Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, June 29, 2015

Movie Time!

So, over on this week's podcast, I promised a bunch of home movies demonstrating what occupied my time for the past few weeks.  As I mentioned in the podcast, I did have to go up to Athabasca to fill in.  I was on location from the Bryan Mudryk Golf Classic.  One of the events at the golf classic was the ball drop.  You buy a ball for $50, the drop all the balls out of a helicopter onto the green, and the closest one to the hole wins the pot.

And then, on Father's Day, my Dad said he wanted to go to Fort Edmonton Park.  I hadn't been in a few years, and since it was Father's Day, I gladly obliged.  My sister brought along her family, and we had a grand day at the park.

As is typical when you visit Fort Edmonton Park, the popular strategy is to take the steam train to the far end of the park, and then walk from the old fort, through the years, back to the beginning.  At the fort, there was this one voyageur demonstrating the usage of a cross-cut saw.  So, Dad my brother-in-law gave it a go.

Then, we traveled up to 1895 Street.  Dad's always been a fan of fine fiddle music, so when he heard a fiddle player playing on 1895 Street, Dad had to go up to the guy and find out more.  And then, in one of those weird coincidences that govern this universe, the guitar player accompanying the fiddle player turned out to be one of Dad's old colleagues from his government days.

And then, after all that, and with a weekend to myself, I headed into the city on my own.  It felt different going into the city this past Saturday.  I wasn't on the verge of tears like I'd been my last few visits.  Granted, money is still pretty tight for me right now, and in another month or so, I'll be facing the very serious problem as to how I'm going to pay my rent, but for a few brief moments on Saturday, in the city, I was happy.  Maybe it's because Fatburger is finally coming to West Edmonton Mall.  Or maybe it's because I was just super-excited to see Jurassic World.

Jurassic World is so good.  This is the Jurassic Park sequel I've been wanting since 1993.  Rather than just the usual "dinosaurs on a rampage" formula that the Lost World and Jurassic Park III gave us, this actually takes the concepts introduced in the first film and explores them in interesting ways.  The first and most obvious is, "What if they learned from their mistakes and a viable and successful dinosaur theme park/zoo actually opened?"  The second is, "OK, they filled in the gaps of dinosaur DNA with frog DNA...how hard would it be to start mashing together all different kinds of DNA to create monstrous dinosaurs that never existed?"  And the best concept of all:  "What if the velociraptors...were on our side?" 

I was bouncing up and down in my seat at how exciting it was.  Granted, Jurassic Park is an old enough franchise that there's a formula in place and the formula was at play, but by exploring some of the sci-fi concepts, and some wonderfully likeable leads in Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, and I had a hell of a good time. 

The complete review is over at the website.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Targ Returns! And Returns! And Returns!

U62: The Targ

Wowee wow!  I’m back!  In my last episode, I said I’d be back in two weeks.  But then, life got in the way, two weeks turned into four, and I finally had a weekend to myself to sit and record a podcast!  So, what do I have for you on Episode 8.12: The Coffee Can of Destiny?
  • As is tradition, I explain where I’ve been for the past few weeks.  Lounging in a hot tub, my aunt came to visit, I went back to Athabasca and Fort Edmonton Park!
  • Thanks to the various streaming video services, I’ve been binging on Quantum Leap and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
  • Another installment of “Mark Tastes Random Things,” as I sample the McLobster for your pleasure!
  • And, a few quick thoughts on Jurassic World
And that’s what’s in store on Episode 8.12: The Coffee Can of Destiny!

Check it on the main site!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Good Morning, Vietnam

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about the movies I own on DVD and my thoughts upon rewatching them.  Again, I need to remind you that I tend to work about 6 months ahead or so on these.  For example, I wrote this one on August 17, 2014.  We had just heard the news of the death of Robin Williams, and that's what inspired me to re-watch on of my favourite films of his, Good Morning, Vietnam.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Batman: The Animated Series Volume 4

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I rant and ramble about one of the DVDs I own.  It's time to return to the world of Batman, as I binge on Volume 4 of Batman: The Animated Series, which encapsulates the series The New Batman Adventures.  This was jotted down in my notes on July 24, 2014.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Gargoyles: Season 2, Volume 2

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about one of the DVDs/Blu-Rays/VHSs I own.  It's rare these days that I binge-watch a TV show, but here we are as I finally complete my collection of the classic Disney cartoon Gargoyles.  Here, I binge on Gargoyles: Season 2, Volume 2.  This was originally in my notes at July 20, 2014.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Netflix Nonsense - Big Trouble in Little China

I was chatting with a co-worker the other day, and the latest news of remakes came up.  Last week, the big remake news was that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was going to do a remake of the 1980s cult classic Big Trouble in Little China.  I confided to my co-worker that I'd never seen it.  He just glared at me and said, "If we weren't working right now, I'd drag you over to my place and make you watch my Blu-ray."  Well, the weekend rolled around, I saw it was on Netflix, so let's get this gap in my geek film history filled in.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Lego Movie

Welcome once again to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about one of the many DVDs, Blu-Rays, and odd VHS I still own.  This time out, we get to one of the surprise hits of last year, The Lego Movie.  I originally watched this and jotted down my review on July 5, 2014.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Netflix Nonsense - Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

And it looks like we're at the end of my voyage through the original Mad Max trilogy.  For those just joining us, after coming out of the theatre for Mad Max: Fury Road, I realized that I'd never seen any of the original Mad Max movies, and thus it's a rather noticeable gap in my personal film history.  Luckily, I just reactivated my Shomi account, and they're all on there.  And we get to the end of the Mel Gibson Max Max trilogy with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Monday, June 01, 2015

Fixer Upper

Well, payday had come, and with it, it was time to take care of one of those little tasks that had been hanging over my head.  One of those little quirks of automobile maintenance that my father drilled in to me was always get your oil changed at 5000km.  And for the past month or so, I'd slowly been watching the odometer creep closer and closer to 5000km since my last oil change.  I know, I know, I should be shopping local and all that, but when it comes to an oil change, I find that sometimes it's easier and quicker to just swing by one of those Quickie-Lube places when I'm in the city.  So, with some funding in the bank thanks to payday, let's get that oil changed.

I was pondering that on the drive.  I've mentioned lately how paranoid I've become when it comes to my car.  City driving strikes fear into my heart.  Being on the road for too long just gets me fretting.  I wonder how much of that has to do with my old car.  My old car was so old that I couldn't go a year or two without some major breakdown leading to a week in the shop and several thousand dollars in repairs.  I finally upgraded to my current car when the mechanic said, "Mark, we've finally reached the point where it's just cheaper for you to get a new one."  I've had my car for coming up on 5 years, and I have yet to have one of those "a week in the shop, several thousand dollars in repairs" breakdowns.  (Well, aside from when I hit that deer two years ago.)  I'm probably starting to think I'm overdue.  

The oil change went off without a hitch.  It always amazes me how the minor problems they point out to me get nary a mention when I return and I hadn't fixed it yet.  Stuff like that always makes me wonder how much of it is a genuine problem or just up-selling.  With that chore taken care of, a twinge of sadness as I indulged one of my quirks.  I've taken to dangling a new air freshener from my rear-view mirror whenever I get my oil changed.  After my last oil change, I swung by Canadian Tire and found a three pack of Star Wars air fresheners.  Each one boasting the poster of a film from the original trilogy.  So, after this oil change, it was good-bye Star Wars, hello Empire Strikes Back.

And now that I'm in the city, why not go see a movie?

Since I fret about my money so much, I know it probably seems strange that I still make time to go see a movie.  I read the statistic the other day that the average person sees 4 movies per year.  Going through the movie reviews on my website, my personal average is 12.  So with an increasing worry about my money, it probably doesn't seem right that I still see three times as many movies as the personal average in a year.  But I can't help it.  It's my passion.

I once had a co-worker who routinely mocked me for my love of the movies.  "How can you justify spending so much money on movies?" he'd say.  "Thanks to the Internet, I can get any movie, TV show, or album I want for free!  Only a FOOL pays for their entertainment in this day and age!"

I'd point out that this seems hypocritical, as he had no problem dropping $8000 per year to fly to the States and watch his beloved San Fransisco 49ers play.  "Sports is different," he'd counter.  "Each game is a one-time only meeting between two titans.  Anything can affect the outcome of a game.  A sporting event is one of the few things where you never know what's going to happen.  But movies...you always know what's going to happen.  The good guy always wins.  The hero always gets the girls.  Movies never surprise you.  Sports always does."

He'd wind up to deliver the crushing blow.  "Yup, thanks to it's unpredictable nature, sporting events are the highest form of entertainment.  It's a communal event as people gather to witness history being made.  And movies..." he'd get this evil grin like he was about to slay my mother and make me watch.  "Movies are just a bunch of idiots staring straight ahead in the dark for two hours." 

I never knew how much of that he actually believed.  This was an asshole who tried to get a rise out of me over the slightest thing, so he was probably just baiting me.  Truth is, I feel sorry for him.  The great filmmaker Ridley Scott once used the "bunch of people staring straight ahead in the dark for two hours" argument to describe movies as being a magical, shared experience.  Instead of staring at the dark, stare at the light on the screen.  Up there, heroes are larger than life.  They takes us with them on their journeys.  If done properly, a film can educate and illuminate us to things that we didn't even know about ourselves.  My co-worker never understood.  I don't go to movies for the dark.  I go for the light.

Director Andrew Stanton once sent out a tweet that resonated with me.  It was along the lines of, "Whenever I see a movie, my request is always the same:  make me feel something."  And if the only way you can feel something is to watch a bunch of people fight over a ball, then hey, good on you. 

So what I was hoping would make me feel this time out?  Disney's latest epic Tomorrowland.  I knew I was going to see it because it's the brainchild of one of my favourite directors, Brad Bird.  He gave the world my favourite movie, The Iron Giant.  He then went across the street to Pixar where he made the Incredibles and Ratatouille.  And a few years ago, he broke into live-action with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.  So I was eager to see his next go-around in the live-action realm. 

Casey Newton is a bright young woman with an almost instinctual knowledge of how things work.  She’s also a dreamer, with hope and optimism for the future.  It’s such qualities that soon lead a mysterious girl named Athena to give Casey a special pin.  By touching this pin, Casey is given visions of “Tomorrowland,” a city where all the best and brightest of society can gather and literally shape the future.  But, Tomorrowland is in jeopardy.  With the help of a jaded Tomorrowland exile named Frank Walker, our three are off on a quest to return to Tomorrowland and save it, before the whole world suffers.

If there's one thing we learned from Mission: Impossible, that's that Bird is really good at doing big action sequences, and Tomorrowland has its fair share of good ones.  Michael Giacchino once again puts together a great score, and young actress Raffey Cassidy as Athena has just the right blend of mysterious and matter-of-fact.  That being said, it is your standard "chosen one" plot, and while I did appreciate the film's message ("Let's be positive about the future again!") it did get a tad preachy about it. 

I give it three nibs.  My full review is up over on the website.