Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Justice League: Starcrossed

And we're back on Fishing in the Discount Bin!  Took a couple weeks off there, because I was on vacation in the real world.  Normally, I work ahead, and pre-post everything, but this time out, I thought, "Ah, screw it.  The 20 people who read this won't mind."  And here we are.  I'm back now, and we can get back to it, with Justice League: Starcrossed.  This is in my notes at May 4, 2019.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Justice League: Secret Origins

And here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how this works, I watch a movie and blog about it.  Tonight, I do the premiere episode of the legendary Justice League cartoon.  This is in my  notes at May 4, 2019.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

About 10 years ago or so, straight-to-DVD content was one of the big buzzwords around Hollywood, and we started getting blessed with tons of straight-to-DVD films.  It was a boon to us comic book nerds, because they started cranking out a ton of straight-to-DVD animated films based on classic superheroes.  I was to run out and buy a lot of them...specifically the DC ones put out by Warner Brothers.  I started tapering off about five or six years ago, as I felt they were getting kinda repetitive.  But, occasionally one will come along where I just have to snatch it up.  And that's the case right now with....

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Directed by Jake Castorena

Starring the voices of Troy Baker, Darren Criss, Kyle Mooney, Baron Vaughn, Eric Bauza, Rachel Bloom, Andrew Kishino, and Cas Anvar.


Batman and the TMNT have become quite the team-up over the past few years.  It all started in 2015, when IDW and DC Comics partnered to do a mini-series crossover comic.  It was so well-received, it spawned two sequels and a spinoff taking its cues from their respective animated series.  It even led to the Turtles being playable characters in Injustice 2.  So it didn't take long before Warner Brothers Animation went, "Hey!  This is so popular, why don't we do it as one of our straight-to-DVD animated films?"  And here we are.


There's a new player in Gotham City...a mysterious ninja clan with a fighting style unfamiliar to Batman.  And they seem to have brought four reptilian men with them.  It turns out the Ninja Turtles have tracked the Foot Clan to Gotham City, as the Shredder has gained a powerful new ally in one of Batman's rogues.  It's not long before the Caped Crusader and the Heroes in a Half-Shell cross paths, and they decide to join forces to stop this unholy alliance of Shredder and...Ra's Al Guhl.  But, Batman's grim and serious manner doesn't mesh well the Turtles' youthful and impulsive tactics.  Will Batman and the TMNT be able to put aside their differences?  What is the Shedder and Ra's Al Guhl plotting for the city?

What I Liked

The voice acting, as always, is top notch.  Troy Baker becomes the first to voice both Batman AND the Joker in an animated project, and the voices he uses are such a close match to Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill that you'll wonder why they just didn't get them.  There's a great humour to it, and they come up with some great pairings between the Turtles and the various members of the Batman family.  One of the highlights of the original  comic -- Shredder using the ooze on Arkham Asylum, and our heroes having to fight off mutated versions of Batman's rogues -- is a standout fight sequence here.  And it's just chock-full of Easter eggs, as the animators re-create many famous shots from the Ninja Turtle franchise.

What I Didn't Like

At the end of the day, it's a pretty formulaic superhero team-up plot.

Final Verdict

A very fun superhero offering, and absolutely delightful if you're a fan of Batman and/or TMNT.  I picked it up on Blu-Ray, but another reason why I stopped buying these is they pop up on Netflix soon enough.  I suggest you check it out.

3 Nibs

Monday, July 01, 2019

A Welcome Break

June turned out to be a pretty rough  month for me.  We were in to a busy stretch at work, which made some long days, and I agreed to be in the Westlock Drama Society's latest production, which made for some long nights.  So when the boss suggested I take last Monday off to recuperate, I didn't put up much of a fight.  While I was looking forward to just lazing around the house, I took a look at the box office returns and figured it might be my last chance to see Dark Phoenix before it tanks out of theatres. 

I checked the weather forecast, and sadly, it was looking like rain.  I clenched up a little.  When we got hit with our first real storm of the season at the start of the month, I got a terrible surprise when I was driving across town.  One of my windshield wipers broke off!  It wasn't doing anything to clear my windshield, it was just flopping around.  It's quite frightening when it's bumper-to-bumper traffic on Westlock's main drag, in a storm, and suddenly you can't see. 

I made it to my destination, waited inside for the rain to stop, and then took a closer look at things.  I jiggled with the wiper a little bit and snapped it back into place.  Just to be safe, I took my car over to the tire shop in town.  They changed my oil back in the spring, and convinced me to buy a new pair of windshield wipers.  I was getting ready to raise holy hell to get them to fix things, but, even after I fixed it myself, I figured I'd feel safer if a professional looked at it.  So, they did, and they told me that, yeah, windshield wipers just snap on, and sometimes they work loose.  I went home that night and googled some YouTube tutorials on how to change your own windshield wipers, and it's become part of my pre-flight checks when I see there's rain in the forecast.  I make sure the windshield wipers are snapped in nice and tight. 

Once it looked like my wipers would hold, I hopped in the car and went into the city.  I was thinking of treating myself to a little something.  I collect Star Wars action figures.  And something that's been happening ever since Disney started cranking out Star Wars movies is each movie has its own exclusive 4-pack of action figures.  Last time I was in the city, I noticed that Wal-Mart had the Solo: A Star Wars Story 4-pack for $20...that's half price!  And up the road at Toys R Us, they have the Last Jedi 4-pack for $25...also half price!  I figured, "Hey, let's get these!  They'll make nice bookends on the Star Wars action figure shelves!" 

So I got to Wal-Mart, and saw that the Solo 4-pack had gone back up to its regular price of $40.  I looked at the price tag, double-checked with one of those "Check Price Here!" scanners they've got all over the place, and though, "Well...screw this.  I ain't payin' full price for it!" and put it back.  I thought about picking it up at Toy R Us, because they also had the Solo 4-pack for half-price, but the thrill was gone.  The mood had been killed. 

I soldiered on to West Edmonton Mall...pretty much the only place where Dark Phoenix was playing on a weekday matinee.  I didn't even buy my ticket online, like I've been doing with so many movie tickets these days.  I went and bought it from one of their self-serve kiosks in the lobby.  Wow.  There's such a backlash towards the self-serve kiosks these days, but I remember movie theatres were the first ones to bring them in some 20 years ago. 

I swung by the snack counter to get some snacks.  I've been snacking a lot more at the movies lately.  For the longest time, I wouldn't have anything.  With my preference for matinees, I'd always wind up going right after lunch, and I'd be too full to think about popcorn.  But these days, I feel like I need some sweets at the movies.  Not much of a popcorn fan, though.  My movie-going snack has to be Twizzlers.  That was always Mom's movie-going snack when I was a kid, and Mom would always share with the family when we went to a movie.  So it's ingrained in my.  You need Twizzlers at the movies. 

I settled into my chair, got my pack of Twizzlers open, and got ready for the show.  First thing I saw was the Universal logo.  "OK, this is kinda weird.  Dark Phoenix is a Fox movie," I thought.  "Maybe it's just a trailer."  But no, I realized it wasn't a trailer when they started rolling the opening credits to The Secret Life of Pets 2.  I went outside to make sure I was in the right theatres, and/or make a complaint.  The usher explained that, yeah, I was in the right theatre.  There was a school group in there earlier in the day, and they forgot to swap out the films in the projector.  Just give the projectionist 10 minutes to reset everything and Dark Phoenix would be good to go. 

Ten minutes later, and the opening credits to Dark Phoenix were rolling. 

Dark Phoenix Movie Poster

So, for those not in the know, Dark Phoenix is the latest X-Men movie, and it takes its cues from one of X-Men's best known stories, The Phoenix Saga.  It's been 10 years since the last film, X-Men: Apocalypse, and the X-Men have grown to become superheroes the world over.  Charles Xavier is happy, as it looks as though his dream of humans and mutants living in harmony has come to pass, but some wonder if this newfound fame is going to Charles' head.  The X-Men are soon called upon to do a daring space rescue, but Jean Grey is hit with a massive energy blast in space.  She manages to survive, and begins growing more and more powerful.  Frightened by her newfound power and what she's capable of, Jean Grey goes on a rampage, and the X-Men try to talk her down.  But soon, nefarious forces from beyond the starts come in search of Jean Grey and her power.  Will they capture Jean?  Will she be able to control her power?  Or will the X-Men's most dangerous foe turn out to be Charles' own hubris? 

Ya know, for one of X-Men's biggest and most epic stories, it sure struck me how small Dark Phoenix felt.  You have all these gigantic cosmic forces at play, but the stakes never feel at a cosmic level.  In a way, it reminded me a lot of the first X-Men film that came out way back in 2000.  It is shockingly small compared to all the superhero films we've gotten since.  And Dark Phoenix just felt small. 

Don't get me wrong, there is some good.  James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender still shine as Charles Xavier and Magneto.  The opening space rescue is a great action sequence.  But so much of the film feels like it's on auto pilot. 

This is probably our last X-Men movie for a while.  With Disney buying out 20th Century Fox, the X-Men will soon be able to mix it up with the Avengers, like they have in the comics for so long.  Dark Phoenix is, quite literally, the end of a chapter in superhero films.  It's a shame it was more limping across the finish line than a grand finale. 

2 Nibs.  Full review over on the other website.

And before I went home, I decided to pop in to Sunrise Records.  Since I wasn't buying Star Wars action figure 4-packs anymore, I thought I'd splurge on some new Blu-Rays I'd had my eyes on.  Firstly, Warner Brothers' latest straight-to-DVD animated film based on a DC Comic, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Ah, the crossover that my 12-year old self dreamed of.  Batman and the TMNT have actually been crossing paths quite a bit lately.  DC Comics and IDW have published a best-selling series of crossovers featuring the Caped Crusader and the Heroes in a Half Shell, so it wasn't long before Warner Animation said, "Hey!  Let's make this into a movie!"  It's pretty standard superhero team-up fare.  Batman and the Ninja Turtles have to team up to stop the unholy alliance of Shredder and Ra's Al Guhl.  Fun stuff. 

And I also grabbed the Steve Martin classic The Jerk.  It got a brand-new super-special edition back at Christmas, so I thought, "Why not?" 

Flash forward a week and, thanks to Canada Day, I was blessed with two long weekends in a row.  And, massive Pixar lover that I am, I knew I had to head back into the city to see Toy Story 4

In this past decade, Pixar became notorious for cranking out sequels.  We got Monsters University, Finding Dory, Incredibles 2, and Cars 2 & 3.  It began with Toy Story 3, and now it ends with Toy Story 4.  And like a lot of folks, I went into that theatre thinking, "Do we really need another Toy Story?  The third one was such a perfect ending."

Toy Story 4 Movie Poster
It's been a couple of years since Andy went off to college and gave all his toys to neighbourhood girl Bonnie.  Most of Andy's toys have settled into Bonnie's life, except for Woody, who still hasn't found his place.  At Bonnie's first day of kindergarten, she makes a new toy out of a spork that she names Forky, and, being a toy, Forky comes to life.  Woody makes it his new purpose to become Forky's protector, especially on an upcoming road trip.  On the road, Woody soon runs into his lost love Bo Peep, who has been living on her own for a while as a lost toy, reveling in the freedom.  But soon, Forky gets captured by the evil doll Gabby Gaby in an old antique shop, and it's up to Woody, Bo Peep, and the rest of the gang to rescue Forky! 

Dude, Toy Story 4 made me cry.  While Toy Story 3 may have been a good ending for the Toy Story saga, Toy Story 4 was a good ending for Woody.  It was very much like Captain America at the end of Avengers Endgame.  We get some fun new friends as well, like the stuntman action figure Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves, and the carnival plushies Duckie and Bunny, voiced by a reunited Key and Peele.  Easily the funniest Toy Story movie, with some shockingly dark jokes.  The plot kind of meanders for a bit, but when it all comes together at the end, man, does it come together.  And, because it's Pixar, of course the animation is dazzling. 

Toy Story 4 is another winner for Pixar, and a very worthy addition to the franchise.  4 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review on the website. 

And that's been my two long weekends in a row.  It was a much needed break after a very busy month.  Now, I can get to binging what I've been meaning to binge.