Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Thoughts on the Family Guy/Star Trek Episode

Stayed up late last night to catch Not All Dogs go to Heaven, aka "The episode of Family Guy with the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation." The set-up: fed up that he never got to ask the cast question at a Star Trek convention, Stewie decides to abduct the entire TNG cast so he can spend the day hanging out with them.

Now, since Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane is a devout trekkie, I was expecting something filled with in-jokes towards TNG, much like Where No Fan Has Gone Before, aka "The episode of Futurama with the entire cast of the original series (except Scotty)". But no. Sadly, the stuff with the TNG cast turned out to be a very weak subplot in a very weak episode.

Essentially, if you saw this preview that Fox posted on Thursday, you saw every Star Trek joke that was in the episode:

Although, I will admit, the one in-joke that didn't make that reel was when as soon as the cast materializes in Stewie's room, Stewie promptly kills Denise Crosby "as a warning to the rest of you." That made me laugh out loud, and I really was hoping for more stuff like that.

But yeah...as a said, it turned out to be a weak subplot in a weak episode.

In case you're curious, the main plot had to do with Meg finding God and atheist Brian trying to convince her the error of her ways. Yeah...it degenerated into Brian preaching the joys of atheism. "Family Guy" and "preachy" don't mix.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Targ This Week

Sorry, guys, that I don't have an episode of U62: The Targ this week. This past weekend, I was broadcasting live from the first-ever Athabasca Auto and RV show, that took up a lot of my free time.

Don't believe me? Here's a picture of me hard at work.

Yes, this is my job.

But still, feel free to head by the the Targ website and help yourself to a rerun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday News Wrap-Up

Wow. Looking at the stats for my blog, readership goes up quite a bit when I remember to share these new entries on my Facebook page and my Twitter page. I just might be doing a lot more of that in the future!

Anyway, got a bunch of news stories here that you've heard in other media outlets that I just want to share because...well, I like them.

First up, y'all know I'm a big fast food junkie, but even this might be too much for me. The baseball team the West Michigan Whitecaps have a new item at their ballpark concession stands, and it's a doozy.

The Fifth Third Burger is, quite possibly one of the biggest hamburgers ever served at a ballpark. You start off with a specially made, 1 pound bun. Then you add a cup of chili. Then you add 5, 1/3 pound burger patties (5/3, get it?). Then, you top with cheese, nachos, nacho cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream. The finished burger weighs well over 4 pounds, and will set you back $20.

It's not for those on a diet, as it contains 4800 calories and 300 grams of fat. Naturally, the suggested serving is to cut it up into smaller pieces and share it with your friends.

However, the ballpark will have special T-shirts made up, that you will get for free if you manage to eat the whole thing. I'm guessing the T-shirts will read, "Holy crap, I'm still alive!"

Full story here.

Next up, we got some movie news on Tom Hanks. Hanks has just secured the movie rights to Major Matt Mason, and is looking to develop it into a movie starring himself.

Wow, with the success of Transformers and G.I. Joe, they're turning every action figure into a movie now, aren't they? Major Matt Mason was a fondly remembered action figure line from the 1960's, and was created as Mattel's response to Hasbro's runaway hit G.I. Joe. Major Matt Mason was an astronaut "who works on the Moon!" the ads proudly proclaimed. The big gimmick though was that it was grounded in reality. Matt Mason's space suit, moon buggy and other vehicles were all based on NASA designs at the time. And with the space race on everyone's minds when it hit store shelves in 1966, Major Matt Mason was a runaway hit.

But then, 1969. The Eagle had landed, and the space race was no longer enough. Major Matt Mason then started veering into sci-fi, and some aliens were introduced for the Major to fight, but it wasn't enough, and the toy line was discontinued in the early 1970s.

Anyway, Tom Hanks was a fan and has idea for a movie. He just got the movie rights from Mattel. Hanks will be producing it through his company Playtone Productions, in association with Universal. Hanks is also hoping to star as Major Mason. No word yet on when it'll hit theatres.

Full story here.

And it's always great when a couple of my heroes, Adam Savage and Jamie Hynaman, the Mythbusters, make the news.

Apparently, the myth they were testing was the old saying "knock your socks off." They wanted to see if they could literally knock someone's socks off.

So, they got a crash test dummy, loaded him with 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate, and lit the fuse.

The resulting explosion shattered a few windows in the neighbouring town. The Mythbusters were cool about it and replaced all the broken windows.

Full story here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are Trailer

Well, here it is, the one trailer that everyone's geeking out over today.

The live action movie version of Where the Wild Things Are has been a long and trouble production...over 6 years in the making. People where taken aback when Spike Jonze was hired to bring it to the big screen. After all, Jonze brought us such quirky, existential dramas like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. How the heck would he adapt one of the most beloved children's books of all time?

And that's why it was more than six years in the making. The studio wanted a fun, bouncy kids film. Jonze wanted something that was a more realistic depiction of how children imagine thing...and something just a little bit on the dark side. It was supposed to come out last year, but rumor has it a disastrous test screening led into massive re-shoots.

And now, it looks like it's ready for release this October.

So, here it is, the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are:

See, right away it doesn't look like a kids film. It does, however, look like a Spike Jonze film.

And as I'm sure you could figure out, the Wild Things were animatronic creations from Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and they tell us that they're enhanced with computer animation to make their faces more expressive.

October 2009!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Astro Boy Trailer! Ponyo Release Date!

For the most part, I love my living situation, but minor inconveniences can turn into big ones quite quickly.

My Internet is down. But, because my landlord won't be home until 6, I can't call anyone to complain about it, or get it fixed. So, no Internet. Causing me to go batty because I couldn't check my e-mail.

Oh, well. It's a nice day for a walk. May as well walk on down to the library and use one of their free Internet terminals. Lace up my boots, strap on the MP3 player, cue up Lily Allen's new album, and hit the road! I get to the library and...all the Internet terminals are full. Darn kids and their spring break....

Luckily, the office is just down the street from the library, so may as well pop in at the office and get my Internet fix.

Now, what's so important that it couldn't wait until 6PM for me to call and complain to my landlord?

New Astro Boy trailer!

Anyone who's watched a lot of Japanese cartoons -- or just really liked The Incredibles -- can tell you that superheroes and animation are tailor-made for each other. None of this worry over getting the right actor...just draw them however you like. And things that seem impossible in live action just become possible when they're lines on a piece of paper...or vectors in a computer.

So that brings us to the new, computer animated movie version of Astro Boy. The classic Japanese cartoon character is being brought to the big screen by Imagi Entertainment, the same studio that brought us that computer animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a couple years back.

It's due out this October, and while the animation doesn't look to be groundbreaking, it definitly looks fun.

October 26 is when it hits theatres.

And speaking of classic Japanese cartoons, we have the North American release date for Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, the latest animated epic from Hayao Miyazaki, generally regarded as the world's greatest animator.

The story is about a goldfish princess named Ponyo who longs to be human, and befriends a 5-year old boy.

The English language dub includes the voices of Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Tina Fey, and Cate Blanchett. Frankie Jonas -- the littlest Jonas Brother -- voices the 5-year old boy, and Noah Cyrus -- the littlest sister of Miley Cyrus -- voices Ponyo.

As with the last two Hayao Miyazaki films (Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle), the English dub is being supervised by Toy Story director John Lasseter. Lasseter teamed up with Hollywood super-producers Frank Marshal and Kathlleen Kennedy to dub Ponyo, with the goal of making it Miyazaki's biggest hit in North America.

Anyway, what's the release date?

August 14.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Friday was the first day of spring, making this the first podcast of spring! Does U62: The Targ usher in the new season with great aplomb, or just the usual?

Well...the usual stuff.

Today, it's Episode 2.26: Finite Storytelling, in which I urge Hollywood to keep TV shows short, discuss celebrities following me on Twitter, and even talk a little bit about the Edmonton Capitals.

Click here to go listen to it!

Click here to find it in iTunes!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cracker-Cats No More

Granted, I'm not much of a sports guy, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about the demise of one of the stupidist sports names in Edmonton sports.

Yesterday, it was announce that Edmonton's Golden League baseball team, the Cracker Cats, would be renamed the Edmonton Capitals.

I'll never forget when Edmonton was granted a Golden League Baseball franchise four years ago. How the name Cracker-Cats came about is...well, foolish. According to urban legend, which was widely reported at the time, the name Cracker-Cats came about like this. The owners of the team spent millions of dollars on a marketing study to choose a name for the team. When the marketing wizards came back to the owners to present the team name, the owners said, "That's a stoopid name! We're not using that."

Because Edmonton has always been a centre of oilfield activity, they wanted a name that reflected the oil industry. So the owners grabbed the Big Book of Oilfield Terms, randomly flipped through the pages, and their finger landed on the term "catalytic cracking," which is a chemical process in the early stages of oil refinement. They flipped it around, and got "Cracker Cats."

Needless to say, lots of people thought it was a stupid name. Some baseball historians even went so far as to call the name racist, as "the Crackers" was the name of Atlanta's old Negro League team.

There were lots of problems with the Crakcer Cats, which have been widely reported in the Edmonton media. The owners lived in Florida, and never, ever set foot in Edmonton. It almost seemed as though the owners were dedicated to driving away fans, with a series of meaningless and almost random front office changes. There were reportes of game attendance dwindling at around 150.

But all that seems to have changed. At the close of the 2008 season, the Cracker Cats were bought by...the Edmonton Oilers! And the Oilers seem dedicated to turning the team around and making it viable. They've even announced that they're moving some of their offices out of Rexall Place and down to Telus Field as a show of support.

And yesterday, they announced that the name is being changed from the Cracker Cats to the Capitals...which was the winner in a city-wide "name the team" contest. Says Capitals governor Patrick LaForge, "Alberta's Capital City. Oil Capital of Canada. It just makes sense."

Along with yesterday announcement, they also unveiled the team's new colours - which is the Oiler's copper and blue - and the launch of a "design a logo" contest.

I want baseball to work in Edmonton. My mother was the baseball nut in the family, and I've got many fond memories of going to Edmonton Trappers games when I was a kid. Baseball does work in Edmonton. It can work again.

Here's the story announcing the new name.

Here's the Edmonton Capitals' new website

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

See? I Remembered!

I remembered the rest of my brilliant thoughts from yesterday!

Yes, the rest of my thought had to do with Hot Wheels and other tiny toy cars of that type. This is predominant on my mind because down at the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy, the aisles are currently glutted with Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and all other manner of toy cars. That, and I have a renewed interest in them, having gotten some as a gag for Christmas.

I guess the source of my obsession is how come the toy car collectors never receive much press? Here I am, an action figure collector, and I'm a social pariah, frequently the butt of jokes on sitcoms the world over. Every couple of years, usually around the anniversary of Barbie, you hear of Barbie collectors and their conventions. But the toy car collectors? They get to exist in anonymity.

How come they get off easy?

Granted, I do boast a couple of toy cars in my collection. Given my love for all things Batman, of course I have a couple of Batmobiles. Because of my love for Speed Racer, I've got a couple of Mach 5's. And, I even have a soft spot for Herbie the Love Bug from my youth, so I snapped up a Herbie when I had the chance. My holy grail is still a DeLorean Time Machine, from Back to the Future.

It seems that every little boy goes through a phase where they're all about the toy cars. And wow, did Pixar find a way to tap into that. For the Pixar junkies like me, Cars is generally regarded as the lesser of their films to date. However, in terms of merchandise sales, Cars is the most successful film Pixar has made to date.

So, yeah. Cars. That was my brilliant thought. Not as brilliant as I thought, but there it is.

Show Prep

I hoped to post this on Tuesday afternoon, but Internet problems prevented me from getting through to Blogger. If you’re reading this, either the Internet is working again, or I put it on a flash drive and went for a walk to the library.

I was out for a constitutional yesterday, and I had several brilliant thoughts occur to me. I was going to save them for my next podcast, but feared that I would forget them, so figured it was best that I jot them down.

So the other day, I was blogging about the new Law & Order: UK. Now, a British television series usually has a very small number of episodes in a season. Law & Order: UK got an order of 13 episodes for its first season...a number that is incredibly high for a one-hour British drama in its first season. However, Law & Order creator Dick Wolf laments that the season is so short, and is hoping that he’ll be able to convince the British producers to eventually do an American-style season of 22 episodes.

Now this got me thinking about a discussion I was having once with my best friend. He’s become quite a fan of Japanese anime and OVA and how an anime series might only run 26 episodes or so. “Can you imagine that?” he said to me. “That’s such a finite space to tell a story! What kind of story could you tell on TV in just 26 episodes?”

“You think that’s a short space?” I replied. “What about this British dramas, where a season is just 6 episodes! What kind of story would you tell in 6 episodes?”

There really is something to be said for finite storytelling...a TV series of limited length that has a set beginning, middle, and end. The way American television has set things up, it is designed to never end. That’s how we get The Simpsons and the original Law & Order running for more than 20 years. Some would say that that is a more realistic way of storytelling, because just like real life, there is no end. It just keeps going on.

But therein lies the rub. It’s more realistic in the never-ending sense, but in real life, characters are allowed to grow, change, and evolve. Not so on a TV series. Characters are expected to remain relatively consistent during the 10 years or so that a TV series is on. Fry said it best on an episode of Futurama: “People don’t like clever and unexpected. Clever makes them feel stupid, and unexpected scares them.”

But thanks to finite storytelling, because you know that end is coming, you can feel free to take the characters on an arc that will change them forever. Just when the characters have evolved to a point where your audience won’t love them anymore, well, that’s it. That’s the end of the series.

I wonder why North American television hasn’t embraced the concept of finite storytelling more. I can only think of a few examples. Babylon 5 was only designed to run for 5 years, and 5 years was for how long it ran. I believe there’s a similar plan in place for Lost. Listening to the running commentaries for the short-lived sitcom That’s My Bush!, either Matt Stone or Trey Parker (I forget which one) says, “Ya know, in a way, I’m glad this show lasted only 8 episodes. Because by around episode 7, we were starting to feel like the premise was wearing out.”

I hope finite storytelling is embraced. We shouldn’t fear the end when it comes to TV shows.

So I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of weeks now, and I’m starting to learn the ropes. I’m searching around, following more people, and picking up more followers, but still, its surprises me who chooses to follow me.

As part of all forms of media embracing Twitter these days, I’ve found a few of my favourite Edmonton Journal columnists, and started following them. But the weird thing is...they then turned around and started following me.

What’s going on here? Now, I don’t think it’s the “follow me and I’ll automatically follow you” system that celebrities like Britney Spears have set up. When they follow you back, it’s pretty much instantaneous. But with these Edmonton Journal columnists, it took hours – days in one case – for them to start following me back. So I’m assuming from this that it must have been on a conscious decision on the part of the columnist.

Why did they choose to follow me? Was it because I’ve tweeted during my morning show enough that they went, “Oh, fellow media guy. We media folk must stick together!” On my Twitter page, I’ve linked to enough of my other projects, like the podcast and the YouTube videos and even this blog. Have they perused these projects and went, “Wow, a kindred spirit!”

It boggles my feeble mind, and I have yet to work up the courage to go, “@columnist Hey! Why are you following me?”

But in the off chance that they’re reading this blog, I’d like to say, “Hello, Edmonton Journal columnists! I’ve always believe that deep inside every blogger beats the heart of a frustrated writer, and I know that’s true in my case. Reading your stuff inspires me to get more good.”

I had more brilliant thoughts as I was on my walk, but alas, they have escaped me. I had the thoughts on the walk up the hill, and it was on the walk back down the hill that I forgot them. I could sit here and try futilely to remember them, but I find that thoughts are like cats. The harder you hunt for them, the harder they hide. Best to just put your feet up and wait for them to come to you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Law and Order International

Just doing some random googling, and I discovered that this much-hyped TV series has now started airing!

Ladies and gentlemen, it's the official British re-make of Law & Order, which is now a proud member of the franchise under the title Law & Order: UK:

Of course, right away for me, it earns its nerd cred for its casting of Freema Agyeman as the character of court prosecutor Alesha Philips, who fills that Law & Order stock role of "feisty young female ADA."

It's first season consists of 13 episodes...over in the UK, they're about 4 episodes in right now. For the first season, each episode is a flat-out re-make of an episode of the original American version, only with the appropriate changes made to make it work in British culture and the British legal system. Oh, and of course the setting was changed from New York to London.

Apparently, Law & Order creator Dick Wolf was quite involved with this British re-make, and is quite impressed with how it's turned out. According to Wikipedia, he's even lobbying NBC to pick it up for American re-broadcast.

And you know, that's why this first made headlines when it was announced around a year ago. With British television gaining ever more outlets in the USA, what with them winding up on various cable channels, there does exist a very real possibility that this'll be coming to North America.

But you know, discovering this got me digging around YouTube. This isn't the only international re-make of a Law & Order series. Before this one came along, the best-known Law & Order re-make out there was the French version of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Or, as the French re-make is known as, Paris enquetes criminelles.

The setting has been moved to Paris, and every episode is a flat-out re-make of a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode, with the appropriate changes made to make it fit into French culture and the French legal system. Apparently, this is a condition on all these international Law & Order remakes.

But apparently the most popular of all these international Law & Order remakes is the Russian version of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. When this first premiered in Russia, apparently it was a full-on pop culture phenomenon. Same rules apply...setting changed to Moscow, and each episode is a flat-out remake of an SVU episode, with all the appropriated changes made for the Russian culture and legal system:

Here's an actual clip from the Russian Law & Order: SVU. I chose this because you get to hear the opening narration in Russian, plus you can see that it boasts what my best friend once dubbed the "low budget made in Canada" look. Seriously. It's got the look and feel of an episode of The Littlest Hobo:

The Russian re-make was so popular that it also led to a Russian remake of Criminal Intent. I could find only one clip online, and it's in good ol', super-poor "video camera filming the TV" vision:

But still, out of all these remakes, I think the best one still has to be...the Sesame Street remake of Law & Order:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's time for that Sunday morning ritual of mine...posting a new episode of U62: The Targ, my podcast!

This week, Episode 2.25: Comic Toast. In this one, we're talking Watchmen, Wonder Woman, and Pokemon. Just a typical show, really.

Click here to go listen to it!

Click here to find it in iTunes!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My latest YouTube vid!

So, here's my newest YouTube epic.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta recently had a fundraiser in Athabasca, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Athabasca Good Samaratin Mission. (That's our local food bank).

The fundraiser was a hockey game. Some of your favourite PC MLA's and cabinet ministers vs. municipal politicians and local celebrities.

Filmed it. YouTubed it.

Here's The PC Hockey Game.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Think of the Children: New Movie Laws in Alberta

So I just saw on the 6 o'clock news that here in Alberta they're bringing in some changes to the movie rating system. Well, not so much changing the ratings, but changing the way they're enforcing them.

Here's the original news story. You can read the text, or even watch the video!

For those too lazy to click, it pretty much boils down to this. All children aged 14 and under would be banned from movies rated 18A.

(For those not familiar with the Canadian movie rating system, 18A is pretty much the same as the American rating of R.)

It used to be that if kids 14 and under were accompanied by a parent or someone of legal age, they'd be OK to see an 18A movie. But nope! Not anymore! If you're 14 or under, you're not going to see Watchmen, you're off to see The Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Movie next door.

Also as part of this new law will be hiring narks to enforce it.

Of course, the complaint about this is that the government is overreaching their bounds and not letting parents be parents.

That's got to be the biggest argument against it: government, stay out of our homes and let the parents be parents.

The biggest argument FOR it would have to be this posting at one of my favourite websites, Not Always Right.com. For those too lazy to follow the link, let me skip straight to the punchline:

"With all due respect, ma'am, the movie is rated 18A, the movie poster is a picture of a stripper, and the film is called Sin City. What on earth made you think it was appropriate for your 8 year old child?"

Granted, I don't have kids, so this new law isn't going to affect me. However, you just know it came about because some overreacting parents lobbied the government, and now a different set of parents are overreacting to the law. Heck, in the news story, Minister of Culture Lindsay Blackett pretty much says as much.

On the plus side, this probably means no more crying babies when I go to see something like 300.

Also as part of this law, video rental stores will be unable to rent videos unless they're rated. Now that one does seem unfair. As they point in the news story, consenting adults like myself will be unable to rent award winning documentaries and foreign films simply because they couldn't afford to be submitted for a rating.

All in all, I think this new law is a bit of an overreacting.

And while I'm at it, I'd like to criticize how the news story was put together. For an example of an 18A movie, they used a clip from Watchmen. Fair enough...it's #1 at the box office right now and it's rated 18A, it's a prefect example. But....

...they used a clip featuring all the characters standing around in their bright, colourful superhero costumes. That, alone, helps skew the news story towards the fact that it's an overreaction.

Had they used one of the full frontal nude shots of Dr. Manhattan, or when Nite Owl is having sex with Silk Spectre, or when Rorschach hacks the guy's head in two, that probably would have been a little more accurate to the spirit of the law, and probably have a lot more people agreeing with it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Watchmen Review is Up!

My review of Watchmen is now online!

Actually, it's been online since Monday, but because I adopted the policy of "one blog entry per day," I'm only blogging about it now.

So, if you're not my friend on Facebook, or if you're not following me on Twitter, or if you don't check out my official site twice daily, this is the first you're hearing about it.

So go read it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder Review

You know, DTV movies don't have to suck. And I'm starting to learn that with all the ones I'm starting to amass in my collection. Let's get to my latest addition...

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

Directed by Peter Avanzio

Starring the voices of Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeile, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, and special guest voices Phil Hendrie, Penn and Teller, Snoop Dogg and Seth MacFarlane.

Backstory: Well, I am a Futurama geek, and I reveled in the news that the series was being resurrected in a series of 4 DTV films. But, all good things must come to an end, and the fourth and final film was finally released. The track record for me goes like this: #1 was awesome, #2 was kind of weak, #3 was good, but still not as good as #1. Where will #4 lie in spectrum?

Plot: After the construction of a newer and bigger Mars Vegas, Leo Wong (Amy's father) reveals his latest plot: to build the universe's biggest mini-golf course. To do so would require the destruction of 12% of the galaxy. Key to this construction is the destruction of a violet dwarf star, around which orbits an asteroid teaming with life. But little do they know that the destruction of this star would play into the hands of the Dark Ones, the culmination of evolution of the galaxy's fiercest predators. The only one who can stop the Dark Ones is our hero, Fry, who has been rendered telepathic thanks to a chunk of metal embedded in his skull. Can Fry stop the Dark Ones and save the universe? In other subplots, Bender starts dating the wife of the Robot Don of the Robot Mafia, and Leela joins an outlaw band of eco-feminists, and Zapp Brannigan is ordered to bring her in.

What I Liked: Well, there's definitly more laughs in this one than in the last two films. The first one was good because of all of its "WE'RE BACK!" vibes...this one is good because of all of its "SOB! IT'S OVER...AGAIN!" vibes. But still, the melancholy attitude keeps them from knocking it out of the park.

What I Didn't Like: OK, the whole plot with the Dark Ones does get a little confusing. And, as I said, it's good because of it's "IT'S OVER!" vibes, but they really don't kick in until the final 10 minutes.

Final Verdict: Bender's Big Score is still the best one, but this one is now a solid second. Good-bye, Futurama! This was an OK finale.

3 Nibs

Bonus Materials: For bonus features, you get a running commentary with the voice cast and directors, deleted scenes, featurettes, and a couple of nifty little comedy bits. I'm getting to lazy to type out the complete list.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Wonder Woman Review

Alright, I spent my Sunday afternoon watching those direct-to-video (DTV) movies I picked up in the city yesterday, so let's get to it! Let's share my opinions with the world on....

Wonder Woman

Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Starring the voices of Keri Russel, Nathon Fillion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt, and Virginia Madsen.

Backstory: So, the DC/WB has had a pretty good streak so far with the DTV animated films. For their latest one, they finally get around to the third part of the DC trinity, the Amazon Princess herself, Wonder Woman. Producer Bruce Timm himself admitted that they were never able to give Wonder Woman her due. Would they finally be able to do it by making her the star of her own DTV film?

Plot: For centuries, the Amazon warriors of legend have live in peace and solitude on the hidden island of Themyscira. Their only duty: to stand guard over Ares, god of war, rendered powerless by Zeus. But, their existence is shattered one day when American Air Force pilot Steve Trevor crashes his plane on their island. Ares takes advantage of the commotion to escape. So then, the Amazons choose a champion to go on a mission to Man's World. The mission is twofold: return Trevor to his home, and apprehend Ares. The champion chosen: their own princess, Diana. Will Diana be able to navigate the hazards of Man's World and re-capture Ares?

What I Liked: The one thing I wasn't expecting about this film was how funny it is. It's just funny as hell to watch Diana arrive in Man's World, and then spend a great deal of time bitch-slapping every piece of crap that women are expected to deal with in today's world. The voice acting is top notch, too. I'll admit, when it was announced that Keri Russel would be voicing Wonder Woman, I didn't think she had enough..bad-ass-itude to pull it off. But she does so wonderfully. And also, Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor...again, funny as hell. But it's not all giggles. There's also some pretty hardcore action scenes with lots of blood and be-headings.

What I Didn't Like: Sadly, I found Rosario Dawson's voice acting to be a little flat. And it was so darn short. I don't know who decided that these WB/DC DTV films have to be 75 minutes, but that person must be punished. With so little time, there's so many supporting characters that I feel got short shrift.

Final Assessment: This is the best DC Universe DTV animated film to date. Keep 'em coming!

4 Nibs

Bonus Material: The film is out in both single-disc and 2-disc special editions. Of course, I got the 2-disc special ed. For bonus materials, you get a running commentary with the director and producers, three featuretts (the first one about making the film, the second about the history of Wonder Woman, and the third about Wonder Woman's ties to Greek mythology), a couple of Wonder Woman-centric episodes of Justice League, and a sneak peak at the next DC Universe DTV film, Green Lantern: First Flight, due out this summer.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Ah, a new week, means a new episode of my podcast, U62: The Targ!

On this week's episode, it's Episode 2.24: More Music of the Bat. You might remember, a few weeks ago, I special-ordered an ultra-rare copy of the soundtrack to Batman: The Animated Series.

Well, I finally went through all 2.5 hours of music on the 2-disc set, and I play my favourite clips for you!

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

My Day in the City and Some Comments on Watchmen

It's almost a monthly ritual for me, heading into the city, spending too much money on DVDs, and then heading to see a movie.

For those curious, the DVDs I spent too much money on this month are a couple of straight-to-DVD movies. First up, I had to get the latest DC Universe animated film, Wonder Woman. It's been getting some fantastic reviews, so I'm looking forward to watching it soon. And, I also got the fourth and final Futurama DTV film, Into the Wild Green Yonder. I love the first Futurama DTV film, felt the next two kind of wavered, but the reviews for the fourth one is that it's almost as good as the first one.

As with all DTV films of mine, look for reviews in this here blog in the days ahead.

But that's not all! I also had to pick up some new CDs to rip and load into my MP3 player. Snapped up Lily Allen's new one, It's Not Me, It's You. I do so love Lily Allen. She's got the kind of voice that haunts me.

I also had to pick up the debut album from The Lonely Island, Indredibad. For those too lazy to click the link to Wikipedia, The Lonely Island is a comedy troupe that includes Saturday Night Live cast member Andy Samberg and SNL writers Akiva Shaffer and Jorma Taccone. They are the trio responsible for most of the SNL digital shorts. If it's a rap video, it's these guys, so this album is made up of pretty much all the comedic rap songs they've done for SNL. There's some funny stuff here, so once I heard it was out, I knew I had to snatch it up.

To get all this new media, I wound up spending a lot more money than I intended to. I tend to feel less guilty about spending a lot if I buy at least one thing that I really need. Good thing I needed socks.


Needless to say, Watchmen has been quite the experience these past few years. Not gonna lie...I'd never heard of Watchmen until I met my best friend in college and he started re-introducing me to comics. Even then, I never went down to the library and checked out a copy. Instead, I turned to the Internet (which I was just discovering at the time) and started reading about Watchmen. Armed with plot synopses and critical analysis, I was able to keep up a conversation with my best friend.

(In an amusing side-note, by best friend's girlfriend at the time was a great follower of the works Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Again, I did a lot of extensive research on their projects so I'd be able to maintain a conversation with her. One night, after an extensive debate about the merits of Cannibal!: The Musical, I shattered her world when I revealed that I had never actually seen the film...just read a lot about it. Finally got around to seeing it last year...it was pretty good.)

Anyway, as this decade went on, I still never got around to reading Watchmen, but still I read just about every article and synopsis and guide that could I find. That's right, rather than immerse myself in the book itself, I immersed myself in the Coles notes. When the release date of the film was announced, that became my ticking clock to finally read the book.

Signed it out of the library a month ago. Finished reading it three days ago.

Needless to say, it was an interesting reading experience, too. I'd read a few chapters, then go online and watch the film's trailer again, or some of the viral videos that were released to promote the film, and everything started falling into context. "Oh, that's what that scene is...I still don't understand that. Maybe it'll be explained in the next chapter."

I can honestly say that I've never walked into a film knowing more about it beforehand that I ever have before.

I found the film to be really, really good. It was as faithful as it could possibly be.


I had the same problem with it that I had with that other Alan Moore adaptation, V for Vendetta. In order to get it down to a marketable running length, they had to cut out so many subplots and character moments and universe developing bits of coolness. It's almost like, well, reading a synopses.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a fantastic film, but the book just has the opportunity to flesh things out a little more.

I'm feeling generous today, so I'll go ahead and give it my highest rating of four nibs. A complete review will be coming in the next couple of days.

Oh, and just a little observation about my favourite fast food place, Wendy's. They've finally started doing something that I've wanted fast food places to do for a long time.

And that is, you can now choose the size of your fries and drink with a combo meal.

A "small combo" comes with small drink and fries, a "medium combo" comes with...well, you get it.

However, I would recommend ordering the small, as I went with the medium, and discovered that what they now call medium was once called large.

Oh, and one last thing. When watching Watchmen today, I tried something new.

I now have my Twitter account set up so I can tweet using text messaging from my cellphone. I was posting my off-the-cuff comments while I was watching the end credits!

So, follow me on Twitter for the next time I see a movie!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Third and Final Star Trek trailer!

The thrid and final trailer for Star Trek is in theatres this weekend in front of Watchmen.

But it's online now!

Wow. This is looking big and epic...something that a Star Trek movie hasn't looked like in a long time.

This one hasn't given me goosebumps like that last two. This one ramps up the explosions and the action.

But still, I think this is going to be a good one.

Here's where you can watch it in all kinds of high quality versions.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

And my online empire grows....

WOO WOO! Everyone on the bandwagon!

I just signed up for Twitter.

Follow me, and I'll follow you

Man, I need to get out of the house more.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Latest from Kevin Smith is....

Well, me and my fellow Kevin Smith geeks are dumbfounded by the announcement of what Smith's next film is. It's not his horror film Red State, which he was so hellbent on making. No, his next film is....

A Couple of Cops, starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan!

The plot is being described as about a couple of veteran LAPD detectives who set out to track down a stolen, rare, mint condition 1952 baseball card.

Quite a few things make this notable. First up, this is the first film where Smith will be the director only. That's right, Smith didn't write this. It was written by Rob and Marc Cullen, who wrote for the TV shows Las Vegas and Heist. They also wrote and produced the unsold pilot Manchild, which starred...Kevin Smith!

Also, this is Smith's first film for a major studio. It's being made by Warner Brothers. All his other films to date were made by smaller, indie studios.

A release date of January 2010 is already locked in.

This is quite a surprise, but as I am still a massive Kevin Smith fanboy, I'll still be there opening weekend.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Winter Festival of Speed!

It's been a while since I've had a new YouTube epic to share! Here's my newest one.

Here's the deal. Out in Lac La Biche, they recently had the Winter Festival of Speed. All kinds of motorsports out on the frozen lake. Our sister station in Lac La Biche, Big Dog 103.5 issued a media challenge. All the surrounding radio stations were invited out to race on the ice for charity.

And of course, we here at 850 the Fox picked up the gauntlet that they threw down.

They only wanted one volunteer from the station, and my colleague/news guy Chris Byrne raised his hand first.

Which left me free to make a movie about it!

So, here we go, with the Winter Festival of Speed Media Challenge

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Another week, another episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, it's Episode 2.23: Gilgamesh. We're talking remakes, DVD discount bins, my history of blogging, and Conan O'Brien.

All in all, a fairly by-the-numbers affair. I'll try to have something more exciting next week. Captain Excitement, that's me!

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