Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's such a nice, bright, sunshiney day in my hometown. Perfect for heading out on a Sunday drive, seeing where the wind takes you, and perhaps having a picnic with that special someone.

And the perfect soundtrack to such a day is my podcast, U62: The Targ! This week, it's Episode 2.34: Pat the Bunny. We're ranting about comic book events, upcoming Dreamworks animated films, and my hometown makes the news.

So what are you waiting for? Drop it in your iPod and enjoy the day!

Click here to listen!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Toy Story 3 Trailer

It has become a grand Pixar tradition that, attached to their current film, is the first trailer for their next film.

So, with their current film, Up, having hit theatres yesterday, that means we get our first look at their next film, coming Summer 2010. And that film is the wholly unnecessary sequel, Toy Story 3.

Now, Toy Story 3 has already had a long and storied history. You may remember a few years back, Disney and Pixar were re-negotiating their contract. Pixar didn't like what Disney was offering, and decided to walk away from the table. Under the original Disney and Pixar arrangement, Disney retained all sequel rights to the films that Pixar made under their deal. That means that Disney could make Finding Nemo 2, The Incredibles 2 and so on without Pixar's involvement. So, in a gigantic "fuck you" to Pixar, Disney announced that they would be forming a new animation studio, Circle 7 Productions, and the sole purpose of Circle 7 would be to produce Pixar sequels. The first one on tap? Toy Story 3.

The whole Disney/Pixar contract re-negotiations ended with Disney flat-out buying Pixar. At first, animation geeks like myself worried that this meant Pixar as we knew it would die. But then we looked at the fine print and saw that most of Pixar's management would be taking on the same roles in Disney animation. So, at the end of the day, it looked more like Pixar took over Disney. And that meant that John Lasseter, the head of Pixar animation, also became the head of Disney animation. And one of Lasseter's first official acts was to shut down Circle 7 Productions.

But he didn't close the door on Toy Story 3....

Lasseter explained himself last year, when Disney announced their upcoming slate of animated films until 2012, and Toy Story 3 was on the list. Lasseter, who directed the first two Toy Story films said he got to looking at it and said, "Ya know? I think there is a third story that could be told with these characters." So he gathered together the Pixar brain trust, they went to all their old favourite hang-outs where they hammered out the first two Toy Story films, and they came up with a plot for a third one.

Back in the Circle 7 days, the plot was that a defect was discovered in Buzz Lightyear, and Buzz is recalled to the factory in Taiwan. So, all the toys head to Taiwan to rescue Buzz. That is no longer the case. Pixar has been silent on what the new plot is. The popular rumour right now is that the franchise will be taking a very dramatic turn, as young Andy, the owner of the toys, is now a teenager, and Woody, Buzz and the gang come to grips with the fact that they are in the twilight of their years.

Directing the film is Lee Unkrich, a member of that Pixar brain trust, who was the editor on the first Toy Story and A Bug's Life, and was also co-director on Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. Michael Arndt, the Oscar-nominated writer of Little Miss Sunshine, was brought on to write the script.

As for the voice cast, pretty much everyone is coming back. Tom Hanks is back as Woody, Tim Allen is back as Buzz Lightyear, and so on. For new voices, Michael Keaton is voicing Ken, the beloved of Barbie, and Ned Beatty is voicing a teddy bear.

As I've already said, I don't understand why the world needs this sequel, but as I love everything Pixar does, you know I'll be there opening day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dreamworks Upcoming

There's a very famous deleted scene from Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman asks John Travolta if he's a fan of Elvis or the Beatles. She then goes on to explain that while you can enjoy the music of both, at the end of the day, you can only be a fan of one them.

It's very much the same with computer animated films. You can enjoy Pixar and Dreamworks, but at the end of the day, you can only be a fan of one of those studios. I'm a fan of Pixar. However, Dreamworks is always worth a look.

And they've just announced what they have coming out between now and 2012. Let's take a look shall we?

How to Train Your Dragon - March 26, 2010
Based on the best-selling children's novel, about a young Viking and his pet dragon. Could be interesting.

Shrek Forever After - May 21, 2010
Oh, goodie. Shrek 4. Once again, I thoroughly enjoy the first Shrek. But the second one is a horrendous piece of film, and I still regard it as the worst animated film ever made. And the third one...is just there. This franchise really needs to end. It was originally rumored to be a prequel, explaining how Shrek first set up his home in the swamp. Now, apparently, it's going to be the nine-billionth spoof of It's a Wonderful Life where Shrek gets to see what his life would be like, well, if he never went though the first three films.

Oobermind - November 5, 2010.
The supervillain Oobermind finally manages to destroy his arch-enemy, the superhero Metro Man. However, this gives Oobermind something akin to a midlife crisis, and he doesn't know what to do next. So he sets out to find a new arch-enemy. Robert Downey Jr voices Oobermind, and Tina Fey also contributes a voice. Written and produced by Ben Stiller.

I'm actually somewhat fascinated by this one. Like a lot of nerds, I think the superhero genre is just made for animation. So more superheroes is good. And Ben Stiller, when he stays behind the camera, can be a pretty solid talent. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom - June 3, 2011
So Po, the titular kung fu panda, is forced to confront a villain from his past. All the stars are back.

The one thing that I hate the most about Dreamworks is they really invented the concept of animated film franchises, with the countless Shrek and Madagascar sequels. However, I keep reading surprisingly positive reviews for Kung Fu Panda. Even my fellow Pixar junkies said, "WOW, it's good!" I'm going to have to finally sit down and rent it one of these weekends. I'll reserve judgement until I see #1.

The Guardians - November 4, 2011
Based on the forthcoming book by William Joyce. Another of his books became Disney's Meet the Robinsons. This features Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman all joining forces to defeat the Bogeyman. A very interesting premise.

Puss in Boots - March 30, 2012
Ever since he was introduced in Shrek 2, plans were immediately launched to give Puss in Boots his own film. Antonio Banderas returns to voice Puss, Selma Hayek voices his beloved Kitty, and they embark on the ultimate heist: stealing the goose that laid the golden egg.

See my above comments on the Shrek franchise. Just copy and paste them down here.

Madagascar 3 - May 12, 2012
Those wacky animals finally make it back to New York.


And lastly, for November 2, 2012, they currently have three movies in pre-production. It'll be whichever one gets finished first. So, it'll either be:

The Croods - A caveman inventor feels threatened when his tribe is joined by an ultra-modern caveman with fancy inventions like fire and the wheel. This was originally going to be stop-motion animation by the folks at Aardman Animation, but Dreamworks kept it for themselves when they severed ties with Aardman. Based on an idea by John Cleese.

Truckers - Based on Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad Trilogy.

Untitled Super-Secret Ghost Project - All we know about this one is, it's about ghosts.

There's some good in there, some bad, and two too many Shrek movies. However, as I said, I'm fascinated by Oobermind, so I'll probably trek to the theatre for that one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Graffiti Tunnel

So, my hometown of Entwistle made the news the other night, and I've been wanting to rant about. It was the CTV news in Edmonton, but sadly, CTV Edmonton didn't deem the story worthy of posting to their website. My next hope was the website for my hometown newspaper, the Community Voice, but their website is little more than a place to place classified ads.

So, I guess I'm going to have to recount the story as best I can before I go ranting about it.

In my hometown of Entwistle, there is a tunnel. A pedestrian underpass, to be specific, leading under the CN Rail main line and Highway 16, connecting the north end of the village to the south end of the village. According to the Alberta Transportation dedication plaque at its entrances, the proper name is "The Entwistle Subway."

Since it is filled with darkness for 90% of the time, and my hometown is the type where there's nothing to do on a Friday night, the underpass is a frequent canvas for graffiti artists. And we're not talking the good kind of graffiti that you find in most urban areas...we're talking good ol' basic, "[Girl's name] IS A SLUT!" in gigantic crimson, spray-painted letters. We're talking bad sketches of marijuana leaves. We're talking poorly written limericks with little care for rhyme schemes.

Well, with Entwistle's centennial being this year, it was decided that now is the time to do something about it. So, the school has rallied the junior high kids to paint a mural of town landmarks in the tunnel. One of the teachers interviewed on CTV news even remarked that several of the kids who paint that graffiti are probably painting the mural. "Perhaps this will give them a sense of ownership, and there'll be no more graffiti," said the teacher.

And I'm here to say that this is a very bad idea. Painting a mural in the underpass will DESTROY Entwistle's judicial system!

For as long as I can remember, whenever a youth is sentenced to community service, the task assigned to them is to clean the graffiti out of the underpass. Well, with no more graffiti to clean up, what will they do when they're sentenced to community service?

It was a nice infinite loop, truth be told. They'd paint graffiti in the tunnel, they'd get busted for it, they'd have to clean it up as part of their punishment, but when they were done cleaning, they'd be so pissed they'd spray graffiti badmouthing whoever ratted them out, they'd be busted again, and they'd be forced to clean it again, and so on and forever.

Which is why I give this mural, oh, 6 months before it's defaced.

Seeing as to how the youth already constantly paint it, I'd say they already have a sense of ownership for it, and the latest effort, albeit an organized one, probably won't fix the problem.

I'm going to have to run home soon and have a look at it before it's gone. It's a noble effort, but ultimately a futile one.

I know the youth of Entwistle. I was one of the them. There's a sense of hopelessness. You either let it consume you, or you run from it. Either way, you need a release.

And a dark, hardly-policed tunnel and a can of spray paint provide it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My favourite fast food restaurant in the world!

So, in this week's podcast, I wax poetic on my favourite fast food restaurant in the whole wide world, the KFC in Stony Plain. Later in the day, I get an e-mail from my best friend going, "Dude! You should put some pictures in your blog."

Well, he's right. And it just so happens I have some pictures from when I stopped in there about a year and a half ago.

So here's the KFC in Stony Plain:

For those who haven't heard my podcast yet, here's why the KFC in Stony Plain is the greatest fast food restaurant in the world.

The decor - I've been to a lot of fast food restaurants in my time. Some -- pretty much every one on the west end of Edmonton -- I've been going to since I was four years old. And out of the ones that I've been regularly going to since I was 4 years old, they tend to change with the times...grow and evolve.

Not the KFC in Stony Plain. The KFC in Stony Plain is still firmly rooted in 1983. Hard plastic seats? Check. Eye-hurting, contrasting color scheme? Check. Faux wood grains and plastic flowers? Check and check. Everything that was designed to keep people coming and going at a quick pace is still there and still functioning. You might remember that a lot of fast food places started ditching decor like that in the mid-1990s because they were losing money to Starbucks and thus wanted to start copying Starbucks' "kick your shoes off, set a spell" mentality.

Reason #2 why I like it. It has a sprawling front lawn. Seriously, how many fast food places do you know with a sprawling front lawn? Surround by a charming little hedge, to boot? It hasn't been filled with a playground or nothing like that. Just...a sprawling front lawn. Set back nice and far from the main street.

You know, if I owned that KFC, I'd probably drop a 10-foot tall statue of Colonel Sanders in the middle of that sprawling front lawn, but that's just me.

Another reason why I used to like it, which sadly no longer applies, is it's remote location. It used to be on the very edge of town, all on its own.

But when I took these pictures a year and a half ago, you could see that they were starting to build right next to it.

That development next door is now open and fully functional. It's a strip mall and a Tim Hortons.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Some episodes of U62: The Targ and lovingly handcrafted, and brimming with issues that I'm just burning to talk about. Others are phoned-in affairs that I throw together the day before just for the sake of making sure this show remains weekly.

And this week's episode, Episode 2.33: Rick n' Roll, tends to be that second kind of show. I fall back on my old stand-by topics of KFC, 7-11, and Pixar. I couldn't even think of a third fast food/convenience type of business to round out the trinity. Next time, I'll be sure to slip in Husky.

Click here to listen!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Summer of Episode I

Your girlfriend “accidentally” recycled your Pepsi collectors cans and your dog ate your Jar Jar Frisbee. The summer of Episode I is officially over. -- A webcomic I read in August of 1999.

Can you believe that it’s been 10 years today? It was May 19, 1999 that George Lucas disappointed a generation of geeks. It was on this day that the phrase “raped my childhood” entered our lexicon. Yes, today marks the 10 anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

As I reflect on the decade of the 1990s, perhaps there’s no better movie that followed my growth throughout that decade. In 1993, George Lucas made that announcement that, after what he saw in Jurassic Park, the time was right to create new Star Wars films. In 1996, I was off to college, where I met others who shared in my passion for these sci-fi films. As I worked on a gravel crusher for the summer of 1997, I devoured every scrap of news of I could get online, as that was the summer that Episode I actually filmed. And then, the fall of 1998. The first trailers were coming. The hype was slowly starting to build. And...I was entering my final year at Augustana University College. A new Star Wars film to coincide with graduation...it would be perfection.

The fever pitch started building in November of 1998, when the first trailer was due to hit theatres. Of course, I had fully embraced the Internet at the time, and had discovered that movie studios had begun the practice of posting trailers online. It was also around this time that most of the lecture halls around campus had been outfitted with brand new digital projectors. I started doing the math in my mind and figured why should I go to the theatre in the off-chance I’ll see the trailer, when I could see it right here? I asked one of my professors if we could watch the trailer on the digital projector in the biggest lecture hall on campus after class one day. He said yes. On that day, twice as many people showed up for that class, just to see the trailer.

(In the interests of historical accuracy, I feel I need to point that there was only six of us taking Linear Algebra II that semester, so twice as many people in class was just 12.)

And things just started building from there. My show on the college radio station was one of the hottest things on campus, and I dedicated a whole show to Star Wars music. If I could have somehow gotten my hands on a leaked copy of Duel of the Fates to play, I would have done it.

But we knew that the big show would be coming in May. The announcement came that Episode I would be the first movie ever to sell advance tickets. Advance tickets for a movie! This thing was going to be huge! Plans were made. Lines started forming. I knew I had to get in on all this standing-in-line action. April came...final exams were written and grades were handed out. Graduation ceremonies came and I had my moment on the stage...got a big laugh when I gave the president of the university a great big hug instead of shaking his hand like everyone else was doing. I posed for pictures with friends, we all shared stories as we walked around the campus one last time. But it didn’t feel like then. It wasn’t the end.

Because one week later we were all back in Camrose, standing in line at the Duggan Cinemas, to be the first to get our Episode I tickets. Tickets went on sale at noon. Me and my gang showed up at 8AM. And damn it, we were third in line! My only regret from sitting in that line for so long was that I neglected to bring my Star Wars edition of Trivial Pursuit so we could pass the time. A friend brought his CD player though, and the Episode I soundtrack which had been released a few days earlier. We chatted about the recent graduation, what are plans were for afterwards, and how much Episode I was going to rock. When the theatre box office opened at high noon, by some strange coincidence, that’s when Duel of the Fates started playing on the boombox. I got my tickets for the show, exactly one week from that day. There was a reporter there from the Camrose Canadian who interviewed me and was quite curious to know why this man from Entwistle chose to come to Camrose to see the film. “Because I just graduated from Augustana, and I wanted to see it with all my friends. This is pretty much our grad party,” I told the reporter. The reporter even took my picture. I was told afterwards by my friends that I made the front page...but they never saved me a copy.

There was lots of standing in line. The news told tales of toy stores opening up at midnight so collectors could be the first to get their hands on all the new Episode I action figures. There was footage of nerds running through Toys R Us at 12:01 AM, not even caring who the characters were. They were just shoving as many as they could into their carts. Here I was clever. Why stand in line at midnight to buy these new action figures, when I could just go online to the Star Wars online store the day they came out, and buy them over the Internet? Sadly, several million other people were also clever and the Star Wars online store crashed that day. A few days later, my Mom was doing some business in the city and stopped by Wal-Mart and bought me the figures I’d had my eye on. They were just as plentiful three days later as they were the first day they came out.

There was a lot of merchandise for Episode I. I did have a Jar Jar Frisbee. The crown jewel of my Pepsi can collection is a can from Germany that my sister bought for me. (Rather than stand in line for hours on end to see a Star Wars movie, she decided to spend the summer of 1999 backpacking across Europe.) But my favourite was the miniature trading cards inside every bag of Doritos. Up until just recently, I used them to frame my computer monitor. I got a lot of Padme cards....

And then, the big day. May 19. We were seeing the 7PM show, so we all started gathering at the Duggan Cinemas in Camrose at around high noon. The theatre owners wouldn’t let us start a line for 7PM show until around 6PM, so most my line-standing consisted of hanging out in the Duggan Mall, chatting with friends about the plans for after graduation, and other movies coming out that summer.

6PM rolled around and we all started crowding into the very tiny lobby of the Duggan Cinema. It was around 6:30 when my best friend showed up. He already had a job post-graduation, and had to work that day. He wasn’t excited as the rest of us. He was very calm and reserved about the fact that we were about to see THE FIRST NEW STAR WARS MOVIE IN 16 YEARS! It was a stark contrast to three years later and the release of Episode II. For the release of Episode II, NOW he took the day off work. NOW he stood in line for 8 hours. NOW he dressed up as Darth Maul, convinced his girlfriend to dress up as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and they entertained others in the line with re-enactments of lighsaber duels. It usually takes my friend at least one film before he gets caught up in the fervour of a franchise. Someday, I’ll tell you how he thinks The Matrix Reloaded is THE GREATEST FILM EVER MADE, but shakes his head in disbelief when I tell him that there's a prequel called simply The Matrix.

6:45 was when they let us into the theatre. I was officially the first one through the doors. I had my pick of the place. I chose my perfect seats. All my friends filtered in and crowded into their favourite seats. Trailers and all the other pre-movie stuff started. And then...it began.

Now, if you’ve read this far, then you must be thinking that I’m one of those Star Wars superfans. But the truth is, I’m not. I’ve never dressed up in costume. I’ve never cracked open the novels. I don’t own any of the video games. The only things I know and love about Star Wars comes from the films themselves. I guess that makes me a casual fan. And as a casual fan, I remember enjoying the hell out of Episode I. It had a lot to do with being the first. I was the first to see this new Star Wars film!

I came out of the theatre pumped. I came out of the theatre jazzed. It was a new Star Wars film and it was a good. I started looking around at most of my friends, who are Star Wars superfans, who have played all the games and read all the books, and the looks on their faces said it all. The one word, the appropriate word: disappointed.

And the summer of Episode I just kind of petered out from there. I saw it in theatres two more times: once for my traditional birthday movie, and once around Christmastime in the cheap theatres. Everything after the premiere date was just...there. Sure, we had the now classic “Weird Al” Yankovic song, but once you’d seen the movie, it was all over.

I’m sure as you can tell by now, it was one of those films where the events that surrounded it were bigger than the film itself. Hell, I was graduating from university that summer! And as I reflect on it, fan reaction to Episode I perfectly sums up my feelings towards graduation. Here it was, this big event that I’d been building up to for so long, and when it finally came around, it was strangely anti-climactic and left me with questions about what was to come next.

Of course I own it on DVD and still watch it from time to time. Multiple viewings has shown me the things that my friends had problems with on opening day. And while I no longer think that it’s the pinnacle of science-fiction, I do think that it was a really good movie and highly entertaining. But what I’ll always remember is that the summer of Episode I was my last great summer...my last summer of carefree, youthful exuberance before the weight of the real world started closing in. It was the final summer filled with deep conversations with friends, hanging out at malls, and catching a movie.

The tagline told us that every saga has a beginning, but for me, it was an ending.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Even though we're halfway through a long weekend, I still find time to sit down in front of a computer and upload a new episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, there's nothing but rants on my mind. I'm ranting about dropping a lot of cash on action figure accessories, I update you on what Kevin Smith's got cooking, and a reflection on the state of music in superhero films. It's Episode 2.32: Assorted Rants.

Click here to listen!

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kevin Smith Doing a Hockey Movie

Yay! More news about my hero, Kevin Smith.

Smith, a lifelong lover of hockey, is making a hockey movie!

Here's where things get interesting. Smith is going to base his film on the song Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song), by rock n' roll legend Warren Zevon. For those who have never heard the song, it chronicles the life and career of a hockey goon.

In fact, thanks to that wonderful YouTube, here's the song for you to enjoy.

Now, Zevon co-wrote this song with Mitch Albom. Albom is a sportswriter who hit it big writing such inspirational fare as Tuesdays with Morrie and the Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Smith is co-writing his script with Albom!

Smith has already said that he wants to set the film in the late 1970s, in the final seasons of the World Hockey Association, which Smith calls "the last great era of goon hockey."

Smith hopes to start filming it in 2010 or 2011.

Smith's next film, A Couple of Dicks, starts filming next month for a spring 2010 release.

Here's the full story.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Random Musical Lament.

I love the spate of superhero movies out there, but my one big lament is that no one is writing epic superhero themes anymore. The two that defined this a genre of film score are, of course, John Williams' Superman....

...and Danny Elman's Batman.

Compare that to 13 years later, and Danny Elfman's Spider-Man

It just really doesn't have the same big, epic, feel, does it?

Or how about the new Batman theme for The Dark Knight. Despite being a highly touted collaberation between Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, it still just sounds like the same ol' action movie theme that Zimmer's been pumping out for the past 15 years.

The one that comes closest to capturing the classic Williams Superman or Elfman Batman feel, I think, is John Ottman's Fantastic Four.

The FF film franchise has lots of flaws, but I think Ottman nailed it, music-wise.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Latest on My Heroes!

My heroes are hard ato work, producing new stuff, so let's update you on what's going on.

First up, Kevin Smith. Smith got a bad reputation in the comic book world, what with his 3-year delay between issues 3 and 4 of Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil that Men Do. But, Smith has been slowly working his way back into writing comics. He swore, after that Spider-Man/Black Cat fiasco, that we would take a new approach to writing comics. And that is, if the story arc is going to run for x issues, he'll sit down and write all x issues and fire them off to the publisher. No more of this, "Writing one issue per month" crap. that way, if an issue runs late, he can deflect the blame to the artist.

That's how he wrote his return to comics, the 3-issue miniseries Batman: Cacophony, which ran December-March and is due out in trade paperback form this fall. And, based on that, DC is giving him another crack at the Dark Knight.

Smith's next maxi-series for DC is Batman: The Widening Gyre. This 12-issue series will chronicle Batman training a new hero to patrol the streets of Gotham. And here's what Smith is doing to incorporate his trademark tardiness. The 12-issue series will be published in 2, 6-issue books. The first six issues (aka "Book I") come out, he takes a six month break, and then the final six issues (akak "Book II")come out. He says he already has those first six issues completed and sent off to DC.

But here's where things get tricky. During that six month break, he's going to start writing a bi-monthly comic about this new hero that Batman has trained.

But that's not all!

Smith goes on to recount how, after he finished setting this up with DC, he got a call from the comic book publisher Dynamite Entertainment. Turns out Dynamite just got the comic rights to the Green Horent, and how would Smith like to write the first arc in their Green Hornet book?

Smith said, "Sure!" Smith's Green Hornet arc is going to be largely based on his unproduced screenplay, back when he signed on to write and direct it and then chickened out because Jersey Girl tanked.

So, there you have it. Smith is back in comics.

And, my other hero, "Weird Al" Yankovic. On his Twitter feed, Weird Al has just announced that he's finished recording all the original, non-parody songs for his next album! Now, is he going to put them in the vault for six months while he works on parodies, like he usually does?


He's going to release them digitally (e.g. on iTunes) next month.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Watchmen on DVD

So, they've announced when one of the biggest movies of the spring, Watchmen, is coming on DVD. As is the normal situation these days, there'll be three versions: single-disc, 2-disc special edition, and Blu-Ray. Bonus feature breakdown:

Single disc:
  • The movie. That's it.
2-disc special edition:
  • As previously announced, it'll boast an "extended edition" of the film, running 25 minutes longer than what you saw in theatres.
  • The Phenomenon: the Comic that Changed Comics - Documentary about the original comic
  • All 11 episodes of director Zack Snyder's "making of" Internet documentaries
  • The music video of My Chemical Romance's cover of Desolation Row
  • A digital copy of the film, so you can legally watch it on your iPod
  • Everything mentioned above in the 2-disc special edition
  • "Immersive maximum movie mode." This is becoming a big thing on Blu-Ray. No longer satisfied with the traditional running commentary, you can also watch special featurettes via picture-in-picture, and the director appears on screen to point out certain things and such forth.
  • Sync up with Facebook! In case you don't know yet, most Blu-Ray players have high speed Internet cards so you can connect them to the internet, and thus download new bonus materials. They call it "BD-Live." It's DVD-ROM bonus material taken to it's next step. Anyway, with the Watchmen Blu-Ray, you'll be able to sync up with your Facebook account, so you can comment on the film, chat with friends, and pretty much do all the crap you normally do on Facebook while you watch the film.
July 28 is when it hits your favourite DVD emporium.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Disney Returns to 2D Animation!

This is going to be a great year for lovers of animation...specifially, traditional, 2-D, hand drawn animation.

First up, Disney returns to the medium that made them famous with The Princess and the Frog. This'll be Disney's first 2D animation film since Home on the Range in 2004. This re-telling of The Frog Prince is set in New Orleans in the roaring 20s. It comes to us from John Musker and Ron Clemmens, who gave us the Disney classics The Little Mermaind, Aladdin and Hercules.

First up, here's the movie poster, just revealed today.

Secondly, the trailer has been leaked online. You'll be seeing it in theatres in two weeks in front of the latest from Pixar, Up.

The Princess and the Frog hits theatres in November.

But coming this summer is the latest from the world's most famous animator, Hayao Miyazaki. His last film, Ponyo on a Cliff, was released in Japan last year and a massive hit. And now, Disney is dubbing it and getting ready to release it in theatres this August. For it's North American release, it'll be called simply Ponyo. It chronicles the adventures of a goldfish princess who longs to be human, and the human boy who shows her kindness.

As with Miyazaki's last two films, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, the dub is being supervised by Toy Story director John Lasetter, who is one of Miyazaki's ardent admirers. Lasetter is teaming up with Hollywood uber-producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall on this one, because Lasetter wants to make it Miyazaki's biggest hit ever in North America.

The first movie poster has been unveiled, and it is right here:

No word yet on when we're getting the first trailer...some say it'll be in front of Ice Age 3 this July.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pixar Comes North

Looks like my dream of working for Pixar might be coming closer to fruition.

On Friday, Pixar announced that they're going to be opening up a studio in Vancouver!

The studio will be dedicated to "producing short-form quality computer animation for theme parks, DVDs, television, and theatrical distribution."

Translation: those nifty short films at the start of Pixar's films? They'll be making them. Along with TV specials and the things that keep you entertained when you're standing in line at Disneyland.

Here's the whole story

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Time once again for a new episode of U62: The Targ!

I've been all over the place the past few weeks, and Episode 2.31: Great Time for Geeks reflects that. We've live from Red Deer for Free Comic Book Day, live from Highway 2 for car culture, and live from West Edmonton Mall reviewing Star Trek!

Click here to listen!

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek and Wolverine reviews are up!

I don't know how much longer my Internet connection will remain stable, so I'd better hurry and get my full reviews for Star Trek and Wolverine online!

You can read them right here.

Quickie Capsle Reviews

OK, I'm having perpetual Internet problems at home, so I have no idea when I'll be able to publish my full reviews of Star Trek and Wolverine on the official site. So, best to run on down to the office, borrow the computer at work, and write some quick, off-the-cuff reviews.

Going back in time 6 years, that's why I originally created this blog anyway. No Internet at home? Well, something that can be updated quickly and easily at Internet cafes and library and other forms of pulic Internet access.

Anyway, I played hookey from work yesterday so I could see Star Trek on opening day. Well, I guess it's not really playing hookey when you responsibly book the day off two days in advance. And while I was at it, I made it a double-feature day and saw Wolverine. Quick reviews:

Star Trek

What I Liked: This is the Star Trek movie I've wanted ever since the Star Wars prequels and Lord of the Rings came along...this is Star Trek writ large...a true Star Trek epic. Most of the characters are pretty much dead-on. It's full of in-jokes and references for fanboys like me, but not so much that it's distracting. And we finally learn the genesis of Dr. McCoy's nickname.

What I Didn't Like: Despite their efforts, it still falls prey to several Star Trek cliches, such as the rest of the crew falling into the background and settling the focus on Kirk and Spock. There's one central change to a certain character relationship that just kind of comes out of left field. And who the heck decided that Chekov should sound like Borat?

Final Assessment: As I said, this is Star Trek writ large, and I loved it for it.

3.5 Nibs

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

What I Liked: Wolverine proudly proclaiming he's Canadian. What little we see of Deadpool. What little we see of Gambit.

What I Didn't Like: Just the overwhelming sense of "It's all been done." It's been done bigger and better.

Final Assessment: Offers nothing new for the X-Men film franchise...vastly underwhelming.

2 Nibs

Friday, May 08, 2009

Titan Maximum

Here I am, taking a personal day to go see the new Star Trek movie today, but before I hit the road, I just want to take a minute to talk about the new production from the makers of Robot Chicken.

The guys behind one of the funniest cartoons on the planet are getting ready to give us a new stop-motion animated comedy cartoon. It's called Titan Maximum. And I'm loving the premise so far.

In the distant future, humankind has colonized the entire solar system. Saturn's moon of Titans is defended by a group of teenage fighter pilots whose vessels combine to form a giant robot called Titan Maximum. And when of their own goes rogue and tries to conquer the solar system, they must set out to apprehend him.

If it sounds kind of familiar, that is because they've taken their inspiration from such class anime as Voltron, Robotech and Battle of the Planets. But that's where the similarities end.

Says co-creator and head writer (and former Twisted ToyFare Theatre writer) Tom Root: "All these shows revolve around a group of young people who hold the fate of the universe in their hands. In reality, that would end horribly. That last thing you want when a bunch of giant monsters attack is a group of teenagers defending you. Titan Maximum is about what would actually happen if a group of idiot teenagers were put in charge of a 6-story robot."

Root created the show with fellow Robot Chicken writer Matthew Seinrich. Robot Chicken creator and producer Seth Green will be producing and voicing the villain. The voice cast includes such Robot Chicken regulars as Brekin Meyer, Rachel Leigh Cook, and Dan Milano. The writing staff even includes current comic book legend Geoff Johns.

No word yet on when it'll premiere.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Musings on Free Comic Book Day

So, this past weekend, I found myself once again in Red Deer for a family function. Looking for something to occupy myself on Saturday, I was reminded that it’s that worldwide nerd holiday known as Free Comic Book Day. So I decided to seek out Red Deer’s only comic book store and get my hands on my free comics.

For those not in the know, Free Comic Book Day is this massive initiative started by the comic book industry to get more people reading comics...to get the point across that comics is no longer a medium just for kids. The concept is simple: on the first Saturday in May, comic book stores give away free comics. The first Saturday in May was chosen because just about every summer this decade has included a blockbuster based on a comic book, and they almost always come out on the first weekend in May. Since interest in comics is high that weekend anyway, why not take advantage of it? The comic book publishers got on board with this, and most produce an exclusive comic book to be given away on Free Comic Book Day.

I found Red Deer’s only comic book store in the heart of Red Deer’s downtown. With my Google map in hand, I wandered up and down the street until I realized it was probably the store with the neon Superman and Batman logos in the window. I stepped inside, and found myself in the stereotypical comic book store. Row upon row of longboxes, stuffed full of old comics. A simple newsstand to the side where the new stuff was displayed. It was dark...windowless and narrow. The scent of old newsprint filled the air. And, behind the counter, a fat, bearded nerd sipping a Slurpee. I browsed through the store before approaching the lord of this manor. “Pardon me, sir, but I understand that today is Free Comic Book Day.” He motioned to a box by the front door. “They’re right there. Limit 5.”

I started looking through the box, and realized that even with the glee of Free Comic Book Day, the Red Deer comic book store doesn’t get a lot of business. I flipped through the box and found this year’s free comics...and last year’s free comics...and the free comics from two years ago...and three years ago...and so on.
This is actually indicative of a problem I’ve been having with Free Comic Book Day. My first one was two years ago. I stopped by my favourite comic book store in West Edmonton Mall, as I was in town for Spider-Man 3. I entered the store, walked up to the clerk, and said “Pardon me, sir, but I understand that today is Free Comic Book Day.” He replied with a heavy sigh, reached into a box behind the counter, slapped a comic book in front of me and said, “Here.” Needless to say, I was turned off by the whole experience. If the whole point of Free Comic Book Day is to get people into the stores and buying comics again, and experience like this really didn’t encourage me to come back.

Things were much better when I was back there last year for Free Comic Book Day. I walked in the front door, and was immediately greeted by a friendly clerk. “Hello! Did you know it’s Free Comic Book Day? The free comics are laid out on a table in the back. Help yourself to two! And while you’re here, we’ve got this on sale, and that’s on sale...it’s all kinds of Free Comic Book Day specials! So please, enjoy!”
THAT’S how you do Free Comic Book Day. Make it an event! Make your stores warm and inviting so people want to come back! Because some times, free comic books aren’t enough. And advertise it a little bit, too. Balloons and a big banner outside never hurt anyone...except in that unfortunate incident in Boise, Idaho.

Let's see now...what did I make off with on Free Comic Book Day? I was only expecting to get one comic, but with their limit of 5, I decided to load up. I got DC's Offering, Blackest Night #0, Marvel's offering, a special edition of The Avengers, a G.I. Joe/Transformers flipbook, issue #1 of the Transformers movie adaptation (from 2 years ago) and, the coolest one of all....

This year, 2009, marks the 25th anniversary of the media franchise known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So, to celebrate, Mirage Studios' offering for Free Comic Book Day was a special re-print of the comic that started it all, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.

I still remember the tale of how the Ninja Turtles came to be. It was recounted quite a bit in various news outlets at the height of turtlemania back in 1990. The Turtles' creators, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, even recount it in their own words in the intro to their special Free Comic Book Day re-print. And I'm sure it still represents "the dream" to a lot of struggling young artists.

There they were, Eastman and Laird, a couple of starving artists. They kept knocking on the doors of all the major comic book publishers, but no one would let them in. Then, finally, they went, "Screw it! We'll form our own comic book company, and do our own independent comic!" They formed their company, Mirage Studios. But then, what should their first comic be? Eastman pulled out a sketch he did a few months earlier of an anthropomorphic turtle wielding a pair of nunchucks and said, "Let's do this! Let's do turtle ninjas!"

The end product: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a one-shot comic designed to be a highly-intricate parody of/homage to the comics of the day, particularly Frank Miller's work on Daredevil. It hit comic book stores in May 1984. To their surprise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a massive hit, leading them to do a second issue, and then another, and turn it into a regular series. In 1986, it had become big enough that it was brought to Playmates Toys as a potential action figure line. The toys, and a cartoon to promote them, came out in time for Christmas of 1987, and the rest is history.

I often wonder what happened to Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and what other contributions they made to comics. Thanks to the Internet, that's really easy to do.

Peter Laird decided to pay it forward. He formed a non-profit organization dedicating to handing out grants to starving artists to they can self-publish their work. And, he's also become the current guardian of the Ninja Turtles franchise. He bought out Eastman's share as this decade began, and Laird has kept a watchful eye over every iteration of the Ninja Turtles from around 2002 and on.

Kevin Eastman fulfilled a lifelong dream by purchasing and become publisher of his favourite comic, the legendary Heavy Metal magazine. He also went on to party like a rock star, marrying former Penthouse pet and B-movie superstar Julie Strain.

And leafing through the special Free Comic Book Day re-print, there's all kinds of merch coming this year to celebrate the Turtles' 25th. The first 6 seasons of the original cartoon are on DVD, with the 7th coming this year. The original Eastman and Laird comics are coming in trade paperback form, along with the Archie comics that were popular in the early-1990s. And the live-action movies are getting all-new super-special editions due out this August.

And before I go, just one last thing about Free Comic Book Day. It's nice to see that the marketing concept is starting to catch on. Two years ago, a group of record stores decided to take the concept and create Record Store Day.

As we all know, between the big box retailers selling CDs at ridiculously low prices and piracy, the small, independent mom and pop record store is dying out. So, to help battle this, the creation of Record Store Day, celebrated on the third Saturday in April.

Recording artists release exclusive albums on this day, along with special in-store promotions like album signings and performing. The stores get in on it with free hotdogs and balloons and, well, everything that I said that Free Comic Book Day should include.

Makes me wish there some small, independent record stores closer to where I live so I can take part. I'll have to keep my eye open for participating stores in Edmonton next year.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Ah, the beauty of the timer on blogger! Here I am, posting this new episode of U62: The Targ on Thursday, but thanks to the timer, it'll automatically go out to the world on Sunday! How about that?

This week, I've worked ahead to bring you Episode 2.30: Inconvenience. I have a few things I need to get off my chest, do some reading up on Expo 2010, and we're finishing our countdown to the new Star Trek film!

Click here to listen!

Subscribe in iTunes

Saturday, May 02, 2009


"When I'm finished, this world will never forget."

"We have never faced a threat like this."

"They're the best operatives in the world."

"What does it accelerate?" "You."

"This is General Hawk. The mission is a go."

"This has only just begun."

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Good points: Snake Eyes vs. Storm Shadow

Bad points: Since when do the Joes need power armor?

August 6.