Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Avengers (Again)

He we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  That's all there is to it.  I've been revisiting Marvel's Phase I, and I get to the logical end with The Avengers.  Now, I'd already done The Avengers before on this here blog, but I had to to do it again to bring Phase I to a close.  You'll find my original rambling here.  This newer rambling was written down on February 4, 2018.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Captain America: The First Avenger

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie, and blog about it.  You know, it's kinda my thing.  I've been re-visiting Marvel's Phase I, and today I get to Captain America: The First Avenger.  I actually watched it and wrote this on January 29, 2018.

I've always had a soft spot for Captain America.  When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I got a Captain America action figure for my birthday, and he was my constant companion for that summer.  When Marvel announced that he was going to be part of their Phase I and that they'd be sticking to his World War II origin story, I was thrilled.  Two of my favourite guilty pleasure films are The Shadow and The Rocketeer, so it's given me a fascination with period piece superhero films.  Throw in that they got The Rocketeer's director Joe Johnston to direct, and I was sold. 

And the finished product is, well, good but not great. 

I mean, Johnston really loves his montages.  We get so many montages, of Cap's rise to fame as a symbol of American patriotism, of him kicking ass across the European theatre, a flashback montage to Red Skull's origin.  It would have been nice to have less montages and more ass-kicking. 

And there are some parts that do seem phoned in.  Like Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Phillips, Captain America's CO during the war.  Jones pretty much admitted to phoning it in, describing the role as "the crusty old general who barks orders.  What's to know?"  And also, Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull.  Fantastic casting, great make-up, but Weaving plays him as generic Nazi villain #742.  Red Skull is one of the most iconic villains in the Marvel pantheon.  He deserved better. 

But we do get some great, especially as Chris Evans instantly owns it as Steve Rogers.  And we also get those amazing special effects in the first act to shrink Rogers down to a literal 98 pound weakling.  It's the onset of World War II, and Rogers is desperate to enlist and do his part.  But, being a 98 pound weakling with a laundry list of medical conditions always gets him rejected.  His lifelong buddy, Bucky Barnes, is about to ship out, and at the 1942 Stark Expo (Ha!  Link to Iron Man 2!) he tries to enlist one last time (rejecting the woman that Bucky set him up with, Clara Oswald!), and after overhearing a conversation between Bucky and Steve, and after asking a few questions himself, Steve finally enlists thanks to Dr. Erskine. 

For you see, Dr. Erskine is heading up a special project for a branch of the army known as the SSR - the Strategic Scientific Reserve.  They hope to create a super-soldier, and Erskine is convinced that Rogers is the perfect candidate.  After our training montage, and proving himself to SSR superiors Col. Phillips and Agent Peggy Carter from the UK, Rogers undergoes the procedure, and becomes Captain America!

I remember listening to the running commentary on this film.  It's rare to hear directors name-check other superhero films on these commentaries, but Johnston talks quite a bit on how they tried to make Rogers' transformation into Captain America different from another super-soldier creation scene from a Marvel movie...Wolverine getting his adamantium bones in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  As Johnston describes it, Wolverine's origin was clandestine, and therefore done in dark places with cobbled-together equipment.  But Captain America's origin was done with the full might of government resources, and therefore meant to look more like "the Moon landing." 

But alas, it seems that Rogers will be the only super-soldier, as the entire facility is promptly destroyed by one of the Red Skull's agents, and Dr. Erskine is murdered, taking the secrets of the super-soldier process to his grave.  Now this, many have picked up on.  When they made these films, there's some striking similarities to Iron Man, specifically how the relationship between Rogers and Dr. Erskine mirrors the relationship between Tony Stark and his fellow captive, Yinsen.  Hell, even the death scenes are shot from similar angles.  What can be said?  Marvel already knew what was working for them. 

So, is Rogers deployed to the front lines to start taking down Nazis?  No!  With the death of Erskine, he's kept back in the States, so scientists can try to reverse-engineer the process.  Still wanting to serve, though, a senator brands Rogers as "Captain America," and he goes on tour to promote the war effort.  Eventually, he does wind up on the front lines...as part of a USO show.  There, he reunites with Agent Carter and Col. Phillips, and  he's despondent.  While he made it to the front lines, it's not exactly what he signed up for. 

But fate intervenes!  Cap gets word that his buddy Bucky has been captured, and with Agent Carter's help, goes rogue and launches his own rescue mission.  Cap saves Bucky (from being experimented on by HYDRA, thus setting up Bucky's transformation to the Winter Soldier), slugs it out with the Red Skull for the first time, proves his worth to Col. Phillips, and becomes the SSR's top commando. 

With Captain American on board, they finally take the fight to HYDRA -- the SSR's counterpart in the Nazi regime -- and its leader, the Red Skull.  The Red Skull's disfigurement is attributed to the Red Skull subjecting himself to an earlier version of Dr. Erskine's formula before Erskine defected. 

I should mention the Red Skull's plot.  He's come into possession of the Tesseract...a jewel of immense power.  In the comics, it was known as the Cosmic Cube.  In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's the first Infinity Stone we've come across.  Using its immense power, the Red Skull has developed a whole cache of futuristic weapons, and is ready to split off from the Nazis and form his own world-conquering unit. 

And so the fight is on between Captain America and the Red Skull via the ultimate weapon...the montage!  Before it all comes down to a final battle on the Red Skull's massive flying wing of world domination. 

But yeah, I kind of dismissed it before as lots of phoned-in parts, but there's lots of good stuff, too.  Chris Evans immediately owns the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America.  Thanks mainly to Haley Atwell's wonderful performance, Agent Carter went on to become one of the first breakout characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, eventually getting two season of a really good TV show.  There's some spectacular production design, as we see all kinds of futuristic weapons of war that seem quite at home in the World War II setting. 

And let's not forget the music.  I know the Marvel movies get a lot of flak for their scores, but I think Alan Silvestri's Captain America theme is the first truly memorable score of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Of course, Silvestri went on to do the music for The Avengers, too, and whenever Silvestri worked into the Avengers score (most noticeably when Cap confronts Loki in Germany), I couldn't help but smile a little. 

But yeah.  Captain America: The First Avenger was a great introduction to Cap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Oh, and one last thing.  When the Red Skull first gets his hands on the Tesseract, he matters, "And the fuher digs for trinkets in the desert."  This has long been interpreted to be a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Nazis that dug up the Ark of the Covenant.  And now that Disney owns both Marvel and Lucasfilm, you just know they can make the Captain America/Indiana Jones team-up happen. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

July Shenanigans

Well, things finally cooled down enough that I could have a little leisure time.  Summer is a busy time for us radio folk, with a multitude of festivals and events to go cover, and small market is no different.  Luckily, while things were busy in June, it appears as though, this year, things peaked on Canada Day, and now July is relatively quiet, until the fairs of August.  So when I was done covering all the various Canada Day celebrations, I finally had a chance to run into the city and see Incredibles 2.

Incredibles 2 Movie Poster

At the start of this decade, when Pixar started cranking out sequels to their hits, #1 at the top of everyone's wish list was Incredibles 2.  Yeah, Finding Dory was nice and Cars 3 was certainly a movie, but we all wanted to see the further adventures of the Parr family.  Well, it was kind of tough, as writer/director Brad Bird wandered off to try his hand at live action, giving us Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland.  But once that was out of his system, he went, "Ya know, I think I finally have an idea for Incredibles 2."  And here we are.

Picking up immediately where the first film left off, Incredibles 2 opens with our heroes...being detained, because, in this universe, being a superhero is still illegal.  On top of that, the government agency that used to relocate them after such outbursts has been shut down, so they're on their own.  But then, enter the billionaire industrialist twins Winston and Evelyn Deavor.  They're big superhero fans, and want to launch a PR campaign to start lobbying the government to legalize superheroes.  Their plan:  send Elastigirl back into action to show what good she can do in the world.  Mr. Incredible, who doesn't get to go back into the field just yet because the numbers show he causes way too much collateral damage, becomes a stay-at-home dad to look after the kids.  So while Elastigirl does battle with a new super-villain called the Screenslaver, Mr. Incredible does battle with young Violette's adolescence, Dash's math homework, and baby Jack Jack's emerging powers.

Brad Bird once again brings it.  What made the first film so amazing (and what made Bird a fan favourite to do Fantastic Four someday) is he perfectly nails the family dynamics in a family of superheroes.  The action scenes are bigger and bolder than the first film.  And the characters in new and brilliant ways.  And Michael Giacchino once again knocks it out of the park with his music.

But, of course, I have a quibble.  Just about every animated film I've seen lately has the big twist of "trusted friend and ally being the REAL villain," and I'm getting pretty darn tired of it.  Even Incredibles 2 falls back on that, so it was mildly annoying.

In the end, Incredibles 2 is a very worthy sequel that's just as good as the first film.  Highly recommended.  3.5 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

And then, a few short days after the Canada Day weekend, comes that other momentous July holiday...my birthday!  I celebrated in the traditional manner...dinner and a movie with my folks, because I'm cool like that.  And I knew exactly what I wanted for dinner.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is now open in West Edmonton Mall.

Ah, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  A delightful throwback to the 1990s, and the heyday of gigantic theme chain restaurants like The Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood.  They all kind of imploded in the early 2000s, but Bubba Gump Shrimp survived.  The restaurant is themed around the film Forrest Gump, and since Forrest Gump made his millions running a shrimp boat and having a shrimp company, about 90% of their menu is shrimp.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

And, needless to say, because they've only been open for about a week, it's busy AF in there right now.  I hit the mall at around 4PM and started chatting with the hostess.  Here's how it works, when you're venturing to Bubba Gump.  Go talk to one of the hostesses standing around outside.  They'll put your name on the list and get your phone number.  When your table is ready, they text you.  I figured I may as well put my name on the list right away, rather than wait for my parents to show up.  So I did, and the hostess told me it would be about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Perfect!  We wanted to eat around 5 anyway.

So then I started hanging out at the Mall.  Then my parents showed up.  Then I started hanging out at the Mall with my parents.  Because I'm 41 and cool like that.  We wandered around, Mom and Dad caught me up on the family gossip, and before you knew it, my phone beeped and it said our table was ready.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

We went back to Bubba Gump, I showed them the text, and then they told us to go stand in line inside the restaurant!  But, to be fair, once your reach this stage, the line moves pretty quick.  Chatted with the inside hostess for a bit, where we shared our knowledge of Forrest Gump, and I let her vent a bit about the people who didn't know the system and tried to cut in line and would cuss out the hostesses.  Calm down, people!  Enough shrimp for everyone.

We got to our table, and it's in the bar section.  Which is cool.  We're all adults.  As is to be expected, the walls are covered with stills and promotional pictures from the film.  Above the bar, there were three TV screens:  one showing the World Cup, one showing that night's CFL game, and the third, of course, showing Forrest Gump.  Our very friendly waitress soon came by to take our orders.  But I didn't need to see a menu.  I've been studying the menu online ever since the Edmonton Bubba Gump was announced back in December.  I immediately blurted out, "Shrimper's Heaven!"

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Four kinds of shrimp:  grilled, fried, tempura, and coconut.  Served in four overflowing cones, and with three dipping sauces.  And oh, it was so good.  The grilled shrimp was OK.  It had kind of a generic chain restaurant BBQ sauce flavour.   The coconut shrimp was nice and crispy.  The tempura shrimp was the biggest of them all.  I tell ya, man, it was a heck of a lot of shrimp, but I managed to get it all down.

For my drink, I had this mango peach slushie concoction which was very sweet.  And because I mentioned it was my birthday, I got a free cupcake.

In the end, I quite enjoyed my trip to Bubba Gump Shrimp.  I'll probably go again...in about six months, once the crowds have died down a bit.

And then it was time for the movie.  For the annual tradition of my birthday movie, this year, I had chosen Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  To me, it made perfect sense.  I always loved those dinosaur movies, and for my birthday movie 25 years ago, I saw the first Jurassic Park.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom poster

It's a few years after Jurassic World.  Claire, the former manager of Jurassic World, now heads up a charity dedicated to preserving the dinosaurs and letting them live in peace.  But, it looks like the dinosaurs are going to die out all over again, as the volcano on the island has begun to erupt, and will soon destroy the entire island.  Claire is soon approached by Eli Mills, who represents John Lockwood, John Hammond's original partner and one of the original investors in Jurassic Park.  They want to save the dinosaurs and re-locate them to another island.  And, they need Claire's help to re-activate all the old tracking implants in those dinosaurs so they'll be easier to track down.  They also want Blue, the last surviving velociraptor, for Reasons, so Claire also recruits former raptor wranglers Owen.  And they return to Jurassic World...only to be promptly betrayed my Mills' men.  Turns out he wants the dinosaurs for his own sinister plans.  What are those plans?  And will Claire and Owen be able to stop him?

This is probably the most horror-oriented of the Jurassic films, as there are a heck of a lot of jump scares.  There's some surprising emotion, as well, as we're forced to watch the extinction of the dinosaurs all over again.  Claire and Owen, again played by Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, are again some very likable heroes, and they work well together.  And if that ending is to be believed, looks like the next film will finally be the "dinosaurs rampaging on the mainland" that we've been promised ever since the T-Rex got loose in downtown San Diego in The Lost World.

So, yeah.  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was fun, and for me at least, the novelty of the dinosaurs hasn't worn off yet.  I give it 3 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

And that was about it with my latest big city adventures.  Not much more to add.  Just, as always, thank you to my parents for the lovely time. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Thor

Rolling along on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  Simple as that.  I'm working my way through Marvel's Phase I, and today I get to Thor.  Actually, I got to Thor back on January 21, 2018.  I'm just now posting it.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Iron Man 2

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it is, I watch a movie and blog about it.  I'm working my way through Marvel's Phase 1, and today we get to Iron Man 2.  Well, I actually got to it on January 21, 2018, which is when I originally wrote this.

Iron Man 2 poster