Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Once More, With Batman

Being the Batman geek that I am, I occasionally take the time to sit down and watch Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The latest Batman cartoon is a more lighthearted and Silver Age take on the character, providing as many laughs as high-flying adventure. And, taking its cues from the comic book it's named after, each episode features Batman teaming up with another DC character...usually, some third-stringer who had yet to be portrayed in animation. So it can get really geek-tacular.

Recently, they aired an episode entitled "Mayhem of the Music Meister!" The Music Meister is an original villain created for the show. His power is that he can hypnotize people through his song, and is thus out to conquer the world. Naturally, with a power like that, the writers on the show had an excuse to go all "Once More, With Feeling" and do a musical episode.

The mainstream entertainment media has been geeking out over this episode, mainly because of special guest villain Neil Patrick Harris as the Music Meister. Apparently, no one knew that Harris could sing like that. Apparently, no one remembered that Harris was in the Broadway cast of Rent.

I want to take a moment to geek out about the other powerhouse singer in the episode. In order to defeat the Music Meister, Batman teams up with the legendary DC hero Black Canary. On the show, Black Canary is voice by voice actress Grey DeLisle.

Once upon a time, about a couple years ago, I was googling the names of voice actors in an attempt to learn more about them. (Being a geek who loves cartoons, it's how I frequently kill a rainy afternoon.) I entered DeLisle's name into a search engine, and discovered that voice acting is just her day job. By night, she's a country music singer, and had released a couple of indie albums a few years ago. One critic described her voice as a "Goth-infused Dolly Parton," and with a description like that, you could colour me curious. My next online visit was Amazon.com, where I bought her album Iron Flowers. It's a really good album...very classic country music, more bluegrass in flavour, and I still listen to it quite a bit.

So I'm really glad that she finally got this mainstream exposure, and here's hoping she releases another album soon. (Iron Flowers is her most recent, and it came out in 2005.)

Here she is from "Mayhem of the Music Meister!" singing "If Only," a Disney Princess-ish ballad where sings of her love for Batman:

Here she is, singing live, one of my favourite songs off Iron Flowers, "The Bloody Bucket:"

Hey! And here she is on New Zealand television talking about being a superstar voice actress:

I guess all I'm trying to say here is Grey DeLisle is awesome.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another New Burger Family Member

So, it was around a year ago, that A&W rocked our world by introducing a new member to the Burger Family, the Sirloin Uncle Burger.

Hey! Here's my original blog entry on the Uncle Burger.

Anyway, with a lot less fanfare, A&W introduced yet another long-lost member of the Burger Family...two members to be specific. Ladies and gentlemen, it's the Sirloin Baby Burger Twins!

Packed inside this foil bag are two bite-sized cheeseburgers with two bite-sized sirloin patties on them.

Their OK. They're kind of bland. These are basic cheeseburgers. Just cheese on them...no ketchup, no secret sauce, no nothin'.

However, they are small enough that they make a handy snack.

Sadly, though, the Mozza Burger is still not welcome as a member of the Burger Family. I still say we lobby to make the Mozza Burger the "Cute-Cousin-You'd-Sleep-With-If-You-Weren't-Related Burger."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Movie Reviews For You!

Alright, I saw some movies over the weekend and I finally reviewed them!

I saw Astro Boy and Where the Wild Things Are!

Click here to read the reviews!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Not gonna lie...you almost didn't get an episode of U62: The Targ this week. Real life got in the way, so I wound up throwing this together really late at night, almost like the ol' college radio days.

Episode 3.06: Quick 'n Dirty tells you why I was so darn busy. Rare film scores are purchases, and movies are reviewed!

Try it...today!

Click here to listen!

Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Little Bit o' Movie News

I feel like I've been neglecting ol' bloggy here for the past few days. No real reason...just, quite literally, nothing to write home about. But I feel like writing some stuff anyway, so let's do it.

So, let's see. A lot of classics from my childhood are coming to the big screen. We've had G.I. Joe, we've had Transformers...what's next?

How about The A-Team?

Yup, the movie version of The A-Team is now filming for a June 11, 2010 release. And today, we had our first picture of the cast!

So, who is the new A-Team? From left to right we have:

Bradley Cooper, star of the sleeper hit of the summer The Hangover, as Templeton "Face" Pack.

UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as BA Barracus.

Sharlton Copely, star of the hit summer film District 9, as "Howlin' Mad" Murdock.

And, rounding out the team, none other than Qui-Gon Jinn himself, Liam Neeson as John "Hannibal" Smith.

Not pictured is Jessica Beal as Amy Allen. They changed the character of Amy for the movie. In the early seasons of the show, she was a plucky reporter who frequently assisted the A-Team. In the movie, she's the hard-ass MP with the task of bringing in the A-Team...and one of Face's many ex-girlfriends.

The director is Joe Carnahan, who brought us such fine action films as Narc and Smokin' Aces. Ridley Scott, who brought us such classics as Alien and Gladiator is producing.

This could be good.

And in another bit of industry news, Nickelodeon, the children's TV network in the USA, bought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

Nickelodeon's plans for the franchise include a new cartoon (computer animated of course) and a new movie (live action of course). It'll all be coming in 2012.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Sorry there was no new episode of U62: The Targ last week. I went home for Thanksgiving and forgot to do a new episode in advance. But that's OK, we're back, and it's back to my ravings.

Episode 3.05: Sunny Skies in the Afternoon is all about James Bond, Where the Wild Things Are, and Toy Story 3.

Give it a spin!

Click here to listen!

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Morning Straight to DVD Cartoons

Wow. This is kind of weird. But in a way, nice and nostalgic.

For those who don't keep up on such things, 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. There's been all kinds of celebratory stuff going on, from re-prints of the old comics, special storylines in the new comics, and even the movies getting some fancy Blu-Ray special editions.

And now, the cartoons are celebrating.

Coming soon to your favourite DVD emporium is the direct-to-video animated film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Forever. Thanks to some multiple earths style hi-jinks, this film features the current day animated Ninja Turtles teaming up with the 1980s animated Ninja Turtles! A clip just surfaced online.

My only complaint? It sure doesn't sound like the original 1980s voice cast. Sounds like they got the current voice cast to impersonate the original voice cast. But still, seeing those original character designs, takes me back to my misspent youth.

No word yet on when it hits DVD, but it will air on the CW network on Saturday morning, November 15.

And speaking of straight-to-DVD movies, a surprising announcement out of the WB/DC direct-to-DVD movie camp.

You know Superman/Batman: Public Enemies that I've been raving about all month?

It's getting a sequel! It is officially the first of the WB/DC DTV films that's getting a direct sequel.

No word yet on when Superman/Batman 2 will be hitting store shelves, or which classic Superman/Batman team-up they'll use for a basis. If I had to guess? It'll come out next year some time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The New Slinky Dog Is....

So one of the big questions that me and my fellow Pixar fanboys have been wondering is, "Who's doing the voice of Slinky Dog in Toy Story 3?" You're probably even wondering why this is an issue.

Well, in the first two Toy Story films, Slinky Dog was voiced by Jim Varney, still best-known to a generation of children as Ernest P. Worrell. Varney passed away from lung cancer back in 2000. Voicing Slinky Dog in Toy Story 2 was among his final film roles.

So today, it was announced that the new voice of Slinky Dog is...Blake Clark. Clark is a stand-up comic and a real "that guy" actor. You know what I mean...the type of actor where he pops up in dozens of supporting roles and makes you go, "Hey! It's that guy!" Clark has done a lot of Adam Sandler films...you may remember him as Farmer Fran in The Waterboy. If you watched a lot of Home Improvement back in the day, you may remember him as Harry, the owner of Tim the Tool Man's favourite corner hardware store.

Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich says that Blake Clark was actually a friend of Jim Varney's and Clark considers taking on this role to be a great honour.

Another member of the Toy Story 3 voice cast announced today is Kristen Schaal. Schaal is a cast member of the hit comedy series Flight of the Conchords and also a correspondent on The Daily Show. No word yet on who she's voicing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Toy Story 3 Trailer!

Here is it, the new trailer for Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3! This has been in theatres in front of the Toy Story double-feature, but now it's officially online!

So this is our first trailer giving us some hint at the plot. Looks like the rumors are true: it does deal with Woody, Buzz and the rest of Andy's toys realizing that they are nearing the end of their time. And having followed the development of the Toy Story films, the concept of being left behind in a daycare centre traces all the way back to the very first draft of the Toy Story script dated 1992! Neat-o.

And I like the bit with Buzz being reset and going back to thinking he's a real Space Ranger. I remember listening to the running commentary on Toy Story 2. Director John Lasetter said that part of the fun of the first Toy Story was deluded Buzz, and they wanted to bring back deluded Buzz for the sequel. In Toy Story 2, the approach they took was Buzz being replaced with a brand-new Buzz in the toy store. Looks like in #3, they decided to do it by pressing Buzz's reset button...both literally and figuratively.

All in all, it's looking good! Godspeed, Pixar!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Review

Wow! I can't believe it took me so long to rip this out of the shrink wrap and pop it in the DVD player. It's time to sit back and check out the latest Warner Brothers/DC Comics direct-to-DVD animated epic....

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Directed by Sam Liu

Starring the voices of Clancy Brown, Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Alison Mack, Xander Berkley, Ricardo Chavira, John C. McGinley, LeVar Burton, and CCH Pounder.

Backstory: Ya know, out of all these DTV movies they've been pumping out, my gold standard is still The Batman/Superman Movie. When it comes to character moments between the top two of the DC universe, that is still the ultimate in cool. So an epic Batman/Superman team-up could be so fantastic if done right. Of course, one of the big selling points of this one was the fact that they reunited the main voice cast from The Batman/Superman Movie who are, in fact, the main voice cast from the heyday of the 1990's toons: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tim Daly as Superman, and Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor. And throw in some great source material. This DTV film is based on the same-named graphic novel, which I've never read, but I always find myself leafing through it at the bookstore. This movie might finally encourage me to read it. All in all, there was a lot of good stuff going into this movie. Would it pay off?

Plot: Lex Luthor got himself elected President of the United States of America. And, under his watch, the world has become a better place. Crime is down. Poverty is down. Employment is up. And he's even brought several superheroes into the federal government to work for the people. But there's one notable person who will not work for the office of the President: Superman, who still thinks that Luthor is up to something. When a giant meteor made of kryptonite is spotted heading towards the Earth, Luthor makes one last effort to bring Superman into the federal fold. But instead, it turns out to be an ambush, and Superman is soon framed for the murder of his old enemy Metallo. Luthor says the massive kryptonite meteor is turning Superman into a mentally deranged lunatic, and places a $1 billion bounty on Superman's head. There's only one man who can help Superman now...his BFF, the Dark Knight himself, Batman. So Superman and Batman are soon on the run from government-sanctioned superheroes and bounty-hunting supervillains as they try to clear Superman's name, save the world from the meteor, and uncover Luthor's true plot.

What I Liked: This movie is just one massive brawl. So many C-list supervillains come out of the woodwork that I had trouble recognizing them all. If you like watching gigantic superhero throw-downs, then this is right up your alley. And the dialogue...the banter between Superman and Batman is priceless. So perfect, so in character, and so funny.

What I Didn't Like: I was a little disappointed that Power Girl didn't have much to do in her animated debut. She doesn't kick much ass...she spends a lot of time standing around being conflicted. Tim Daly's voice acting as Superman was also a little flat in the beginning, like he needed time to get back into the groove. And the editing seemed somewhat abrupt. It did feel like some lines, and even an entire scene, was missing at one point.

Final Assessment: Despite my reservations, this did hit all my right geek buttons in terms of the Superman and Batman portrayals and the super-brawling. This is my second favourite of the franchise. #1 is still Wonder Woman.

3.5 Nibs

Bonus Materials: This disc is available in single-disc movie only version, 2-disc special edition, and Blu-Ray. I have the 2-disc special edition. For bonus features, you get the trailers for all the other DTV films, a featurette on this year's DC comics epic crossover, 2 episodes of Superman: The Animated Series featuring team-ups with Batman, and a sneak peak at the next film, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. There's also two really unique featurettes. The first one is called A Test of Minds: Superman and Batman, in which some comic experts and psychologists analyze Batman and Superman and figure out why they work so well. The second one is Dinner with DCU and Special Guest Kevin Conroy, in which Kevin "the voice of Batman" Conroy and several members of the creative team sit down, have lunch, and reminisce about the good ol' days of Batman: The Animated Series.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Woody & Buzz & Wolverine & James Bond

I hate going into Edmonton on Sunday.

I usually go in on Saturdays. My job has me programmed to get up early. I'm at 7, on the road by 8, I hit Edmonton right at 10, just as all the stores open. Bing, bang, boom, I get all my shopping done. Have lunch, catch a movie at 1, get home in time for supper.

But this weekend, I couldn't go in on Saturday because the job called me away. Nope, I had to go in on Sunday. On Sundays, nothing in Edmonton opens until noon. So I get in at around 11, have lunch, catch my movie, and go shopping afterwords just as things are super-crowded. I wind up getting home later than I want. It's just a longer day.

Especially if you run into crazies. While at Best Buy, getting my DVDs, one stoner started yelling out that Best Buy's DVDs are "cheaper than whores in Thailand."


But what, pray tell, was so important that I had to go into Edmonton on a Sunday? Well, right now, in theatres, for a limited 2-week engagement, is the 3D special edition double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Now, the Toy Stories are the only Pixar films that I've never seen in the theatre, so I knew this would be chance.

I don't think I'll do a full review of these films for the website, because we've all already seen them about a dozen times. No need to rehash what we've gone over a dozen times before. All I can say is I still love them. The grand climax of Toy Story 2, where Woody rides to the rescue chasing down that airplane? Still gets me all goosebumpy.

That being said, I'm still not sold on the whole 3D thing. Putting the films in 3D didn't really add anything new. Showing them as a double feature though, that was a stroke of genius. I mean, they're both short movies, only 1.5h each. Watching them as a double feature is just 3h long...as long as, say, Titanic or Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

So it was really good.

But as I said, I was on a quest to get some DVDs. I was after the 2-disc special edition of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yeah, I thought it was kind of weak, but hey, I must have the complete X-Men franchise in my collection.

Now I was all worried. They're starting to put out the 2-disc special editions in fewer numbers, so that way you'll buy the Blu-Ray instead. And with Wolverine having been out for a couple of weeks now, I was afraid that the 2-disc special edition would be all sold out by the time I arrived.

"Oh, well," I thought. "I could always buy it at HMV." Granted, HMV still tends to have the best selection, but they make you pay for it. When it comes to new releases, I've noticed that they tend to run at leas $5 more than Best Buy or Future Shop. I was certain that HMV would have it, but would I want to pay more?

So, after the film, I was browsing through HMV, I saw it on the shelf and thought, "There it is, right in front of me. What the hell, let's get it."

The other big DVD on my list today was the latest Warner Brothers/DC Comics direct-to-DVD animated film, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. As I've done with the other direct-to-DVD films, I'll have a complete review later in the week.

And then, I made a lucky strike in the discount bin!

When I first started with this DVD thing, I set a little goal for myself. Like a lot of guys, I enjoy the James Bond films, but I didn't really want to buy the box sets and get all 20+ films. So I said that I would only get my favourite films with each Bond actor. So, to represent Sean Connery, I got Goldfinger. To represent Roger Moore, I have The Spy Who Loved Me. For Timothy Dalton, I have The Living Daylights, and Pierce Brosnan is represented with Tomorrow Never Dies. Daniel Craig is just starting out, so right now, I only have Casino Royale.

But I was left in a bit of a pickle. To complete my collection, I still needed the lone George Lazenby Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It hasn't been available outside of a boxed set for at least the past five years.

So, there I was today in Wal-Mart, and what was floating on the top of the discount bin but the long out-of-print, outside-of-a-boxed-set edition of On Her Majesty's Secret Service!

Only $5 out of that discount bin. $5.25, including GST. And, lo and behold, in my pocket, was five loonies and a quarter. It's the first-ever DVD I've bought with nothing but pocket change.

So I'm going to be watching a lot of DVDs on this upcoming Thanksgiving weekend!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

I'm not going to lie to you. I have many episodes of U62: The Targ where I just go through the paces. This is one such week.

Episode 3.04: Paper Trail just complies some miscellaneous rants about the 2016 Olympics, getting a haircut, and fast food secrets.


Click here to listen!

Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Rio 2016

Hey! Since I am fascinated by all things Olympics, I should take a minute to acknowledge the big Olympic story of the day.

Congradulations to Rio de Janeiro, which was awarded the Summer Olympics for 2016! It's the first time ever the Olympics will be heading to South America. And apparently, that came up in the final pitches. Giving their final speeches, the president of Brazil went, "COME ON! We know how it works. The pattern goes Europe, North America, Asia, and repeat. It's time to let South America in. COME ON!" Of course, he used more professional, political language.

The also-rans were Chicago, Tokyo, and Madrid. Chicago was the odds-on favourite, what with both US President Barack Obama and Chicago's favourite daughter Oprah Winfrey both lobbying in person for Chicago to get the games. But it all fell apart, meaning late night talk show hosts are going to have some fodder for the next few days.

So, to recap, here's where all the Olympics are going to be held over the next decade:

2010 Winter Olympics - Vancouver, BC, Canada
2012 Summer Olympics - London, England, UK
2014 Winter Olympics - Sochi, Russia
2016 Summer Olympics - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Thursday, October 01, 2009

New DreamWorks Holiday Specials

Ya know, I don't want to rag on DreamWorks Animation a lot, but if there's one thing that I've done that I truly hate, it's how they've turned animated films into over-exposed franchises. I mean, do we really need four Shrek films? However, they do occasionally do some good work, and that needs to be acknowledged, but they are once again trying to create franchises out of stuff that doesn't look franchise-ready.

As part of their expanding franchises, they're really starting to tackle the old realm of the holiday special. Based on the success of their Shrek Christmas special, Shrek the Halls, it was just announced that, this year, we're getting a Monsters vs. Aliens Halloween special and a Madagascar Christmas special.

So, Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space will be airing on October 28. Taking place after the first film, those dasterdly aliens try to invade once again using mutant pumpkins, and so it's up to the monsters to repel the alien invaders. It reunites the entire voice cast from the movie, including Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogan, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnet, and Keifer Sutherland.

Merry Madagascar takes place between the first and second films. When Santa Claus crash-lands on Madagascar, the animals figure they can use Santa's sleigh to get themselves back to New York City. But, Santa's got amnesia, so the animals decide to finish his run, get caught up in the spirit of giving, and yes, they save Christmas. Also, we learn that those famous Madagascar penguins don't get along too well with Santa's reindeer. The logic? The North Pole and the South Pole have kind of a Calgary/Edmonton thing going on. Once again, the entire voice cast from the film is back, including Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, and David Schwimmer. That hits the airwaves on November 17.

And doing the Wikipedia links for this article, I see that DreamWorks is also working on a Shrek Halloween special, a Kung Fu Panda Christmas special, and a Bee Movie Halloween Special.

Make it stop!