Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, November 30, 2009

Now We Are 2...Iron Man 2!

Alright, the first poster for Iron Man 2 was just released. Not only do we have Iron Man, but we've also got our first pic of Iron Man's partner, War Machine!

To recap, Iron Man 2 is due out in May. Robert Downey Jr is back as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow is back as his faithful assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts, Don Cheadle takes over for Terrance Howard as Jim "Rhody" Rhodes (who becomes War Machine), Mickey Rourke plays the villanious Whiplash, and Scarlett Johansson plays the Russian superspy the Black Widow.

No official word yet on when the first trailer hits, but director Jon Favreau has been hinting that it'll be in front of Sherlock Holmes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Targ Returns!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

Well, after a one week hiatus, I come roaring back with a new episode of my podcast, U62: The Targ!

Why was there no episode last week? Well, it's all explained in Episode 3.10: Angst All Over...and That Stuff Stains. Long story short, car troubles ruined my good mood. I also talk about getting records for Christmas and buying new gloves!

Oh, and special thanks to Trouble for letting borrow one of her blog tags to title this week's episode.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas Specials

It's that time of year again. Our TVs are about to be flooded with all manner of holiday specials. Holiday specials just don't have the same pizazz for me as they once did.

Last week, I stayed up late to check out Merry Madagascar, aka the Madagascar Christmas special. For those who haven't been keeping tabs on it, DreamWorks is trying really, really hard to turn all of their animated films into full-blown franchises, and one way they're doing that is by giving just about every film they've produced a holiday special. It all started with the Shrek Christmas special from a couple years back, and continued with the Monsters vs. Aliens Halloween special from last month.

The plot of Merry Madagascar follows your fairly standard "famous characters save Christmas" plot. Santa crash lands on Madagascar, and all of our favourite talking animals who've been stranded there since the first movie figure they can use Santa's sleigh to get home to New York, after they finish delivering all the presents of course. Meanwhile, an amnesic Santa wanders around Madagascar and teaches all those wacky lemurs about the true meaning of Christmas. It was nothing remarkable, and scattered with pop culture references that'll be lost in a year.

I don't know. Modern Christmas specials just aren't that magical anymore. Most modern Christmas tales seem to have replaced the Magic of Christmas with a Cynicism Towards Christmas. I tend to consider "modern Christmas" tales to be anything made after 1994. I use 1994 as my cutoff date because that's when the remake of Miracle on 34th Street came out, and I use that as my case study.

See, in the original Miracle on 34th Street, Santa is in a court hearing to determine whether he's really Santa or not. Near the end of the hearing, Santa's lawyer comes up with a dazzling defence to prove that Santa is really Santa. All these letter carriers come in, carrying bags full of letters to Santa. Since the post office recognizes Santa as Santa, then surely he must be Santa. The judge agrees and Christmas is saved! That, my friends, is magical. But what happens in the remake? Instead of that, Santa's lawyer starts waving around a dollar bill and giving a lecture on the nature of faith. That's not magical...that's preachy.

Nothing's been made celebrating the magic of Christmas post-1994. Well, The Polar Express came closest. And there has been the odd Christmas special, such as 1995's Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree.

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree was notable in that it was one of the first Muppet things produced following the death of Jim Henson. Kermit the Frog served as our narrator, and a whole cast of original Muppets was created just for this special. The special all starts with Mr. Willowby, an eccentric millionaire who loves Christmas the most, and is well-known for his lavish Christmas parties. And, of course, the centerpiece of his parties are always the magnificent Christmas tree. But the heroes of this special are this little mouse family, who set out to find the perfect tree. And oh, they do find the perfect tree, but it is far too tall for their little mouse house. So they decide to just take the top. But then, Mr. Willowby's lumberjacks come along and take the whole tree. The mouse family clings to the top of the tree for dear life. The tree is taken back to Mr. Willowby's place, and it is determined to be too tall, so the top is cut off and given to another family...and so on and so on, and the mouse family hiding in the top of the tree gets to observe how all these different cultures celebrate Christmas.

It had an all-star cast of humans, too. Mr. Willowby was played by Robert Downey, Jr, Mr. Willowby's butler was played by Leslie Nielsen, and a kindly Sweedish boarder in Mr. Willowby's house was played by Stockard Channing.

Speaking of Christmas specials, I should brace myself. I'll probably start getting my annual deluge of e-mail requests asking for a copy of A Mouse, A Mystery, and Me.

Anyone else remember this holiday special? It first premiered in the late-1980s. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a big hit, and live-action/animation blends had become all the rage. A Mouse, A Mystery, and Me followed the Christmas adventure of two teenage girls. These girls had a very special after-school job...they were best selling mystery writers! But see, they didn't really write the mysteries...the mysteries were written by a talking animated mouse that live in their purse. They took the credit for his writing because apparently the world isn't ready for talking animated mice. Anyway, when a beloved department store Santa goes missing, its up to these young ladies and their talking mouse to find Santa, thwart some department store embezzlers who intend to frame Santa, and save Christmas! Television mainstay Dick van Patten played Santa.

A Mouse, A Mystery, and Me was quite popular in Edmonton, mainly because it actually was filmed in Edmonton. That fact made it a regular holiday tradition on ITV (now known as Global Edmonton) well into the late-1990s.

Now why do I get deluged with e-mail requests for it every Christmas? Well, when I was younger, I taped as many Christmas specials as a I could. And, every couple of years, I would catalog my Christmas special collection. A few years ago, I decided to post my catalog online. And, lo and behold, I mentioned that in my collection was A Mouse, A Mystery and Me. So, I get people with fond memories of that special, e-mailing me, asking me for a copy.

And sadly, I have tragic news for them. I cannot give them a copy. For, the last time I was home, I discovered that my mother had taped over it with her precious Coronation Street. It is lost to the ages.

Much like other Christmas specials that celebrate the magic and the wonder of the holiday season. Whatever you do, just be sure to watch the original Miracle on 34th Street, and not the remake.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Specs

So, as I've blogged a few times in the past, I have been loving the DC Comics direct-to-DVD movies so far. It's been announced that the next one, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, comes out in the spring. They just announced the bonus specs for the DVD, and there's something on it that's really cool.

The producers of these DTV films have begun doing a concurrent project called DC Showcase. DC Showcase is a series of animated short films focusing on some of DC's B- and C-list heroes. And, one of the bonus features on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths will be the very first DC Showcase!

For the first one out, we get DC Showcase: The Spectre. The Spectre is the Spirit of Vengeance in the DCU. In his original incarnation, Jim Corrigan is a hard-boiled detective who is brutally murdered. However, he is refused entry into the afterlife, and is sent back to Earth to be...the Spirit of Vengeance. In the forthcoming short, he'll be voiced by Gary Cole. Yup, Harvey Birdman.

Other bonus materials on the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths DVD include a featurette on all the various crises that the DCU has endured, two episodes of Justice League Unlimited, and a sneak peak at the next DTV film, which is still TBA. It's still slated to come out on February 23.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Latest Targ is Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

I seem to be going through a creative drought as of late. This blog is going unattended, and I just can't figure out how to express myself.

Which kind of leads into the topic of this week's show, Episode 3.09: Little to Do, in which the first few minutes are wasted figuring out what to talk about. But eventually, I settle on the Best Animated Film Oscar and naughty Christmas tree ornaments.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Clash of the Titans Trailer

I really haven't been blogging that much lately. It's often been said that blogs are for people with little to say and even less to do. I guess that means I haven't been blogging because I have a lot to say and a lot to do.

Anyway, a movie trailer I've been waiting for for a while now has finally appeared online. As we all know, remakes are all the rage in Hollywood right now. And, thanks to The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, fantasy films are equally big. So, it was only a matter of time before they started remaking fantasy films.

Which brings us to Clash of the Titans.

Clash of the Titans is a much beloved fantasy film from 1981. It was a retelling of the Greek legend of Perseus. We got to see Perseus tame Pegasus, slay Medusa, and rescue Andromeda from the Kraken. And, of course, the Gods of Olympus manipulated the events to curry favour. The film has also grown somewhat dated. With Star Wars and R2-D2 still fresh on people's minds, cute robot sidekicks were all the rage. So, Perseus got a cute robot sidekick in the form of a mechanical owl named Bibo, built by Hephaestus.

The cast was legendary as well. Perseus was played by Harry Hamlin, who went on to greater fame on L.A. Law. Zeus was played by the legendary Shakespearean actor Laurence Oliver. And Aphrodite was played by the legendary Bond girl Ursula Andress. But, where the film gains its true lustre among movie geeks is that it was the final film to feature special effects by the legendary stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen.

With this being a beloved classic, you just knew a remake was a comin'.

The new Clash of the Titans hits theatres this spring. Perseus is played by the up and coming action star Sam Worthington. We saw him this summer in Terminator Salvation and he'll soon be 10 feet tall and blue in Avatar. The Gods play a larger role this time, as well, with the goal of Perseus's quest being to assemble the tools Zeus requires to hold off Hades. Liam Neeson is Zeus, Ralph Fiennes is Hades, and Danny Huston is Poseidon.

And, in a wonderful tip of the hat to the original, Ray Harryhausen, who is now well into his 90s, was brought in to consult on the creature designs.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here's the new Clash of the Titans.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Latest Targ is Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

I suddenly had a flashback to 12 years ago. As I was struggling with my dial-up Internet connection, my computer sciences majors were telling me that, soon, people would be able to get Internet access through cable companies, and that you'd be able to download a 5M file in under 5 minutes!.

I was thinking about that as I was uploading Episode 3.08: Hey! That Song! Guess how big this week's episode is? And I downloaded it in under 30 seconds! The future is here!

Anyway, the topics of this week's show are Christmas albums, Sunshine Girl calendars, and some wacky stats about my personal life.

So get into the belated Halloween spirit!

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Latest Targ is Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

This is Halloween...this is Halloween...nothing like Halloween traditions on the radio! Or, in my case, on my podcast, U62: The Targ! One such tradition, going all the way back to my college radio days, is playing songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

You'll get one of those on Episode 3.07: The Ghost Pumpkin, along with some visiting trick-or-treaters, and a few rants about Halloween!

So get into the belated Halloween spirit!

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