Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Cars 2

Rolling along on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  Watching movies and blogging about them.  It's what I do.  This week, finishing what I started last week with Cars 2.  This is in my notes at July 29, 2017.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Superbowl Trailers -- Jurassic World and Mission: Impossible

My week off is winding down, so let's do something else I've been putting off...blogging about some of the new trailers released during the Super Bowl, almost a week ago.

I've been lamenting recently that I don't blog about trailers as much as I used to.  It's so much easier to throw up on a link on my social media pages rather than sit down and try to come up with an insightful critique.  One complaint I did get about those blog posts in the past was I spent too much time talking about the film itself rather than offering my opinions.  So I figure I won't waste the energy blogging about a trailer unless I have a really strong opinion about it.

Case in point:  Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom.  I wanted to blog about the first trailer when it came out in December, but never got around to it.  Why?  Because it looked so much like all the Jurassic Park we've seen before.  "Oh noes!  We're trapped on an island with dinosaurs!  How will we escape?"  Looks like the big twist this time is now they're trying to escape a volcano, too.    Yay.    When are they finally going to pull the trigger and give us the "dinosaurs loose on the mainland" film they've been threatening ever since Spielberg tacked on the "T-Rex loose in San Diego" third act to The Lost World?

Which is why I'm still one of the few defenders of Jurassic World.  Say what you will, but finally having a fully operational theme park full of people when the poop hits the fan...that was one of the most simple and obvious twists to the premise you could do.  It finally gave us something new.

And which is why the Super Bowl spot for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom finally piqued my interest.

That opening scene?  Of some freaky mutant dino in a kid's bedroom?  That's got my attention.  The unveiling scene at the end, with "Welcome to the future?"  I want to know what's being unveiled.  Probably the freaky mutant dino.  My interest has gone from "meh" to "mild."

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits theatres June 22.

Back in college, I had this one teacher who sat me down one day I told me that I was a strong 7.  See, my college, Augustana, graded you on a 9 point scale.  0 is a total failure, 9 is top of the class.  After seeing this teacher for help, he got off on a tangent and started sharing his observations of me.  He said, "I see you putting in the work, Mark.  You work harder than pretty much anyone in class.  You put in so much effort, but your net results are only worthy of a 7.  I mean, I want to give you an 8 or 9, because of all the work you do, but these results are only worth a 7.  But it's a strong 7."

That's my impression of the Mission: Impossible franchise.  It's a strong 7.  I see Tom Cruise, putting in the work, going through his Jackie Chan-esque "watch me do all these dangerous stunts by myself" midlife crisis.  I've always loved the superspy genre, so I really, really, really want to love the Mission: Impossible franchise.  But, like my teacher looked at me that day, I look at Tom Cruise with a mild disappointment that his best efforts didn't earn more than a 7. 

It's also funny in that we're starting to get this backlash against Tom Cruise doing these kinds of films.  When the last one, Rogue Nation, came out, someone pointed out that Cruise is now as old as Jon Voight was when Voight played Cruise's boss in the first Mission: Impossible.  And back then, Voight's character was portrayed as on the cusp of retirement.  Last year, in The Mummy, there was much eye-rolling when Russel Crowe's Dr. Jekyl described Tom Cruise as a "young man," when Cruise is actually two years older than Crowe.  So, yeah.  There's this push that Cruise should, quite literally, start acting his age.

Anyway, we got our first trailer for the next in the franchise, Mission: Impossible -- Fallout.

So, yeah.  It's looking to be more of the same.  I do like the line about how maybe Cruise's character of Ethan Hunt may be getting annoyed at his situations.  The formula in all these films is that a mission goes sideways, Hunt is framed, and he has to go rogue to clear his name and/or uncover the conspiracy.  After five films, I'm sure he'd start going, "You still don't believe me when I say I was framed?" 

I saw Rogue Nation in the theatre because I had a free weekend and just felt going out and doing something.  I'll probably be in the same boat with Fallout when it comes out July 27. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Half Off

Well, it's that time of year again.  Every year, around January or so, I get an e-mail from the HR department informing me that I still have about a week's worth of unused vacation time from the previous year, and they'd really like me to get it off the books.  So, I usually wind up taking a week off in February to use up said vacation time.  I'm nearing the end of that week right now, and it's been a pretty quiet week of just pretty much screwing around around the house.  Although, I decided to spend at least one day heading into Edmonton to screw around in a different location.

It was strange heading into Edmonton this late after Christmas.  Usually, I'm heading into the city the first or second weekend in January with a bunch of Christmas gift cards burning a hole in my pocket.  But this year, I only got one gift card for Christmas.  It's going to make 2018 somewhat expensive.  In the final weeks of 2017, I was boasting on Twitter how I made it through the year without paying for a single movie, thanks to all the Cineplex gift cards I got for Christmas in 2016.  Looking at some of the movies coming up in 2018, it's going to get expensive pretty quick.

I was contemplating going to see a movie, but there's not much out right now that caught my eye.  With the Oscars right around the corner, and The Shape of Water getting a lot of Oscar love, I was thinking about maybe seeing The Shape of Water.  But again. with a lack of gift cards and my eyes on a budget right now, I figured that maybe I should save my money for Black Panther when it comes out next week.

On a whim, I decided to stop in at Toys R Us.  With action figure collecting still being one of my top hobbies, I find I don't stop in at Toys R Us that much anymore.  Maybe it has to do with living out in the countryside, but I figure that whenever I get into Toys R Us and have a chance to go through the racks, pretty much everything is picked-over, and I have trouble finding what I want.  Especially with Star WarsLast Jedi merch is already pretty much sold out, so the shelves are full of old Rogue One stuff at 75% off.

I did find myself lingering in the Lego aisle for an extended amount of time, and I may have gazed longingly at some of the Lego Trains stuff.  Lego Trains has always occupied this funny little overlap between model railway enthusiasts and Lego fans, and has amassed a sizable cult following.

About 10 years ago or so, my brother bought his motorcycle and my dad bought his ATV, so the joke in the family was, "Gee, what's Mark going to buy when he has his mid-life crisis?"  (Although, according to some of the folks I went to NAIT with, going back to school to pursue a career in broadcasting at the ripe-old age of 25 was what I did for my midlife crisis, but I digress.)  Truth is, it'll probably be a model railway.  I like trains, but I've never had a train set.  And Lego Trains just have a certain quirky appeal.  But with the starter sets at Toys R Us going for $225, it'll be a costly hobby to get into.

I kept browsing through the Lego aisle in awe.  As I've lamented many times before, when I was a kid, there were just Lego themes:  Town, Castle, and Space.  Now, there's just so many licensed products, it blows my mind.  And that's just the Lego aisle.  Imagine how my mind would be blown at the Lego Store.  I only went to Edmonton's Lego Store just once.  About five years ago, I was again taking a week off to burn off some vacation time, so I made the trek to the southside and Southgate Mall to check out the just-opened Lego Store.  There was a lot of Lego.

Taking a close look at the superhero themes, I started examining the Marvel Heroes Mighty Micros.  These are adorable little Lego sets.  You get a Marvel hero and villain in each pack, and they have a little go-kart theme to that character to you can have little go-kart races with them.  At a very affordable $10 each, I wound up collecting all of them last year.  In 2017, they gifted us with Spider-Man vs. the Scorpion, Iron Man vs. Thanos, and Wolverine vs. Magneto.  Well, I discovered they have some new ones out for 2018:  Thor vs. Loki, Star-Lord vs. Nebula, and Scarlet Spider vs. Sandman.  Wasn't sure if I wanted to start collecting the new ones, or just move along, so I moved along.  Maybe next week, when I'm back for Black Panther.

I arrived at my usual destination of West Edmonton Mall, and began exploring.  I always forget how wonderfully quiet the mall is on a weekday afternoon.  Sometimes, it's nice to go without an agenda or a plan.  Just wander around, see what you can see, and just start to slowly feel bad because it begins to be a constant reminder of how broke you currently are.

I did have to make one stop, though.  At work, I'd been lamenting how we've got no 2018 calendars up yet, making it tough to keep track of things and plan ahead.  Luckily, the calendar pop-up stores that the mall always gets for Christmas hadn't shut down yet.  And now, their entire stock is half-off.  So I got Great Canadian Trains for the office, and Classic Travel Posters for home.

Also took a moment to look at the sign heralding the arrival of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  The original news report said it'd be opening March 1, but now they're saying it'll probably be opening in the late spring or early summer.  I am getting surprisingly excited for the arrival of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. opened up in the mid-1990s.  The entire restaurant is themed around the movie Forrest Gump, and is named for Gump's shrimp boat business in the film.  As I'm sure you've figured out, the menu is about 90% shrimp dishes. West Edmonton Mall is going to be their first ever Canadian location, and they're hoping to make it their Canadian flagship location.

I'm getting excited for several reasons.  First, I love shrimp.  Second, I love kitsch like this.  Lastly, pure nostalgia, as it's reminding me of the boom of the chain restaurants like this.  The boom lasted for most of the 1990s, and during that time, in West Edmonton Mall, you could find a Hard Rock Cafe and a Planet Hollywood and a Johnny Rockets and a Fuddrucker's....  And like all those chains, I'll eat at them once and then figure that's enough. 

On my way out of town, I decided to make one last stop at Canadian Tire.  As I blogged when I first learned about it back in November, "Canadian Tire exclusive" is not a phrase that pops up in Star Wars action figure collecting circles.  But, that phrase did pop up back in November when The Last Jedi figures started showing up.  I figured that, since Canadian Tire only really has a toy section when Christmas rolls around, now would be the prefect time to get it, as it would be heavily discounted.  And I was right!  50% off.  So I snatched it up.  Sadly, I forgot my Canadian Tire money at home or else it would have been cheaper.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

The Canadian Tire exclusive 3-pack comes to us from Return of the Jedi, featuring Luke Skywalker in his black Jedi outfit, Emperor Palpatine, and the Emperor's Royal Guard.  It's almost a throwback to the Cinema Scenes 3-Packs of yore.  When this modern era of Star Wars figures began in the late 1990s, they did a thing called Cinema Scenes.  It was a three pack of figures, all done up to look just as they did in a specific scene from the original trilogy.

With some shiny new Star Wars toys, it was time to head for home.  I do like days like this, but they always make me feel sad.  I would certainly love to be able to take better vacations than just hanging around the house and making daytrips like this, but financially, it's just not in the cards.  But until that day, we do the best we can. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Cars

Here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin...watching the movies, and blogging about them.  This week, I find myself re-watching Disney/Pixar's Cars.  That is, I originally watched it and wrote this on July 23, 2017.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story Trailer

Well, it's finally here!  Our first look at the second of the Star Wars Stories, Solo, telling us the secret origin of Han Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story Teaser Poster

It was first announced back in the summer of 2015.  Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, was writing the script along with his son Joe.  And to direct it, they hired Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, directors of such hit comedies as 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie.  They started filming almost a year ago under the code name Red CupGet it?

But then the poop hit the fan in June of 2017.  With filming about 75% done, Lord and Miller were fired, under the age old reason of "creative differences."  We've heard some of the stories as to what those creative differences were.  It sounds like the main one had to do with tone.  Given their comedic backgrounds, Lord and Miller were hired to bring a comedic touch to the film.  But, Lord and Miller were allegedly directing it as an outright comedy.  As they did in their comedies, Lord and Miller were encouraging a lot of improv from their actors, which led to a very grumpy Kasdan.  Kasdan was soon hovering over them on the set, leading to a very grumpy Lord and Miller.  So many grumpy people, someone had to go eventually.  Fare thee well, Lord and Miller.

Given that situation, it was heavily rumoured that Kasdan would take over as director, but the various Hollywood unions actually have laws in place to prevent that.  To finish off production, and to supervise reshoots, Star Wars boss Kathleen Kennedy brought it Hollywood legend Ron Howard.  Howard had actually been circling Star Wars for a while, believe it or not.  Howard is good friends with George Lucas, having started in Lucas's American Graffiti back in the day, and directed the Lucas written and produced Willow.  A few years back, Howard even revealed that Lucas asked him to direct The Phantom Menace, but Howard declined, instead choosing to encourage Lucas to get back on that directing horse.

Howard took charge and the re-shoots grew longer...and longer...and longer.  The longer reshoots went, the more people started worrying about how bad the film would be.

The fear kicked into overdrive back in November.  With this being a May release, November is usually when they hype train starts.  Gotta get the trailer in theatres to run in front of all those Christmas blockbusters.  November came and went.  No trailer.  December came along.  People were like, "Hey!  In front of Last Jedi would be very appropriate!"  But still, no trailer.  January was coming to a close.  Sheer panic was setting in among the fans.  How bad is the film that it's five months from release and they won't let us see any footage from it yet?

Some mild relief finally came back on Thursday with the revelation that there would be a Super Bowl spot, followed by a full trailer the next day.  Kicking off the hype for a May blockbuster at the start of February.  Not unheard of, but no longer common.

When that Super Bowl spot aired, I got pretty jazzed.  I mean, it's new Star Wars.  I'll always get excited for new Star Wars.  I was there opening day for the shitty Clone Wars animated movie, so I'll be there for Solo, no matter its productions woes.

Speaking of The Clone Wars, I'm digging that rock/electronic/Clone Wars-style music rockin' in that trailer.  John Powell (The Jason Bourne movies and a bunch of DreamWorks animated films) is doing the score, with Star Wars composer emeritus John Williams providing the main theme.

Anyways, a day later, we get the full trailer.  I'm sharing them both, because there's surprisingly very little recycling of footage.

I'm liking what I'm seeing so far.  I mean, it's Star Wars.  We've got spaceships going fast, I love that shot of a the Star Destroyer emerging from the clouds.  I'm liking what I'm seeing so far, but we're going to have to wait for when it comes out on May 25 to see if the whole thing comes together. 

Alden Ehrenreich is our young Han Solo, Donald Glover of Community fame is young Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones is someone named Qi'ra, Woody Harrelson is Solo's mentor, and Joonas Suotamo begins taking over for Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story comes out May 25. 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Kong: Skull Island

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie, and blog about it, because I've bought a lot of movies, and this makes me feel like it was worth it.  Rolling out Kong: Skull Island this week.  This is originally in my notes at July 22, 2017.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Scarecrow's Oscar Picks: 2018 Edition

Well, it's that time of year again.  This year's Oscar nominations were announced about a week ago, so it's time to dust off a tradition I've been doing in all 20 years of my online presence.  Yes, it's time for....

Scarecrow's Oscar Picks!  (The logo I designed in Photoshp back in 1997)

Now, as I've been explaining for 20 years, I like to do my Oscar picks a little bit differently.  Everywhere you go, you're going to see the picks for the big categories like Best Director and Best Actor, so I'm going to focus my picks on the categories that only I care about:  Best Original Song, and Best Visual Effects.  Plus, those are the two that I have a pretty good track record in selecting the winners.  I also love animated films, so when the Best Animated Film Oscar came along in 2002, I started doing that one as well.  Let's get to it!

Best Visual Effects

The nominees are:
My thoughts:

OK, right away, we can strike out Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy.  Spaceships whizzing through space, laser guns, blue screen sets, CGI creatures...been there, done that.  Same with Kong.  Yeah, we've seen the giant monkey before.  Now, War for the Planet of the Apes won a lot of praise for Andy Serkis's performance...some even saying he should have picked up a best actor nomination.  So, as that never happened, giving Planet of the Apes the Best Visual Effects Oscar might be the next best thing.  On the other hand, Blade Runner 2049 had a lot of fans, and was praised for the lengths its effects went to to create the futuristic world of 2049, much like how the original film was praised for it's visual flair.

My pick:

Between nostalgia and lots of critical love, I'm putting my money on Blade Runner 2049.

Best Original Song

The nominees are:
My thoughts:

There's a reason why my winning streak started 20 years ago.  It was the height of the Disney Renaissance, and picking the song from the Disney animated film was a sure thing.  So purely for nostalgia's sake, I want to go with Remember Me.  That being said, The Greatest Showman is an old-school musical, ans as we saw with La La Land last year, there's a bit of a resurgence of old-school musicals these days.  So I think this category is going to come down to Remember Me and This Is Me.

My pick:

This Is Me

Best Animated Film

The Nominees Are:
My thoughts:

Well, Pixar is the studio with the most wins in this category, so my gut has to go with Coco.  That being said, The Breadwinner's director Nora Twomey has been circling this category for a while, having directed the 2009 nominee The Secret of Kells and having worked on the 2014 nominee Song of the Sea.  However, they have made some changes to the category this year.  In all the Oscar categories, only people who work in that category could vote for the winner.  For example, only directors would vote for Best Director, actors for Best Actor, and animators for Best Animated Film.  Starting this year, Best Animated Film works like Best Picture...everyone gets to vote for it.  The logic is the same reason why Best Picture was opened up to 9 nominees a few years ago:  it'll open up the category to more mainstream films, and less art house films that no one has heard of.  And no offense to Ms Twomey, but how many of you had heard of The Breadwinner before this?

My pick:


And, as always, as a concession to the mainstream, the biggest of the mainstream categories....

Best Picture

The Nominees Are:
My thoughts:

We're coming up on 10 years now of more than five nominees, and I still don't agree with it.  "It'll open up the category to more mainstream films, and less art house films that no one has heard of!" said the Academy.  But what's happened?  it seems like more art house films that no one has heard of are getting nominated.  That being said, Get Out is exactly the kind of mainstream hit that the critics loved that they wanted to see get nominated.  At the other end of the spectrum, Three Billboards is already being likened by many to this year's Crash, as a movie that's getting wildly overblown.  But still, the giddy thrill for me is seeing The Shape of Water get nominated.  The most nominees this year, with 13.  Who would have thought that a love story between a mute woman and a sea monster from the director of Hellboy would get so much love!  But then, Guillermo del Toro did also do Pan's Labyrinth, which got a lot of Oscar love 10 years ago. 

My pick:

I really want The Shape of Water to win.  And I really want to see it now, too.

One last rant.  Guillermo del Toto was in talks with Universal Studios to come on board with their Dark Universe...their cinematic universe based on their classic monsters, that looks like it began and ended with Tom Cruise's The Mummy.  Del Toro's pet project was a remake of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and del Toro allegedly put a lot of his Black Lagoon ideas into The Shape of Water.  So just think.  In a parallel universe, The Shape of Water wound up being the Creature from the Black Lagoon reboot that kicked off Dark Universe!

The 90th Academy Awards are on March 4.