro in...but there's a fire in the lab which destroys his microbots and kills Tadashi.  A few months later, a villain appears, using Hiro's microbots.  Hiro deduces that someone stole his tech and started the fire to cover it up.  Accompanied by his brother's greatest invention - a health care robot named Baymax - Hiro convinces the rest of Tadashi's friends to weaponize their projects and become a superhero team to bring Tadashi's killer to justice.

This is just a fun movie, if it does fall into some of the regular cliches of the superhero genre.  But it's so fun.  And I love the characters that make up our 6 heroes.  It really does make me long for the days of when Disney's latest animated epic spawns a Saturday morning cartoon, because we barely get to know any of the other heroes outside Hiro and Baymax, and I would have liked to see them developed more.  And, even though the connection to Marvel has been really downplayed (much to the anger and annoyance of some Marvel fans), they still manage to work in some of Marvel Cinematic Universe hallmarks such as a gratuitous Stan Lee cameo. 

Yup.  It was just fun.  I give it 3 out of 4 Nibs.  A complete review is up over on the ol' website.

A scene from Feast:  Winston the puppy ponders his empty food dish.


Oh, and as has become Disney tradition now, it starts off with a new animated short film.  This one is called Feast.  It's a relationship as told from the point of view of a puppy and the table scraps he gets fed.  It is unbearably cute.

With the movie done and my artistic soul fulfilled, it was time to head home.  But not before one last stop was made.  I was getting the warning lights on my printer, so it was time for that most valuable commodity of all:  printer ink.  $70 for the ink cartridges for my printer.  But, since I bought my printer brand new back in January, and only now is it running low on ink, $70 for a year's worth of ink is a pretty good deal.  Besides, I'll be sending out Christmas cards soon.  I've got mailing labels I'll be printing up this year, so my wrist will be thankful for that.

I returned home, once again able to drown out the different sounds of my car with the Nerdist podcast.  And when I made it home, I sat down to watch something very special.  Back on Tuesday, the 1966 Batman TV series was finally released on home video.  I don't own it yet, because it's a $200 set (if you're thinking about a Christmas present for me), however a friend did buy it, and he was kind enough to give me the code for the digital copy.  So while I don't have the discs, I can watch it streaming from the cloud.  With this in hand, it was finally time for closure.



One of my earliest conscious memories of television is watching a rerun of Batman  on the old Sunday morning TV show Switchback.  There was one cliffhanger that haunted me to this very day.  In this episode, the Penguin attempts to go straight, but Batman and Robin suspect it's a charade.  The Penguin is holding a carnival to raise money for charity, and Batman and Robin begin snooping around.  But, the Penguin gets the drop on the Dynamic Duo!  The Penguin strings up Batman and Robin behind the shooting gallery and then, out front, makes a friendly wager with Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara.  If they can hit the bulls-eye, the Penguin will make a generous donation to charity.  But, behind the targets, are the tied up and helpless Batman and Robin.

Yup, that's the deathtrap in this one:  the Penguin is going to trick Commissioner Gordon into shooting Batman!

That cliffhanger haunted me for years.  Probably because the unconscious Batman and Robin, strung up behind the shooting gallery, their feet gently swaying, looking as though they'd been hanged, was such a haunting image.

So, after seeing this episode of Batman at the tender age of 4 or 5, I finally got my closure.  How did Batman and Robin get out of this one?  Well, even though they looked it, they weren't unconscious.  They were able to lift their feet in the air, and deflect the bullets with their steel-toed boots.  The impact dislodged the Batknife that Batman kept concealed in his glove, which he was then able to use to cut himself and Robin free.

Closure.  The end.  Batman got out of his jam, and I survived a wintry trip to the city.  It's a fear I'm going to have to get over soon, as the winter blockbuster season is here, and holiday shopping needs to get done.  I'm thinking about taking the first week in December off to focus on that stuff.  Thanks to proper planning, careful incorporation of stat holidays, and just a plain ol' workaholic nature, the Company tells me I've used only three days of my three weeks of vacation time in 2014, and they'd like me to get more off the books before the year's end.  The fear of snowy roads and wintry city streets is something I'll continue to face before things are done.

Fear, for the most part, is a good thing.  It keeps us awake.  It keeps us alert.  It keeps us from doing stupid things.  But you know what they say about good things:  you can have too much. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Alien

Here on Fishing in the Discount Bin, it's time to power my way through another franchise!  This time, I'm doing a franchise that I've always been pretty blasé about, the Alien films.  Let's start with the first one, Alien.  This is in my notes at January 18, 2014.  

The classic Alien movie poster.  "In space, no one can hear you scream."



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Rocky III

I'm continuing to scratch the Rocky franchise off my cinematic bucket list, and my quest to do so brings me up to Rocky III.



Thursday, November 06, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Lone Ranger

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I indulge in my favourite downtime activity:  watching movies.  Today, it's one of the biggest flops of the summer of 2013, but I actually kind of liked it.  And that's Disney's re-imagining of The Lone Ranger.  This originally popped up in my notes at January 12, 2014. 



Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Rocky II

Well, here I am, plowing my way through the Rocky franchise on Netflix.  Time to tackle the one that I was most curious about, Rocky II.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Kick-Ass 2

Here we are once again, Fishing in the Discount Bin.  My obsession with superhero franchises continues as I watch the most-pirated film of 2013, Kick-Ass 2.  Don't worry, I'm watching the film on my legally-purchased Blu-Ray.  This shows up in my notes on January 11, 2014.





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Netflix Nonsense - Rocky

So, a few months ago, I took to Facebook to publicly roll my eyes at the prospect of yet another Rocky movie in development.  I was taken aback slightly by one of my Facebook friends who saw that as a challenge and began defending the entire Rocky franchise.  It did get me thinking, though, that for such a famous and notable film series, I've only ever seen the first one once, and the last one once.  So, upon noticing that all the Rocky films are on Netflix, I decided to start working my way through the franchise.  Let's get this blog series started, shall we?  Let's take a look at the film that started it all, Rocky.




Friday, October 24, 2014

The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

The Avengers:  Age of Ultron Teaser Poster


Probably the most anticipated superhero film of next year, now that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got pushed back to 2016.  The culmination of Marvel's "Phase II," that began with Iron Man 3 just over a year ago.  Once again, the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes crashing together to face a threat that no hero can face alone.

The trailer was originally supposed to premiere next Tuesday, during Marvel's TV incarnation Agents of SHIELD.  However, when the trailer got leaked on Wednesday evening, Marvel shrugged and said, "Well, I guess we may as well release the trailer early."


The entire gang is back from the first film and most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor, Chris Evans is back as Captain America, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow, and Mark Rufalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk.  Also joining the Avengers this time out is Don Cheadle as War Machine.

Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch


We get some new heroes joining the team, too.  Aaron-Taylor Johnson, last seen battling Godzilla in Godzilla, is Quicksilver, and Elizabeth Olsen, last seen playing Johnson's wife in Godzilla, is his brother The Scarlett Witch.

Now, you may be thinking, "Wait a minute.  I saw Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, so isn't Quicksilver an X-Men character, meaning Marvel can't use him?"  Well, yes.  But Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch have always been more widely known as Avengers and not Magneto's offspring.  So, Marvel and Fox made a handshake arrangement.  Marvel can use Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch as long as

a)  Marvel doesn't mention they're mutants
b)  Marvel doesn't mention that Magneto's their father.

Based on their first appearance in the post-credits sequence for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the speculation is, rather than mutants, their powers will be the results of HYDRA experiments. 

Also joining the team is Paul Bettany as the android Avenger the Vision.  Since Paul Bettany has done the voice of JARVIS, Tony Stark's AI, in all the Iron Man films and the previous Avengers, the speculation is that Vision's movie origin will turn him into an android built by Tony Stark and given life by some new upgrade of JARVIS.

Captain America and Thor


And what villain is so mighty that the Avengers are almost destroyed doing battle with him?  Well, that would be the killer android Ultron, played by James Spader through the miracle of performance capture.  In the original comics, Ultron was a creation of Ant-Man, before turning evil.  For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it looks like Ultron will be a creation of Tony Stark's.

The plot, as I've cobbled together online over the past few months, is thus.  Following the dissolution of SHIELD in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Avengers have been working overtime to fill the void.  With SHIELD no more, the Avengers are now bankrolled by Stark Enterprises.  In order to help out, Stark builds an android army he calls "the Iron Legion."  Of course, it's just a matter of time before this android army grows sentient and becomes Ultron.  Then, in pure killer robot fashion. Ultron figures the best way to save the world is to destroy it and remake it in his own image. 



Wow.  The first Avengers looked pretty darn big, but this actually looks bigger. 

We don't get much of a glimpse of Quicksilver or Scarlet Witch and their abilities.  I'm really curious about how Quicksilver is portrayed, and how they differentiate him from the Quicksilver we saw in X-Men: Days of Future Past

And I'm still geeking out about the Hulkbuster armor.  For those who don't know, the Hulkbuster is Iron Man's armor that makes him as big as and as strong as the Hulk for they ever have to battle.  And dude, it looks like they do battle.

Everyone's raving about how the background music is a creepy version of I've Got Not Strings from Pinocchio, making folks wonder how this is going to be some kind of creepy Pinocchio tale. 

Everything about this just looks good.  Joss Whedon is back writing and directing, and it looks like he's going to knock it out of the park again.

The Avengers:  Age of Ultron hits theatres on May 1, 2015. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin -- Godzilla: Tokyo SOS

Here we are, once again, with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly watch of a movie I own, and blogging about it, because "content creator" is as good a hobby as any.  Today, we journey into the wonderful world of Godzilla with 2003's daikaiju epic, Godzilla:  Tokyo SOSI originally scrawled this in my notes on January 1, 2014.

The Japanese movie poster for Godzilla:  Tokyo SOS




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The X-Files: Fight the Future

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I bloggity blog about a movie I own.  We're going back to the pinnacle of 1990s pop culture with the big-screen version of The X-Files.  aka "The X-Files Movie."  This is in my notes at December 29, 2013.

The X-Files: The Movie:  The Movie Poster





Thursday, October 09, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Blues Brothers

Here we are, once again, with another edition of Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly gaze upon my movie library and I begin saying, "I haven't watched that one in a while."  Today, we get to the 1980 comedy classic The Blues Brothers.  This originally appeared in my notes at December 28, 2013.

The Blues Brothers movie poster




Friday, October 03, 2014

Two Trailers: Inside Out and Big Eyes

Hey!

There's a couple of trailers I've been wanting to sit and blog about for a while, but tonight, I finally have a chance to sit down and do so!

Inside Out Teaser poster.  The tagline is "Meet the Little Voices Inside Your Head."


First up, let's take a look at Pixar's latest, Inside Out.  Let's be honest, Pixar's been in kind of a slump lately.  We had the abysmal Cars 2, the disappointing Brave, and the "eh, it could've been worse" Monsters University.  The slump caught up with them, as this year's originally scheduled film, The Good Dinosaur, ran into production delays and got pushed back to next November.

So, fingers crossed that Inside Out is a return to form.  Returning to the director's chair is Pete Docter, the writer and director of the Pixar classics Monsters, Inc. and Up.  When we first told of the project back in 2011, all we were told was that it takes place inside a little girl's mind.  As time goes on, we're told that it takes place inside the mind of a little girl named Emily, who's coping with her family's big move to San Fransisco.  And it's told from the point of view of the personifications of her emotions, who guide her through this journey.  Those emotions are:
  • Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler
  • Anger, voiced Lewis Black, the stand up comic whose made anger an art form
  • Disgust, voiced by The Mindy Project star Mindy Kaling
  • Sadness, voiced by Phyllis Smith; probably best remembered as Phyllis on The Office
  • and Fear, voiced by SNL alum Bill Hader

Roll clip!




Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet, as we see precious little of the film.  It reminds me a lot of the first trailer for Wall-E, because that one also relied heavily on clips from other Pixar films.  It looks bright, it looks colourful and...yeah.  All I can do is get mildly excited and remain cautiously optimistic.

Inside Out comes out on June 19.  





Next up,we have Big Eyes, the latest from one of my favourite directors, Tim Burton.  Burton is another guy who seems to have been in a slump lately, as he seems to be stuck in this cycle of big screen reboots and adaptations starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.  So I'm glad to see that Big Eyes looks to be Burton scaling things down a bit, and doing away with his safety net of Depp and Carter.

Burton re-teams with his old Ed Wood screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski to bring us another biography of quirky American individuals, Margaret and Walter Keene.  Margaret Keene is the painter who gave us those infamous paintings of children with really big eyes.  Thanks to the marketing savvy of her husband Walter, the paintings became a pop culture phenomenon in the 1960s.  However, Walter began taking credit for the paintings himself, much to the chagrin of Margaret.  The question of the true authorship of the paintings became an intrinsic part of their bitter divorce.

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keene, and Cristoph Waltz plays Walter.




This looks interesting.  Given the timing of the release and the subject matter, it's definitely Oscar bait.  I'm really enjoying Burton scaling things down and doing something smaller than his recent work.  It think it's worth a look-see.

Big Eyes comes out on Christmas Day. 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Doctor Who: Series 7

It's time again for Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch something and blog about it because, not being a sports guy, what else am I going to watch on Sunday afternoons?  It's time to tackle the current #1 sci-fi franchise in the world as I revisit Doctor Who: Series 7.  This appears in my notes at December 15, 2013.

 


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Wolverine

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own on some form of home media format.  This time out, we take a look at everyone's favourite mutant, The Wolverine.  This shows up in my notes at December 14, 2013.

The Wolverine Movie poster...the awesome one that looks like a Japanese print





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Here we are again, Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  It's just that simple.  Today, we round out the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.  This is in my notes at December 7, 2013.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III Movie Poster



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Here we are again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I try to turn my lazy Sundays on the couch watching DVDs into something productive.  I'm working my way through the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and today we get to the second installment, The Secret of the Ooze.  This pops up in my notes at December 1, 2013.  

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II Movie Poster



Thursday, September 04, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

It's that time again!  Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch and blog about one of the movies I own, because I have shockingly little to do on Saturday nights.  Today, we start tackling the TMNT trilogy from my junior high years with installment #1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  This pops up in my notes at November 23, 2013.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Poster


Monday, September 01, 2014

Batman: Assault on Arkham Review

Well, it's that time again.  DC has given us another straight-to-DVD animated movie, and with my recent trip into the city, you know I just had to pick it up.  So let's take a look at....

Batman: Assault on Arkham DVD Cover

Batman: Assault on Arkham

Directed by Jay Olivia and Ethan Spaulding

Starring the voices of Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch, Matthew Gray Gubler, Troy Baker, CCH Pounder, Greg Ellis, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jennifer Hale.

Backstory:  I think I've mentioned I'm really starting to get bored with DC Universe straight-to-video movies.  It always seems to be the same ol' Batman stories or the same ol' Superman stories.  Shine the spotlight on some of the other heroes for once!  So I like how they're trying to sneak in other heroes right now.  Like this latest one, Batman: Assault on Arkham.  Despite the name "Batman" appearing in the title, and the promise that it's based on the best-selling series of Batman: Arkham video games, it's actually a Suicide Squad movie.  The Suicide Squad was originally explained to me as the Dirty Dozen of the DCU.  Supervillains, blackmailed by the government into going on black ops missions in exchange for time off their sentences.  So how does the Suicide Squad fare in their adaptation to animation?

Plot:  The Riddler has hacked into Amanda Waller's private files, and downloaded all of Waller's data on every dirty mission the Suicide Squad has ever done.  But, before Waller's elite commandos can take down the Riddler, Batman busts in, captures the Riddler and sends him back to Arkham Asylum.  Waller is left no choice, and recruits the latest incarnation of the Suicide Squad, consisting of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, Black Spider, and King Shark.  Their mission:  break into Arkham Asylum and recover the information from the Riddler.  But once they penetrate the walls of the Asylum, it becomes clear that many members of the team have their own agenda.  What is Killer Frost's secret mission?  Does Harley Quinn really seek to bust out her old flame the Joker?  And can they accomplish everything without raising the attention of Batman?

What I Liked:  It's great to finally see someone else take the lead.  Deadshot makes a surprisingly capable leader as he takes command of the Suicide Squad and does his best to fulfill the mission.  Harley Quinn is nice and crazy, and it's interesting to see her use her feminine wiles.  It's also neat to see Batman and the Joker's latest battle literally reduced to a subplot.  And the opening sequence is pretty good, too, as we see the members of the Squad getting "recruited." 

What I Didn't Like:  Not much, actually.  The action was good, but you still can't shake the "Been there, done that" feeling that's hanging over a lot of these.  And out of all these movies, this one definitely  has the most nudity, as Harley Quinn and Killer Frost seem to be taking their tops off a lot. 

Final Verdict:  A surprisingly good entry in the franchise.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  For bonus features, you get a running commentary from the filmmakers, a featurette on the origins and evolution of Harley Quinn, a featurette on the origins and evolution of Arkham Asylum, 4 bonus cartoons from the various DC animation projects, and a sneak peak at the next film, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, which looks to be how they're giving us an Aquaman film. 


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hollow Pursuits

Well, it's here.  The end of August.  As I've mentioned, August was a super-busy time at work, but now that the month is done, things are slowing down again to a more normal pace, and as such, I finally have a little breathing room to pursue some of my outside interests...like brilliant-but-cancelled TV series.

I was tickled the other day when my DVD release of Now and Again finally arrived from Amazon!




On my wish list of "brilliant but cancelled TV shows that need to be released on DVD," Now and Again was always at the top of that list.  In fact, reviewing that list and going through my DVD library, I'm pretty sure it's the last one on that list.  It premiered in the fall of 1999 and only lasted one season.  Had a great pedigree, too, as it was created by Glenn Gordon Caron, who brought us the legendary 1980s TV series Moonlighting.

Now and Again followed the life of Michael Wiseman.  An insurance salesman working in a big Manhattan office.  He loves his wife and teenage daughter.  It's a pretty good life.  But then, he's killed in a freak subway accident, and he wakes up as a brain in a jar.  Here, a shadowy government scientist offers Michael choice:  get his brain implanted in a bio-engineered perfect body and become a super-soldier, or die.  Oh, and one condition:  his family and everyone he knew in his previous life must remain convinced that he is dead.  So, Michael wakes up in his new body, and sets about to become, well, Captain America pretty much.  But the heart and soul of the show was watching Micheal's wife, daughter, and best friend grieve and rebuild their lives, as Michael always finds himself drawn back to them, and how everyone's new lives intertwine in interesting ways.

Fantastic cast as well.  Eric Close, who went on to star in the detective series Without a Trace and is now on Nashville, played Michael Wiseman.  Dennis Haysbert, before he shot to fame as the President on 24, played Dr. Theodore Morris, the shadowy scientist in charge of the program and Michael's handler.  Margaret Colin, best known at that point as Jeff Goldblum's wife in Independence Day, plays Michael's wife Lisa, and Heather Matrazzo, star of the 1990s indie classic Welcome to the Dollhouse, played Michael's daughter Heather.

I'm really looking forward to revisiting this series, and seeing if it's still as good as I remember.  And also, the bonus features.  One of the features is a roundtable discussion with the writers as they mention what they had planned for Season 2.  Which is great, because Now and Again is one of the most frustrating things ever:  a TV series that ends with a cliffhanger.  In our cliffhanger, a series of mis-understandings leads Michael to believe that Dr. Morris has become convinced that Michael's family has learned of the secret, and as such, Michael and his family are going to be killed.  So the series ends with Michael going rogue, snatching his wife and daughter from their house, with Dr. Morris and a team of commandos a literal 2 steps behind them.  Meanwhile, a terrorist known as "The Egg Man" (so named because he distributes nerve gas by injecting it into eggs), escapes from prison, bent on revenge against Michael for capturing him, and accompanied by a new sidekick played by wrestling superstar Mick Foley, doing a variation on his Mankind character. 

So, yeah.  I hope these interviews with the writers can finally give me some closure. 



And of course, with free time means I can finally go see a movie.  Having grown up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I was mildly curious about the new, Michael Bay-produced reboot  now in theatres.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Poster

For the last TMNT movie, the 2007 animated one, I was genuinely excited for it, but this one, I just couldn't muster any kind of excitement for it.  The Turtles looked too big and hulking.  There was that leaked early script where the Turtles were changed from teenage mutants to aliens.  Unlike the rest of the TMNT fans, though, I was actually pretty OK with Megan Fox as April O'Neil.

After seeing it, it's not bad, it's just bland.  It's a pretty phoned-in, by-the-numbers, superhero tale.  We've got a fairly standard "destroy the city" plot at play.  Shredder is pretty much wasted, and the other villain, our billionaire industrialist Eric Sachs, turns into a fairly routine villain pretty quick.  Megan Fox winds up being a pretty bland April O'Neil, and Will Arnett, who's usually a pretty funny guy, is also bland as April's sidekick and cameraman Vernon.

They did make a few tweaks to the Turtles' origins that I was OK with.  (SPOILER WARNING:  April's father was a scientist running experiments with the ooze and the Turtles and Splinter were his test animals.)  It seems like in every Turtles adaptation, they make a few tweaks to the Turtles' origins, so extra tweaks don't bug me.  The one tweak that did seem lame was Splinter.  Now, instead of being (a) ninja master Hamato Yoshi turned into a rat by the mutagen or (b) Hamato Yoshi's pet rat who learned ninjutsu by watching his master, and then made humanoid by the mutagen, Splinter is now just a plain ol' rat who figures they're going to need some way to defend themselves, so he starts teaching the Turtles the art of ninjutsu from some books he found in the sewers.  

At least they got the Turtles right.  When you get over their new, hulking designs, they pretty much act like the Turtles we all know and love.

So, yeah.  At the end, I didn't find it bad.  Just bland.  2 Nibs.

I've got the complete review posted up at my website. 




And of course, being in the city to do some frivilous shopping, I lost my mind when I popped in at one of my favourite collectables shop and they had a whole ton of those ReAction Figures that are out, so of course I had to snatch up the Back to the Future ones. 



I thought I blogged about these when I managed to find my Rocketeer ReAction figure a few months ago, but it looks like I didn't.  Here's the story about these figures and why they're awesome.

It all started with Alien.  Back in 1979, 20th Century Fox and Kenner sought to duplicate the success of the Star Wars action figures with a line of action figures for Alien.  The first toy from the toyline -- an 18" version of the titular Alien creature, perfect for menacing your G.I. Joes -- hit store shelves, and parents groups lost their freakin' minds.  How DARE they make a line of action figures based on an R-rated horror movies, especially when the monster is so grotesque and phallic!  So, Kenner scrapped the plans for the rest the toyline...a series of 3.75" figures of the film's characters.

Flash forward to the present day.  Toy and collectable company Funko heard of the legends of the lost Alien action figure line, and managed to find the lost prototypes and packaging mock-ups deep within the Hasbro archives (Hasbro having bought out Kenner in the mid-1990s).  Funko decided to finally produce those Alien action figures, and were inspired to created a new line of collectables called ReAction Figures:  action figures for cult classic movies, done in the style of the quickly made and cheaply produced tie-in figures of the 1980s.

When I posted that picture to Facebook the other night, a friend commented, "Did you get the Alien figures, too?"  No, but I was tempted.  For next to these Back to the Future figures were the Alien ones, and the Firefly ones, and the Pulp Fiction ones, and the Goonies ones, and the Terminator ones, and Snake Plissken from Escape from New York.  Needless to say, in order to keep my bank balance healthy, some tough decisions had to be made.  



And before I wrap this up, I have to share some recent developments among movie geeks that made me sad.  Leonard Maltin has announced that the 2015 edition of his famous Movie Guide will be the last.  Maltin says the main reason why it's coming to an end is that there's so many websites and apps these days that offer the same service, that sales have really taken a hit in the past few years.  And besides, with an entire generation now trained to get information online, a reference book is starting to seem...antiquated.  People want their wealth of movie reviews the day it comes out, not six months later. 

It's interesting reading the history of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide.  Maltin began his career as a film critic and historian when he began running a movie fanzine in high school.  His fanzine impressed people with its professionalism, and at the ripe old age of 17, he was soon meeting with a publisher about launching a Movie Guide.  The first edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide hit bookstore shelves in 1969, with an update 5 years later.  In 1978, he started updating it every 2 years.  And in 1986, he started updating it annually.  It started getting so thick, that starting in 2005, he split it into two volumes:  the "Classic Movie Guide" for movies before 1960, and the regular "Movie Guide" for films after. 

I first discovered Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide back in junior high, in my school's library.  I recognized Maltin as "that movie guy from Entertainment Tonight."  I started leafing through it, and my mind was blown.  I had no other way to describe it than "a dictionary for movies."  I'd check it out of library for weeks on end, just to have it at home and leaf through it.  It was something that did not go unnoticed, as my sister gave me the latest version for Christmas that year.  And thus began a holiday tradition, with my sister giving me the latest edition for Christmas, and me spending Christmas afternoon running around to the family members going, "Name a movie!" so I could see what Leonard Maltin had to say about it. 

It's a tradition that lasted until 2005.  I know it ended in 2005 because the 2006 edition is on my shelf.  As I'm sure you've figured out by reading this blog over the years, I can be a real asshole sometimes, and such a moment came on Christmas morning 2005, when I opened up my present from my sister and went, "Oh, gee...Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide."  And after getting Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide from her for more than a decade, I began teasing her and mocking her relentlessly for her lack of originality when it came to picking Christmas presents.  I genuinely upset her, and I apologized, but she vowed then and there to never get me Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide for Christmas ever again. 

I can tell it's still a sore spot with her because when I shared the new on Facebook along with a sarcastic, "Gee, now what's my sister going to get me for Christmas?" she responded with hearty "Go to Hell."  Part of me hopes she'll give it to me for Christmas this year, you know, because it's the last time she'll ever be able to do it, but I know I upset her so much that day that it'll never, ever happen. 

So Jeanette, once again, I'm very sorry for the things I said on that Christmas morning. 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Man of Steel

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about one of the many movies I own.  This time out, we tackled 2013's big reboot of the Superman mythology, Man of Steel.  This arises in my notes at November 17, 2013.

Man of Steel Poster




Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Monsters University

Here we are again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie I own and blog about it because why not?  I'm a little distressed that we're not getting a Pixar movie this year, so it seems like a good opportunity to revisit their animated hit from last year, Monsters University.  This appears in my notes at November 16, 2013.

Monsters University Poster
 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Pacific Rim

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of some Blu-Ray I own, and then blogging about it, because blogging.  This week's entry may be a little controversial as I tackled that newly-beloved geek classic Pacific Rim.  This is originally dated in my notes at November 3, 2013.

Pacific Rim movie poster




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Podfodder

Well, my podcast is still on its summer hiatus, but I've got a lot of musings about pop culture brewing inside me, and I feel like it's time to get them down on paper and share them with the world!  So share I will.

My heart is already turning to September...and fretting about how much it's going to cost me.  It's that time of year when all the summer blockbusters will start hitting Blu-Ray.  So, of course, as soon as they come out, I'll be picking up Godzilla and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Also coming out is the new 30th anniversary box set of Ghostbusters 1&2.  I'm actually looking forward to picking up that set just for Ghostbusters 2.  In addition to be remastered in hi-def, we're going to get a round-table discussion with co-writer Dan Aykroyd and director Ivan Reitman, plus some long-lost deleted scenes.  Ghosbusters 2 has grown to be so hated when compared to its predecessor, that it makes me more and more curious about its making. 

But the one that gives me the most pause is an boxed set called The Star Trek Compendium.  This is a new box set of the Star Trek reboot and its sequel, Into Darkness.  I already have both on Blu-Ray, why double-dip?

Well, when Star Trek Into Darkness hit Blu-Ray, it caused some controversy.  In the name of retail exclusives, all the bonus features were spread across multiple versions.  For example, if you wanted to see the deleted scenes, you had to buy it from Best Buy.  If you wanted to hear the director's running commentary, you had to buy the iTunes download.  If you wanted to see the "making-of" features, you had to buy it from Target, and for different "making-of" featurettes, you had to buy it from Wal-Mart.  It was nuts.  But, in this Star Trek Compendium boxed set, all of the bonus features will finally be in one set.

And that's not all.  Following the lead of films like The Dark Knight, Into Darkness had some of its major action sequences filmed in IMAX.  The Star Trek Compendium release will finally feature Into Darkness's IMAX sequences in their proper aspect ratio.

Plus, when I upgraded Star Trek to Blu-Ray, I got the "movie-only" version of the disc.  In this set, I'll finally get all of Star Trek's bonus features upgraded to hi-def.

Wow, it really sounds like I'm talking myself into it, aren't I?  We'll have to see what the price is when it comes out.




So what's going on with the Spider-Man franchise?  Sony's really starting to beat that rented mule.

The original plan was Amazing Spider-Man 2 this year, Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2016, Amazing Spider-Man 4 in 2018, and then a couple of spin-offs featuring Venom and the Sinister Six.  Even though Amazing Spider-Man 2 made $700 million at the box office, that makes it the lowest-grossing Spider-Man film, causing Sony to rethink their plans.

Now, we're going to be getting the Sinister Six spinoff in 2016, the Venom spinoff and a new spinoff about a TBA female character (rumoured to be either the Black Cat, Silver Sable, or Spider-Woman) both in 2017, and Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2018.

I'd be on board with a lot of this if it looked like Sony had a plan.  But it doesn't.  Instead, it seems like Sony is just being reactionary to Marvel.

"So, you like big, shared continuity universes, eh?  Well, look at all these Spider-Man spinoffs we're planning!"

"So, based on all the money Avengers made, you like seeing massive team-ups.  BOOM!  Sinister Six, baby!"

The #1 question that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige was being asked during the press for Guardians of the Galaxy was, "So...when's Marvel going to do one with a female lead?"  And Sony said, "Us!  We're doing it first!  See?  Spinoff with a female character!"

See?  It looks like Sony is just trying to do what Marvel's doing.  There's no overreaching plan, they're just emulating.

Add my voice to the chorus crying for Spider-Man to be returned to Marvel, so he can be in the Marvel cinematic universe.  But, Sony won't give him back until the films stop making money, so I don't think it'll be happening anytime soon.




Had a dentist appointment the other day, and afterwards, I went to HMV to buy myself a treat.  Was finally able to upgrade to CD two classic film soundtracks from my youth:  Ghostbusters and Back to the Future.  Thanks to the resurgence of vinyl, HMV actually had Ghostbusters on vinyl, and I was tempted to get it, but no, went digital. 

When it comes to these soundtracks, Back to the Future was always my jam.  When I was a kid, my first paying job was as a paperboy, and I spent many an early morning, roaming the streets of Entwistle, delivering papers, and listening to The Power of Love on my Walkman.



Now that I have these two soundtracks, it's time for my grand plan.  Because I've discovered those record labels where I can get obscure film scores, I also own the complete, uncut scores for Back to the Future and Ghostbusters.  So the goal now, with each of those films, is to create a playlist that plays each and every note of music in the exact order it appears in the film.

Doing that with Ghostbusters will be interesting, as the complete uncut score features a lot of music that was ultimately unused, as they producers replaced it with the pop songs you find on the soundtrack.  With Back to the Future, it could be complicated.  How exacting do I want to be?  There are songs used in the film that don't appear on the soundtrack album...do I buy those odd songs on iTunes in the name of completeness?

Or do I go as hardcore as my friend?  He did this exercise with The Transformers: The Movie, only he edited the songs so they are the exact length and sound exactly as they do in the movie.

But in the short term, at least I've got a lot of great, nostalgia-inducing music.




I'm not much of a gamer, but this announcement came down the other day and it caught my eye.

Activision announced that they're relaunching the Sierra label, and even bringing back one of Sierra's most famous franchises, King's Quest.

Sierra pretty much invented the 3D, puzzle-solving-based, adventure game back in the 1980s, and it was a genre they dominated until the mid-1990s.  With the tech boom and the dot-com bubble, they were bought out, and traded hands many times over the past few years, becoming a shell of their former self.  Activision acquired the brand in the early 2000s, and quietly shut it down in 2008.

But with the recent announcement, sounds like Activision is planning to bring them back in a big way.  As one pundit put it, it sounds like Activision wants to make Sierra their label for indie and mid-budget games.  And as part of their first offerings, Sierra has contracted game studio The Odd Gentlemen to give us the first King's Quest since 1998.  It sounds like this new King's Quest will even be in continuity with the original games, with our hero, King Graham, now a grandfather, and his granddaughter Gwendolyn being the main character.

I am kind of excited about this.  Being a computer geek born in the 1980s, Sierra was THE name in PC games back then.  The first PC games I remember owning was a 3-pack of Mixed Up Mother Goose, King's Quest II, and Space Quest.  And then of course, junior high came along, and it was all immature giggling at Leisure Suit Larry.

I hope this new Sierra does the name proud.




And just so I have a picture when I post this to the social networks, here's that awesome Ant-Man poster from the San Diego Comic Con.

The Ant-Man Poster


Based on all the rumours floating around, it looks like Marvel's Phase III is going to give us: