Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Review

My Scott Pilgrim vs. the World review is online!

Head on over to my movie review site to check it out! 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Neither Smoke, Nor Rain, Nor Coughing Fits

So, if you watch the news, you know we're in rough states here in Alberta right now.  We've got smoke blowing in from the BC forest fires, making our air quality the worst it's been in years.  On top of that, there was rain in the forecast for this Saturday.  And, on top of that still, I'm feeling quite under the weather right now.  Lived in Athabasca for 4.5 years now, and finally got sick enough where I felt I had to see a doctor.

Naturally, with all this going on, I jumped out of bed and said, "I'm going to the city today!"

I had to go to the city.  I had a very important reason to go to the city.  I had to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  Because it opened in #5 last week, I knew that my chances to see it in the theatre would be running out fast.

You've probably seen the commercials for it.  Scott Pilgrim is a young 20-something in Toronto who plays in a band, and he meets the girl of his dreams, the bewitching and enigmatic Ramona Flowers.  But Ramona's got some serious baggage following her around...seven evil exes, and if Scott and Ramona want to live happily ever after, he must defeat all of them in combat!  Which is where the film gets its visual flair.  All the fights take the form of super hyperactive video games.

This film makes me wish I played more video games in my youth, because it's so full of references to the 8-bit era of video games that most of the jokes were over my head.

Other than that, I enjoyed the hell out of this film.  It's all about that period you go through in your early-20s, when you're finally casting off the last vestiges of your youth and learning to be a grown-up.  Needless to say, it brought back happy flashbacks to my college days, as I saw elements of people I knew in pretty much every character on screen.  It's all about discovering that yes, she has a past, and if you're a man, and if you love her, you'll get the f--k over it and work things out.

This has been a lean summer for films.  Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3, and now Scott Pilgrim vs. the World are the only films that had me walking out of the theatre 100% satisfied.

Then I stopped in at HMV.  There were lots of DVDs in the discount bin that caught my eye, but I was craving new music.  A lot of those digitally remastered Beatles albums that made such a big splash a year ago are now starting to pop up in discount bins, so I snatched up Magical Mystery Tour.  This one has more of my favourite Beatles tunes on it.  I am the Walrus...Penny Lane...All You Need is Love...Strawberry Fields Forever...so why the heck not?  Hmmm...it just occurred that I seem to be limiting myself to the Beatles' soundtracks.  First A Hard Day's Night, and now Magical Mystery Tour.  I guess that means Help! and Yellow Submarine will be next.

And then, that led to one of the more embarrassing moments in my life.  Since HMV's discount bin CDs are usually marked "2/$30" and all that, of course I was buying a second album.  A grabbed my second choice, and walked up to the counter.  The clerk was this attractive young blond.  She rang up the Beatles, and then my second album.  She looked at the album cover, looked up at me, and said, "Really?  You like Selena Gomez?"

At least I was able to hold my head high and answer her truthfully:  "I tend to put the Disney Channel on for background noise, and she gets stuck in my head."  Heck, the only reason why I ever sat down and watched a whole episode of the Selena Gomez show is because I discovered her TV mom is Hawkgirl.

So yeah.  Selena Gomez.  It's unremarkable, bubblegum pop, but it gets stuck in your head.

All in all, worth getting out of the house. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Morning at the Movies

While flipping around the channels on this Sunday night, I managed to catch the final episode of At the Movies.  The majority of the online film community has been shedding a tear for the end of this 35-year franchise and what it did for film.  Let me bring you up to speed.

At the Movies started way back in 1975 when Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert started meeting on Chicago's PBS station to review movies.  It was such a hit, that in the early -1980s, it went into syndication, first by Tribune Entertianment, and then by Disney.  During this era, it was most commonly known as Siskel and Ebert, and brought the world of movies into people's homes.

But, the past decade was not kind to At the Movies.  It all began in 1999, when Gene Siskel passed away.  Roger Ebert then had a rotating panel of co-hosts until Y2K, when he settled on his fellow Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper, and it became Ebert and Roeper At the Movies.  It was like that until 2006, when Roger Ebert had to step down due to his failing health.  So, it was Roeper and rotating co-hosts until 2008, when Disney decided to take the show in "a new direction."  That new direction was critics Ben Lyons and Ben Mankewicz.  I never caught it during this era, but reviews were not kind.  Last year, they were replaced with critics A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips, but it was too little too late. 

Watching that final episode, I was a little sadder than I thought I'd be.  I have fond memories of Siskel and Ebert.  In the early-1990s, my parents were good church-going folk, but I didn't want to go, finding church to be too boring.  Being old enough to be left at home on my own, my family would leave me at home on Sunday morning while they went to church.  And I stayed at home and watched Siskel and Ebert

The early 90s was the perfect time to be watching Siskel and Ebert.  I mean, growing up in small-town Alberta, where you rented movies from the local gas station and the closest movie theatres were an hour away, where else was a kid going to be exposed to the entire world of movies out there?  And with the rise of independent film in the 1990s, Siskel and Ebert was where I was first exposed to Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarintino, Hayao Miyazaki, and many other fantastic filmmakers.

Hell, my first exposure to Clerks was when the special edition laserdisc came out, and Siskel and Ebert showed the original ending to Clerks on the show and debated whether Kevin Smith was right to cut it or not.  (Consensus:  he was.)  My first exposure to Hayao Miyazaki was their review of My Neighbor Totoro.  Ebert loved that film so much.  That show gave a lot of films exposure that wouldn't have gotten any. 

And now, it's done.  Great films will still get exposure, though.  My favourite film, The Iron Giant, was brought to my attention, not because of a TV show, but because of all the reviews I read online.  Great films still have a way of getting out there.  Part of the problem, though, is on the Internet, there's just so many voices to weed through.  Not like the old days, when it was just two guys talking about films, and you were eavesdropping through the TV. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grindhouse Finally on DVD

Good news, all my fellow fans of Quentin Tarintino and Robert Rodriguez!

Grindhouse is finally coming to DVD in its original, complete, theatrical presentation!  Actually, it's only coming to Blu-Ray.

Grindhouse: 2-Disc Collector's Edition will contain ALL of the bonus material on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of Planet Terror and Death Proof, along with some all-new bonus materials.  The new stuff:

  • Rodriguez offers up another installment of his "10 Minute Cooking Schools," which has become a popular staple on all his DVDs.
  • All of the intermission cards
  • ALL of the fake trailers, including Hobo With a Shotgun, which was only shown in select theatres.
  • Brand new extended versions of the fake trailers Don't and Werewolf Women of the SS, complete with running commentaries by their respective directors Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie.  (It's long been rumored that Zombie shot an hour's worth of footage for his 3-minute Werewolf Women trailer.)
  • "Making of" featurettes for the fake trailers Don't, Werewolf Women of the SS, and Thanksgiving.
  • The storyboards and fake movie posters for Don't
Be advised that this set will include the ORIGINAL THEATRICAL VERSIONS of Death Proof and Planet Terror.  You might remember that when they were shown in theatres, the two films occasionally had cards pop up saying "scene missing" to replicate the grindhouse experience.  When the two films were released individually on DVD, they were "extended versions," with all thsoe missing scenes put back in.  Well, on this super deluxe special edition, those cards saying "scene missing" will be put back in, and the scenes will once again be cut out.

In a way, I'm kind of disappointed that this is being released on Blu-Ray.  I always thought it was a great way to create a purely theatrical experience, without the need for gimmicks like 3D. 

It drops on October 5. 

Oh, and some other DVD news, regarding Family Guy's forthcoming scene-for-scene spoof of Return of the Jedi.

As I've blogged previously, they seemed to have trouble coming up with a title.  Originally, as a slam towards the Ewoks and all the animatronic characters in Return of the Jedi, they were going to call it Episode VI: The Great Muppet Caper, but they ran into copywrite trouble with the Muppet folks.  Then they were going to call it We Have a Bad Feeling About This, after the famous line uttered in ever Star Wars film. 

Well, the artwork for the DVD cover has been released, and we've discovered that they've decided to name it after Admiral Akbar's most famous line, which has become quite the Internet catchphrase.

That's right, it's called It's a Trap!.

Don't forget, it hits DVD and Blu-Ray on Dec. 21. 

Sunday, August 08, 2010

DC Showcase on DVD

So, because I've been geeking out about the direct-to-DVD DC comics animated movies, you might have also read me geek out about DC Showcase, their series of animated short films focusing on some of DC`s B- and C-list heroes.  To recap, we`ve had:

The Spectre - Focusing on the supernatural spirit of vengeance.  Released on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Jonah Hex - The legendary gunslinger.  Released on the recent Batman: Under the Red Hood

Green Arrow - The emerald archer takes down his evil counterpart.  Will be released on the upcoming Superman/Batman: Apocolypse.  

Well, it was just announced that Warner Brothers will be compiling all these animated shorts into their own DVD release, The DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection, coming out on November 9!

But that's not all!  In order to tempt you to buy all these shorts again, they're including a new short, Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam.  This short will be 22 minutes long -- twice as long as all the other shorts produced to date! 

This short features Black Adam, arch-enemy of Captain Marvel, returning from beyond the stars, and it's up to the combined might of Superman and Captain Marvel to take him down! 

For the celebrity voices, we've got:

George Newburn as Superman.  Of course, Newburn voiced Superman on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.  Nice to see him back in the role!

Jerry O'Connell as Captain Marvel.  O'Connell of course was one of the kids in Stand By Me, and was most recently seen on the police procedural Crossing Jordan.  He also voiced Captain Marvel on an episode of Justice League Unlimited

Arnold Vosloo as Black Adam.  Vosloo played Imhotep the Mummy in the Mummy movies, and was most recently seen as Zartan in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

James Garner as the Wizard Shazam.  Garner is an acting legend, and if you don`t know who he is, I weep for you. 

It`ll be available in a single-disc DVD version and a single-disc Blu-Ray special edition.  For bonus materials on the single-disc DVD, you get 4 bonus episodes of Justice League.  On the Blu-Ray, you get those 4 episodes of Justice League, and each short has a running commentary by its writer. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Movie Review -- DC Showcase: Jonah Hex

So, with the DC Comics DTV animated films, they've begun this new thing that I really like.  The series is called DC Showcase, and it's a series of animated short films focusing on some B- and C-list heroes from the DCU.  The latest one is on the DVD for Batman: Under the Red Hood, which I reviewed yesterday, so let's take a look at it.

DC Showcase: Jonah Hex

Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos

Starring the voices of Thomas Jane, Linda Hamilton, Jason Marsden, Michael Rooker, and Michelle Trachtenberg.  

Backstory:  Of course, Jonah Hex was chosen to be the next subject of the DC Showcase films.  He's a much-beloved character in the DCU, one of the few Western characters who has stood the test of time...and it ties in with big-screen version of Jonah Hex that hits theatres this summer.  What, you didn't see it?  Of course you didn't.  It sucked and was in theatres for barely two weeks.  Does this animated short clear Hex's good name?

Plot:  Jonah Hex rides into town, on the trail of an outlaw named Red.  Following a lead, he's brought to an unscrupulous prostitute named Madame Lorraine.  Will Hex be able to defeat Lorraine, find Red, and collect the bounty?

What I Liked:  Again, I am amazed at the big names DC is rounding up to voice these things.  We've got the Punisher and Sarah Conner doing voices in a 10-minute short film!  Crazy.  It's also got a nice sepia-tone look to make it feel more like the old west.  It's short, and it's action packed.

What I Didn't Like:  Too short!

Final Verdict:  I'm really liking this series, guys.  Keep it up!

4 Nibs

Monday, August 02, 2010

Movie Review -- Batman: Under the Red Hood

Does it seem somewhat biased that I review direct-to-video movies in blog entries, and not in big-fancy, coded-in-HTML-from-scratch webpages that I do over at my main site for theatrical films?  Just wondering.

Anyway, longtime followers of the blog know I've been a big fan of all the DC Comics DTV animated films that have been coming for a couple of years now.  The latest one came out this past week, and I made a special trip into Edmonton just to pick it up.  It's time to take a look at....

Batman: Under the Red Hood

Directed by Brandon Vietti

Starring the voices of Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Gary Cole, and Kelly Hu.

Just a little warning, I'm going to get somewhat spoileriffic in this review, but if  you've been following the Batman comics for the past five years or so, it's nothing you don't know already.

Backstory:  So, a few years back, they ran a storyline in the Batman comics called Under the Hood, which resurrected Jason Todd from the dead.  Jason Todd, for those uninitiated, is the Robin that was infamously killed off back in the 1980s.  As many a comic book critic said at the time, with the revolving door to the afterworld that exists in comics, it's amazing it took this long to resurrect him.  Anyway, the folks in charge of these animated DTV movies thought it would make a good one, so here it is.  Fun trivia fact:  this is Jason Todd's first appearance in a Batman adaptation!

Plot:  Five years after Jason Todd was brutally murdered at the hands of the Joker, a new masked vigilante calling himself the Red Hood makes his appearance known in Gotham City.  He's muscling in on the drug lords, taking control of Gotham's underworld, angering Gotham's current drug kingpin, the Black Mask.  Of course, this soon catches Batman's attention, and the Black Mask gets desperate enough to go the Joker for help.  Batman soon uncovers that the Red Hood is Jason Todd.  How is he back from the dead?  What is his master plan?  And can Batman bring him back from this dark path he's taken?  

What I Liked:  As always, I love how Warner Brothers is bringing in  A-list talent to do the voices.  When I first heard that Bruce Greenwood would be voicing Batman (Capt. Pike in the last Star Trek film), I thought, "Dude, that's perfect!"  He does have the right gravely growl.  Neil Patrick Harris is also very funny as Nightwing.  The animation, as always, is perfect.  And the mystery really isn't much of a mystery, but it's good enough to keep you guessing.

What I Didn't Like:  I have the same problem with this that I had with the last Batman-centred DTV film, Gotham Knight.  When it comes to these Batman animated tales, there really is a whole "been there, done that" feeling starting to hang over the entire proceedings.  As a friend of mine once commented about Batman, "How many times do we need to see the pearls in slow motion?"  

Final Verdict:  It's a fairly entertaining Batman yarn, but come on DC.  Give us the Flash.  Give us another Wonder Woman.  Give Batman a break.  

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  Ooo, this was my first DC DTV animated film on Blu-Ray!  For bonus features, you get a featurette on this history of the first Robin, Dick Grayson, a featurette on the history of the second Robin, Jason Todd, a preview of the next film, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, 4 bonus episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, and the latest in their series of DC Showcase animated shorts, this one focusing on Jonah Hex.  I'll review that short...in my next blog entry! 

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Latest Targ's Up!

U62: The Targ -- My podcast

It's that time of year again! It's the season finale of U62: The Targ.

Something I started a few years ago that I decided to stick with, and that is every summer, usually the month of August, I take some time off from doing U62: The Targ. This gives me time to collect my thoughts, decided whether I want to take it in a new direction, or just give it up all together.

So, I've got for you Episode 3.40: The End...?, in which I ponder most of what I just outlined above, and give my thoughts on what just may be the next big social networking trend.

Enjoy the show, and I'll see you in September!

Click here to go download it!

Head here to subscribe in iTunes!

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