Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox Trailer

I'll never forget 2005, when two stop-motion animated films, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit came out at the same time. One of the animators was asked what he thought of two stop-motion animated films coming out at the same time, and his answer was, "At the very least, I hope it means we're keeping [stop motion animation] alive as a folk art."

And 2009 is getting notable in that in this year, we are getting two stop-motion animated films. The first one was Coraline, which came out at the start of the year. And now, at the end of the year, we're getting Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the class Roald Dahl book of the same name.

What really makes this one special is that it's the first animated film directed by Wes Anderson, the indie film auteur who gave the world The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and, most recently, The Darjeeling Limited.

Anderson began work on the film back in 2004. The original plan was for Anderson to be the director, with Henry Selick serving as animation director...that is, the director who is actually hands-on involved with the animation. (Anderson and Selick had previously collaborated on The Life Aquatic, where Selick and his team of animators provided all the stop-motion animated sea creatures.) But then, the studio that was originally making the film ran into problems, and Selick left the project to go direct Coraline. So, Anderson decided to direct the whole thing himself.

I haven't been able to dig up much on the actual production yet...I have heard that Anderson decided to record all the voice actors in natural settings. For example, if the characters are walking down a dirt road, Anderson actually got the actors to walk down a dirt road and recorded them reading the lines to each other. It was probably hell on the sound designers....

And the animation really does look...lower budget than Coraline. It looks kind of like one of those 15-minute long British children's shows.

This could be quite an interesting little film.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Toy Story & Toy Story 2 3D Trailer

This is something interesting that I thought I'd share. It's the trailer for the 3D special editions of Toy Story & Toy Story 2!

See, with Toy Story 3 being Pixar's blockbuster of next year, they decided to re-release the first two films to theatres as part of the hype. And since every animated movie is in 3D these days, they decided to re-master them into 3D.

The original plan was to release the 3D Toy Story in October, the 3D Toy Story 2 in March, and then Toy Story 3 in June. But some where along the way, they decided to mix things up. Now, this October, we're getting a double feature of the first two Toy Stories, with the new trailer for #3 premiering between them. You know, it's like Grindhouse for 10-year-olds.

And what is Disney now releasing in March to fill the void left by Toy Story 2? A 3D edition of Beauty and the Beast.

Ya know, the Toy Stories are the only Pixar films I've never seen in the theatre...I'm actually looking forward to this.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Some weeks, I can hardly wait before I sit down and record an episode of U62: The Targ. Others, I sit at the computer, wracking my brain for hours trying to come up with something worth saying. This week is definitley one of the latter.

Episode 2.41: Cat Days of Summer chronicles my experiences with Photoshop, I continue debating cellphone vs. BlackBerry, and I update you on my summer reading project.

Click here to listen!

Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Friday, July 24, 2009

"His name is Tron. He fights for the users."

Ah, at long last! This hit the San Diego Comic Con a year ago. This year, it was remastered in 3D and shown again, at a panel discussion on the making of this here film. Ladies and gentlemen, the long awaited sequel to Tron, entitled Tron Legacy.

My memory gets fuzzy going that far back, but Tron may very well be the first movie I ever saw. I was in the second grade. My school principal, Mr. Stelter, had this tradition where, once a year, he'd call an assembly, and in this assembly, we'd watch his favourite movie, The Apple Dumpling Gang. I forget why I missed that assembly in the first grade, but I was looking forward to it in the second grade. So when the day came, and the assembly was called, Mr. Stelter announced that he wasn't able to get The Apple Dumpling Gang that year, so instead, we'd be watching another Disney movie, Tron.

And it was good. For the rest of that summer, my BMX was a light cycle and frisbees were those Tron discs.

Rumors of some form of Tron sequel or remake have been circulating ever since I discovered the Internet and started using it to track down movie news. The earliest one had to be 1998 or so, when it was rumored that Pixar -- yes, the makers of Toy Story and Wall-E and this summer's smash hit Up -- would be doing a 100% computer animated remake of Tron. That story turned out to be 100% bullplop.

Disney finally got around to releasing a 2-disc super-special edition DVD in 2002, in time for the film's 20th anniversary. The disc featured extensive interviews with the writer/director/creator of Tron, Steven Lisberger, and Lisberger showed off some concept art for a project dubbed Tron 2.0. The DVD even had a teaser for something called Tron: Killer App. Would this be our long awaited Tron sequel?

Well, Tron 2.0 and Tron: Killer App turned out to be the PC game Tron 2.0. Positive reviews, but sluggish sales of the game kind of made Disney lose interest in pursuing a theatrical film.

A few rumors popped over the years. Around 2006 or so, the announcement was that Disney was pursuing a remake, done to be more contemporary and work in more contemporary computer concepts like the Internet. And then it just kind of faded away....

Until last year. Disney showed that above footage at the San Diego Comic Con last year as a special bonus at the end of their panel, and all hell broke loose. The Internet went ablaze with news that a Tron sequel was on the way.

Yeah, that above footage isn't a trailer, exactly. It's a test reel...a proof-of-concept...a thingie done by the filmmakers to show what a contemporary Tron would look like. It was directed by a veteran commercial director named Joseph Kosinski, who immediately announced as the director of this new Tron film. Jeff Bridges, star of the original Tron, was convinced to come back and reprise his character of Kevin Flynn, an ace computer program who gets sucked into a computer, has to do battle with a villainous A.I., and finds an ally in a computer program named Tron.

The sequel began filming in Vancouver back in April. In addition to Bridges coming back as Flynn, Bruce Boxleitner is back as Tron, and Tron's real-world counterpart, computer programmer Alan Bradley. New characters include Garret Hedlund as Flynn's son Sean, John Hurt as the new villain, and Olivia Wilde as a new program who helps our heroes.

As already mentioned, it's being directed by Joseph Kosinski. Steven Lisberger, the creator of the entire Tron universe, is on-board as a producer. Electronica artists Daft Punk are composing the music.

From what little I've gleamed, the plot is something like this. Based on his adventures in computer world, Kevin Flynn created some advancements in computers that made him a legend in the computer community. But then, he mysteriously disappeared in 1989. Now, 20 years later, Flynn's son Sean finds some new evidence as to what happened to his father. Sean embarks on a quest to find his father, that eventually leads him into the computer world....

It hits theatres next year. If it comes out late June/early July, I think I know what my birthday movie is going to be.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

You're going to have to thank my best friend for this one. Here I was, all exhausted from a week at my day job, ready to skip doing a podcast this week. Then I got an e-mail from my best friend. "Really looking forward to the Targ this week!" So I figured, just for him, I should do one.

Hence this week's episode, Episode 2.40: By Request. In this one, I monologue about Weird Al's new song and my summer reading project.

You're going to be hearing a lot more monologues in the podcast in the weeks ahead. I'm trying something new. I don't know if you've noticed, but most podcasts are talk radio. And my best friend is starting to wonder why I play songs in mine and don't just rant more. So I'm going to try to just rant more. Exciting times!

Click here to listen!

Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Hey! Back on Tuesday, "Weird Al" Yankovic released his latest song! Here it is...a little ditty called Skipper Dan.

As with all others in his "Internet Leaks" project, it's already available at iTunes and many other MP3 retailers.

My thoughts on this one? This one is more "funny/sad" than "funny/ha ha." It's always weird to get some pathos out of a Weird Al tune. But it's got a great beat that just kind of gets stuck in your head.

I like it...but don't love it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Women's Ski Jumping: Still Not in the Olympics

Wow, did I really blog about this over a year ago? It seems much closer....

Anyway, the story. A group of empassioned women's ski jumpers have been trying hard to make women's ski jumping an Olympic sport. I first blogged about it, as I said, over a year ago. Let me do some digging...ah! Here's my original blog entry.

To fill in the gap from my last blog entry, this group of women's ski jumpers decided to sue VANOC, the organizing committee of the 2010 Winter Olympics, citing that it was sexual discrimination and thus a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. VANOC's defense was that they answer to the International Olympic Committee, not the federal or provincial governments, so the Charter doesn't apply. The supreme court...sided with VANOC.

What more we missed in the past year: Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said that there are very few women's ski jumpers in the world, and that to make it an Olympic sport would "dilute the winners." The women countered that there are many Olympic sports that have far fewer competitors than women's ski jumping. The IOC points to their rules that say, before being considered an Olympic sport, you had to have held at least two world championships in that sport. The first women's ski jumping world championship was earlier this year. The women counter that that criteria was waved from the IOC regulations in 2007.

My opinion: it's starting to look like getting women's ski jumping into the 2010 Winter Olympics is a bit of a lost cause. Time to regroup and focus your efforts on getting them into the 2014 games!

Here's the CBC's story.

And, for a chuckled, courtesy of Cracked.com, here's what women's ski jumping has to compete with to become an Olympic sport.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Amidala in Thor

Alright, let me share the big movie news from yesterday.

Natalie Portman has joined the cast of the upcoming movie version of the classic Marvel comic character Thor.

Portman will be playing Jane Foster, a nurse (and occasional love interest) employed by Dr. Donald Blake. Blake, of course, is the human alter-ego of Thor.

The strange thing is, according to those in the know, Donald Blake actually doesn't come into play in the movie version of Thor. Thor is Thor for the whole movie. So how they'll adjust the character relationship remains to be seen.

As previously announced, Chris Hemsworth, last seen playing Captain Kirk's dad in Star Trek, will be playing Thor, and Tom Hiddleston, will be playing Thor's arch-enemy Loki. Kenneth Branagh, still best known for his Shakespeare adaptations, is directing.

They start filming early next year for a May 2011 release!

Monday, July 13, 2009

River Rats 2009!

Alrightie, gang, here we go, it's my most ambitious YouTube video to date! It's a two-parter!

And it chronicles Athabasca's always-awesome Magnificent River Rats Festival.

So please, enjoy The Magnificent River Rats Festival 2009 (Part 1)!

And the exciting conclusion, the Magnificent River Rats Festival 2009 (Part 2)!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

And we're back! Sorry there was no episode last week...I went home for Entwistle's centennial celebrations, and I never got around to producing an episode in advance.

And I tell you all about it in this week's episode, Episode 2.39: Bitrex. I unleash my pent up bitterness at turning 32, I give you my uncensored comments on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and we also chat about fast foods of the world.

Click here to listen!

Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Deadpool is Green Lantern!

It broke late on my movie gossip websites last night that Ryan Reynolds has entered into final negotiations to play Hal Jordan, the best-known carrier of the mantel of Green Lantern.

Reynolds, of course, is no stranger to the superhero genre. He's still on the big screen right now playing Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He was the vampire slayer Hannibal King in Blade: Trinity. And back when David S. Goyer, co-writer of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, was attached to do a movie version of The Flash, Goyer frequently mentioned his desire to have Reynolds play Wally West.

The movie version of Green Lantern is being directed by Martin Campbell, who directed the two Zorro films (Mask of... and Legend of...) and the two James Bond films GoldenEye and Casino Royale.

They want to start filming in January for a Summer 2011 release.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Teriyaki McBurger!


I saw a commercial for McDonald's on TV last night!


Oh...oh...no wait. I'm jumping the gun, here. It's a special "Teriyaki Quarter Pounder," "Teriyaki McChicken," and "Teriyaki Chicken Wrap." Cool nonetheless, but still not a true Teriyaki McBurger.

For those who never studied McDonald's around the world, the Teriyaki McBurger is one of McDonald's signature sandwiches in Japan. Made with pork instead of beef, the pork pattie is slathered with teriyaki sauce, and topped with shredded lettuce and a dollop of mayo. I ate a lot of them when I was in Japan....

I had my first one in June of 2002, on my third or fourth day. A couple of us in our teacher training went down to McDonald's for dinner, and I ordered one. It was my first McDonald's meal in Japan. One of my fellow trainees said, "Dude, you're actually trying one?" and I said, "If I wanted a Big Mac, I would have stayed home."

I had my last one on my final day in Japan...it was officially my final meal in Japan. I had just checked in at the Tokyo Airport, had about an hour to kill before my flight home to Canada, and as I was wandering around the airport, I stumbled across a McDonald's kiosk. And I thought, "This'll probably be the last time in a long time I'll be able to have a Teriyaki McBurger." So I ordered one. And thanks to the multi-lingual staff at the airport, is the only one I've ever been able to order by speaking English.

I don't want to sample foods of the world, I want to sample fast foods of the world. Is that a wrong-headed goal? And I'm not talking about Teriyaki McBurgers and McDonald's that serve beer...I'm talking about fast food chains found only in other countries, like British chip shops and the like.

It'll be a trip of a lifetime, but I'll probably die of clogged arteries halfway through.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Revenge of the Fallen Review is Here!

Took a week, but my full review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is finally ready!

Read it here!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Blogworthy DVD Announcements

So I was perusing through some upcoming DVD releases, and one in particular caught my eye.

Ally McBeal: The Complete First Season and Ally McBeal: The Complete Series are both coming on October 6.

This is quite surprising because it was thought for the longest time that Ally McBeal would never be released on DVD. Why? Because the music clearance fees would be astronomical.

A little more backstory is required here. As you all know, it's quite popular to stick current hit music in TV shows. However, that becomes a bitch when it comes time to release that show on DVD, because a music clearance fee (i.e. royalties) need to be paid to the artists. And more often than not, the music clearance fees are so high, that it makes television producers give pause, take a second look at the budget, and go, "We can't afford that."

There are many ways to get around this. The most common way is to remove the song from the sound mix, and replace it with a cheaper soundalike. A good example is House. The producers use the song Teardrop by Massive Attack as the opening theme. They couldn't afford it for DVDs, so on the complete season DVDs, they use...a cheaper soundalike!

Of course, this method does have its detractors. For Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season, several songs were replaced with cheaper soundalikes, and several fans screamed bloody murder, as the cheaper soundalikes wound up ruining the moods of the scenes.

There's also the worst-case scenario, which is the producers could simply completely edit out the scene where the song is used. An example of that is WKRP in Cincinnati: Season One, which edited out some scenes. Some fans said the episodes were incredibly badly butchered. However, series creator Hugh Wilson did say he was "satisfied" with the effort.

And hence the surprise that Ally McBeal is finally coming to DVD. The show used popular songs in just about every episode, usually 3 or 4, so it's long been assumed that Ally McBeal would simply be too expensive to release on DVD.

But now, with it's October 6 release, it's going to be interesting to see how the episodes had to be changed. Whatever the case, some of the originally music will doubtlessly be used, in which case, Vonda Shepard will probably make out like a bandit.

And hey! Another DVD announcement that I wanted to share.

Warner Brothers finally released all the official details on their next DC Universe straight-to-DVD animated film, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.

For those who don't remember, let me refresh your memory on the plot. A giant kryptonite meteor is heading towards the Earth and could wipe out all life as we know it. President Lex Luthor decides to turn this negative into a positive: he blames the whole thing on Superman and Batman, declares them Public Enemies #1 and #2, and puts a $1 billion bounty on their heads. Superman and Batman are then on the run from the government-sanctioned superheroes ordered to bring them in and bounty hunting supervillains, while they work to clear their names, stop the meteor, and bring down Luthor. It's based on the storyline from the Batman/Superman comic book.

Anyway, the big announcement had to do with the voice cast. Kevin Conroy, who's been voicing Batman since Batman: The Animated Series, will be back voicing Batman. Clancy Brown, who's been voicing Lex Luthor since Superman: The Animated Series, will be back voicing Lex Luthor. And Tim Daly, who voiced Superman on Superman: The Animated Series, will be back voicing Superman.

Anyway, it'll be available in single-disc movie-only editions, a 2-disc special edition, and Blu-Ray.

2-disc special edition bonus features:
- Preview of the next DC animated movie, which is TBA at this time.
- A featurette on The Blackest Night, which is DC Comic's big event storyline for this year.
- a featurette on the many Superman/Batman team-ups that have happened over the years.
- 2 episodes of Justice League, selected by Bruce Timm.

And it might be time to spring for Blu-Ray. In addition to all that, on the Blu-Ray you also get:

- a featurette about the voice cast. (This is the first time that Conroy, Daly, and Brown have worked together since the 1990s, so it's quite awesome.)
- 4 episodes of Justice League, chosen by Bruce Timm.

It all comes out September 29!

And I should say that this is really the next next DC animated film. The next one is Green Lantern: First Flight, coming out at the end of this month.

Friday, July 03, 2009

More Dumb Movies on the Way

*sigh* You know, some people in Hollywood are taking the concept of snatching up an established property and adapting it for the big screen just a little too far.

Remember the old Atari game Asteroids? Here's a clip from the game:

Yeah, they're turning that into a movie. Universal Studios just picked up the movie rights. Lorenzo diBonaventure, the producer who supervised the big screen adaptations of Transformers and G.I. Joe, is doing the same thing for Asteroids. Matthew Lopez, who wrote Disney's recent re-make of Race to Witch Mountain, is writing a script. No word yet on when it's hitting theatres.

But that's not all! Speaking of classic toys coming to the big screen, it was also announced that they'll be making a big movie version of...View-Master.

That's right...View-Master.

Brad Caleb Kane, who writs for the TV show Fringe, is writing the script. Roberto Orci and Alec Kurtzman, the big-name writers who wrote Star Trek and the two Transformers are producing.

If it's not in 3D, I'll be very disappointed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"My Thoughts on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" or "Yes, I Would Like Some Cheese With My Whine."

If there's one geek stereotype I've tried to avoid, it's the whiny fanboy. That being said, I'd like to apologize for what you're about to read.

I just got home from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

I have issues with it.

My big number one issue is how Michael Bay chose to portray my childhood heroes. Optimus Prime. Ironhide. Sideswipe. The Autobots as a whole. They are iconic characters to a generation. That's the key word there: characters. They are people...granted, 50-foot tall metal people, but living breathing people nonetheless.

But Michael Bay treats them as nothing but hardware...big shiny things that point big guns that go boom. There's no character development with them, we don't learn anything about them, hell, they hardly even speak!

Arcee is in this film. Arcee! Yay! Iconic for being the token female Autobot. Blink and you'll miss her. She only has two lines. I know because I counted.

These characters are more than just military machines, but military machines are all they're treated as.

In fact, a good way to look at this is like a Godzilla movie. We all know in a Godzilla movie the main appeal is watching the giant monsters slug it out. Same as with Michael Bay's Transfomers. The appeal is watching the giant robots do battle. But they have to reload some time, so while that happens, we focus on the humans, and rely on them to advance the plot. The big question in the Godzilla movies is, "How do you make the human characters interesting?" Michael Bay's answer was, "Make them as annoying as FUCK!"

Sam's mom eating some pot-laced brownies and getting high on a college campus...it's as bad as you've heard. Sam's new roommate, the geek who constantly screams "WE'RE GONNA DIE!" It makes my brain hurt.

I fully understand the need for comic relief. But they chose to go with bad comedy...men in thongs, dogs humping legs, stuff like that. There's at least five "dog humping" jokes. Dogs humping dogs, dogs humping legs, dogs humping robots, robots humping legs. WE GET IT!!

And when they're not being annoying, the humans fare about as well as the robots. No character moments...no conversations between them that turn them into people. Like this. Remember the first movie? Megan Fox's dad is all in prison cuz he was a car thief? Well, in this movie, he's out of prison, and they have a father/daughter auto shop business. The two of them are just...there. They don't even ATTEMPT the obvious...which would be some kind of father/daughter reconciliation scene. Nope, the dad has about two lines, and Megan Fox just stands around looking hot. We get it. Megan Fox is hot. At least ATTEMPT to have her do something! God, at least strippers get to dance. Megan Fox doesn't even get to do that.

And the Autobots named Mudflap and Skids. The centre of all the controversy right now. Every negative wannabe gangsta stereotype rolled into two Autobots. Dubbed by some as "Car Car Binks." Not much more I can add to what's already been said. Well, one thing. Perhaps one good thing. Because of all the coverage they've been getting, I was expecting them to be much more...prominent in the film. The good thing is they're not there as much as I thought they'd be.

There's only one real character moment...one scene that gave me goosebumps. Megatron, Starscream, and the Fallen, all on the burnt-out remains of Cybertron, plotting their next move and explaining the Decepticon's mission. We get to know Megatron, we get to know Starscream, we get to know the villain's motivation...a few more scenes like that and a lot less humping jokes and we might have had a movie.

Enough negativity. What I liked: spectacular fight scenes. ILM once again brought their A-game. Great action scenes. Enough name-checking of Transformers lore to make me smile...space bridges, the Matrix, etc.

But great fight scenes and randomly tossed-out references do not a good movie make.

2 out of 4 nibs.

Proper review coming soon.