It's strange, doing this a week after the fact. It's just the memories that stand out the most that are worth jotting down. I look at my coffee table, and my pile of "to-watch" Blu-Rays, and I'm still feeling the mild sting of shame for having finally broken down and bought the limited edition SteelBook of the first three Pokemon movies.
There was a time not too long ago when I was really into Pokemon. Not the franchise as a whole...just the anime. I loved its formula: three friends, seeing the world, with no concerns except for what adventure may lay beyond the next hill. Make it live-action, and British sci-fi, and that's pretty much the same core concept behind the Doctor/Amy/Rory run on Doctor Who. Anyway, I watched the cartoon religiously. Collected all the movies on DVD. I finally ran out of steam and started drifting away shortly after movie #12 came out...I think we're up to #18 by now.
And that first season of Pokemon came along when I was in my final year of college. I always seemed to be on my midday break when it was on, so I'd kick back and watch it. And I loved it. Didn't pay full price to see the movie in the theatre...the dollar theatre was still a thing back then, so I waited for it to be in the dollar theatre. My best friend at the time -- going through a similar mild Pokemon obsession -- saw it with me. I remember remarking to him, "This is probably The Transfomrers: The Movie for a whole new generation."
I remember when the first movie came out on DVD. Home theatre forums were pissed. The DVD had everything people wanted in a DVD special edition: deleted scenes, featurettes about the making of the film, a running commentary with the director (of the English dub). "But they wasted it on Pokemon," summed up one reviewer. I was pissed for another reason: the film wasn't in its proper aspect ratio. Rather than glorious 16x9, it was cropped to the standard TV size of 4x3. They didn't start releasing them in 16x9 until the fourth movie.
So, I picked up the Blu-Ray to finally have the films in widescreen. And I'm pissed off all over again because it's still the wrong damn aspect ratio. As far as I can tell, when making this Blu-Ray, all they did was take the 4x3 image of the previous DVD release, and crop it again to create a newer, smaller, 16x9 image. Of course, my only evidence is remembering seeing it in theatre way back in 1999. There were things on the bottom of the screen that were cropped off to create that original 4x3 image, and they're still cropped off on the new Blu-Ray.
Granted, I'm probably about the only one in the overlap on the Venn diagram of film enthusiasts and Pokemon fanatics, so I highly doubt this'll be fixed anytime soon. Not until they probably go back to the original Japanese negative and strike a new print will we ever see it in its proper format.
Oh, well. At least I finally have them on widescreen...kinda.
And I also picked up my 20th anniversary edition of Independence Day, which I blogged about extensively last time. I saw it there in Wal-Mart for $10 and figured, "I'm not going to find it any where else for cheaper today, am I?" and snatched it up.
And then, it was time for the apocalypse...X-Men: Apocalypse. I'm not kidding when I call it the granddaddy of superhero film franchises. Most film historians will tell you our current run of superhero films started with the first X-Men way back in 2000. 16 years and six films later -- nine if you count the Wolverine solo films and Deadpool -- and it's still going strong. And like most of them, I was seeing X-Men: Apocalypse at the Scotiabank Theatre in West Edmonton Mall.
The Scotiabank Theatre is just a shade older than the X-Men franchise itself. It opened in May of 1999, just in time for Star Wars Episode I. Back then, it was a Famous Players Silver City theatre. It was one of the anchor tenants of the mall's new Phase IV expansion. Not really an expansion...it was just the refurbishment of where the Mall's Woodward's used to be. Boasting stadium seating, curved screens, and an IMAX screen, it was the most advanced movie theatre in Edmonton at the time. Everything about it made going to the movies an experience again, with its giant statues of Batman, Yoda, and King Kong hanging from the ceiling, and it's centerpiece...the animatronic dragon that came to life every 20 minutes and breathed fire.
I've seen every X-Men movie at that theatre. Well, except for X2, which came out during my time in Japan. Oh, and if we're counting Deadpool, I saw that on the north side. So I've seen the vast majority of X-Men films at West Edmonton Mall. In fact, the first -- and, to date, only -- time I've been to a midnight premiere was at Silver City for the very first X-Men. All my friends were there. I was still ecstatic at how overwhelming Silver City was. As far as I knew, it was my best friend's girlfriend's first time there. "Isn't this place just amazing?" I asked her. She took it all in. "Too Vegas," she said. I liked her, but she always did have a bit of a "too cool for school" attitude.
But ya know, she did have a kind heart, and she did give me something to commemorate the night of midnight X-Men. She gave me a deck of X-Men playing cards. X-Men because that's the movie we were seeing, and playing cards, because everyone loves Gambit. As I'm in the midst of cleaning out my old room at my parents' place and finally finishing moving out, I actually found them.
Well, L, Silver City sure has changed. Cineplex bought out Famous Players, and now has a virtual monopoly on Canadian movie theatres. A few years ago, Cineplex signed a huge sponsorship deal with Soctiabank, and all Silver Cities were re-branded Scotiabank Theatres. In addition to the IMAX, it now boasts 2 UltraAVX screens -- Cineplex's proprietary large screen format. The dragon was shut down in 2010, because it was getting too expensive to keep bringing up the mechanics specializing in animatronics from Vegas. They did a round of renovations last year when the dragon was finally removed. King Kong was taken away, too, but Batman and Yoda are still there.
And also still showing? X-Men.
Not gonna lie...I totally dug X-Men: Apocalypse. The final scene really reminded me of the final scene of the James Bond movie Skyfall...you get the feeling that the reboot the started at the beginning of this trilogy is now complete, and we can finally get on to some classic X-Men adventures. That being said, it also reminded me of X-Men: The Last Stand. There's this feeling of "Screw it, it's the last in the trilogy, so let's throw in a bunch of that cool stuff X-Men fans always wanted to see." You liked that Quicksilver scene in the last movie? BOOM! Here's another one. You always wanted to see Weapon X? BAM! Here's Weapon X. Age of Apocalypse-era Storm with a Mohawk? ZAM!
The plot: it's 1983...10 years since the events of Days of Future Past. Thanks to Mystique saving the President on the White House lawn, she's become a folk hero in the mutant community...but it's a role she doesn't want to play, so she lives underground. Magneto seems to have given up his ways, and is living a quiet, peaceful life with a new wife and daughter. And Professor Charles Xavier's School for the Gifted is thriving, looking like his dream of peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants is becoming a reality. But then, in an ancient tomb in Egypt, Apocalypse is revived. Believed by historians to be the first mutant, and all powerful, Apocalypse sets out to do what he was in the middle of in ancient Egypt...conquer the world. It'll be up to the Professor and Mystique along with some new recruits -- Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler -- to stop Apocalypse, and revive the Professor's other dream...a dream of mutants using their powers to save humanity from those who would do it harm...the X-Men!
As I said, I enjoyed it, but there is a bit of franchise fatigue setting in. ("Oh, another all-power mutant wants to take over the world?") I give it three nibs. Full review on the website.
That's pretty much all that was blog-worthy from my last big city adventure. As summer blockbuster season is here, you know that there'll be more ahead, as long as I'm not working. As I remarked to a colleague the other day, about my only career goal is to get to a market with a movie theatre, so it's actually conceivable for me to just go see a movie after work some night, rather than having to plan a whole day around it.