Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Nightmare Before Christmas

Time for another "Fishing in the Discount Bin."  For those just tuning in, I did this thing at my podcast called "Fishing in the Discount Bin," where I'd rant about one of the many movies in my DVD collection.  Even though I only did it around 10 times before getting wore out with it, I wrote 30+ reviews.  And now, I'm sharing them on my blog.

It was getting near Halloween when I wrote this, so that means we're getting into Halloween movies.  First up, The Nightmare Before Christmas.  This entry is originally dated October 16, 2010.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mystery Pack #1

A few years ago, a friend of mine was telling me a tale.  Comic book artist Todd McFarlane had done this museum exhibit of some his work.  McFarlane created a "virtual exhibit" of his work so fans all over the world could see his work.  And, on each page, he embedded an MP3 about what was going through his mind when he drew those comic book panels, where he was in his career, and stuff like that.

My friend, also being a comic book artist, took inspiration in those tales, went through the website's HTML code, found and downloaded the MP3s, so he could listen to these tales on his own time.  One day, while riding the bus to work, he was listening to his iPod on shuffle.  The song ended, and suddenly, Todd McFarlane started talking to him.  The MP3s had accidentally synced to his iPod. 

And he loved it!  He loved hearing this little tale from Todd McFarlane, and then the music continued.

"You should do something like that," my friend said.  "Like a podcast, but really short episodes.  Only two minutes long or so." 

And so, I began planning out what I called The Mystery Pack.  My artsy-fartsy plan for it was this.  You'd download a dozen episodes or so into your MP3 player, hit shuffle, and wait for one to pop up.  It was an attempt to recreate the surprise that my friend felt that one day when Todd McFarlane started talking to him.

But, as with a lot of my radio projects, I found the difficult part was trying to dig up engaging content.  I only really just made this one episode, in order to get a feel of what the whole thing would sound like. 

So, here's the first and only episode of The Mystery Pack.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Doctor Who Aggregation

If you listen to my podcast, you know I pretty much said all this stuff in this week's episode, but I feel like blogging on this sunny Monday afternoon, so I may as well repeat myself!

Last week, a whole bunch of news came out about Series 7 of Doctor Who, currently filming in the UK.  The biggest news is the announcement of the Doctor's new companion!  It's already been announced that the next series will the be the last for Amy and Rory, so it'll be time for a new sidekick!

And that new sidekick will be played by...Jenna-Louise Coleman.  Here's the first picture of her in her companion regalia, as released by the BBC.

We don't know much about her character yet, like her character's name, but we did hear that she beat out 500 other candidates in the audition process.  We've been told that in her auditions she could talk faster than even Matt Smith, so that means we'll probably have to watch the episodes in slo-mo to understand what they're saying to each other.

But, with this announcement, comes some sad news.  It was also announced that they're splitting the season up again.  We're going to get the first 5 episodes this fall, they'll take a break for the Christmas special -- in which the new companion will be introduced -- and then the remaining 8 episodes next spring.

It was also revealed that the fifth episode, the one before the Christmas special, will be the final one for Amy and Rory.  They've told us that Amy and Rory's departure will be a big, epic battle with the Weeping Angels.  Says current showrunner Stephen Moffat, "Not everyone gets out alive, and I mean it this time!"

(i.e.  Rory's going to die again.)

One episode that's already been filmed is going to the Old West.   They've been filming it in Spain, which is a great choice because Spain is where they filmed all those classic Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.  And there's a very special guest star in that episode...Ben Browder, star of the cult-classic sci-fi TV series Farscape and Stargate SG-1.

And, to top things off, the first trailer was released today!  Here's our first glimpse at Series 7!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Who Wants a Podcast?

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Ah, Sunday morning.  Time to sleep in, make an omlette for breakfast, and play some records on the ol' record player.  That's how it was done in my childhood, but we're in the 21st Century now, so instead of records, it's podcasts!

Today, I've got Episode 5.18: The Adventures of Snurkles McGee.  You may have heard the controversy of Michael Bay's re-booted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles origin, I say good-bye to the submarines at West Edmonton Mall, and I recap some of the big announcements for Doctor Who.

So, if you have the inclination, give it a listen! 

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Be a fan in Facebook! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin -- Superman II

The preamble!  I used to do a thing on my podcast called Fishing in the Discount Bin, but it got too hard so I stopped.  But, not before scripting a whole bunch of entries that I stockpiled and never produced.  Not wanting to waste it, I dug it out of my archives and started posting it to my blog.  And now you're up to date.

Following last week's review of Superman, it's only logical that we get to Superman II.  This was originally written on October 2, 2010.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Deep Sea Adventure, The Edmonton Journal, and Me

Yeah, I had a real thrill today, so I hope you don't mind if I take one last moment to milk it for all its worth.

I was at work today, taking a moment to check Facebook, and I got a Facebook message from my Mom.  Mom said that she did a spit take when she sat down for her morning coffee, looked at The Edmonton Journal, and saw that I was quoted on the front page about West Edmonton Mall's dismantling of their submarines.

I had to go to the Edmonton Journal's website right away, and sure enough, there I am being quoted about West Edmonton Mall and their submarines.

So, for those who've been asking, here's how it came about.  Yesterday, I was checking the news online, and I came across this article at the Edmonton Journal's website announcing the end of the submarines.  I was a little bit sad, because they were always there at West Edmonton Mall when I was a kid, they were really fun to watch, and we all heard that joke about how the Mall had more subs than the Navy.

So I shared that article on the various social networking sites, including Twitter, with the message, "Another part of my childhood being sold off." 

I then took a nap, because I had to work job #2 last night, and I woke up, checked Twitter, and saw I had a direct message from Edmonton Journal reporter Bill Mah, who saw my tweet and asked if I would share some of my thoughts on the submarines. 

I sat down and wrote him a somewhat lengthy, rambling e-mail of my memories of the submarines.  He e-mailed me back almost immediately saying thanks, and that he wouldn't be able to use all of it.

Of course, in my low-self-esteem way, I thought the true meaning was he wouldn't be using any of it, but he did use some, and needless to say, it brightened my day.

For those who might be curious, here's my complete collection of thoughts that I sent to Mr. Mah:

I originally hail from a small town called Entwistle, which is about one hour west of Edmonton on the Yellowhead highway.  When I was a kid, trips into West Edmonton Mall were a rare and special occasion that only happened once every couple of months.  On those trips into the Mall, my parents would do best to steer us kids away from all of the big attractions like Fantasyland and the World Waterpark, lest we start begging and pleading to go on a ride or two.  However, there was no avoiding the Deep Sea Adventure, as it's always plopped down right in the middle of the Mall.  Me, my brother, and my sister would stand at the edge of that indoor lake and watch the submarines go around and around.  We'd implore our parents if we could go on it, but they'd always say no.  They would, however, give us a penny to toss in the lake.  And of course, we'd try to hit a submarine as it went by.

In those early days, the only way I rode the submarine was vicariously, thanks to the books of Eric Wilson.  He had a successful line of mysteries for kids back in the late-1980s, and each one took place at a well-known Canadian landmark.  His book about West Edmonton Mall is called Code Red at the Supermall, and the Deep Sea Adventure figures prominently in the book, as several of the submarine pilots and scuba divers are prime suspects.  That book painted the Deep Sea Adventure as being akin to the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, with a very hyperactive host spinning wild yarns of going on a search for a missing submarine.  The book made the ride sound very exciting.

For a while there, it seemed like I would be riding the submarines quite a bit.  I had a blustery uncle who used to work for an outfit called Alberta Mobile Air, and AMA had won the contract  in those early days of the Mall to provide the air for the submarines.  That uncle promised all kinds of benefits from having that contract, and promised he'd be able to get all all kinds of free passes to the submarines.  Never panned out, sadly.  He's one of those uncles that talked a big game.

I finally got to ride the submarines in 1990, at the tender age of 13.  It was the waning days of Christmas vacation, the family had gone to the Mall to see Home Alone, and we had some time to kill before the movie.  So, after years of asking, my parents finally said, "Yes!  We will go on the submarines."  I remember being very excited.  Standing there on the dock, watching the submarine rise before me, I couldn't believe it was finally happening!  When we piled onto the submarines, I was a little surprised at how cramped it was inside.  My memories of Code Red at the Supermall having faded, I was wondering what exactly you'd see on this submarine trip.  I mean, the water's so clear, you can see most everything underwater in that lake. 

Well, much to my surprise, that's when I learned about all the aquariums that are in that lake, and I got to see all those wonderful fish.  The submarine captain wasn't as dynamic as in Code Red at the Supermall, but he made his fair share of corny jokes.  Passing by one of the giant fiberglass clams, he said, "And there's our Mick Jagger impersonater!"  At the end of the trip, when the submarine releases it's air and rises, the captain remarked, "And now you're about to see what it's like to be an ice cube in a glass of 7-Up."  But the big thrill was finally seeing the inside of the cave. 

For those who don't remember, the island that now houses the Booster Juice was once a mountain, and the trench that encircles it was once a cave.  I always wondered what was inside that cave as a submarine disappeared in one end and came out the other...and I finally saw it was these amazing models and mock-ups of underwater scenes.  The one that stands out to me is a giant squid devouring a submarine...that looked a lot like the one I was in! 

Needless to say, I found it very exciting. 

The second -- and final time -- I rode the submarines was in 2003.  Now, I found myself in the role of the blustery uncle, as I was treating my niece and nephew to a day at the Mall.  Much like that night in 1990, we were there to see Finding Nemo, and had some time to kill before the movie.  What better way to kill time before the movie than by riding the submarines?  So I took my niece and nephew on the Deep Sea Adventure. 

It hadn't changed much since my first time those 13 years ago.  Still small inside...still amazing sites and all those amazing fish in those aquariums.  A lot quieter, though.  No big performance like in Code Red at the Supermall, not witty comments...most of the ride was in silence.  But my niece and nephew still loved it.

In a way, I'm sad that many of my beloved icons of West Edmonton Mall are gone now.  The Drop of Doom was taken out before I ever worked up the nerve to ride it.  They got rid of the whale statue in front of what is now Victoria's Secret over a year ago, and hasn't been refurbished and re-installed yet like they said they would.  And now, the submarines are going.  But, in another way, that's also what I like about West Edmonton Mall.  It's a very dynamic place.  It's always changing, there's always something new to see.  And I'm sure there'll be another new icon for a new generation of youngsters to look at and wonder...and beg their parents to go on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Relentless Spot

So, I guess Tuesday will be the day I clean out my hard drive and post my old audio experiments.

Sadly, I don't have anything elaborate for a home set-up.  I have a pretty good USB studio mic that I blew my RalphBucks on many years ago.  And for software, I use Audacity, a not-too-shabby freeware program that my production instructor at NAIT suggested to me.  It gets the job done, for when I have inspiration at 3AM and feel like trying something.

I threw this together about seven years ago, when I first discovered Audacity and got my mic.  A friend of mine took to her blog and shared this label from an energy drink called Relentless.  She thought it was the most ridiculous thing she'd ever read.

So I made it into a ridiculous commercial. 

I've always been rather fond of it.  So, yeah.  Here's my Relentless commercial. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Can't Think of a Good Title

Made a quick trip into Edmonton yesterday.  I really wanted to see John Carter, and at the rate it's tanking, I figured the clock was ticking if I wanted to see it on the big screen. 

Sadly, I didn't want to see it because I was familiar with the source material.  I wanted to see it because it was directed by Andrew Stanton, the Pixar soopah-genius who directed A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E.  Being a Pixar geek, I wanted to see his first big screen offering.

Long story short:  I liked it.  You can tell they really wanted it to start a franchise, though.  There's lots of vague motivations and mysterious Martian technology, and you just know that the answer given on the set that day was, "We'll answer in the sequel!"

Anyway, the complete review is over on the main site.  Click on over!

From there, I went on over to HMV.  The sad thing is, I can't go into HMV anymore without exploding into a terrible inner monologue.  I love my DVDs and Blu-Rays...but then I remember my current financial situation and guilt myself into not buying anything.  And then, on top of that, I guilt myself for guilting myself into not buying anything and denying myself happiness.  As you can see, I wind up sprinting out of the store in tears because of all the guilt.

But there's so much I want!  That nice new Blu-Ray of the original King Kong was there, and I've been denying myself that for a year.  There's the new Blu-Ray of American Graffiti and they finally had the original MASH in stock...always thought those two would make a nice double feature because they're my Dad's favourite movies.

But eventually I cheaped out.  One thing I do infrequently is surf the discount bins for movies I like, and they're so darn cheap, that I just can't say no.  So for $10, I got the original Police Academy and Adventures in Babysitting...two beloved comedies from my youth.

And, the hot hipster clerk finally talked me into signing up for HMV's rewards program.  Let that be a lesson to you, kiddos.  If you ask me for over a year, I'll eventually break down and say yes.  But the process will be sped up if you're wearing hot pink Baroness glasses.

Then I did a quick breeze through Chapters.  I saw The Last Unicorn was on special  I've loved the movie version of that since I was a kid, and always thought about reading the book.  So I picked that up.  Leafing through it, it seems to be an easy read.  I just have to sit down and start reading the damn thing...something that's gotten so darn hard in my nearing-old-age.

Don't know how to end this, so like they taught me in school, when you don't know what to say, just play the next song.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Targ!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Hello Sunday!  The day of rest.  There should be a law that everyone gets a minimum of 1 day off a week.  That would be awesome.  That way, everyone would be free to listen to the new episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, I roll out Episode 5.17: Lady Pink Hair.  I elaborate on my thoughts on Justice League:  Doom.  I pick apart the Dark Shadows trailer a little bit more.  And I lament the destruction of the first Harvey's.

So, yeah.  It's pretty much a recap of this blog for the past week.  But then, that's what most of them are. 

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Be a fan in Facebook! 

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the name of this week's show, I followed my old traditions of, "I don't know what to name this show, so I'll name it after the first thing I see on my desk."  And the first thing I saw was this picture, which is currently my desktop wallpaper.  

fanart & cosplay - He Looks Rather Tasty
see more Fandom

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dark Shadows Trailer

So, in 2012, we're getting not one, but two new Tim Burton films.  Secondly is Frankenweenie, coming out this Halloween (and I've already blogged about it), but the first one is Dark Shadows.

This is a movie version of the cult-classic soap opera of the same name.  It was on in the late-1960s/early-1970s, and what made it unique from the other soaps was that it drew it inspiration from Gothic horror.  Vampire, werewolves, and ghosts were all frequent characters on the show, and our lead, Barnabis Collins, was a vampire.  It spawned two features films, and the only exposure I've had to it is some half-remembered commercials for its prime-time revival in the early 1990s.

Anyway, both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have professed to be fans of the original TV series.  So, when they announced they wanted to do a movie version, it seemed like the property was in good hands.  With his trademark Gothic style and love of Hammer horror films, a movie version of Dark Shadows seemed right up Burton's alley.

But people started having doubts.  Some of the first photos released back at Christmastime didn't really ignite passions.  And the fact that the film comes out in a little less than two months (May 11 is the release date) and there's been little to no promotional ramp-up had people thinking that things did not bode well.

And then the cracks started to show.  A review from a test screening popped up on Ain't it Cool News a few days ago, and some of the Dark Shadows fanboys were agog.  Says the reviewer, "this film wasn't quite the Gothic horror I was expecting...It's more of a horror comedy, closer in tone to Beetlejuice or The Addams Family."

Yup.  Following in the footsteps of Starsky and Hutch and the new 21 Jump Street, they decided to make it a spoof of the original, rather than a straight adaptation.

And most fears were confirmed when the trailer came out yesterday.

From what I gather, the Dark Shadows legion is pretty pissed off.  But you know what?  For me?  A guy with little-to-know exposure to the source material?  I found myself laughing at this.  I found it funny.  And since I am a Tim Burton fanboy, I'll probably go check this out when it hits theatres on May 11. 

And as has become my way, here's the poster so I've got a thumbnail for the social networking sites.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin -- Superman

For those just joining us, welcome to Fishing in the Discount Bin!  I was doing this bit on my podcast for a while where, as my friend described it, I would just "go off" on one of the many movies in my DVD library.  I abandoned the bit after 10 episodes, but wrote up 30+ reviews first.  And I don't want to see those reviews going to waste.  So, I post them on the blog!

This week, we get to what many still regard as the gold standard in superhero films, Superman.  The original date on this review is September 26, 2010.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Justice League: Doom -- Review

Well, if you listen to my podcast, then you know that I've spend the past few weeks pacing nervously waiting by the mailbox.  I bought the Criterion edition of Godzilla online out of the States because it was cheaper, and then I figured I'd buy something else to get the free shipping.  I decided to get the latest DC Comics direct-to-DVD movie, because I knew I'd be getting it anyway.  Even though it wasn't the first time I'd bought something from the States, this one seemed to take forever to get here.  But it finally arrived in the mail the other day!  Hooray!  So let's fire up this bad boy and finally take a look at...

Justice League:  Doom

Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Starring the voices of Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, Nathan Fillion, Carl Lumbly, Michael Rosenbaum, Bumper Robinson, Carlos Alazraqui, Claudia Black, Paul Blackthorne, Olivia d'Abo, Alexis Denisof, and Phil Morris

Backstory:  The opening to these reviews are starting to get repetitive.  I like this series, but I am starting to get rather bored with them.  Where's the rest of the DC Universe?  They've fallen into a pattern:  Justice League, Superman, Batman, Justice League, Green Lantern (cuz we're trying to build a film franchise around him), Batman.  Well, we've come up to Justice League in the cycle.  This next one is based on the beloved storyline Tower of Babel, and although I hadn't read the storyline, what I'd about the storyline sounded very intriguing.  So, as always, I went into it cautiously optimistic.

Plot:  Batman, in his classic, "prepare the worst/hope for the best/trust no one" way, has gone behind the Justice League's back, and created contingency plans to temporarily disable the members of the League should they ever go rogue.  Perpetual Justice League villain Vandal Savage conducts a daring raid on the Batcave to get his hands on these plans.  Now, with these plans, Vandal Savage recruits the world's greatest villains to take down the Justice League once and for all.  With the League out of the way, Vandal Savage can now move on to his true plan.  What is Vandal Savage's true plan?  Can Batman save the League from himself?  Will the League ever trust Batman again?

What I Liked:  This cartoon has great heaping gobs of fanservice for fans of the Justice League cartoon.  Pretty much the entire voice cast is back, with a few exceptions.  (Superman's original voice, Tim Daly, is back, and fan favourite Green Lantern actor Nathan Fillion takes on GL...in fact, in his handful of lines, Fillion proves why he's the true fan favourite GL over Ryan Reynolds.)  I love the banter they're starting to give the heroes in these films.  The superhero battles are good stuff.  Cyborg has a prominent role in the film, and it's nice to see him getting a greater role in the DC Universe.

What I Didn't Like:  Well...the fanservice kind of does it a disrespect.  Despite as awesome as it is, it really starts to feel like just a good episode of Justice League after a while.  It doesn't really elevate itself to feature film status.

Final Verdict:  It's a lot of fun, it's very satisfying, but I really wish they'd leave the safety of Superman, Batman, and JLA and really start focusing on more of DC's other prominent characters.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  Not a bad selection of bonus features on this one.  I haven't finished going through them all yet.  We get:
  • A featurette on Batman and his relationship with the Justice League
  • A featurette on Cyborg, who not only has a prominent role in this, but has been given a prominent role in the DCU in their "New 52" reboot
  • A tribute to the esteemed comic book and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie.  McDuffie passed away about a year ago...this is officially the last thing he worked on.
  • The digital comic version of Tower of Babel, the comic book story that inspired this film
  • 2 bonus episode of Justice League
  • A preview of the next film, Superman vs. the Elite, coming out this summer, based on the Superman story What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How the Mainstream Media Works, Part 26

So, Facebook convinced me to get the Soundcloud app as part of their new Timeline hype and all that.  I've had it for a month or so, didn't know what to do with it.

And then, I was cleaning out my hard drive at work and found this.

They say, in radio, a good way to practice your announcing is to read stuff out loud.  And I still do that from time to time.  If I'm ambitious, I'll record it and throw in some sound effects and stuff and practice my producing.

As was the case about three years ago, when Todd Babiak was still working for the Edmonton Journal.  He wrote this blog entry called "How the Mainstream Media Works, Part 26," and something about it just said to me, "Hey...that's a radio play!"

So I slapped it down, did all the voices, threw on some sound effects, and shared it with a few friends for giggles.

I found it today while cleaning out my hard drive, and figured I may as well used Soundcloud to share it with the world.

So, please enjoy my rendition of "How the Mainstream Media Work, Part 26," by Todd Babiak.

How the Mainstream Media Works, Part 26 by Mark Cappis

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's a Targ!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

I always run out of clever messages to post every Sunday.  Blah blah blah...I have new podcast up.  Check out this week's U62: The Targ!

In Episode 5.16: Waiting by the Mailbox, I share the big frustration with buying stuff on the Internet.  And that leads into one of the biggest frustrations of all...the Star Wars prequels.  I then share some very interesting statistics I stumbled across, and then it's time for the fourth and final installment of the Jones Soda Holiday Fizzathon.

For those just tuning in, a few weeks ago I managed to get my hands on a Jones Soda Holiday Gift Pack at a discount store.  And I've spent the past few episodes sampling some of their offbeat Christmas flavours.  Today, we get to the fourth and final bottle in the pack:  Sugar Plum Soda.

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Be a fan in Facebook!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Canadian Classics and the Gritty Reboots I Want Them to Get

I wrote this for my original blog some 7 or 8 years ago, and as Hollywood continues to go nuts for remakes and reboots, I figured it was time to revise it.

Let's be honest, it's not just Hollywood's past that can be mined for old brand names to be dusted off and made new...Hollywood North has a similar array of classics that can be made anew for the next generation.

So here's the classics from my childhood that I want to see dusted off, given gritty reboots, and returned to a theatre near you!

Plot:  Tom and Annie Edison are two teenaged whiz kids who use science to solve mysteries in their sleepy suburb.

Gritty Reboot:  Veronica Mars meets CSI

Plot:  A down-on-his-luck crime reporter tries to be a good dad to his teenage son, while getting embroiled in a love triangle with a sexy crown prosecutor and his estranged wife.  Also, he has psychic abilities which he uses to solve murders.  

Gritty Reboot:  You've got the supernatural elements of Ghost Whisperer, the quirky romance of Ally McBeal, and you tailor it to star Jason Alexander.

Plot:  A comic book obsessed teenager gets hit by a weird ray built by the mad scientist who lives next door and it gives him superpowers.  He uses his new powers to solve mysteries in his neighbourhood while trying to live the life of a typical teenager.  

Gritty Reboot:  Dude, it's just screaming to be the latest Buffy the Vampire Slayer knock-off.   

Plot:  The marine biologist curator of the Vancouver Aquarium heals sick animals, goes on wilderness expeditions, and battles all manner of poachers, smugglers, and eco-terrorists, while being a single dad who raises two teenagers and romances hot bush pilots.  

Gritty Reboot:  Isn't it obvious?  My plot description above perfectly describes the latest Disney family-friendly action/adventure film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Nicholas Cage.  

Plot:  A stray German Shepard walks the Earth, helping out youngsters and do-gooders in whatever town he ends up in.  Maybe tomorrow, he'll want to settle down.  Until tomorrow, the whole world is his home.  

Gritty Reboot:  Not that gritty, actually.  Make it a cartoon.  Give the littlest hobo a celebrity voice.  Make that "voice that keeps on calling [him]" some kind of metaphysical element that gives him missions and such.  

Plot:  A Mountie with brilliant deductive skills, yet naive in the ways of the big city, gets a posting at the Canadian consulate in Chicago, where he teams up with a sarcastic Chicago PD detective and solves crimes.  

Gritty Reboot:  Movie.  Movie movie movie.  Largely remake the pilot, where we see Fraser (the Mountie) pursues his father's murderer to Chicago.   You'll have to add some of the features from later in the series that eventually became the show's hallmarks, like Fraser being haunted by the ghost of his father.  As for casting, well, back in its heyday, many said Paul Gross would make the perfect Superman, so why not look to a Superman?  I say...Brandon Routh.  

Friday, March 09, 2012

First Look at the Lone Ranger

So, Disney picked up the rights to do a new movie version of The Lone Ranger, and I've got to admit, I'm intrigued. 

I've always had a soft spot for The Lone Ranger.  Some of my earliest conscious memories of television are of watching the classic Clayton Moore/Jay Silverheels TV series on Sunday mornings before church.  It was always followed up by that Canadian children's TV classic The Forest Rangers.  When I was about 12 years old and first got cable, I remember catching the old Filmation cartoon on YTV. 

I mean, the Lone Ranger is just a classic.  It's such a simple good vs. evil tale.  The good guy literally wears a white hat.  It's high adventure on the high plains.  It's just...nice. 

But it was in 2008 when Disney announced that they'd picked up the movie rights, and when they made they announcement, they also announced their first casting choice:  Johnny Depp as Tonto.  Right there, I was baffled.  I mean, dude, Johnny Depp isn't First Nations.  But then it was revealed that Depp is, like, one-quarter Cherokee, so I guess it's OK.

Jerry Bruckheimer was brought on to produce, and he quickly started recruiting the team that made the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who wrote the Pirates of the Caribbean films, were brought on board to write.  Gore Verebinski, who direct the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the Oscar-winning animated film Rango, was hired to direct.  Everything seemed to be falling into place. 

And now, the rest of the cast.  They already had Tonto, but they need the masked man himself.  Eventually, they turned to Armie Hammer, currently best known for playing the Winkelvoss twins in The Social Network.  Also rounding out the cast are veteran character actor William Fichtner signed on as Butch Cavendish.  Cavendish is the outlaw who killed Texas Ranger Dan Reid and attempted to kill his brother and fellow Ranger John Reid.  Reid, of course, survived, was nursed back to health by Tonto, and decided to become the Lone Ranger to avenge his brother's murder and bring law and order to the Old West.  Helena Bonham Carter also joined the cast as a friendly barmaid. 

The film has already made headlines.  Back in August, Disney announced they were halting production the film, because it was getting too expensive.  It's budget had ballooned to $250 million.  To which the whole world said, "What?  Why the hell does a Lone Ranger movie need to cost $250 million?"  To which Disney said to the world, "Why, it's for the special effects to bring the werewolves to life." 

W.  T.  F. 

Werewolves?  In a Lone Ranger movie?  The Lone Ranger doesn't fight werewolves!  He fights cattle rustlers and stagecoach robbers.  Not werewolves!  I remember an early script review I read online, in which it said that Tonto is on a bit of a spiritual journey in this film, as he believes his brother to have been killed by a Wendigo, and is on the hunt for this mythological creature.  Did Wendigo become a werewolf? 

But still...werewolves?  Really? 

Anyway, they got the budget down to a much more reasonable $215 million and once again the production was a go. 

And, yesterday, Disney released the first official photo of Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto.


The Lone Ranger looks a little different.  Usually he's adorned in blue.  Not so sure I'm crazy about the "man in black" look.  And Tonto...the war paint and the raven headdress definitely makes him stand out.  When it comes to the outfits of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, this is definitely untraditional. 

The film's not scheduled to come out until May 2013...a full year and a half away.  So it's still going to be a while before we get a trailer.  But still, there's enough that's come out of this to just make me scratch my head and wonder what the heck Disney is thinking. 

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Masters of the Universe

For those just joining us, I was doing this thing in my podcast for a while called Fishing in the Discount Bin, where'd I'd just rant about one of the many movies in my DVD collection.  While I did it about 10 times on the podcast before I found producing it to be too taxing, I actually wrote 30+ reviews before I shut things down.  Rather than let my reviews go to waste, I've started posting them here on my blog.

Today, we get to the 1987 classic Masters of the Universe, aka "the live-action He-Man movie."  This review is originally dated September 25, 2010.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Ralph McQuarrie's Legacy

The sci-fi world is mourning this weekend at the passing of Ralph McQuarrie.  McQuarrie was a graphic designer and artist who wound up doing a lot of concept art for some legendary science fiction films.  He had a hand in designing what E.T. looked like, the alien ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and even Skeletor's movie look in the live-action Masters of the Universe.

But he is, by far, best known for being the conceptual artist for Star Wars.  He's the one that gave the Star Wars universe it's distinctive look.

Here's, perhaps, his most iconic piece of Star Wars concept art...Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader.

As the legend goes, George Lucas was having a devil of a time trying to sell the Hollywood studios on Star Wars.  So, to jazz up his pitch, Lucas hired McQuarrie to illustrate some scenes in the script.  Needless to say, McQuarrie's illustrations knocked it out of the park, 20th Century Fox was sold on Star Wars, and McQuarrie landed the gig as the head artist on the entire Star Wars trilogy.

We can even thank McQuarrie for Darth Vader's suit...not just the design for the suit, but the fact that the suit covers Vader's entire body.  After reading the script, McQuarrie reasoned that a person like Darth Vader wouldn't stand around waiting for things like airlocks to pressurize and such.  He'd just storm from one starship to another, no matter what the interior atmosphere was like.  Therefore, Vader would have to wear some kind of space suit all the time.  Thus, Vader was always armored.

Here's perhaps, his second most iconic image.  An early design of C-3P0 and R2-D2 on Tatooine. 

Back in 2007, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise, they released this line of Star Wars action figures known as "the McQuarrie concept figures," where the figures were based on this original art.  I have the McQuarrie concept R2-D2 and C-3P0 figures.  They were offered as exclusives to Hyperspace, the pay-subscription section of the official Star Wars website.  I'm not a Hyperspace member, but I have a friend who is, and I totally begged him to buy them on my behalf.  He did, and they are, by far, the coolest figures in my collection.

I was chatting with that friend on Sunday, and we talked about McQuarrie for a minute.  My friend was quick to point out that, while McQuarrie turned down the offer to once again be the head artist on the prequels (I think "I'm getting too old for this," was the reason he gave), a lot of his unused designs did find their way into the prequels and the current Clone Wars cartoon. 

I was thinking about this as I looked at my McQuarrie concept figures tonight, and I took a closer look at one of my favourites, "Starkiller Hero."  See, at one point in the development of Star Wars, Lucas toyed with the idea of making Luke Skywalker a girl.  Of course, that idea didn't last long, but it lasted long enough for McQuarrie to make some sketches.  This figure is so named because "Starkiller" was originally going to be Luke's name, until Lucas figured it sounded kind of sinister and changed it to the not-as-evil-sounding "Skywalker."  And "Hero" because she was going to be the film's hero.   Hence, "Starkiller Hero."

(BTW, "Starkiller Hero" is totally going to be the name of my band someday, so don't steal it.) 

Anyway, as I looked at Starkiller Hero tonight, she struck me as being kind of familiar.  And then it hit me.  Her uniform was recycled as the uniform of the Naboo starfighter pilots in Phantom Menace.  Neat!

From left to right, that's McQuarrie's concept for Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3P0, and R2-D2.  The one kneeling in front is Starkiller Hero.

For McQuarrie concept figures, I have Starkiller Hero, Darth Vader, the C-3P0 and R2-D2 two-pack, Boba Fett, and Chewbacca.  My holy grail of Star Wars action figures is the McQuarrie concept Stormtrooper.  It's a Stormtrooper with a lightsaber and a shield.  I only ever saw it on a store shelf once, but since I've been conditioned to buy action figures in pairs, and there wasn't a second one I wanted that day, I didn't buy it.  STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Here's his concept art for the Stormtroopers.

And before I go, let's not forget McQuarrie's contribution to the other big sci-fi franchise with "Star" in the title, Star Trek.  Before The Motion Picture came along, there were lots of aborted attempts to do a Star Trek movie throughout the 1970s.  The most famous one was called Star Trek: Planet of the Titans.  McQuarrie was hired to do some concept art for Planet of the Titans.  Here's his sketches for an all-new Starship Enterprise:

This vessel eventually did make its way into the Star Trek canon.  For the legendary TNG 2-parter The Best of Both Worlds, this vessel was added to the field of ships destroyed by the Borg.  And McQuarrie was also brought on as a concept artist for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

McQuarrie was 82 years old.

I got most of these images from the tribute to McQuarrie on the official Star Wars website, and I got the rest from McQuarrie's official website

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Time for Targ and Cookies!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Time to once again look into the darkness and ask, "Is anybody there?"  I do that with podcasting!  It's time for this week's U62: The Targ!

This week, I present Episode 5.15: Divisible by 5.  I once again rant about what's wrong with Transformers: Dark of the Moon and pretty much the entire Michael Bay Transformers universe, I reflect on past Olympics, and we get to Part III of the Jones Soda Holiday Fizzathon!

In case you're wondering, a few weeks ago, I was at Liquidation World, and I got my hands on a Jones Soda Holiday Gift Pack.  So, the Jones Soda Holiday Fizzathon, in which I sample of their unusually flavoured holiday pops and give my thoughts.  In Part III, we get to Pear Tree Soda. 

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Be a fan in Facebook!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Frankenweenie Trailer

I've always been fond of the films of Tim Burton.  Don't really know why...I think he was the first director that I identified with.  I mean, with his late-80s hits of Beetlejuice and Batman, it was hard for an impressionable young film buff to not get interested.  When I started my love affair with DVD all those years ago, I vowed to get every Tim Burton film on DVD.  I still don't have Sleepy Hollow or Mars Attacks!, if you're ever looking for a Christmas/Birthday/Just-Because-You're-Awesome present.

So I still look forward to Tim Burton films, even if his disappointments have outnumbered his success lately.  And, in 2012, we're actually going to be treated to two new Tim Burton films.  We have his big screen adaptation of the cult-classic soap opera Dark Shadows, and a feature-length version of his classic short film Frankenweenie.  The trailer for Frankenweenie was released today, so that's what I'm looking at.

For those who don't know the history of Frankenweenie, it's like this.  Tim Burton started as an animator.  Back in the early-80s, he worked as an animator at Disney.  I think the only Disney animated film he ever publicly acknowledged as working on was The Fox and the Hound.  He hated his time at Disney...never really felt like he fit in.  But, some Disney folks recognized his talents, and encouraged him.  One form of encouragement took the form of producing his short film Frankenweenie.

If you've never seen it, it's really easy to come by.  It's long since been released as a bonus feature on the DVD for The Nightmare Before Christmas.  It's a very cute re-imagining/spoof/homage to Frankenstein.  In this version, Dr. Victor Frankenstein is a 10-year old boy, and his monster is just his resurrected dog.  I highly recommend you check it out.

Disney never really knew what to do with the film, and it barely got released in 1984.  They thought it would be too frightening for kids.  Burton quit Disney soon after, got the offer to direct Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and the rest is history.  Disney finally released it on video in 1994, and it found a wide audience.

And that brings us to the present day.  Now that we have a generation that's been raised on The Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney finally realized that it's OK for kids to be scared a little now and then.  And they asked Burton if he'd like to expand Frankenweenie into a feature-length animated film.

So, I guess the big surprise is, despite it being a Tim Burton movie, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are not in it!  But Burton did recruit a lot of his former cast members to do voices.  Catherine O'Hara (who was the mom in Beetlejuice) and Martin Short (who was in Mars Attacks!) voice Victor's parents.  Winona Ryder, who Burton put in Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, voices a neighbour girl named Elsa van Helsing, and Martin Landau, who Burton directed to an Oscar in Ed Wood, voices Mr. Rzykruski.  Victor is being voiced by child actor Charlie Tahan.

Disney originally hoped to release it this month, but then figured it would be more appropriate as a Halloween movie, so they moved its release to October 5. 

I'm really digging this trailer.  It does look like some classic Tim Burton.  The neighbourhood is straight out of Edward Scissorhands.  The character designs are a lot like the Tim Burton classic short film Vincent.  And the music is very Danny Elmany.

As I said, it hits theatres on October 5.  And, as I`ll need a thumbnail when I post this blog entry to the various social networking sites, he's the teaser poster.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Supergirl

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin...a defunct feature from my podcast where I rant about one of the many movies in my DVD collection.  I found it too exhausting to do as a regular feature, but I don't want to let all the reviews I wrote go to waste.  So I'm posting them on my blog!

Today, we get to one of my favourite guilty pleasures, the Supergirl movie.  The original date on this review is September 11, 2010.