Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Week's Targ!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's Sunday!  That means it's time for a new episode of U62: The Targ!

In Episode 5.03: Bigger on the Inside, we offer on update on the Royal Alberta Museum, we bring back What's Wrong with Society, and we discuss the rumors of a Doctor Who movie!  

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2 Snow Whites and 14 Dwarfs

As we all know, Hollywood seems to have run out of ideas.  And this become blatantly obvious every couple of years when two movies of shockingly similar theme come out very close to each other.  The popular examples are still 1997, when we got two volcano movies (Volcano and Dante's Peak) and 1998, when we got two asteroid movies (Deep Impact and Armageddon).  Well, those times have come again, because in 2012, we're getting two gritty reboots of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The first one to get a trailer is Snow White and the Huntsman.  I will admit, I kind of find the premise of this one intriguing.  As we all know, in the original tale, the Evil Queen orders the Royal Huntsman to take Snow White deep into the woods and kill her.  But, the Huntsman is a good guy, and cannot kill in cold blood, so he tells Snow White to just run and hide in the woods.  But, in Snow White and the Huntsman, the Huntsman takes Snow White into the woods and says, "Look, the Queen has obviously gone insane, so here's what we're going to do.  I'm going to hide you in the woods and train you to be a badass warrior woman, so one day you can take your vengeance and rightfully claim your throne."  And much fantasy film action ensues.

Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame is Snow White, Charlize Theron is Ravena the Evil Queen, Thor himself Chris Hemsworth is the Eric the Huntsman, British actor Sam Clafin is Prince William (nee Charming), and the Seven Dwarfs consist of such esteemed British character actors as Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, and Nick Frost.  Behind the camera is rookie director Rupert Sanders. 

This definitely looks like the darker of the two...the electronic score in the trailer has people likening it to the gritty fantasy films of the 1980s.  And don't worry, it doesn't get too gritty...the filmmakers assure us that Snow White still ends up with Prince Charming, and Snow White and the Huntsman's relationship is strictly teacher/mentor.

Snow White and the Huntsman hits theatres on June 1.

The second Snow White reboot we're getting is Mirror Mirror.  This one is definitely more comical and I'm really getting a Princess Bride vibe from this trailer.

Julia Roberts plays Clementia the Evil Queen, Lily Collins, star of the new 90210, is Snow White, Armie Hammer, the Winkelvos Twins in The Social Network, is Prince Andrew Alcott (nee Charming), and Nathan Lane is Brighton, the Queen's aide.  The talent behind the camera is Tarsem, directed of Jennifer Lopez classic The Cell and the recent blockbuster Immortals.  Given that, I was expecting this to be grim and gritty, too, but this trailer is decidedly campy.

Mirror Mirror hits theatres on March 16.  

I like that the one thing these re-tellings seem to have in common is Snow White picking up a sword and claiming vengeance herself, rather than, you know, just laying comatose waiting for Prince Charming to come along and fix things. 

For historical completeness, I feel as though I need to remind you we were originally going to get a third Snow White reboot next year, and damn it, it's the one I was most looking forward to.  It was to be done in the style of a classic kung fu movie.  The action was to be moved to 19th century Hong Kong, with Snow White re-imagined as a British aristocrat and the Seven Dwarfs transformed into seven Shaolin warrior monks.  Natalie Portman was all signed on to play Snow White in that one, but she left the project and the whole shelved when she got pregnant. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

We're not off to a good start...just two episodes into the new season, and already we missed a week!  Oh, well, let's get back on track with Episode 5.02: Tube of Sunblock.

In this episode, we rant about the saga of the Royal Alberta Museum, share the news on the next James Bond film, and I obsess over Star Wars on Blu-ray

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Monday Night Cartoons

Well, you know me, I love my cartoons, and a couple of trailers for new animated films just came my way that I need to pass along.

First up, we have The Lorax.  Based on the classic Dr. Seuss book of the same name, this tells the tale of an industrialist who comes to a magical land to start logging and making stuff, but the Lorax appears to speak for the trees and try to save the environment.

I like the criticisms of this trailer that have branded it "hippie environmentalist bullplop," to which I have to say, "Umm, have you not read the Dr. Seuss original?"

This was produced for the big screen by relatively new animation studio Illumination Entertainment, which exploded onto the scene a couple years ago with the critically beloved blockbuster Despicable Me.  Chris Renaud, the director of Despicable Me, is also directing this one.

For voices, we have Danny DeVito as the Lorax, Ed Helms (Andy on The Office) as the Once-ler, the industrialist who starts logging, and Zac Efron as the boy the Once-ler tells the legend of the Lorax too.  Taylor Swift and Betty White also pop up.

I've got to say, the track record for Dr. Seuss adaptations has been spotty at best, but at the very least, this trailer looks like candy-coated goodness.  The Lorax hits theatres on March 2.

And now, we head across the Pacific to the legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli.  Their latest animated blockbuster has finally been dubbed and is getting a major North American release.  The original Japanese title...The Borrower Arrietty.  The English name...The Secret World of Arrietty.

Inspired by the world-famous series of British children's novels The Borrowers, the film tells the tale of Arrietty, a young Borrower who develops a friendship with a human named Sho.  Sho's grandmother, however, glimpsed a Borrower in her youth, and suspects something's up with Sho, and soon goes on a mission to find the Borrower's living in her house.  Can Sho save his new friend from his ruthless Grandmother?

Arrietty hit theatres in Japan in the summer of 2010, and as is the Studio Ghibli way, it kicked ass at the box office and cleaned up at all the major awards.  It was directed by veteran Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who made his directorial debut with this.  And Studio Ghibli's resident living legend, Hayao Miyazaki, wrote the screenplay. 

The North American distribution is being handled by Disney, and like the past decade's worth of Ghibli films, the dub is being supervised by Pixar folks, because being a Ghibli otaku is pretty much a prerequisite to work at Pixar.  The English-language dub was directed by veteran Pixar sound designer Gary Rydstrom, who also directed the Pixar short Lifted.  The English dub voice cast includes Disney kids Bridget Mendler and David Henrie as Arrietty and Sho, Carol Burnett as Sho's grandmother, and Will Arnet and and Amy Poehler as Arrietty's parents. 

I watched this trailer and it gave me goosebumps.  I love Studio Ghibli, particularily the films of Miyazaki.  I'll definitely be going to check this out because of his involvement.

The Secret World of Arrietty hits theatres in North America on February 17.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

DVD Review -- "Weird Al" Yankovic Live!: The Alpocalypse Tour

It's a lazy Sunday morning full of blogging, so since I just reviewed Batman: Year One, let's review the other straight-to-DVD production I just bought....

"Weird Al" Yankovic Live!:  The Alpocalypse Tour

Directed by Wayne Isham

Starring "Weird" Al Yankovic, Jim "Kimo" West, Steve Jay, John "Bermuda" Schwartz, and Reuben Valtiera.  

Backstory:  The first DVD I bought around 10 years ago was "Weird Al" Yankovic Live!, which was Weird Al's first ever concert DVD.  Having never seen Weird Al in concert yet at that point in my life, I figured this would be the closest I would ever get.  Here we are now, 11 years later, and Weird Al has finally released a second concert DVD, The Alpocalypse Tour.  Since I'm slowly upgrading everything to Blu-Ray, it was time to see Weird Al in hi-def.

Plot:  What plot?  It's a concert DVD!  Filmed at Toronto's Massey Hall on July 16, 2011, we get to see Weird Al doing his live show to promote his latest album, Alpocalypse.  He sings such classics as Fat, Amish Paradise and Smells Like Nirvana, and tracks off his new album like Skipper Dan, TMZ, and Perform This Way.  

What I Liked:  Weird Al puts on a phenomenal live show, and I'm glad to have a visual representation of it.  It's just highly entertaining.  

What I Didn't Like:  A lot of stage banter seems to have been left on the cutting room floor -- a key part of any concert experience.  I have some minor quibbles about certain songs left off the set list  (why couldn't he have done a live version of Albuquerque for his encore, like on his last tour?).  And also, mildly disappointed that there isn't a 5.1 channel surround sound mix.  

Final Verdict:  If you've never seen Weird Al in concert, pick this up, because it's the next best thing.

3.5 Nibs

Bonus Features:  On the DVD, you get the music videos for Perform This Way and Polka Face, some extra live concert performances (the classic Weird Al originals Frank's 2000" TV, You Don't Love Me Anymore and You Make Me), some videos that Weird Al made for his YouTube channel, and some online videos that Weird Al starred in for various humour sites. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Movie Review -- DC Showcase: Catwoman

Well, since there's a new DC Showcase short on the Batman: Year One DVD, I thought I would review it separetly as I've done in the past.  So, let's take a look at....

DC Showcase:  Catwoman

Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Starring the voices of Eliza Dushku, John DiMaggio, Tara Strong, Cree Summer, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Lillian Mumy.  

Backstory:  A prime way to illustrate my disappointment with the DC animated direct-to-DVD films is the DC Showcase line.  This animated short films give focus on beloved B-list characters that could clearly  carry their own film.  The best example:  Catwoman.  Bruce Timm, the producer in charge of these films, has long said a Catwoman film is one he would love to do...but it looks like this short film is all we're going to get.  Don't get me wrong, I love these shorts, but...they could be whole films!

Plot:  On one moonlit Gotham City night, Catwoman saves a stray cat from being mercilessly gunned down by a couple of thugs.  This piques the Cat's curiosity, so she begins to investigate, and she's soon doing battle with a notorious diamond smuggler known as Rough Cut.  What is Rough Cut's nefarious plan, and can Catwoman get to the bottom of it?

What I Liked:  Well, a good portion of the film takes place in a strip club, and they really push the limits of the PG-13 rating on this DVD.  Like a lot of the DC Showcase shorts, it's kind of short for character development, so the main focus is on action, and there's some great action set pieces in this.  The voice acting is really good, and the quality is very high level.  And throw in a script from fan favourite Batman writer Paul Dini...it's all good.

What I Didn't Like:  IT'S TOO DARN SHORT!!

Final Verdict:  I really  like this DC Showcase concept, and if this is all we're going to get for characters the level of Catwoman's popularity, then keep bringing them on.  

3 Nibs