Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sequels, Remakes, and How to Promote Them

So Pixar is about to unleash this bit of promotion for Toy Story 3 that I'm not sure I agree with.

Coming to colleges next month is Toy Story 3: The Cliffhanger Edition. Pixar is launching a college tour where they'll be going to theatres on campuses all across the USA and screening the first 65 minutes of the film...the first 2/3rds, to be specific. And then, when the third act of the film is about to start, they flash, "To Be Continued," and to see how the movie ends, you've got to buy your ticket and see the whole thing when it comes out in June.

Again, I'm not sure I agree with this, mainly because you're spoiling far too much of the film.

Oh, well. It's open only to college students, so it's not like I can go anyway.

You know, with all the pointless remakes that Hollywood is churning out, I knew it was just a matter of time before this one was announced.

Legendary Pictures, the production company that's part of the Warner Brothers empire, announced today that they just signed a deal with the legendary Japanese movie studio Toho Studios to produce an all-new, American remake of Godzilla.

Because, you know, the last time there was an American remake of Godzilla, it turned out so well.

Yeah, it wasn't a very good film, but I still think that was one of the best movie trailers EVER.

No word yet on any creative talent involved with the film...just that Legendary Pictures wants it in theatres for Summer 2012.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Finding Lost Music

The one thing that always strikes me about music is how it can be easily found, and then easily lost. You know what I mean. You'll be listening to the radio, you'll hear maybe 30 seconds of the song, but you'll miss the announcer saying the name of the song, and you'll never find out what the song is called or who sings it, and it'll haunt you for the rest of your days!

Don't you hate it when that happens?

That's why it always brings me such joy when I'm able to rediscover one of those songs. Just one day, you'll finally hear the whole thing on the radio, and be all like, "DUDE! That's it!" and you'll finally hear the whole song and the name of it and it just gives you a good feeling. I had one of those moments recently, and little did I know that the song was right under my nose.

In this case, it wasn't a snippet heard on the radio. It was a snippet of a music video. When I was but a wee lad in Entwistle, one afternoon after school I caught a little bit of Video Hits, and I saw this really weird music video. The only thing that stuck with me after all these years was this one part of a guy being rolled down a conveyor belt, while he's poked with sticks and eventually covered with glue, and then he's stood upright and peels the glue from his face. It just always stuck with me. I tried finding it on YouTube, but you actually don't get a lot of hits when you search for "that music video with the guy on the conveyor belt that gets covered in glue."

So it wasn't too long ago I was leafing through the Edmonton Journal, and I read an interview with 1980s Canadian pop sensation Gowan. The interview described the music video for A Criminal Mind as being made of "low-budget props and gloopy goo." Something about "gloopy goo" made me think "guy on a conveyor belt that gets covered in glue." So I did a quick search on YouTube for A Criminal Mind by Gowan, and lo and behold! It was the music video that haunted me in my youth!

We've played that song quite a bit on the River, so why I never figured out that the music video for that song was one song that I'm now quite familiar with, I don't know.

So why was Gowan recently being interviewed in the Edmonton Journal? Well, it turns out that 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of his hit album Strange Animal, which spawned the hits A Criminal Mind and Strange Animal. To commemorate this occasion, Gowan, now going by his full name Lawrence Gowan, has released the album Return of the Strange Animal. Disc 1 is his album Strange Animal, all digitally remastered and sounding better than ever. Disc 2 is a DVD, containing the music videos for A Criminal Mind and Strange Animal, plus some original tracks, some new videos, and a new documentary about the making of the album.

Reading that article, Gowan's had a pretty good career after his pop superstardom in the 1980s. In the 1990s, he started going by his full name and went to a more easy listening sound. He had a few smaller hits, but nothing as big as his 1980s successes. And then, in 1999, he became the new lead singer for Styx, and continues to rock out crowds all over the world.

I just might have to pick up Return of the Strange Animal, just so I can forever have that music video in my collection.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's that time of the week! A new episode of U62: The Targ!

So, this time around, I slapped together Episode 3.25: Tears of Joy. I'm just so happy because so much stuff has arrived in the mail! I've got some Tron Legacy viral marketing swag, my final "Weird Al" Yankovic albums arrived, and I take a minute to remember tasty foods from years gone by.

Click here to go download it!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

What's My Hero Up To?

So, some news came across my desk yesterday about one of my heroes, Brad Bird. Bird made my favourite film, The Iron Giant, and then moved on to Pixar where he won a slew of Oscars for writing and directing The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Bird has been trying to break into live-action for a while now. After the success of Ratatouille, he said he was working on a historical epic called 1906, about the 1906 San Fransisco Earthquakes. But nothing's come of that yet.

And now, a rumor has come forth that Bird has been approached by J.J. Abrams and Tom Cruise to direct Mission: Impossible 4.

Abrams, of course, was the director of Mission: Impossible 3, and after Abrams' Star Trek became a huge hit, Cruise was all like, "Please come back to the franchise and do #4" and Abrams was all like, "I'm busy with the Star Trek right now, and I can't. Tell you what...I'll produce it and help you find an awesome director. How about that?"

Also on the short list to do M:I 4 is Edgar Wright, who brought us the modern day classics Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and Ruben Fleisher, who did the recent hit zombie comedy Zombieland.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Robots in Disguise, Real American Heroes, and the Cap

A few bits of movie news have come my way that I feel like passing along.

One of my buddies, who's a fellow fan of 1980s cartoons, recently sent me a text message. "Hey, what's going on with Transformers 3?" he asked. "And how about G.I. Joe 2? Will there be a G.I. Joe 2?"

As if on cue, there then followed a couple of big announcements on Transformers 3 back on Monday. Some how, director Michael Bay managed to land Oscar winner Frances McDormand and multiple-Oscar nominee John Malkovich to the cast. Who they'll be playing, we don't know yet. Seeing as to how we saw John Turturo in his underpants for far too much of the first two films, I expect Bay will make McDormand do full-frontal nudity.

Just to be clear: I don't want to see full-frontal nudity from Frances McDormand. But knowing what Bay has done in the past, I'm expecting it.

Also added to the cast is Ken Jeong, still best known as "the guy in the trunk in The Hangover."

Also added to the cast...a Ferrari. Yes, Bay has signed a promotional deal with Ferrari, so a new Autobot will turn into a Ferrari.

Meanwhile, over on G.I. Joe 2, as I told my buddy, the first one made enough money to justify a sequel. Both Hasbro and Paramount want to make it happen. Back in January, Paramount hired Rhette Reese and Paul Wernick, writers of the hit comedy Zombieland, to write it, and that's the last development there's been.

And now, the latest Marvel hero to get the big screen treatment, Captain America, is moving closer to hitting your local cineplex. It was just announced that Chris Evans has signed on to play Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. Evans, of course, is no stranger to the Marvel universe, having played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films.

Joe Johnson, director of The Rocketeer, Jumanji, Jurassic Park 3, and, most recently, the remake of The Wolfman, will be directing. They start filming this summer for a summer 2011 release.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

King of the Wild Frontier

You know, something happened in pop culture last week that I haven't taken the time to acknowledge yet.

Last week, Fess Parker passed away at the age of 85. To Disney fans like me, Parker will always be remembered as Davy Crockett.

I love Disney's Davy Crockett. Way back when I was but a wee lad in Entwistle, and VCRs were starting to become commonplace, and you had to actually rent VCRs and the movies, one of the movies my folks ever rented to entertain us kids was Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. I was instantly smitten. Disney's Davy Crockett tales are nothing but stories of high adventure, perfect for young boys.

I was caught an interview with Buddy Ebsen, who played Crockett's best friend and sidekick George Russel, in which he talked about the series. "People think it was this huge series that ran for years, but we only made 5 episodes!" And that's correct. The five episodes are thus:

Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter - Crockett volunteers to help settle an Native American uprising.

Davy Crockett Goes to Congress - Touching upon Crockett's political career, as he makes a name for himself as a congressman.

Davy Crockett At the Alamo - Chronicling Crockett's final days as he heads to Texas to assist in the fight for independance.

Davy Crockett's Keelboat Race - Crockett crosses path with ruthless keelboat skipper Mike Fink and they engage in a race.

Davy Crockett and the River Pirates - Crockett allies himself with Mike Fink to take down some ruthless river pirates.

Even though all TVs were black and white back in the 1950s, Walt Disney had the foresight to film all these episodes in colour. That way, he could edit these episodes into movies and release them to theatres. The first three episodes were edited into the film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. The latter two were edited into the aforementioned Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.

Disney released the complete series on DVD as part of their super limited edition Walt Disney Treasures collection back in 2001. The movie versions have been released on DVD and are available "wherever DVDs are sold," as they say on TV.

As for Fess Parker after Davy Crockett, he had pretty good career. In the 1960s, he played another frontier hero, Daniel Boone, on the same-named TV series for 6 seasons. And then, in the 1970s, he retired from acting, bought himself a vineyard, and made "some mighty fine wine," as the song says.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Predators Trailer

You know, out of all the modern day science fiction classics that geeks of my generation love, I still haven't seen Predator. I know! Shocking, isn't it? That being said, though, I can't help but enjoy the story of how the long-awaited third film, Predators, came to the big screen.

Way, way, back in 1994 or so, Robert Rodriguiz was one of the hot young things in Hollywood, thanks to his smash hit, low-budget action films El Mariachi and Desperado. At this time, Rodriguiz got a call from 20th Century Fox. "Hey, we've been trying to get a third Predator film off the ground. Are you interested?" Rodriguiz, being a geek who loved the first film and all it's sci-fi trappings, said, "Hell, ya!" Rodriguiz took a crack at it, wrote a few drafts of a screenplay, and the suits at Fox said, "Are you mad, man? This thing is far too expensive to film!" And that was the end of that.

15 years and a few changes in management at Fox later, Rodriguiz gets a phone call from Fox. "Hey, after those crappy Alien vs. Predator movies, we're looking to reboot the Predator franchise. We found this old script you wrote in our files, and we think it's the perfect direction to go in. Shall we try this again?" And once again, Rodriguiz said, "Hell, ya!" Luckily, "far too expensive" in 1994 movie talk is now actually quite reasonably priced in 2010, so the greenlight was quickly given.

Rodriguiz did not direct this film, only served as producer. The directing duties fell to Hungarian director Nimrod Antal, who recently did the action thriller Armored. The whole thing was filmed at Rodriguiz's Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas.

The plot is this. Several of the greatest killers on the planet -- soldiers, mercenaries, hit men, and even a plain ol' serial killer -- are abducted and stranded on a deserted planet. From an old soldier who's survived on this planet for years, they learn that this planet is a game preserve for the Predators...and that they are the prey.

Adrian Brody plays the leader of our ragtag group, an American mercenary. Robert Rodriguiz regular Danny Trejo is a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, Topher Grace is the aforementioned plain ol' serial killer, and Laurence Fishburne is the old soldier who's survived there for years.

It comes out on my birthday, July 7! Lots of time to seek out the first one and finally rent it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Something Old, Something New

If there's one thing I'm sure you've learned by reading this blog, that's that a Saturday in the city is usually followed by a Sunday on the couch watching all the DVDs I bought. And this past weekend was no exception.

Had to grab a couple of animated films that had a little something in common. First up, was the all-new computer animated version of Astro Boy. As I said in my original review, it is an animated film that offers nothing new. The plot is by-the-numbers, and borrows from dozens of other much better sci-fi films about robots. But you know what? My childhood nostalgia for the character was so strong that I thoroughly loved it.

The other one, of course, was Disney's triumphant return to traditional animation, The Princess and the Frog. Again, as I said in my original review, the plot is very by-the-numbers. If you've seen any other Disney animated film, you've seen this one. However, it was so good to see Disney back to doing what they used to do best, that nostalgia made it easy to overlook the flaws. It was their first time taking the boat back out on the water...best not to rock it.

And that's the one thing that those two films have in common. There is just nothing new in them...nothing to really push the limits of animation and what kind of story can be told in the medium

Which is why I thoroughly geeked out when, among the previews on the Princess and the Frog DVD is a trailer for a forthcoming, all-new, super-special edition of The Black Cauldron, one of Disney's most notable efforts to push the limits.

My jaw dropped when the trailer promised that this new special edition would boast deleted scenes. The Black Cauldron is the one Disney animated film with the most infamous deleted scenes. See, at the film's climax, the evil Horned King unleashes his army of "Cauldron Born," essentially a zombie army. In a demonstration of this power, the Cauldron Born kills a few members of the Horned King's army, and these dead members instantly spring back to life as Cauldron Born. The infamous deleted scene concerns the rapid decomposition of these dead soldiers, as they turn into Cauldron Born. The scene was sloppily edited out of the film...you can hear the jumps in the music and everything.

Disney already released The Black Cauldron as part of their "Gold Collection" of DVDs around 6 or 7 years ago. It's rare to find Disney DVDs in the discount bin...what, with their practice of the Disney Vault, DVDs tend to go out of print and off store shelves before they get to the discount bins. So when I saw the Gold Collection of The Black Cauldron in a discount bin a couple of years ago, I had to snatch it up. It was pretty good for just a Gold Collection...it even feature a gallery of Tim Burton's conceptual art.

Yes, Tim Burton got his start as an animator at Disney. Burton has gone on record many times as saying it was one of the least creatively-satisfying periods of his career. One of the final blows was when all of his conceptual art for The Black Cauldron was deemed unusable. It was just...too Tim Burton-y, and not Disney.

All the trailer for this special edition says is that it's coming in 2010. Most of my favourite DVD sites have no info yet, some are suggesting it's coming in June. I'll keep my eyes open.

And speaking of animated films that are different, I can't forget that Fantastic Mr. Fox comes out on DVD on Tuesday. I'm wondering if I should run out and buy it as soon as it comes out. I'm still very upset that I missed it in the theatre, especially if it's as good as everyone says it is. If it is that good, I'll probably wind up owning it anyway.

Still want to see 9, too. Rent them first? I don't know. So many busy weekends coming up, not enough time to rent movies....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Latest Targ's Up! Latest Movie Review is Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's time for a new episode of U62: The Targ!

Here we go with Episode 3.24: The Sweet Stuff. I take another look in "The File," which contains the stuff to racy for my day job. I also play some recently uncovered Weird Al, and talk about an upcoming remake.

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Oh, and I went to see Alice in Wonderland the other day!

You can read my review here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Free Movies!

Nothing like going to see a movie, and then getting a free movie out of the deal!

So I head into the city today to finally see Alice in Wonderland, cuz I'm a big Tim Burton fanboy and all that. I get to the theatre, I'm all nestled in my seat, I'm enjoying the coming attractions, and then I see the Warner Brothers logo. "That's weird. I thought Alice in Wonderland was Disney," I think to myself.

And then the opening credits to Cop Out start to roll.

The first thought that goes through my mind, "Aw, crap, I'm in the wrong theatre." I mean, in all these multiplexes with three dozen screens and all that, it was bound to happen eventually, right? I get all turned around and walk into the wrong theatre. So, fearing that I might miss the beginning of Alice in Wonderland, I grab my coat and bolt for the door.

I get out of the theatre, I look at the sign above the theatre, and I see that I wandered into the theatre that was showing...Alice in Wonderland. What's going on here?

Some kids who bolted out ahead of me were talking to the usher, and they came to the proper conclusion before I did. "Hey, mister," they said to the usher. "Alice in Wonderland isn't playing in that theatre, Cop Out is!"

By now, people are coming out of the theatre in droves. The usher waved over the manager, the manager saw the situation for herself, got on her walkie-talkie and asked the projectionist what the heck was going on. At this point, with the proper authority figures on the scene, I returned to my seat. The manager relayed the situation to the crowd. "Sorry, folks, we showed Cop Out in this theatre last night and we forgot to change the film in the projector. Alice in Wonderland will be staring in 15 minutes. You'll all get a pass for a free movie at the end of the show. Thank you for your patience."

Sure enough, Alice in Wonderland started in 15 minutes, and at the end, I got a coupon for a free movie! So, yay, for that projectionist being asleep at the switch!

As for the movie...meh. They took all the familiar Alice in Wonderland characters and made them fill roles in your familiar fantasy epic kind of plot. It was all so...familiar. It felt like Tim Burton did it for the paycheck.

Full review on the website tomorrow!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Animation Bits and Bites

A few bits of animated movie news came across my desk today that I feel i need to share.

First up, we've got our first trailer for Megamind:

I've blogged about this one quite a bit. I'm drawn to it for two reasons:

1) Superheroes in animation. I love them and I want to see more of them.

2) Written and produced by Ben Stiller. Stiller's usually pretty solid when he's behind the camera.

Anyway, November is when it hits theatres, and it might be the first DreamWorks movie I actually go to the theatre and see since Shrek 2.

Next up, we've got another train pulling into the remake station. One of my favourite directors, Tim Burton, is apparently sniffing around, and exploring the possibility of doing a new movie version of The Addams Family.

Burton hopes to do it with stop-motion animation, in the same vein as his other hits The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Burton already has another stop-motion animated film in production, a feature-length version of his 1984 live-action short film Frankenweenie. It's due out in 2011.

The only thing is, with Burton doing The Addams Family, you just know Johnny Depp is going to be Gomez and Helena Bonham Carter is going to be Morticia.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Smurfy Recap

So, if you're my friend on Facebook or if you follow me on Twitter, you know that for the past week or so, I've been throwing up updates on the currently-in-development live-action movie version of The Smurfs.

The film is being produced by Columbia Pictures, and it's going to be the same kind of blend of live-action and animation that we saw in Garfield and Alvin and the Chipmunks. The director is Raja Gosnell, who brought us the live-action Scooby-Doo movies and the recent Disney hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

First, let's get to the humans.

Neil Patrick Harris, still best remembered as Doogie Howser, and currently stealing the show on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, has been cast as the still unnamed "lead human." The official character description calls this lead human "an expectant father whose life is turned upside down when he enters the world of the Smurfs." The expectant mother will be played by Glee star Jayma Mays.

But the big announcement today was that Hank Azaria will be playing the Smurf's arch-enemy, the evil wizard Gargamel. Azaria, of course, is a well-known veteran comedic character actor, best known for the multitude of voices he does on The Simpsons. He's Moe, he's Comic Book Guy, he's Disco Stu, he's Apu, he's Chief Wiggum, the list is endless.

And now we get to the Smurfs. As is the way in Hollywood right now, lots of big celebrity voices are signing on. There are a few offbeat choices in here that I'm still wrapping my mind around.

First up, the legendary comedian Jonathon Winters will be voicing Papa Smurf. Interesting trivia note: Winters voiced Grandpa Smurf in the original, 1980s toon. (The original voice of Papa Smurf was a legendary voice actor named Don Messick, who passed away in the late-1990s.)

Next up, that geek favourite cult film director Quentin Tarantino is voicing the know-it-all, suck-up-to-Papa-Smurf, the bespectacled Brainy Smurf. I can see the scene now.... "Papa Smurf says that in France they call a Quarter Pounder a Royale with cheese, and Papa Smurf is always right, and Papa Smurf always says...." and then we get the classic scene of Brainy being punted from the Smurf village.

Well-known Mexican-American stand-up comic George Lopez will be voicing Grouchy Smurf.

Alan Cumming will be voicing the new, created-for-the-film Smurf Gutsy Smurf.

And the one choice that's still making me go "WTF," Katy Perry is voicing Smurfette.

That's right. This is Smurfette.

Sorry, Smurfette, no girls for you to kiss in the Smurf village!

They're going to do some location filming in New York's Central Park, which suggests that it takes place in the present day. Filming begins next month for a Summer 2011 release.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Don't Buy Avatar!

I don't do a lot of recycling of upcoming DVD release dates anymore...I just don't obsessively read a lot of DVD websites anymore. But there was one big DVD release announced today that I felt I needed to speak out against.

Today, it was announced that the biggest movie of all-time, Avatar, will be hitting DVD on April 22. That's Earth Day, and Avatar is being released on that day as part of the film's whole "one with nature" theme. There will be absolutely NO bonus features on the DVD. They say they're doing this so that way they can use all the space on the DVD to maximize the picture and sound quality. Fair enough.

So, I just wanted to say that, when April 22 rolls around, and Avatar goes on sale at your local DVD emporium, DON'T BUY IT.

As I've blogged many times in the past, one of the most heinous crimes in the DVD world is the concept of the double-dip. This is when they release a film on DVD and then, a few months later, release it on DVD AGAIN with all new bonus features, thus tricking you into buying it again. And trust me, those double-dipping DVD producers are out in full force on Avatar.

See, with the big announcement that Avatar is coming out on DVD on the April 22, they've been completely glossing over the fact that the super-special edition of Avatar, with running commentaries, deleted scenes, "making of" documentaries, and all that other stuff that makes DVD so awesome, is coming out in November.

So, please! Don't fall for the double-dip! Keep your money in your pocket and wait until November to buy Avatar!

But that's not all! Part of Avatar's allure was that it was in 3D, remember? Did you know that the first 3D TV's went on sale last week? Well, they did. Along with them, special Blu-Ray players that play special 3D Blu-Ray discs. You're probably thinking that Avatar would be a launch title, right? Well, it's not!

Avatar's not going to be released in this new 3D Blu-Ray format until 2011, because they want to wait for more people to buy 3D TVs and 3D Blu-Ray players first.

So, there you go. They're trying to get you to buy Avatar three times. Caveat emptor.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's time for a new episode of U62: The Targ!

This week, I present you with Episode 3:23: Shiny Glass. Not much, I bring you some critiques of the new trailers for The Karate Kid and Tron Legacy, and I also pimp my new Facebook fan page.

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Oh, and if you didn't get the news yet, I set up a fan page for U62: The Targ on Facebook. So, please, become a fan!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Iron Man 2 Trailer

You know, I've been so busy geeking out over the Tron Legacy trailer that I haven't mentioned the other big geek-friendly trailer, the new one for Iron Man 2:

Of course, one thing that lots of folks are geeking out over right now is the final shot with Tony Stark unfolding his briefcase into the Iron Man suit. In the comics in the late-1960s and early-1970s, Tony Stark actually did develop an Iron Man armour that was small enough and light enough that he could fold up and carry around in his briefcase. That was eventually abandoned in the comics for being too unrealistic.

Anyway, trailer kicks ass, and May 7 is the lucky day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Troy Legacy Trailer

Oh, yeah, baby! It's the first trailer for one of my most anticipated films of 2010, the long-awaited sequel to Disney's cult classic sci-fi action film, ladies and gents, Tron Legacy!

You know, in a way, I'm disappointed with this trailer. What can I say? It just looks a little too slick and a little too polished.

The first film has a very unique look to it. It was accomplished by filming it on black and white cameras, and adding all the glowing lines with traditional, hand-drawn animation. Specifically, a technique called backlight animation. Throw in the fact that there was a problem in storing the film stock, causing the picture to flicker. It was so grainy and so rough that it was part of the charm.

But with this one, like I said, it is so polished. It reminds me of the first computer animated films from 15 years ago, where they hadn't quite figured out how to do surfaces yet and everything looked so smooth and shiny.

That being said, though, this trailer still gives me goosebumps and I can hardly wait to see it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DC Showcase: The Spectre Review

Well, yesterday, I reviewed the latest DC Universe straight-to-DVD animated movie, Crisis on Two Earths, and there was a bonus feature on the DVD that I thought deserved it's own review. And that is...

DC Showcase: The Spectre

Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos

Starring the voices of Gary Cole, Alyssa Milano, Jeff Bennet, Rob Paulson, and Jon Polito.

Backstory: So, in the never-ending quest for new bonus materials for this DC comics straight-to-DVD movies, they came with a great new concept. They're going to start taking some of DC Comic's more beloved B- and C-list heroes, and making them the stars of their own animated short film. All of these short films will be under the banner "DC Showcase," and we just got the first one, focusing on the Spirit of Vengeance in the DC Universe, The Spectre.

Plot: Detective Jim Corrigan is assigned to solve the murder of Hollywood playboy Foster Brenner. Turns out Corrigan and Brenner's daughter, Aimee, once had a thing. Corrigan begins his investigation, and with the help of his heroic alter-ego, the Spectre, makes sure that each accomplice gets their ghostly comeuppance. But, will the trail come back to Corrigan's beloved Aimee?

What I Liked: This short is very much set in the 1970s. The soundtrack, the character designs, they even added a whole bunch of film scratches to make it look all Grindhouse-y. For a while there, it felt like I was 15 again, watching Heavy Metal late at night on TBS. And it's a nice spooky script by the currently very popular horror comic writer Steve Niles.

What I Didn't Like: As introduction to the character of the Spectre, it falls a little flat, as you're left wondering exactly who he is and what his powers are.

Final Verdict: A very entertaining short film! I can hardly wait until the next DC Showcase offering.

3.5 Nibs

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Review

Well, as you all know, whenever I pick up a new, straight-to-DVD animated film, I like to review it here on the blog rather than in with the rest of my movie reviews. So, let's take a look at the latest offering from Warner Brothers and DC Comics....

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Directed by Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu

Starring the voices of Mark Harmon, James Woods, Chris Noth, William Baldwin, Gina Torres, Bruce Davison, Nolan North, Jonathon Adams, Josh Keaton, Brian Bloom, and James Patrick Stuart.

Backstory: So, for a while now, whenever Bruce Timm (the mastermind behind this whole direct-to-video DC Comics animated film projects) was out plugging the latest DVD, he would tease us with this thing called Justice League: Worlds Collide. It was an unproduced script from his Justice League cartoon designed to fill in the gap between the first two season of Justice League and its final three seasons, known as Justice League Unlimited. Timm would always say that he didn't want to delve into the storyline to fine a detail, because their existed a chance that it could be made as one of these DTV movies. And, lo and behold, they removed it from the Justice League TV series continuity and re-christened it Crisis on Two Earths. And that right there raised eyebrows. "Crisis" is a loaded word in the DC universe...it usually implies a continuity-changing reboot. So, would this film be worth all of Bruce Timm's teasing?

Plot: One day, Lex Luthor storms into a police station and asks to meet with the Justice League. When the JLA shows up on the scene, Luthor explains that he's actually a heroic Lex Luthor from a parallel universe. In his universe, an organization known as the Crime Syndicate -- consisting of evil counterparts of the Justice League -- have eradicated all the world's superheroes, and are on the verge of finishing a weapon of mass destruction that would make them undisputed rulers. Luthor is the only superhero left in his dimension, and he's come to ask the Justice League for help. The Justice League say yes, and head off to do battle with their evil counterparts. The one wild card is Owlman, the evil counterpart to Batman. It seems the discovery of parallel universes has thrown Owlman into an existential crisis, and Owlman decides to modify that weapon of mass destruction to destroy all of existence. Can the Justice League defeat the Crime Syndicate and stop Owlman before time runs out?

What I Liked: I don't know why they made such a big deal about removing this from the Justice League cartoon continuity. The characters are portrayed exactly the same way, and if you're a fan of the show, it's blatantly obvious which plot threads are tied up and which are started. I don't think they re-wrote it at all! I think all they did was change the character designs and get a new voice cast. And I'm putting that under "What I Liked" because I like the Justice League cartoon. There's some great geek-out moments with heroes and villains, and if I may say so, the climactic battle between Wonder Woman and her evil counterpart Superwoman, is hawt.

What I Didn't Like: Billy Baldwin voicing Batman never really grabbed me. He seemed a little too...laid back in the role. And there were just a few too many fight scenes. Don't get me wrong, I like the geek out moments where obscure heroes and villains appear, but how about they get some dialogue and a little bit of character development?

Final Verdict: This was a really solid episode of Justice League. However, as I've been saying for the last few of these, Wonder Woman is still the best.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features: For bonus stuff on the DVD, you get previews for the last three DTV films, a preview for the next one, Batman: Under the Red Hood, a featurette on what a "Crisis" is in the DC Universe and what it means, the Justice League episode "A Better World," which also follows the evil twin pattern, and, something brand new for these DVDs. The first-ever short film under the DC Showcase banner, The Spectre, which I'll talk about in a later blog entry.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Latest Targ is Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's time for a new episode of U62: The Targ!

We hit you with Episode 3.22: Movie Music. This is the payoff to all the episodes we've done for the past month, in which we recap all the Best Original Song Oscar nominees and I tell you which one I think should win. Oh, and I also finally picked up the Up soundtrack, and I spend a healthy amount of time geeking out over that.

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

Oh, and if you didn't get the news yet, I set up a fan page for U62: The Targ on Facebook. So, please, become a fan!

U62: The Targ on Facebook

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Nothing Like a Day in the City!

Wow, it's actually been over two months since I took a trip to Edmonton. That usually means there have been no good movies out. But of course, I had to make the trip because one of my heroes and favourite directors, Kevin Smith, has a new movie out!

The film, in case you haven't heard yet, is Cop Out, starring Bruce Willis and Tracey Morgan as a couple of detectives on the trail of a stolen, super-valuable baseball card. Smith said that, with this film, he set out to do one of the classic cop films of the 1980s, you know, your Beverly Hills Cop and Lethal Weapon and all that. And in that respect, Smith pulled it off wonderfully. In fact, he pulled it off a little too well as the plot gets kind of cliched and you start feeling like you've seen it all before.

It's got some good laughs, but it's not wall-to-wall laughs, like I've found with other Kevin Smith movies. Haven't decided yet if I want to be a hard-ass and give it 2 nibs, or nice and give it 3. Watch for the full review in the days ahead.

Had to grab some new DVDs too. The latest film from renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo, came out back on Tuesday, so I had to pick that up. I can now once again boast having every Hayao Miyazaki film on DVD. You might remember when I saw Ponyo in the theatre back in August and reviewed it here on the blog. I loved it. Miyazaki is back in the whimsical children's film mode that he was in when he made My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service, so if you've ever seen those films, you'll like Ponyo.

I do have on complaint about the DVD packaging, though. It says right on the front cover, "Inspired by the classic Hans Christen Anderson story The Little Mermaid." Now, many a reviewer has said that...Miyazaki himself has said it in a couple of interviews. But something about bluntly stating it ON THE FRONT COVER OF THE DVD just seems like a shameless ploy to sell more copies. It bugs me somewhat.

And, of course, because I'm such a fan of the DC/WB DTV movies, I had to pick up the latest one, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. The Justice League, doing battle with their evil twins from a parallel universe, the Crime Syndicate. There have been good reviews circulating about this one, so I can hardly wait to fire it up.

It was a good day. Good day.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Be a Fan on Facebook!

As we all know, the big thing right now is becoming a fan on Facebook.

Well, I decided to hop on the bandwagon, and I created a fan page for my podcast, U62: The Targ!

So, do me a favor and become a fan on Facebook!