Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Here we go once again. It's a new episode of U62: The Targ! This week, we're hitting you with Episode 2.43: New Ones, where I pick apart the new works of "Weird Al" Yankovic and Hayao Miyazaki.

Click here to listen!

Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ponyo and GI Joe: Off the Cuff

Had me a wonderful day in the city! I did something I don't do very often anymore...I did a double feature day. You know, that's when you see two movies in one day. I don't do it very often anymore because, damn, dude, movies are expensive now! When I was frequently doing double feature days around 10 years ago, I'd go to half-price matinees, and it'd pretty much work out to be 2 for 1. But now...it's just too expensive! But still, it's fun to do every one in a while.

First up was one I've been blogging about for quite some time now, the latest from world renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo.

Miyazaki's films truly work in transporting you to another world. You just accept this world where a goldfish with a human face can become a little girl. The traditional, hand-drawn animation is wonderous to look at. And that music! Composer Joe Hisashi kicks all kinds of ass. This is definitly lighter fare than what Miyazaki's been putting out recently (ie Spirited Away). This really feels a lot like My Neighbor Totoro. And there ain't nothing wrong with that!

If I have one complaint...it'd have to be with Lisa, the character of Sosuke's mother. Now, Miyazaki is renowned for putting strong female characters in his films. And Lisa looks to be about the same...except for one scene.


So, Sosuke's father/Lisa's husband is a ship captain. He decides to take another job and thus be away from home for longer than expected. Naturally, Lisa is upset. But Miyazaki has her throw a very childish tantrum and then sulk like a 7 year old. Seemed kind of out of place.


Other than that, it truly is a magical film so go see it! 3.5 nibs.

And then, we went across the theatre to see G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Wow, what a world we live in! Two live action Transformers films, a live-action G.I. Joe...bring on He-Man!

What can I say about The Rise of Corbra? It definitly draws more from the classic cartoons than the classic comic books...there's a stronger focus on the action than the character development.

It's formulaic as hell, they made some deviations from the source material, but you know what? Enough of what I enjoyed as a kids was retained, and that made me happy...kind of like the first Transformers.

3 nibs!

Now let's hope they learned from Transformers example and don't fuck up the sequel.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Astro Boy Trailer

Another of my childhood heroes is coming to the big screen! Hitting theatres this October, it's the all-new feature film version of Astro Boy!

The vital stats: this is the second film from animation studio Imagi. Their first film was 2007's computer animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The director is David Bowers, a long time Dreamworks and Aardman storyboard artist who made his directorial debut a few years back with Aardman's Flushed Away.

We've known for a while now who the celebrity voice cast is, but only recently was it revealed who all their voicing. Previously, the only celebrity voice and who they're playing that we knew was Freddie Highmore as Astro. Highmore is probably still best remembered as Charlie in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Astro's creator, the distraught scientist Dr. Tenma, who creates Astro in the image of his deceased son, is voice by noneother than Oscar winning actor, well-known comic book nut, and all around crazy guy, Nicholas Cage.

As we trace through Astro's origin, of which this film largely tells, we know that Tenma soon regrets what he did, and sells Astro to an abusive ringmaster, Hamegg, who makes Astro the star attraction in his circus. Hamegg is voiced by Nathan Lane, still best loved by a generation as the voice of Timone in The Lion King.

Astro is soon rescued from the circus by Tenma's old colleague Dr. Elefun, who recognizes Astro and knows that his potential is being wasted. Elefun is being voiced by Bill Nighy, who's still probably best known in North America for playing Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Elefun soon encourages that Astro go to a regular school with regular kids, where he meets Cora. Cora is voiced by Kristen Bell, still beloved by geeks the world over as Veronica Mars.

In addition to the origin, they also drew a bit from the "Peacemaker" storyline from the original manga. President Stone (voiced by Donald Sutherland) sees Astro's obvious military potential, and when Astro refuses to become a WMD, the President unleases the Peacemaker robot to bring in Astro.

And there's a couple of celebrity cameos revealed at the San Diego Comic Con a few weeks ago that are worth noting. Samuel L. Jackson voices Zog, that robot that Astro brings to life in the trailer up there. And Charlize Theron reads the opening narration.

What am I thinking? Well, I'm cautiously optimistic, because I liked the CGI Ninja Turtles. However, there's a lot of gags in that trailer, like with the robot going "Is this thing on?" and the dog driving the car and all that. I understand the need for comic relief, but that trailer leaves me thinking they may have made the film a little too goofy.

We'll find out on October 26 if it really is goofy, or if they decided to cram all the comedy into the trailer to make it look goofy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lost in Translation

OK, if you've been reading this blog all summer, then you know I'm kind of looking forward to seeing Ponyo when it hits theatres this Friday.

Most of Hayao Miyazaki's films have become known for their catchy theme songs. The theme from My Neighbor Totoro is still hummed quite a bit. And the theme song for Ponyo was likened to the Totoro theme, and was quite a big hit in Japan. Here it is:

While it is cute and catchy, it's not quite radio friendly, Billboard Hot 100 material here in North America.

Well, like Miyazaki's last batch of films, it's being dubbed by Disney. And Disney's gotten very good at making the bubblegum pop these days, what the prevalance of the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus on radio these days. And hey! Disney got Frankie Joanas (little brother for the Jonas Brothers, and frequently joins his big brothers on stage as the "Bonus Jonas") and Noah Cyrus (little sister of Miley) to do voices in the American dub. So let's have them cover the Ponyo theme. Sounds good on paper.

But the resulting version is AutoTuned to death and will make your ears bleed. They threw in every cliche of modern pop. Oh my God. It's like some incestuous child of the MiniPops.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fencing off the Hoodoos

First up folks, sorry there's no podcast this week. I was down in Red Deer for my brother's wedding! We'll be back next week.

And now, I story I saw in today's paper that I want to share. Let's head further south to Drumheller.

Word from Drumheller today that they're going to fence off the Hoodoos.

Being one of Drumheller's best known landmarks, for the past five years, Drumheller's best known museum, the Royal Tyrell Museum, has been co-sponsoring folks to look after the Hoodoos for the past five years. And the results are no good. All the tourists walking around them, climbing on them, and carving their initials into them have significantly accelerated their erosion. So, since the "please keep of the hoodoos" signs are no longer effective, they have no choice but to fence them off.

The plan is to take tenders for the fencing-off project this fall, build the fences over the winter, and have it ready for next year's tourist season. They want a set-up where you can get nice and close to them on a boardwalk, and fences on the hill behind so no one can jump down on top of them.

Here's the whole story.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Weird Al's Latest: CNR!

Alright, the summer of "Weird Al" Yankvoic continues! His new song was released today. It's a loving homage to both The White Stripes and Charles Nelson Reilly entitled CNR:

I really like this one. The sad thing is, though, you don't get the joke until someone clues you in that Charles Nelson Reilly was a flamboyant effeminate television personality and actor back in the 1970s. I'm already seeing the comments, "Who the heck is Charles Nelson Reilly?"

But once you get it, it's funny as hell.

Monday, August 03, 2009

New Ponyo Trailer!

Hey! A new trailer for Ponyo went online last week!

I've already blogged about it quite a bit.... Ponyo is the latest work from Hayao Miyazaki, the Oscar-winning director of such animated fare as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke. His movies are awesome and you should watch them all...like I did last year.

It finally comes out here in North America on August 14. I managed to catch his last film, Howl's Moving Castle in the theatres, and dude, Miyazaki's animation is made to be seen on a big screen, so go see it when it hits your town. They say it's opening on 800 screens...the biggest opening ever in North America for a Miyazaki film. I just hope that one of those 800 screens will be in Edmonton so I can go see it opening weekend.

Now, I know there are some anime purists out there who are like, "NO! I refuse to see it in the theatre! Because in the theatre, it will be dubbed. Only subtitled anime is the proper way to watch anime!"

Yes the whole "dubbed vs. subbed" debate is one that has torn anime conventions asunder. It seemed to have been rendered moot with the advent of DVD, where you can switch between the two with a push of a button. But it rears its ugly head now and then when you get a major theatrical release like this.

So, in this case, let's talk to the director himself, Hayao Miyazaki. Several years ago, in an interview, he was asked if he prefers that English-speaking people watched the dubbed or subtitled versions. His answer? He wants you to watch the dubbed versions. His logic is he wants your eyes to be on the animation, not on the subtitles on the bottom of the screen.

So, there you go! You have the director's blessing to watch the dubbed version. So everyone head out on August 14 to see Ponyo!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Latest Targ's Up! Latest Movie Review Up!

Doing lots of catching-up on the website on this long weekend. First up, hey! I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a week ago. I finally review it!

Read the review here.

And now, the regular Sunday business....

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Yup, another week, another episode of U62: The Targ! Still trying out my endless rant format. In Episode 2.42: He Fights for the Users the rants include gourmet coffee in fast food places, the first look at Disney's Tron Legacy, and DVD extended editions!

Click here to listen!

Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Green Lantern: First Flight Review

Alrighty, I was just in the city last week. I rarely run into the city on the weekend two weekends in a row, mainly because it gets costly. But, it was a long weekend, and I felt like going a little nuts. Besides, there was a DVD out that I really, really, really wanted to get. As longtime readers of the blog know, I've been collecting and enjoying all of the Warner Brothers/DC Comics straight-to-DVD animated films. I knew I had to get their latest one. I just finished watching it. So sit back, as I review....

Green Lantern: First Flight

Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Starring the voices of Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen, John Larroquette, Kurtwood Smith, William Schallert, Larry Drake, Malachi Throne, Rob Paulson and Kath Soucie.

Backstory: Well, like most average joes, my favourite character in the DC pantheon has always been Batman. But I've always had a soft spot for Green Lantern, going back to when I was 8 years old and my brother gave me a Green Lantern Super Powers action figure for Christmas. I also thoroughly loved the last DTV animated film, Wonder Woman, and when I saw that most of the same team that did Wonder Woman was working on Green Lantern, I was ecstatic. But would this one live up to the hype I was placing on it?

Plot: Test pilot Hal Jordan is summoned to the dying alien Abin Sur. Sur is a Green Lantern, and on his deathbed, his power ring chose Jordan to be his successor. Now a Green Lantern, Jordan is promptly taken to the Lantern's home base, the planet Oa, where the debate begins as to whether Jordan is truly worthy. The Green Lantern known as Sinestro volunteers to take Jordan under his wing. Jordan goes along with it, but soon grows disillusioned with Sinestro's brutal tactics. As Jordan begins to investigate into Abin Sur's death, it appears that there's a traitor within the Green Lantern Corps. Who could it be?

What I Liked: The film opens with a very anime-influenced transformation sequence when Hal Jordan dons the ring for the first time. We journey to strange new worlds, we see all kinds of aliens, and Sinestro really gets brutal for an animated film. Way to earn that PG-13 rating! And, the voice acting is really top-notch.

What I Didn't Like: There's so much action that it's a detriment to character development, as we barely get a chance to get to know anyone.

Final Assesment: Thoroughly satisfying, but Wonder Woman is still the best one.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features: For bonus features on the DVD, you get previews for the last three DTV animated films, a sneak peak at the next one (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies), a featurette about the epic Green Lantern storyline The Blackest Night, playing out in the comics right now, a featurette on the history of Green Lantern, two episodes of Justice League focusing on Green Lantern, and an episode of Duck Dodgers spoofing Green Lantern.