Friday, November 30, 2012

The Super Cops

The Super Cops ~ Okay, I have to admit, when I first saw this movie back in the mid to late seventies I felt tricked. The name of the movie is 'Super' Cops, and the movie posters, TV advertising, and even the novelization said it was about the real life Batman and Robin. What an awful thing to do to a ten year old. If you promise me Batman and Robin, I'd better get Batman and Robin.

Sadly, there's really none to be found here. In the footage of the real cops at the beginning, Dave Greenberg is wearing a red and white Batman t-shirt. In the midst of the movie there's a sequence where neighborhood kids tease Greenberg, played by Ron Liebman, and Robert Hantz, played by David Selby, calling them Batman and Robin. That's about all you get. Of course it doesn't help that "Batman" TV show writer Lorenzo Semple Jr. scripted the film. I felt tricked. I wanted superheroes.

Batman and Robin on the wall in their only cameo.
That said, this true story of two unorthodox cops in Brooklyn, who both the citizens and the press dubbed Batman and Robin is a intriguing and entertaining one. The story of Greenberg and Hantz is pretty typical of the 1970s cop movie, lighter fare than the similar and earlier Serpico. There's also a bit of "Charlie's Angels" in there as well, because the two are patrolmen who want to be more.

While it is funny and entertaining, sadly there's very little actual chemistry between Liebman and Selby. And Selby's bug-eyed staring into the camera is just unnerving and a little bit creepy. It might've made a half decent TV show rather than a movie. Some of the humor is forced, juvenile, and seems to be desperately in need of a laugh track. That might help it actually. Worth a watch if nothing else is on, or as a time capsule for the 1970s. It's no Batman and Robin, ya know?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Red Sun

Red Sun ~ I got turned on to this one eavesdropping on Twitter. I follow comic book writer Andy Diggle on Twitter and someone had hipped him to it. Just imagine it, a movie with Charles Bronson as a gunslinger and Toshiro Mifune as a samurai in the old west. Add in Ursula Andress, Alain Delon, music by Maurice Jarre, and direction by Terence Young - and you have Red Sun. I had to see this. How could I lose?

Also known as Soleil Rouge, the flick has Mifune as a Japanese samurai in the old West, carrying an ancient sword for the US President, which is stolen during a train robbery. Mifune teams with Bronson, one of the robbers betrayed during the heist, to get the sword back. A samurai, a cowboy, a western and a buddy movie, all with a brilliant cast and spellbinding music. I'm sold.

The film turns out to be everything I could have wished for. All the actors are perfect in this international amalgam. I don't think I could have had more fun watching this. For once, a film that achieves everything it promises to be - a gritty western with amazing actors from all parts of the world. Great flick.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Funky Forest

Funky Forest - The First Contact ~ I love Japanese television, film, and comics, but admittedly, a lot of what I like is genre specific. Superhero, giant monster, etc. That might be part of the reason I just didn't get this.

Even with subtitles I don't believe I could even tell you what it's about. Imagine an extra long episode of "Kids in the Hall" in a language you didn't understand and you'll begin to get a vibe of what this movie is like.

It looks very much like something I might like but it is indescribable and I don't get it. There are some very neat make-up, animation and CGI effects in it though. Just don't ask me what it's about.

The best explanation I can offer is it's a sort of Amazon Women on the Moon... on crack. Watch at your own risk.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Newsroom

I love HBO. I think that they, along with the folks at Showtime, AMC, and Starz among others, just make the best television out there. Looking at ratings and award nominations, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that belief. I guess that's why "The Newsroom" is such a hard pill for me to swallow.

I tried to watch the first season of "The Newsroom" when it aired. I just couldn't get into it, and once the episodes started to pile up in the DVR, I gave up and resolved to catch up later. It's hard to start watching a new show. Some things like "Dexter," "Treme," and "The Walking Dead" grabbed me immediately from the first moments. Others like "Rome," "The Wire," and "Homeland," all of which I loved/love, took some time to warm up to. "The Newsroom" falls solidly in the latter category, but maybe without so much of the love part.

There's a lot to like about "The Newsroom." Jeff Daniels, in the lead as a on-his-way-out newscaster trying something new to stay relevant, is spectacularly selfish. He's been given something few actors get - a platform on which to act over the top. His supporting cast is amongst one of the best ensembles in television. Dev Patel is someone to watch, and Alison Pill is the real star of the show, definitely watch her. Most of the performances are high caliber, a hallmark of HBO.

The show is a little bit Network, a little bit Broadcast News, with just a touch of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as well. The problem I have lies behind the scenes, in its creator, Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin belongs to an era and style of television I particularly dislike. Much like David E. Kelley, Sorkin doesn't just want to entertain audiences, he wants to teach, to preach, to ultimately force feed his opinions into the viewers, whether they like it or not.

Here, in "The Newsroom," it gets so bad sometimes as though it literally feels as though characters are merely taking turns on an imaginary soapbox than actually having a conversation or debate. It always takes me out of the show, and sometimes it's painful in its execution. Shame.

Except for that, "The Newsroom" is definitely worth watching, especially for Jeff Daniels, Alison Pill. Dev Patel, and also genre favorite, Oliva Munn. The Bin Laden episode made me cry, and that's saying a lot. The show is very very good, despite its preachiness, but it is, after all, HBO. Check it out.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Skyfall ~ This twenty-third official James Bond film, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the movie franchise, seems to be at odds with itself in my opinion. There is a passion by the filmmakers to acknowledge the past here even as they backburner and mock it. To quote the new Q as he hands Bond simply a gun and radio, "What did you expect, an exploding pen? We don't really go in for that sort of thing anymore." Much of the dialogue and the plot is dedicated toward saying the Bond way is passé, over with in this day and age, while simultaneously saying it's needed. It is a nice balance.

I was not a fan of the first two Daniel Craig Bond films, not because of Craig's humorless performance, or that they were rebooting the franchise for a new audience, mind you, but more because I resented them putting Pierce Brosnan out to pasture. I enjoyed Pierce quite a bit in the role. And actually Craig does a subtle humorous turn and smirk in this one. He's winning me over. Daniel Craig is book perfect when it comes to James Bond, but I've been spoiled by the movie versions, and expect a little something extra, ya know?

What really brought this film to life for me was director Sam Mendes. His stunning and startlingly different visuals light up and dim the screen significantly and lend specific mood and atmosphere to every sequence. Most stunning are the Shanghai scenes, beautiful camera work. I recently had the chance to peruse and review Greg Williams' book Bond on Set: Filming Skyfall over at Biff Bam Pop!, and while an amazing picture book, it doesn't hold a candle to the actual film in vibrancy and spectacle.

Craig is flawless, as is Judi Dench as M, and new girl Naomie Harris, and Ralph Fiennes is a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved Ben Whishaw as the new Q, but that was easy because I love him in everything he's in, especially "The Hour." A major complaint however comes in the form of Javier Bardem as the villain Raoul Silva. Not just over the top evil like most Bond villains, but he's also a bit creepy in a stereotype homosexual pedophile kind of way, so creepy in fact, that he comes off like a bad joke. He is as out of place in a Bond flick as say… Jaws and his girlfriend in Moonraker. For a franchise trying to upscale itself in the audience's eyes, Bardem was a mistake.

The opening action sequence is perhaps one of the best I've seen in a while (Tomorrow Never Dies is still my favorite). The title theme song by Adele better than average and appropriate. What makes me sad is that for a movie that embraces its heritage, gives nods to its history, and celebrates its characters, even adding to their origins - it seems to back step into a simple vengeance storyline rather than a clever spy thriller - which is what it should be. I mean, let's face it, the last sequences of this film could have easily been a Denzel action flick or perhaps another Die Hard. Revenge is the easy way out. I want to see Bond save the world, for Queen and for Country.

All that said, I really enjoyed this movie, from the fantastic visuals of director Mendes to the titanic score by Thomas Newman, Skyfall was a terrific Bond film. Recommended.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

RIP Larry Hagman

Larry Hagman passed away yesterday from complications of his ongoing battle with cancer. The actor and director was 81.

The son of actress Mary Martin, he began acting early. From "Edge of Night" to "I Dream of Jeannie" to "Dallas" to "Nip/Tuck" and back to "Dallas" again, he has had a fairly steady career for decades.

Throughout numerous television roles and even a few movie roles (I still have a warm spot in my heart for his appearance in the 1970s Blob sequel), he will be best remembered as the villainous oilman J.R. Ewing. The mystery of who shot him at the end of season three of "Dallas" was one of the most talked about television stunts in history.

While most memorable as J.R., I will have to agree with my friends Taryn and Ian in that I will always remember him as Major Tony Nelson on "I Dream of Jeannie." Maybe it's my age, or a wish to remember him as a good amusing guy, but I will miss 'Master' the most. An American television icon, Larry Hagman will be missed.

A slightly different and more detailed version of this post appeared earlier today here at the Biff Bam Pop! website.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I'm a latecomer to this show. I tried watching it during its first season and just couldn't get into it. My mom-in-law was enjoying it, so I gave it another shot, this time, getting through two episodes, and not digging it because I found t too predictable.

Then Emmy time came around just before the start of the second season of "Homeland." The show was a big winner, and I had friends who were surprised I wasn't watching, saying it was right in my television wheelhouse. I relented, and watched the whole first season streaming in about a week.

I was wrong. It's really only predictable for about four episodes, after that I was irrevocably hooked. The second season has been as just as good as the first, something I wasn't sure it could keep up.

There are problems however. The first was something I thought only I was seeing, but as a recent "Saturday Night Live" sketch brought to light, Claire Danes' overacting and crazy unblinking eyes when having an anxiety attack skate the thin line between reality and over the top almost to the point of laughing out loud. Her crazy face jumps the shark every time she makes it.

Brody's daughter is the current equivalent of the daughter in "24," where you have to ask, why do we care? It's subplot just for the sake of subplot, rather than efficient storytelling. These last two points make me wonder if we'll get a third season despite how amazing everything else on the show is.

Time will tell. Despite what I've said, I'm glued to my TV every Sunday night.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for the Week of 11-21-2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Allison Eckel, and Glenn Walker, with a special guest cameo appearance by Ed Evans, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in this week's special Black Friday episode includes: the Black Friday sale, Indestructible Hulk #1, Captain America #1, more Marvel NOW!, Allison and Glenn split up Ed's X-Men books, Avengers #34, Hawkeye #4, Captain Marvel #7, Amazing Spider-Man #698, Sword of Sorcery #2, Justice League #14, Kyle Rayner Green Lantern as the new Avatar, Legion of Super-Heroes #14, The Batcave, how to pronounce H'el and other comics names, Supergirl #14, Black and Blue, Hellblazer controversy, Indies first issues, The Shadow #8, Bigfoot in Bionic Man #14, Zenescope, Allison's kids comics, Valiant, Oz, Bravest Warriors #2, and the week's trades.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics, toys and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ. Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lost Hits of the New Wave #21

"Blue Highway" by Billy Idol

This was never a single by Billy Idol, and yet it did receive its share of airplay and clubplay. From the album Rebel Yell, it is surprisingly almost a tone clone of the title track. Perhaps it was for folks who had grown tired of hearing the real "Rebel Yell" over and over and over again… and yet still wanted more of the same…

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words ~ Eddie Murphy doesn't have much luck in the movies any more, Shrek and Dream Girls excepted. Whenever he releases a theatrical starring vehicle, even one like this that is actually pretty good, it fails. At least theatrically and critically. I, on the other hand, liked A Thousand Words, just as I've liked more than a few Murphy films of the last dozen or so years.

A Thousand Words is a fantasy flick with a simple premise. Eddie plays a publishing agent who is cursed by a client to only be able to speak 1000 words before he dies. This forces Eddie to be very selective in his words, and he must use other ways to communicate. It is fierce physical comedy, something Murphy loves and excels at, and he is a delight to watch here. He is supported by a wonderful cast, including in terrific parts - Clark Duke, Jack McBrayer, and John Witherspoon.

It doesn't help the film that much like the infamous Pluto Nash that this movie was made a few years ago and was just released this spring. It's sad that had this been forty or fifty years ago, this would have been a perfect vehicle for Jerry Lewis, one of Murphy's idols. It's also a matter of being out of favor with Hollywood - think about it, this would have been a hit if it starred Jim Carrey or Ben Stiller, right?

I liked it. It's a good comedy with a happy ending, a good message, and an excellent flick for the family with humor for kids of all ages. Some scenes might be a bit risqué however. Recommended.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Arrow: Legacies

Before I start my review of this episode, I want to backtrack to something I missed initially in last week's "Damaged." The attorney prosecuting Oliver in that episode was none other than Kate Spencer. In the DC Comics source material, crusading attorney Spencer is the secret identity of the crime fighting superheroine Manhunter. Perhaps that's a hint to an upcoming encounter.

"Legacies" represents a turning point for Oliver in his vigilante mission, going from personal vendetta to full-on crimefighter and protector of Starling City. To make that transformation, enter the Royal Flush Gang. In the comics these high tech card-themed villains regularly took on the Justice League with a revolving cast of thugs behind the masks. Here in "Arrow," they are a family of bank robbing terrorists in painted hockey masks. Same as they ever were, just with less special effects.

I'm impressed that Diggle is able to turn Oliver's head in this way. He can't just fight the cause of his city's sickness, he has to fight the symptoms as well - and this week, the symptoms are the Royal Flush Gang. I did not however dig Diggle's Alfred impersonation when he saved Oliver from brunch to stop a bank robbery. Speaking of Batman, I loved seeing Oliver stealthily break into police headquarters, kinda part Batman, part Dexter.

We get more trick arrows this time around as well as more Felicity Smoak. Tommy Merlyn has a bigger part, trying to get back into Laurel's pants. I'm not sure which is creepier - Tommy and Laurel or Tommy and Thea. Maybe the latter is what pushes him and Oliver apart? Get to it already, when is he finally putting on the black leather and crossing bows with our hero?

Tidbits from the quiver: Yao Fei is finally named in the show, Keystone City, Coast City, a pseudo Legion ring, and Stagg Industries are among the comics name drops this time around. I see that Philadelphia's Comcast building has been added to Starling City's skyline. And there's also the fact that Laurel's law firm is abbreviated CNRI - yeah, that's right, Canary.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yogi Bear 2010

Yogi Bear ~ This is the live action and CGI big screen movie from Christmas 2010 that pretty much bombed at the box office. Much like The Green Hornet a year or so back, I have to wonder if its because the current movie going audience has no point of reference for Yogi Bear any longer.

When I was a wee toddler waaay back in the late sixties, I have great memories of watching classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters like Yogi Bear with my dad. It's a good memory, sitting with my father, seeing the five to eight minute adventures of Huckleberry Hound, Jinx the Cat, Pixie and Dixie, and Jellystone Park's favorite pick-a-nick basket thieves, Yogi and Boo Boo Bear.

Later those good memories of semi-good kids cartoons were ruined by parents groups in the seventies, leading them to join together to fight pollution on "Yogi's Gang," and then later were sidelined as peripheral funny animal characters on "Scooby-Doo's Laff-A-Lympics." After that, except for a handful of forgettable appearances, Yogi was, well, forgotten. Maybe, after the seventies, with good reason. Still, the 1960s cartoon shorts have a warm spot in my heart.

That said, I doubt most of the folks who saw this in theaters even knew who Yogi is, um, was. Those that did, might have been put off as I was. The CGI Yogi and Boo Boo is kinda cool, until you see them next to live action human beings. Then the reality sets in that they are bears because the size ratio is correct and troubling. Bears, even those wearing ties, sometimes tend to eat people. I can see young kids being maybe freaked out by this.

The plot is much too long and complicated for the characters who work best in ten minute increments at most. Similar structure has ruined of films of this genre like Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and even Looney Tunes and The Simpsons. Honestly, I would have been happy with eight ten-minute vignettes than one eighty-minute movie, but that's me.

Intellectually disturbing (for me at least) is the fact they acknowledge Yogi and Boo Boo are not only bears, but talking, thinking, tie wearing bears. They even acknowledge its rare, but they never explain why. That drives me nuts. Maybe it's just too meta for me to get past, but it bugs the hell outta me.

Then there's also the voice casting of Dan Ackroyd and Justin Timberlake as Yogi and Boo Boo. Timberlake is not bad at all, but Ackroyd, once you know it's him, never sounds like anything but Dan Ackroyd doing a bad Daws Butler as Yogi Bear imitation. Some folks may have enjoyed and praised us, but not me, I couldn't get past it.

All in all, Yogi Bear wasn't bad, fairly harmless actually, and did have the spirit at least of those original sixties cartoons. Anna Faris didn't annoy the hell out of me, and it had Journey music, so it couldn't be all bad. Good for the kiddies even though they might not even know Yogi or Boo Boo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for the Week of 11-14-2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ.

Co-hosts Ed (retailer) Evans, Allison (fangirl) Eckel, and Glenn (curmudgeon) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in wicked high definition video, and also available on the YouTube. See it here!

Discussion featured in this week's special boob smash episode includes: the Black Friday sale, The Batcave featuring "Death of the Family," Ame-Comi Girls #2, Young Justice, Phantom Stranger #2, Green Lantern Corps #14, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #4, Fantastic Four #1, All-New X-Men #1, Thor God of Thunder #1, Gambit #5, New Avengers #33 by Bendis and Oeming, Avengers Assemble #9 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ed's Marvels and Ed's indies, The Boys #72, Michael Avon Oeming's The Victories #5 (of 6), Valiant Comics, Glenn takes Ed's indies, Allison's Zenescope comics and Allison's kids comics, Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland, and trades and toys.

Be sure to check out the new All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, now featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution ~ Combining two themes I've been writing about here and elsewhere this year, I look at a Sherlock Holmes movie from the 1970s. Having never seen this one before, all I remember of hearing about it was the much ado about Holmes' drug use. That's not that big a deal however as it's from the books, and therefore canon.

The film sets its tone immediately with the opening credits, which reminded me unfortunately of those of Monty Python and the Holy Grail from the year before. This was to be a comedy then. The story purports that Moriarty's evil was a drug induced paranoid delusion of the detective's, and that he needed the help of Sigmund Freud to get well. In hypnosis sessions, the 'true' origins of Sherlock Holmes are revealed.

The cast is filled with major star power including Robert Duvall as Watson with an impossible English accent. Alan Arkin as Freud, the underrated Charles Gray as Mycroft (a role he would play again in the PBS Jeremy Brett Holmes series), and Nicol Williamson as the simpering, almost imbecilic Holmes are all brilliant, and that's not even mentioning Sir Lawrence Olivier as the maligned Prof. Moriarty. It's not the way I want to see my Holmes, but there's no denying the great performance.

The film is based on the first of three Sherlock Holmes books by author and director Nicholas Meyer, who also received an Oscar nom for the screenplay. He is obviously a huge Holmes fan, and all three of the books were designed to fill in the blanks of the detective's life, as well as dismiss some of the canon he felt didn't quite fit. Sadly, the later included Moriarty.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a beautifully shot, wickedly performed, and well designed mystery adventure, well worth watching, but it's not the kind of Sherlock Holmes story I want to see. I guess, in the end, I'm a traditionalist.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Arrow: Damaged

Not only do we pick up on that great cliffhanger from last week (Lance discovering Oliver's double identity and placing him under arrest), but this episode, we finally see Deathstroke. Big doings, big doings.

Six minutes into "Damaged" however, I had to stop the DVR and consult my attorney, The Bride, because something really stank in Starling City. Oliver insists it's mistaken identity (and circumstantial evidence) when Lance sees security video of him with a green hood. Oliver then insists that Laurel defend him. What the what now?

If that's not illegal, it's certainly a conflict of interest, and stinks of impropriety. I really don't think you can be defended by your ex-girlfriend whose father is not only the arresting officer but also has a grudge against the defendant and his family. I was really surprised to see this coming from executive producer Marc Guggenheim, a veteran of lawyer television. But there it is.

Nice to see that Oliver does think ahead however. I love that Oliver planned on getting caught. I equally love heroes who plan and think, as opposed to simply just punching, or in this case, shooting arrows. Nice touch. TV's Arrow is more Batman than the most recent cinematic version of Batman.

It was also nice to see Diggle in action. Or rather, -not- see him in action. Sam Amell's chest again features heavily, and there was much character development in this episode. There were nice call outs to Iron Heights, and to Laurel wearing fishnets, and the subplot with Oliver's stepdad Walter Steel finding the Queen's Gambit also continues, but let's face it, all we really wanted to see in this episode was Deathstroke.

Before we see the Terminator, we meet Eddie (called Edward here) Fyers. On "Arrow," he appears to lead the men who captured Oliver in the island, and is hunting Yao Fei, who had been helping Oliver. In the comics, Fyers was an adversary then unwilling ally of Green Arrow, and later a mentor of sorts to his son, Connor Hawke. Fyers here seems early in his career.

We learn it was Deathstroke who gave Oliver those scars flawing the real star of the show. And we get to see an absolutely awesome and far too brief combat between Yao Fei and Deathstroke. All in all, a disappointment that left me wanting more. I suspect we'll be seeing more of next week's special guest villains, the Royal Flush Gang, than we dud this week's.

In the miscellaneous department, we find that Laurel's father's name is Quentin rather than the expected Larry. Starling City appears to be a conglomeration, probably through CGI, of several cities including Philadelphia. Some nice shots of Liberty One and Two in this episode. Does Oliver have a new Arrow costume? And boy, have the writers just forgotten about Tommy Merlyn or what? I think T-Dog got more dialogue in the first two seasons of "The Walking Dead."

John Barrowman appears again. His lack of accent makes me wonder if he's really Count Vertigo of not. Perhaps he's John Deleon, or Maxwell Lord... now there's something to think about... Bonus trivia points for anyone who can tell me who John Deleon was…

Friday, November 09, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph ~ After helping friend Marni celebrate her birthday at Red Lobster, The Bride and I decided to continue the evening as a date night, despite the raging rainsnowstorm outside. We hadn't been able to see Wreck-It Ralph since it's been out so we trekked across Route 38 to my least favorite theater to see it.

It was a rainy/snowy Wednesday night, and that may have something to do with it, but I was pleased to see the place nearly empty and doing very little business. I couldn't wish it on a nastier movie theater. That said, to be fair, we had no problems on this trip. As a matter of fact, the young man who took our tickets was very helpful. But you know, too little, too late. Gonna take a lot to change my mind about this place.

First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. "Paperman" was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see "Paperman" first.

Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we're not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero's Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.

It's a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it's an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.

An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, "Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph" by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of "Pac-Man Fever" fame.

I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren't into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Lost Hits of the New Wave #20

"Baby's in the Mountains" by Peter Godwin

The last couple times I've talked about songs The Bride had not heard of and I had not heard of. Here's one neither of us had heard of, first heard on 1st Wave satellite radio, but apparently released in 1983.

Peter Godwin also fronted the band Metro and his "Criminal World," one of my fave Bowie songs, was covered by the Thin White Duke on Let's Dance.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for the Week of 11-7-2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ.

Co-hosts Ed (All Green Lantern) Evans, Allison (No Marvel Girl) Eckel, and Glenn (Batwing Again?) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in wicked high definition video, and also available on the YouTube. See it here!

Discussion featured in this week's special post hurricane episode includes: Action Comics #14, Green Arrow #14, Earth 2, the Batcave, Dial H #6, Rotworld, Green Lantern #14, Iron Man #1, Deadpool #1, Ed's Marvels including the final issue of Avengers Academy, Avengers #33, the final issue of Defenders, Life with Archie #24, Allison's kids comics, New Crusaders #3, Road to Oz #3 (of 6), Danger Girl GI Joe #3 (of 3), Freelancers #1, Transformers Regeneration One #85, The Shadow #7, Shadowman #1, Dejah Thoris, stiffies, and Ed's trades, toys, and manga.

Be sure to check out the crazy new All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, now featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

Remember, every time Glenn says 'awesome,' or Allison says 'mash-up,' take a shot!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Women 2 Women Concert

Please join us on Saturday November 10th @ 7PM at the Indian Chief Tavern (Route 70, Medford, NJ) for a evening to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness.

W2W is a grassroots advocacy movement to promote female artists by giving them a venue to showcase their talents. W2W (Women to Women) is a Concert Event series with a dual purpose. Each W2W Event not only will promote our local female Artists it will also promote a Woman’s Charity. 

Our 1st Event November 10th @ The Indian Chief, Rt70 Medford, NJ will be held to raise Breast Cancer Awareness along with proceeds benefiting Breast Cancer research for the American Cancer Society. More information about the American Cancer Society can be found on their website ACS will be providing valuable information regarding Breast Cancer so be sure to check out all the pamphlets, booklets and literature at the event tables.

This event could not be successful without the support of our Rock n Roll community. There will be a $10 admission at the door/Door Sales only no advance tickets. Patrons will be admitted on a first come first serve basis, so arrive Promptly when doors open @ 7pm.

We have a wonderful group of generous and talented musicians who will be participating to make this event a success, but we need your help!! We will be holding Gift Basket Raffles and a 50/50 (Cash only) and each attendee will be eligible to win one of our great Door Prizes !!

Performers on November 10th include: Robin Parry, Kathi Cooley, Britt Zammer, Keli Vale, Janet Bufano, Jennifer Walker, Susan Lake, Tina Brand, Sandy Hall, Chris Hartline, Kate Bradshaw, and Rachel Evans.

Hope to see you there!!! - with Jeanne Mannix Evans.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Mind Slices by Kevin R. Tipple

Kevin R. Tipple is a dear friend, or at least as good a friend as one can have online. That said, he's a good man, a great book reviewer, a terrific writer, and a wonderful fount of writing knowledge. We've known each other for years, and have supported each other in various projects over that time. Now Kevin has released a short story collection, Mind Slices.

The collection offers a glimpse into the mind of the man. Having read sadly very little of his fiction before, I was a bit surprised. Kevin's got a bit of a weird streak, and I like it. His twists are unexpected and fun, as well as edgy. The man is a hell of a writer, I'm in awe.

Much of the collection is previously published elsewhere, but there's also quite a bit of new flash fiction that is quite good, and that's not a form I usually like. One of my favorite parts of the book is the individual introductions to each story. I first fell in love with short stories under the pen of Harlan Ellison, and this was one of his practices - and this brought me back.

All that said, I loved Mind Slices, and not just because Kevin's my friend. Seriously that has nothing to do with it. On the contrary, being a friend means I'd really give it to him if it sucked, but this was really good.

Mind Slices can be found on Amazon and on Smashwords, check it out, highly recommended.

You can find Kevin at his website, his blog, and on the Twitter as well.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Two Divas, A Dawg, and A Dude

Today's guest blogger Patti O'Brien is a fellow writer and dear friend from the South Jersey Writers Meetup group. She's been having trouble getting folks to come to her blog, so I told her I'd give her a spotlight here on Welcome to Hell. She's a terrific writer, check out her thoughts below on "American Idol."


The premiere of the new season of "American Idol" (in mid-January 2013) may well be the most watched episode they’ve seen in years, and sadly, it won’t be due to the quality of the singers. The vocalizing on the first episodes is usually pretty dismal.

Nope, this year the singers will be secondary to what most viewers will be tuning in to see: the judges.

The feuds between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj are already infamous. I don’t actually know what they’ve been fighting about but it doesn’t matter; two pop divas are at odds, presumably over which is the top diva, Minaj already playing the age card and Mariah, well, playing the Mariah card. Who’s to say which will actually be able to accurately judge new talent? Sure, Mariah’s the top selling female pop artist of all time, but can she offer valuable advice to the hopefuls who’ll sing for her? Other than 'show a lot of boob, all the time, every single time you appear anywhere' of course.

Minaj is a performance artist with a loyal following, but can she mentor a contestant who needs serious vocalist guidance? Only time will tell, and that’s what we viewers, who may have wanted to swear off the show when the new judges were announced, will tune in for—what will they do, what will they say, what will they wear?

The other new judge, Keith Urban, is possibly known more for being Nicole’s husband than for his music. Oh, and he’s cute, so that’ll draw in some female viewers. Of course, county music fans - those same fans who voted for Scotty McCreery - may also tune in to a show that’s historically been thin in this area.

And how about Randy? He of the 'dawg' and 'dude' and 'I’m just not feelin’ it?' Randy spends most of his time name dropping; his favorite thing is to name the original artist and maybe an obscure session musician who played on the first release of the tune the vocalist has just 'made his own.' Other than drool over all warblers who share his heritage, I think Randy’s shown us all the tricks in his bag, but it’ll be nice to at least have one judge who knows how this thing works.

With all the changes the show’s gone through, it leaves me to ask myself which judge I think has been the best and which the worst. Let’s start with the worst, because that’s easier - Ellen. Please. The woman is so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, she did nothing but praise or apologize: I’m sorry, it just wasn’t very good. But you’re so nice and pretty and wonderful and you’re a really good singer but for me, well, I’m sorry but I just didn’t love it. I’m sorry.

We get it, Ellen, you’re nice. But nice doesn’t butter the whole wheat toast on a rainy day in June, as my favorite judge might say. Yes, Steven Tyler, you were all that and a bag of crazy, but I loved you. You’d just as soon run up on stage and show ‘em how it’s done than sit there and listen, but you did offer opinions that were honest and usually on target, even if no one quite understood everything you said. You brought a certain panache to the show that the producers now need two crazies to bring.

And Simon? Well, you were harsh, obnoxious, full of yourself, wear nothing but undershirts, I mean, really, even plumbers wear shirts, Simon. Buy a button-up for the sake of all mankind, and learn to wear it with the buttons actually buttoned. You were mean and ornery, but you did make some good points.

Paula was sheer entertainment but on the few occasions when she was called on first, she could not put together a sentient sentence without first hearing what Randy or Simon had to say, then repeating it. But she, like J-Lo, looked pretty and was nice to the contestants; not as nice as Ellen, mind you, because Ellen’s kind of nice was gross. Sorry Ellen, I really am, but you sucked as a judge and you know it. Again, really sorry ‘bout that.

Someday, I’d like to see Ryan Seacrest in a judge’s chair. He’s heard everyone, knows the contestants better than the judges do, and must have a million opinions that nobody’s ever asked him to state. Well, I’m asking, Ryan: what the hell have you been thinking all these years? Maybe you should write a book; I’ll even ghostwrite it for you. We’ll call it “Dim the Lights,” and in it, you can tell us all the backstage gossip we crave.

So, when Idol debuts next year, I, for one, will be among the many who tune in to see how the new judges do. I don’t think I’ll like them too much, but I doubt they’ll be the worst. If you want to listen to some good 'judges' though, tune into "The Voice," featuring Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Sheldon and Adam Levine. The format is different so they don’t judge, they fight over the singers they want for their teams, so it’s much more civil. And almost every one of the vocalists on that show are good, which makes the show already so much more watchable than "Idol."

Also, I am now in love with Adam Levine, or as I call him, Mr. Devine. But that’s another story.


You can check Patti's blog Too Pooped to Pop here, and she's also on the Facebook and the Twitter. Friend her and follow her, it's worth it.