Monday, January 20, 2014

Arrow S02 E10: "Blast Radius"

"Arrow" is back after its holiday hiatus. There is still no date for the pilot for "The Flash" to air but there's buzz of still another DC Comics character joining "Arrow" on the CW, Hourman, which may also tie directly into this series. Of course "Gotham" on Fox and "Constantine" on NBC probably won't be connected, but it seems like DC is taking over TV.

Meanwhile in Starling City, things are much the same as they were a few weeks ago. When we last tuned in, things were kinda turned up to eleven. Brother Blood was was out to make an army of super soldiers. He had injected Roy Harper with Mirakuru. Barry Allen was hit by a 'flash' of lightning after a particle accelerator explosion in Central City. And Cyrus Gold, not yet Solomon Grundy, was changing in his own way by getting his head splashed with green chemicals.

In the past, we witnessed Ivo killing Shado, and Slade brought back to life by Mirakuru. Finally we learn that Slade, in the present day, is the cause of all Oliver's problems. Caught up? If not, you can read my previous reviews of "Arrow" here. But now, we're back.

We open on Arrow taking out a drug dealer to find out who the man in the skull mask is. Oliver is scared, scared of what the bad guy will do with the Mirakuru. Felicity is not there, she's with the five weeks comatose Barry temporarily, which means Diggle has to tap keys and make magic. Felicity makes it look easy. And have I mentioned how much better our hero looks in a mask?

Laurel continues to investigate Blood, as he continues to run for mayor with Oliver's support. Laurel investigates by playing passive romantic interest to Blood, and asking occasional probing questions. It's awkward and we can see the man behind the curtain at times. It seems especially fake and manipulative when Blood tells her about his parents. I know that these two can act, but they don't show it here. More believable is when Laurel confronts Blood's 'aunt' and finds out what really happened to his parents.

In the midst of all this, there is an explosive arsonist, a military trained mad bomber that calls himself Shrapnel. Now in the comics, Shrapnel, principally an enemy of the Doom Patrol, although he has fought a plethora of heroes including Superman, Cyborg, and the Outsiders, is something completely different. He's a metahuman made of shattered metal who can explode himself at will the reform. Yeah, he's a deadly piece of super powered weirdness and evil. In "Arrow" however, Shrapnel is just a clever mad bomber.

Even though the relationship works in a simultaneously friendly and hostile atmosphere, I am loving the work dynamic between Arrow and Quentin Lance, refreshingly so anti-Batman/Gordon. Paul Blackthorne doesn't get to do much this episode but his chemistry with Stephen Amell's Arrow is tops.

As we watch Roy, and Thea, discover his new abilities via Mirakuru, in flashback we watch Slade struggle mentally with its effects as Ivo hunts our three heroes if the past. Neither Barry Allen nor Cyrus Gold appear in this episode, their shadows hang heavy in the plot. Too bad we know it will be some time before we have a resolutionary flash in at least one of those subplots.

The threat of Brother Blood is getting bigger, but it appears we may get a taste of Deathstroke in the present day finally next week. Can't wait.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thank God It's Friday

Thank God It's Friday ~ This movie is a long forgotten entry from the disco age, barely a footnote today, but when I was a teenager and it premiered, it was huge. For a week or so, before vanishing into the vortex of 'the next big thing.'

Thank God It's Friday was being touted as the next Saturday Night Fever, and it featured Donna Summer singing "Last Dance." The ads made it out to be funny, cool, and it had so much great new music. In other words, the flick had the same hype machine as other masterpieces like Corvette Summer and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I was at an age where I couldn't see movies. My friends didn't drive yet, I didn't have my own money, and there was no way my parents would take me. All of the above mentioned films I never saw until they made their way, edited for content, to network television. As badly as I wanted to see this, I had to live vicariously through the music, and the friends whose parents did let them see it. Notably, those friends weren't impressed.

What might have been risqué then with a PG rating is a bit lame now, and rewatching this seems more like an extended episode of "The Love Boat" on land. The movie chronicles several vignettes at a night at an exclusive Los Angeles disco, then called Zoo. It is very reminiscent of Cannonball Run meets It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, set to disco music with less laughs, and stars.

While not really the stars at the time, look for Jeff Goldblum, Debra Winger, as well as Paul Jabara, and of course, Donna Summer, Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores. Valerie Landsburg, Doris from "Fame," figures prominently, and don't miss Otis Day, and the pre-Berlin Terri Nunn. The cast, both major and minor is filled out by character actors and others who have faded into obscurity.

The movie is pretty predictable, and has been called the worst movie to ever win an Academy Award, for best original song (for Summer's "Last Dance"). Worth watching, but don't expect much, even if you have nostalgia for this one.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks ~ The twenty year quest of Walt Disney to gain the rights to P.L. Travers' "Mary Poppins" is the stuff of movie-making legend. Here finally, let's say, dramatized for the screen is that journey, or at least the final steps of it. With Tom Hanks as Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers, both in the running for Oscars this year along with the film, and rightly so, Saving Mr. Banks is a terrific film, maybe not as true as it contends, but still a great film.

While I have heard Hanks and Thompson's names bandied about for various awards, Also in the running should be Paul Giamatti and Colin Farrell first and foremost, as their performances trump both of the leads in my opinion. I was also fascinated to see Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak as the Sherman brothers, seemingly getting along in this flick. An all-star cast in and all-star movie that may or may not be 100% true.

For a more extensive review of Saving Mr. Banks, you should check out this special episode of The Make Mine Magic Podcast where The Bride and I go into great detail about the film. Check it out. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Little Shop of Horrors

The Little Shop of Horrors ~ Not the brilliant musical of film or stage, I'm talking about the original 1960 movie here. This Roger Corman extravaganza was filmed in two days for a mere $30,000 on the set of A Bucket of Blood, and it shows, but it was done with love, humor, and sincerity.

The tale of the killer plant was thought to be derived from a 1930s short story called "Green Thoughts," but was officially written by screenwriter Charles B. Griffith, who also wrote the aforementioned Bucket as well as Death Race 2000 for Corman. Boy finds plant, tries to impress girl, plant eats everyone - an age old story.

Everyone who remembers this flick probably does because of the great quick sequence by Jack Nicholson as the masochistic dental patient. But it also prominently features one of the best character actors, in my opinion, Dick Miller, as a flower-eating customer.

The underrated movie is badly acted, poorly staged, and looks incredibly cheap, but still it's a brilliant little black comedy combining horror, farce, and Jewish humor. It's worth watching at least once, especially if you love the musical. You'll see where lines and songs come from, and find yourself singing along where the music should be. Try it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Adventures in Podcasting

While I have been podcasting for quite a while, dating back to The All Things Fun! Podcast, and its crazed video child, The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast, and for Biff Bam Pop!, I was also a regular contributor to The Biff Bam Popcast. This year I dived into the podcast arena for myself, rather than for other folks. In April of 2013 my friend Ray Cornwall and I started our own podcast, The GAR! Podcast. We jumped in head first with really no idea what we were doing.

GAR! (Glenn and Ray) was an old idea that had finally been birthed. It started with our weird stream of consciousness conversations during dinner and talking on the phone while driving. Always the idea manifested - we should record this and make a podcast. That was the not-so-secret origin. After fooling around with GarageBand and finally taking the advice of longtime online friend and inspiration Derrick Ferguson, I submitted to just-do-it-ism. And we just did it.

We had no idea what we were doing of course, outside of just talking about stuff we liked, loved, and didn't like - just like the conversations we had always had. Eventually we figured out what it was we were doing, and thought we knew how to package it. Essentially we were two nerds, two big grown up kids who had refused to grow up, talking about stuff we loved - comics, games, television, books, movies, music, writing, sports, and somehow we always ended up talking about Prince and "Breaking Bad." Circle of life stuff, really.

I strived to be like the folks I admired who were already doing podcasts that I loved, and I wanted to acknowledge them here. The aforementioned Derrick Ferguson and his partner Thomas Deja continue to dazzle me every week with Better in the Dark, where they talk about movies and television. The class and professionalism of Barry Reese on The Shadow Fan's Podcast has been an equal inspiration. GAR! is nowhere near the league of these guys, but we want to be, and we're trying.

Seeing how 'easy' it was, a few months back, The Bride determined to do a podcast as well, one about one of her favorite topics, Disney. Thus, The Make Mine Magic Podcast was born. Inspiration there came from several other Disney-related podcasts like The DIS Unplugged, and a few others.

Here's to everyone who has helped, inspired, or even listened - thank you. And just for the record, don't forget to check out both The Make Mine Magic Podcast and The GAR! Podcast. Thanks again!

Thursday, January 09, 2014


Blackfish ~ What seems to be an examination of the killer whale named Tilikum that unofficially was involved in the deaths of at least three individuals is actually an accusation against the captivity of such animals.

The documentary, which purports the orcas have culture and society and language, live longer and behave differently in their natural habitat, is an indictment of SeaWorld, and their practices and claims. Interviewed are many former SeaWorld trainers, and footage of orca hostility is featured. Notably SeaWorld refused to cooperate with the filming and has called it inaccurate, misleading, and exploitive.

Blackfish may be true, or it may be one-sided, but no matter how you take this controversial film, it will make you think, and definitely think twice about how killer whales are treated in captivity. Compelling and recommended.