Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, April 27, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Review

Took me all week to find the time, but I've finally got my review of G.I. Joe: Retaliation up and online.

Head on over to the main site to read it!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Fantasia

It's time for another installment of Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly perusal of my DVD library where I watch one of my movies and "go off on it," as my friend who suggested I do this described it.  Today, we get to one my favourite Disney animated films, Fantasia.  In my notes, this entry carries a date of September 1, 2012.

Disney's Fantasia.  This movie poster is for the 1990 re-release.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Trailer for Thor: The Dark World

Teaser poster for Thor: The Dark World

Well, Marvel Comics is now in the full throes of their "Phase II" when it comes to their films.  To recap, the time table looks like this:

Iron Man 3 - Next week!  May 3, to be specific

Thor: The Dark World - November 2013

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - April 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - August 2014

The Avengers 2 - May 2015

I kind of liked Thor when it came out in 2011.  Being a DC guy at heart, I walked out of the theatre going, "C'mon, Warner Brothers!  How hard would it be to make a Wonder Woman movie like that?"  I mean, in both of their respective pantheons, both Wonder Woman and Thor find their roots in mythology.  Wonder Woman from the Greek, and Thor from the Norse.  In fact, Stan Lee even said when he created Thor, he chose Norse mythology because Greek had become too well-known in pop culture.

If I had one complaint about Thor, though, that would be it had a lack of superheroics.  The middle section kind of dragged as Thor was back on Earth, learning humility and gaining his powers back.  But other than that, enjoyable.

And hopefully, things will turn around in its sequel, Thor: The Dark World, due out this November.  In this one, we find Thor gathering his Earthbound love Jane Foster and heading through the Nine Realms when it looks like all the realms are threatened by a great evil.

Of course, Chris Hemsworth is back as Thor, Tom Hiddleston is back as Loki, and Natalie Portman is back as Jane Foster.  For a new villain this time out, we have the Ninth Doctor himself, Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed, leader of the Dark Elves.

Let's take a look at the trailer, shall we?

My thoughts on this trailer?  It looks pretty good...we're definitely expanding this universe a little more and we're going to be seeing more of Thor's world.  Which is nice.  I mean, post-Avengers, how do you make each film different now?  How do you have these solo adventures without calling in others for help?  So moving off-Earth is a good way to do that. 

Thor: The Dark World hits theatres on November 8, 2013.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Have a Magical Day!

I got my car back. 

I'm just so happy that I have my car back.  I have freedom.  I can go places.  I've been so reluctant to stray too far from home the past few months because my car has been in such rough shape.

For those just joining us.  It took about a month for my place in Westlock to open up.  So for most of the month of February, I was commuting back and forth from Westlock to Athabasca.  And, because this northern Alberta region is full of wildlife, and I was driving home to Athabasca when they were on the move, when I was driving home one night, I hit a deer.  The bumper was knocked out of place.  The panel about the front driver's side tire was beat all to hell.  The driver's side headlight just disintegrated.  That's what pained me the most...it was like my baby had this huge scar in her face.

But, after several months of patiently waiting for the insurance company and the body shop to hash things out, I was finally able to get her in and get her all fixed.  I got her back on Friday, and she was just like new.  You can hardly see where the deer hit her. 

So, of course, a Sunday drive was in order.

I was off to Edmonton because there were a few things in the city I needed to pick up.  I needed some new filters for my bagless vacuum cleaner.  My parents were awesome to come and help me move from Athabasca to Westlock, and Mom cleaned my old place like crazy.  But, she did warn me, that she wound up using all the filters for my vacuum cleaner.  Now that I could move again, I got those hard-to-find vacuum filters and I'm ready to clean rugs again.

And, I was also in for a sad surprise.  I also needed ink cartridges for my printer.  So, I swung by Staples, who proudly boast that they carry every ink cartridge known to man, and they told me that they don't carry my ink cartridges anymore.  I shouldn't be surprised.  My printer is over 10 years old now.  Got it second-hand from my parents.  The printing has been spotty for a couple years now, and I've been thinking that I would like to get a new one.  Ideally, I'd like to get one of those "all-in-one" units that are both a printer and a scanner, cuz then I can scan stuff.  They're a good price, too, as you can get them between $100 - $150. 

I've been putting off getting a new one for so long though because, seriously, how often do you use a printer anymore?  I use mine about once a month, when I send a letter to the bank to accompany my student loan payment.  The letter reads, "Here's my student loan payment.  This is my account number.  Have a nice day!"  But, needless to say, now that the ink cartridges are no more, getting a new printer has gone from the "want" pile into the "need" pile. 

So, admitting that I should start thinking about getting a new printer, it was time to have a little fun.  I can't believe I haven't been to the theatre to see a movie since my Christmas vacation!  I tend to go batty if I go too long without seeing a film.  And I had this Cineplex Gift Card I got for Christmas that I hadn't fully used up yet.  And for a few weeks now, I've been wanting to indulge my childhood nostalgia.  I went to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation

My thoughts on G.I Joe 2...meh.  I loved the first film because my childhood nostalgia for the property was overwhelming, and I loved how it reveled in the sci-fi/high adventure aspects of G.I. Joe.  This second one was a little more grounded and a little more realistic but you know, it really didn't offer anything new in this cinematic G.I. Joe universe.  Same problem I had with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  My childhood nostalgia was no longer enough to blind me to the flaws.  But, whereas Transformers 2 turned out to be a very bad movie, G.I. Joe 2 was just...meh.  Short on action.  Short on thrills.  It just was there.

And Jinx!  They totally under-utilized Jinx!  She was one of my favourite G.I. Joes when I was a kid, I was thrilled when I heard they were having her in this film, but she only gets like 6 lines and two action sequences.
And Bruce Willis as General Joseph Colton, the founder of G.I. Joe.  Willis is in pure "I'm just doing this for the paycheck" mode, as he seems half asleep for all 10 minutes of his scenes. 

So, yeah.  G.I Joe: Retaliation.  Meh. 

After that, I toured the mall a little bit.  I try to avoid West Edmonton Mall on Sundays.  It's just a little more crowded and I find there's a few more crazy people.  Stopped in at HMV.  As I've already blogged, I seem to be upgrading all my James Bond movies to Blu-Ray right now because, thanks to the Skyfall hype, they seem to be dirt cheap right now.  Not content with just my favourite Bond movies, I've now moved on to my second favourites.  And, to complete things, I needed GoldenEye for the Pierce Brosnan era, and License to Kill for the Timothy Dalton era.  And guess what was sitting in HMV's 2 for $20 bin? 

And yeah, did my usual rounds in West Edmonton Mall.  Went through the Apple Store, and held back the tears because I really want an iPad but can't afford one.  Went by the former Zellers to see if it's a Target yet.  (It's not.)  And then stopped in at the Disney Store because, you know, Disney.  Because Disney owns LucasFilm  now, I keep waiting for it turn into a Star Wars Store, but not yet.  I was a little taken aback as I left the Disney Store, because the clerk told me to "have a magical day!" 

Got to say, between the mild disappointment that was G.I. Joe: Retaliation and finding out I need to get a new printer, I wasn't feeling very magical.  But then I got back behind the wheel of my nice, shiny, fixed-up automobile, and I was feeling magical again.  I can now go anywhere, and do anything, thanks to my shiny silver car.

So I went home. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Final Trailer for the Lone Ranger

Armie Hammer, still best remembered as the Winkelvos Twins in the Social Network, is the Lone Ranger.

Well, this  has been a great week for final trailers!  We got the final trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, the final trailer for Man of Steel, and back on Wednesday, Disney rolled out the final trailer for The Lone Ranger.

I'm kind of looking forward to this one, too.  As I've previously blogged, some of my earliest conscious memories of television are of watching reruns of The Lone Ranger.  As such, I've always had a soft spot for the character.  There's such a great history of western heroes, too.  It's nice to see them get some manner of big screen respect.

I'm assuming Disney is hoping to launch another franchise out of this, especially how they're playing up that this is from most of the same creative team that gave us the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  They've got to be careful, though.  Last time they hoped to launch a new franchise courtesy of the makers of PotC it turned out to be Prince of Persia.  Haven't seen it yet, but still, they say it was not so good.

I haven't been a big fan of some of the other trailers we've gotten so far.  They're making it look so dark and gritty.  I don't want a dark and gritty Lone Ranger.  I want a good guy in a white hat, out busting the outlaws wearing black hats.  Something nice and simple.  But this trailer...this is looking, well, still not like the traditional Lone Ranger, but I'm more on board now.

Besides, I love trains, and I enjoyed the heck out of all that train chase action in this trailer.  Still not so sure about Johnny Depp as Tonto, though.  I mean, one of the most prominent Native American characters in pop culture, and you don't get a Native American to play him?  I'm a little surprised there hasn't been more outrage.

Anyway, here's the final trailer.  I like it.

The Lone Ranger hits theatres on July 3. 

Helena-Bonham Carter as Red, a saloon owner who helps our heroes.  How can this film have both Johnny Depp AND Helena-Bonham Carter and not be directed by Tim Burton?

Johnny Depp as Tonto.    Still wondering what that bird on his head is all about.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Apollo 13

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the many DVDs or Blu-Rays, or VHS tapes that I've acquired over the years.  Today, we're tackling one of the surprise hits of the summer of 1995, the historical drama Apollo 13.  This entry is dated in my notes as having originally been written on August 26, 2012.

Apollo 13 movie poster

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Final Man of Steel Trailer

So here I was, so busy geeking out about the new Star Trek Into Darkness trailer yesterday, that I almost didn't notice Warner Brothers going and slipping the final trailer for their Superman reboot, Man of Steel, online!

Like a lot of members of the DC Nation, I can't help but hope that DC/Warner Brothers will finally get their shit together like Marvel/Disney did and pump out a ton of movies based on their pantheon.  Don't get me wrong, I love Batman.  But where's Wonder Woman?  Where's the Flash?  They tried Green Lantern, but man, that movie just didn't click.

So here's hoping that Man of Steel is where things start turning around.  I've blogged it before and I'll blog it again:  despite its flaws, I kinda like Superman Returns.  I feel it's a movie that needed to be made.  Since the Richard Donner Superman was one of the films that birthed the event picture and is so beloved in the public consciousness, it had to be acknowledged somehow.  It had to be gotten out of our collective system before a reboot could be done.  So reboot away!

I was kind of scratching my head at the last two trailers.  I couldn't quite figure out where they were going with this reboot.  They were playing too much with the iconography of Superman, and not really giving us a taste of what would be happening in this adventure.  But with this trailer, we finally get more a sense of what's going on.

I'm getting goosebumps watching this!  We get an army of evil Kryptonians!  And finally, a Krypton and a Fortress of Solitude that looks different from the crystal structures of the original films!  And he flies around and punches stuff.  That's one of my big complaints about the original films.  Superman doesn't do much...super.  He (quite literally) did nothing but heavy lifting.  I think his is going to be good. 

Man of Steel hits theatres on June 14.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Final Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer

The Movie Poster for Stark Trek Into Darkness.  The Starship Enterprise (or one of the same class) is going down in flames.


Just one more month to go until the next Star Trek film, Into Darkness, hits theatres.  As I blogged four years ago, as the first film in this JJ Abrams reboot franchise neared released, I had reached a point in my life where I was burnt out on Star Trek.  The final two movies, Insurrection and Nemesis, were just so lackluster, and Star Trek: Enterprise was just going through the motions.  I was incredibly bored with the whole thing.

But JJ Abrams came along and invigorated the whole thing.  The peeks and glimpses I got were getting me excited again.  And then, when I was there on opening day, with that beautiful pre-titles sequence where we witness the birth of Captain Kirk, and we saw that bigger-then-life Starfleet emblem accompanying the titles, and that amazing Michael Giacchino score kicks in...I got goosebumps.  Star Trek was truly a Star Trek epic.  I'd never seen it rendered on such a large scale.

See, the Star Trek films had always been done by television people.  Harve Bennett, the producers of the majority of the original crew films, had a television background.  The Next Generation films were all done by the TV crews, and as such, they just never shook this 2-hour episode of Voyager feeling.  But JJ Abrams...that was a movie.

Of course, there are detractors.  Some die-hard Trekkies still condescendingly call it STINO (Star Trek in name only), arguing that it was just another big, dumb action film, and not the cerebral science-fiction that Gene Roddenberry envisioned.  Less explosions, more philosophical debate about the human condition!  That's what Star Trek is!  To which I say, "So?"  There have been countless Star Trek episodes that took a break from the philosophizing to give us some kick-ass space battles.  What's wrong with the movies doing that?

Needless to say, as the countdown continues to Star Trek Into Darkness, my excitement is building.  I'm eager to see how things play out in this altered timeline.  I'm ready to see where we go next.  And everything I've seen so far, I've liked.

Let's take a look at the final trailer released today, shall we? 

Again, I'm just loving everything I'm seeing in this film.  It really does look like more of the same...a continuation to build on what came before.  And the villain's starship!  It totally looks like the Excelsior!  And those huge guns, and Kirk's simple, "I'm sorry," to his crew.  You want your cerebral sci-fi?  That "I'm sorry" is a very Tenth Doctor moment. 

Still unclear as to who the villain is.  They keep telling us that it's John Harrison.  Fan speculation is still that it's really Khan.  I hope it's not Khan.  It's probably Khan, because thanks to the popularity of The Wrath of Khan, he is one of the best-known Star Trek villains.  I'll guess we'll know for sure when the movie comes out!

Let's throw in the poster of Benedict Cumberbatch as the villainous John Harrison in a shameless ploy to drive up hits.  Something about that skinny Brit just makes the fangirls go "squee!"  

Benedict Cumberbatch as John "I'm totally not Khan" Harrison.

Star Trek Into Darkness comes out on May 17. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

More Stuff on my PVR

Well, I still don't think this is going to be a regular segment, but here we are again.  There's stuff that's accumulated on my PVR, and I feel compelled to blog about it.  So tempting to dissect the new episodes of Doctor Who and start speculating as to what the deal is with Clara Oswald, but since the Internet is already flush with that, let's blog about something that's rarely blogged about...Star Trek.

Yup, I frequently finding myself recording reruns of the original series on Space in the middle of the afternoon.  Space is showing the remastered episodes, and there are some episodes where I never got to see the new special effects.

Quick history lesson for the norms:  for Star Trek's 40th anniversary back in 2006, Paramount figured it was time to digitally remaster the original series for high definition.  But, in the process, they discovered that the classic special effects just did not hold up in high definition at all.  So, they decided to create new special effects with modern computer animation that would be HD-ready.  Don't worry, if you're a purist who still wants the original episodes with the original special effects, it's all been released on Blu-Ray.

Anyway, I saw that The Trouble With Tribbles was coming up, so I had to give that one a watch.  I won't go into it too much, because I actually own it on VHS and I've got a Fishing in the Discount Bin coming up dedicated to it.  Again, mainly I was watching it for the new special effects.  Trouble with Tribbles isn't a special effects extravaganza, just showing the Enterprise in orbit around a space station.  For new additions, there's a Klingon battle cruiser, too.  Originally, the battle cruiser was off screen for the whole episode, but for the remastering, they slipped it into a couple of shots.  I was actually a little disappointed with this one.  The effects in this episode just seemed a too CGI.  A little too slick and polished, and as such, a little out of place.

And then, later in the week, it was time for A Piece of the Action, aka "the gangster planet episode."  This is another much beloved lighter episode of Star Trek.  The Enterprise travels to the planet Iotia, which was last visited by the starship Horizon a century before.  Since the Horizon visited before the Prime Directive was in place, Kirk, Spock and crew are curious to see what kind of cultural contamination there's been.  They beam down to the planet...and land smack dab in the middle of a rerun of The Untouchables.  Upon investigating, they discover that a Horizon crewman left behind a history text entitled Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, and those highly imitative Iotians based their whole society around it.  Knowing that mob rule is no way to run a planet, Kirk, Spock and Bones set out to stop a gang war and start steering the society towards a more responsible government. 

Again, this episode is just funny, as the Enterprise crew gets caught up in the culture shock of landing in a planet straight out of the past.  As the episode ends, Kirk even gets lost in the part and starts speaking in a bad Al Capone impersonation.

It's also notable in that there was long talk of doing some kind of sequel.  See, the episode ends with Bones sheepishly admitting that he left his communicator behind.  Of course, since the communicator contains the fundamentals of Starfleet technology, our heroes wonder what might happen if those highly intelligent and imitative Iotians reverse-engineer it.  So people really wanted to see a sequel in the Next Generation era.  They wanted to do it on The Next Generation, but Gene Roddenberry vetoed the idea.  Roddenberry wanted to minimize references to the original series on The Next Generation, so TNG would be its own thing.  They were painfully close to doing it on Deep Space Nine as their 30th anniversary tribute episode, but they ultimately decided to do their crossover with The Trouble With Tribbles instead.

The premise would have been simple.  The Enterprise-D or the Defiant visits Iotia.  They discover that, thanks to McCoy leaving behind his communicator, the Iotians have now based their society around 23rd Century Starfleet (i.e. the original series), and the entire planet is now one never-ending Star Trek convention.  They tell us it would have been a "loving homage/gentle poke at the fandom."

I kinda hoped they'd do a prequel on Star Trek: Enterprise where the Enterprise NX-01 encounters the Horizon and meets a forgetful historian who's always leaving things behind.  

But there's more on my PVR than Star Trek.  Thank you, TeleToon Retro, for allowing me to get all nostalgic for my youth and showing all those cartoons from the 1980s.  Like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Another much beloved episode was on recently, Teela's Quest.

This one has become quite famous for the new developments it brought to Masters of the Universe continuity.  Teela begins to wonder about her biological parents, and goes off on a quest to the Oracle of the Crystal Sea to find answers.  Skeletor's henchman Mer-Man sees this, and asks Skeletor if he can pursue Teela, as Mer-Man has sworn a vendetta against Man-At-Arms, and seeks to gain vengeance through Man-At-Arms' adopted daughter.

He-Man finds out where Teela's gone, and since the Crystal Sea is too dangerous for one to go alone, He-Man decides to go after Teela.  But, Teela's looking after herself just fine, and as the Oracle begins giving Teela her answers, Mer-Man shows up and ambushes her.  Every 20 years, a demon rises from the bottom of the Crystal Sea, and if you give it a sacrifice, you can tame it and get it to do your bidding.  Man-At-Amrs  interrupted the ceremony 20 years ago, and now, Mer-Man seeks to do the ceremony again, and get his revenge on Man-At-Arms by using his own daughter as the sacrifice.

He-Man finally shows up, and the Oracle fills He-Man in on what's going on.  He-Man shows up, rescues Teela, defeats Mer-Man, and kicks demon ass.  With that done, they go back to the Oracle.  The Oracle continues his story, of how 20 years ago, Mer-Man was going to sacrifice a beautiful falcon to the demon.  But Man-At-Arms fought off Mer-Man and saved the falcon.  The falcon then leads Man-At-Arms to her nest, and in it is a baby...the infant Teela.  In the Oracle's vision, Teela immediatly recognizes the falcon as Zoar, the falcon form of the Sorceress of Greyskull.  Teela begins to put it together.  "But then that would mean...."

The Sorceress emerges from the shadows.  "Yes, Teela.  I am your mother."  The Sorceress then explains that Teela is destined to become the next Sorceress of Greyskull.   And that's why Teela must have no knowledge of her parentage.  If anyone knew of Teela's connection to the Sorceress, or Teela's destiny, evildoers might attempt to get the Power of Greyskull through Teela.  So, with tears in her eyes, the Sorceress erases this knowledge from Teela's memory, replacing it with the simple knowledge that Teela's mother is alive and loves her daughter very much.

Such a beautiful episode, and provides some very interesting back story for the familiar characters.  And it was written by Paul Dini!  Dini, of course, a long time writer who's become best known in recent  years for his Batman work.  He worked on The Animated Series, is the co-creator of Harley Quinn, and wrote the mega-blockbuster video game Arkham City.  Working on He-Man back in the day was one of his first professional gigs.  He doesn't look back on it with much fondness, as Filmation, the studio that made He-Man, was a very cheap outfit, and most of his colleagues seemed to be very bitter old TV writers just killing time before retirement.

That, and I've recently become enraptured with reruns of The Mighty Hercules.  It's on TeleToon Retro every night.  It was one of those cartoons that was just always on when I was a kid.  Watching it now is a little bit shocking.  Apparently, the outfit that owns The Mighty Hercules had all the episodes painstakingly digitally remastered a few years ago, so I've never seen it looking this crisp and sharp.

Not too long ago, an artistic friend of mine asked me if I'd be interested in writing a comic book.  I'd write it, he'd draw it, and we'd self-publish it digitally.  The thing was he didn't want it to be superheroes.  I was intrigued, but idea wise, I had nothing.  About the most I got was some form of high adventure tale set in a fantasy world.  The Mighty Hercules would definitely be the model to follow, though.  Just a simple tale of high adventure in a fantasy setting.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin: South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly look at one of the many things I own in a home video format.  Today, we get to a big screen version of a classic cartoon, South Park:  Bigger, Longer and Uncut.  This is dated in my notes at August 18, 2012.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Some Thoughts on the Passing of Roger Ebert

As I'm sure you've heard by now, renowned film critic Roger Ebert passed away two days ago.  I was at work when the news broke, and I was surprised at how torn up I was about it.  Roger Ebert really was my gateway into being the movie geek I was today.

Most of my family are churchgoers, but I was never really into it.  So, when my teen years came, and I was old enough to be left home on my own, I'd stay home on Sunday mornings and watch Siskel and Ebert.  And I tell you, Siskel and Ebert was an eye-opening show.  When all you've got for movies is the 2-dozen or so blockbusters down at the local convenience store, Siskel and Ebert was there to show me that there is so much more out there in the world for movies.

And this was in the early 1990s, too, which was a golden era to be getting into movies.  We had the rise of the independents in that era, with folks like Quentin Tarintino, Robert Rodreiguiz, and Kevin Smith launching their careers.  And that in general started bringing more attention to art house fare, and giving more attention to foreign films.

Siskel and Ebert was where I was first exposed to the works of Kevin Smith.  On the show, they used to end it with the "Video Pick of the Week," where they'd highlight a really good movie that had just been released on video.  But, with Laserdisc being the format of choice for cinephiles at the time, they also started doing a "Laserdisc Pick of the Month."  One Sunday morning, their Laserdisc Pick of the Month was the special edition Laserdisc of Clerks.  And, from the Laserdisc, they showed the original ending of Clerks, and then Siskel and Ebert had a quick debate as to whether Smith was right to cut it or not. 

It was also where I was first exposed to the films of Hayao Miyazaki.  My Neighbor Totoro was dubbed and released by legendary film studio Troma Studios in 1992, and I remember seeing it reviewed on Siskel and Ebert, and Ebert gave an incredibly positive review to it.  I'm pretty sure he put it on his "10 Best" list for 1992.  I remember watching that episode, and they showed the clip of Totoro and Satsuki hanging out at the bus stop, and then the Catbus pulls up, and I thought to myself, "This film looks freaky as fuck."  And now, Miyazaki is one of my favourite filmmakers. 

And also, Quentin Tarantino.  I remember, when Tarantino only had four films to his name (Pulp Fiction, Resevoir Dogs, and the Tarantino-scripted-only True Romance and Natural Born Killers), they already did a retrospective on Tarintino's career and how Tarintino was going to revolutionize filmmaking.  I remember Ebert expressing in amazement that there were already websites dedictated to Tarintino.  This would have been early 1995.

And that leads into another bit of Ebert's legacy.  As many in the online film crticism community are pointing out, Ebert was an early adopter of the Internet, and was quick to embrace online film critics as his brethren and not wannabes.  I remember, in 1997 or so, I saw Ebert on a talk show, and he was asked if he had any advice for anyone who wanted to be a film critic.  And Ebert said, "My advice to anyone who wants to be a film critic is the same advice to anyone who wants to be a writer:  never stop writing.  And with the Internet now, it's become so easy to publish your work and have it reach a wide audience."  I took those words to heart, and I started writing movie reviews on my website not longer after.  Probably why I still find the time to sit and jot down a few thoughts whenever I come back from the city, because watching a movie is still the main reason why I venture into Edmonton.

The Internet is where Ebert flourished in his later years.  He'd been battling cancer, and it literally robbed him of his voice about 10 years ago.  So he started blogging more.  I loved his blog.  He was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, and his blog was always such a treat to read.  Which is why his death was so heartbreaking.  The day before he died, he wrote his final blog entry, in which he announced that his cancer had come back, and he would be taking a "leave of presence" to battle it.  He wasn't going to give up, just slow down a bit.  Write less reviews, but still blogging, and he made mention of turning to Kickstarter to fund his TV show and get it back on the air, which really caught my eye.

And that's the most inspiring thing about Roger Ebert.  Up until the end, he never gave up, he never quit.  He had his passions, like movies and writing, and nothing stood in between himself and his passions.  He just kept going.

So thank you, Roger Ebert.  My love of movies, my love of writing, all inspired by you.  Thank you.

Friday, April 05, 2013

2 New Films from 2 Favourite Filmmakers

So, a quick recap on the current history of Pixar.

Around 2006, the deal between Pixar and Disney was coming to a close, and things between Pixar and Disney got a little heated in the re-negotiations.  During those re-negotiations, Disney invoked a clause in their original deal with Pixar that granted them the sequel rights to any and all Pixar films.  So, as a big "screw you" to Pixar, Disney announced the creation of a new animation studio called Circle Seven Studios, and the sole purpose of this new studio would be to make Pixar sequels.  Disney quickly announced that they would be making Toy Story 3, Monsters, Inc. 2, and Finding Nemo 2 under the Circle Seven label.

The re-negotiations finally ended with Disney remembering they have more money than God and just buying Pixar.  In the buyout, a lot of Pixar's senior management became senior management at Disney, and the first thing they did was pull the plug on Circle Seven Studios.  However, seeing the little bit of work that Circle Seven did did get Pixar's creative juices flowing, and so Pixar decided to go ahead with Toy Story 3, which came out in 2010 and was spectacular, and Monsters, Inc. 2, a prequel now titled Monsters University, which comes out this summer.

So, I guess then, I shouldn't be too surprised when Disney and Pixar made the official announcement back on Tuesday that Finding Nemo 2 is officially in the works, to be titled Finding Dory.

The Finding Dory logo

Along with the announcement of the film came the announcement that Ellen DeGeneres is coming back to voice Dory.  That was expected...DeGeneres (and many Hollywood watchers) have long credited her voice work in Finding Nemo to have jumpstarted her career about 10 years ago.  And, when she made the announcement on her talk show on Tuesday, she said she'd been bugging Pixar pretty hard about it for the past few years.

Also coming back to direct is veteran Pixar director Andrew Stanton, who gave us the original Finding Nemo and WALL-E.  Now, Stanton made his live-action debut a year ago with John Carter, which went on to become one of the biggest bombs of all time.  So when rumors of Finding Nemo 2 started circulating last summer and that Stanton would be coming back to direct, Stanton initially denied the rumors.  I did dig up an interview he did in the fall where he addressed the rumors.  He said that he always had an idea for a Finding Nemo 2, but, since John Carter was hoped to launch a major franchise, he honestly expected he'd be neck-deep in making John Carter 2 right now.  So he was readjusting his schedule and moving certain projects up on his personal timeline.  Looks like Finding Dory got moved to the front of the line.

The official plot description sent out by Disney says it'll take place one year after Finding Nemo, and be set primarily along the California coastline.  Marlin and the Tank Gang will be returning from the first film, and we'll also get a new slate of beloved, toyetic characters.

Finding Dory will be hitting theatres November 25, 2015.

I'm still a fan of Tim Burton's, even though I have yet to bring myself to watch Dark Shadows.  That being said, though, upon re-watching Frankenweenie when it came out on DVD a few months ago, I thought that film was...well, something special.  That film had real heart to it, something that a lot of Tim Burton films have been lacking lately as he pumps out the latest product for a major studio starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter.  So I was intrigued earlier this week with the announcement of his next film, the biography Big Eyes.

Big Eyes tells the story of painter Margaret Keane and her ex-husband Walter Keane.  Back in the 1950s and 60s, the Keanes became famous for creating those paintings of children with really big eyes.  With Walter's marketing savvy, the paintings soon became a pop culture phenomenon.  Margaret, being the shy, introverted type, just spent her days at home painting the paintings.  But, the success started going to Walter's head, and soon he started taking credit for the paintings and going on talk shows and the like to talk about them.  Margaret finally found her voice and start calling out her husband.  Needless to say, it put a strain on their marriage, and the true authorship of the paintings was something that became a very crucial part of their divorce proceedings. 

Burton is apparently a fan of Margaret Keane's work (she was eventually ruled the true painter), and Burton commissioned Keene to do a painting of Lisa Marie, the Guess jeans supermodel who was Burton's-girlfriend-that-he-stuck-in-every-movie back in the 1990s.  Burton has been trying to get this project going for a few years, and finally got around to it.

To make the film, Burton is re-teaming with screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.  They originally worked together on Ed Wood, and following that, Alexander and Karaszewski made a name of themselves in the 1990s, writing screenplays about offbeat individuals, including The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon

And to play Walter and Margaret Keene, Burton is NOT going with his obvious choices of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter.  Walter will be played by Christoph Waltz, who won two Oscars working with Quentin Tarantino on Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained.  And Margaret will be played by fellow Oscar winner Amy Adams.

No word yet on when it'll be hitting theatres. 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Captain Power and the Soliders of the Future

Time once again for that weekly look at one of the many movies in my home video library, Fishing in the Discount Bin.  Yet my latest attempt to do an entire TV series on Fishing in the Discount Bin, and this time out, we're doing a show I loved in my youth, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future.  This one is dated in my notes at August 12, 2012.  

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The 10th Anniversary of Midnight Ramblings: A Decade of Spilling My Guts Online

“Just a test.  This is only a test.”

And with those auspicious words, on this day 10 years ago, April 2, 2003, I launched this blog.

I don’t think I expected this to go on for 10 years.  Back in the day, it was just meant to be a quick and easy replacement...something to maintain my online presence, as such things were important to me back then.  There I was, on my post-college adventure, teaching English as a second language in Japan.  My laptop crapped out on, leaving me with no way to update my website.  I wanted some way to keep posting messages online, and let my family back home hear my stories of my Japanese adventures.  I wanted something that would be quick and easy to update at the Internet cafes.  A lot of my friends were hopping on the Blogger service, because that was the blogging host of choice back in the day.  So, on one moonlit night, at the Manga Hiroba Internet cafe, I signed up for a blogger account, and Midnight Ramblings was born.

While this is the 10th anniversary of this particular facet of my online presence, it’s not the 10th anniversary of me blogging.  That would be 14 years of that.  And even then, it goes back further.  Nope, for my first ventures into having an online presence, we have to go back all the way to a wintry November night in 1997, when I was still a carefree college student at Augustana University College.  The dot-com bubble hadn’t popped yet, and the Internet was rapidly expanding.  As I spent many an evening in college, I was hanging out in the offices of the school newspaper, where my best friend was the editor, and we were having one of our typical conversations about life, the universe, and cartoons of the 1980s.  And the topic soon changed to the growing Internet and how it was starting to take hold in pop culture.  “Man, I would sure love to have a website,” I said.

“Well, let’s get you one,” he said.  And within 10 minutes, he directed to me to a free webhosting outfit called Angelfire, and I had a website.  With the “how to use HTML” tutorials I found online, and my best friend’s help, I soon had a half-descent website to promote my college radio show.  In the drive for more content, I started posting my opinion columns from the college paper.  Since my radio show was Chaos in a Box and my opinion column was Chaos in Print, I decided to christen the website Chaos on the Net

But then, along came the summer of Episode I, 1999, and with it, graduation.  Upon my college graduation, like with most college grads, I suddenly found myself at a loss.  I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, or what was to come next.  And even worse, now that I no longer had my radio show or my opinion column in the school paper, I had no creative outlet where I could put my words out there and help sort things out.

But I still had the website....