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!

Give it a listen!

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

U62: The Targ on Facebook

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.