Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

I'm seem to be doing pretty good with this week's episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, I've thrown together Episode 4.03: Falling into Autumn, where I share my excitement on the next DC animated film, share my thoughts on the Katy Perry/Sesame Street controversy, and get giddy on the new season of Hell's Kitchen!

Download and let me know how I'm doing!

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TV So Far

Of course, this is a very exciting time in television.  It seems like just about every new TV show is premiering this week, and returning shows are having their season premieres, and I've been able to catch a lot of it.  So, just wanted to share my thoughts on what I've caught so far.

First up, as part of the kitchy, gimmicky stuff I love so much, had to sit down on Monday night and watch the big CBC special The Queen in 3D.  As the legend goes, the only existing footage of the coronoation of Queen Elizabeth II is the grainy, early black and white TV footage.  Well, as it turned out, the Queen's coronation was actually filmed in 3D, with the intent of showing it in theatres shortly after her coronation so you could have the experience of actually being there.  Well, what actually happened, back in 1953, once it was announced that the Queen's coronation would be televised, the whole of the UK actually experienced a massive boom in TV sales so people could watch it on TV.  With darn near everyone having watched the coronation on TV, the 3D footage was filed away in an archive and forgotten....

...Until last year, when some heroic archivists discovered it.  So of course, the footage was cleaned up, they shot some new 3D footage of the Queen when she visited Canada earlier this year, and the CBC made a 1-hour documentary about the Queen's previous visits to Canada.

I don't know about this one.  First complaint:  the 3D didn't look too good on my TV.  Seriously.  Even with the 3D glasses on, the whole thing looked as 2-dimensional as regular TV.  Second complaint:  they were advertising how it would be full of rare footage of the Queen's previous visits, such as visiting Expo 67.  All that rare footage was crammed into a 2-minute montage in the middle of the show.  Third complaint:  that 15-minute section about the history of 3D film was out of place. 

All in all, a good try, CBC, but it came off as too gimicky. 

Next up, it was what surveys said is the most anticipated new TV sereis of the fall season...the remake of the classic cop show, Hawaii Five-0.  Part of the appeal to me is the creators of this remake are Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.  These two are currently some of the hottest writers in Hollywood, having written the big screen versions of Transformers and the new Star Trek.  (They also wrote Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I still blame director Michael Bay for that one being so bad.) 

So, yeah, basic detective show set-up.  Steve McGarrett is a dedicated Navy SEAL fighting terrorists around the world.  When the terrorists kills his father in an act of retaliation, McGarrett returns home to Honolulu, where he's appointed the head of a new police task force to take down terrorists and all other kinds of dastardly criminals setting up shop in Hawaii.  He's quickly joined on his task force by Detective Dan "Dano" Williams, a New Jersey detective who recently moved to Hawaii to be closer to his ex-wife and daughter; Detective Chin Ho Kelly, a childhood friend of McGarrett's who was drummed out of the police force on false charges of bribery; and Detective Kono Kalakaua, a recent police academy grad, and Kelly's hot surfer girl cousin.  In addition to creators Orci and Kurzman, it gets geek cred by having Kono played by Grace Park, who played Boomer on the recent Battlestar: Galactica remake. 

The pilot was your basic cop show action/drama formula.  Nothing really too remarkable.  They uncover the plot thread that McGarrett's father -- also a Honolulu detective -- was investigating some massive conspiracy that may have contributed to him getting killed, so that'll be our recurring "mytharc" to be sure.  But yeah.  Despite the hype, I found it to be a fairly routine action show. 

From there, it was on to the season premiere of House.  For those just tuning in, the season finale cliffhanger for House, saw longtime characters House and Cuddy finally hooking up after six season of some rather antagonistic flirting.  I'm a little wary of this.  Seeing characters hook up like this is usually seen as a "shark-jumping" moment for a longrunning TV show, so it'll be interesting to see how this plays out this season. 

I know that House usually gets a lot of flak for being a farily formulaic show and sticking to its episode formula pretty closely, so I'm always glad to see episodes completely break from its formula.  And that's what the season premiere was.  A complete break from the formula as House and Cuddy decided to take the day off work, just hang out, indulge in some passionate lovemaking, and just talk about their feelings and figure out if a relationship between the two could work.  Some great character stuff.

And the subplot brought some good comic relief, as Cuddy's absence and a few remarks from House result in the hospital almost being shut down, and House's staff frantically working to keep the hospital open.  It also generated some mystery, as the season finale saw Thirteen requesting a leave of absence, and staying mum on her reasons why. 

The real reson why Thirteen is taking a leave of absence is because the actress who plays Thirteen, Olivia Wilde, needs some to finish up Tron: Legacy and Cowboys and Aliens.  She is not leaving the show.  In the episodes ahead, Amber Tamblyn, still best remembered as Joan on Joan of Arcadia, will be joining the show as a sharp medical intern that House takes on his team as Thirteen's substitute.  Big changes this season!

And that brings us Tuesday, where I caught the season premiere of The Rick Mercer Report.  Always solidly funny.  And, as always, it'll be fun to watch The Rick Mercer Report devolve throughout the season as Mercer burns through his travel budget.  The first few episodes of the season are always in some exotic, far off location, and by the end, he's stuck to places in the Greater Toronto Area.

Last night's season premiere:  "Tonight, on The Mercer Report, we're in Shanghai for Expo 2010!"

$5 says this is the season finale:  "Tonight, on The Mercer Report, we're in the CBC break room playing foozeball with George Strombolopolis." 

And then after Rick Mercer I made the mistake of watching This Hour has 22 Minutes.  I'm sorry, but I find This Hour has 22 Minutes to be one of those TV shows that stopped being funny a LONG time ago.  I blame Mark Critch.  I find Mark Critch so unfunny I want to punch him in the face.  I just find him too bitter and cynical.  I have this theory about Mark Critch.  Critch was just a writer for 22 Minutes back in its glory days of the late-90s/early-00s, when Rick Mercer was on the show.  I think Critch and Mercer had some kind of falling out, and Critch is trying to show the world he was the brains behind Mercer.  But sadly, Critch just comes across as a bitter jerk trying to do Mercer's act.  All I'm really trying to say is Mark Critch sucks. 

And that's the new TV season so far.  This Wednesday night, we've got the season premiere of Law & Order: SVU, which I still watch even though I think it's starting to get ridiculous and sensational.  We've also got the season premiere of Cougar Town, which I actually find pretty funny, and my reality TV show addication, Hell's Kitchen.  Stay tuned....

Monday, September 20, 2010

The DC animated movie is....

Well, the next DC Comics straight-to-DVD animated film, Superman/Batman: Apocolypse, comes out at the end of the month, and as is the custom, it has now been learned what the next film after that one will be.

And the next in the series is...

All Star Superman!

The multiple-award winning, critically acclaimed chronicle of Superman's final days will be adapted into a 75-minute animated film.

For the celebrity voice cast that's been lined up:
  • James Denton, one of the stars of Desperate Housewives, will be voicing Superman. 
  • Christina Hendricks, currently starring on Mad Men, will be voicing Lois Lane.
  • Anthony LaPaglia, formerly the star of Without a Trace, will be voicing Lex Luthor.
  • And acting legend Ed Asner will be voicing Perry White.
Following the schedule that they follow with these DC films, it'll probably be coming out in the Spring...most likely March.

I actually have not read this yet, but I've heard nothing but good things.  Even my best friend -- who is NOT a DC guy -- says he loved the hell out of it.

Time to read this!  I'm heading over to my library's website to check this out. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

And with this week's episode of U62: The Targ, the challenge begins!

With Episode 4.02: The Daily Grind, it's time to see if this new format I've created can be sustainable. Will I be able to pump out a half-hour of entertainment every week? Will this new blend of my new features, favourite tunes, and my usual ramblings about movies and DVD be success?

Download and let me know how I'm doing!

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Various Animation Ramblings

I can't believe that I didn't notice that my favourite Disney animated film, The Black Cauldron, just got a brand-new, 25th anniversary special edition DVD!  And it came out on Tuesday! 

Reading the tech specs, it doesn't sound like too much of an improvement over the original "Gold Collection" DVD.  It's finally in anamorphic widescreen, and for new bonus features, they added a deleted scene and an interactive game. 

Sadly, the deleted scene isn't the most famous deleted scene.

Here's the most famous deleted scene from The Black Cauldron:  the evil Horned King unleashed his Army of Cauldron-Born...you know, your basic unstoppable army of the undead.  There's this eerie green mist that surrounds them.  The Cauldron-Born encounter one of the Horned King's, you know, living warriors.  The Cauldron-Born leap on the warrior and

The green mist strips the flesh from the warrior's bones, turning him into one of the Cauldron-Born

Now a Cauldron-Born, the warrior leaps out of the green mist and joins the ranks of the Cauldron-Born.

According to legend, the scene was deleted because Jeffrey Katzenburg just became head of the Disney Studios, and when he saw the scene, he was mortified that such a graphic image was in a Disney animated film.  So he ordered it cut. 

It does exist.  I've seen screen grabs online.  It's shocking that such a thing exists, but The Black Cauldron  was Disney's infamous attempt to create an animated film for adults. 

Actually, there's a similar scene in my favourite DC Comics direct-to-DVD animated film, Wonder Woman.  In the film's climax, Ares has gained all the powers of the gods.  The Amazons unleash an attack on him.  Using his powers, Ares raises from the dead ever Amazon that's ever fallen in battle.  So, we have Amazons vs. undead Amazons. 

In the battle, one of the undead Amazons slays an Amazon.  The Amazon falls to the ground, dead.  Her skin shrivels up to the dull, grey skin tone of the undead.  Her eyes snap back open, the dead, soulless eyes of the undead, and she starts fighting alongside the undead Amazon that killed her.  A very chilling scene.

Have I mentioned that Wonder Woman is my favourite of the DC animated films?  It's so good!

Switching gears to Star Wars now, I read an interview the other day that made me laugh.

I'm not a big fan of the Clone Wars cartoon.  I saw the movie, and the movie was just so bad, that it killed all desire to see the series.  Well, I just read an interview Dave Filoni, the supervising producer on the Clone Wars cartoon, and what I read made me laugh. 

The interviewer asked that, now that the series has grown and evolved and is so drastically different from the film, if he could go back and change the film, would he?  Filoni said he loved to, and has even asked George Lucas about doing it.  Lucas said, "Sorry, dude, the film is done.  You have to let it go."

"C'mon man, let me do a special edition!" said Filoni, and George Lucas just gave him an icy glare. 

So, there you go.  Apparently, George Lucas doesn't like anyone changing Star Wars...unless it's him. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Tangled Trailer

Well, Disney just released the new trailer for the next animated blockbuster, Tangled, and as always, it's leaving people scratching their heads.

A lot of Disney fans think Disney is messing up the marketing on this one.  See, last year, Disney gave us The Princess and the Frog, and even though it was beloved by critics and a hit at the box office, it didn't meet Disney's financial expectations.  The experts say it's because the marketing for The Princess and the Frog focused too much on the princess and the romance and the fairy tale, and thus, boys found it icky.

So, the knee-jerk reaction was the marketing for Disney's next film, their animated take on Rapunzel.  They changed the name to Tangled, and now they're focusing on the prince, his exploits, and trying to make it look more like an action movie...and thus, boys won't find it icky, they'll drag their parents to it, and Disney will make more money. 

Anywho, here's the trailer.  Mandy Moore voices Rapunzel and Zackary Levi voices the prince, Flynn.  It hits theatres November 24.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Billie Mae Richards

Some tragic news came across my desk that I felt I must share with the world.

Back on Friday, Billie Mae Richards passed away.

Richards was a highly acclaimed Canadian actress and singer.  She was, however, best known for her work as a voice actress.  She started as a voice actress in the CBC radio drama department, where her specialty was voicing children.  Back in the 1960s, when she got her start, the CBC radio drama department was regarded as being the best group of voice actors in North America, and she got to do a lot of cartoon voices.  She did many voices on the original 1960s Spider-Man cartoon and Rocket Robin Hood.  In the 1980s, she did the voice of several Care Bears characters...most notably Tenderheart Bear in the first two movies, and Brightheart Racoon in the subsequent TV series.  In fact, according to the IMDB, her last credited role was reprising the voice of Brightheart Racoon for a direct-to-DVD Care Bears movie about five years ago.

But perhaps her most famous role is the one we hear every Christmas.

That's right, she was the voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Apparently, she could do Rudolph's voice right up until her dying days.  When her great-grandkids friends didn't believe that she was Rudolph, she would do the voice, and the kids would be gobsmacked. 

She was 88 years old. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

At the Movies Returns!

This news is actually about a week old...I just haven't had a chance to blog about yet.

About a month or so ago, like a lot of movie geeks, I was lamenting the loss of At the Movies, that classic movie review show started by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert all those years ago, and known as Siskel & Ebert during its heyday.  After 35 years on the air in one form or another, it was canceled this past August due to declining ratings.

Well, for over a year now, Roger Ebert has been mentioning at his blog that he was seeking other avenues to resurrect the show and bring it back to its roots.  Ebert, and many others agree, that in this growing age of digital downloads and pay-per-view and so many ways to get your movies, there still exists the need for some kind of program that tells you if movies are good or not. 

And so, last week, Roger Ebert announced the creation of his new TV show, Roger Ebert presents At the Movies.  He really is going back to his roots.  Just like the very first seasons of the show, it'll be produced by and air on PBS. 

The new critics on the show will be Christy Lemure of the Associated Press and Elvis Mitchell of NPR.  Regular contributors and occasional guest hosts will be film bloggers Kim Morgan and Omar Moore.  Ebert himself will appear in a regular segment called "Roger's Office," in which Ebert will geek out over one of his favourite films...either something new, or an overlooked classic. 

In addition to movie reviews, there'll be regular segments classic films, on-demand viewing, and genre films.

The series will also the return of the classic "Two Thumbs Up" rating system made popular by Siskel & Ebert.  The whole "Two Thumbs Up" system is actually owned by and a registered trademark of Roger Ebert and the Estate of Gene Siskel.  The original At the Movies program stopped using it when Ebert and Disney (the produers of At the Movies) got into royalty dispute.  Others say Ebert stopped letting Disney use it when Ebert didn't like the direction of the new show.  Either way, Two Thumbs Up is back.

The new show will be premiering on PBS stations all across the USA this January.

Here's Ebert's official announcement from his website. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Targ Returns!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

And we're back!  After taking August off, I have returned with all-new episodes of U62: The Targ!

We kick off series 4 with Episode 4.01:  Expanded and Improved.  I'm trying quite a few new things this  year.  I've doubled the length, it's back in stereo, and I've introduced some new regular features.

Have a listen, and let me know what you think of the new format!

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Retro Heroes!

If there's one quirk of the superhero genre I love, it's period superheroes.  Two of my guilty pleasures are the Shadow and the Rocketeer, and a lot of that has to do with their late-1930s settings.  The Watchmen movie tried hard to be set in the 1980s, but it's 80s-ness never really came through for me.

So it's kind of neat that we have two Marvel Comics movies in production right now that will be set in times past.

First up, Captain America.  We've been promised that it's a full-blown, World War II epic, with Cap fighting Nazis and the Red Skull in the European theatre.

And we got our first picture of Captain America in action today!  I love these spy photos from the set...we don't get enough of these anymore.

Now that we see these pictures, I can see that it really is influenced by the Ultimate Captain America costume.

Oh, and the spy was quick to point out that this is NOT Chris Evans, who's playing Steve Rogers, but his stunt double.

We have another spy photo from Captain America, too.  Here's Cap being pursued by two HYDRA agents. 

In case I haven't said it yet, Captain America is being directed by Joe Johnston, who did Jurassic Park 3, October Sky, and...The Rocketeer!  His most recent film was that remake of The Wolfman

It's due to come out next July.

And as I said, that's not the only retro superhero film that Marvel's working on.  Also filming right now is the X-Men prequel tale, X-Men: First Class, which details the founding of Charles Xavier's School for the Gifted, and Xaiver's falling out with Magneto. 

In order to keep with prequel aspects, the entire thing is set in the 1960s!

The villains in this particular tale are the secret society known as the Hellfire Club, and here's our first look at January Jones as Emma Frost.

Looks like a very 1960s-appropriate costume for Ms. Frost.

Rounding out the cast are James McAvoy plays the young Professor X, Michael Fassbender plays the young Magneto, and Kevin Bacon plays Sebastian Shaw, the leader of the Hellfire Club.  Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass) is directing, and Bryan Singer, director of the first two X-Men films, is back on board as a producer.

It's due out next June. 

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Pretty Pictures of Newt

As you know, I'm a huge fan of Pixar.  A few years ago, Pixar announced that they were working on an animated film called Newt.  It was to follow the adventures of a blue-toed newt, living alone in a cage in a laboratory, fearing that he is the last one in existence.  However, when he hears news that a lone female blue-toed newt is discovered in the wild, he breaks out and heads off to find her in order to save the species.  However, when they meet, they take an instant disliking to each other.

Earlier this year, it was learned that Newt had been shut down.  No word on why...it's hardly the first animated film to get shut down in pre-production.  But still, given how high-profile its announcement was, it was a bit of a surprise.

Anyway, because they know they have such a rabid fanbase, Pixar went ahead and released 30 pieces of concept art from Newt.  I'm sharing my favouites with you.  Because Pixar is awesome.

And these are beautiful.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Movie Review -- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Forever

Well, I have a proud tradition at this here blog that I always review the latest straight-to-DVD animated films that I pick up.  I picked up one while I was in the city today, so why am I wasting time?  Let's get to my review of....

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Turtles Forever

Directed by Roy Burdine and Lloyd Goldfine

Starring the voices of Michael Sinternaklaas, Wayne Grayson, Sam Riegel, Frank Frankson, Veronica Taylor, Scottie Ray, Johny Castro, Tony Salerno, Sebastian Arcelus, and Dan Green.

Backstory:  2009 marked the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.  As such, there was lots of celebrating in the comic book world.  The makers of the current Ninja Turtles cartoon (henceforth called the "03 cartoon," because that's the year it premiered) came up with a great way to celebrate.  They decided to do a crossover with the original Ninja Turtles cartoon (the 87 cartoon).  2009 was also when Nickelodeon bought the Ninja Turtles franchise lock, stock, and barrel, and decided to reboot the franchise with their own 'toon.  So, the '03 cartoon's 25th anniversary celebration also served as the final episode of the '03 cartoon.  I knew it was going to be released as a direct-to-video film, but it wound up not coming out until a year after it was televised.  Oh, well.  It's out now!

Plot:  The '03 Turtles are stunned when news reports start popping up, of 4 large turtles fighting crime on the streets of New York.  When they investigate, they soon come across...the '87 Turtles!  Turns out their latest battle with the '87 Shredder and Krang caused the Technodrome's trans-dimensional portal to malfunction, sending them all to the '03 Dimension.  The '87 Shredder decides to seize this opportunity, and enlists the '03 Shredder for help.  However, this discovery of alternate dimensions and more Turtles does not sit well with the '03 Shredder.  The '03 Shredder surmizes that all of their universes branched off from a prime universe..."Turtle Prime."  The '03 Shredder figures that the only way to be finally rid of the Turtles is to destroy "Turtle Prime," and thus destroy all of reality.  It's up to theses Turtles of two worlds to join forces, defeat the '03 Shredder, and save all of existence! 

What I Liked:  Man o man, when the '03 Shredder gets his hands on the Technodrome, he turns it into the WMD we were always told it was.  He turns the robotic Foot Soldiers into an evil machine army that would make SkyNet proud, and with his hands on mutagen, he promptly creates an unstoppable army of mutant warriors.  You know...everything we wished the '87 Shredder would do, back in the day.  The scenes on Turtle Prime are also amazing.  SPOILER ALERT:  Turtle Prime is the world of the original Eastman and Laird comics from 1984, and are rendered completely in black and white.  And be sure to hit pause when the '03 Shredder starts skimming through other dimensions.  It's Easter egg-irifc, as just about every other known incarnation of the Turtles is represented. 

What I Didn't Like:  The plot does seem somewhat reminiscient of the DC universe animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.  I'm sure there are only so many ways to do multiple-Earths stories in comics, so I'll give them a pass.  And I don't remember the '87 Turtles being so...jokey. 

Final Verdict:  A more than enjoyable outing that Turtles fans will find quite satisfying. 

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  Nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.