Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, August 16, 2019

Various Rants About Pop Culture

I really don't do the kind of rants about pop culture like I used to on this blog.  But I've got a few ramblings that are a bit longer than tweets, so let's dust off the old blog and get this off my chest.

Iron Giant

It recently popped up in the social media feeds that my all-time favourite movie, The Iron Giant, just celebrated it's 20th anniversary.  A flop when it first hit theatres, it has now become a beloved cult classic.

It was the summer of 1999.  I had just graduated from college.  The euphoric high brought on by the release of Episode I was starting to fade, and the question of what to do with the rest of my life was starting to set it.  I've always loved animated films, and at that point in my life, I was going to see pretty much every animated film that came out.  My sister was going through a similar phase as me, having just graduated from high school, and wanted to go see Disney's Tarzan.  So we planned a trip to the city to see both films.

We both agreed, The Iron Giant was the better film.  I was completely blown away.  I went home that night and fired up the old dial-up Internet.  Social media as we know it didn't exist yet, so I e-mailed all my friends about how amazing it was, and gushed about it in my online journal.  ("Online journal" is what we called blogs back then, because the word "blog" hadn't been invented yet.)

How much did I love it?  I went to see it again.  You have to understand, I grew up in a small town with the nearest movie theatre being an hour's drive away, so seeing a movie in the theatre twice has always been a Really Big Deal for me.

As much as a year after it's release, friends were still coming up to me and saying, "Hey, I finally rented it on VHS last night because you won't shut up about it, and yeah, it's amazing."

So, yeah.  Because I haven't gushed about it in a while, check out The Iron Giant.  It's awesome.


Three's Company

I still pay for cable TV, and thanks to that, I sometimes stumble across come unexpected gems.  Like a particular rerun of Three's Company.  It was one of the episodes I remember most vividly from my youth.

Janet currently has the hots for this billionaire that frequents her flower shop.  He invites her to a party on his private island.  But, this billionaire has a lady companion with him.  Seeking to make him jealous, Janet invites Jack along.

Now, they have to get to this private island via private plane.  And Jack's afraid of flying.  So Jack decides to dose up on tranquilizers before the flight.  Which has the end result of Jack tripping balls by the time they get to the party.  Jack engages in all kinds of high shenanigans, climaxing in this spectacular drunken dance routine.  I tell you, it's an amazing dance number, and I think people have forgotten just what a wonderfully gifted physical comedian John Ritter was.

Anyway, Jack comes down from his high.  The billionaire's lady friend turns out to be his sister, so Janet hooks up with the billionaire and Jack hooks up with the billionaire's sister.  Happy endings all around!

I've now got that episode recorded on my PVR, marked with "never delete."  If I knew how to rip that dance sequence and post it to YouTube, I would.

Astro Boy

When I was off on vacation about a month ago, I fell down an Internet rabbit hole, and before I knew it, I was watching old clips of Astro Boy on YouTube.  There have been many Astro Boy adaptations over the years, but the one I grew up with was the 1980s series.  And I didn't know this, but for us North Americans, there's a whole lost episode.

One thing that never made sense about the cartoon was our big bad, Atlas, who's eventually revealed to be Astro's brother.  The explanation was that they were made from the same blueprints.  But, how can they be made from the same blueprints, when Astro is a little boy robot, and Atlas is a golden god robot?

Well, the lost episode explains that.  The blueprints for Astro were stolen by a master criminal, who then built Atlas to be the ultimate criminal robot.  And in this first appearance, Atlas did look like Astro, only blonde instead of dark-haired.

Turns out, though, having a master criminal for a surrogate father doesn't really work out in the superhero world.  Atlas finally had enough of his father/creator's BS and went all "Rise of the Machines," killing his father and getting critically damaged in the process.  Atlas rebuilt himself in the aftermath, and upgraded his body in the process, turning himself into the golden god robot that plagues Astro throughout the cartoon.

There you go.  A riddle that plagued 8-year old me, finally solved.  This episode was never released in North America because in North American cartoons, they generally frown on murder.  The 1980s series is hard to come by on DVD, with only the 2003 series being made widely available.



Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man: Far From Home was so good, you guys.  And it made me angry about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 again.  Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the textbook case of you DON'T build a franchise.  "Hey, people like that Green Goblin.  Let's get him back in there."  "Hey, let's kill Gwen Stacy, because that's something that happened in the comics."  "Hey, remember that 'mystery of Peter Parker's parents' plot that we abandoned 10 minutes into the last film?  Let's double down on that."  "Let's make Black Cat the Green Goblin's secretary, because maybe that'll be a Thing someday."

NO.  Stop.  You can't just throw all this crap on the screen to see what sticks.  The whole "mystery of Peter Parker's parents" is a prime example.  It was all over the ad campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man, and audiences were baffled when the plot was abandoned 10 minutes into the film.  Well, the studio mistook the audience's confusion for interest, which is what they decided to go in hard in the sequel.

At the end of the day, the story must come first.  Just give me a solid Spider-Man movie, without tossing a whole bunch of extra junk in there.  Which is what Spider-Man: Far From Home is.

Avengers vs. Justice League

Kind of building on the Spider-Man anger, let's talk about Justice League and Avengers: Endgame.  I think, with Endgame, we can finally retire the massive CGI battles that climax so many of these films these days.  Yeah, the giant CGI armies are cool, but with Endgame...we've followed pretty much everyone in that army of Avengers for the past 10 years.  So we know everyone in that army and they're stake in the battle.

Now, let's look at Justice LeagueJustice League opens with a massive battle where the armies of Man, the Amazons, and the Atlanteans all join together to drive the forces of Darkseid from the Earth.  And a Green Lantern is in there for some reason?  But we don't know anyone in that fight.  We kinda know that Amazons through Wonder Woman, we haven't met Aquaman yet, so we don't care about the Atlanteans.  It's just...meh.

DC was in such a rush to catch up with Marvel that they tried to open withe massive battle at the end of Endgame.  And we didn't care because we didn't know anyone in the fight.

As a friend summed up as I was ranting about this to him.  You can't just throw all this in and expected us to care.  A filmmaker's job is to make us care.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I'm jotting this down on August 15.  It's shown up in my social media feeds that today is the 11th anniversary of the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  I know some friends have worried that they might get burnt out on Star Wars, what with all the stuff that Disney is cranking out these days, and I sympathize, for I have been there.

As with every other Star Wars movie, I was there opening weekend for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  And I don't care how phenomenal the resulting series was, but the opening movie is not a good movie.  I mean, we all know it's not a real movie...it was the first four episodes of the series smooshed together.  As I went home from the theatre that night, I thought to myself, "Ya know what, Star Wars?  I think you and I...we need a break."

That's probably why I avoided the Clone Wars series for such a long time.  I finally binged it when it hit Netflix a few years back.  It was good, but I wasn't all, "OH MY GOD!  THIS IS THE BESTEST STAR WARS EVER!" like a lot of fans are.  And I wonder how much of that stems from the movie leaving such a bad taste in my mouth.

It's probably smart that Disney is planning to give Star Wars a rest after Rise of Skywalker hits this Christmas.  Last thing you want to do is burn out a whole generation, like how I got burnt out in the late-2000s.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Avatar (Again)

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch one of the movies I own and blog about it.  Easy as that.  This time out, I decided to take a second go-around at Avatar.  This is in my notes at May 12, 2019.





Thursday, August 08, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the drill...I watch a movie I own, then blog about this.  This time out, we're doing The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.  This is in my notes at May 11, 2019.





Thursday, August 01, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, in which I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  We're going back into my VHS tapes for today's entry, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.  This is in my  notes at May 5, 2019.