Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Christmas Crunch Begins

It comes earlier and earlier every year...the memo from HR that I've got a ton of unused vacation time and I've got to get it off the books by year end.  So with that in mind, I'm taking this week off.  And since we are about a month out from Christmas, my goal for this week is to get as much Christmas shopping done as possible so December will be relatively relaxed.  And it's a mere coincidence that a lot of holiday blockbuster are out this week.  So, yeah.  First stop:  Justice League.

Went to the earliest show, too.  So, no lunch, no shopping, not stopping at favourite stores.  Straight into the city and straight to the theatre.  I typically don't eat at the movies anymore,as I usually go mid-afternoon and I'm still full from lunch, but since I was skipping lunch, bought a small popcorn to tide me over.

But here we are, with the JLA finally together on the big screen.  I love DC.  I really do.  But everything about the creation of this DC Cinematic Universe has been so reactionary to Marvel.  While Marvel has a plan, DC seems to be slapping this together as they go along.  So let's just say that expectations were lowered going into Justice League.

But you know what?  It put a smile on my face.  I liked it.  A lot more than I expected to. 

The world is still in mourning following the death of Superman (see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).  Batman is still following up on the leads he got from his crazy dream about the future, and uncovers than an alien invasion is nigh, led by Steppenwolf, one of the minions of Darkseid and Apokalypse.  To battle this threat, Batman starts tracking down other heroes.  He brings Wonder Woman back into the fray.  He hunts down the rumoured Aquaman who helps out coastal communities.  We head to Central City to track down a being who can appear and disappear in a Flash.  And he follows up on whispers of a Cyborg created by STAR Labs.  As bravely as they fight, it's not enough, and soon Batman hatches a desperate plan to resurrect Superman. 

As I said with Batman v Superman and other films designed to launch franchises, there tends to be parts of a good movie in there, but they need to trim out the excess and pick one plot.  With Justice League, the excess has been trimmed, but we're left with good parts, but a not a good movie. 

I loved the Flash.  Ezra Miller does an amazing job of portraying the rookie on the team who's still new to this superhero thing.  Aquaman is great.  They've tried to turn him into the angry loner that every superhero team has, but he comes across as more "good ol' boy" than angry.  It's so great to see Wonder Woman again after her awesome solo film this past summer.  And I still think that Ben Affleck is a pretty good Batman.

That being said, it's fairly obvious which scenes are the Joss Whedon re-shoots, because characters suddenly get a lot more quippy, which can make for quite the tonal shift.  But hey, if that's what we needed to get Superman to smile again, it's worth it.  Superman smiles again.  He's full of hope again.  So good to see.

Other bits...yeah, the villain is pretty generic and it's your standard destroy the world plot.  I also enjoy Danny Elfman's score.  The theme he put together for the Flash was pretty good, and every time he slips his classic Batman theme into the score, it's like a hug from an old friend. 

In the end Justice League tries really hard to reject the bleakness of Batman v Superman and embrace the hope and optimism that Wonder Woman gave us, making it a strange transition film between the two.  It gets a solid A for effort, and I surprised myself at how much I liked it.

3 Nibs.  Full review on the website. 

Now this is the part of the blog entry where I normally get into what else I did in the city, but I'm not going to.  Most of what I did was Christmas shopping, and I don't what to let slip who got what.  But...I couldn't help but buy a present for myself. 

I was going through the graphic novels and I had to buy the crossover I've wanted since I was 8:  Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  In order to be rid of the Turtles once and for all, and to get Shredder and the Foot Clan out of the way of his latest plan, Krang opens up a trans-dimensional portal and banishes the Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, and the Foot to a parallel universe...the DC Universe.  Gotham City, to be specific.  As Shredder begins forming alliances with Batman's rogues, the TMNT partner with batman to stop Shredder and find a way home.  According to rumour, it performed so well that Warner Brothers is considering adapting it into one of their straight-to-DVD animated movies. 

I also picked up the second crossover, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.  While the first one was based on comics continuity, this second one takes its cues from cartoon continuity:  Batman: The Animated Series from the Batman side, and the 2012 TMNT cartoon for the TMNT side.  When trans-dimensional portals between opening up between the TMNT universe and the Batman Animated universe, it's up to our heroes to join forces and find out why.  I mainly picked it up because it turns out my favourite Batman villain, the Scarecrow, plays a prominent role. 

Actually, I've had Ninja Turtles on the mind quite a bit lately.  I've quite enjoyed the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it's wrapping up.  Next week on YTV they officially show the final episode.  This final season has been pretty interesting, as they renamed the show Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and most of the story arcs have been out-of-continuity escapades.  While the final episode has yet to air, I got rather misty-eyed at the final episode made has aired, and it was a rather poignant end. 

It takes place in the distant future.  A "mutagen bomb" was set off in Manhattan, mutating the bulk of the world's population.  And from here, it pretty much becomes "Old Man Raphael," as Raph scavenges the Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland to survive.  He soon meets up with a mutant meerkat orphan named Mira, who holds the map to a mythical green space known as Oasis. 

Anyway, at the end, Raphael and Mira make it to Oasis.  Along the way, they've found and rescued the rest of the Turtles.  Our four brothers reunited look out over Oasis.  The camera pans up to see the spirit of Splinter looking down on them from the heavens and smiling.  Splinter is soon joined by the spirits of the four Turtles, returned to their teenaged selves.  They pose for one last picture.  Fade to black.  Fade in the dedication:  "For Kevin and Peter." 

Yeah, the 2012 series was pretty awesome.  It was definitely made by people of my age, because it was so full of reinventions of stuff from the original, 1987 cartoon. 

Anyway, I'm on vacation and I've got graphic novels to read. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie

Time to roll again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it.  We're going back to the 1990s for the very first Power Rangers movie, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  This is in my notes at April 1, 2017.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Moana

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, because there's nothing better to do on a Friday night than sit at home, along, watch a movie, and blog about it.  *sigh*  Let's watch Moana!  Well, I watched it on April 1, 2017, and am just now posting it.  That's how far I work ahead on this!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Icy Road to Ragnarok

Well, Halloween is officially in the rear view mirror, which means it's on to Christmas!  We've already had the first couple of Christmas craft fairs in the region, and the Town of Barrhead had their Christmas parade back on Friday.  When I saw that Athabasca University was having their annual Christmas craft fair at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex on Friday afternoon, I thought I'd swing up to Athabasca and check it out.

I don't go back up to Athabasca that often, ever since I transferred down to Westlock almost-5 years ago.  (It'll be 5 years come February!)  I go back up maybe once or twice a year, and it's almost-always because the Athabasca station needs an extra pair of hands for an event.  But I was feeling nostalgic for the Athabasca University Christmas Craft Fair.  I was at the very first one 11 years ago, when it was just a half-a-dozen vendors in the AU's lobby.  Now, it's across the road at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, and they fill the whole darn field house.  It's been fun watching it grow.

So, Friday afternoon, I hopped in my car, and headed north to Athabasca.  I've always been nervous about winter driving ever since I hit a deer with my car almost-5 years ago.  But, 511 Alberta said the roads were good, I've got a new set of tires on my car, so I figured the drive up to Athabasca should be pretty uneventful.

I was somewhere between Perryvale and Colinton.  I rounded a bend to see a car in the oncoming lane, and his lights were flickering like crazy.  I figured he must have an electrical problem or something.  I focused my eyes back on the road, and there, laying in the middle of my lane, was a dog.

I jerked my steering wheel to the left to avoid him.  I jerked my steering wheel back to the right to get back in my lane.  All seemed fine...until I realized the back end of my car was still jerking to the right.  I lost control of the car.  I'm sliding down the highway, fishtailing like crazy.  Everything gets kind of blurry.  I remember seeing a ditch.  I remember seeing a car in the oncoming traffic lane.  I remember seeing the other ditch.  I remember thinking, "This is it.  I'm headed for the ditch."  But then my car finally came to a stop, about six inches from hitting the ditch.

The guy who was driving behind me came to a stop.  He comes running up to me and knocks on my window.  "Are you alright?" he asks.  I just start stammering.  "Yeah...yeah.  There was this dog and I tried to get out of the way."  The dude with the flickering lights comes running over.  "Did you see the dog?  I was trying to warn you by flashing my lights!"

Anyway, I moved my car so I wouldn't be blocking traffic, and then I just sat by the side of the road for a while to calm down.  I tell ya, there was this, and I hit that deer, I think the animals are trying to tell me I'm not supposed to go back to Athabasca in the wintertime.

I finally made it to the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, ran into an old buddy in the parking lot, and after telling him this story, I said, "After what I went through to get here, this had better be the best damn craft show ever."

And it was a pretty good craft show.  Came back with a pretty good haul.  There was a beef jerky guy there who I ran into at the Westlock Ag Fair, who makes great beef jerky, so I treated myself to some.  Ran into a guy I used to work with when I had a second job at Buy-Low Foods.  Now he does the Farmers Markets and the craft shows peddling his kettle corn, so I treated myself to some.  The Athabasca Pottery Club was selling some of their pottery, and they talked me into a bat-shaped Christmas tree ornament.  Perfect for the Christmas tree, or maybe a Halloween tree.  Oh, and I found something that I think will be a perfect Christmas gift for Dad, so I've officially begun my Christmas shopping.

But before I left for Westlock, I decided to check out something at Canadian Tire.  Earlier in the day, one of my Star Wars action figure collecting sites lit up with news of a Star Wars action figure set available exclusively at Canadian Tire.  Now, "Canadian Tire exclusive" is a phrase that has never popped up in my days of collecting Star Wars figures, so I had to check this out.  And yes, the Athabasca location had it in stock, but I chose not to buy it.  I figured I'd already spent enough at the craft fair.  Besides, I've got about $10 in Canadian Tire money in a jar next to my piggy bank.  I think I know what I'll finally use it for.

Needless to say, took it nice and slow on the drive home to Westlock.  And took it nice and slow on the drive into Edmonton the next day.  Since I bought my Dad's Christmas present, I figured I'd buy the presents for my nieces.  I'd known what I wanted to get them for Christmas ever since it went on sale back in the spring, so I figured, "Why keep waiting?  Let's buy it now!"  And I did.  Three people checked off my Christmas list this early into November!  Let's see if I can keep it up!

Then off to my usual haunt of West Edmonton Mall.  They don't have the Christmas decorations up yet, but they do have the usual Christmas pop-up stores, like Hickory Farms and the calendar stores.  Did some browsing in the Disney Store, and had to keep my wallet tucked away.  As Disney does own Marvel and Star Wars, they've usually got some really cool exclusives, and I liked their latest.

So you may remember Disney's toys-to-life game Disney Infinity.  Disney officially pulled the plug on it about a year ago.  Browsing through the Disney Store, I see Disney has kept the art style of the Disney Infinity figures alive in a new, Disney Store exclusive line of action figures called "Disney Toy Box."  They've got nine offerings to start.  Representing Pixar is Woody, Jesse, and Buzz.  Representing Marvel is Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Hulk.  And representing Star Wars is Kylo Ren, Rey, and a First Order Stormtrooper.  No doubt some of those figures will find their way to my collection.

A quick stop in the food court for lunch.  Trying to expand my horizons a little bit in the food court as there's so many new chains starting to pop up.  Last time I was at the mall, I spied a new chain called Pannizza that I wanted to try.  It's the Subway model, applied to pizza.  You pick your crust, you pick your toppings, the clerk puts it all together for, and then runs it through a Quiznos-style oven.  Voila!  One baked-before-your-eyes personal-sized pizza.  I sampled the Aloha Pizza, which is what they call their Hawaiian Pizza.  I rather enjoyed it, so I could see myself dining there again in the future.  Might not get the combo meal, next time.  Good pizza, so-so fries.

Speaking of Hawaiian pizza, how's my petition to get a Heritage Moment about it's creation going?  Huh...still stalled at 10 signatures.  Moving on.

You know what the West Edmonton Mall food court is missing?  A good chip shop.  I don't think there's been a place to get fish and chips there since Fatburger replaced Joey's Only.  Sorry, I'm watching You Gotta Eat Here! while I write this.  They just did a Montreal chip shop, and now I want fish and chips.

But as you know, all trips to the city for me invariably wind up in the movie theatre, and I bet you know what I was out to see this weekend.

Thor: Ragnarok poster

I really enjoyed this new chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It's easily the best of the Thor films.  It's more in tone with Guardians of the Galaxy than the other two Thor films.

When last we left Thor at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he went off on a quest to learn more about the Infinity Stones.  But, he got sidetracked along the way, finding the Nine Reals in chaos and whispers of a pretender on the throne bringing about Ragnarok -- the end of days to Asgard.  Returning home to Asgard, Thor promptly unmasks Odin as being Loki in disguise.  Turns out Loki's rule has weakened Asgard's defenses from Hela, the goddess of death.  She returns with a vengeance, claims the throne of Asgard, and begins putting plans in place on conquer the universe.  Thor winds up stranded on the world of Sakaar, where he must make alliances with friends both old and new, and fight his way back to Asgard, defeat Hela, and stop Ragnarok from happening.

Man o man, this film is good.  All of the new characters are great.  Cate Blanchett is wonderful as Hela.  Marvel really hasn't given us a villain who relishes in being evil, and Hela does.  Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, the ruler of Sakaar, is very Jeff Goldblum.  Returning characters are good as well.  We finally get to know Hulk as a character, and there's some good brotherly love between Thor and Loki that looks to finally send Loki down a path of redemption.

Not much to quibble about.  As we saw in the post-credits sequence of Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange does show up, but his appearance serves pretty much the same function as Falcon in Ant-Man.  He's just here to remind you of the bigger cinematic universe at play.

And there's just so much good.  I love the synthesizer-heavy, prog-rock inspired score.  Marvel is certainly getting their money's worth out of The Immigrant Song.  And we're far enough along in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that every callback and in-joke to a previous film is a delight.  I wonder if Hulk fighting that giant wolf was purposely meant to be a reference to 2003's Hulk where Hulk fought some gamma-mutated giant dogs.

It was a good year for Marvel.  I give it 4 out of 4 Nibs.  Full review on the website.

And that was Saturday day.  Sunday morning was spent writing this blog.  It's lunchtime, now, so I'm going to see if I can find me some fish and chips. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Rolling out Fishing in the Discount Bin once again, blogging about the movies I own and have recently rewatched so it feels as though my life has meaning.  Today, I tackled the comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  This is in my notes at March 19, 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Star Wars and Black Panther Trailers

So when my Doctor Strange rant went online the other day, I noticed it was my 2800th blog entry.  I also looked at my blog over the past few months and saw I've pretty much been sticking to Fishing in the Discount Bin and not much else.  So, for number 2801, I decided to do some good ol' fashioned trailer blogging.  It's something I don't do as much anymore, mainly because of that darn social media.  I go, "Latest trailer for latest movie!" is up, post the link to my Facebook and Twitter, and call it a day.

And besides, I'd noticed I haven't done my usual thing of blogging about the latest Star Wars trailer.  Holy crap, you guys, that Last Jedi trailer!

You've seen it.  You love it.  I don't know what I need to tell you about it.  Rey begins her Jedi training with Luke, but Luke is apprehensive.  Kylo Ren is still destroying the galaxy, trying to live up to has grandfather Darth Vader's legacy.  Does he kill his mother, Leia?  Looks like Finn and Captain Phasma finally square off, the fight that many say should have been the "Traitor!" fight from Force Awakens.  And we finally meet Snoke in the flesh.

And the much-debated ending.  Is Kylo Ren pulling Rey to the Dark Side?  Or is it just trailer-bait, because everyone keeps screaming, "BUT THE SHOTS DON'T MATCH!"  Yeah, the shots don't match.  So let's keep debating!

December 15 is when we'll get all the answers.  That's 48 days away, according to the countdown app on my phone.

The sweet Last Jedi poster

Not content to let us enjoy all that awesomeness, and because Disney is on never-ending quest to take all our money, it was just a few days later when they dropped the new trailer for the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther.

Chadwick Boseman returns of T'Challa, ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and Wakanda's protector, the hero known as Black Panther.  For those who don't know the comics, Wakanada is one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the world, thanks to being the world's only source of vibranium, the metal that Captain America's shield is made from.  But, based on the hidden city we see in the trailer, it looks as though Wakanda has chosen to hide its technological prowess from the world. 

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa returns home to resume his royal duties.  But, he soon dons the mantle of Black Panther once again to protect his land from Erik Killmonger, who seeks to overthrow T'Challa and take the throne.  Luckily, T'Challa has his allies, such as Wakandan secret agents Nakia and Okoye. 

Michael B. Jordan, last seen as Adonis Creed in Creed (and as the Human Torch in the crappy 2015 Fantastic Four) is Killmonger, Lupita Nyong'o is Nakia, and The Walking Dead's Dania Gurira is Okoye. 

Other returning characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe include Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, last seen as one of the administrators of the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War.  In the Black Panther comics, Ross is a US envoy to Wakanda, and becomes one of T'Challa's friends and advisors.  And we've also got Andy Serkis back as Ulysses Klaw from Avengers: Age of Ultron.  As in the comics, Klaw is an international arms dealer based in Wakanda.  And, thanks to Ultron ripping off his arm, he's got his trademark bionic arm with a built-in cannon that he sports in the comics. 

Don't forget, the epic Hulk/Iron Man battle from Age of Ultron actually took place in a Wakandan city, which is what led to Wakanda's support for the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War.  It's neat how they've been slowly building to this! 

What can I say?  The trailer looks awesome.  It's got some of that great action that Marvel has become known for.  I do have to agree with a friend of mine, though.  Based on the trailer, it looks like Killmonger eventually dons a suit similar to Black Panther's and they fight it out.  And we've already seen that in the first two Iron Man films and Ant-Man, so it's kind of overdone. 

But dude.  It looks incredible.  Black Panther hits theatres on February 16. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Doctor Strange

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watchin' movies and blogging about them.  Time to head back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor StrangeThis is in my notes at March 19, 2017

Doctor Strange poster