Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, December 31, 2010

Movie Review: Family Guy Presents It's a Trap!

Well, you know me, I always like to sit down at the ol' blog and write up a review of the latest straight-to-DVD animated film I just bought for my DVD library.  So let's get down to finishing up Family Guy's spoof of the Star Wars trilogy....

Family Guy presents It's a Trap!

Directed by Peter Shin

Starring the voices of Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry, Dee Bradley Baker, Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Carrie Fisher, Rush Limbaugh and Mary Hart.

Backstory:  So, about three years ago, to commemerate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, Family Guy produced the special episode Blue Harvest, which was a scene-for-scene spoof of A New Hope.  The success of that led to last year's release of Something Something Something Dark Side, which was their shot-for-shot spoof of Empire Strikes Back.  Well, if the jokes in this third installment are to be believed, the creators of Family Guy figured that they were done with this and they couldn't come up with any more Star Wars jokes, but the bosses at 20th Century Fox pretty much demanded that they do a spoof of Return of the Jedi to finish off the trilogy.  And that brings us to It's a Trap!, their shot-for-shot spoof of Episode VI. 

Plot:  Do I really need to go over this?  I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this blog has watched ROTJ, and I don't need to recap.  Just imagine it shorter and with more fart jokes.  We got Chris Griffin as Luke Skywalker, Peter Griffin is Han Solo, Lois is Princess Leia.  They decided to fill out the roster this time with characters from Seth MacFarlane's other cartoons, so we've got Klaus the Goldfish from American Dad! as Admiral Ackbar and Tim the Bear from The Cleveland Show as Wicket. 

What I Liked:  Well, there's still some good jokes to be milked from this premise.  I really liked their slamming of the Special Editions by using sock puppets.  There's a completely random cameo by Pee Wee Herman, and with all the Star Trek jokes they make in Family Guy, I'm surprised it took them this long to throw in a Star Wars vs. Star Trek gag. 

What I Didn't Like:  Like a lot of Family Guy, a lot of the jokes are completely at random and just come out of nowhere.  There are just as many failed gags as there are good ones.  I agree with the creators' running gags that this whole joke is running out of steam.

Final Assessment:  If you're a fan of Family Guy and Star Wars, you'll get a few chuckles out of this, but it'll wear thin pretty quick.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  There's a running commentary with the show's creators, something about Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, some deleted scenes and "a very special message from Darth Stewie," which I haven't watched yet and don't know what it is. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode VIII -- Train Him I Cannot. He Is Too Old.

And we've reached the final entry of my epic blog series, All the Time I've Bought Star Wars.  I've been recounting all the times I've bought Star Wars, and trying to figure out why I've bought it so many times.  We take a look at what I've learned with the final part, Episode VIII: Train Him I Cannot.  He Is Too Old.

“There’s only one Return, and it ain’t ‘Of the King,’ it’s ‘Of the Jedi.”  That’s a rather famous quote from the film Clerks 2, in which our anti-hero Randall Graves harasses a couple of Lord of the Rings fans about their choice in film trilogies.  On the running commentary for Clerks 2, and in several of his famous Q&A sessions around the time of the film’s release, director Kevin Smith frequently lamented that there’s a whole generation now where “The Trilogy” isn’t Star Wars, but Lord of the Rings.  

And “generation” seems to be one of the key concepts when you’re talking about Star Wars.  The first film came out in May of 1977.  I was born in July of 1977.  Star Wars has always been there...an intrinsic part of my growing up.  When I was in kindergarten I went as Darth Vader for Halloween...the next year I went as Luke Skywalker.  My friends had all the Star Wars action figures you could imagine.  When VCRs started becoming commonplace, I’d constantly beg my parents to rent Return of the Jedi for me, and I’d always fall asleep halfway through.  I don’t think I finally saw it from beginning to end until I was in high school and me and the rest of the misfits would gather in the science lab every lunch hour to watch movies.  And then I was off to college, where lots of my friends enjoyed the Trilogy and we began counting down to the prequels.  Star Wars was just always part of the background noise when I was growing up. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode VII -- Expanded Universe

And welcome back to All the Times I've Bought Star Wars.  I've been recapping all the times I've bought Star Wars as I've been trying to figure out why I've bought it so many times.  We continue with today's entry, Episode VII: Expanded Universe.  

I’ve got a bunch of other videos and DVDs in my collection that I bought purely because they were Star Wars-related.  I thought I’d do a quick rundown on all of them before I brought this to an end.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's a huge week here for U62: The Targ! If you follow the blog, something I've been waiting for for a while has finally come.

In Episode 4.12: End of Line it's time to cut loose and tell you my thoughts on Tron Legacy! I also offer up my thoughts on undergarments and Facebook etiquette.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Tron Legacy Review

I first saw Tron when I was in Grade 2.  The principal at my school would have an annual movie day where all classes for the afternoon would be canceled and we'd all head down to the gym to catch a Disney movie.  This particular year, the movie was Tron, and I was hooked.  I don't have any idea how many times I threw around a frisbee pretending it was one of the discs from the film.  
Rumors of a Tron sequel have been circulating the Internet for years.  I think the first rumor I read was in 1996, shortly after I first got online.  That rumor said that Pixar was working on a 100% computer animated Tron remake for their second film.  For the documentary on the 20th anniversary DVD, Tron director Steven Lisburger revealed he was developing a sequel with the working title Tron 2.0, and from what I understand, Lisburger's general plotline and new concept went into the same-named video game that came out in 2004.

And then, in 2008, Disney showed some test footage and the San Diego Comic Con, and it happened.  For me, this was the most anticipated movie of 2010.  

Following his experiences in the first film, Kevin Flynn, the hero of the first film (that's Jeff Bridges) has gone to become one of the most visionary computer programmers of the 1980s.  But then, in 1989, he mysteriously disappeared, making an orphan of his young son Sam.  We catch up with Sam in the present day, as a somewhat aimless young man, who frequently cyber-terrorizes his father's old company.  One day, he's visited by his dad's old friend Alan Bradley, who says that he got a call from Kevin's old video arcade.  Sam heads to the arcade, discovers a secret computer lab his father had set up, and soon gets sucked into the computer.

Turns out, following his experiences in the first film, Flynn had the idea to try to create the perfect computer system from the inside.  And in order to do this, he created a computerized duplicate of himself named Clu.  As Flynn's idea of a perfect system soon began to differ from Clu's, Clu seized power, and now runs this virtual world as a brutal dictatorship.  With Clu in charge and his access to the outside world cut-off, Flynn has been in hiding in this virtual world for the past 20 years.  But now, with Sam's arrival, the world has changed, and Sam and his father need to escape before Clu can unveil his master plan.  

Is it wrong that every time there was an allusion or a reference to the first film, I wanted to stand up and cheer?  There was a reverence for the original in this film.  Many action sequences are designed to mirror sequences in the first film, only with today's state-of-the-art effects.  I did find the 3D effects to somewhat muddle the action, though, as it made some of the fast-paced sequences a little too fast-paced.  Hey, they even threw in a reference to that other great 1980s hacker classic, WarGames.  

Jeff Bridges is great, although in some scenes, he seems to be playing the Dude from The Big Lebowski rather than Flynn...a great example is at one point he utters, "You're harshing my zen, man."  It was cute, and it got some laughs. 

One of the things I enjoyed was it took some of the concepts of the first film that I felt weren't explored fully, and finally explored them fully.  Sadly, though, some of the new concepts introduced aren't explored fully.  Don't you hate it when the backstory sounds so much more interesting than the story you're watching now?

And one question I had was, since the movie is called Tron Legacy, is the character of Tron in it?  Yes, he is, and I wish he had a better character arc that what he got, but when he does finally utter his creed from the first film, that's one of those "stand up and cheer" allusions I talked about earlier.

The special effects is good.  Olivia Wilde as Quorra, the elder Flynn's apprentice, is incredibly adorable.  The plot, sadly, is a fairly by-the-numbers affair, though, and becomes quite predicable.

In the end, it's a lot like the live-action G.I. Joe movie that came out last year.  I'm having trouble trying to discern whether it actually is a good movie, or if my nostalgia for the source material is doing a really good job of blocking out the flaws. 

All in all, though, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and that's all that really matters.

Three out of four nibs.

This amounts to my off-the-cuff observations.  You'll find my full-blown review over at my official website.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode VI -- Episode I Twice

Here we are again with another installment of All the Times I've Bought Star Wars, my epic series of blog entries taking a look at all the times I've bought Star Wars.  I'm trying to figure out why I've bought it so much.  We continue with Episode VI: Episode I Twice.  

Understandably, my relationship with the prequels is different than that with original trilogy.  As I’ve reiterated time and again in this series of blog entries, I was raised with the original trilogy.  It’s just always been there as part of my life.  The prequels, on the other hand, arrived 22 years into my life.  It was something new and exciting that came along at an exciting time in my life.  If the original trilogy were the girl next door, then the prequels would be your college girlfriend...you know, the one with the tattoos and the piercings and all about experimentation.  Exciting, exotic, different, but eventually you grow up and move on.  The original trilogy has been a lifetime companion, but the prequels...it was just a phase I was going though, baby.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Whiny Fanboy Rant About the Green Lantern Trailer

I've been putting off writing this for a few weeks, so let's finally sit down and do it.

With the onslaught of Marvel Comics films in theatres right now, DC has been struggling, trying play catch-up.  I'm glad to see that they finally realized they have other heroes besides Batman and Superman, and they`re trying to explore the possibility of giving these other heroes their own franchises.

So I`m glad to see that, next summer, we`re getting Green Lantern.  Was never an avid reader of the Green Lantern comics, but I`ve always had a soft spot for him.  As I explained to a friend of mine, Green Lantern, if done properly, could be a sci-fi epic whose scope would only be rivaled by Star Wars.

Green Lantern hits theatres on June 17, and here`s our first trailer.

Ryan Reynolds plays our hero, cocky young test pilot Hal Jordan, who is gifted with the Power Ring of the Green Lantern Corp, and made the Green Lantern of sector 2814.  The Green Lantern Corp are an intergalactic police force, and sector 2814 is the sector that Earth falls into. 

Blake Lively plays Carol Ferris, the aircraft magnate who is also Hal Jordan's love interest.  Ferris is destined to become the villainess Star Sapphire, but they already tell us they're saving that for sequels. 

Peter Sarsgaard plays the Green Lantern B-list villain Hector Hammond, and very powerful telepath.  Mark Strong, whom you may remember as the evil Lord Blackwood in Shrelock Holmes, plays Jordan's mentor-turned-arch-enemy Sinsestro.  I like that it looks like they're going the Batman Begins/Dark Knight route...use some B-list villains for the first movie, and save the arch-enemy for the sequel. 

The director is Martin Campbell, who did the two Antonio Banderas Zorro films, and the James Bond films GoldenEye and Casino Royale

All in all, it's looking sharp.  I'm still not too crazy about the Green Lantern suit, though.  See, how it worked was, Reynolds wore a motion capture suit for most of the time, and the suit was entirely computer generated.  That way, they could do the fancy stuff like that final shot where he snaps his fingers and the suit instantly appears.  It looks a little too CGI for me.

Other than, I'm somewhat excited for this one. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Another busy week, but I had to get my stuff together and throw together an episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, I give you Episode 4.11: The Gift of Sound. In this one, I develop a classification system for the show, I continue my whiny fanboy rant about the Transformers 3 trailer, and I give a quick recap of the news...that's important to me.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Whiny Fanboy Rant About the Transformers 3 Trailer

Before we get to my rant about the Transformers: Dark of the Moon trailer, I should take a moment to clarify my thoughts on the previous two films.

I like the first film.  It's good, but not great.  I remember reading one time that Hasbro's current marketing strategy with Transformers is to reboot it every couple of years or so, so it always remains fresh.  Once you convince yourself that the first movie is the latest reboot and not the Transformers you grew up with, it's pretty good.  And great gobs of childhood nostalgia allowed me to overlook some of the film's other flaws.

The second film, Revenge of the Fallen, was the first film I ever saw in the theatre that was so bad, it made me want to throw things at the screen.  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is just stupid.  I understand the need for comedic relief, but so much of the humor was of the moronic variety.  There's hardly any plot, it's just big loud action scenes strung together.  Characters just stand around and do nothing.  The Autobots are treated as little more than hardware...it's just bad.  The film's defenders -- and there are a surprisingly large amount of them -- always defend it with, "It was based on a toy line.  What were you expecing?"  I'll tell you what I was expecting:  A GOOD MOVIE.  If you want to successfully defend Revenge of the Fallen to me, tell me how the plot was serviced by having John Turturro strut around in a thong. 

And now, that brings us to our first glimpse of the third film, Dark of the Moon, coming out next July

What can I say?  There's not much in the trailer to get whiny about.  It shows us so little of the plot of the film.  It sets up a nice mystery -- a downed Transformer spacecraft discovered by Apollo astronauts, and apparently it's been covered up for the past 40 years.  Can't deny, though, that the trailer looks spectacular.  I'm just talking about the visuals.  Great special effects showing the Apollo spacecraft in flight.  The moon's surface looks amazing, too.

It is highly derivative, though.  It's like the opening scenes in Alien, or hell, even the first trailer for the first film, which featured a Mars probe catching a glimpse of a Transformer strutting around on Mars.  As nice as it looks, there's a whole, "Been there, done that" feeling over the film. 

For the talent working on this film, Michael Bay is back as director.  The script this time out was written by Ehren Kruger, who co-wrote the second film and wrote the American remake of The Ring.  For returning cast members, Shia LeBeouf is back as token human Sam Witwicky, Josh Duhamel is back as soldier boy Major Lennox, and John Turturro is back as Sector 7 Agent Simmons.

For new cast members, the biggest news was that Michael Bay and Megan Fox never got along, so Megan Fox was fired from #3.  Sam's new girlfriend Carly will be played by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.  Patrick Demspey plays Carly's sleazy boss.  John Malkovich plays Sam's sleazy boss.  Alan Tudyk (whom my fellow nerds will remember was Wash from Firefly/Serenity) plays Simmon's old Sector 7 partner.  And Francis McDormand plays NSA Director Marissa Faireborn. 

Fun trivia fact:  Carly was the name of Spike's girlfriend on the original 1984 cartoon.

Fun trivia fact #2:  Marissa Faireborn is also a character created in the original 1984 cartoon.  She was a spacefaring soldier dedicated to protecting the Earth from alien threats...and she was the daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye from G.I. Joe

Transformers: Dark of the Moon hits theatres July 1. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode V -- Cutting Edge in 1993

Welcome back to All the Times I've Bought Star Wars.  For those just joining us, I've penned an epic series of blog entries recounting all times I've bought Star Wars, and trying to figure out why I've bought it so many times.  We continue with Episode V: Cutting Edge in 1993.

Freedom of choice.  That’s all it really boils down to.  The home theatre enthusiasts want a choice.

When DVD first started going mainstream, there was a startling trend.  A lot of the DVDs that came out contained a “director’s cut, with footage you weren’t allowed to see in theatres!”  There were quite a lot of people who were upset about this trend.  Leonard Maltin summed it up best in one of the forewords to his legendary movie guides:  “If the director’s cut is on DVD, what are we paying to see in the theatre?  The rough draft?”  

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Sorry I was gone last week. Got busy and all that, but I'm here again with a new episode of U62: The Targ!

I return with Episode 4.10: Rumblies in my Tumblies. I sit down and remember some classic video games, I tell you all about the latest acquisitions in my Star Wars action figure collection, and the countdown continues to Tron Legacy!

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode IV -- New Formats, New Frontiers

For those just joining us, welcome back to All the Times I've Bought Star Wars, my epic series of blog entries chronicling all the times I've bought Star Wars.  Along the way, I try to figure out exactly why I've bought it so many times.  We continue with Episode IV: New Formats, New Frontiers

Quick history lesson, kiddos.  The year was Y2K.  This DVD thing was starting to catch on, and most entertainment websites started running watch lists.  These lists consisted of great, classic films that were NOT yet available on DVD.  And always, always, always, at the top of the list, was the Star Wars trilogy.  

The people would ask George Lucas, “Why George?  Why are you not releasing this on DVD?”  And ol’ Mr. Lucas, he gave us an answer.  He told us that he was hard at work on the prequels, and he was not going to release Star Wars on DVD until he was done making the prequels.  That way, he could just focus on the DVDs, create one super-ultimate-mega-special edition, and never have to re-release it again and again when new advancements came along.  Besides, by the time Episode III came out, he figured that DVD technology would finally have reached its pinnacle, and he could take full advantage of all the bells and whistles of the format.  It seemed fair enough.  And the geeks were happy...for a while.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode III -- Greedo Shoots First

For those just joining us, welcome back to All the Times I've Bought Star Wars, my epic series of blog entries in which I recount all the times I've bought Star Wars.  I'm also trying to figure out why I've bought it so many times.  We continues with Episode III: Greedo Shoots First


The trailers and the TV spots for the Special Editions got it right.  A whole generation had grown up watching it on TV.  They’d never seen it in theatres.  I was a member of that generation.  In my second year at college, all of my friends were in that generation.  All of my friends at college were fellow nerds, and needless to say, this was a huge freakin’ deal to us.  Yeah, Camrose (my college town) had its quaint, old-school movie house, the Bailey Theatre, but screw that noise.  We were organizing road trips into Edmonton to see it in the latest multiplexes the weekend it came out.  Well, most of my friends were.  For some reason, they weren’t inviting me along.  Oh, well.  So, I had to go home for a weekend, and borrow Mom and Dad’s car to run into Edmonton to see it.  And I saw it on the big screen...as it was meant to be seen. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's the dawn of a brand-new week, so that means it's time to bust out a new episode of U62: The Targ!

This week is Episode 4.09: The Chill of Winter! It's a fairly routine episode as I geek out over the Green Lantern trailer, marvel at the raw sexuality they managed to sneak into an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and offer up some thoughts on Megamind.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Megamind Review is Up

So, umm, yeah, I saw Megamind about a week ago, and my review is up over at my main website!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode II -- One Last Time....

For those just joining us, welcome to All the Times I've Bought Star Wars, my epic series of blog entries recounting all the times I've bought Star Wars.  I also try to figure out why the heck I've bought it so many times.  And now, our story continues with Episode II: One Last Time....

The year was 1995.  I finished high school.  I remember graduation being strangely anticlimactic.  The first 18 years of my life gone...for a piece of paper.  As soon as that was done, I was onto a very difficult summer job.  Word of advice to all the youngsters out there:  never get a summer job at your favourite summertime hangout.  Because once summer is done, you will want to burn it to the ground.  With that all done, I was taking a few months off just to figure out where to go next in life.  

So there I was.  Spending my days doing a whole lot of nothing and just trying to get my head together.  I was watching a lot of TV.  Unhealthy amounts of TV.  It was right around this time that YTV started showing Sailor Moon and I became 100% obsessed with it.  As the holiday season started rolling around, and all kinds of TV commercials for potential Christmas presents started being shown, I started seeing the commercials for...it.  The Star Wars Trilogy.  Being re-released on video!  But, what’s this that the commercials are saying?  It’s going to be released on video...just one last time?  After this, it’s not going to be on video anymore? 

Who else remembers the Lucasfilm hype machine for the 1995 video releases?  That was the tag line, wasn’t it?  Each and every commercial was quick to point out that this would be the absolute last time that The Star Wars Trilogy was going to be released on home video.  After this...gone.  No more.  It was something that really didn’t surprise me.  I mean, Disney had already introduced their “Disney vault” concept for their home video releases.  It just made sense that other studios would follow suit.  And here it was.  Star Wars.  My last chance to own it.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Cars 2 Trailer

New Cars 2 trailer.  Really don't have anything more to say ever since I ranted about the first trailer about a month ago.  Come on, Pixar.  This really looks like your sellout film. 

But at least we know one of the new celebrity voices.  That's quite obviously Michael Caine as secret agent car Finn McMissile.

Share my pain, and through the sharing, gain strength.


Winnie the Pooh Trailer

Well, Walt Disney Pictures is working at keeping the traditionally animated film alive, and they're doing it in the summer of 2011 by bringing back one of their most beloved franchises, Winnie the Pooh. And the next Pooh film is called, appropriately, Winnie the Pooh.

Now, I know, you might be groaning in disgust because the last batch of Winnie the Pooh films (that would be The Tigger Movie, Piglet's Big Movie, and Pooh's Hefalump Movie) weren't of the best quality. Well, for this, they've gone all the way back to the well...this one is based on five, never-before-adapted, A.A. Milne stories. This one is also being made by Walt Disney Feature Animation, so it counts in the official Disney Animated Film canon. The other three were made by Disney MovieToon Studios, which focuses on their straight-to-video sequels.

And I'm also a little disappointed that they replaced the voice of Eeyore. For at least the past 20 years, Disney's official voice of Eeyore has been Peter Cullen, who's most famous voice is still Optimus Prime. But, for some reason, for this film, Cullen was let go and replaced with veteran animator Bud Luckey. However, Pooh's official voice for the past 20 years, Jim Cummings, is back as Pooh and Tigger. Another veteran voice actor, Tom Kenny, is voicing Rabbit, and voice actor Craig Ferguson is voicing Owl. I'm glad to see they're going with so many veteran voice actors instead of cramming in celebrities for the sake of cramming in celebrities. But they still got one celebrity in there...John Cleese is the narrator.

The film is being co-directed by Stephen Anderson and Don Hall. Winnie the Pooh hits theatres on July 15.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Movie Review -- Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam

Alright, I do so love to review the direct-to-DVD movies I purchase here on the blog, so let's get going with my latest aquisition!  Let's take a look at....

DC Showcase:  Superman/Shazam -- The Return of Black Adam

Directed by Joaquim dos Santos

Starring the voices of George Newburn, Jerry O'Connell, Arnold Vosloo, James Garner, Zach Callison, and Kevin Michael Richardson.

Backstory:  So, all this year, DC Comics and Warner Brothers have been running a little side project with their straight-to-DVD animated films:  DC Showcase, a series of animated short films that focus one some of DC's better-known B- and C-list heroes.  With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, DC has taken all of the DC Showcase shorts and compiled them on their own DVD.  And, in order to entice you to buy them again, added an all-new short, featuring the team-up of Superman and Captain Marvel.  So let's take a look at the latest DC Showcase short.

Plot:  Young Billy Batson is only 10 years old, and has already had a rough life.  His parents were killed...he's bounced from foster home to foster home...and now finds himself living on the streets.  But he's always retained his good heart.  But then, his life is turned upside down when a villain from beyond the stars, Black Adam, returns and vows to destroy young Billy.  Superman shows up to save young Billy, and this gives Billy enough time to meet the wizard Shazam and be bestowed with superpowers, becoming Captain Marvel.  Will the combined power of Earth's Mightiest Mortal and the Man of Steel be enough to defeat Black Adam?

What I Liked:  Like a lot of the other DC Showcase shorts, it quickly turns into a gigantic superhero slugfest, as Superman, Captain Marvel, and Black Adam come up with new and creative ways to pound the snot out of each other.  The animation is sharp.  The music is top notch.  And it's good to hear George Newburn back voicing Superman.  He did the voice of Superman on the Justice League cartoon, and it's good to see him back in action.  And James Garner is good, too, voicing the wizard Shazam and once again proving that he's all kinds of awesome. 

What I Didn't Like:  Again, this kind of showcases my frustration with how DC Comics is dropping the ball with their animated films.  Captain Marvel could easily carry his own film, but instead, he's given a short film where he's second banana to Superman.  Just plain too short, is what I'm saying.

Final Verdict:  A very enjoyable superhero battle.  Lots of fun, but too darn short.

3 Nibs

Bonus Materials:  This is a compilation of the DC Showcase shorts, so you get the other 3 that have been produced to date:  The Spectre, Green Arrow, and Jonah Hex.  Each of these shorts is presented as a "director's cut," with an extra 2-minutes or so of footage they had to cut out the first time.  Each short has a running commentary with its writer, and you get a selection of DC Universe cartoons focusing on the characters featured in the shorts. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

We're rolling along with another episode of U62: The Targ!

This week is Episode 4.08: 4-Day Weekend! I went old-school for this episode, for reasons that'll be clear when you give it a listen. And in it, we take a look at Toy Story 3, the Shrek Halloween special, and discuss a disturbing trend in movie promotion.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode I -- The Saga Begins

I am a home theatre enthusiast.  That means I’ve got my Blu-Ray player, my DVD player, an old VCR that’s still in functioning order, and I think one of the best things in the world is to just kick back and watch a movie.  And to the home theatre enthusiast, there is no greater crime than that of the double dip.  

For those who are only familiar with the term from the Seinfeld episode, here’s how “double-dipping” applies to home theatre.  Your favourite movie comes out on DVD.  Naturally, you buy it because you love it so much.  But then, six months later, it comes out on DVD again, in all-new special-edition, with all new bonus features, thus compelling you to buy it again.  That is the double-dip.

Even before the term became mainstream – heck, even before there was a term to describe it – I knew to be wary of the double-dip.  When I bought my first DVD player, I swore that I would only buy a DVD when I already owned it on VHS if it met one of my two criteria:  1)  it had enough bonus features to warrant buying it again.  2)  I just loved the movie so darn much that it would break my little heart if I didn’t buy it again.  Following that criteria, to this very day, I still own about a dozen movies or so on VHS that I have yet to upgrade to DVD.  

However, there is one movie, or rather, movie franchise, where whenever a new edition is announced, I drop everything, start saving my pennies, and start counting down the days until I can buy it again.  There is one film franchise that always meets those two criteria in spades, and thus I am doomed to repeat a never-ending cycle of always buying it again, and again, and again.  

That film franchise is Star Wars.

Return of the Jedi Teaser poster -- My favourite Star Wars movie poster

Of course, we’re talking about the core six movies.  The original trilogy and the prequel trilogy.  I know we’re supposed to regard the thing as one massive six film epic, but I’ll always be dividing it into the two trilogies.  One I grew up with, the other ushered in my adulthood.  One ushered in a new era of moviemaking, the other was seen as a bloated series of mistakes by its creator that we all love anyway because of nostalgia for the first.  Either way, whenever a new edition is announced, I start drooling in anticipation.  

Going through my library, I see that I’ve bought the original trilogy no less than four times.  The prequels twice.  And countless ancillary titles that I purchased mainly because of their relation to Star Wars.  Why?  What is it about this series that keeps me coming back for more?  

So, in this epic series of blog entries, I’m going to recount all the times I bought Star Wars.  Now, I’m not going to detail all the special edition changes and new footage that was inserted into the films each time it was re-released.  That’s been recounted hundreds of times in excruciating detail at far better websites.  Instead, I’m going to focus on what I was thinking, and what was going through my mind where I figured it warranted another purchase.  I’ll also touch upon some of the bonus features that were added, and maybe get into some of the technical details of each release.  

The Episode I Teaser Poster...my second favourite Star Wars movie poster

This is a series of blog entries I’ve been considering writing for a while now.  And now, with the recent announcement that it’ll be released on Blu-Ray in the fall of 2011, and as I start to make room for the fifth time I’ll buy it, it feels like this is the right moment to just sit down and ask, “Why am I buying it a fifth time?  Why did I buy it four times prior?”  Hopefully, by doing this, I’ll be able to figure it out.

So, let’s get started with the first time I bought Star Wars.  I remember buying it for the first time because I was convinced it would be the last time.

Next Week:  Episode II -- One Last Time

Monday, November 08, 2010

Kung Fu Panda 2 Trailer

As I was saying in the blog not too long ago, I've grown to loathe everything Dreamworks does.  That's why, when I finally sat down and rented Kung Fu Panda about a year ago, I was pleasantly surprised that it's a fairly decent action comedy.  Yeah, I liked it!  If I ever see it in a discount bin, I just might pick it up.

But, as we all know, Dreamworks likes to take a good concept and run it into the ground, hence, Kung Fu Panda 2, coming next summer.  First trailer!

I have to get me a wider blog template so I can post wider videos. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

We're rolling along with another episode of U62: The Targ!

This week is Episode 4.07: I'll Have the Usual, and "usual" is the name of the game in this one. I rant about the latest episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, we long for the days of styrofoam containers at McDonald's, and I check out the tech specs of the Toy Story 3 DVD.

So give it a spin!

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's that time of the week again! And I've got an ooky, spooky Halloween episode of U62: The Targ!

When deciding what I could do for a Halloween episode, a friend of mine suggested I should share some of the tales of what my childhood Halloweens were like. It was nothing too spectacular, but I decided to do it anyway. And here's the final product, Episode 4.06: Ghosts of Halloween Past.

So give it a spin!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Scared Shrekless

Over on my Facebook page, I was recently taken to task over my recent blog post where I cry woe over Cars 2, Pixar's recent discovery of sequels, and how DreamWorks started the whole thing by taking each and every film of theirs with a modicum of success and beating it to death with an endless stream of sequels.  Apparently, some 3 year olds read that blog post and were heartbroken.  After I stopped patting myself on the back for having some 3 year old fans, I started being amazed that 3 year olds can read blogs.  They grow up so fast these days....

Anyway, I can't be too mad at DreamWorks Animation for beating each and every dead horse they unleash on the screen.  They actually have a sound business strategy for it.  DreamWorks has said that the whole point of their endless streams of sequels is that they're trying to build a stable of beloved animated characters.  You know, Warner Brothers has Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the whole Looney Tunes gang.  Disney has Mickey, Donald, Goofy et al, and DreamWorks is hoping to make a universe out of Shrek, Po the Kung Fu Panda, and Ben Stiller the talking lion.  And the only way DreamWorks is going to do that is through constantly exposing us to these characters. 

And as part of their constant exposure is a new line of holiday specials featuring the DreamWorks characters.  It all started in 2007 with the Shrek Christmas special.  It continued last year with the Monsters vs. Aliens Halloween special and the Madagascar Christmas special.  And it kept going last night with Scared Shrekless, the Shrek Halloween special.  I thought I'd check it out of curiosity, mainly because brand new animated holiday specials don't come around that often anymore.

So, as the special begins, as you can imagine, ogres love Halloween.  Shrek, Fiona, and their triplets are having a grand old time scaring the pants off of trick-or-treaters.  Donkey, Puss in Boots, and some of your other favourite supporting characters unsuccessfully try to scare Shrek, only to have Fiona remind them that they're ogres:  "We do the scaring.  We don't get scared."  Disbelieving this statement, Donkey and Puss in Boots propose a contest.  They'll spend the night telling spooky stories.  And whoever tells the scariest story will be proclaimed King of Halloween!  Shrek gets the bright idea to raise the stakes by taking their contest down to Castle Duloc, which you may remember as Lord Farquaad's fortress way back in the first movie.  Apparently, it's lain in ruins since the end of the first film, and is now reportedly haunted by Lord Farquaad's ghost.

OK, here's where I've got to give the special kudos for being clever.  I still kind of like the first film -- you know, before they ran the premise into the ground -- and in their journey back to Duloc there were lots of wonderful callbacks to the first film as we saw everything in a new, spooky light. 

They settle into the ruins of Farquaad's throne room and being telling their spooky stories.  The whole thing then devolves into a ripoff of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror as we're treated to some parodies of horror stories featuring Shrek characters.  We've got:

The Bride of Gingy - Gingy the Gingerbread Man implores the Muffin Man to make him a Gingerbread Lady.  However, Gingy throws too much sugar into the mix, turning his bride into an obsessive, stalkerish, crazy lady.  Gingy thinks he disposes of her by tossing her back into some mixing batter, but this only turns her into a horde of zombie brides. 

Boots Motel - This tale is told by Donkey and Puss in Boots.  What starts off as a simple Psycho spoof soon turns into pure slapstick as Donkey and Puss in Boots come up with more and more outlandish ways to off each other. 

The Shreksorcist - Shrek's tale is a spoof of The Exorcist, as Shrek is called upon to be babysiter for a possessed and demented Pinocchio.  The usual round of head-turning-around and projectile-vomit-pea-soup jokes are in full force.  However, the punchline, concering the revelation of the voice in Pinocchio's head, is priceless. 

Fiona and the triplets show up, masquerading as Farquaad's ghost, and it's enough to scare off the rest of the supporting characters and for Shrek to win the contest.  Shrek, Fiona, and the triplets then cap off Halloween by egging the Seven Dwarfs.  "I am not Happy!" exclaims one of the dwarfs, thus ensuring DreamWorks won't get sued by Disney. 

And that was Scared Shrekless.  A few clever jokes couldn't salvage it from being more than an endless stream of repetitve slapstick gags.  I was really glad that they got back to what made the first film so great:  slamming Disney and the typical fairy tale conventions.  But yeah.  It just got too silly and too stupid after a while. 

If you'd like to see it for yourself, it's going to be on again on Saturday night.  And they advertised quite heavily that A Kung Fu Panda Christmas is coming in one months time.  You go, DreamWorks.  You work to make Donkey as beloved as Chip n Dale.

And for any three year olds whose hearts I may have broken with my comments, come on.  Come here.  Sit down with me on the couch.  I first saw this movie when I was about your age and I still love it to this day.  Let's watch it together, and you'll see it's a much better movie.  It's called Star Wars.   

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reflecting on Back to the Future

Back to the Future is one of those films where I never tire of hearing stories about it.  With all my DVDs and everything I have access to on the Internet, the one "making-of" tale that I keep revisiting is Back to the Future.  I have no idea what makes the making of that movie so compelling to me.  Probably because it's one of the few films where, no matter how many times I've seen it, I always discover something new the next time I watch it. 

I think it all stems from the first time I spotted something new.  When I was about 12 years old and watching it for the 100th time, my brain finally picked up on something.  At the end of the film, when Marty returns to 1985 and heads off to the mall to save Doc Brown, the mall is now called the "Lone Pine Mall."  But in the beginning, it was called the "Twin Pines Mall."  What happened?  Then I remembered.  When Marty first arrived in 1985, he ran over one of the twin pines and destroyed it.  And the timeline was altered.  It's little things like that that has made Back to the Future a textbook case in film schools the whole world over on how to set up a gag and have it pay off later in the film.

The big 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray of Back to the Future went on sale this week, and the Internet is a flood with new stories about the film.  Like this one which came across my desk the other day.  In the opening credits of the film, as the camera pans through Doc Brown's workshop, the camera lingers on a framed newspaper clipping, saying that the mansion that Doc Brown lived in in 1955 was destroyed in a fire.  In a recent interview, what producer/co-writer Bob Gale said was, what they had hoped to imply with that newspaper -- imply, not say -- was that Doc Brown burnt down his own house in an insurance scam to raise the money to build the time machine.  Wow.  That puts Doc Brown in a whole new light. 

Another story I recently came across.  The well-known story is that Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly.  Stoltz was dismissed from the production several weeks into filming when the producers and the director found his work to be unsuitable.  But did you ever wonder what Stoltz was doing that was so unsuitable?  Lea Thompson said what Stoltz was doing in an interview a few years back.  Apparently, Stoltz took a look at the whole gag where Lorraine falls in love with Marty and thought, "A mother falling love with her own son?  Why, this must be a sci-fi re-imagining of Oedipus Rex.  I will play the whole thing like it's a Greek tragedy."  And no matter how many times director Robert Zemeckis explained to Stoltz that the whole thing was a comedy, Stoltz kept playing the material like it was a tragedy and Marty McFly was this epic, tragic character.  And if you've ever seen that video on Cracked.com that explains how Back to the Future is secretly horrifying, Stoltz may have been on to something. 

But yeah.  So many great stories about Back to the Future.  And I'm always learning more. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cars 2 Teaser!

I've been wanting to blog about this for a while now, but I wanted to get the pomp and circumstance of my 2000th entry out of the way.  That's done, so let's get to it!

My beloved Pixar just released the first trailer for their animated blockbuster of 2011, Cars 2.

I've already told everyone I know my extreme disappointment with this.  First up, I'm very upset with the whole "animated films as franchises" concept.  That largely stems from the fact that Shrek 2 was the first movie I found so terrible that I wanted to throw things at the screen.  And lets face it, DreamWorks is really running the "animated film as franchise" concept into the ground.  We've had a total of four Shreks with a prequel in development, and we're getting Madagascar 3, Kung Fu Panda 2, and How to Train Another Dragon.  So I don't like how Pixar seems to be following this formula right now, with Toy Story 3 this year, Cars 2 next year, and Monsters, Inc 2 in 2012.

And secondly, out of all of Pixars films, why the hell did Cars 2 demand a sequel?  It is on record as Pixar's worst reviewed and lowest grossing movie.  (Bear in mind, with Pixar, "worst reviewed" tends to mean it only got 3.5 out of 4 instead of a full 4, so Pixar on a bad day is still pretty good.  Argh!  I'm a Pixar apologist!)  Well, actually, I think another blogger hit it on the head.  Despite low grosses and lukewarm reviews, Cars is Pixar's #1 film...in terms of merchandise sales.  Every little boy goes through a phase where they're all about Hot Wheels, and the Cars franchise ties into that quite nicely.

The plot has our hero of the first film, Lightening McQueen (once again voiced by Owen Wilson) participating in a series of races around the world.  Meanwhile, his faithful sidekick Mater (once again voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) gets mistaken for a secret agent and gets embroiled in all kinds of espionage adventures. 

The director is longtime animated film producer Brad Lewis, who's last production was Pixar's RatatouilleCars/Toy Story/A Bug's Life director/head of Disney animation John Lasseter is co-directing.  It hits theatres June 24.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My 2000th Blog Entry!

Around 10 years ago I was reading an advice columnist in the Edmonton Journal.  The young lady writing in for advice said she recently went on a date with someone, in which this date mentioned he had a blog.  This young lady went home, read this blog, and wasn’t too impressed with some of the things this man had written.  The question:  should I dump this guy, based on what he wrote in his blog?  The answer:  dump him immediately, because anyone who has a blog is an attention-starved loser. 

Words that hit home for me because I’d been blogging for about six months at that point.  And because of those words, around every six months or so I take a good hard look at this blog, and now, the entire world of my online footprint, and try to figure out why I keep putting out there what I keep putting out there.  No matter what I decide, I ultimately choose to keep going, and I have for at least 11 years now.  It’s been going on for so long that now I’ve hit this, my 2000th blog entry.  2000 entries!  2000 things that have been burning in my mind that I just needed to share it with the world!  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Guess who's back...back again. I wound up taking a longer break than expected from U62: The Targ, but I'm back from holiday and making radio shows again!

For Episode 4.05: The Turkey Hangover, I tell you how I spent my Thanksgiving vacation, sample the KFC Double Down, and discuss the Oilers cheerleaders! And in my regular features, I finally tackle one of the films that I started doing Fishing in the Discount Bin for.

So give it a spin!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tron and Brave Stuff

As I've said to many friends this year, about the only movie that I'm 100% excited for is Tron Legacy, aka the 28-years-after-the-first-one Tron sequel.  And yesterday, Disney finally unveiled the final movie poster for Tron Legacy

Of course, part of the appeal of this poster is it's designed to mimic the art and poses of the movie poster for the first one. 

December 17 can't come soon enough! 

And, we've got some eyebrow-raising news from the world of Pixar.  The upcoming Pixar film Brave just lost its director. 

The original director was Brenda Chapman.  The announcement that she was directing was quite a high-profile announcement for Pixar, as she was the first woman directing a Pixar film.  Chapman also helped develop the story, drawing on her own knowledge of Scottish folklore.  No word yet on why she's been removed from the project, just the cryptic announcement that she's no longer with Pixar.

The new director is Mark Andrews, whose last directing credit is the Pixar short One Man Band

Again, directors getting shuffled around on animated films happens all the time in Hollywood.  Pixar also did this with Ratatouille, when original director Jan Pinkava was replaced with Brad Bird.  Disney also did similar director shuffles with Bolt and Tangled.  But, again, as I mentioned, with the high-profile announcement of Brenda Chapman as being Pixar's first female director, this is getting a little more coverage. 

Brave follows the adventures of a rebellious princess in medeival Scotland.  Celebrity voices include Reese Witherspoon, Emma Thompson, and Billy Connolly.  It hits theatres Summer 2012. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mark Doubles Down

As I've blogged several times in the past, I love fast food.  I'm always on the search for the newest and best fast food tastes.  And one fast food I've always had a soft spot for is Kentucky Fried Chicken.  When I was a kid, KFC was symbolic of being too lazy to cook and the family all gathered in front of the TV.  Working the most hellish job I ever worked, KFC provided a welcome break on the rare times I earned a lunch break.  And when I was in Japan, most of my colleagues thought me homesick because I ate at KFC whenever I could.  Maybe I was genuinely homesick, but I just loved the fact that there were three within walking distance of my apartment.
KFC, of course, made headlines back in the spring with the introduction of their now-infamous "Double Down."  Two chicken breasts, and smushed in between are two strips of cheese, two strips of bacon, and a dollop of special sauce.  Announced on April Fool's Day and only meant to be a lark for the month of April, overwhelming popularity convinced KFC to make it a permanent addition to their menu in the USA.  And thanks to overwhelming curiosity up here in Canada, KFC announced at the start of this month that they were bringing it to Canada for a limited time.   I knew I had to try one.  I knew I had to be there when they went on sale yesterday.

So, yesterday afternoon, after work, I hopped in the car and drove to the nearest KFC, down in Westlock.

The KFC sign juts towards the gray October sky in Westlock.

After my long drive to Westlock, I took a moment to really drink in what I was about to do.  Many food critics have quickly dubbed it one of the worst fast food items ever created.  But I knew I had to sample it.  Eating a Double Down is one of those things you have to do just once in your life for the experience, like skydiving or visiting a nude beach.  I ventured into the restaurant...and into the great unknown.

A gigantic floor display of the Double Down.  An enormous picture of the Double Down dominated the display.  The caption reads "The Double Down is Here, Canada.  Take one down before it's gone." 

Stopping to take a picture of the floor display tipped off the clerk as to what I was there to order.  As I've learned from prior experience, the Westlock KFC is always very quiet at 2:30 on a Monday afternoon.  (What can I say?  I make the trip whenever I have a serious case of the Mondays.)  There was no line as I walked up the till and placed my order.  I made smalltalk with the clerk as I waited for my Double Down.  Apparently, they weren't selling too quickly at the Westlock location.  Eventually, my order came, and I found myself a nice little corner booth.

I peel back the wax paper wrapper to reveal the Double Down.  The two slices of cheese are sticking out from between two chicken breasts.  The chicken breasts are a golden brown, covered with Colonel's trademark 11 herbs and spices.

I stared at the steaming "meat glorb."  My destiny was staring back at me from that wax wrapper.  I knew it was now or never.  I knew it was onward and upward.  I knew it was time to swallow my fate. 

I picked up the foodstuffs.  Even through the wax wrapper, I could feel grease oozing out of the chicken as I gently squeezed it.  I closed my eyes and took a bite. 

This was, by far, the saltiest thing I have ever eaten.  No wonder one of the health warnings is that you get a full day's serving of sodium from this thing.  You don't taste chicken.  You don't taste the cheese.  You don't taste the sauce.  All you taste is salt.  It's just one big mass of salt held together by processed chicken.  And that was just after one bite.  I paid $8.95 for my combo meal, and I was going to finish this! 

I took a sip of my Pepsi and went in for another bite.  It was still nothing but salt.  After about six or seven bites, you start getting used to the salt, and you can start detecting the other flavors.  But again, after the saltiness started going away, all I tasted was the chicken.  The bacon, cheese, and sauce was completely drowned out.  Was the cheese and bacon even on it?  Well, it must have been because I have photographic evidence.

It was about halfway through that I started feeling queasy.  Not the, "Oh my God, I'm getting food poisoning!" kind of queasy, but the, "I have eaten far too much and if I have any more I'm going to puke" kind of queasy.  Let me put this into perspective.  Because of the hours I work, I ate breakfast at 4AM.  I skipped lunch that day because I knew I was planning to do this.  I wound up having my lunch/supper at 3PM.  I hadn't eaten anything in 11 hours, and I was starting to feel full just halfway through this thing.  But damn it, I was going to finish it!

And I did.  I finished off my Pepsi to rinse the rest of the salt out of my mouth.  I rose from the table and took my trash to the wastebasket.  I felt...full.  I didn't feel sick or any ill effects.  Just full.  I started making my way to the car and the long drive home to Athabasca. 

Now that it's been a full 24 hours since I've eaten this, I can quite honestly say this is the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten.  The grease just oozes out from every where, and the salt!  I just can't get over how salty it is.  The salt just overpowers any flavour this thing might have.  But I have done it.  I have done it just once for the experience.  And the next time I visit KFC, I'll just stick with my Twister, thank you very much. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Various Sunday Morning Rants

Just another Sunday morning, hanging around the house, reflecting on things in pop culture that crossed my path.

For example, last night on TV, I managed to catch a few minutes of the epically forgettable teen comedy National Lampoon's Senior Trip.  I've mentioned to friends in the past that there's one aspect of this movie that I've always found interesting.

One member of the cast is a certain Tara Strong, here going by her maiden name of Tara Charendoff.  Being a lover of cartoons, I'm familiar with Strong's extensive career as a voice actress.  So, first you've got the novelty of finally placing a face with the voice.  In the film, Strong plays the high school slut, and there's a rather lengthy sequence where she tries to get laid at party and starts talking dirty to just about every guy that walks past her.  Now, my fellow fans of DC Comics animation will instantly remember that Strong was the voice of Batgirl for a lot of productions.  And whenever she breaks out the dirty talk in National Lampoon's Senior Trip, she lapses into her Batgirl voice!  So if you've ever wanted to hear Batgirl talking dirty, this is your movie! 

But then, for the few minutes I caught on TV last night, my eye was drawn to something that I'd forgotten about.  Nicole de Boer is in this film, too.  de Boer, of course, known to my fellow sc-fi geeks as Ezri Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and as one of the stars of The Dead Zone.  In National Lampoon's Senior Trip, de Boer is credited as "the token lesbian," and in the scenes I caught on TV, she spent the whole time in background making out with other women. 

So you've Batgirl talking dirty and Dax making out with other chicks.  Why more geeks don't know about this movie is beyond me. 

Like a lot of lazy Sunday mornings, I'm spending a lot of time doing some online window shopping.  I frequently find myself browsing through the Warner Archive Collection.  This is a great concept.  As you probably know, there are thousands of movies in this world that aren't available on DVD yet.  The folks at Warner Brothers realized that they have a lot of movies in their archives that, while there is a minimum public demand for them, it's not really worth it to slap together a mass-produced DVD and ship out to stores.  Hence, the Warner Archive Collection.  They've got all these old movies ripped off VHS and stored in their massive computer.  You place your order for one of these obscure films, they burn it to DVD, and send it to you.  Universal Pictures and Sony Studios have followed the model and now offer their own variations on the Archive Collection.

But Warner Brothers was the first one, and the one I still find myself browsing through the most.  I mean, these aren't all B&W classics from the 1930s.  There are movies in here from my lifetime!  For example, I noticed today that they have what's usually considered one of the worst superhero movies ever, the film that destroyed Shaquille O'Neil's film career, Steel.  They also have the TV movies Genesis II and Planet Earth, two failed sci-fi pilots from the 1970s, notable in that they were both created by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. 

Another one on there that I'm always tempted to get is the animated TV movie Yogi's First Christmas.  Yogi Bear awakens from hibernation one December and has to help save the Christmas festivities at Jellystone Park from the dastardly Herman the Hermit.  I remember being a kid and watching this with my cousins at my uncle's house, and getting so pissed off at my parents because it was time to go before I saw the end.  I would buy this on DVD just to see the end.  I don't know why I have to buy it on DVD to see the end.  I think this film has become a holiday staple on YTV

And most of the DVDs are a reasonably priced $20.  About the only reason why I haven't bought any is they don't ship to Canada yet. 

Holy moly!  Can you believe that CTV still shows The Littlest Hobo in reruns as part of their Saturday morning line-up?  Seeing as to how everything is getting a gritty reboot these days, I started thinking that it's time we do a remake of The Littlest Hobo

Not so gritty, though.  My idea for a reboot is you make it a cartoon.  Make the animals talk.  Maybe Seth Rogan can do the voice of Hobo.  A simple idea, to be sure, but just enough to bring it into the 21st Century. 

So, come on CTV!  Get on it! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

DC Showcase: Green Arrow Review

Backstory:  Yeah, I'm mixing things up a little in this review, because I think it'll make things flow better.  For their series of direct-to-DVD movies this year, DC and Warner Brothers have been trying a neat experiment.  For bonus features on these DVDs, they've launched a series called DC Showcase, which is a series of 10-minute short films focusing on some of the DCU's B- and C-list heroes.  For the second last film in the series, they decided to focus on one of the biggest B-listers the DCU has....

DC Showcase:  Green Arrow

Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos

Starring the voices of Neil McDonough, Malcolm McDowell, Steven Blum, Grey DeLisle, John DiMaggio, and Ariel Winter

Plot:  Oliver Queen is on the way to the airport to pick up his girlfriend, when all heck breaks loose.  Also arriving at the airport that night is the young Princess Perdita of Vlatava, and Queen soon finds himself in the middle of an assasination attempt.  After a quick change into Green Arrow, he soon finds himself protecting the princess, battling his old foes Merlyn and Count Vertigo, and still trying to pick up his girlfriend on time.

What I Liked:  This is nothing but action as we're treated to epic superhero battles all throughout the airport.  Plus, there's some nice Easter eggs that you'll need to freeze-frame to see (love who Green Arrow has on his speed dial).  And, of course, it's very awesome for Black Canary to provide some deus ex machina at the end. 

What I Didn't Like:  This kind of illustrates how DC is starting to drop the ball with their animated projects.  Green Arrow could easily carry his own DTV animated film, but no.  He gets stuck with a short film. 

Final Verdict:  A highly entertaining look into a superhero's life.

3 Nibs

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Review

Alright!  Now that the long weekend has finally arrived, I can finally sit down and watch the new DVDs I ordered online TWO WEEKS AGO, but didn't arrive until back on Monday.  So let's get going with one that I was eagerly awaiting for ever since I heard about it, the latest in the DC/Warner Brother DTV series of original animated movies....

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Starring the voices of Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Summer Glau, Andre Braugher, Susan Eisenberg, Ed Asner, Julianne Grossman, and Rachel Quaintance

Backstory:  OK, so the DTV movie that came out around this time last year, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, turned out to be the biggest selling DVD in this series so far.  It was so big, that Warner Brothers actually ordered a sequel to it.  Since Public Enemies was based on the first storyline in the Superman/Batman comic, it only made sense that the sequel be based on the second storyline in the comic.  The second storyline was called Supergirl, and it made ripples in the DC Universe for finally giving us a post-Crisis Kara Zor-El.  But, because Wonder Woman was the lowest selling DVD in this series so far, they weren't going to call it Supergirl.  So, they gave it the more action-packed title of Apocalypse.  With me so far?  Cuz here we go!

Plot:  Following the events of Public Enemies, Gotham City is still being pelted with leftover meteorites.  However, one of those meteorites turns out to be a spacecraft, and inside, in suspended animation, is Kara Zor-El, cousin of Superman and the last daughter of Krypton.  Young Kara is awakened, and begins to adjust to life on Earth.  But the rest of the superhero community is trying to figure out what to do with this young lady.  Superman immediately goes into "overprotective big brother" mode and tries to gently ease her into the world.  Wonder Woman argues that Kara's place is with the Amazons, where she can learn to use her powers responsibly.  Batman just plain doesn't trust her.  Then along comes the evil New God Darkseid, who's convinced that Kara would make a perfect addition to the Female Furies -- his all-girl hit squad.  And in the middle of this all is a scared young girl who just wants to be free to choose her own destiny.  What will Kara choose? 

What I Liked:  Well, just like Public Enemies, I found a lot of the Superman and Batman banter to be priceless.  I really must pick up the original graphic novels someday.  And I was really glad to see Wonder Woman given such a prominent role.  As I've said before, I think Wonder Woman is the best of these DTV films to date, and so more Wonder Woman is always a plus in my books.  Speaking of women of the DCU, Big Barda is also featured quite prominently in the film, which was also really cool.  The action scenes, as always, are amazing.  Superman/Darkseid throwdowns have been the highlights of Bruce Timm's tenure in DC animation.  And the voice acting, as always, is amazing.  Summer Glau (still best beloved as River Tam on Firefly/Serenity) does a top-notch job as Kara.  And Krypto!  Krypto's in this!  Who doesn't love the Superdog?

What I Didn't Like:  Well, the plot does seem to be quite reminiscent of the whole "overprotective parents try to save their child from the wrong crowd" stereotype.  You know, with Superman and Wonder Woman as the parents and Darkseid as the wrong crowd.  And there really needed to be more Superman/Batman banter.  And the common complaint I'm starting to have with a lot of these...it was just too short!  Barda must have a fairly significant subplot in the original graphic novel, and here, we just get frustratingly brief glimpses of it. 

Final Verdict:  A very satisfying addition to the franchise, but still nowhere near as awesome as the best in the series, Wonder Woman.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  I've got me the Blu-Ray!  On the Blu-Ray, you get a featurette on the history of Supergirl, a featurette on the history of Darkseid and the New Gods, two featurettes on the most prominent New Gods heroes of Mr. Miracle and Orion, a preview of the next DTV animated film All Star Superman, 4 bonus episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, and the third and final installment of the DC Showcase short films, Green Arrow.  I'll review Green Arrow in the next blog entry.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Double Down comes to Canada!

Of course, big news in the fast food world today with the announcement from KFC of Canada that they are bringing KFC's infamous Double Down sandwich to Canadian KFC locations!

The Double Down made headlines when it was first being test-marketed around this time last year, and then added to the KFC menu as a limited time item back in April.  All it is is two chicken breasts, made with the Colonel's 11 herbs and spics, and in between they put two kinds of cheese, bacon, and a special sauce.  It was immediatly branded one of the least healthy fast food offerings ever.  But, it proved so popular, that KFC added it to their regular menu.

And now, according to stats released by KFC, 90% of Canadians are curious enough about one to try one.  So it comes to KFC in Canada on October 18, and will be around for about a month. 

Despite being branded one of the unhealthiest fast food items ever, it actually has around the same amount of calories as a McDonald's premium chicken burger.  And the American Heart Association does warn that it contains an entire day's worth of sodium.  KFC themselves have gone on record as calling it an "occasional indulgence." 

But man o man, I can't wait to try one!  I haven't been this excited about a fast food offering since the last time McDonald's brought back the McRib.  I'm already planning to head off to the nearest town with a KFC on October 18 to try one!

Now if I can only convince KFC to introduce that Indian Chicken Sandwich they had at their Japanese locations.  A chicken breast smothered in curry sauce, toppped with lettuce and a dollop of mayo, and served on naan.  I tell you, that was the greatest fast food offering ever.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Computer Animation Milestones on DVD

Back in May, when Avatar first hit DVD, I was telling people NOT to buy it, because all of my DVD websites were reporting that a super-special edition with all kinds of bonus features would be out in time for Christmas.  And...our patience was rewarded. 

Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition drops on November 16!  This 3-disc special edition will have THREE versions of the film!  You get the original theatrical version, the special edition that hit theatres at the end of August (9 minutes lonter than the theatrical version), and a new "extended cut" created for the DVD (16 minutes longer than the theatrical version).  In something that I think is kind of silly, they also added in the "family friendly audio track," which is the option to have all the swears bleeped out.  There'll also be a feature-length documentary on the making of the film, called Capturing Avatar, and more than 45 minutes of deleted scenes!

And that's just the DVD!  If you spring for the Blu-Ray, on top of all that, you also get 17 featurettes, scene deconstructions where you get to see the entire film before the animation and effects were added, the trailers, a whole database explaining everything that the planet Pandora has to offer...and just so much more.

Hmm...it drops on November 16.  That's that weird time of year where I don't know whether to buy it for myself, or just heavily hint to family and friends that I want it for Christmas. 

And speaking of milestones in computer animation, one of my favourite DVD sites, TVshowsonDVD.com, is reporting that Shout! Factory has just signed a deal with Rainmaker Digital to bring ReBoot: The Complete Series to DVD!

ReBoot, of course, one of those fabulous relics of the 1990s.  It was the first computer animated TV show, taking place in a computer as the heroic guardian Bob battled the malicious computer viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal.  Needless to say, because of its place in computer animation history, and the fact that it made lots and lots of subtle pop culture references, it's become a huge cult following.  I was a huge fan when it was fresh and new and I was in college.

Shout! Factory is bringing it to DVD, and they did those fabulous boxed sets of G.I. Joe: The Complete Series and The Transformers: The Complete Series.  Shout! Factory has already said they hope to do that model again...start off with a massvie, beautiful boxed set of the entire series, and the dole out the individual season sets later. 

In case you're wondering who this "Rainmaker Digital" is, that's what Mainframe Animation (the studio that made ReBoot) changed their name to about 5 years ago.  They seem to have shifted their focus from animation to special effects, doing some of the effects on Stargate and Smallville

Still no word on when this'll hit DVD...Shout! Factory has simply said, "Some time in 2011."