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Friday, January 30, 2009

Don't Be a Dick


I have a very abrasive personality, some folks might just push the politeness to the side and get right to the point and say I'm an asshole. I'm not insulted, I know how I am, even though abrasive is more friendly. That said, I know when to keep it in check for the most part. For instance, if I was on a reality television program, I would be on my best behavior.

And then we come to tonight's episode of ABC's "Wife Swap" entitled "Long/Stephens-Fowler." The Comcast program grid describes the episode as follows: A mother from a mid-western family who loves paint ball and fast food trades places with a mother from a family in California who focuses on health and education."

Now the show is set up so the families directly contrast and specifically conflict. It's part of what makes the show fun to watch. Or why else pit a health Nazi against a family who eats junk food after all, right? My problem is with the Californian husband Stephen who is a naturalized American citizen born in Great Britain. He continually berates the swapped wife. He insults her, he verbally abuses her, he makes her cry. All manner of belittlement is hurled her way by this man. If the woman's husband beat this man down, I doubt he would be convicted for defending his wife's honor. What is wrong with this guy?

This guy is more than an abrasive asshole, he's a dick, plain and simple. At one point during the show he even demands that the show is over unless he gets what he wants. The producers talk the big baby back into doing the show, but the hostility continues.

I should note that he does all this in front of his kids. He insults and calls this lady horrible names in front of his kids. Isn't that abuse? Where's child services? I mean, this man was an absolute monster. But then again, there might be some scrap of goodness there. After all, you know what they say, even Hitler was fond of dogs.

Just goes to show you, if you go on reality television - don't be a dick.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Go Veg!



It would seem that so far the coolest and the hottest of the Super Bowl commercials this year, is the one that has been banned from being shown. PETA shoots and scores!

Shopaholic - Sneak Peek



Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic comes to the big screen, or more accurately that book and also parts of "Shopaholic Takes Manhattan." The film stars Isla Fisher and opens February 13th.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike Passes at 76



Pulitzer Prize winning author John Updike, who won for his works "Rabbit Is Rich" and "Rabbit at Rest," passed away this week from lung cancer. We have lost one of the greats. He will be missed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The All Things Fun! Podcast Begins Season Two


Ed Evans and his co-hosts as they discuss what's new in games and comics. Recorded live in a comic and game store!

Presenting Season 2: Episode #1: Return of the All Things Fun! Podcast

Join Ed Evans of All Things Fun!, Wes Hitchins and the gang as they return for a new season of podcasting greatness!

Ed and Wes open the show, Glenn Walker and Allison Eckel answer listener feedback. Ed, Glenn and Allison then discuss the best in 2008 comics. Later Ed & Wes pick their favorite game titles of 2008 followed by an in-depth review of the new Fantasy Flight game, Battlestar Galactica.

Air Date: January 26, 2009
Runtime: 1:10

Check it out here: http://www.allthingsfun.libsyn.com/.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dark Avengers #1 Review


"New World" - my comic book review of Dark Avengers #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, is now online at Avengers Forever.

Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, the hero of Secret Invasion takes over and starts to put together his own Avengers team, and nothing is as it seems - all this and more - check out my review here:

http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=614

Enjoy!

If you want to discuss this review, this issue or anything Avengers, please check out the Avengers Forever Forum.

Thanks!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Better Blue Than Red



Some intriguing viral marketing for the upcoming Watchmen film. Man oh man, I can't wait!

Oscar Nominations 2009

Yep, that time of year again. At approximately 5:30 this morning, every movie geek in the world was at their computers or glued to their TVs to see what the Motion Picture Academy selected as the best for the year 2008. I was too, but afterward I went back to bed. Yep, I was that impressed.

Here's what we're stuck with this time around:

Best actor: Richard Jenkins, Frank Langella, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke

Best supporting actor: Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr., Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger and Michael Shannon

Best actress: Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Melissa Leo, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet

Best supporting actress: Amy Adams, Penélope Cruz, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson and Marisa Tomei

Best director: David Fincher, Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant, Stephen Daldry and Danny Boyle

Best film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire

The rest of the noms can be found here.

==================

My early picks and guesses...

Mickey Roarke is back in Hollywood's good graces and will take actor for The Wrestler. For supporting actor, it's Philip Seymour Hoffman by elimination. Downey was terrific but just far too politically incorrect for the Academy, and he was also in that superhero movie, as was the late Heath Ledger. Frank Miller put superhero movies back in the ghetto with his 'interpretation of The Spirit so there's no way a comic book movie can ever win.

Best actress should go to Kate Winslet, but for Revolutionary Road rather than The Reader. And I think the magic of The Wrestler will help Marisa Tomei get her second Oscar - this one legit. ;-)

I believe that Slumdog Millionaire will take both best picture and director as well for Danny Boyle, as well as for score and song. I'm guessing Waltz with Bashir for best foreign film and Wall-E for best animated.

Also I need answers when it comes to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as I haven't seen it. Did anyone like it? Do you know anyone who liked it? Heck, has anyone even read a good review of it? I'm puzzled by this one.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Horton Hurts


Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! ~ I know this formula pretty well. I saw The Grinch. Jim Carrey plus Dr. Seuss equals disaster.

Don’t get me wrong, this flick looks amazing. There have been some serious leaps in technology made in CGI with this movie. The depiction of water alone in Horton is incredible. The problem is that the movie is far too long and squeezes far too many unnecessary elements and characters into it. In most cases the humor is built for groans rather than laughs and I seriously doubt the little ones will sit still for any of this.

Jim Carey and Steve Carel try far too hard, but on the other hand, the voice work of Carol Burnett and Charles Osgood is very much welcome. The film naturally provokes comparison to the made for TV cartoon of the same name, which at a mere 26 minutes, is vastly superior. I have to say, with that in mind, this version would have been a lot better had it only been 26 minutes long.

Good as a free rental on fast forward, but I’m afraid even the kids will be bored. All that, and it completely ruined a perfectly good 1980s REO Speedwagon song.

Get On Your Boots



This is "Get on Your Boots," the new U2 single from their upcoming album, No Line on the Horizon, the first in five years. It debuted on radio, terrestrial and satelite, yesterday morning. My first reaction is that the non-chorus parts sound a lot like "Wild Wild West" by the Escape Club from waaay back in the 1980s.



The similarity aside, it's an okay song I suppose, but I have to ask - is U2 even relevant anymore? Or do they just think they are?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dollhouse



Joss Whedon's new television series, "Dollhouse," starring Eliza Dushku, premieres February 13th on Fox.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Welcome to AMC Loews in Cherry Hill, Now Go Home


Marley & Me ~ This would not have been my choice to see on a movie night but it was The Bride’s choice, so we saw it. I was pleasantly surprised. Based on John Grogan’s book of his newspaper columns that follows his life, with his wife, his family, his career and his dog. I’m a sucker for writer movies so I was sucked right in. For a change Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston, notoriously not my favorite actors turn in believable and entertaining performances, as do the twenty-odd stunt dogs that portray Marley. Very sweet, lots of fun and well worth seeing.

Yep, great movie, if only we didn’t have to see it at the AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24. This was one of the worst theatre experiences I have ever had. Yes, even worse than when I saw Spider-Man 3 in London – of course in that case there was inexcusable behavior both in the seats and on the screen.

We saw Marley & Me this past Friday night, and the movie has been out for several weeks, and the theatre was hardly packed – possibly thirty or so people in a room that could easily hold a hundred or so. We arrived during the previews, and although we did not see the announcements about talking, smoking, cellphones, etc., I’m quite sure they were still shown. They are always shown.

First off, people, mostly unchaperoned kids between ten and twenty, talking non-stop throughout the film. The audience, in front of us at least, was a sea of cellphone lights, as if we were at a Styx concert and Dennis DeYoung was belting out “Babe.” And yes, I know I’m dating myself there, and that in my day we would have used lighters, but I’m sure you get the point. There was more texting and talking going on in this theatre than at the mall food court.

Then there was the matter of the constantly shifting audience. I really think The Bride and I were the only ones in that theatre who paid to see Marley & Me. People, I say people, but again they were unsupervised kids, kept coming and going, sitting and watching a little bit of the film –usually talking or texting the whole time- and then leaving again. Where are the parents? Or is AMC the new babysitter?

After the movie we complained and were given a full refund plus free passes by a rather flustered and timid young manager. We were not alone in our refunds, but the other angry couple was surprisingly from yet another movie. We were told that employees do actually patrol the theatres, but only first runs where the crowds and the problems were more plentiful. Wow. Remind me not to see a first run flick at AMC Loews in Cherry Hill – apparently it could be worse...

24: The Real Redemption


In its first season, even its second and third, “24” was my favorite television series. Its concept of real time action as well as its edgy and ever-intense plots and subplots made it something special in the beginning. Then it got old, and then it got copied, and then it just got boring – a parody almost of itself.

I really wasn’t sure I was going to watch the current seventh season at all, and based on the mini-movie “24: The Redemption” that aired recently and repeated last week, I was pretty sure I was done with Jack Bauer and company. It was unwatchable, even with Robert Carlyle guest-starring and he’s one of my faves. For me, “24” was over.


On a whim, just in case, I dvr-ed the first two new episodes of “24” earlier this week. Then I started to hear good things, surprising things about it, and from folks whose opinions I usually trust. I figured I’d better check it out. Wow. Guess what, baby, “24” is back!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ricardo Montalban 1920-2009


Continuing today as a bad day for genre actors and characters, actor Ricardo Montalban died this morning at the age of 88.

Mostly remembered for his roles as the villainous Khan in the Star Trek franchise or the mysterious Mr. Rourke on "Fantasy Island," Mr. Montalban had a long history in the cinema and on television.

From Mexican film to MGM musicals to the Broadway stage to selling cars with "fine Corinthian leather" to playing the baddie in the 1974 Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman telemovie, Montalban was always a consummate actor and a true gentleman.

In 1970 he founded Nostros, an organization designed to help actors of Hispanic origin attain their goals.

Ricardo Montalban was one of our finest actors and he will be missed.

Patrick McGoohan Passes at 80


Emmy-winning actor Patrick McGoohan, who created and starred in the popular cult television series "The Prisoner" died yesterday in Los Angeles.

Besides "The Prisoner," he was also known for his starring role in "Danger Man" (known as "Secret Agent" here in the US), a pseudo-prequel to "The Prisoner." He also appeared in Braveheart, A Time to Kill, Escape from Alcatraz and Disney's The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

Currently AMC is prepping a new version of "The Prisoner" for American audiences, but it just won't be the same without McGoohan.

Number Six will be missed.

The Death of Batman


So Batman's dead. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Been there, done that. Superheroes die and superheroes come back to life, it's a cyclical, almost cliche thing with comic books. Maybe Batman's dead today, but he'll be back. After all, he's been dead before, many many times, in many different versions and many different ways - and he always comes back. Hell, he survived Joel Schumacher, he can survive anything.

The real buzz began just over a year ago when DC Comics announced the next big story arc in Batman would be called, ominously enough, "Batman R.I.P." It portends much just for a title. Writer Grant Morrison had been on the book for a while and had been mining some old and forgotten stories and concepts with the Batman mythos. It's something the writer is known for, but he was pulling some weird stuff out of his creative hat, like outlandish stories from the 1950s that had been by and large no longer even considered in continuity. But then again, as I said, it was something that Morrison does best.

There were old 1950s tales that told of a Club of Heroes, inspired by the caped crusader, and so the writer theorized there might also be a Club of Villains with an equal hatred for the Batman. The Villains put together a plan to not only kill Batman but to break him psychologically. I won't go into the details but they really did a number on the guy, but of course, despite an explosion with no bodies and a torn cowl and cape pulled from the wreckage of a blown-up helicopter - they failed to kill him. We all knew he wasn't dead. Batman had walked away from worse things than that. The real result was an amazing jigsaw puzzle rollercoaster ride story by Morrison, which I enjoyed the hell out of, despite some scary and screaming bumps along the way. He told a good story, which was his job.

Problem was that folks in the know, people who read more than the comics, but peruse the comics press online, knew that the worst was yet to come. Batman had of course survived and was to be featured in DC Comics' line-spanning crossover series Final Crisis, and was rumored to really meet his end in issue #6, which dropped this afternoon.

This time it was for real. This time we saw it happen and we see the body. Batman falls in battle with DC's ultimate villain Darkseid, the self-proclaimed god of evil. While the caped crusader does manage to take out Darkseid, the evil god does the same to the dark knight.

The final issue of Final Crisis will be out roughly a month from now and we'll see how this all works out. Current plans in the Batman titles indicate a 'battle for the cowl' to see who will replace him. Old fanboy and comics geek that I am, I see hints of a possible way out of this death in the pages of FC #6, but I'll keep them to myself for now - but if I had to put money on it, Bats will be back and is watching to see who does what in his absence.


Batman is dead, long live Batman!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Still Don't Believe...


It's been over six months since Dima Bilan won Eurovision 2008 for Russia, and I still don't get it. There were so many much better acts in my opinion. Either way, looking forward to Eurovision 2009 in Moscow this year.

And for those interested, I will also be blogging about Eurovision here as well this year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The 2008 Edwin Awards



The 2008 Edwin Awards!

Vote for the best and brightest of 2008!

And there came a day unlike any other, when the fans of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were united against a common threat! On that day the Edwin Awards were born . . .

As the Avengers Forever Website prepares to celebrate its eleventh anniversary we are proud to announce the fourth annual Edwin Awards! The Edwin Awards (named after Edwin Jarvis, butler and most trustworthy aid to the Avengers) were created to give recognition to those who help make the Avengers the mightiest heroes that they are.

Voting ends on January 24, 2009.

Please feel free to contact the Avengers Forever Webmaster with any questions you may have about the Edwin Awards or the website in general.

The Edwin Awards: http://www.avengersforever.org/edwin/

Get out there and vote!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Death Race 2008



Death Race ~ Again we go back to the question of why do a remake. Perhaps in this case, they did it because of the technology and perhaps it because of a more realistic premise – or is that a less campy premise? That said, Death Race is no Death Race 2000, but it is a little better in its execution. But sadly, it is only in its remake/pseudo-sequel/re-imagining that Death Race merits any real attention. Otherwise it’s just another Jason Stathem vehicle, just another run-of-the-mill scifi thriller with a gimmick, and it will never attain even a fraction of the cult status of the original. Writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson tries hard, Joan Allen makes a superior heavy and Stathem does what he does best, but this will only be worth a last ditch rental on a night when everything else is out.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still... and then sat down...


The Day the Earth Stood Still ~ Just the concept of remaking this classic 1951 flick sticks in my crawl. Why would anyone remake a perfect film in the first place?

To my mind there are only a few reasons for a remake. The update – the film needs a retelling because the original is dated and makes less sense because of it. Technology – the special effects can now be done better because the technology has arrived to do so. And finally, a new twist – something so original, some new factor that spins the first version on its head, hopefully to a superior fashion. The Day the Earth Stood Still for 2008 does none of these.

The remake twists the original story in a new direction, a politically correct green one. The human race is killing the Earth, so aliens (well, only a couple, really) come down to set things straight and exterminate the pests (us). Really, not the best of plots, a bit of a cliché with some light global warming seasoning thrown in, but that’s what the producers have done to us this time.

The cast is a mixed bag with Kathy Bates revisiting the evil well for her role as a maniacal Presidential aide and Jennifer Connolly completely wasted except as eye candy. This must have been one hell of a paycheck for Ms. Connolly. One can only hope she learns to pick better roles in the future. Keanu Reeves for once is half-way decent as his emotionless monotone is perfect in this version of Klaatu. He’s likable, and there’s not many things he’s in of late that I can say that about.

The highlight of the original film, the robot Gort, is a badly animated CGI creation in this one. And while it’s the best thing about the remake it barely appears, and when it does it becomes a bad special effect that makes the film version of Galactus from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer look positively lovely. Boo. Hiss. And I mean that from my heart.

When a remake is this far off the mark, so different from the look and flavor of the original source material, I say why even retain the name? This is much like the American Godzilla or the more recent Wanted. To the producers - if the source material wasn’t what you had in mind, why pay all that money for the film rights? Give it your own title and keep all the money.

Suffice it to say, don’t see this if you’re a fan of the original. It will be barely watchable for you. Not a great movie, a horrible remake, but a decent watch for those who don’t care about classic film.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bedtime Stories


Bedtime Stories ~ While a serviceable family film merging Adam Sandler and Disney into one big holiday package, it still has the stench of an Adam Sandler movie on its own.

It is a barely entertaining flick whose worse component is Sandler trying shove all of his usual trademark antics from previous movies into this one. And while the special effects are sometimes impressive, it’s a sad day when the effects come first and seem to have the story retrofitted around them. Courtney Cox is the best thing in this character-wise, and she’s hardly in it.

I guess after a few okay flicks, I have to go back to hating Adam Sandler again.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Starting from Scratch

So far the slate for 2009 movies has more than a few start-overs for some major film franchises. Among them are...



Friday the 13th... sigh. This was bad in the 1980s, why do it again? How about a movie based on the excellent TV series of the same name which had zero to do with the movies? Great show, and unlike its namesake, it had plots.



Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li... now while I can't hide my geekgasm for the videogame, I am no fan of the movie. And although it stars TV's Lana Lang, Kristen Kreuk, I still would rather play the dusty old arcade game than see this new beginning for one of my fave fighters. *yawn* Wake me when they do Vega.



Fast & Furious... with a great trailer and a truncated name. This is the fourth in the series, most of the cast is back and everything. Sorry, I'm still not interested, even if it does have the best tagline for a movie in a while - "New Model, Original Parts."

Before Watchmen, the Minutemen



And just for good measure, check out the politically charged Japanese trailer for Watchmen here. Man, I can't wait for this to come out...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Newest, and Youngest, Doctor



The BBC announced this week that the newest incarnation of the Doctor will be 26 year old actor Matt Smith.

The eleventh Doctor Who is 'flabbergasted' with the role which he takes over from current Doctor David Tennant at the end of 2009.

Smith is best known for his role as Danny Foster in the BBC series "Party Animals." He also has a tenuous connection to Who in that he was in an episode of Billie (Rose) Piper's series, "Secret Diary of a Call Girl."