Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Titanic

Welcome to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my old podcast bit that I decided to resurrect on my blog because I didn't want my notes to go to waste.  As I've mentioned, this bit of notes came in the holiday season, so there's a lot of Christmas movies.  And now, we come to my arbitrary, completely-made-up, New Years tradition:  I watch Titanic.

This review is originally dated January 2, 2011.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Music is for Sharing

Probably the best/worst thing I discovered was the various music labels that specialize in rare and obscure film scores.  I've spent a little too much money tracking down soundtracks that I thought I'd never get my hands on.  And of course, I went into Trekkie nirvana a couple of years ago when I noticed that many of these record labels had begun producing the complete, uncut soundtracks to the various Star Trek films.

Thanks to these various labels, I currently have the uncut soundtracks for The Wrath of Khan through The Undiscovered Country.  I also managed to snag the one for the 2009 film.  The fact that I didn't have the uncut The Motion Picture was starting to bother me, though.  Without it, it was like I had a gaping hole in my collection.  I couldn't let the entire original series films be an incomplete set.

The original, uncut The Motion Picture actually came out way back in 1999, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film.  That was back before I had gotten as in to film scores as I currently am.  I saw it on the shelves at HMV back in the day, always thought about picking it up, but never did.  And now, here we are, 13 years later.  And I wanted it.  I wanted it bad.  Poking around online, I found I could still get from Amazon.com out of the States.  So I decided to go for it.

That caused some...frustration.  As you may recall from my recent blog entry about trying to pick up vacuum cleaner filters out of the States, Amazon.com switched to couriers instead of Canada Post in the wake of the postal strike last year.  And my last purchase from Amazon.com was returned to sender because I was never home to sign for the package.  This time around, though, I was clever.  I decided to have it shipped to work instead of home.  I'd be there to pick up the package, and all would be right.

The thing about a job like radio is it's tough to hide from people.  Doing the request show today, I got a call from the courier that he was in town, and he wanted to know if he should deliver it to my house or the station.  "The station," I said.  Because after all, that's the address I put on the label.  Courier said, "Great!  I'll be there this afternoon."  Crap.  I don't work in the afternoon!  The station is closed in the afternoon!  So much for clever.

I started fretting quite a bit, but it turned out to be for naught, because he did show up before I went home at 12.  We chatted for a bit, and I finally got my complete, uncut Star Trek: The Motion Picture!

And now at the very least, I can re-construct Star Trek: The Astral Symphony as a playlist on MP3 player.  Star Trek: The Astral Symphony was the official 25th anniversary album for Star Trek.  Released in 1991, it was a compilation of music from The Motion Picture through The Final Frontier.  I had it on cassette.  Pretty much wore it out listening to it non-stop throughout high school.  And now I can re-assemble it, all digitally re-mastered!

In a way, though, I regret buying it.  Mainly because, shortly after I placed my order, one of my obscure film score record labels announced that they'd be releasing a brand-new version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Complete, uncut, and even containing the original, rejected score!

Yes, it's something that happens quite a bit, sadly.  The composer will sit down and write the music for the movie, the director will listen to the score, decide he wants to take things in a different direction, and order a new score be written.

They get into it a little bit on DVD bonus features for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  In the featurettes, director Robert Wise describes listening to Jerry Goldsmith's score, and it just wasn't sounding right to him.  Wise was having difficulty articulating what was wrong with it.  Finally, he blurted out, "There's no Star Trek theme!"  Goldsmith nodded in agreement.  His score was lacking a main theme.

So Goldsmith went back to his piano and wrote the theme we all know and love.

That's not all, I got.  Thank you, Amazon, for training me to buy just enough to qualify for free shipping.  I also finally broke down and bought an album from the Puppini Sisters.  I discovered their music during the Michael Buble Christmas special.  If you picked up Buble's Christmas album, the Puppini Sisters join him to do Jingle Bells.  I saw them on that special and instantly fell in love.  Helped that they sing good, too.

The Puppini Sisters are what Wikipedia describes as a "close harmony group."  Probably the best-known example of such a group is the Andrews Sisters from the 1940s.  (If you were raised on Disney like me, you'll probably know the Andrews Sisters as they contributed to music to a couple Disney shorts from that era.)  Their main gimmick is to take many well-known songs and then do them in that classic, retro, close harmony style.

I picked up their most recent album, Hollywood, in which they cover many classic songs from the Golden Age of musicals.

I'll probably pick up more of their stuff before all is said and done...seeking out more of their stuff on YouTube, I kind of fell in love with their rendition of the Blondie classic Heart of Glass.

Now, as it is such a nice day, time to load this into the MP3 player, head outside, and enjoy the sunshine!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Targity Targ Targ Targ

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's that time of year again, isn't it?  U62: The Targ is going to get all spotty as I get all busy.

Anyway, found some time to squeeze out Episode 5.22: 1D Action.  In this one, we ponder why G.I. Joe: Retaliation got pushed back to March, offer my thoughts on the House finale, and wonder if this would be a good end point for my annual summer hiatus.

Give it a spin! 

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Be a fan in Facebook! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grown-Up Adventures

I was looking at my calendar, and noticed that I'd be putting in overtime over the next couple of weekends, so this was going to be me my last free weekend for a while.  I pondered what to do...go for and adventure, or do laundry.

An adventure it was!

Normally, my adventures culminate in going to see a movie.  But, there's not much out there I want to see right now.  Granted, I am a Tim Burton fan, but Dark Shadows just isn't grabbing me.  Same with Men in Black 3, not just capturing my attention.  So I knew seeing a film would not be my goal.

And then, it hit me.  I was going to go in search of a fabled treasure I hadn't been able to find for a while.  I was going to find...the new filter I needed for my vacuum cleaner!

Now, you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, Mark.  I'm your Facebook friend.  A month or so ago, weren't you bragging that you broke down and bought the filters online and you were patting yourself on the back for your cleverness?"  Well, yes.  But there was a flaw in that plan.  See, with the big Canada Post strike last year, a lot of online retailers switched from using Canada Post to couriers.  One day, a few weeks ago, I came home from work to find a note on my door from the courier saying that I was never home when they tried to deliver the package, so my new vacuum filters were returned to sender.  Son of a....  Got a full refund, though.  But still, no filters.

So today I vowed that I would not be coming home until I had a new filter for my vacuum cleaner!  With various parts numbers in hand, I went off to the city.

And promptly found it at Wal-Mart.  Since I had such a tough time finding these filters, I was hoping to buy several and stock up, but Wal-Mart only had one left on the shelf.  One is better than none, so I promptly snatched it up and lamented that my quest was over so quickly and easily.  So I got to browsing through Wal-Mart, and getting upset at myself for spending so much money.

I have such a weird body shape - big round belly and short, stubby legs - that I have a tough time finding pants in my size.  So I tend to go a little overboard when I find pants that fit.  And because of that big round belly, it's even tougher to find shorts when summertime comes around.  But they had pants and shorts and I went nuts.  So those who hoping to see me bottomless this summer, prepare to be disappointed!

From there, it was down the road to Best Buy, a store that frequently makes me weep because I want so many nice, fancy, new gadgets like flatscreen TVs and such, but I just can't afford them.  However, it's still a pretty affordable place for DVDs, and I heard that The Secret World of Arrietty is out.  I saw it when it hit theatres back in February, and I wanted to pick it up.  If you never read my original review, it's from the famous Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli.  Ghibli's most-famous director, Hayao Miyazaki, didn't direct it, but he did write the screenplay and storyboard it.  It's an adaptation of the classic British children's book The Borrowers.  It's a somewhat melancholy film, very unusual for an animated film, but I really liked it.  So it's now a proud addition to my Blu-Ray collection.

I almost picked up Whispers of the Heart, too.  I blogged about this many years ago when I bought, watched and reviewed every Hayao Miyazaki film.  Much like The Secret World of Arrietty, it was written and storyboarded by Miyazaki, but he didn't direct it.  I've been very tempted to buy it and check it out, and it's been all remastered in hi-def and released on Blu-Ray, piggybacking on the The Secret World of Arrietty hype.  So close to picking it up, but for some reason, it was significantly more than The Secret World of Arrietty.  And after having bought the filter and all the clothes, I was starting to fret about spending too much money.  So Whispers of the Heart will have to wait for another day.

From here, my adventure took me to the most adventuresome place of all...West Edmonton Mall!  You should follow me on Twitter, because whenever I hit West Edmonton Mall, I love to tweet my observations about the mall.  I was walking around Professor Wem's Adventure Golf when I sent out this tweet:  "I've never played mini-golf in West Edmonton Mall.  Must add it to the bucket list."  It's true.  Out of all of West Edmonton Mall's attractions, I have yet to play a round of mini-golf.  But I know the history of the mini-golf course.  It used to be called Pebble Beach Mini-Golf, and was meant to be a mini-golf version of the legendary golf course of the same name.  But, in the early 1990s, after the whole Fantasyland lawsuit, they decided to switch the theme of the golf course to their Professor Wem character.

After that, I tweeted, "Also for the bucket list:  get better goals than play mini-golf at West Edmonton Mall."

I then wandered by Zeller's, and was shocked to see that Zeller's was having a huge closing-out sale.  I was wondering why Zeller's would be closing down, and then I remembered.  Zeller's - and it's parent company the Bay - were bought out by American super-chain Target a year or two ago.  And it was announced shortly after the buyout that all Zeller's stores would be re-branded as Targets.  I do know for a fact that the one in West Ed is scheduled to be re-branded as a Target.  So, it'll be closed for the rest of the year most likely, and re-open next year as a Target.

So I went bargain hunting in Zeller's.  It's weird.  I started reflecting on how we're losing all our iconic Canadian department stores.  The end began in the early-1990s, when Wal-Mart bought up all the Woolco's and turned them into Wal-Marts.  Then the Bay bought out Woodward's.  Then Eaton's went bankrupt.  The Bay is pretty much the only one left.  The Zeller's location in West Ed is reflective of that.  The Zeller's location used to be the Eaton's in West Edmonton Mall.  But then, after the bankruptcy, Zeller's moved into the location.  And now it's going to become a Target.

While browsing in the electronics section, I finally picked up The Muppets:  The Green Album.  I'd been tempted to pick this up for a while.  About a year ago, as part of the hype for The Muppets, Disney produced this album which consisted of modern rock acts covering classic Muppet songs.  I'm sure you heard of it, because the first single was OK Go covering The Muppet Show Theme, and like all OK Go videos, it briefly went viral.

And then I bought NERF darts.  There was a Cracked.com article not too long ago that pointed out the quirky things that "cool workplaces" are supposed to have and one of them was that everyone has NERF guns and NERF wars break out at any moment.  There was a guy at the station a few years ago who wanted to turn the station into the stereotypical "cool workplace" and bought everyone a NERF gun.  Despite his best efforts, NERF wars never broke out.  I'm the only one left who has a NERF gun, and all I use it for is occasionally pestering the news guy by firing it at the glass of the news booth while he's reading the news.  However, a few darts have disappeared over the years by falling down furnace vents and such, so it's nice to get fully loaded once again.  Thanks to Zeller's closing out sale, got a pack of 45 darts for $5. 

After that, I think I had enough adventure, so it was time to go home.  As I returned to my car, I opened up my copy of The Green Album, popped it into the CD player in my car, and reflected on how much technology has changed.  When I was a kid, I would by nothing but cassettes, but my parents' car didn't have a cassette player, so I couldn't listen to them on the drive home.  By the time my parents did get a vehicle with a cassette player, I had upgraded to CDs, so I still couldn't listen to them on the drive home.  And now I have a car with a CD player...and I primarily buy digital downloads. 

And that was my day in the city.  Tomorrow's going to be laundry day.  And now that I have a new filter for my vacuum, I can really give my carpets a good vacuuming.

*sigh*  If buying a new vacuum cleaner filter is an adventure, then I guess I must be a grown-up.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

Welcome to this week's edition of Fishing in the Discount Bin, the ol' bit on my podcast that I resurrected here on my blog.  Reviewing my notes, we're into a spate of Christmas movies, and as I mention in this entry, December is a very special time in Japanese cinema...that's when the new Godzilla movies come out!  So now, it's the Godzilla movie I actually saw in the theatres during my time in Japan:  Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.  This review is originally dated December 19, 2010.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Skyfall: Trailer, Poster, and What We Know

Didja hear?  There's a new James Bond film coming out this holiday season!

It's been four years since we last saw 007 on the big screen!  That's tied with the four years between Die Another Day and Casino Royale as the second-longest gap between James Bond films.  (The longest is still the 6 years between License to Kill and GoldenEye).  The delay was because, as has been widely reported elsewhere, MGM Studios (the folks who own James Bond) had some bankruptcy woes and had to do all kinds of financial restructuring to get back on track.  The same delay also affected the production of The Hobbit.  But anyway, things are cleared up, 007 is returning to theatres, and James Bond will return in Skyfall.

Of course, Daniel Craig is back for his third outing as James Bond, and Judi Dench is back as M.  And they finally re-introduce Q!  Q is going to be played by Ben Whishaw.  Javier Bardem, introduced to American audiences as the bad guy in No Country for Old Men, is the villain in this one, Raoul Silva.  Lord Voldemort himself, Ralph Fiennes, is a government agent who oversees MI6, and Naomie Harris, Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is the newest Bond girl, Eve.

The official plot description was released as this:  "James Bond's loyalty to M is challenged over secrets from her past. When MI6 is attacked, it falls to Bond to seek out and eliminate the threat regardless of the cost to himself."

What really makes this Bond film unusual is the behind-the-scenes talent.  The director is Sam Mendes, director of such legendary Oscar-bait as American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road, and Away We Go.  This is his first, big-budget, Hollywood action film.  I'm kind of sad, because this will be the first James Bond film since Golden Eye that doesn't have music by David Arnold.  Instead, Mendes decided to bring on his longtime collaberator Thomas Newman.

We got a poster late last week.

And the trailer went online over the weekend.

Skyfall hits theatres this fall.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Sound of Music

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I dig through my old notes for a bit I used to do on my podcast, and post it here on the blog.  As I mentioned last week, my old notes are currently dated December 2010, so we're into a spate of Christmas movies.  We now get to a film that seems to be on TV every Christmas, The Sound of Music.  This review is originally dated December 18, 2010.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Failure to Agree

For the first time ever, I feel I must start a blog entry with these words.

This blog is the property of Mark Cappis.  The views expressed are his and his alone.  This blog does not reflect the views of 94.1 the River or Newcap Radio.

Now then.

Last night I was out for a drive, enjoying this late spring/early summer weather, when I got a call on my cellphone.  It was my colleague, the news reporter down at the radio station.  I was in a bad area, so I couldn't quite hear him on the phone.  Eventually I heard, "Just come down to the station when you get back in town!"

I got back into town and swung by the station, and the news reporter was behind himself.  It's the third Tuesday of the month, which means it was Athabasca town council night.  Having started here as the news reporter myself, I knew council started at 7PM.  It was around 7:20...far too early for a council meeting to end.  That's when our news reporter started telling the tale.

The town council meeting was only 15 minutes long.  It was canceled after 15 minutes, because council could not agree on the agenda.

I was flabbergasted.  How could such a thing happen?  Our news reporter then went into detail.  The meeting started with the usual pleasantries...a cheque presentation, the announcement of some new staff members, the usual photo op stuff.  Then it came time to approve the agenda, a fairly routine procedure in meetings of all kinds.  There were some last minute additions to the agenda, also a routine procedure in meetings.  With the newly amended agenda, it was time for the agenda to be approved and the meeting to begin.

One councilor was absent, so council was down to six members.  Three voted for it, three voted against it.

Hmm...this was a problem.  So, in the interests of moving things along, the new agenda items were removed, and the agenda was once again put to a vote.

Three voted for it, three voted against it.  Deadlock.  Again.

Council turned to the chief administrative officer for a ruling.  The CAO simply pointed out that they can't have a meeting without an agenda.

So the meeting ended.  After 15 minutes.  Because, quite frankly, they couldn't agree what the meeting should be about.

I finally had to ask...what were those last minute agenda items?  What items were so contentious that they brought Athabasca town council to a halt?

There were three last minute additions, the news reporter said.  The first two are in-camera items.  As that's the stuff that's done in private, we have no idea what those matters were about.  But the third one had to do with the procedure for adding last minute agenda items.

Let me make that clear:  the government was brought down because they couldn't agree on a last minute agenda item on the procedure for adding last minute agenda items.

I burst out laughing at the absurdity of that statement.  And our news reporter just stood their shaking his head.  The stories he tells about town council...the things that don't make the news.  This is a council that has become very wrapped up in proper procedure.  This is a town council that has grown to love its red tape.  There was an issue between the town council and the local paper not too long ago.  An artist's rendering of a new bridge under construction was handed out in the agenda package, and the newspaper printed it.  It turns out the newspaper wasn't supposed to do that, as the artist's rendering is not supposed to be public knowledge yet.  Now, most agenda items begin with a lengthy discussion as to whether the item at hand is public knowledge or not.

Late last year, one town councilor was upset because one of his blustery speeches never made it into the official record, because it never got a seconder.  So, in the name of speeding things up, this councilor began the movement to do away with seconding motions.  It passed.  And rather than speed things up, this seems to have double the length of meetings.

Our news reporter constantly tells tales of a council that has grown obsessed with nitpicking procedure rather than getting business done, and I can't help but laugh at the absurdity.  Sitting around nitpicking procedure is something I've seen bring down many a high school club, but never a municipal government.

Word on the street has been for a while now that our town council has grown very dysfunctional.  I was rather blind to this until I attended the all-candidates forum for our by-election back in February and the council's dysfunction and failure to agree on most topics was the most common topic there.  I didn't quite understand it myself until this incident tonight.

The agenda is what says what a meeting is about.  Town council can't even agree on what they're meetings should be about.

I almost say council should take a sitcom approach to things.  They should all be locked in a room and not let out until they've resolved their differences.  Thing is, councils all across the country do that.  They call it a retreat.  But when our new mayor came to power a year and a half ago, he did away with retreats, saying that they were just expensive vacations on the taxpayer's dime.

Shortly after retreats were abolished, town council then increased travel allowances for councilors so they could start attending conferences out-of-province.  I remember making the joke at the time that the honeymoon was over for council, as they'd be taking separate vacations this year.

Turns out I wasn't joking.  Our town council is a very dysfunctional marriage.  It's falling apart.  There were three delegations at town council last night.  Three groups looking for support from their leaders to improve this community.  And they were sent home without being able to present their cases, because council determined their issues weren't as important as a last minute agenda item on last minute agenda items.

This town can be great.  The people can do great things.  But they can't, because our leaders are too busy bickering about how to dot the i's and cross the t's.   

UPDATE:  I see out local paper already has an article up about it.  Click here to read all the sordid details. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mermaid Sex

As I've stated, I don't know how many more radio experiments I'm going to be posting, as I purged the hard drive a few years ago and most of my experiments got lost in the shuffle.

I was seriously debating whether to post this one or not, but then I remembered I did put it in one of the earlier episodes of my podcast, so it's already out there in the public consciousness.

We've all reached a point in our life where the curiosity gets the better of us, and we go behind the beaded curtain into that backroom of the video store.  Or we finally venture into one of those shops where the windows are all blacked out.

This is the tale of when I succumbed to such curiosity...and the Disney classic it forever tainted.

Mermaid Sex by Mark Cappis

Monday, May 14, 2012

YouTube Videos from the Athabasca Outdoor Show

I made YouTube videos!  I don't do it as much as I used to, but occasionally I do feel some inspiration and give it a shot.

This past weekend was the 4th annual Athabasca Outdoor Show.  I was live on location for the whole show, but I did get a few moments to wander the grounds and check it out.  And since the station's booth was right next to the stage, I was also able to catch the big performances.  We had Access Hip Hop do some dancing, and the Big River Band also performed a few songs.

So check out the Athabasca Outdoor Show!

But wait! There's more. A deleted scene!

One vendor was there selling toys and had one of these.  I remember these from my youth.  It seems that just about every small town department store had one of these and I would be mesmerized by them.  Almost bought one, but I figured that just filming it would be just as enjoyable.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Die Hard

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, the resurrection of my old podcast bit where I'd ramble about a favourite movie of mine that I own on DVD.   Going through my old notes, I've reached December of 2010, so we're about to get into a whole spate of Christmas movies, followed by the movies I got for Christmas, ending with the blockbusters of 2010 that I blew my gift cards on.  Today we get into what's always referred to as "the Christmas movie for guys," Die Hard.  This review is originally dated December 17, 2010.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Thank You

The first thing they tell you at NAIT is that the money in radio isn't very good.  "You'll never get rich in radio," they said.  "The only way you'll ever make any money is if you work in sales, and if that's your goal, you're better off switching your major from broadcasting to marketing."  It's a reality I've faced for the past few years.  I'm constantly fretting about my finances.

Back in the fall, the fretting got so bad that I finally took a second job.  I enjoyed it, even though it ate up a lot of my spare time, and with summer on the horizon, things are about to get very busy at the radio station.  I knew it would be a matter of time before my second job started eating into the time for my first job.  So, two weeks ago, I gave my notice at the grocery store.

I worked my last shift at the grocery store last night.  As I was filling up a bucket with soap and water so I could get to work scrubbing the slime out of the lettuce cooler, my second boss turned to me and said, "I really hoped you'd choose us over the radio station.  Why are you going to work in radio?"

I put the bucket down and looked at her.  "Because being on the radio is all I ever wanted to do since I was 10 years old."

"Say no more," she said.

I know that I fret too much about the money.  I know that some times, I let an angry caller get under my skin.  I know that, some days, my colleagues get on my nerves.

But when all is said and done, I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

So if I haven't said it before, let me say it now.

To those who happen to listen to me everyday

To those I work with every day to help me be my best

To those who propped me up when I was pounding the pavement looking for that first gig

To those who talked me out of dropping out of NAIT when days were at their darkest

To those who humoured my requests to stop in at CLCR whenever I visited Augustana

To those who listened to me at Augustana who started convincing me I might be able to make a living at this

To those who humoured a 10-year old who was playing with a tape recorder in his room.

Thank you.  Thank you for your love, kindness, and support in this crazy career I've chosen.

And I'll probably be hitting you up for money real soon.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Mystery Pack #2

So, a few weeks ago, doing this "posting old radio experiments" thing, I shared a little something called Mystery Pack #1.  This was an attempt to do something a friend of mine suggested...come with a really short podcast (under 5 min long) to provide a tasty surprise for folks when they set their MP3 players to "shuffle."

I thought I only made the one episode as a "proof of concept."  Turns out I made a second.

As I said last time, my big problem with this was coming up with engaging content.  This is actually an excerpt from my podcast.  I remember when I initially recorded it, I was like, "Ooo!  That's awesome!  Gotta save it for a mystery pack!"  And I did.

I'm glad I saved the original audio for doing this.  Any attempt at re-creating it would drain it of its energy.

Anyway, for this second mystery pack, it's the story behind this photo.

This is the story of the greatest day of my life.

The Second Mystery Pack by Mark Cappis

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Targ Time!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Alrighty, gang, trying to get back into some kind of normal schedule here, so that means it's time to bust out a new episode of U62: The Targ

In Episode 5.21: Stuffy Nose, I battle this springtime cold to share my thoughts on The Avengers (did you hear?  I've seen it!), muse about the recently-announced plans to privatize the hot springs in our national parks, and I finally check out series 2 of Sherlock

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Be a fan in Facebook! 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

New Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

There was a recent episode of ItsJustSomeRandomGuy which made a subtle joke that's really quite accurate.  With all the fuss between The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, people are kind of forgetting about the Spider-Man reboot.

But yeah, a new trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man also went online this week, what between The Avengers being released and the new Dark Knight Rises trailer.

I do like what I'm seeing in this Spider-Man reboot.  As many have pointed out, it's great seeing Spidey taunt that robber like that.  Wisecracking Spidey was something that we didn't see much of in the Sam Raimi films. 

It looks like they're finally trying to distance this from Twilight.  The first two trailers really made it look all Twilight-y.  And I'm really interested to see where they're going with this whole "mystery of Peter Parker's parents" thing.  And we're still not getting really good shots of the Lizard!

Oh, well.  July 3 is when it hits theatres, and I'll still be checking it out. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Avengers Review

In the mid-2000s, Marvel Comics secured a financing deal that would allow them to start producing their own movies based on their properties.  The first products that they produced on their own was in the summer of 2008, with the pretty good 1-2 punch of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk.  Buoyed by that success, Marvel announced a grand scheme for their film franchise.  The slate was Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, all leading up to the supergroup where they all join forces, The Avengers.

Well, the endgame has hit theatres.  The Avengers is upon us.  To produce this meshing of the heroes, Marvel called on Joss Whedon.  Whedon is a talent that I mostly like.  Despite insistence from my friends that I would love it, never got into Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I was late to the Firefly party, but by the time I got around to it, I enjoyed the heck out of it.  I did have a friend who once dismissed Whedon as "a geek who writes for geeks," but when you're doing one of the biggest superhero teams in comic history, seems to me that's the kind of guy you'd want doing it.

The film opens with SHIELD doing some experiments on the Tesseract (aka the Cosmic Cube, last seen at the end of Captain America), when something goes haywire, and it opens up a portal, bringing forth Loki, last seen at the end of Thor tumbling off into the cosmic abyss.  Loki proceeds to swipe the Tesseract, and begins to go about his evil plot.  SHIELD director Nick Fury figures it's time to assemble...some help.  As the Tesseract began emitting an unusual gamma radiation signature before it was stolen, he enlists the world's foremost expert on gamma radiation, Dr. Bruce Banner, to help track it down.  To battle the immediate threat of Loki, he calls Steve Rogers back into action.  To help put the final pieces of the puzzle together, he calls in SHIELD's consultant, Tony Stark.  Thor eventually shows up, seeking to bring his brother Loki to justice and reclaim the Tesseract for Aasgard's vault.  With back-up being provided by top SHIELD agents Black Widow and Hawkeye, Loki's plot soon comes to light.  Loki seeks to lead an army of invading aliens, known as the Chutauri, to conquer the Earth.  With this broad band of heroes before him, Fury figures it's time to dust off a scrapped SHIELD program known as the Avengers Initiative.  Can this group of heroes put aside their differences, become the Avengers, and save the planet?

One thing I've lamented about the dearth of superhero films over the past 12 years or so is they're so darn serious...they just don't have the sense of fun that I've long associated with comics.  What can I say?  I'm a Silver Age guy.  That's one of the few reasons why I enjoyed the Fantastic Four films...they have that sense of fun.  Well, I'm very glad to say that The Avengers is FUN.  It is very fun.  It is fun in spades.  It knows when it needs to be serious, and when it needs to be lighthearted.  A proper balance is achieved.  Not just fun, but funny.  The quips and superhero one-liners will have you busting a gut.

And the Hulk...oh my God, the Hulk steals the show.  Every time that Bruce Banner hulks out, it is magical.  Again, with the character of the Hulk, the temptation is to show him as nothing but rage unleashed.  But in this film, the Hulk is having fun smashing.  It's nice to see a fun Hulk.  And I do agree that Mark Ruffalo is probably the best Bruce Banner we've seen to date.  This is a man whom, thanks to his condition, has a full handle on his emotions without being emotionless.

Robert Downey Jr, as always, is awesome is Tony Stark/Iron Man.  He and Steve Rogers/Captain America take an instant dislike to each other, as Stark is so flippant and Rogers still has World War II "golly gee wilikers" earnestness to him.  Stark, however, takes an instant liking to Banner, as he realizes that Banner is probably the only guy who can successfully challenge him to the title "smartest guy in the room."

I loved Captain America  last year, and it was good to see the Cap pretty much the same, but as he frets in the film, his 1940s attitudes are a little out of place.  (He has one very politically incorrect scene with Nick Fury that made my jaw hit the floor.)  Black Widow's interrogation of Loki is a great scene...really, every hero gets a wonderful little character moment, from Thor trying to reason with his brother Loki, to Black Widow and Hawkeye lamenting their assassin/mercenary pasts.

Really, I'm struggling to come with things I didn't like about this film.  Perhaps Tony Stark does get a little too irreverent in some scenes, bordering on grating.  Things do kind of slow down in the exposition scenes, and you really want to see the heroes go back to punching each other or the bad guys.

This is just an amazing, fun, and mindblowing superhero film.  And I really hope the sequel promised by the post-credits scene comes to pass.

4 Nibs

Click here to read my review over on my main site.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Godzilla (The 1998 American Film)

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin!  For those just joining us, this was something I used to do on my podcast, but I grew tired of doing it.  But I wrote so many reviews before growing tired of it, that I decided to start posting them on the blog, rather than having them stagnate on my hard drive.  Today, we do a movie that I loved bunches when it first hit theatres, but has since become regarded as one of the worst summer blockbusters ever made:  the American Godzilla.

This review is originally dated December 3, 2010.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Yes, You Do Use It

I've blogged it before, and I'll blog it again.

When people learn I have a math degree, they sometimes come to me and say, "Oh my gosh!  I have this incredibly hard math problem because I'm (usually they're renovating their house) and only a guy with a math degree can solve it!"

When I take a look at the problem, it usually boils down to a Grade 5 word problem that they could easily solve themselves if they didn't waste Grade 5 math class sassing their teacher about how they'd never need it when they grew up.  

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Third Dark Knight Rises Trailer

Three big superhero movies coming this summer.  The world's all nuts for The Avengers right now, but right behind it, The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's third and final Batman movie.

I made this observation a few years ago...don't know if I blogged it.  When it comes to the superhero trilogies of the past 10 years, it tends to play out like this:

Movie the first - The origin story shoehorned in with the best known storyline.

Movie the second - Free of the constrains of the origin story, the creators cut loose, explore the heroes as best they can, and invariably create the best of the franchise.

Movie the third - Since all the actors are signed to a trilogy, the attitude is, "Fuck it, this is the last one, let's throw in all the cool shit that the fans want to see." 

But Christopher Nolan and his Batman films, he's kind of thrown this model out the window.  For the first movie, he ditched the best known storyline and focused purely on the origin story.  For the second film, that's when he brought in the arch-enemy, really pushing the hero to its limits.  So for the third...well, I have no idea.

As I mentioned with the previous trailer, it's really neat that they are bringing this trilogy to a definite end.  Comic books aren't designed to end, which is why they've been running since the 1940s.  When it comes to a superhero's end, everyone's got their own idea of what it should be.  For Batman, it's pretty much agreed that the best telling of "The End of Batman" is The Dark Knight Returns.

So a cinematic end to Batman.  The mind boggles.

Reminder of what we know....  It takes places 8 years after The Dark Knight.  Christian Bale is back as Bruce Wayne/Batman.  Michael Caine is back as Alfred.  Morgan Freeman is back as Lucious Fox.  For the new characters, Tom Hardy is Bane, Anne Hathaway is Catwoman, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a Gotham City cop.


My thoughts: I'm digging Anne Hathaway's Catwoman. That line at the end, "My mother warned me...." seems very Catwoman-esque. Really glad they cleaned up the sound issues with Bane's mask and we can actually hear him.  And Bane tossing aside Batman's mask like that?  Does he "break the Bat?" 

I can hardly wait to find out!  July 20 is when it hits theatres!