Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Good Dinosaur

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I sit and blog about a movie I own.  We return to my beloved Pixar with their other film from 2015, The Good Dinosaur.  This is in my notes at March 16, 2016.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Die Another Day

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  We come to the end of Pierce Brosnan's run on James Bond with Die Another Day.  This is in my notes at March 16, 2016.

I actually sat down and watched Die Another Day on Blu-Ray a few weeks ago, but haven't gotten around to writing this.  I've never had a flu bug like that before.  I had literally 0 energy.  I'd wake up in the morning and lie in bed for an hour just because I didn't have the energy to get up.  That was the first week.  Second week, I finally had enough energy to be moving around.  And then the third week, I was whisked off on vacation.  But now, here I am, to type this up, because in my flu-induced delirium, I was able to watch Die Another Day

And this is how Pierce Brosnan's run on James Bond comes to end...the film where people finally said James Bond had gone too far.  Surfing on Arctic tsunamis...an invisible car...a Madonna theme song and cameo...it was all finally too much.  Now that I own and have re-watched all the Brosnan Bonds, I finally agree:  nothing beat GoldenEye

The film opens with Bond doing an excursion into North Korea to take down a North Korean general who'd begun dabbling in arms dealing on the side.  In what was considered a revolutionary twist for the Bond films at the time, the mission goes south and it ends with Bond being captured.  In another considered-revolutionary-at-the-time-twist, the classic Bond opening title sequence is a stylized representation of the torture Bond endures. 

Anyway, Bond is finally released because of a prisoner exchange.  Because of some terrorist attacks that happened during Bond's imprisonment, M thinks Bond cracked under the torture and revealed state secrets.  Bond denies this, saying the only other possible explanation is there's a mole in MI6.  It would also explain why his mission went south, because he was ratted out.  So, Bond goes rogue to clear his name and sniff out the mole.  It's an investigation that soon leads him to billionaire industrialist Gustav Graves and his orbital super-weapon. 

Of course we need our Bond girl, so we have Halle Berry as NSA agent Jinx Jordan.  Man, there was a lot of hype at the time of giving Jinx her own spin-off franchise, but it never came to be.  But Berry's Jinx is a great Bond girl.  Suave, sophisticated, a tough fighter, quick-witted...very much Bond's equal. 

But yeah.  When we get to Iceland, with many scenes filmed in the famous ice hotel, that's where things get crazy.  That's where we get the invisible car and gadget overload and ice surfing.  Although, the car chase across the ice is pretty cool.  For once, the villain gets a gadget-laden car, too, and is able to fire back at Bond.  But, I remember when I first saw it, the director's stylistic choice of constantly messing with the camera speed to create some pseudo-bullet time effects really comes across as annoying. 

There is some fun, though.  This is the 20th James Bond film, and it was released during the 40th anniversary of the film franchise, so the director dropped in multiple Easter eggs referencing all the previous films in the franchise...most of them are old gadget's in Q's lab.  The rumour at the time was the director believes in the fan theory that "James Bond" is a code name, and that's why there have been different Bonds over the years, and he wanted to use that to have previous Bonds make cameos.  But, the producers nixed him. 

I remember when I first saw it in the theatre.  It was during my time in Japan.  Because of international release dates, a lot of the Christmas blockbusters of 2002 came out in the spring of 2003.  The spring of 2003 was also when the Company told me that they wouldn't be renewing my contract and sending me home to Canada, which really threw me into a depression.  Since movies are my escape, and all the Christmas blockbusters were coming, I was going to see a movie pretty much every week to try to cheer myself up.  I'm pretty sure Die Another Day was the film when the clerk who was always working the nights I went to the movies looked at me and said, in her best English, "Wow, you come here a lot." 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One and Done

Blah blah blah went to city something something Christmas shopping yadda yadda yadda ROGUE ONE, BAY-BEE!

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

Don't know why I went to the 10:30AM show on Saturday.  As was pointed out to me when I bought the tickets, at work I'm back on the morning shift, which means I've got my afternoons free, which means I could have easily gone in the afternoon.  But I didn't.  And I stand by my choices.

So when Disney bought Lucasfilm a few years ago and promised to flood our lives with new Star Wars product, one of the more intriguing things was the proposal of standalone films, aka these "Star Wars stories."  As Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy once remarked, "It's about thinking of the Star Wars universe as a setting, rather than a saga."  And for their first one, they decided to go with one of the more wondered-about untold stories in the Star Wars universe:  how exactly did the Rebels steal the plans to the Death Star from the Empire?

Well, it was a daring mission carried out by Jyn Erso and her crew.  Erso's got a personal connection to the Death Star:  her father Galen was one of its chief architects, until he grew a conscience and walked away from the Empire.  The film opens with the chief of the Death Star's construction, Director Krennick, tracking down Galen to drag him back to the Empire and finish what he started.  We then flash forward to Jyn as a grown-up, who's been living largely on her own in this wartorn galaxy.  But then the Rebels drag her in to the conflict.  A defector brings word of the Death Star nearing completion, and Galen was able to smuggle out a message about it.  Jyn is needed to verify the message and, if possible, help track down her father to find out more about this message.

Of course, we need a crew on this mission.  The standouts to me were the droid K-2SO and Chirrut Imwe.  K-2SO was an Imperial droid who was reprogrammed, but the reprogramming altered his personality, giving him a very dry sense of humour.  Picture C-3P0 with more sass, and in the body of grappler.

Chirrut Imwe was a Jedi temple guard back in that more civilized time.  While he cannot use the Force, he is a firm believer in it, and frequently lets his faith guide him.  His official title was "a Guardian of the Whills," and dude, that's a deep cut Star Wars reference.  "The Whills" was an early name George Lucas had for the Force, and Lucas's original title for the entire saga was "The Journal of the Whills."  Anyway, director Gareth Edwards said that Chirrut was based on the character archetype of the warrior monk, and played by Hong Kong action legend Donnie Yen, he plays that archetype to the hilt.  And much like K-2SO, he's got a dry quip for just about any occasion.

If I do have a problem with it, it has to be with our heroine, Jyn.  I just don't feel like we got enough time with her to get to know her as a character.

Special effects are, of course, amazing.  They give us some great angles of the Death Star that really play up its size and scope.  Thanks to digital technology, there's some gratuitous cameos from long dead characters.  And the final space battle is spectacular.

And, much like Luke's appearance at the end of The Force Awakens, the last 10 minutes are a gigantic nostalgic gut punch that left me in tears.

All in all, I give it a solid 3 out of 4 Nibs.  A great addition to Star WarsFull review on the website.

After that, out into the mall to do a little more shopping.  But now, with my Christmas shopping finished, I thought I'd buy a few frivolous things for myself.  As my mother frequently tells me, "Treat yo-self!"  (Sorry, Aziz Ansari, my mother was saying it before you.)

So I wound up spending a lot of money at HMV.  First, a new Blu-Ray.

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

Long ago,I blogged about the logic of buying a holiday special on home media.  I mean, the one time of year you're going to watch it is the one time of year it's on TV ad nauseum.  But now, I figured out why:  it's the only way to see it uncut.

Going through Facebook's "On this Day" feature, I see I've been making the same complaint about Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town for about seven or eight years now.  In recent years, they've been deleting one of my favourite parts.  And I can see why they cut it.  It's the same reason why it's my favourite.  It's so hilariously out of place.

Using the Christmas song of the same name as the springboard, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town tells us the secret origin of Santa Claus.  Santa, you see, was a rebel, who delivered toys to a town where toys had been banned.  Santa is eventually arrested, and Jessica the schoolmarm tries to rally the people to free Santa.  Through her efforts, she begins to realize she has feelings for Santa, and that's when we realize she is the who will become Mrs. Claus.  And her awakening comes in the form of a very psychedelic musical number.  I mean, it was 1970.  That kind of animation was the rage.  It's very much a product of its time.  And compared to the stop motion of the Rankin-Bass holiday specials, it's very out of place.  Which is why I love it.  And why it's a prime candidate for deletion.

But now I can enjoy it in glorious hi-def!

And even though we live in the era of digital downloads, I bought a couple of CDs.  I've blogged before that I think Michael Giacchino is one of the greatest film composers working today, and now he's done the music for my two favourite franchises with "Star" in the title.  So I picked up his scores for Star Trek Beyond and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Buying Star Trek Beyond was more to complete my collection.  A few years ago, a lot of music labels that specialize in film soundtracks released the complete, uncut scores for every Star Trek movie.  And have them all!  No Star Trek Beyond score was leaving a gap in my collection.  I love the stuff that Giacchino has written for Star Trek.  I easily put the main theme he wrote for Star Trek up there with Jerry Goldsmith's legendary theme.  And speaking of Goldsmith, I swear I can hear echos of his stuff, and James Horner's Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock scores in Beyond.  I especially like the piece entitled Night on the Yorktown, when the Enterprise arrives at the starbase Yorktown for some much-needed shore leave.

And then as others have pointed out, Giacchino seemed destined to do the music for a Star Wars movie.  He's about the only one still doing John Williams-style, full orchestra, "everybody gets a signature theme" film scores.  Some concerns about Giacchino doing the music for Rogue One, as he was a last minute replacement for Alexander Desplat.  Giacchino only had six weeks to pull something together.

And I think he did a great job, listening to some of it on Spotify as soon as it went online on Friday.  Listening to the theme he wrote for the Imperial forces, entitled "The Imperial Suite," reminds me of the variation on the Mission: Impossible theme he wrote for the opening credits of Ghost Protocol.  The notes are there, but there in a different order.  If that makes any sense.  I don't really know a lot about music composition.

My favourite cut has to be "Guardians of the Whills Suite."  This kind of replaces John Williams' "Force" theme, as it comes in whenever someone starts talking about the Force and matters of faith.

Listening to it back-to-back with his Beyond score (as I have been while I write this), yeah, it sounds like Giacchino may have borrowed a little bit from his Star Trek stuff when he put together Rogue One, but the dude was under the wire.  I hope he gets to do another one.  I would love to hear what he can do when he's got the time to do it right.

And that's my latest dispatch from my latest trip to the city.  Last one before Christmas now, as the Christmas shopping is done. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mission: Impossilbe -- Rogue Nation

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own.  We dip into the Mission: Impossible franchise with Rogue Nation.  This one's in my notes on February 26, 2016.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Happy Holiday Targ!

The Targ

December is upon us, and I just had an itch to do a Christmas podcast.  As I explain in the podcast, every three or four years, I figure I need to freshen up my Christmas music library, and buy a bunch of new Christmas albums.  I did that last year.  So as I was scrolling through my Christmas music, listening to the tunes as I decorated the apartment, I figured I should share this music in a podcast.

And this, Christmas Special: Scarecrow’s Second Christmas Mix Tape.  I mostly play a bunch of my favourite Christmas songs, and in between, I share some stories of the season.
  • I celebrate some little victories.
  • I share what I want for Christmas (a classic NES, if they can still be found.)
  • I share a little bit on the history of A Christmas Story
  • And a special holiday edition of Mark Tastes Random Things, where I try all the Christmas pepperminty stuff from Tim Hortons.
All this and more in Christmas Special: Scarecrow’s Second Christmas Mix Tape.

Check it out at the main site!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Just A Little Late

It wound up being a busy week.  For this entire week, I've been wanting to sit down and blog about my day in the city last weekend, because, as you know, it's kinda my thing.  However, I haven't found the time because of the previously mentioned shake-ups at work which have left me busier than I've been in a while.  So, here I am, on a chilly Friday night, and I'm finally able to put pen to paper.

Last weekend, wanted to head into the city to do a little more Christmas shopping.  Ya know, it's that time of the year and all.  As I always do, I sat behind the wheel of my car, iPhone plugged in to the sound system, listening to my favourite podcasts on the way in.  When I arrived, I grabbed my phone to notice that the battery had gone down.  It appeared my car adapter had quit working.  Reason #3728 that it's time to upgrade my phone.

Yeah, I've been complaining about this since the summer.  My iPhone 4S is really starting to show its age.  Things load a little slower.  I can't listen to a podcast or music for more than an hour without it crashing.  During my summer vacation, my brother-in-law raised his eyebrows at the fact that I was still rockin' the 4S, because I've got a bit of reputation for being a tech guy.

But yeah.  Back then, I knew the announcement of the 7 was imminent.  And here we are now, in the post-7 world.  As expected, the 6S went down in price accordingly, and the SE as well.  Crunching the numbers as I have been, the SE would probably do me quite well.  If I read the tech specs correctly, the SE is pretty much the guts of a 6S in the body of a 5C.  But if that's the case, I may as well spend the money and get the 6S for its nicer camera.  Or maybe I splurge and get the 7, because a bigger memory comes standard.  But the 7's got no headphone jack!

I'll probably bite the bullet and upgrade next month.  January seems to be the time I buy new tech.  I do all the research you see above, and then I just go into the store and buy the shiniest one.

But, before I spend for myself, it's time to spend for others.  I did my Christmas shopping.  And I dare say, I did pretty good.  I'd say, right now, I'm about 95% done.  The last time I went in was pretty much a recon mission.  This time, though, I knew exactly what I wanted, so I was able to get in, grab what I needed, and get out.  I was able to call it a day by noon.

But of course I didn't.  Had to see a movie.  I went to see Moana.

I'd been kind of excited for Moana.  Not because it was the latest Disney animated film.  Not because Broadway's current superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda did the music.  But because the directors are John Musker and Ron Clemments.  These guys were at the forefront of that period in animation now known as the Disney Renaissance.  Of the four films considered the pinnacle of the Disney Renaissance, they did two of them:  The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.  This was their first foray into computer animation, and I wanted to see if they could inject a little of that ol' Disney Renaissance charm into the proceedings.

And for the most part, they do.  Guys, I liked Moana a whole heck of a lot more than Frozen.  Maybe because it was a little more...traditional.  I like the songs better.  I found them more humable.

Or maybe it's because Dwayne Johnson steals the show as the demigod Maui.  The character just oozes that trademark Johnson charm.  Almost as much as Robin Williams stole the show in Aladdin, does Dwayne Johnson steal the show as Maui.  And just as scene-stealing our Maui's tattoos, that feature a little cartoon version of him that kind of serves as his conscience.  It's a clever addition.

Don't know what more to tell you, gang.  I really liked it.  Full review over at the website.

But before I left the city, I figured I'd pop into HMV and buy a little something for myself.

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

The Black Cauldron is one of my favourite Disney animated films, gang.  When I was a kid, and go visit my Oma and Opa in Red Deer, Oma would usually take us down to the theatre to catch the latest Disney animated film.  And the Black Cauldron is one that just stuck with me.  I mean, it's the only Disney animated film with a zombie army!  How awesome is that?

Anyway, I've had it on DVD for a while, but it's part of Disney's "Gold Collection," meaning it's one of their very first DVD releases from the early 2000s.  It's not even in widescreen.  Well, it is in widescreen, but not anamorphic widescreen.  This 25th anniversary edition has a smattering of new bonus features, and is finally anamorphic.  I was holding out for Blu-Ray before upgrading, but as it's one of Disney's lessers in their animated film canon, that's looking less and less likely to happen.

But, because of the busy-ness that's kept me from blogging, it's also kept me from watching it.  Starting to develop a stockpile of "to-watch" DVDs and Blu-Rays again.  I finally broke down and bought Jem and the Holograms out of a discount bin for $5 a few weeks ago, and haven't gotten around to watching it.

It's just the holiday season, gang.  If it's not Christmas stuff at work, it's Christmas stuff at home.

Don't know how to end this, so just like at work, if I don't know how to wrap up the bit, just play the next song. 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The World is Not Enough

Boppin' along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, blogging about a movie I own after I watch it.  Going through another run of James Bond films with The World is Not Enough.  This one is in my notes at February 15, 2016.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Spectre

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly bloggin' about a movie I own.  Just when I think I'm done with Bond, a new film hits theatres that has be talking about him again.  This time, the film in question is Spectre, and this is in my notes at February 15, 2016.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Rant Too Long for Facebook: StarWars.com at 20

Two years ago, I was reading the coverage from a tech conference.  This one article was confused as to why Pizza Hut was giving a keynote address at a conference for web developers.  The author eventually discovered that Pizza Hut was there to talk about their website.  When Pizza Hut launched their website in 1994, it was the first website for a major pizza chain that let you place your order online...bleeding edge technology in 1994.  So Pizza Hut was there to talk about the 20th anniversary of that milestone. I walked away from that article thinking, "Have we really reached the point where websites are celebrating 20th anniversaries?  Is the Internet really that old now?  Am I?"

It's a wave that's been washing over me once again as my social media lit up with the celebration that this past Saturday, November 26, was the 20th anniversary of www.starwars.com, the official Star Wars website.  As they share in the extensive oral history they compiled to commemorate this occasion, starwars.com was originally launched to promote the special editions coming in the spring of 1997.  But, with development on the prequels well underway, and dot-com bubble not having popped yet, George Lucas knew he wanted a toehold on this new Internet thing to start spreading the gospel of the prequels.  And here we are now, 20 years later, and it's still the online hub for all things Star Wars.

As I read up on this, I had two fond memories of starwars.com that I felt like sharing.  First up, was the incident that made starwars.com, the release of the first Episode I teaser.  It was on a wintry November night in 1998, much like this one.  I was still in college, living in the dorms at Augustana University College.  That previous summer, the dorms had been wired into the campus computer network, and I tell you, having high speed Internet in the time when a 28.8k modem for your dial-up was considered fast...well, it was the best perk of living on campus.

The trailer went online, and even with the campus Internet, it was slow going to download that trailer.  I had a special download manager on my computer, so I set it to download the trailer at 2AM.  I figured that would be when the campus computer network would be at its least-used.  I woke up the next morning to the trailer, watched it several times, and it was all we were talking about over breakfast in the cafeteria.

A lot of my classmates were studying computer science, and as such, they were in tight with the campus IT folks.  They learned from the IT department that, while so many students downloading  the trailer didn't crash the network, there was a not-insignificant slowdown in service.

The second memory has to do with Hyperspace.  For a while there, starwars.com had a paid subscription service called Hyperspace, a section of the website that granted you exclusive access to all kinds of exclusive exclusives. 

2007 marked the 30th anniversary of the franchise, and to celebrate, Hasbro released some of the most beautiful Star Wars action figures...the McQuarrie concept figures.  These figures went back to the beginning, and were based on Ralph McQuarrie's original concept art. 

And it turned out that one of those Hyperspace exclusives was the McQuarrie concept R2-D2 and C-3P0. 

Now I didn't have a Hyperspace account.  Didn't see the need.  But I had a friend with one.  And I needed the McQuarrie R2-D2 and C-3P0 for my collection.  So I plied him with e-mails asking him to buy it for me and I'd totally pay him back and all that stuff.  He said he'd look into it.

A couple weeks later, I came back from vacation to find a box from the FedEx guy sitting on my desk.

McQuarrie Concept R2-D2 and C-3P0

It even came in that nifty protective plastic bubble.  They used to sell those protective plastic bubbles at starwars.com's online store, and I thought about buying a case or two for my collection, but the shipping and handling out of the States was ridiculous.

Anyway, that's it.  Just some ramblings about the 20th anniversary of starwars.com that was a little too big for a Facebook post.  Looking at the calendar, I see that the next 20th anniversary of a website that's going to make me feel old comes a year from now...November 2017.  Which website is it?

My website, chaosinabox.com

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Time is Here

A friend of mine was asking me not too long ago what my biggest nostalgic trigger is.  "What instantly takes you back to that time when you were seven years old, and you were at your happiest?"  Truth is, it's always been going to the movies.  Especially that first thirty seconds when they're scrolling through the production company logos.  It's that feeling that you're about to be taken on a journey...that anything can happen.

I know, it may sound strange, but I grew up in a small town where the nearest movie theatre was an hour's drive away.  Going to see a movie was always an event.  And now, with the holidays right around the corner, going to the movies was always intrinsically tied to Christmas.  I mean, if you're going all the way into the city, you may as well make the most of it, right?  Weekends in December when I was a kid fell into a routine of a full day of Christmas shopping, hitting all the shops around Edmonton and checking people off our list, dinner at a really nice sit-down restaurant, and maybe, if there's time and the latest Disney family feature out, a movie.  Good times.

And I could use a little more of the good times right now.  I've been out-of-sorts as of late.  There's been some shake-ups at work, which has caused the Charlie Brown Christmas-esque holiday depression to set in a little earlier.  So I definitely need a nostalgic distraction right now.

Typically, when I blog about my days in the city, this is where I tell you about the stuff I bought as part of my retail therapy.  Well, given the time of year, most of the stuff I bought was my Christmas shopping, so to blog about that would be getting into massive spoiler territory for my friends and family.  Let's just say I made a really good start on my Christmas shopping and leave it at that.

So with the first round of Christmas shopping safely tucked away, it was time for a movie.  I decided to check out Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Now, I'd always been pretty indifferent towards the Harry Potter franchise.  Read the first book.  Saw all the movies except the last two (Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2), but it just never grabbed me the way it grabbed a generation.  But, ya know, Fantastic Beasts being a spinoff and no prior knowledge of Harry Potter being required, I figured it'd be a pretty good jumping-on point.

Too bad that seeing Fantastic Beasts turned out to be one of the most unpleasant movie going experiences of my life.  There was this guy.  Firstly, in a half-full theatre, he decides he has to sit right next to me.  He has no concept of personal space.  He's hogging the armrest.  He's jabbing me with his elbow whenever he reaches for his popcorn.  He's sitting with his legs crossed and constantly kicking me when he adjust himself.

And then, the yelling started.  I have never experienced the person who yells things at the screen during a movie.  I was starting to think that it was just a hacky sitcom joke.  But this guy starts yelling at the screen.  The first fantastic beast we encounter in the film is called a Niffler.  And the guy shouts out, "THAT'S A NIFFLER, EH?  HE'S PRETTY CUTE!"  The next magical beast we encounter.  "LOOK OUT FOR THAT NIFFLER!"  And he just keeps going.  "MACUSA IS STUPID!  THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC IS MUCH SMARTER ABOUT THESE THINGS!"  "I WANT TO STUPIDIFY THAT GUY OFF A LEDGE!"  "I THINK HE'S THE OBSCURUS!"  "I HATE THOSE SECOND-SALEMERS!"

On a side note, I think he may have been mentally handicapped, because three-quarters of the way though the film, one of his friends finally turned to him and said, "Shh...shh...remember, we talked about this.  You can't talk to the screen here."

I should of said something.  Hell, at the very least, I should have moved and found a better seat.  But my standard response to an unpleasant situation has always been the "The is fine" comic, so I just said, "This is fine" and tried to watch the movie.

Fantastic Beasts Movie Poster

But other than that, how was the movie?  It was OK.  When my Harry Potter-lovin' friends explain the universe to me, I would always tell them that I'd be interested to see the Men in Black of the wizarding world...those wizards and witches who are sent in to cover things up when wizarding affairs threaten to break the barriers between the wizarding world and the Muggle world.  And my friends are like, "Dude!  Those guys exist!  They're called Aurors.  I tell ya, JK Rowling thought of everything!"  So it's nice to see Aurors at work and what they do.  They play a pretty major role as Newt Scamander's rampaging magical beasts threaten to expose the wizarding world.

In fact, just the interaction between the wizarding world and the non-magic world, as the villain's plot is to break down those barriers and declare war on the non-magic world.  I'd always been curious about the mechanics of how these two worlds co-exist.

That being said, I didn't think our new hero, Newt Scamander, was much of a compelling hero.  I get that he's kind of shy and timid, but that sadly means we don't really get a chance to know him or why he's dedicated his life to these fantastic beasts.

But I will give it this.  At least it works as a movie.  My biggest problem with these franchise starters these days (e.g. John Carter, Terminator: Genisys, Independence Day: Resurgence) is that they leave so many loose threads and unanswered questions with the attitude, "That'll be answered in the sequel," that you rarely get a satisfying ending.  This remembers that it has to function as a movie, and we do get an ending.  So, yeah.  It works as a movie.

I give it 3 Nibs with an asterisk, because that rude guy threw off my concentration so much, my rating may change when I see it free of distraction.  Full review on the website.

And speaking off full reviews on the website, I've been meaning to take to the blog and ramble off some of my off-the-cuff comments on Doctor Strange.  Yeah, I saw Doctor Strange a couple of weeks ago, but I never got around to doing my "rambling blog entry about my day in the city" that I typically do.  So, just some off-the-cuff comments on Doctor Strange that you won't find in the full review on the website.

Doctor Strange Movie Poster

I really liked Doctor Strange.  I know it's starting to get trendy to hate on Marvel for not taking any creative risks, but the other side of that is they've developed a winning formula that you know is going to deliver.  I mean, speaking as a frustrated DC guy, Doctor Strange is kind of what I wanted Green Lantern to be.  The way Doctor Strange uses magic to conjure up all manner of weapons, and do reality-bending combat...that's how Green Lantern should have been using his ring.  The way Steven Strange is all cocksure, but then learning humility is what sets him on his heroic journey...that's how Hal Jordan should have been portrayed.  The way Doctor Strange and Baron Mordo start out as friends and allies, but their differing philosophies eventually put them on opposing paths...that's how the relationship between Hal Jordan and Sinestro should have been portrayed, instead of Sinestro slapping on the yellow power ring in the post-credits stinger and going, "LOL, I'm evil now."

But yeah, Doctor Strange is another solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  3 Nibs.

Back to the present.  After Fantastic Beasts, it was time to head home.  But first, dinner.  As I've blogged before, I tend to avoid going to sit-down restaurants when I'm on my own, because I feel silently judge for being there by myself.  But strangely, I don't feel silently judged for going to animated films by myself.  (You're next on my Christmas blockbuster to-watch list, Moana!)  This time, though, I knew I had to brave the sit-down restaurants, all in the name of Star Wars.

I was mildly intrigued a few weeks ago when I saw the TV commercials, and learned that the fast food tie-in with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is with...Swiss Chalet.  Swiss Chalet's not a fast food place.  So, when I stopped at the power centre in St. Albert where I typically eat before leaving the Greater Edmonton Area, rather than Wendy's, I went to the Swiss Chalet on the other end.

It was very strange being there by myself, but I made the most of it.  This is the 21st century after all, so I could pass the time by burying my nose in my smartphone.  As I did that, I had to chuckle to myself.  Everyone laments how people burying their noses in their smartphones is destroying social interaction.  What would have happened if I started wandering around the restaurant, chatting with random strangers, attempting to make friends?

This being that time of year, I treated myself to Swiss Chalet's famous Festive Special...their quarter-chicken dinner served with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a box of Lindt chocolates for dessert.  I think I stumbled through it with a minimum of social awkwardness.  And I was given my reward...a Rogue One collector's cup!  

A photo posted by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

And for those already asking, yes, these are of a much sturdier construction than the flimsy ones that Subway was giving out last year. 

I returned home, and set about unwinding.  Thanks to my encounter with Captain Loudmouth, this trip to the movies wasn't quite the nostalgic trip that it usually is.  But, if I learned anything from this time last year, the biggest nostalgic trip to the movies will be when I got see Rogue One in about a month. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Dark Crystal

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I blog about a movie I own.  Today...today we get to a film I've been wanting to revisit ever since college...The Dark Crystal.  This is originally in my notes at February 6, 2016.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Movie Review - Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Well, DC and Warner Brothers have gifted us with yet another straight-to-DVD animated Batman movie.  As I've mentioned for a while, I've mostly grown bored with them and have been giving them a pass, but this one...this one I felt was worth picking up.

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusades Blu-Ray cover

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Directed by Rick Morales

Starring the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Jeff Bergman, William Salyers, Wally Wingert, Steven Weber, Thomas Lennon, and Lynne Marie Stewart.


It's been fun watching the pendulum swing on the old Batman TV series from the 1960s.  When I was a kid, and Tim Burton's Batman came out, and Batman was all dark and gritty again, it was derided for what it did to the Batman mythology.  But in the past 10 years or so, it's been rediscovered and re-embraced as this wonderful addition to the Batman universe.  Things have really stepped up recently, as Warner Brothers finally cleared up the legal quagmire surrounding the show and is now able to merchandise the heck out of it.  And when Warner Brothers started pumping out these straight-to-DVD movies, it didn't take long for people to start thinking, "Hey, wouldn't it be neat if they did one that was just like the Batman show from the 1960s?  Bring back Adam West and Burt Ward to voice Batman and Robin for one last hurrah?"  And here we are, and they also brought along Julie Newmar for one last hurrah as Catwoman.


On a peaceful Gotham night, as billionaire Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward Dick Grayson kick back to watch their favourite variety show, they watch in horror as the show is taken over by their four most fearsome foes:  the Joke, Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman.  It's to the Batpoles, and they take to the streets as Batman and Robin to stop their evil plot.  Their plans involved a duplicator ray, a trip to outer space, and plans of global conquest!  But, Catwoman has a little something extra:  Batnip, a drug of her own design that will turn Batman to the dark side.  Will Batman and Robin stop these fiends?  Will Batman actually fall to the dark side?

What I Liked

SPOILER WARNING:  Yes, Batman falls to the dark side, and the entire mid-section of the movie is Catwoman and Robin teaming up to take down an evil Batman.  Making Batman the bad guy is the most hilarious twist they could do on the classic 1960s formula.  Especially as he first starts turning evil, and Batman goes through this phase where he starts acting like the more modern, angst-ridden, moody Batman.  Hearing Adam West's Batman start doing lines from The Dark Knight Returns as he puts on the Bat brass knuckles is gut-bustingly funny.  Or when he does the classic bit of mysteriously disappearing from Commissioner Gordon's office when Gordon turns his back mid-sentence:

Gordon:  He's gone!  Like a bat in the night!
Chief O'Hara:  Well, that's not very Batman-like.

And poor Robin is stuck there wondering how he's going to get home. 

And it's full of in-jokes and references to other facets of the Batman mythos.  My particular favourite is this dig at The Dark Knight Rises:

Catwoman:  I'll turn myself in, Batman, on one condition.  When I get out, run away with me to Europe, where we can sip tea in cafes and live happily ever after!
Robin:  Holy unsatisfying ending. 

The voice acting is great.  Yeah, Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar all show their age in their voices, but damn it, they're giving it their all.  And the voice actors they got to do Joker, Penguin, and Riddler to some damn fine impressions of the original actors.  The music is great as they capture the sounds of the 1960s show perfectly, if just a big bigger and more orchestral.  And the tone of the 1960s show is preserved, but the scope is greatly expanded. 

What I Didn't Like

Not much, man.  Not much. 

Final Verdict

One of the most entertaining straight-to-DVD Batman films they've pumped out in a long time.  Bring on the sequel! 

Oh, didn't you hear?  They already announced a sequel.  Finally, Two-Face comes to the 1960s Batman universe, voiced by William Shatner. 

4 Nibs

Bonus Features

Not much for bonus features on this one.  A couple of featurettes about the making of the film, some previews for the other Batman straight-to-DVD animated films, and that's it. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Labyrinth

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own.  This is another situation where I feel I have to remind you that I write these several months in advance.  For it was back in January of this year that we heard of the tragic death of David Bowie, and that's what inspired me to pick up Labyrinth.  This is in my notes at January 31, 2016.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Time Machine

Rollin' again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about a movie I happen to own.  This time, we get to a true classic of the sci-fi genre, The Time Machine.  This was originally in my notes at January 31, 2016.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Director's Cut

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I sit and blog about a movie I own and just re-watched.  Because, you know, it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something rather than just lazing around on the couch.  Today, I fire up the Spielberg classic Close Encounters of the Third KindWell, not today.  According to my notes, I originally watched it and wrote this on January 24, 2016.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman and the Mole Men

Almost done working my way through the Superman franchise on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  There's one last film in that boxed set...Superman and the Mole Men.  This entry is in my original notes at January 23, 2016.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman Returns

 Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I watch and blog about the movies I own.  I've been working my way through the Superman franchise, and today, I'm at the 2006 reboot attempt, Superman Returns.  This is originally in my notes at January 23, 2016.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rogue One Dispatches from Markworld

Final Rogue One Movie Poster

I've seen a couple of thinkpieces online pondering why the hype for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story isn't as huge as it was this time last year for The Force Awakens.  And all I can say is, well, I've been through this before with the prequels.

For those who don't remember, way back in 1999, the hype for The Phantom Menace was INSANE.  You just could not escape that film at all.  In fact, as the summer of 1999 drew on, and the backlash towards The Phantom Menace grew, the popular speculation at the time as to the growing hatred was that there was just no possible way it could live up to the hype.  So, the fanbase cooling their jets coupled with Lucasfilm figuring they should turn things down a bit resulted in less hype for Attack of the Clones.

If I had to put it on a scale of 1 - 10, I would say that hype for The Phantom Menace was at 11, Attack of the Clones about a 7, and Revenge of the Sith at about a 5.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman: The 1940s Cartoons

Here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about the many, many movies I own.  This time, I get to something a little different.  It's the Superman cartoons from the 1940s.  This is in my notes at January 17, 2016.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

How about a Thanksgiving Targ?

U62: The Targ

Well, here I am, home alone on this Thanksgiving weekend, so however will I pass the time?  Let me answer this question with a meme.

It's the "Cat Reading a Newspaper" meme with the caption, "I should do a podcast."

And so, here I am, rolling out October Special: Turkey Time!  What rambles have been brewing inside me all summer long?

  •     How I spent my summer vacation, recounting my recent adventure in the mountains
  •     Force Friday, and getting my hands on all the Rogue One toys for my collection
  •     Recapping some of the summer blockbusters, with some reminiscing on Ghostbusters and Star Trek Beyond
  •     And we take a moment to lament the demise of Shomi

All this, and a little bit more, in October Special: Turkey Time!

Go check it out on the main site!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I ramble about one of the many movies I own.  I've been working my way through the Superman franchise, and we get to the end of Christopher Reeve's run with Superman IV: The Quest for PeaceThis is in my notes at January 17, 2016.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman III

Here on Fishing in the Discount Bin, I'm currently working my way through the Superman franchise.  Now we see the series starting to decline.  It's Superman III.  This is in my notes at January 16, 2016.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, as I bloggity blog about a movie I own.  I'm powering through the Superman franchise, and I get to one of the more unique entries:  Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.  This is in my notes at January 15, 2016.

Monday, September 19, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Well, a few weeks ago, I took a week off work.  Nothing fancy, no big plans, I just figured it's best to do it now instead of getting the terse e-mail from HR in January about how many unused vacation days I have.  So, yeah.  I pretty much just spent it around the house getting a few chores finished that had been piling up.

I really should have taken before and after pictures of my closet.  One chore that I'd been putting off was getting rid of all the old clothes I don't wear anymore.  See, anytime I bought a new shirt, I'd take an old shirt I wasn't wearing anymore, and just toss it onto the top shelf of my closet.  Well, my top shelf had become piled to the ceiling with stuff I wasn't wearing.  So, I went through it, kept a few for sentimental value, put aside a few for Mom, and took the rest to goodwill.  And I have a usable top shelf in my closet again.

You're probably wondering why I put aside a few for Mom.  Well, part of the impetus to do this was that my mother has taken up quilting as a hobby.  And she found the pattern for a quilt made of old T-shirts.  So, she asked that if I have any old superhero T-shirts (like a geek does) that I'm not wearing anymore, I should pass them along to her so she can try making them into a quilt.  Actually, going through all the old T-shirts I'll be sending home, she'll probably be able to make three:  superheroes, radio stations, and souvenirs.

Another of my chores was getting my car looked after.  You might remember me blogging about my car woes back in the spring.  Well, back then, I could only afford to get my car about 75% fixed.  With the help of the negotiating skills of my Dad, we worked with the mechanic to figure out what would wait for another day.  Well, I figured another day had come, and it was time to get my car up to 85%.  So, I finally got that new transmission filter and a transmission flush that the mechanic recommended.

I was also hoping to get that new cellphone I'd been wanting.  I'm the only one in the office not playing Pokemon GO, so I want to get on board with the fad.  I've been told I can play it on my iPhone 4s, but it'll be glitchy and slow.  Let me let you in a little secret:  everything on my iPhone4s is glitchy and slow.  It's showing its age.  And besides, my contract expired a year ago, so I've been thinking about upgrading anyway.

Anyway, during my vacation, the announcement I'd been waiting for came along:  the shiny new iPhone 7.  So now, I'm facing the debate I'd knew I'd have to face:  go for the shiny new 7, or the newly marked-down 6s?  As I've told others, I'll stick with iPhone, because I've bought too much shit on iTunes to turn back now.  Right now, it's just juggling the numbers, looking for something that works.  I've reached the point where I'm about done researching on the website...time to go into the store and talk to a human.  Only problem with that is I know I'll come out with something new, and I'm not so sure I can afford to right now.

It's funny.  Coming back form vacation, some co-workers were stunned that I didn't go see many movies.  We're kind of between blockbuster season right now, so there's not much I want to see.  Although, I was tempted to see Kubo and the Two Strings because the reviews are pretty good, and that stop-motion animation looked gorgeous.  But, more often than not, I find myself going through my old DVDs.

When I did get my car back from the shop, I thought I'd take a little test drive.  I got an e-mail notice from Amazon that my new Signature Edition of The Iron Giant, got back-ordered, so I figured I'd take a test drive into Edmonton to see if I could find it.  Sadly, it was really hard to find, but I eventually found a copy at HMV.

The Iron Giant still stands as one of my favourite movies.  I'll never forget when I first saw it.  Summer of 1999.  Still on a high from Episode I.  I had just finished college, and was spending the summer on my parents' couch, wondering what to do next with my life.  My sister had just finished high school, and after a summer of backpacking across Europe, was doing the same.  She wanted to go see Tarzan, because it was Disney's animated epic that summer, and she was of that generation.  So I said, "Hey, I kinda wanna see Tarzan, too, and I also wanna see this animated movie they're raving about online called The Iron Giant.  How about we see both?"  She agreed, and we were off to the city.

We saw Tarzan first, and we both agreed it was pretty good.  And then we saw The Iron Giant.  As the end credits rolled, we were both agog at what we had just seen.  My sister looked at me and said, "That was so...grown-up.  I wouldn't really call it a kids movie."  I went home that night, fired up the ol' dial-up Internet, and e-mailed all my friends.  "You have got to see this movie!" I exclaimed.  About the highest compliment I got was, as much as a year later, friends were still e-mailing me back going, "I finally rented it last night, based on your glowing recommendation, and I loved it!"

How much did I love it?  I saw it in the theatre twice.  You have to realize, growing up in a poor farming town in rural Alberta, seeing a movie meant a costly trip into the city.  Every movie was a big deal, and to me, seeing a movie twice in the theatre was something that's just unheard of.  Even as middle age dawns, the number of movies I've seen in the theatre twice is less than 10.  And the second one was The Iron Giant.  (The first was Episode I.  You need to understand the history...the whole world was nuts for Episode I in 1999.)

Sadly, I missed it during its limited theatrical re-release last year when they premiered the new "Signature Edition."  Director Brad Bird reunited as much of the original animation crew as he could, and they finished animation on two deleted scenes to put them back into the film.  Both versions of the film (original version and Signature Edition) are on the new Blu-Ray.

I like the addition of the new scenes.  The first one is a moment between Annie (Hogarth's mother) and Dean (the beatnik artist) earlier in the film.  You may remember we're introduced to Dean when he undoes his pants to let out a squirrel that's been running up his leg.  (I remember seeing that in the theatre for the first time and thinking, "This film's gonna be a little different, isn't it?")  Anyway, in this new scene, Dean comes back the next day to apologize to Annie, and they get to chatting about young Hogarth.  I like this scene.  I like that Annie and Dean's relationship is introduced earlier in the film.  This way, when they're thrust together at the climax, it seems a little less random.

The second scene is one of the more famous deleted scenes.  We're treated to a flashback to the Giant's origins.  We see an army of the Giant's kind laying waste to an entire planet.  The damage they cause is so great, that the planet literally explodes, and the Giant is sent hurling off into space.  It's some great, vintage, 1950s sci-fi movie stuff.  A wonderful addition.

Of course, there's some new bonus features on the disc, the crown jewel of which is a new retrospective documentary about the making of the film called The Giant's Dream.  It answers a question I've had about the film for the longest time.  At the very end of the end credits, there's a simple dedication that reads "For Susan."  I've wanted to know...who's Susan?

Susan, as it turns out, is director Brad Bird's sister.  She was shot and killed by her husband in a domestic dispute.  And as Bird explains in the documentary, working on The Iron Giant turned out to be very cathartic for him.  In fact, working through his grief is how he came up with his central thesis for The Iron Giant:  "What if a gun had a soul?  And didn't want to hurt people anymore?"

So...that's who Susan is.

All in all, I'm still singing the praises of The Iron Giant.

And then it was time to peruse the streaming video services.  Turned out I'd signed up for CraveTV.  I'm with Shaw, and I saw they had an offer to sign up for CraveTV.  I figured I'd do it, try my free first month, and see how I liked it.  Now, the website said I'd get a confirmation e-mail, telling me that it had gone through.  But I never got that confirmation e-mail.  I missed my free first month, and didn't realize it had gone through until my bill went up by $6 a month, and I started looking at the fine print to see why.  So, there it is, I'm on CraveTV now.

One of CraveTV's big selling points was they secured the Canadian streaming rights to HBO's off-air catalogue.  So any classic HBO TV series that's finished it's run is on CraveTV.  They've got The Sopranos, the Wire, Sex and the City, Band of Brothers, and many more.  And, as I noticed, that means they also have a wide selection of HBO's original movies.  So I finally indulged my curiosity and watched The Late Shift.

The Late Shift, based on the book of the same name, was one of HBO's more infamous original movies.  It detailed the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at NBC that led to Jay Leno getting The Tonight Show, and David Letterman moving to CBS to start The Late Show.  It was brought back into infamy a few years ago when Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien had their own tussle over The Tonight Show, and many started joking that HBO would be making a sequel. On Conan's second-last episode of The Tonight Show, Quentin Tarintino even jokingly offered to direct it.

But it was very interesting to see.  In that whole dispute, Jay Leno was almost a victim, as the true mastermind of him landing The Tonight Show was spearheaded by his ruthless agent Helen Kushnick.  And Letterman, too, was a victim, as he let The Tonight Show slip through his fingers as he didn't have an agent and had no desire to play those Hollywood games.

But as I blogged before:  there are two ways to do these kinds of films.  The first kind takes liberties with history so we get a better chance to know those people and what made them tick.  The second time is such a painstaking recreation of the events that we hardly get to know the people.  This is definitely the second type.  It would have been nice to get a clearer picture of Leno and Letterman as people, but this is more focused on the events, rather than the people involved.

Anyways, even though I just got it, I'm thinking about dumping CraveTV.  I mean, the big selling point for me was that it had every Star Trek series, and they're going to be the streaming service provider of the new series, Star Trek: Discovery.  But, every Star Trek is on Netflix now, and here in Canada, Star Trek: Discovery is going to be on Space, so what's the point?

Well...I did like The Newsroom and never got around to watching season 3.  So I'll dump it after I binge-watched season 3.

I've made the same deal with Shomi.  I said I'd dump it after I binge-watched Battlestar: Galactica, one of the bigger sci-fi shows of the 2000s, yet I completely missed it.  Flipping over to Shomi, I figured it was time to watch the cult classic The Warriors.  Once worked with a woman who proclaimed it the greatest movie ever made, but she left the company before she could loan me her DVD.

At a midnight summit of the biggest gangs in New York, one of the biggest and most charismatic gang leaders proposes they team up, citing that all of them together could run the city.  But then, he's gunned down by a rogue gang member just looking to stir up some shit.  This rogue blames our heroes, the gang the Warriors.  Now, with a price on their heads and every other gang in New York out to get them, the Warriors begin the perilous journey back to their home turf.

Well, this movie is pretty dark.  It is grim.  That's really all I've got to say about it.  Sadly, we don't really get to know many of the Warriors as individual characters, so we really don't get to know much about their personal plights, or what got them into this gang lifestyle.

Although, I do like any film that prominently features radio, and this has its iconic scenes of a radio announcer, broadcasting updates on the Warriors' actions to the other gangs.  All we ever see are her lips, whispering sweet nothings into that microphone.  And she was played by Lynn Thigpin, best remembered as the Chief on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?  

But it does get pretty tense, and there are some good action scenes.

Anyway, I've rambled enough.  That's what I did on my week off at home. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Superman: Original Theatrical Edition

Here we go again on Fishing in  the Discount Bin, my weekly blogging about a movie I own.  I'm going to start on the Superman franchise, with the appropriately titled Superman.  This is in my notes at January 16, 2016.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Ant-Man

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, bloggin' about the movies I own.  Today, we get to one of the more recent entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man.  This was originally in my notes at December 12, 2015.

Ant-Man Poster

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Netflix Nonsense - The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown

This is a straight-to-video animated film I'd been curious about for some time, and when I got the e-mail newsletter from Shomi saying that it was now on Shomi, I thought, "Well, I know how I'm spending my Sunday morning!"  I settled down on the couch and watched....

The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age SmackDown!

Directed by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone

Starring the voices of Jeff Bergman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tress MacNeille, Grey Griffin, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, The Undertaker, Mark Henry, CM Punk, Vince McMahon, and the Bella Twins.


A few years ago, my movie news sites lit up with the headline that Warner Brothers animation and the WWE were teaming up to make a straight-to-video animated film about the Flintstones meeting WWE superstars.  As a lifelong Flintstones fan, my curiosity was piqued.  But not piqued enough to actually buy the Blu-Ray when it came out in the spring of 2015.  But, the good thing is, in this day and age, these things pop up on a streaming video service soon enough.  And as I said above, when I saw it was on Shomi, I figured, "I ain't doing nothin' today, so why not?" 


After a disastrous day at work, Fred Flintstone fails to get an advance on his salary, thus putting the vacation he promised with Wilma into jeopardy.  That night, Fred and Barney are working the Water Buffalo Lodge's fundraising carnival, where they man the booth for people to go in and box with Hoppy.  Upset that CM Punkrock is abusing Hoppy, Barney climbs in the ring and lays the smackdown on CM Punkrock.  People love it, and this gives Fred an idea as to how to raise the money for the vacation.  Fred forms his own wrestling league, the FFE (Fred Flintstone Entertainment), with Barney as his star wrestler.  Filling out the league, Fred approaches his new co-worker, Mr. Slate's nephew, John Cenastone, and he soon brings his friends Rey Mysteriopal and the Undertaker to fill the ranks.  Needless to say, their unique brand of sports entertainment is a hit!  But, CM Punkrock wants a rematch with Barney, and he's bringing his friends Marble Henry and the Boulder Twins.  Will Fred shut things down to save Barney?  Or, in classic Fred Flintstone fashion, will he let his greed get the better of him? 

What I Liked

I laughed a lot more than I thought I would.  There's some classic Flintstones gags in there, all be it with a more modern twist.  My favourite had to be when Fred is recruiting John Cenastone to be in his league:

John Cenastone:  Sure, Mr. Flintstone!  I mean, I don't want to break rocks forever.

Fred:  I hear ya, kid.  No one wants to break rocks forever.

(Fred stares off into space.  Sad music plays in memorial of Fred's dead dreams.) 

The wrestlers seem to be having fun, too.  I love the obvious gag of wooing away the Undertaker from his day job as an actual undertaker.  The wrestling matches have a definite Looney Toons vibe to them.  And it's short, coming in at 50 minutes long, giving it a nice "one hour special episode" feel. 

What I Didn't Like

Call me a traditionalist, but I wasn't a big fan of the more modern animation.  This has more of a John Kricfalusi/Ren and Stimpy vibe that seemed a little out of place.  Just a little too rubbery for The Flintstones

Final Verdict

Actually not too bad.  If you're a Flintstones fan, check it out.

3 Nibs. 

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Man With the Golden Gun

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I ramble about the movies I own.  I tend to buy James Bond movies in pairs, because I always get them out of HMV's "2 for $20" bin.  So, since I did a Bond last week, we're doing a Bond this week.  Here's The Man with the Golden Gun.  This is in my notes at November 11, 2015.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review - Batman: The Killing Joke

I've blogged before about how I've grown bored with the DC/Warner Brothers straight-to-DVD animated films.  So much of the same old Batman and Superman, that I'm longing for something new.  I've skipped the last three or so (although, seeing Starfire's Sailor Moon-inspired transformation from Justice League vs. Teen Titan makes me want to check that out.)  But, their most recent one has been one of the most demanded ever since DC and Warner Brothers launched this project.  So it's time to check out...

Batman: The Killing Joke Blu-Ray cover

Batman: The Killing Joke

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - You Only Live Twice

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about one of the many movies I own.  Just when I think I'm done with James Bond, I get drawn back in.  Here we've got You Only Live Twice, originally in my notes at November 8, 2015.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thoughts for a Lazy Summer Afternoon

When I was a kid, my school had this thing called USSR:  Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading.  Every day, for the first 15 minutes after lunch, everyone would read.  It was a pleasant way to start the afternoon.  And it was one of those school assignments where there was no way to do it wrong.

Until I got to Grade 7.  A few months into junior high, my English teacher, Mr. Twerdoclib, asked me to stay after class one day.  It turned out he didn't like my choice of reading material during USSR.  For you see, I was still hooked on Choose Your Own Adventure books.  After having been my teacher for a few months, Mr. Twerdoclib couldn't understand why I was reading them.  "Your test scores show you're reading at a high school level, Mark," he said.  "Quite frankly, Choose Your Own Adventures are beneath you."

He then encouraged me to broaden my literary pallet.  "Read some science fiction, read some fantasy, read some mysteries, hell, even try some romance novels, just please stop reading Choose Your Own Adventures."

So I did.  Stopped reading Choose Your Own Adventures that day.  That led into the first time I re-read The Hobbit, and my first attempt at reading The Lord of the Rings.  Someday I'll finish reading The Lord of the Rings, but it still just bores me to tears.  For the mandated mysteries, I borrowed some of my mother's Agatha Christie novels.  A lot of my friends were dabbling in the Dragonriders of Pern series, so I gave that I shot.  Seeing that I was gravitating towards sci-fi and fantasy, Mr. Twerdoclib recommended the The Dark is Rising Sequence.  Made it through the first book, The Dark is Rising, but found it a little too confusing.  Since I had begun embracing Star Trek as my one, true fandom, I soon settled into a steady stream of Star Trek paperbacks.

But Mr. Twerdoclib's words still haunt me this day, especially that last bit:  "Hell, every try some romance novels."  And that's why, when I'm at the book store, or even my corner store, I find myself taking a moment to browse through the Harlequin romance novels.  Some day, I'll probably pick one up and give it a shot.  Because, hey:  Mr. Twedoclib said.

There's this phenomenon in Norway known as Slow TV.  NRK, the nation's public broadcaster, showcases these marathon broadcasts of the most mundane things.  They've featured twelve hours of knitting, eight hours of wood burning, and 18 hours of salmon fishing.  So imagine my surprise when I noticed that many of these marathon broadcasts are now on Netflix.

For the hell of it, I watched bit of the very first one, Berginsbanen -- Minnut for Minnut.  The Bergen Line is a very famous railway line in Norway, connecting the cities of Bergin and Oslo.  They have a camera mounted to the front of the train, and it's the entire 7-hour train ride.  Uncut and unedited.

As a guy who's always been fond of trains and rail travel, I found it to be one of the most relaxing things I'd ever watched.  It's such beautiful countryside.  It's actually pretty hilarious when the train goes into a tunnel.  The screen goes black, and all you hear is the white noise of the wheels on the rails.  Apparently, in the original broadcast, during these parts, they'd cut to some historical clips about the history of the railway.  But not here.  You're just on the train.  In the darkness.

I tell you, it's just amazing.  It helps that the Norwegian countryside is gorgeous.

I am reminded of the Travel Channel tried something similar.  They had a TV show about 10 or 12 years ago called Canada's Greatest Ride, which took you from one end of the country to the end by rail.  Just like Slow TV, the vast majority of the footage was filmed from a VIA locomotive, facing forward.  And to premiere it, for one week, they showed a marathon of all their raw footage.

That was actually...pretty boring.  When people think of going across Canada by rail, the first thing they think about is going through the Rocky Mountains.  I was so looking forward to seeing some amazing Rocky Mountain vistas from the rails.  But, for some reason, they decided to film the Rocky Mountain portions of the show at night.  So, all you saw, was darkness in all directions.  You only saw what the headlight saw.  Until you went into a tunnel.  Then that lone headlight would light up the tunnel magnificently, and you'd see an amazing tunnel interior.  And then back out into the darkness.

And I kept watching it to see if I'd catch a glimpse of train coming through my hometown of Entwistle  But it never came.  Finally, in one of the documentary segments, they explained.  Shortly after they left Jasper, their camera crapped out.  So they got no footage of Jasper to Edmonton!

I'd like to remake it.  Do it properly.  Full HD cameras.  Film it in daylight.  Start in Edmonton.  Head into the Rockies, through Jasper, down to Vancouver.  Then back into Alberta through Banff and into Calgary.  And back north to Edmonton to complete the circuit.

But until then, I've got my Slow TV on Netflix.  Might not dive back into the Bergen line, but they have some 1-hour episodes of Norway's shorter rail lines.

There was some good news out of Edmonton this past week.  A construction project I've been interested in and have been following for a few years was finally declared finished!

It's the brand new Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton!

They've been trying to get this built for about 10 years now.  Originally announced by Ralph Klein to celebrate the province's centennial in 2005, it got shuffled around and put on the back burner and such until it was finally made a priority 5 years ago or so.  And now it's here!

Click on that link above to see CTV's video.  (For some reason, the embed code won't work for me.)  It's just beautiful inside.  Sadly, though, it's not open for business yet.  Now begins the 1.5 or so year process of moving everything in and building the displays.  The original museum closed up back in the spring to being packing.

And that's the question now that some people are asking.  What's to become of the original museum?  As they say in the news story, because of the process of packing up and moving, there's no immediate plans.  It's still a perfectly fine building.  The only reason why the Royal Alberta Museum is moving is because they ran out of room.  Something like 80% of their collection is in storage because they have no room to display it.

The government did ask for estimates to demolish it back in the spring, and was immediately met with public backlash.  Last time I was there, I marveled at what a magnificent building it is.  It truly is a product of its time.  Built in 1967 as a Canadian centennial project, the entire building just screams 1960s "fortress of knowledge."  You can just picture steely-eyed missile men inside, smoking their pipes and planning ways to beat the Commies to the Moon.  So it really would be a shame to lose it.

When the project was first announced, and people started discussing what to do with the old building, I heard several good ideas.  Alberta is one of the few provinces that does not have an official residence for its Lieutenant Governor, so one idea was converting it into the Lieutenant Governor's mansion.  Another idea was the City of Edmonton has acquired so many artifacts over the years, that it may be time to build a City of Edmonton Museum.

But I think my favourite idea was the Natural History Museum.   What's always been a centerpiece of the Royal Alberta Museum was its wildlife gallery.  Some of the finest taxidermied specimens of Alberta wildlife, displayed in elaborate dioramas showcasing their natural habitats.  Before the gallery received a massive refurbishment in the mid-2000s, it really was set up like an art gallery, as you walked down row upon row of those amazing displays.

The Moose dispaly from my last trip to the museum

The Antelope dispaly from my last trip to the museum

The Bighorn Sheep dispaly from my last trip to the museum

The Grizzly Bear display from my last trip to the museum

So one idea that was floated was to keep all those dioramas at the original museum, and turn the whole thing into the Natural History Museum of Alberta.  That is one idea I could get behind.

But the point is, the original Royal Alberta Museum is too beautiful a structure to see demolished.  So let's make sure it gets preserved and reused into something wonderful.