Just forget the words and sing along

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. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a DVD I own and blog about it.  Simple as that.  I know it's summer, but I wrote this down on January 7, 2018, because that's when I finally got my DVD copy of He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special.  Let's dive in!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol

Welcome, all, to another installment of Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch one of the many movies I own and blog about it.  Why?  Because a friend told me many years ago he thought it'd be neat to see.  Anyway, I know it's May, but this is for a Christmas special, which is why I always indicate the date I actually watched these and wrote these entries.  When did I watch this?  January 6, 2018.  What did I watch?  Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Monday, May 28, 2018

How I Spent My Staycation

Well, I'm just coming off a week's vacation.  I always get in trouble with the HR department near the end of the year, because I never use up all my vacation time, and I've resolved to do that this year!  One week down, three to go.  So I wasn't planning on doing much.  Just hangin' out at home, binging some Netflix.  I'm actually getting low on entries for Fishing in the Discount Bin, so I should probably watch some more movies and blog about them.  Or, with the summer blockbuster season upon us, I should head to the city and check out some of the blockbusters.  Like Deadpool 2.

Deadpool 2 Movie Poster

Yup, rather than rush out on opening weekend, seeing as to how it was the May long weekend and would no doubt be crowded, I decided to wait until the middle of the week and catch a weekday matinee, when it would be just the seniors looking for an outing, kids skipping school, and me.  And it was a good strategy.  The theatre was only about half-full. 

Following the events of the first film, Wade Wilson has settled into the life of a superhero, traveling the world, taking down the worst of the worst.  But then, tragedy strikes, as the worst of the worst come seeking retribution, and they take out Wade's beloved Vanessa.  Seeking new meaning in his life, Deadpool soon runs into a trouble young kid with fire powers named Russel.  And for some reason, Russel is being hunted down by the time-traveling mutant Cable.  Deadpool makes it his mission to save Russel from Cable, in order to do so, forms his own team, X-Force.  Will X-Force be able to save Russel, and find out why Cable is hunting him down? 

So Deadpool 2 has got to be as funny as the first film.  There's some spectacular set pieces, such as X-Force's first outing, which goes spectacularly wrong.  And the post-credits stinger is also hugely meta.  If I do have one quibble, it does kind of drag in some places as Deadpool wallows in self-pity for a little too long as he mourns Vanessa.  So, yeah.  While the highs are high, the lows get pretty low. 

I liked it, though.  In the end, 3 Nibs.  Complete review on the website. 

After that, as much as I was looking forward to just hanging out around the apartment, had to run home to see the folks for a few days.  They had a few chores that needed doing, and needed an extra set of hands.  Actually, that was the best thing to do.  I went home during the height of last week's heat warning.  As I live in a top-floor apartment, it usually gets ungodly hot, but when I head home, I choose to sleep in my old childhood bedroom, in the nice, cool basement.  So I got some really good sleep out the deal.

Friday, I decided to head home to Westlock, but not before making a stop in Edmonton to check out the latest Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story.  

I was actually kind of sad.  I saw it in the North Edmonton Cineplex, instead of West Edmonton Mall, where I've seen every Star Wars film.   Well, to be fair, for opening day for Episode I all those years ago, I saw it in Camrose, but I saw it for the second and third time in West Edmonton Mall.  Why the WEM boycott for Solo?  No big reason...they were only showing it in IMAX, and I didn't want to pay extra.

So when Disney first announced that they'd be doing these Star Wars stories outside of the regular saga, Han Solo's secret origin was not one I was chomping at the bit to see.  I had no desire to know how he met Chewbacca, or see that game of chance in which he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian, or how me made the fabled Kessel run in 12 parsecs.  And then, throw in its now legendary production problems, ooo.  Didn't know how to proceed.

Solo: A Star Wars Story movie poster

Well, I proceeded the only way I knew how, which was see it on opening day!  Again, caught a weekday matinee.  Even on release day, the theatre was only about half-full. 

On the shipbuilding planet of Corellia, we're introduced to young street rat named Han.  Han is living a life of indentured servitude to Corellia's crime lords, but dreams of getting off that rock, seeing the stars, and being in charge of his own destiny.  He thinks a way to do that would be enlisting in the Imperial forces, but he doesn't take orders so well.  When he discovers a smuggler and rogue named Beckett has infiltrated his unit as part of a bigger heist, Han joins Beckett's crew.  When the job doesn't go so well, and Beckett and Han are now deep in debt to the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, Han proposes another risky heist to get Crimson Dawn off their case.  But they're going to need a crew:  Chewbacca, a Wookie that Han rescued from Imperial captivity; Lando Calrissian, who can provide them with the ship they need; and Qi'ra, the girl Han left behind on Corellia, who found her own way off the planet by enlisting in Crimson Dawn.  Can this ragtag bunch pull off the heist?

Firstly, Donald Glover is awesome as young Lando.  He is just so spot-on perfect.  In fact, a lot of the supporting cast shines, like Lando's droid L3-37, who's a crusader for droid rights.  There's some great action sequences as well.  I mean, who ever thought we'd see a train heist in a Star Wars film?  But here we are.  Oh, and there's also some great cameos from beloved Star Wars characters. 

My big quibble, though, has to be Alden Ehrenriech as young Han Solo.  I had trouble accepting him.  I found him to be a little too chipper as Han Solo.  Who knows?  We might need a sequel or two to see him fully evolved into that embittered cynic who shot first in the Mos Eisley Cantina.  Maybe it was purposeful.  Maybe young Han's story isn't finished yet. 

All in all, though, I still quite enjoyed it.  It was fun.  3 Nibs, full review on the website. 

And then I headed for home.  Didn't do much shopping or browsing.  I still can't find any Solo: A Star Wars Story action figures to save my hide.  And now, as I sit back on this Sunday, getting ready to enjoy the last day of my vacation, I ponder what to do.  I'll probably go binge something.  Season 2 of one of my favourite Netflix originals, The Toys That Made Us, is now online.  It's a fantastic documentary series about action figure lines.  It's just so great. 

Now that summer is here and rerun season is upon us, I'm sure my binging on streaming video services is about to significantly increase.  Still haven't gotten around to binging Netflix's Lost in Space reboot, or its last big sci-fi series that dropped a few months ago, Altered Carbon.  And I'm also on Crave TV and Amazon Prime Video.  I see Crave TV has the first six season of Game of Thrones now, so it might finally be time to see what the fuss is about. 

Or maybe I'll just stay here, in my second bedroom/home office, where I do all my blogging.  I gave it a long-overdue tidying up, spruced it up with some new curtains, and now I kinda like it in here.  Crank up some tunes on Spotify, curl up with a good book, and just relax.

I dunno.  It's the last day of vacation.  Gotta do it right.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie, I blog about it, as is the Circle of Life.  Today, we get to a classic bit of 1980s animation, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.  I originally watched this and blogged this on December 31, 2017.  Happy new  year!

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero -- Original 1980s VHS Cover!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - White Christmas

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the routine, I watch a movie and blog about it.  Because of how far I work ahead, we now get to that awkward part of the summer where I do Christmas movies.  It's May, but this entry is in my notes at December 30, 2017, when I finally had a chance to sit down and watch White Christmas.  

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Rollin' along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it, because why not?  Here we get around to Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  I originally watched and blogged about this on December 30, 2017.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Princess Mononoke

 Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it, because it's something to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  This time, from my collection, I'm grabbing Princess Mononoke.  This is in my notes at December 10, 2017.

Monday, April 30, 2018


It has always been said that good things come to those who wait.  Having taken this advice to heart several times in my life, I'm usually content to sit back and wait for a lot of things.  Sometimes it'll mean the lines are shorter and things are less crowded, but other times it means the store is all sold out by the time I get there.  Such was the case when Nintendo released their NES Classic in the fall of 2016.

I never had a Nintendo Entertainment System when I was kid.  It seemed like all my friends and all my cousins had one, but I didn't.  It's probably why I never grew up to be a gamer.  it was common for my brother and I to rent one on rainy Sunday afternoons, but owning one was something that was never in the cards.  Every Christmas, I tend to tell the story of how I almost got one.

I was in junior high.  It was the time of the great console wars, when Nintendo and Sega were fighting for dominance in the toy aisles.  One morning, over the breakfast table, Mom was talking about how Christmas was coming, and that Santa was thinking about bringing us a video game console.  But Santa was having a tough time deciding between Nintendo or Sega.  To me, the answer was obvious.  Nintendo.  All my friends had one.  All my cousins had one.  It was the one we rented on rainy afternoons.  Nintendo was the clear choice.

But my brother, on that day, stood up and declared his affiliation for Team Sega.  See, in his youth, my brother was all about aircraft, especially military aircraft.  Top Gun was his favourite movie.  G.I. Joe was his favourite toy, and he had every G.I. Joe aircraft.  He even got the legendary G.I. Joe personalized figure just so he could fly those planes and helicopters himself.  And it turned out that Sega had a very popular and well-received flight sim called After Burner that he would spend countless hours playing over at a friend's house.  He just wanted a Sega for After Burner.

The discussion between the merits of Sega and Nintendo grew heated.  The heated discussion soon turned into a screaming match.  As the screaming match was about to become a fistfight, Mom finally broke it up and said, "Hey!  If you're going to be like this, NO VIDEO GAMES FOR CHRISTMAS!"  And thus my home went Nintendo-less.

Until I decided to do something about it myself.  I was already working my first job.  I was a paperboy, back when that was still a thing.  I remembered that, when I was younger, my parents got me a thing called a "bank account."  If I took the money I made off my paper route, and put it in this "bank account" instead of always blowing it on pop and comic books, I would eventually have enough money to buy my own Nintendo!  And that's what I did.  Even made a special trip down to Red Deer to buy it because I had an aunt who worked at Woolco and could use her employee discount to save me a few bucks.  But in the weeks leading up to that Red Deer trip, I decided to go with Nintendo's hot new console at the time, the Game Boy.  I still have it...and the second one that my parents got me for Christmas a few years later, because I played it so much I wore out the buttons.

As much as I enjoyed that Game Boy, it still wasn't a proper Nintendo Entertainment System.  So the NES Classic sounded like it was right up my alley.  Of course, I could see online that many hardcore gamers were poo-poo-ing it, saying that you can already enjoy many classic video games thanks to emulators and the like.  But the NES Classic was definitely geared for the nostalgia market, and folks like me, whose yearning never really went away.

But we all know what happened next.  The NES Classic sold out almost immediately.  It was the hottest toy for the holiday season of 2016.  I thought, "No worries.  We've seen this with the hot Christmas toys before.  Come February, all the stores will be re-stocked and I'll be able to buy one with no hassles."

But the stores never did restock.  Nintendo didn't anticipate it being so popular, and made it in very limited numbers.  It was a one-time only, limited edition thing.  But, Nintendo soon announced the SNES Classic.  Same thing, but with a Super Nintendo.  It came out in the fall of 2017, and did similar business to the NES Classic.  It looked like it would be good enough, but still no NES Classic.  I figured I'd take the same strategy.  Maybe Nintendo learned their lesson, and they'll actually restock in the spring.

About a month ago, I'd made a quick trip into Edmonton after work to pick up Thor Ragnarok on Blu-Ray, and to my surprise, there was one SNES Classic left on the shelf.  I thought about getting it, but, if you've been reading this blog for the past year or so, you know that I've become quite worried about my financial situation as of late.  So, I mustered up all my willpower, and said no.

Back on Saturday, I was back in the city, back at that same store.

Now there were three left on the shelf.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

It had been a rough couple of weeks at work.  The short version is half the office was on vacation, so I was burning the candle at both ends, covering for a lot of people.  I had paid bills earlier in the week, and was pleasantly surprised that I had actually, somehow, managed to come out a little bit ahead for the first time in a long time.  I looked at that SNES Classic and said, "Screw it.  Let's do it."

Even the clerk was surprised that they had some on the shelf when I waved her over to unlock the video game cabinet.  We wound up having a nice little chat about classic video games and sharing rumours.  Nintendo has already announced they'll be bringing back the NES Classic this summer.  The clerk heard the persistent rumour that Nintendo will be moving on to the next console and giving us an N64 Classic this Christmas.  Time will tell.

That was a really good trip to the city, and I had yet to accomplish my primary reason for hitting the city, which was to see Avengers: Infinity War.

Marvel Studios -- the movie studio arm of Marvel -- is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and Avengers: Infinity War is being billed as the climax of 10 years of movie-making.  Marvel has redefined the concept of a film franchise these days, by reintroducing the concept of the cinematic universe.  Having heroes from one film show up in another film to help out more heroes?  It sounds revolutionary, but as many moviegoers will say, Universal did it first with their classic monsters back in the 1940s.  And as Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said in a recent interview, they weren't trying to revolutionize anything.  They just wanted to replicate what you see in the comics...that feeling that the Hulk might smash his way into the latest Iron Man adventure.  And now, it's all led up to Infinity War, where pretty much every hero that Marvel Studios has introduced to the big screen since Tony Stark declared "I am Iron Man" is teaming up to take down the Mad Titan Thanos.

Avengers: Infinity War poster

Bruce Banner falls from the heavens and crashes into the Sanctum Santorum of Doctor Strange, causing Strange to reach out to Tony Stark for help.  Banner has a message:  Thanos is coming.  Out in space, the Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call, where they rescue Thor from the wreckage of the Asgardian rescue ship.  Thanos has laid waste to the remnants of Asgard.  Back on Earth, the disciples of Thanos attack Vision, attempting to extract the Infinity Stone from his body.  This brings Steve Rogers and his secret Avengers out of hiding.  While they may be scattered across the globe and galaxy, they being plotting against their common foe:  Thanos.  He is in search of the six Infinity Stones.  With all six, he seeks to wipe out half the population of the universe…an act, he believes, that will bring about a paradise.  Will our heroes succeed in defeating Thanos and save the universe?

Well, I hope you're up to speed on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because there is very little in the way of recaps.  We hit the ground running.  But the plus side to that is, pretty much the only new character introduced is Thanos.  As such, there's a lot of time dedicated to establishing him and developing as the villain.

But man.  We just move from one big superhero action set piece to another, with barely a moment to give us a chance to breath.  Plus, there's some nice callbacks and even a few surprise re-appearances from some characters that are nice rewards to long time fans of the franchise.  And it's got one hell of a cliffhanger ending to set things up for Part II, coming next year.

Avengers: Infinity War is a spectacular payoff to 10 years of film-making.  4 out of 4 nibs, full review on the website.

After that, it was time to head home and fire up my SNES Classic.  First I had to do some minor re-wiring to my home theatre set-up so I'd be about to route the audio through my stereo.  And then, I put my feet up, and started playing.

I haven't become completely wrapped up in it yet.  I just spent most of Saturday night exploring.  A little Super Mario World, a little bit of Donkey Kong Country, just kind of exploring the console.  As the weather outside right now looks kind of grey and rainy, I'll probably start having more fun with it.  Already getting tripped up on just the second level of Donkey Kong Country.

It almost makes up for the fact that I did have one major strikeout on this city trip.  No matter how hard I looked, couldn't find any of the new action figures for Solo: A Star Wars Story.  But if there is one thing Nintendo has taught me, it is patience.  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Fishing int he Discount Bin - Spirited Away

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  Simple as that.  This time out, we tackle the modern day animated classic Spirited Away.  This is in my notes at December 10, 2017.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Men in Black

Rolling along on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie, I blog about it, because I'm nostalgic for the joys of writing book reports in elementary school.  Today, I file my report on Men in Black.  I originally watched it and wrote this report on November 26, 2017, because that's the kind of keener I am.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Thaw

I've mentioned it to friends, and I even tweeted about it.  I was feeling a little off in March.  March was a month that was full of movies that should have been right up my alley -- A Wrinkle in Time, the Tomb Raider reboot, Pacific Rim Uprising -- but my desire to go see them was non-existent.  That did change, though, with Ready Player One.  I'd been reading about the book online for a while, I was hoping to read it before going to see the movie, but I never got around to it.  I wasn't able to see it the weekend it came out, because that was Easter and I was doing family stuff.  Last weekend was no good, because I was on location.  But this weekend...this weekend, I was ready.

Headed off to the city bright and early on Saturday morning.  Before heading off to the movies, though, I had to hit the department stores to get some of that grown-up stuff.  I can never seem to find pants in my size, so when I find some in my size, and on sale to boot, I pick 'em up.  So I have new pants.  Can't go to work without pants!  I learned that one the hard way....

Of course, had to check the toy section, too, as we're getting closer and closer to Wookie Weekend.  For those just joining us, ever since Disney bought Star Wars, Disney has had massive retail events for the when the new Star Wars toys that tie in to the next Star Wars movie go on sale.  For our main saga films (that's Force Awakens and Last Jedi), they called it "Force Friday."  For Rogue One, they called it "Going Rogue."  And, for Solo, they've called it "Wookie Weekend."

Now, Wookie Weekend is this Friday, April 20, but you never know.  Clerks have been known to make mistakes and get the stuff on the shelves early.  Which is what I found at Toys R Us.  They had the LEGO sets out, they had the vehicles out, but they didn't have any of the figures out yet.  So it looks like I'll still be making a quick trip into the city on April 20 after work to see if there's anything left.

Then I made it to West Edmonton Mall in plenty of time for my movie.  Sometimes, I just like to wander around West Edmonton Mall, do a little people watching, and take in the ambience.  Plus, I've also recently discovered this cool YouTube channel called Best Edmonton Mall that's dedicated to telling the history of West Edmonton Mall...closed down attractions, editorials on recent changes, stuff like that.  I had to tweet them my appreciation because, in their video about West Edmonton Mall's bronze whale, they used my pictures of the whale being dismantled, and gave me proper credit.  Those pictures are from this ancient blog entry, in case you're wondering.

Anyway, one of their videos was about some recent changes to Galaxyland, so I decided to take a wander through Galaxyland and just take it in.  As always, when I go through Galaxyland, I take a moment to stop at the former location of the Drop of Doom and sigh wistfully.  About my only regret when it comes to West Edmonton Mall was I was took chicken to try the Drop of Doom back in the day.  According to one of my friends at school, if you wanted to see something really neat, you'd put a penny on your knee at the start of the ride.  When they dropped you from the top, thanks to the differing terminal velocity of the penny, the penny would slowly rise from your knee until it appeared to be floating in mid-air just in front of your face.  And then, when you curved at the bottom to coast to a stop, the penny would smack into the ride car, just past your head.

The last time I actually did Galaxyland -- like,ride the rides and stuff -- had to be in the early 2000s.  It was those hazy days when I'd just finished college and hadn't figured out what to do with my life yet.  It was my nephew's birthday, so I was meeting up with my brother's family and my parents for a birthday celebration.  I noticed one of my old friends from college working there, and since there was no line at the ride she was staffing, I excused myself for a bit and went over to say hello.

I remember chatting with her, and our conversation was interrupted by one of the loud airhorns or bells or something like that that signified the start of the ride.  "How can you stand working here?" I asked her.

"I can't," she replied.  "Gave my two weeks notice this morning."

With that trip down memory lane finished, I left through Galaxyland's main entrance and back out into the mall.  Wound up doing a little more reminiscing.  I remembered when West Edmonton Mall first opened back in the mid-1980s, the mall boasted that it had three McDonald's.  And we're not talking food court kiosks, we're talking full restaurants.  There was one right across the main entrance from Galaxyland, one was on Bourbon Street, and the third was in the Phase III food court...the one closest to the Deep Sea Adventure.  Now, the mall has only one...a food court kiosk in the Phase I food court.  That's the one closest to Galaxyland.

Now that I was done being nostalgic, it was time for the nostalgia-fest that is Ready Player One.

Ready Player One poster

In a dystopian not-too-distant-future, the main escape from the drudgery of real life has become OASIS...a virtual reality MMORPG where imagination is your only limit.  When the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, passes away, he announces in a pre-recorded video message that he hid an Easter egg in OASIS, and you need to find three keys in order to access it.  The first to find the Easter egg will win Halliday's personal fortune and complete control of OASIS.

Our hero is Wade Watts.  In OASIS, he goes by Parzival.  Like many, he's dedicated his life to tracking down the Easter egg.  When he's the first to find the first key, he draws the attention of allies -- like fellow egg hunger Art3mis -- and enemies, particularly the corporation IOI, who wants to dominate OASIS so they can ramp up its monetization.  Before long, all out war is brewing between Parzival and his allies and the IOI corporation in both OASIS and the real world for control of OASIS.

I really enjoyed the film.  You've probably seen the commercials and TV spots, where see OASIS is crammed full of pop culture references and is a mash-up of all kinds of pop culture stuff.  "Forrest Gump for Gen X" is how I saw one blogger describe it.  But I'm pleased to report that, much like Wreck-It Ralph, the nostalgia is merely sprinkles on top, and not necessary to understand the plot.  That being said, the plot is a pretty routine "hero's journey" kind of tale, with heroic heroes and slimy villains.

Oh, and the Iron Giant fought Mechagodzilla.  Which was awesome.

So,  yeah.  I really liked Ready Player One.  I give it three out of four nibs.  Full review on the website.

And before departing from the mall, I made a quick stop through Sunrise Records.  They finally had a Blu-ray in stock that had been on my Amazon wish list forever, and I finally thought, "What the hey?" and picked it up.

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Ghost World.  The critically acclaimed 2001 movie, based on the indie comic by Daniel Clowes.  It's the movie that pretty much made Scarlett Johansson famous, which is kind of weird, because Thora Birch is the star.

Birch is Enid, recently graduated from high school, what modern society would call a hipster, and is kind of drifting through summer, trying to figure out what next to do with her life.  Johansson is her best friend Rebeca, who's going through a similar malaise.  Enid soon falls in with a super-nerdy record collector played by Steve Buscemi and...that's all I know, really.

I've actually never seen Ghost World.  I just know that, when it came out in 2001, most of my friends at the time were raving about it.  It seemed to perfectly capture that post-college confusion of "What comes next?" that we were all going through.  So when I saw that Criterion released an edition back in the fall, I just looked at it and thought, "I want this."

 Grabbed it off the shelf, went up to the clerk...and I swear, this clerk was Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.  He sees that Blu-ray cover and he starts going off about some little Brazilian animated film that he describes as being super-weird, and I'm like, "Yeah, thanks, can you finish ringing me up please?"  When I left the store I started wondering about it.  I wonder if he, too, has never seen Ghost World, and based on the Clowes' artwork on the Blu-Ray cover, assumed it was some indie animated film?

Anyway, as I finish writing this up on Sunday morning, sitting down and watching Ghost World is my Sunday afternoon plan.  So if you'll excuse me, it's off to the rest of my weekend! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Cars 3

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it, because why not?  As I do love Pixar, this entry tackles Cars 3.  I originally watched it and jotted this down on November 12, 2017.

Cars 3 Poster

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Coraline

Moving right along with Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie I own, and blog about it.  This one is in my notes at October 29, 2017, which is why it mentions Halloween being right around the corner.  And what movie did I watch to get me in a Halloween mood?  Coraline.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Spider-Man: Homecoming

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  Watchin' movies, bloggin' about them, because I have a bunch of movies and a blog.  Today, we're cracking open Spider-Man:  Homecoming.  This is in my notes at October 22, 2017.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Wonder Woman

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it, because everyone needs a hobby.  Time to roll out one of the big hits of 2017, Wonder Woman.  This is in my notes at October 22, 2017.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I watch a movie and blog about it. Time to dip into one of this past summer's biggest blockbusters, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  This is in my notes at August 27, 2017.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Escape from New York

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch one of the DVDs or Blu-Rays I own, and then blog about, so it feels like I actually accomplish something when I sit at home watching movies instead of going out and having a life.  Today, we roll out the 1981 classic Escape from New York.  This is in my notes on August 26, 2017.

Monday, March 05, 2018


Well, I've had a backlog of things I wanted to blog about (a backblog?) and now that it's a snowed-in kind of weekend, may as well finally get around to blogging about it.

I went into the city about a week ago.  Didn't do much of note.  And besides, the main purpose of blogging about my days in the city is plug the review of the latest movie I saw.  So, I went into the city a week ago to catch Black Panther.

Black Panther poster

Black Panther is awesome, you guys.  I mean, I'm on board for pretty much anything Marvel does at this point, so I knew I was going to like it.  Taking place shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, our hero, T'Challa, is returning home to Wakanda to officially be crowned king.

But, the nation of Wakanda is at a crossroads.  Thanks to the country sitting on a massive deposit of vibranium -- the fictional metal that Captain America's shield is made of -- Wakanda is actually the most technologically advanced country in the world.  But, they have chosen to hide this fact for centuries for fear that their technological wonders would fall into the wrong hands.  The wrong hands being our villains, the international arms dealer Ulysses Klaue and soldier of fortune Erik Killmonger.  And it's up to T'Challa, the Black Panther, to protect Wakanda from these threats and best plot a future for Wakanda.

This is a film with a very beautiful supporting cast.  The true scene stealer is Shuri, T'Challa's kid sister and Wakanda's chief scientist.  She's responsible for a lot of Wakanda's technological marvels, and she's the Q to T'Challa's James Bond.  And their sassy brother/sister banter is just perfect.  Also fun is M'Baku, leader of the Jabari tribe, who never pledged loyalty to the throne of Wakanda.  While he is a grim and serious defender of his people, M'Baku also has just enough of a sense of humour to mess with his rivals.

And lets not forget our villain, Killmonger.  It seems with Killmonger, Marvel is on their way to beating their villain problem, as they finally take the time to develop Killmonger and give us motivations for his villainy.  He's a great villain with a plan that's not so evil, when  you see things from his point of view.

So, yeah.  I don't need to tell you to go see it because it's kicking all kinds of butt at the box office.  I give it 3.5 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

Oh, and while also in the city, I broke down and bought the first in the latest from Lego in the Marvel Micro Minis collection.  These little tiny Lego kits feature two go-karts piloted by a Marvel hero.  I wound up collecting all of last  year's, and I got the first for this  year's, which is Thor vs. Loki.

I like the tiny detailing in these sets.  As you can see in the Thor vs. Loki set, the go-karts are modeled after their helmets.  I went to the dentist back on Thursday, and afterwards I picked up Star Lord vs. Nebula, so of course, their go-karts are modeled after their respective ships in Guardians of the Galaxy.  And then, some highlights from last year's series, Wolverine's is modeled on the Blackbird, Thanos's is modeled on the Infinity Gauntlet, Spider-Man's is based on his infamous Spider-Mobile....  They're just cute.  Kinda makes me nostalgic for the legendary Muppet Babies Happy Meal Toys from the 1980s.

So, what am I binging these days?  As my morning guy brought up on the air the other day, I've signed up for Netflix, CraveTV, and Amazon Prime Video.  "How do you keep track of everything you're binging?" he asks.  Well, it's tough.  I'll add something to my list, then when i go back to watch it seven months later, it's gone.  So, yeah.  You can probably blame me for the cancellation of Sense8, because that's been high on my list for a while now, but I haven't gotten to it.

Well, the main reason I finally signed up for Amazon Prime was for two of their originals.  First up was The Tick.  Ben Edlund gives us the third TV iteration of his superhero spoof, and this time out, he gives us a semi-serious take on the material.  Don't get me wrong, the Tick is still the Tick, and it still skewers many superhero tropes, but it's got a pretty serious plot going on and gives Arthur some pretty serious issues to deal with.  I kind of wish they stuck with what they were hinting at in the pilot, which was making the Tick the Tyler Durden to Arthur's nameless narrator, but it's still good.  Part 2 of season 1 just dropped, and I'm about halfway through that second half.

After that, the other original that I wanted to check out, American Gods.  I really enjoyed Neil Gaiman's fantasy epic back in the day, and was really looking forward to the TV adaptation, especially since it was brought to the TV screen by Bryan Fuller, who gave me two of my favourite cult classic TV shows, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies.  When I read the book in the day, and started imagining the intersection of the world of gods and the mortal world, I only expected a slightly heightened version of the real world.  Like the really good episodes of The X-Files.  But Fuller and his crew, they really pushing things far, and the world of gods really does seem dreamlike.  My only complaint.  I was wondering how they were going to get an entire series out of the book, even though the book is pretty dense to begin with.  But at the end of season 1, I realized that Season 1 was pretty much just the first 6 chapters with a whole bunch of filler.  So they'll be able to stretch it out quite a bit.

Then I flipped over to CraveTV.  They have the first three season of Game of Thrones now, but instead of giving that a shot, I decided to go with The Handmaid's Tale.  I read The Handmaid's Tale at around the same time I read American Gods, and it stuck with me.  It's interesting comparing the two TV series.  Season 1 of The Handmaid's Tale pretty much is an adaptation of the book, but they flesh out several supporting characters and add new subplots and expand the universe in such a way that it never feels like filler.  And I loved its use of music.

Perhaps my most unexpected binge, though, was I discovered that Amazon Prime has New Captain Scarlett.  I'd been curious about this cartoon when it premiered back in 2005, but it never made it out of the UK.  Legendary TV producer Gerry Anderson produced this reboot of one of his classic Supermarionation shows from the 1960s, and it wound up being his final production.

For those who've never heard of Captain Scarlett, or the 1960s original, Captain Scarlett and the Mysterons, this is our story.  Earth is under attack by an alien race known as the Mysterons.  The Mysterons chief weapon is their complete mastery of matter.  Once they destroy something, they can rebuild it and take control of it.  Once they kill someone, they can resurrect that person as an agent completely loyal to the Mysteron cause.

Leading the fight against the Mysterons:  Spectrum, a SHIELD-like organization.  They even have a flying commander centre, Cloudbase (Skybase in the reboot), hovering at 40,000 feet above the Earth's surface.  They have secret caches of weapons all across the globe.  Their top agents have a code name based on a colour.  And they even have their own fighter squadron, the Angels, where all the pilots are women.

Our hero, Captain Scarlett.  Scarlett was one of the first to fall at the hands of the Mysterons.  Somehow, his consciousness survived the Mysteron resurrection process.  He was able to break free of Mysteron control and rejoin the side of good.  But the Mysterons left him with a gift.  As a side effect of the resurrection process, Captain Scarlett is now blessed with "retro-metabolism," a Wolverine-style healing factor.  Rendering him practically indestructible, Scarlett's suicidal tactics have made him Spectrum's top agent, and a dangerous enemy to the Mysterons.

The show itself is really good.  The animation..not so much.  It was early 2000s CGI, when motion capture was the hot new toy.  They used a lot of motion capture on New Captain Scarlett.  As such, while the body movement are very lifelike and realistic...the rest of the animation, not so much.  Picture The Polar Express on a straight-to-video budget and now you're getting it.

But now it's on to the next binge.  The new season of Voltron just hit Netflix, as did their latest big sci-fi series, Altered CarbonJessica Jones: Season 2 drops this Thursday.

And once that`s all done, I might finally get to Sense8.

And we have a new Weird Al song!

For those who don't know, Hamilton is the hottest thing to hit Broadway in years.  It's a biography of the American founding father Alexander Hamilton, told primarily through hip hop music, and with a racially diverse cast.  It has been dominating American pop culture, and made a superstar of its writer and original cast member, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Miranda produced a project called The Hamilton Mix Tape and it's follow-up, "Hamildrops," in which he gets well-known artists to cover songs from the show.  Miranda has also become good friends with one of his musical influences as a child, "Weird Al" Yankovic, so it wasn't long before Weird Al participated in this project.

And what did Weird Al do?  The Hamilton Polka, which is a polka medley of songs from the show.

Even though Weird Al hasn't cut a full album since 2014's Mandatory Fun, he's been pretty active musically over the past year.  A couple of months ago, he participated in the project Dr. Demento Covered in Punk.  Dr. Demento is the legendary radio announcer whose syndicated show focusing on comedy and novelty songs discovered Weird Al.  For Dr. Demento Covered in Punk, Dr. Demento got some of his favourite punk bands to cover novelty songs, and his favourite comedy bands to cover punk songs.  Weird Al contributed a cover of the Ramone's Beat on the Brat.  It's a pretty straight cover until Weird Al comes in with that accordion. 

And then, Weird Al also did the theme song for this past summer's Captain Underpants movie.  I've never ready the original children's books, but apparently, Weird Al is frequently mentioned as an idol of our main characters. 

So, yeah.  I should swing by iTunes and drop the 99 cents for all these songs. 

And that's about all I wanted to rant about, so I'm now all caught up on my backblog. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Spawn

Here we go again, rolling out Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch  movie I own, blog about it, and get on with my day.  We're going back to the 1990s with Spawn.  I watched it and wrote this on August 6, 2017.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mystery Men

It's Thursday, so that means it's time to go Fishing in the Discount Bin!  I watch a movie, I blog about it, you know the deal.  Today, we do the 1999 superhero epic Mystery Men.  Actually, I did it back on August 6, 2017, and I'm just copying-and-pasting it into the blog now.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Cars 2

Rolling along on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  Watching movies and blogging about them.  It's what I do.  This week, finishing what I started last week with Cars 2.  This is in my notes at July 29, 2017.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Superbowl Trailers -- Jurassic World and Mission: Impossible

My week off is winding down, so let's do something else I've been putting off...blogging about some of the new trailers released during the Super Bowl, almost a week ago.

I've been lamenting recently that I don't blog about trailers as much as I used to.  It's so much easier to throw up on a link on my social media pages rather than sit down and try to come up with an insightful critique.  One complaint I did get about those blog posts in the past was I spent too much time talking about the film itself rather than offering my opinions.  So I figure I won't waste the energy blogging about a trailer unless I have a really strong opinion about it.

Case in point:  Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom.  I wanted to blog about the first trailer when it came out in December, but never got around to it.  Why?  Because it looked so much like all the Jurassic Park we've seen before.  "Oh noes!  We're trapped on an island with dinosaurs!  How will we escape?"  Looks like the big twist this time is now they're trying to escape a volcano, too.    Yay.    When are they finally going to pull the trigger and give us the "dinosaurs loose on the mainland" film they've been threatening ever since Spielberg tacked on the "T-Rex loose in San Diego" third act to The Lost World?

Which is why I'm still one of the few defenders of Jurassic World.  Say what you will, but finally having a fully operational theme park full of people when the poop hits the fan...that was one of the most simple and obvious twists to the premise you could do.  It finally gave us something new.

And which is why the Super Bowl spot for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom finally piqued my interest.

That opening scene?  Of some freaky mutant dino in a kid's bedroom?  That's got my attention.  The unveiling scene at the end, with "Welcome to the future?"  I want to know what's being unveiled.  Probably the freaky mutant dino.  My interest has gone from "meh" to "mild."

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits theatres June 22.

Back in college, I had this one teacher who sat me down one day I told me that I was a strong 7.  See, my college, Augustana, graded you on a 9 point scale.  0 is a total failure, 9 is top of the class.  After seeing this teacher for help, he got off on a tangent and started sharing his observations of me.  He said, "I see you putting in the work, Mark.  You work harder than pretty much anyone in class.  You put in so much effort, but your net results are only worthy of a 7.  I mean, I want to give you an 8 or 9, because of all the work you do, but these results are only worth a 7.  But it's a strong 7."

That's my impression of the Mission: Impossible franchise.  It's a strong 7.  I see Tom Cruise, putting in the work, going through his Jackie Chan-esque "watch me do all these dangerous stunts by myself" midlife crisis.  I've always loved the superspy genre, so I really, really, really want to love the Mission: Impossible franchise.  But, like my teacher looked at me that day, I look at Tom Cruise with a mild disappointment that his best efforts didn't earn more than a 7. 

It's also funny in that we're starting to get this backlash against Tom Cruise doing these kinds of films.  When the last one, Rogue Nation, came out, someone pointed out that Cruise is now as old as Jon Voight was when Voight played Cruise's boss in the first Mission: Impossible.  And back then, Voight's character was portrayed as on the cusp of retirement.  Last year, in The Mummy, there was much eye-rolling when Russel Crowe's Dr. Jekyl described Tom Cruise as a "young man," when Cruise is actually two years older than Crowe.  So, yeah.  There's this push that Cruise should, quite literally, start acting his age.

Anyway, we got our first trailer for the next in the franchise, Mission: Impossible -- Fallout.

So, yeah.  It's looking to be more of the same.  I do like the line about how maybe Cruise's character of Ethan Hunt may be getting annoyed at his situations.  The formula in all these films is that a mission goes sideways, Hunt is framed, and he has to go rogue to clear his name and/or uncover the conspiracy.  After five films, I'm sure he'd start going, "You still don't believe me when I say I was framed?" 

I saw Rogue Nation in the theatre because I had a free weekend and just felt going out and doing something.  I'll probably be in the same boat with Fallout when it comes out July 27. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Half Off

Well, it's that time of year again.  Every year, around January or so, I get an e-mail from the HR department informing me that I still have about a week's worth of unused vacation time from the previous year, and they'd really like me to get it off the books.  So, I usually wind up taking a week off in February to use up said vacation time.  I'm nearing the end of that week right now, and it's been a pretty quiet week of just pretty much screwing around around the house.  Although, I decided to spend at least one day heading into Edmonton to screw around in a different location.

It was strange heading into Edmonton this late after Christmas.  Usually, I'm heading into the city the first or second weekend in January with a bunch of Christmas gift cards burning a hole in my pocket.  But this year, I only got one gift card for Christmas.  It's going to make 2018 somewhat expensive.  In the final weeks of 2017, I was boasting on Twitter how I made it through the year without paying for a single movie, thanks to all the Cineplex gift cards I got for Christmas in 2016.  Looking at some of the movies coming up in 2018, it's going to get expensive pretty quick.

I was contemplating going to see a movie, but there's not much out right now that caught my eye.  With the Oscars right around the corner, and The Shape of Water getting a lot of Oscar love, I was thinking about maybe seeing The Shape of Water.  But again. with a lack of gift cards and my eyes on a budget right now, I figured that maybe I should save my money for Black Panther when it comes out next week.

On a whim, I decided to stop in at Toys R Us.  With action figure collecting still being one of my top hobbies, I find I don't stop in at Toys R Us that much anymore.  Maybe it has to do with living out in the countryside, but I figure that whenever I get into Toys R Us and have a chance to go through the racks, pretty much everything is picked-over, and I have trouble finding what I want.  Especially with Star WarsLast Jedi merch is already pretty much sold out, so the shelves are full of old Rogue One stuff at 75% off.

I did find myself lingering in the Lego aisle for an extended amount of time, and I may have gazed longingly at some of the Lego Trains stuff.  Lego Trains has always occupied this funny little overlap between model railway enthusiasts and Lego fans, and has amassed a sizable cult following.

About 10 years ago or so, my brother bought his motorcycle and my dad bought his ATV, so the joke in the family was, "Gee, what's Mark going to buy when he has his mid-life crisis?"  (Although, according to some of the folks I went to NAIT with, going back to school to pursue a career in broadcasting at the ripe-old age of 25 was what I did for my midlife crisis, but I digress.)  Truth is, it'll probably be a model railway.  I like trains, but I've never had a train set.  And Lego Trains just have a certain quirky appeal.  But with the starter sets at Toys R Us going for $225, it'll be a costly hobby to get into.

I kept browsing through the Lego aisle in awe.  As I've lamented many times before, when I was a kid, there were just Lego themes:  Town, Castle, and Space.  Now, there's just so many licensed products, it blows my mind.  And that's just the Lego aisle.  Imagine how my mind would be blown at the Lego Store.  I only went to Edmonton's Lego Store just once.  About five years ago, I was again taking a week off to burn off some vacation time, so I made the trek to the southside and Southgate Mall to check out the just-opened Lego Store.  There was a lot of Lego.

Taking a close look at the superhero themes, I started examining the Marvel Heroes Mighty Micros.  These are adorable little Lego sets.  You get a Marvel hero and villain in each pack, and they have a little go-kart theme to that character to you can have little go-kart races with them.  At a very affordable $10 each, I wound up collecting all of them last year.  In 2017, they gifted us with Spider-Man vs. the Scorpion, Iron Man vs. Thanos, and Wolverine vs. Magneto.  Well, I discovered they have some new ones out for 2018:  Thor vs. Loki, Star-Lord vs. Nebula, and Scarlet Spider vs. Sandman.  Wasn't sure if I wanted to start collecting the new ones, or just move along, so I moved along.  Maybe next week, when I'm back for Black Panther.

I arrived at my usual destination of West Edmonton Mall, and began exploring.  I always forget how wonderfully quiet the mall is on a weekday afternoon.  Sometimes, it's nice to go without an agenda or a plan.  Just wander around, see what you can see, and just start to slowly feel bad because it begins to be a constant reminder of how broke you currently are.

I did have to make one stop, though.  At work, I'd been lamenting how we've got no 2018 calendars up yet, making it tough to keep track of things and plan ahead.  Luckily, the calendar pop-up stores that the mall always gets for Christmas hadn't shut down yet.  And now, their entire stock is half-off.  So I got Great Canadian Trains for the office, and Classic Travel Posters for home.

Also took a moment to look at the sign heralding the arrival of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  The original news report said it'd be opening March 1, but now they're saying it'll probably be opening in the late spring or early summer.  I am getting surprisingly excited for the arrival of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. opened up in the mid-1990s.  The entire restaurant is themed around the movie Forrest Gump, and is named for Gump's shrimp boat business in the film.  As I'm sure you've figured out, the menu is about 90% shrimp dishes. West Edmonton Mall is going to be their first ever Canadian location, and they're hoping to make it their Canadian flagship location.

I'm getting excited for several reasons.  First, I love shrimp.  Second, I love kitsch like this.  Lastly, pure nostalgia, as it's reminding me of the boom of the chain restaurants like this.  The boom lasted for most of the 1990s, and during that time, in West Edmonton Mall, you could find a Hard Rock Cafe and a Planet Hollywood and a Johnny Rockets and a Fuddrucker's....  And like all those chains, I'll eat at them once and then figure that's enough. 

On my way out of town, I decided to make one last stop at Canadian Tire.  As I blogged when I first learned about it back in November, "Canadian Tire exclusive" is not a phrase that pops up in Star Wars action figure collecting circles.  But, that phrase did pop up back in November when The Last Jedi figures started showing up.  I figured that, since Canadian Tire only really has a toy section when Christmas rolls around, now would be the prefect time to get it, as it would be heavily discounted.  And I was right!  50% off.  So I snatched it up.  Sadly, I forgot my Canadian Tire money at home or else it would have been cheaper.

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The Canadian Tire exclusive 3-pack comes to us from Return of the Jedi, featuring Luke Skywalker in his black Jedi outfit, Emperor Palpatine, and the Emperor's Royal Guard.  It's almost a throwback to the Cinema Scenes 3-Packs of yore.  When this modern era of Star Wars figures began in the late 1990s, they did a thing called Cinema Scenes.  It was a three pack of figures, all done up to look just as they did in a specific scene from the original trilogy.

With some shiny new Star Wars toys, it was time to head for home.  I do like days like this, but they always make me feel sad.  I would certainly love to be able to take better vacations than just hanging around the house and making daytrips like this, but financially, it's just not in the cards.  But until that day, we do the best we can. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Cars

Here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin...watching the movies, and blogging about them.  This week, I find myself re-watching Disney/Pixar's Cars.  That is, I originally watched it and wrote this on July 23, 2017.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story Trailer

Well, it's finally here!  Our first look at the second of the Star Wars Stories, Solo, telling us the secret origin of Han Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story Teaser Poster

It was first announced back in the summer of 2015.  Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, was writing the script along with his son Joe.  And to direct it, they hired Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, directors of such hit comedies as 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie.  They started filming almost a year ago under the code name Red CupGet it?

But then the poop hit the fan in June of 2017.  With filming about 75% done, Lord and Miller were fired, under the age old reason of "creative differences."  We've heard some of the stories as to what those creative differences were.  It sounds like the main one had to do with tone.  Given their comedic backgrounds, Lord and Miller were hired to bring a comedic touch to the film.  But, Lord and Miller were allegedly directing it as an outright comedy.  As they did in their comedies, Lord and Miller were encouraging a lot of improv from their actors, which led to a very grumpy Kasdan.  Kasdan was soon hovering over them on the set, leading to a very grumpy Lord and Miller.  So many grumpy people, someone had to go eventually.  Fare thee well, Lord and Miller.

Given that situation, it was heavily rumoured that Kasdan would take over as director, but the various Hollywood unions actually have laws in place to prevent that.  To finish off production, and to supervise reshoots, Star Wars boss Kathleen Kennedy brought it Hollywood legend Ron Howard.  Howard had actually been circling Star Wars for a while, believe it or not.  Howard is good friends with George Lucas, having started in Lucas's American Graffiti back in the day, and directed the Lucas written and produced Willow.  A few years back, Howard even revealed that Lucas asked him to direct The Phantom Menace, but Howard declined, instead choosing to encourage Lucas to get back on that directing horse.

Howard took charge and the re-shoots grew longer...and longer...and longer.  The longer reshoots went, the more people started worrying about how bad the film would be.

The fear kicked into overdrive back in November.  With this being a May release, November is usually when they hype train starts.  Gotta get the trailer in theatres to run in front of all those Christmas blockbusters.  November came and went.  No trailer.  December came along.  People were like, "Hey!  In front of Last Jedi would be very appropriate!"  But still, no trailer.  January was coming to a close.  Sheer panic was setting in among the fans.  How bad is the film that it's five months from release and they won't let us see any footage from it yet?

Some mild relief finally came back on Thursday with the revelation that there would be a Super Bowl spot, followed by a full trailer the next day.  Kicking off the hype for a May blockbuster at the start of February.  Not unheard of, but no longer common.

When that Super Bowl spot aired, I got pretty jazzed.  I mean, it's new Star Wars.  I'll always get excited for new Star Wars.  I was there opening day for the shitty Clone Wars animated movie, so I'll be there for Solo, no matter its productions woes.

Speaking of The Clone Wars, I'm digging that rock/electronic/Clone Wars-style music rockin' in that trailer.  John Powell (The Jason Bourne movies and a bunch of DreamWorks animated films) is doing the score, with Star Wars composer emeritus John Williams providing the main theme.

Anyways, a day later, we get the full trailer.  I'm sharing them both, because there's surprisingly very little recycling of footage.

I'm liking what I'm seeing so far.  I mean, it's Star Wars.  We've got spaceships going fast, I love that shot of a the Star Destroyer emerging from the clouds.  I'm liking what I'm seeing so far, but we're going to have to wait for when it comes out on May 25 to see if the whole thing comes together. 

Alden Ehrenreich is our young Han Solo, Donald Glover of Community fame is young Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones is someone named Qi'ra, Woody Harrelson is Solo's mentor, and Joonas Suotamo begins taking over for Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story comes out May 25. 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Kong: Skull Island

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie, and blog about it, because I've bought a lot of movies, and this makes me feel like it was worth it.  Rolling out Kong: Skull Island this week.  This is originally in my notes at July 22, 2017.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Scarecrow's Oscar Picks: 2018 Edition

Well, it's that time of year again.  This year's Oscar nominations were announced about a week ago, so it's time to dust off a tradition I've been doing in all 20 years of my online presence.  Yes, it's time for....

Scarecrow's Oscar Picks!  (The logo I designed in Photoshp back in 1997)

Now, as I've been explaining for 20 years, I like to do my Oscar picks a little bit differently.  Everywhere you go, you're going to see the picks for the big categories like Best Director and Best Actor, so I'm going to focus my picks on the categories that only I care about:  Best Original Song, and Best Visual Effects.  Plus, those are the two that I have a pretty good track record in selecting the winners.  I also love animated films, so when the Best Animated Film Oscar came along in 2002, I started doing that one as well.  Let's get to it!

Best Visual Effects

The nominees are:
My thoughts:

OK, right away, we can strike out Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy.  Spaceships whizzing through space, laser guns, blue screen sets, CGI creatures...been there, done that.  Same with Kong.  Yeah, we've seen the giant monkey before.  Now, War for the Planet of the Apes won a lot of praise for Andy Serkis's performance...some even saying he should have picked up a best actor nomination.  So, as that never happened, giving Planet of the Apes the Best Visual Effects Oscar might be the next best thing.  On the other hand, Blade Runner 2049 had a lot of fans, and was praised for the lengths its effects went to to create the futuristic world of 2049, much like how the original film was praised for it's visual flair.

My pick:

Between nostalgia and lots of critical love, I'm putting my money on Blade Runner 2049.

Best Original Song

The nominees are:
My thoughts:

There's a reason why my winning streak started 20 years ago.  It was the height of the Disney Renaissance, and picking the song from the Disney animated film was a sure thing.  So purely for nostalgia's sake, I want to go with Remember Me.  That being said, The Greatest Showman is an old-school musical, ans as we saw with La La Land last year, there's a bit of a resurgence of old-school musicals these days.  So I think this category is going to come down to Remember Me and This Is Me.

My pick:

This Is Me

Best Animated Film

The Nominees Are:
My thoughts:

Well, Pixar is the studio with the most wins in this category, so my gut has to go with Coco.  That being said, The Breadwinner's director Nora Twomey has been circling this category for a while, having directed the 2009 nominee The Secret of Kells and having worked on the 2014 nominee Song of the Sea.  However, they have made some changes to the category this year.  In all the Oscar categories, only people who work in that category could vote for the winner.  For example, only directors would vote for Best Director, actors for Best Actor, and animators for Best Animated Film.  Starting this year, Best Animated Film works like Best Picture...everyone gets to vote for it.  The logic is the same reason why Best Picture was opened up to 9 nominees a few years ago:  it'll open up the category to more mainstream films, and less art house films that no one has heard of.  And no offense to Ms Twomey, but how many of you had heard of The Breadwinner before this?

My pick:


And, as always, as a concession to the mainstream, the biggest of the mainstream categories....

Best Picture

The Nominees Are:
My thoughts:

We're coming up on 10 years now of more than five nominees, and I still don't agree with it.  "It'll open up the category to more mainstream films, and less art house films that no one has heard of!" said the Academy.  But what's happened?  it seems like more art house films that no one has heard of are getting nominated.  That being said, Get Out is exactly the kind of mainstream hit that the critics loved that they wanted to see get nominated.  At the other end of the spectrum, Three Billboards is already being likened by many to this year's Crash, as a movie that's getting wildly overblown.  But still, the giddy thrill for me is seeing The Shape of Water get nominated.  The most nominees this year, with 13.  Who would have thought that a love story between a mute woman and a sea monster from the director of Hellboy would get so much love!  But then, Guillermo del Toro did also do Pan's Labyrinth, which got a lot of Oscar love 10 years ago. 

My pick:

I really want The Shape of Water to win.  And I really want to see it now, too.

One last rant.  Guillermo del Toto was in talks with Universal Studios to come on board with their Dark Universe...their cinematic universe based on their classic monsters, that looks like it began and ended with Tom Cruise's The Mummy.  Del Toro's pet project was a remake of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and del Toro allegedly put a lot of his Black Lagoon ideas into The Shape of Water.  So just think.  In a parallel universe, The Shape of Water wound up being the Creature from the Black Lagoon reboot that kicked off Dark Universe!

The 90th Academy Awards are on March 4.