Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin -- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of one of the many DVDs in my personal library.  Back in the spring, I wanted to re-watch every Star Trek movie before Into Darkness came out, and that brings us to Part 3 of this series:  Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.  This is originally dated in my notes at April 6, 2013. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

 Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of something in my movie library.  Back in the spring, I wanted to watch every Star Trek movie before Into Darkness came out, so I did.  And that brings us to the second part of my 12-part series "Every Star Trek Movie."  Dated in my notes at March 31, 2013, here's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

News from Markworld: December 2013

As has become my way, I'm blogging my annual Christmas card letter, for those who have drifted away, and may be googling my name some night, wondering whatever became of me. 

News from Markworld: The Chaos in a Box Newsletter

Good day!

Happy holidays from Mark Cappis!  Just taking a moment to slip a little friendly form letter into this Christmas card to let you know what happened to me in 2013.

Well, you’ve probably discovered the big thing by now.  You’ve probably looked at the return address and thought, “Hey, this didn’t come from Athabasca!  Mark moved!”  You are correct.  I am now in the Town of Westlock, serving as the afternoon host and assistant music director of 97.9 the Range.  Almost a year ago, the Company offered me the transfer to Westlock.  I was feeling ready for a new challenge, so I took the move.

For those not familiar with radio jobs, “music director” is the person at a radio station who actually picks the music that a station plays.  So it’s more duty and responsibility.  But, I’m still on the radio, and with added bonus of no longer having to be up at 4AM.

Other than that, it was a rather eventful year.  It was full of tragedy both large (my Opa passed away back at the start of summer) and small (hit a deer with my car).  It was full of victories both large (after being out of college for 14 years, finally got my student loans paid off) and small (used the leftover cash to finally get a hi-definition television). 

You’ll forgive me if I keep this brief.  Sitting down to pen this letter has been the #1 reason for me procrastinating and not getting my Christmas cards sent out, so I’ve taken a whole, “Let’s just get it done” attitude towards this.  As always, if you want more info about me and what I’m up to, my online foot print is far too large.  Google my name and the top three links that come up are my various blogs from over the years.  But to recap:

Main website:  www.chaosinabox.com
Blog:  chaosinabox.blogspot.com
Twitter:  @chaosinabox
Facebook:  facebook.com/chaosinabox
Podcast:  chaosinabox.com/podcast

And that’s my year in review.  I hope 2013 was good to you, and that 2014 will be even better.

Onwards and upwards!

Mark Cappis

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Star Trek: The Motion Picture -- The Director's Cut

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch and rant about something in my DVD collection.  Today, we start something very special in this column.  I am a huge Trekkie.  Back in the spring, as I was getting ready for Star Trek Into Darkness, I got it in my head to sit down and watch every Star Trek movies.  So welcome to part 1 of my 12-part series, Every Star Trek Movie.  Like the song says, "Let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start."  This is Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  This is dated in my notes at March 29, 2013.

Movie Poster for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  My earliest memory of a comic book is this image on the back cover.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jupiter Ascending Upon Godzilla

If there's one thing that's stuck with me from my time in Japan, it's the schedule that movie studio Toho sticks to when it comes to releasing the latest films in their biggest franchises.  And that schedule is:

- March is for Doraemon
- July is for Pokemon
- December is for Godzilla

As such, whenever the holidays roll around, I can't help but get the itch to toss some Godzilla in the DVD player.  As such, I wish we were getting a new Godzilla movie in theatres right now.  And I really want to see the new Godzilla movie RIGHT NOW after seeing the first trailer for the latest American attempt to do a remake.

Yup, 15 years after 1998's Godzilla, the USA figured it was time once again to do their own rendition of Godzilla.  Legendary Pictures, the production company that partnered with DC Comics and Warner Brothers to do the Dark Knight Trilogy, acquired the movie rights to Godzilla back in 2010, and immediately went to work on producing a new, Americanized version.  To bring about this new version, Legendary got British director Gareth Edwards, whose 2010 indie film debut Monsters looked like he knew a thing or two about giant monster movies.  And to help out Edwards, legendary director and screenwriter Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile) came on board to help write the screenplay.

Edwards put together an all-star cast, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass in the Kick Ass movies), rising star Elizabeth Olson, Bryan Cranston (fresh of Breaking Bad) and Ken Watanabe.  A release date of May 2014 was locked in, and we got our very first trailer today.

OH. MY. GOD.  I've become much better versed in Godzilla lore since that 1998 film, and all I can say is, this looks like a Godzilla movie.  This really does look like they took Godzilla back to his roots.  Never forget, Godzilla was meant to represent the destruction caused by nuclear weapons, personified, and this...well, this looks like war.

We got the poster, too, and the trailer will be in theatres in front of The HobbitGodzilla hits theatres on May 16.

And while I'm blogging about trailers, there's another one that came online that didn't make as big a splash as the Godzilla trailer, but it did catch my eye.  And that's the for Jupiter Ascending, the latest film from the Wachowskis.  

The Wachowskis have yet to recapture the acclaim they got for The Matrix Trilogy.  (Well..The Matrix at least.)  They wrote and produced the film version of V for Vendetta to mixed reviews.  I love the living hell out of Speed Racer, but I know I'm about one of twelve people on the planet who feel that way.   But Cloud Atlas got lots of critical love, and I haven't seen it yet.  

But after those adaptations, the Wachowskis are back with their latest original idea, Jupiter Ascending.  As with The Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis are playing it pretty close to the vest, so we don't know too much about it.

We do know this brief plot synopsis.  Our heroine is Jupiter, a lowly cleaning lady in Chicago.  One day, though, she's abducted by intergalactic bounty hunter Caine, for something about her genetic make-up makes her a threat to the evil Queen of the Universe.  Of course, Caine must help Jupiter unlock her genetic potential, overthrow the Queen, and save the universe.

Jupiter is played by Mila Kunis, Caine is played by Channing Tatum, and Sean Bean pops up as well.

Everything about this trailer just looks...familiar.  A very familiar looking sci-fi universe.  Same ol' spaceships, same ol' outer space action.  And the plot.  A person leading a mundane existence who's believed to be "The One" and is whisked away to another world to try to save it.  Well, Wachowskis, if you know what works for you....

Jupiter Ascending hits theatres on July 24.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The News of Last Week

Wow, lots of good stuff happening last week that I've been wanting to sit and blog about.  And now, with a relatively quiet Sunday night, it's time to put pen to paper and blog away!

First up, we've got our first look at the next Spider-Man movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  The next installment in this rebooted trilogy comes out in May.  Andrew Garfield is back as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Emma Watson is back as Gwen Stacey, and Sally Field is back as Aunt May.  New folks this time around include Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro, Paul Giamatti as Aleksi Systavich/Rhino, Dale DeHann is Harry Osborne, and Chris Cooper is Norman Osborn.

Behind the scenes, Marc Webb returns as director (and like every review for the first film, let's pause to appreciate the irony of his name).  Finessing the screenplay is the dynamic duo of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who wrote the Star Trek reboots.

Now that we know the players, let's gaze upon the film, shall we?

Wow. There is so much to love in that trailer, but it's giving me a sense of unease as well.  With our first glimpses of the Rhino, Electro, and a rebooted Green Goblin, plus hints of Dr. Octopus's tentacles and the Vulture's wings, it looks like we just may be getting a Sinister Six movie.  But is that a good thing?

With the runaway success of The Avengers, I fear that the current trend in superhero films is going to be to cram in as many heroes and villains as they can into a film.  For other examples, let's look at the upcoming mutant epic X-Men: Days of Future Past and the recent announcement that Gal Gadot will be playing Wonder Woman along side Ben Affleck's Batman and Henry Cavill's Superman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel.  With all those characters, will we have room for them all?

See, at least with The Avengers and X-Men, we've had a whole film franchise before it so we could get to know the characters.  But with a Sinister Six in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we'll hardly get a chance to know all the characters, and they'll just be a group of splashy red shirts.

Plus it looks the whole "mystery of Peter Parker's parents and origins" is once again going to be a huge plot point.  Remember with the first film, how it was all over the ad campaigns, only for that plot thread to be dropped within the first five minutes of the film?  Will this actually be the plot, or just another colossal tease?  

That being said, the things to love are outweighing my trepidations.  May 2!

Speaking of X-Men: Days of Future Past, the film doesn't come out until May 23, but director Bryan Singer was the first to announce that they're already working on the sequel when he posted this tweet:

Yup, X-Men: Apocalypse is the next X-Film, coming in May of 2016.  For those not X-Men savvy, Apocalypse is one of the X-Men's deadliest foes.  One of the most powerful mutants, he is also supposedly the first one, having been born 5000 years ago.  His best-known storyline was called "Age of Apocalypse," where, thanks to an alternate timeline being formed, he became absolute ruler of Earth.

So the mind is beginning to boggle.  Will Apocalypse simply be the villain of X-Men: Apocalypse?  Will the time travel shenanigans of Days of Future Past lead to an Age of Apocalypse sequel?  The very popular rumour right now is that we'll at least be glimpsing Apocalypse is the post-credits scene of Days of Future Past.

And let's not forget, that's not the only X-Film in development.  Jeff Wadlow, the writer/director of this past summer's Kick-Ass 2, is already hard at work on trying to develop an X-Force film.  And The Wolverine's director James Mangold and Wolverine himself Hugh Jackman have been approached to give us another Wolverine solo film. 

So I think the X-Franchise is going to be around for quite some time.

And lastly, something that was announced late on Friday afternoon.  When Disney bought LucasFilm a little over a year ago, and the whole world got caught up in the announcement of a new Star Wars film, the more observant asked, "Wait...does this mean that Disney owns Indiana Jones now, too?"

Well, we can now say...yes.

Apparently, Indy was a little more complicated than Star Wars.  While LucasFilm owned Star Wars lock, stock and barrel, Indy was part of a partnership between LucasFilm and Paramount Pictures.  So the past year was spent re-negotiating the terms of that partnership.

So, with re-negotiations done, Paramount now owns the four Indiana Jones films, and Disney owns the Indiana Jones characters, giving Disney free reign to make more Indiana Jones films, should they choose.

Is the world ready for more Indy?  Can Harrison Ford, now pushing 80, don the fedora once again?  Will we get another Young Indiana Jones prequel?  Who knows?  I think Disney's a little more focused on making those new Star Wars films, first. 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin: Kick-Ass

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of one of the many DVDs I own.  Today we get to a film that tries to answer the age old question, "What would it be like if we had superheroes in the real world?"  And that film is 2010's Kick-Ass.  This entry is dated in my notes at March 23, 2013.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - From Russia With Love

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look upon the films I own, and I watch them and rant about them.  We're about to go into a stretch of James Bond films, starting with what many regard as the best Bond film ever, From Russia With Love.  This is dated in my notes at March 17, 2013.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Day After the Day of the Doctor

So, here we are.  We've now had the awesomeness that was the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor.  So I felt like taking to the blog to just share my thoughts.

I should issue a spoiler warning.  As I began live-tweeting my reactions yesterday, had quite a few friends tweet back "SHUT UP!  I'm doing stuff today and I'm recording it!"  So for those who have lives and such and haven't watched it yet, turn away now.

Still here?  Good.

To borrow the Ninth Doctor's catchphrase:  fantastic.  I thought it was a little slow to get going at the outset, but once we got halfway through and started ramping up the emotion, it was so great.

So wonderful seeing David Tennant back as the Tenth Doctor.  (Or is he the Eleventh now?  I see the debate is raging as to how/if they should be renumbered.)  And the interplay between him and the Eleventh Doctor was great.  They bickered like brothers, which was a great way to take it.

John Hurt, as the mysterious War Doctor.  As briefly alluded to in the end of Series 7, this Doctor is the one that ended the Time War by annihilating both the Time Lords and the Daleks.  And when we meet him in this special, he's made the decision to do it, but he hasn't yet.  He knows he's turned his back on the name and concept of the Doctor, but he hasn't just yet, so he still has that twinkle in his eye.

And it was very interesting how they brought back Rose.  Well, not really Rose.  See, the doomsday weapon that the War Doctor uses to end the war has never been used, because it gained sentience.  As the one Time Lord general said about it, "No one wants to use a weapon that will judge you for having used it."  So as the War Doctor goes to activate the weapon, it's sentience takes the form of Rose.  Well, actually, it takes the form of Bad Wolf, the omnipotent form of Rose from the end of Series One.  Very clever, and such a tease that she wound up being in scenes with the Tenth Doctor, but there's no interaction between them.  (She's projected telepathically into the War Doctor's mind, so only he can see her.)

It was just so much fun.  I enjoyed it immensely.  As our three Doctors team up to stop an alien invasion on Earth, and in doing so, help the War Doctor make his terrible decision to end the great Time War.

But not.  Thanks to that wibbly wobbley timey wimey stuff, they determine a way to end the war and save the Time Lords.  As the Eleventh Doctor eventually realizes, he's had 400 years to think about how he would have done things differently.  And now he has the chance to.  Leading to one spectacular climax where the Doctor finally saves Gallifrey, thus earning a spot of redemption.

But of course, the Easter Eggs and callbacks to other aspects of the franchise.  My top 5:

5)  The donor of the Vortex Manipulator
4)  The retro opening, which re-creates the opening of the very first episode
3)  The blink-and-you'll-miss-it brief appearance by the forthcoming Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi
2)  The Tenth Doctor's final words in the special. 
1)  The identity of the Curator. 

I do kind of wish I did pay the money to go to the theatre and see it in 3D.  Something tells me the effects of the 3D oil paintings were probably pretty spectacular.

I'm still kind of sad that Christopher Eccleston chose not to be a part of it, and therefore no Ninth Doctor, but why lament the awesomeness we could have had?  It was pretty damn spectacular as it was.

And while I'm on the subject, I may as well offer up my thoughts on the other 50th anniversary special, An Adventure in Space and Time, the docudrama which told the tale of the show's creation back in the 1960s.

Again, it was good, if a little...perfunctory.  When you do a project like this, one of the traps you can fall into is getting too wrapped up in recreating the time, place and events, and thus you really don't get to know the people involved.  This definitely fell into that trap.  You never got sense of why these people believed in this project so much.

For example, Sydney Newman, the head of the BBC Drama department at the time, who created the general concept for Doctor Who.  Brian Cox plays him like a big cartoon character of a Hollywood producer.  It feels a little...out-of-place.

We do get to meet Verity Lambert, Newman's former personal assistant whom he promotes to being the first producer of Doctor Who.  She was a bit better character, as she battled both her nervousness at being given her first show, and the sexism in the BBC offices, as her role producing Doctor Who made her the BBC's first female producer.  But again, her character arc quickly fades into the background as the show takes off, and the movie becomes more wrapped up in recreating how the show was made back then.  The coda tells us that, upon her death in 2007, she'd become revered in the British television industry as a bona fide legend.  I'd almost like to see a movie purely about her.

But still, it is great watching her transform and start really, truly becoming a producer.  There is the one scene where she's battling with Newman about the first Dalek storyline.  Newman wants to axe it because killer robots is one of the sci-fi tropes he really wanted to avoid with the show.  But Lambert fights for it because it's a very good, very thoughtful, sci-fi script with meaty concepts.  Newman does get this strange mix of pride and fear seeing his protege turn into this tough-as-nails producer he knew she could be...and all of her new found skills and confidence are being unleashed on him.  

On the other side, a character that could have gotten a little more attention, I feel, is Waris Hussien, who was the first director of Doctor Who.  As they show in the film, he also had hurdles to face as the BBC's first Indian director.  He and Lambert form a fast friendship, as they both battle the racist and sexist old guard.  I would have liked to have seen a little more of him.

But the heart and soul of the film was David Bradley, who played William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor.  It was fun seeing him transform.  When we meet him, he's a gruff old actor who's getting typecast as gruff old soldiers.  But when Lambert and Hussien pitch this new TV series to him, it does catch his attention.  And as the show becomes popular, and he sees how he's becoming a hero to children everywhere, it really does start to soften him up.  He begins taking his role as hero to millions of children quite seriously.  It's fun watching him change, and thus makes it all the more heartbreaking when his ailing health eventually forces him to quit the show. 

Which leads to my objection about the film's end.  It ends with Hartnell filming his final scene, and as he wonders if the show will go on without him, he looks to his side and sees a vision of...the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith in a cameo, just looking back at him and smiling, thus assuring Hartnell that the show ill go on.  Something about this whole scene just felt awkward.  Because Smith does nothing more than stand there and twitch, I can't tell if he really did film the cameo, or if it was digital footage of Smith awkwardly inserted.  Definitely feels like the latter. 

That being said, though, I'm glad it shone a light on the bumpy road the show had in its beginnings.

And before I wrap this up, I have to share this bit of hilariousness.  There was a third 50th anniversary special.  I mean, lots of fans were upset that the other classic Doctors didn't make an appearance.  And we weren't the only ones.

Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor, wrote and directed this special called The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, in which he, Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor) and Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor) launch their campaign to appear in The Day of the Doctor. 

Oh my God, you guys, this is so funny.  I don't know how many of the cameos I should spoil for you.  But trust me, this is just a nice way to cap things off.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Wreck-It Ralph

Time for another edition of Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of one of the many, many, many DVDs clogging my shelves and blogging about.   This time out, we get to Disney's animated epic of 2012, Wreck-It Ralph.  This entry originally appears in my notes at March 16, 2013. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Returning Heroes and Villains

Another late night at work, so while I've got some free time on my supper break, I may as well take to the blog and blog about some recent news items that caught my eye.

This is a few weeks old now, but it sure got tongues wagging.  Marvel Studios recently announced a huge deal with Netflix to start producing original TV series based on Marvel characters exclusively for Netflix!  The four characters getting their own shows are:
Following the model of the Marvel movies, this will all build up to a Defenders mini-series, featuring these characters teaming up.  I don't know much about The Defenders...they're usually assembled by Dr. Strange to combat supernatural threats.  And they were widely mocked in Twisted ToyFare Theatre back in the day for being the low-rent Avengers.

Each hero's series is going to run 13 episodes.  And they've already announced some of the talent.  Daredevil is going to be overseen by Drew Goddard.  Goddard is a frequent Joss Whedon collaborator, having written episodes of Buffy and Angel back in the day.  On the big screen, he co-wrote (with Whedon) and directed the horror film deconstruction The Cabin in the Woods.

For Jessica Jones, they're talking with Melissa Rosenberg.  Rosenberg is a veteran television writer, who was responsible for some of the better episodes of Dexter.  On the big screen, she wrote the screenplay for every Twilight movie.  Apparently, back in 2010, she attempted to get a Jessica Jones series up and running, so she's already familiar with the character.   

It's all slated to premiere in 2015. 

I think this is a great idea.  Obviously, the Marvel Universe is so big, that they can't adapt every character into a movie.  So why not give some of the B-listers a TV series?  Netflix is widely becoming the place for new, original content, with such hits as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.  Because each series is going to run 13 episodes, we can have a definite story arc running for those episodes, which will really give them an opportunity to tell an epic story.  Might be finally time to sign up for Netflix!

And there was a news story that broke on Friday night that caught my eye.  The producers of the James Bond films have finally reacquired the movie rights to the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

For those who aren't familiar with Bond lore, Blofeld is James Bond's arch-enemy, head of the terrorist organization known as SPECTRE.  Blofeld and SPECTRE were the villains in pretty much all the James Bond movies of the 1960s.  They were always stirring up Cold War tensions between The Western Powers and the Soviet Bloc in the hopes of starting World War III, and then building a new world order from the ashes.  For the first few films, he was shown only from the back, stroking his white, long-haired cat, thus establishing that supervillain cliche.

How the Bond producers lost the rights to the Moriarty to Bond's Sherlock Holmes is a long and sordid tale.  This is as best I understand it.  Back in the late 1950s, when Bond was starting to take the literary world by storm, Bond's creator Ian Fleming partnered with a young writer named Kevin McClory to write a James Bond screenplay to shop around to movie producers.  Somewhere along the way, Fleming and McClory had a falling out, and went their separate ways.  Not wanting to let a good story go to waste, Fleming published the unused screenplay as the Bond novel Thunderball

Needless to say, when Thunderball hit bookstore shelves, McClory was pissed, and sued to get his due credit and royalties for co-writing Thunderball.  The judge sided with McClory, and as part of his settlement, McClory was granted the movie rights to Thunderball.  As the movie version of Thunderball was already in production by the time this settlement was reached, McClory got a co-producer credit on the film, and was barred from exercising his film rights until 10 years after Thunderball's release. 

Flash forward 10 years.  As the Bond producers are getting ready to do a gritty reboot of Blofeld and reintroduce SPECTRE on the big screen, McClory launched a second lawsuit.  The lawsuit said, since Blofeld made his first appearance in the novels in Thunderball, McClory also owned the rights to the character of Blofeld.  Once again, the judge ruled in favour of McClory, and the Bond producers could no longer have Bond fight his arch-enemy.

All throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, McClory tried to use his ownership of the movie rights to Thunderball and Blofeld and mount a rival Bond film franchise.  The only fruit of those labours was the 1983 Bond film Never Say Never Again, which is considered non-cannonical because it wasn't made by the true Bond film producers.  And all throughout that time, McClory and the Bond producers filed several nasty lawsuits against each other, all over who owned what aspects of the Bond mythology. 

McClory passed away in 2006, and this settlement was finally reached through years of negotiations between the Bond producers and McClory's estate.  Now, all the film rights to every aspect of James Bond is now, finally, owned by the producers of the James Bond films. 

And again, I think this is fantastic news.  As I blogged before, Skyfall left me feeling that this Bond reboot is complete.  With our new M, Q and Moneypenny back in place, all the elements are back for some classic Bond adventures.  And now that Bond's arch-enemy is back, they can truly reboot the franchise.  I wonder what SPECTRE would be like in this present day.  Would they make it like the terrorist cells that we see in the War on Terror?  Who knows?

Hopefully, like the Bond films of the 1960s, this'll give Bond a recurring villain to fight over several films.  It would be neat to see a hero/villain relationship evolve over several films, truly developing Blofeld into Bond's equal.  The next Bond film is slated for 2015...no word yet on how this might change plans for the next Bond film.  But it's just nice that Bond finally has his arch-enemy again.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Eighth Doctor Returns!

The Eigth Doctor telling us 8 Days until the 50th Anniversary special

So we have eight days to go until The Day of the Doctor, the big 50th anniversary special for Doctor Who.  It's kind of sneaking up on me, as things are starting to get pretty busy.  But then I was absolutely tickled when I saw this yesterday.

As has become the way with Moffat run of Doctor Who, for specials and such, he likes to put together a little 5-minute prequel and post it online.  Yesterday, we got the prequel for The Day of the Doctor, appropriately titled The Night of the Doctor, and I was over the moon when I saw who it starred.

It's an Eighth Doctor adventure, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

So my first exposure to Doctor Who was in the early 1990s.  Back then, with a lot of hype and ballyhoo, YTV became the official home of Doctor Who in Canada, and started showing the adventures of Doctors 1 - 7 in reruns.  I remember reading in the paper that there was a huge kerfuffle between YTV and the Canadian chapter of the Official Doctor Who Fan Club.  In all their promotional materials, YTV referred to the main character as "Doctor Who."  The Official Doctor Who Fan Club angrily pointed out that he's known as simply "The Doctor," so YTV eventually caved and adjusted their promotional materials.

I remember watching the odd episode back then and being...unimpressed.  I'd always catch the last five minutes, and it'd always be the First Doctor sitting in the TARDIS control room, giving a speech about the day's events, and I'd think, "This is it?  This is the famous Doctor Who?  Just some old guy standing around pontificating?  Get this over with so I can watch Ninja Turtles!"  (Ninja Turtles was on right after, you see.)

But the first time I opened my heart and gave Doctor Who a chance was for the American-made TV movie, which wound up being the Eighth Doctor's only adventure.  I watched it in the spring of 1996 when it first aired.  And I loved it.  Finally, with a big budget, and in colour, I got what it was all about!  YTV had stopped showing it by then, so I couldn't go back and give the regular series another chance. 

When I did my Fishing in the Discount Bin on the Doctor Who TV movie, I mentioned that you could see the seeds being planted for the 2005 re-launch.  I mean, with a big budget behind it, there were some things that just made sense to do, so the 1996 TV movie and the current series do have some notable similarities.

But sadly, it was not to be, and so I had to wait for the re-launch in 2005 for more Doctor Who, and it looked like I wouldn't see any further Eighth Doctor adventures.

Until today.

When the revival started, many fans wondered if we'd ever see the Eighth Doctor regenerate into the Ninth, and I guess Moffat figured it would make a good subject for the online prequel.

So let's enjoy The Night of The Doctor, featuring the final hours of the Eighth Doctor!

Hopefully, you just finished watching it, because I'm about to get spoilery.

So I guess this finally confirms what many suspected...that the John Hurt Doctor (referred to as "The War Doctor" in the end credits) is the true Ninth Doctor, as #8 regenerates into him.  Actually, I think this kind of provides a sad end to the Eighth Doctor.  With the Time War raging, and the universe turning to hate the Time Lords, he realizes that his time is at an end and he can no longer walk the universe and help people.  When takes that potion at the end to regenerate into a warrior, and says that the universe doesn't need a Doctor anymore, it's like he's suicidal.

It's a sad end, but it's so good seeing the Eighth Doctor again!

A little trivia note.  I've discovered this outfit called Big Finish, and what they do is they produce these big budget Doctor Who radio plays.  They've even managed to procure the services of all the classic Doctors to play the Doctor in them.  When the Eighth Doctor mutters the names of his previous companions before taking the potion, those are all his companions from the Eighth Doctor Big Finish productions!  I've been tempted to download some of the Big Finish adventures to get more of the Eighth Doctor...despite his short tenure on the TV screen, the Eighth Doctor has apparently had the most expansive adventures in the Doctor Who expanded universe.

Oh, look.  In celebration of The Night of the Doctor and the Eighth Doctor's return, Big Finish has put all their Eighth Doctor tales on special!

I maintain what I originally said in my Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I'm sure Paul McGann would have been a brilliant Eighth Doctor.  And I'm sure he is on the Big Finish plays.  But, come on, how about a 6-episode mini-series of Eighth Doctor adventures?  Please?  Pretty please?

Oh, well.  I'll take what I can get.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Pan Am: The Complete Series

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of one of the many things I have in my DVD library.  This week, it's my latest attempt to tackle a TV series with Pan Am: The Complete Series.  This is originally dated in my notes at March 10, 2013. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Long Weekend of Guilt

One of those years where Remembrance Day was kind enough to bless us with a long weekend.  You've always got to tread carefully when we get a long weekend out of Remembrance Day.  On the one hand, you still need to preserve the solemnity of the day.  On the other, LONG WEEKEND, BITCHES!  I remember a tale from a year or two ago of a Calgary bar.  With the Remembrance Day long weekend, their radio spots said something along the lines of, "You'll have trouble remembering Remembrance Day when you get a load of our drink specials!"  Needless to say, that upset a lot of veterans groups, and the spots were quickly pulled.  So I did have some fun and unwind this weekend, but there was always this nagging guilt in the background that I wasn't "lest we forgetting" enough.

Saturday went easy enough.  Got some chores done, got the place all nice and tidy.  And then, because Saturday night TV always sucks, I went to fire up the ol' Blu-Ray player.  This is one of the inherent problems I have doing my Fishing in the Discount Bin series.  When I watch a movie I've already reviewed for the series, I feel guilty that I'm not getting any work done.  But then, some days, you've just got to say, "Fuck it, I'm watching The Avengers again."  So I watched The Avengers again.  Still a great movie.  Never did we think that we'd see all these heroes teaming up on the big screen.

Sunday was about the same.  I was reluctant to do anything on Sunday, because it was a work day, and I did have to head into the station to get some work done.  But I did have enough time on Sunday afternoon to watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day again.  I upgraded it to Blu-Ray about a month ago, and hadn't watched it in hi-def yet.  I mean, it was in a discount bin for $5, so why not?  Plus, I had to watch T2 again as I start devouring more information on next year's X-Men: Days of Future PastX-Men director Bryan Singer has already said that he's had some long conversations with Terminator director James Cameron in regards to Days of Future Past.  See, Days of Future Past and The Terminator have the same basic set-up of "heroes from a dystopian future going back in time to alter the timeline and keep the bad future from happening."  And, as Singer has said, The Terminator films "got it right."  So what I'm saying is, when we're watching Days of Future Past next summer, don't be surprised if there's some heavy Terminator allusions.

The holiday Monday.  I decided to just go for it, and head into the city for some messing around.  First, I needed socks.  Whenever I reach into the sock drawer, and the first three pairs I pull out are full of holes, that means it's time for new socks.  So I swung by Wal-Mart, because they always seem to have 30 pairs for $10 or some deal like that.  With socks in  hand, I then fell into my baser instincts and wandered over to the toy section to see if there was anything new in the way of collectable action figures.

And when I got the Star Wars toys, all I could say was...jackpot.

Star Wars: The Black Collection Slave Leia Figure

The latest series of the Star Wars: Black Collection is out, and of course, I had to get Slave Leia.  Forget my quest for Cocoa Pebbles.  That's nothing compared to the late 1990s, when collection Star Wars action figures became a thing, and I was on the hunt for the first Slave Leia action figure that was released.  Talk to my friends at the time, and they'll tell you of my obsession.  It was a bit on my college radio show.  It was all I was talking about when I was e-mailing with my friends.  And when I finally found one, it was a good day.

So, when I saw the latest and the greatest and the most detailed one that's now available, I knew I had to snatch it up.

Next stop was Best Buy, because I had Blu-Rays on my mind.  Pixar fan that I am, I was eager to get Monsters University on Blu-Ray.  I'd been saving my money for the "collector's edition" of the Blu-Ray, but then, when I got to the store and had both the regular version and the collector's edition in my hands, I noticed that the only difference was the collector's edition comes with a digital copy.  For those not in the know, the digital copy is the film as a computer file, so you can load it on your tablets or your smartphones and watch it wherever you are.  I'm not too big on digital copies right now.  If I had a tablet or a functional laptop, and/or I traveled a lot, I would probably then delight in loading up my tablet and watching them in my hotel room.  But until that day, I'm far more content to watch movies on my comfy couch in front of my TV with my surround sound system.  So I saved myself the $5 and got the regular edition.

And then, the main reason for this trip, the chance to unwind on this long weekend, I was off to see the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.   Wow.  Isn't it remarkable how superheroes now dominate mainstream pop culture?  That was the most crowded I'd seen a theatre in West Edmonton Mall in ages.

Thor: The Dark World poster

It's been two years since that incident in New Mexico (the first Thor), and Jane Foster still pines for her Thunder God.  While investigating gravometric anomalies, she comes in possession of the Aether, a mystical artifact that's craved by Malekith, ruler of the Dark Elves, and he needs it to plunge the universe back into darkness.  Of course, this is enough to bring Thor back to her, and it's a journey from Earth to Aasgard to protect Jane from the Dark Elves.  And before long, Thor is making a desperate bargain with his villainous brother Loki to save Jane and save the Nine Realms.

I found Thor: The Dark World to be...pretty good.  Not quite as good as Iron Man 3, but then, who can compete with Robert Downey Jr's oozing charisma?  Tom Hiddleston tries, as Loki proves to be quite the smooth operator himself.  Chris Hemsworth is good as Thor, and it's been great seeing how his character evolved over Thor and The Avengers.  There's some great humour, too, whenever Thor returns to Earth and there's a bit of the culture shock.  Complaints?  Well, Natalie Portman really doesn't get much to do this time out as Jane.  And we really don't get to know our villain Malekith that much.  He's just angry and destroys stuff.  It's a solid 3 out of 4 Nibs.

When the movie was done, I wanted to get out of West Edmonton Mall pretty quick.  The Christmas rush really is beginning, and the mall was starting to get pretty crowded.  And you know it's only going to get more crowded over the next few weeks.  I did browse through HMV, though.  There's this new country singer I'm starting to like named Kacey Musgraves, and I was hoping to pick up her album, but darn it, HMV was sold out.  I'm guessing her winning the CMA Best New Artist award was good for album sales.  Here's her latest single, Follow Your Arrow, which I'm really starting to like, and I hope it gets higher on the charts so I can start playing it at work.

But yeah, the Christmas rush.  As guilt-ridden as I am for doing this on Remembrance Day, I'm glad I did it.  The Christmas rush is always a busy time for us radio folk, and days off are about to become few and far between.  You've got to take that free time, no matter how it comes your way, and just make the most of it. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Moonraker

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of one of the many movies I own.  Darn those James Bond movies for being so cheap and plentiful!  I really went nuts buying them back in the spring.  So we're still in the world of 007 as we get to 1979's Moonraker.  This entry is dated in my notes at February 17, 2013.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

My 2400th Post

Looking at the numbers, I discovered that this blog post is going to be my 2400th post.

2400 entries!  10 years of tales of my life!  For a milestone as big as 2400, I knew I had to do something special.

I knew it had to be serious.  It has to be something important.  Shall I share the secrets of life as I've learned them in my 36 years on Earth?  Shall I share any profound wisdom on life, love and happiness?

And then I knew what profound nugget I must share with you on this, the occasion of my 2400th blog entry.  This is, perhaps, the most important blog entry you will ever see.

Ladies and gentlemen...the Masturbating Bear.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Skyfall

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of some movie I happen to own in a home media format.  I love the fact that thanks to theatrical release schedules, DVD release schedules, and how far in advance I write these, that I tend to be posting some of these reviews exactly one year after the movie first hit theatres!  Case in point, this week's entry, the most recent James Bond film, SkyfallIt came out out on November 9, 2012...just 10 days shy of being exactly 1 year ago!  As for when I sat down, watched the movie, and originally wrote this ramble, it appears in my notes at February 16, 2013.

Skyfall movie poster

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer

X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser posters

Film historians will tell you that the current superhero domination of the movies began in 2000 with the release of the first X-Men movie.  It's amazing how things have grown over the past 13 years.  Last time I popped the first X-Men into my DVD player I was taken aback at how...small it is compared to the superhero films that have come since.  It's almost a quiet character piece, with some very small action scenes.

But here we are now, 13 years later, and the seventh film (yes, I'm counting the two Wolverine solo films) in the franchise comes out next year, X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Based on the legendary X-Men storyline of the same name, Days of Future Past begins in a dystopian future, where giant, mutant-hunting robots called Sentinels are on the verge of eliminating mutants once and for all.  The Resistance, composed of the X-Men and their enemies, come up with a desperate plan:  send one of their own back in time, and prevent this future timeline from happening.

In the original comic, it was Kitty Pryde who was sent back in time.  In this movie version, it's Wolverine, because as Marvel discovered in the mid-1990s, everything's better with Wolverine!

Damn near everyone who's been in an X-Men movie is back for this.  Hugh Jackman is Wolverine (of course), Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy are back as old and young Professor Xavier, Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender are back as old and young Magneto.  For the present X-Men, Halle Berry is back as Storm, Anna Paquin is back as Rouge, Shawn Ashmore is back as Iceman, and Ellen Page is back as Kitty Pryde.  For the past X-Men, Nicholas Hoult is back as Beast, Lucas Till is back as Havoc, and Jennifer Lawrence is back as Mystique.

For new characters, we've got Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, the scientist who invented the Sentinels.  Omar Sy is on board as Bishop, and Evan Peters is Quicksilver.

Having Quicksilver in it is interesting, as Quicksilver is also a longtime member of The Avengers, and he's already been announced as being in The Avengers: Age of Ultron as well.  Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, says that Quicksilver can be used for The Avengers on two conditions:  in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they can't mention that Quicksilver is a mutant and/or Magneto's son.  It was kind of hoped that, as a great Easter egg for fans, Quicksilver would be played by the same actor in both Days of Future Past and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but sadly, no.  Aaron-Taylor Johnson will be playing Quicksilver in Age of Ultron.

But I digress.  Behind the scenes, the big news is that Bryan Singer, the man who started this franchise with X-Men and X2, finally returns to the director's chair.  Singer was originally going to direct X-Men: First Class, but scheduling conflicts with his fantasy epic Jack the Giant Slayer meant he had to bow out.  Singer still got a co-writer credit for First Class, though, and he and his company Bad Hat Harry Production produced it.

Enough of this preamble, let's look at the trailer, shall we?

That looks very interesting.  We don't see any Sentinels yet (darn), but we do get the characters.  All those familiar faces again!  And it looks very quiet, very moody, very character-based.  Much like the beginning. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theatres May 23, 2014. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Retail Therapy

Friday was just a crummy day for me.  I couldn't put my finger on it.  Things were just a little off.  So to cheer myself up, after work I went on to iTunes and had myself a $5 shopping spree.  I was hoping to get that cute song that Howard wrote for Bernadette on last week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, but it hasn't been released to iTunes Canada yet.  So I just started going down my wish list and grabbing the few movie themes I'd been wanting.

Main Titles from Quigley Down Under composed by Basil Poledouris

When I did a Fishing in the Discount Bin on Quigley Down Under, I was surprised by how many of my friends liked it on Facebook and said that they enjoyed that movie.  It seems to be a movie that nobody hates.  If you've forgotten, Tom Sellick plays a sharpshooter from the Old West who takes up a job working for a cattle baron in Australia.  When the cattle baron wants Quigley to murder the aborigines on his land, Quigley says no, and they duke it out across the Ouback.  Part of the film's charm has to be the very traditional Western score composed by Basil Poledouris, who also brought us RoboCop and Conan the Barbarian.

Father's Funeral from Hellboy composed by Marco Beltrami

Back in the summer, I re-watched the Hellboy movies to get me ready for Pacific Rim (all directed by Guillermo del Toro, in case you're wondering about the connection).  Watching the first Hellboy again, I was instantly taken by this haunting tune, played when Professor Broom, Hellboy's adopted father, passes away.  Just a very sad tune.

Arrival to Earth from Transformers composed by Steve Jablonsky

When I first saw Michael Bay's Transformers in the summer of 2007, nothing about Steve Jablonsky's score struck me as remarkable.  I was in the minority, though, as an overwhelming demand from the film's fans got the score its own album release.  And I'll admit, watching the movie many, many times over the past few years, it's really grown on me.  This is the music played when the Autobots arrive on Earth.  I must agree with an online critic...with how ridiculous his Transformers movies tend to be, this is one of the few scenes that Bay treated with a real sense of gravitas.

The Avengers by Alan Silvestri

Holy moly, why did it take me so long to get this?  Silvestri is already a pretty legendary composer, with a career stretching back to the early 1970s.  And, the big Back to the Future geek that I am, I've listened to his Back to the Future score for ever.  Doing the music for The Avengers was actually Silvestri's second turn at a Marvel score, as he also did Captain America.  In fact, if you listen very carefully to Silvestri's Avengers score, you'll notice he did slip in his Captain America theme for a few moments of Cap's heroics.  Silvestri's main theme for The Avengers was a pretty good superhero theme.  And my I say, on my iPhone playlist, it dovetails quite nicely with the Captain America theme.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Wes Anderson Spoofs and New Stuff

One thing I love about my new cable company is it does time shifting, so I can watch Saturday Night Live at the relative comfort at 9:30PM on a Saturday, just like when I first discovered it.  And watching this past Saturday's show just made me go nuts when they did this bit.

With Halloween right around the corner, they brought us...the Wes Anderson horror film.

Edward Norton - Movie Trailer (Wes Anderson... by IdolxMuzic

I wouldn't call myself a Wes Anderson fanboy.  I enjoyed The Royal Tennenbaums.  I enjoyed The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou.  I got a kick out of Fantastic Mr. Fox...and that's about all I've ever seen of his stuff.

Speaking of, last week, they also unveiled the trailer for Anderson's next film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.  I might actually make the time for this one, because this trailer actually had me laughing.

The Grand Budapest Hotel hits theatres in March.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Delayed Gratification

Last weekend, I was faced with the terrible choice between heading into the city for the day, or just laying around the house and planning to accomplish as little as possible.  I chose accomplishing as little as possible, and may I say, I succeeded spectacularly.  But, I was still itching to head into Edmonton, so that became my plan for this weekend.  I was starting to think that it was time to purchase something I'd been planning to buy for a while now.  Today would be the day!  I decreed it to be so!

So I was off to the city, and first stop was Wal-Mart.  I needed a photo album.  For you see, I collect postcards.  When I receive a postcard, I hang it on the fridge to enjoy for a few months or so before placing it into an album and then filing it away.  However, my last album filled up around 2 years ago, and the magnets on my fridge can no longer support the weight of all my postcards.  This is one of those things I'd been putting off for far too long.  A photo album was easy to procure, and I knew my Sunday is now destined to be filled with scrapbooking.  But this is not the item I was to purchase.

From Wal-Mart, it was down the road to SuperStore.  Those who follow me on Facebook know that recently I've been longing for a taste from my childhood...Cocoa Pebbles.  They haven't been widely available in Canada since at the least the mid-1990s.  My original plan was to just buy some online, but I can't seem to find an online retailer that'll ship them to Canada.  But then, through the social networks, came word that they'd recently been spotted in SuperStore.  When I went home for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, I stopped in at the SuperStore in Spruce Grove, but to no avail.  I hoped that maybe I'd have better luck at the SuperStore in St. Albert.  But, once I'd done the search of the store, I was 0 for 2.  They were not to be found at the St. Albert SuperStore.  Disheartened, I continued on my journey into the heart of the city.

I arrived at my beloved West Edmonton Mall.  I hadn't treated myself to a movie in a while, and I was itching to see Gravity.  All the reviews I'd read online says that it looks absolutely amazing if you can catch it in 3D IMAX, so I decided to pay the extra and see it in 3D IMAX.  I hit the mall at 11, but my show wasn't until 12:10, so I bought my ticket, grabbed some lunch, and started doing some shopping. 

Did the usual browse through HMV.  Pacific Rim came out on Blu-Ray this past week.  I wasn't planning on getting it, because, truth be told, I was actually a little underwhelmed by it.  I mean, I understand that it makes things easier for the computer animation, but I'm getting really sick and tired of these giant monsters always attacking at night, in the rain.  I can hardly see anything!  And once you get past the awesomeness of the giant robots fighting giant monsters, it's pretty much just Independence Day with giant aliens instead of people-sized aliens.  But...HMV had it at a really good price and I couldn't resist. 

And when I purchased it, I did encounter one of my annoyances with these store rewards programs.  A few years back, I finally got so sick and tired of the HMV clerks always asking me if I wanted to sign up for their rewards program, that I finally said yes.  So when I bought Pacific Rim today and she swiped my card, she was pleased to inform me that I almost had 60,000 points, and at 60,000, I get...$3 off my next purchase.  Really?  $3 off?  That's all?  With so many of these rewards programs, you have to accumulate a ridiculously large amount of points for the most miniscule of rewards that they really have no purpose. 

Anyway, time for the movie.  I headed on up to the 3D IMAX theatre in West Edmonton Mall, got all comfy in my seat, then started messing around on my phone.  And I see an old friend had posted a picture on my Facebook wall.  He was out shopping at his local SuperStore, and lo and behold, they had Cocoa Pebbles!  On sale!  The caption he included said, "They're at SuperStore today!   Go go go!"  I sadly replied that I had already been to my local SuperStore, and there was nary a box to be found.  I set the phone for silent, put it back in my pocket, and it was time for Gravity to begin.

Movie Poster for Gravity

Holy moly, Gravity.  This is just an amazing film.  It's not scary, but I was covering my eyes quite a bit as I was fearing for the characters on the screen.  The plot:  we have two astronauts out on a spacewalk.  George Clooney is the season vet, who'll be retiring after this mission.  Sandra Bullock is the rookie, just out of training and on her first mission.  But then, a freak accident destroys the space shuttle, and they're left all alone, stranded in space.  And this is the tale of their survival.

It's really all on Sandra Bullock to carry this film, and she does so remarkably.  And the special effects are just outstanding.  It manages to inject a little humour into it, too.  It's just so very, very good.  4 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review in the days ahead.

After the film, I fired up my phone to tweet my review, when I saw my friend with the Cocoa Pebbles connection wrote me another message.  "Would you like me to buy a few boxes and send them up on the Greyhound?"  Ooo.  An intriguing proposition.  I decided to dwell on it while I continued my browsing of the mall.

Did my usual browsing...didn't see much of interest.  The Microsoft Store is now open in West Edmonton Mall.  Didn't stop in, because it was crowded as hell and I didn't feel like fighting my way through.  Stopped in at the Disney Store, and I had to ask a clerk a question that me and several of my fellow geeks had been wondering for a while:  now that Disney owns Star Wars, when is the Disney Store going to start carrying Star Wars stuff?  The clerk chuckled (apparently, they've been getting this question a lot) and told me that they'll be getting stuff to tie in with the new movie in 2015, but as for before 2015, it's anybody's guess. 

I made it back out to my car, and before I went on my merry way, I knew I had to try one last thing.  In the vicinity of West Edmonton Mall is the west end SuperStore.  I would make one last gambit for Cocoa Pebbles.  With the photo my friend sent, I knew I should stop looking in the breakfast cereal aisle, and instead focus on the pallets they have scattered around the store for special items.  But alas, a survey of both left me Pebbles-less.  It looked like three strikes and I was out in the Pebbles department. 

But it was time achieve the primary objective of the day.  The hour drew nigh!  As you may recall, back in the spring, I went to buy some new ink cartridges for my printer, only to be told that they don't make them anymore.  Since then, I've been in the market for a new printer.  Doing some online window shopping earlier in the week, I saw the one I coveted on sale at Staples.  It's one of those 3-in-1 units, so I'd also get me a scanner and finally be able to scan stuff, like that postcard collection I'd talked of earlier.  I arrived at Staples, I went to their printer section, and....

My heart sank.  The sale ended a few days ago, and my coveted printer had gone back up to full price.  I sat and stared at it for at least 15 minutes, doing the math in my head, re-arranging my budget, and wondering if I should just say "Fuck it" and buy it no matter the price, or leave it to another day and get my savings to a more comfortable location. 

I left empty-handed.  I decided to leave the printer for another day.  And in doing so, I was able to make another decision I'd been putting off.  I pulled out my phone, and responded to my friend's offer to ship me some Cocoa Pebbles.  "No thanks," I said.  "I think I'll have to let this go for now."  I mean, let's be honest.  If I can't afford the printer, then there's no way I should be wasting money having exotic breakfast cereals of the stone age shipped to me, right? 

The elusive Cocoa Pebbles that my friend spotted.

I hopped back in my car, ol' Bessie-Lou I call her, and headed north for home.  I was printer-less.  I was Pebbles-less.  But someday, I'll be able to able to eat chocolaty breakfast cereals while scanning and printing stuff.  Not today, not tomorrow, but someday. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer

And here we have our first look at the next installment in Marvel's Phase II, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, aka Captain America 2.  I know it's weird for a Canadian kid to be saying this, but I've always had a soft spot for Cap.  It all goes back to when I got the Captain America Secret Wars action figure when I was a kid, and we were inseparable that summer.

I did enjoy the first film, Captain America: The First Avenger, and I was thrilled that they chose to make it a World War II film.  I've always loved superhero period pieces, and since Cap was a product of World War II, it only made sense his first film would be in that era.  As is quite obvious, this second film is in the present day, and it's already been described as more of a political thriller than the first film.

It's been 2 years since the Battle of New York (what we call The Avengers), and Captain America now spends his time working with SHIELD, partnered up with the Black Widow.  When one of their fellow SHIELD agents is attacked, though, they begin digging into why, and start to uncover a conspiracy that could bring the world to the brink of war.  And it all brings them to an elusive assassin known as the Winter Soldier.  

Chris Evans, of course, is back as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Scarlett Johansson is back as Natasha Rominov/the Black Widow, and Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury.  New this time is Anthony Mackie as Captain America's longtime partner, Sam Wilson/the Falcon, Emily Van Camp as Sharon Carter, the great-grand niece of Cap's old girlfriend Peggy Carter, and an accomplished SHIELD agent herself, MMA fighter George St. Pierre as French mercenary Batroc the Leaper, and certified screen legend Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, a member of the World Security Council and a retired SHIELD agent. 


This looks good.  I'm very intrigued, as we don't get much of a sense of what the evil plot is that our heroes are fighting.  It looks like it's very low-key, but then we get those shots of the fleet of Helicarriers rising out of that river, and another Helicarrier crashing, and it just looks very action-filled.  I'll be checking it out, cuz, as I said, I'm a sucker for Cap. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theatres on April 4, 2014. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Sleeping Beauty

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly watch of something in my movie collection.  We haven't done anything animated in a while, so today, we tackle the legendary Disney animated film Sleeping Beauty.  This is originally dated in my notes at February 10, 2013.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cartoon Catch-Up

What better place than Saturday morning to kick back and finally go through the cartoons I'd PVR'd throughout the week?

Actually, there's just one cartoon on my PVR that's been waiting for me, and that's Pixar's first ever TV special, Toy Story of Terror!

Jessie, Buzz, and Woody hear something in the dark in "Toy Story of Terror!"

See, when John Lasseter took charge of Disney animation in the great Disney/Pixar merger of 2006, he noticed that one field of animation that Disney had never really participated in was the animated holiday special.  So, he had Disney Animation get to work on Christmas specials, and we got their Prep & Landing trilogy.  Over at Pixar, he had them get to work on a Halloween special, and the result was this year's Toy Story of Terror!  And of course, with my lover for all things Pixar, I just had to check out.

I think I did mention that using the Toy Story characters like this does give me a sense of unease.  I mean, Toy Story 3 was such a phenomenal end to the franchise, that these revisits are all kinds of unnecessary.  With the trilogy of Toy Story shorts that have been released, I thought that Hawaiian Vacation and Partysaurus Rex were cute, but Small Fry was actually a dollop of unexpected brilliance.  And on top of that, Pixar's track record just hasn't been that good as of late.  (See the dismal Cars 2, the "meh" Brave, and the "good, but not Pixar great" Monsters University.)

So I fired up my PVR this morning, sat down for Toy Story of Terror, and was pleasantly surprised.  Our familiar toys are on a road trip with their young owner Bonnie, when their car gets a flat tire, forcing them to spend the night in a roadside motel.  Of course, the character of Mr. Pricklepants begins the running commentary on how this seems to be following every horror movie cliche, as Woody warns that a motel is a common place for toys to get lost and left behind.  But of course, Mr. Potato Head goes missing, the toys go in search of him, and the horror movie spoofs start piling up.

Until about the halfway point.  At the halfway point, it turns into a variation on Toy Story 2.  Turns out the manager of this motel has been stealing some of the more valuable toys from guests, and selling them online.  Our heroes are captured, Woody is about to be shipped off, and our true hero rises...Jessie.

That's what was really neat to see.  Jessie really is the protagonist in this story of toys.  When she was first introduced to us in Toy Story 2, it was revealed that she's cursed with claustrophobia...an effect of being abandoned and boxed up for many years.  Needless to say, all those dark, cramped corners common to horror films leave her just a little panicked.  But of course, it's soon up to her to face her fears to save the day.

This was better than I expected.  There's some sprinkling of the ol' Pixar charm in there that just makes it really good.  Much like Small Fry, I found some unexpected brilliance in it.  Shouldn't surprise me, then, that this had the same director as Small Fry, Angus MacLane.  This guy just might go on to great things at Pixar...that is, if Pixar doesn't turf him for colouring outside the lines too much.  Pixar seems to be doing that a lot lately.

And while I'm blogging about cartoons, I should also take a minute to pass along some sad news.  One of the greats behind my childhood passed away a few days ago.  Lou Scheimer, one of the founders of the animation studio Filmation, passed away at the age of 85.

Of course, Scheimer had his hand in many of Filmation's productions, such as the 1970s Batman cartoon, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Fat Albert, and of course, the one I know him best for, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Scheimer also did voices in many of his productions.  For example, on He-Man, he did the voices of King Randor, Orko, and Trap Jaw. 

A lot of great cartoons from my childhood were courtesy of that guy.  I think I'll fire up some He-Man DVDs, in memoriam. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Fires of Kuwait

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of one of the many films in DVD/Blu-Ray/VHS library.  This week, after reminiscing a bit about Star Wars Identities, I tackled the legendary IMAX documentary Fires of Kuwait.  This entry is dated in my notes at February 3, 2013. 

Fires of Kuwait DVD Cover

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Superman 75

The Superman 75th Anniversary Logo

I'm geeking out about this pretty hard, so I'm posting it to every blog I look after.

Back in the spring, it was announced that Zack Snyder, the director of Man of Steel, would be partnering with Bruce Timm, one of the main creative forces on everything DC animated from Batman: The Animated Series through to their straight-to-DVD animated films, to produce a special animated short film to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Superman. 

The film premiered this past weekend at the New York Comic Con, and it's now hit the Internet.

A little more about the film's production.  The Cartoon Network in the USA does this programming block called "DC Nation," where they show all the DC Universe cartoons, and sprinkle some exclusive animated shorts in between the programs.  When it was announced that Snyder was directing Man of Steel, Timm approached him and asked if he'd like to contribute one of these animated shorts.  Snyder said, "Let me think about it, and I'll get back to you."  When Snyder got back to Timm, he said, "I want to tell the entire history of Superman in 1 minute."

Well, right away, they knew that 1 minutes wasn't going to be enough, so they expanded it to 2 minutes.  Timm admits that, even at 2 minutes, they had to make some pretty significant cuts.  Timm himself says he regrets not being able to squeeze in the Superman serials of the 1940s, where Kirk Alyn became the first man to play Superman in live action.  And I'm seeing a large amount of nerd rage online that Dean Cain and Lois & Clark was left out.

Enough of this.  The short!

Like I said, geeking out about this pretty hard.  From its beginning, showcasing the Max Fleisher shorts of the 1940s, the classic ending to the Christopher Reeve films, and a nice shout-out to the 1990s animated series.  And the clip in the middle from the old Atari 2600 game seems kind of random.

One note about the music:  it was composed by Hans Zimmer, who did the music for Man of Steel, and I'm really glad he gave his new Superman theme the back seat to the classic John Williams theme.

The short is all over the Internet.  It goes into rotation with the DC Nation shorts on Wednesday night, and it'll be a bonus feature on the Man of Steel DVD and Blu-Ray when it comes out on November 12.

And most of the information about the production comes from Entertainment Weekly's article on the film. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Armageddon

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the films in my movie library.  Today, we take a look at the film that made Michael Bay a star, Armageddon.  This entry is dated in my notes at February 2, 2013.