Friday, November 7, 2014

Interstellar Review

Don checks out Interstellar so you don't have to. Although you should... maybe. It's... ok. He thinks he liked it, but he's not sure:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marvel Phase 3


So Marvel announced "Phase 3" of their film universe, whatever that means. It's just a bunch of sequels. Anyway, they announced a bunch of them so I figured I'd share my thoughts:

Captain America 3: Civil War
The picture says Serpent Society, but apparently that was all a ruse and it's actually subtitled Civil War. I wish they had stuck with Serpent Society because I felt the Civil War storyline was one of the worst moments in the history of comic books. Awful story, betrayal of the characters, etc. But, anyway, the first couple Cap movies were good so I imagine this one will be as well.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2:
Sure. Who wouldn't be excited for this one?

Black Panther
I'll be the one white person on the internet to say it: I don't care... not because it's about a black character, but because it's about a boring character. Not every Marvel character is worthy of a stand-alone film, and I've never much character for his solo comic stories. Chadwick Boseman is decent casting, but he doesn't really have the gravitas needed, in my opinion. Remember 15 years ago when Wesley Snipes was in talks to play the character? Now THAT would've had me excited.

Captain Marvel
Again, no interest. At first I got excited because I thought it was about Mar-Vell, the defected Kree warrior called Captain Marvel. But it's not. It's about this new character about whom I know nothing. I don't even know much about the original Captain Marvel. I'm sure it will be great and I'll see it, but at this point I have no interest.

The Avengers: Infinity War Parts I and II
I'm on board for this one. More Thanos? Basing two films on what is arguably the greatest epic in comic book history? My only fear is that they'll fuck it up, but judging from what we've seen so far, I remain hopeful. I'm very excited for these.

Dr. Strange
Again, I'm going to be the only person on the internet to admit two things: I don't care about Dr. Strange and I think Bennedict Cumberbatch is overrated. I like the character, and he's a fine actor, I just can't get excited about this movie. I'm sure I'll see it, but the casting of Cumberbatch just leads me to believe he's going to turn Dr. Strange into that same character he has played in every other movie he's been in. I mean, what is there to say about an actor who made Khan boring?

Inhumans
I swear to god I'm a comic fan -- Marvel in particular -- and I love these movies... but no interest in this one. Boring characters so it will either be a boring movie, or something incredibly unfaithful.

Thor 3
Yeah, ok. I loved the first one, tolerated the second one, but both were fun enough to have me interested in a third, at least as a rental.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Four Walls and a Roof Review

We review the Walking Dead season five episode "Four Walls and a Roof"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

So Awkward: Crypticon MN 2014

Jester and Don visit Crypticon MN, an annual horror convention here in Minneapolis, MN. Don had the opportunity to sit down and interview Eric Roberts, and they both met TV's Frank Conniff, Zach Galligan, and Tom Atkins, and many more.

Friday, October 24, 2014

So Awkward: Fan Mail

Jester and Don open their first piece of fan mail... and it's amazing: A horror mystery mini and some Walking Dead Pops!

Thanks, Matt!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

So Awkward: Walking Dead "Strangers" Review

Jester and Don review "Strangers," the second episode of the fifth season of The Walking Dead:

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Top 100 Star Trek Episodes of All Time

No, not as chosen by me, but by the good people at io9.com, a very fine sci-fi website. All things considered, this is a pretty decent list and I don't have much to complain about. Not that I would anyway, since I understand that lists like these aren't meant to be definitive, so much as fun and joyous about Star Trek. I would have written a different list than this, but none of these are bad episodes by any means.

I am intrigued by their choice of Balance of Terror as the best Star Trek episode of all time. That's a great episode to be sure, but I probably would've have even put it in my top ten. I am glad that they didn't go with the stock choice for these lists, City on the Edge of Forever, another very fine episode, but one that I think is a bit overrated. When people ask me which is my favorite Star Trek episode, I usually say either The Inner Light or Far Beyond the Stars. However, if I ever did sit down to compile a list (and I'm not saying I'm gonna), I admit I'd probably want to give the top spot to an episode of the original series. Anything else just wouldn't feel right. Having said that, it would be hard to choose my favorite, but it would probably be Mirror Mirror, The Corbomite Maneuver, or Devil in the Dark. Anyway, those are my favorites. I also really like Conscience of the King... and all of them, to be perfectly honest, at least from the first couple seasons anyway.

Another interesting to note -- and something of which I approve -- is the absence of Voyager or Enterprise in the top 20. I'm sure they were tempted to represent all of the series in the top ten, but I'm happy they resisted. Frankly, as much as I enjoy all Star Trek (even the shitty episodes), Voyager and Enterprise are definitely Star Trek light. The highest ranking Voyager episode was The Equinox at 23. If I've ever seen that episode (and I'll admit I've never made it through all of Voyager past season 5 or so), I don't remember it. I'm sure it's great.

The highest ranking episode of Enterprise is Twilight at #33. That was a decent episode, but it probably wouldn't make my top 100 list. There are better episodes of Enterprise, although off hand I can't think of a single one. Oh wait... That one where Trip falls in love with some a-sexual chick who commits suicide. That was a good one. Let's see if that made their top 100... Nope. Poor Enterprise. Even the Animated Series got more love on this list, since the topped out at #30 with Yesteryear, which probably would have made my top twenty. That's a good episode.

Anyway, check out the list and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Need For Speed

I've reached the point in my adult life where the highest praise I give to a movie is that I actually watched it all the way through. Well, that's the highest praise I can give to this movie, anyway. I'm sure I could think of something more thoughtful to say about Citizen Kane or the Godfather. Needless to say, Need For Speed isn't quite up there with Citizen Kane or the Godfather. I couldn't even say it's the Citizen Kane or the Godfather of racing movies. Hell, it might not even be the Citizen Kane or the Godfather of Need For Speed movies. But, hey, I watched it all the way through.

Need For Speed is a racing movie based on the Need For Speed series of videogames. I did not know that before I rented it. I'm not saying that would have changed my decision to watch it, I'm just sharing this information. I have played, and enjoyed, the game series, and this film actually really captures the look and feel of the games. Ever played a Need for Speed game? Then you'll know what I mean if you watch this movie. There were some shots during the racing where the view changed from the interior of the car to a view chasing behind it, and it was almost as though I had manually changed the view on a game controller. I guess that's neat.

Anyway, as racing movies go, this succeeds because the racing is awesome. However, as racing movies go, this is kind of a failure because it's way too long and the story is overly convoluted. The story is about how this guy's father just died so he has to enter a street race to save the garage he inherited, but then in an unrelated race his best friend is murdered and he gets framed, so after getting out of prison he enters another race to avenge his friend's death and prove his innocence. Or something. It's really fucking stupid and makes no sense but it thinks its it's poignant and moving.

But, anyway, the racing was awesome, partly because it was actual cars racing on actual streets. If any of the racing was CG, it was so well done I couldn't tell. For the most part, this was real, old school car chase scenes, which was a joy to see after all those Fast and Furious movies turned into CG cartoons.

It stars that guy from Breaking Bad, some british chick named Imogen Poots who is maybe the cutest girl I've ever seen, and Michael Keaton, who appears throughout the film in the same set, so I'm assuming he put in maybe two days of work at most. But I'm not complaining because it's Michael Keaton.

And that's all I have to say about Need For Speed. I don't even know if I'm recommending it or not. If it was an hour and a half, I'd recommend it whole heartedly, but at two hours and ten minutes, it's a bit of chore to get through. Whenever there weren't cars on screen, I felt the NEED for them to SPEED up the plot.

Anyway, that's my review.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Memoriam: Robin Williams


O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass
           

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

So Awkward: Nerd Block and Loot Crate

Jester and Don signed up for two different mystery box services: Nerd Block and Loot Crate. See which one wins...


Jodorowsky's Dune

Jodorowsky's Dune is a movie about another movie that doesn't actually exist, at least not on film. It certainly exists in the hearts and imaginations of the people who spent years of their lives developing it, and, at least according to the thesis set forth by documentarian, just the storyboards and story concepts went on to influence and change the film industry. Anyway, it's a pretty good documentary.

I'm not really a fan of weird movies by avant-garde directors, so while I had heard of Alejandro Jodorowsky and his notoriously weird films like El Topo, I had never seen any of them, and to be sure the clips of those films shown in this documentary left me feeling no regrets about that decision, although they did look fascinatingly bizarre. I have read Frank Herbert's Dune, however, about a couple dozen times, as well as all the sequels and all of the various film and TV adaptations. Dune is probably my favorite novel, and it stands alongside the Lord of the Rings as the work of literature I've reread most frequently, probably at least once a year for the past decade. I love Dune so much I've even read a bunch of those awful Dune novels by his son Brian. Even bad Dune novels are fun to read.

Bad Dune movies, however, are borderline unwatchable, and I offer the David Lynch adaptation as proof of this claim Jodorowsky's Dune adaptation probably would have been awful as well, but at least it would have been awful in a truly fascinating way. Although it tried its best, this documentary didn't really sell me on the idea that Jodorowsky losing his funding and thus being unable to finish his film was a tragedy on bar with the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but it certainly looked like it would have been something special.

I mean, what is there to say about a film that envisioned a scene where a castrati and a sorceress fall in love, but since they are unable to mate she takes a drop of his blood, transforms it into semen, and then inserts it into her vagina, as the camera follows it through her body as it fertilizes one of her eggs. Well, I can think of one to say about it: Huh?!

Oh, and it was also going to be 12 hours long, end with the death of Paul Atreides, whose soul is then transferred into the planet itself, causing it to become self-aware as it travels through the galaxy unfettered by gravitational fields or other such scientific nonsense. And in case you're wondering, no... none of that happens in the books. So it's easy to understand why no major studio wanted to throw millions of dollars into this film's production.

It's a wonderful documentary, however, and definitely worth watching if you are at all interested in Dune, existentialist art, or just film production in general. Unfortunately this film never got past the pre-production stage, so no footage was ever actually filmed, but there are thousands of pages of incredibly gorgeous storyboards by legendary French comic book artist Moebius, which this film actually animates to simulate how some of the sequences would have appeared in the finished film. It's really well done, and the long-tracking shot that travels through the entire galaxy is stunning, even though it's just a bunch of black and white sketches done in pencil. We also get to see the character and production designs created by Moebius, as well as those by H.R. Giger, and Chris Foss.

Jodorowsky himself seems like a really charming, passionate filmmaker. Most artists tend to come across as pretentious jerks -- such as the footage and anecdotes about Salvador Dali, who was slated to play the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV -- but Jadorowsky is articulate, funny, and lucid. I liked him, and really enjoyed and appreciated everything he had to say about his Dune project and about film -- and life -- in general, and I'm interested in checking out his other films, even though I know I'll hate them. There's one particularly great bit where he talks about how heart-broken he was when a studio actually produced the David Lynch adaptation, but then was overjoyed when he watched it and saw how awful it was.

The film ends with a montage of sequences from the never-filmed storyboards alongside nearly identical sequences from such films as Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and others. The storyboards were given to every major studio in Hollywood back when they were looking for funding in the mid 70s, and this documentary makes a pretty strong case that many of its ideas were either stolen or merely served as the inspiration for countless films that went on to be popular hits.

The film isn't perfect, however, since it has a couple glaringly missed opportunities. We learn all about the designs for Duke Leto and the Harkonnens, but there is no mention of the Fremen, arguably the most important culture in the entire series. There is also no real mention or look at the sandworms, other than a brief shot of a single storyboard panel. And while I know this was a film about Jodorowsky's Dune and not so much the source material, but the film could have at least mentioned Frank Herbert's thoughts on this adaptation. I'm sure some interviews or letters exist. Did Jodorowsky even meet him? We hear more about potential stars Mick Jagger and Orson Welles (!!) in this documentary than we do the guy who wrote the actual novel. At the very least they could have interviewed Frank Herbert's son Brian.

But, anyway, those mild complaints aside, this was a really fun, enthralling look at a film that was never meant to be. Jodorowsky at one point says that after he dies he hopes somebody takes the script and storyboards and turns it into an animated film. I think that sounds brilliant and it's probably the only way to really film that sequences where a woman transforms the Duke's blood into semen and then inserts it into her vagina. Perfect for Pixar.

Friday, July 18, 2014

So Awkward: Funko Friday July 18th, 2014

It's another Funko Friday, so Jester and Don unbox a couple of Disney and Marvel Funko Mystery Minis!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

So Awkward Outtakes

Here's all the footage of Jester and Don NOT talking about Star Wars while filming their Star Wars video . This is mostly discussions about Buffy, Serenity, the guy who played Wedge, Fan Fiction, and the Never Ending Story:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Robocop (2014)

I'd rent that for a dollar!

But actually, don't. I just wanted to shoe-horn that joke into my review, sort of how it was shoe-horned into this remake of the classic film from 1987. All things considered, my joke was funnier. This remake wasn't a terrible movie -- in fact, in many ways it's a thoughtful, intelligent, emotional look at the nature of humanity -- but I don't watch Robocop movies to find epiphanies on human nature. I watch Robocop movies to watch people get dipped into vats of toxic waste and then smushed on the windshield of some guy's car.

Now, I'm not saying that films shouldn't strive to be intelligent and thoughtful -- of course they should -- just that they should be selective in the ways they are being intelligent and thoughtful. The original Robocop was a smart movie, but it was smart as an over the top satire of the greed and corporate culture of the 80s. It had a point and a serious commentary on our culture, but as a parable, not an actual story about a man who is turned into a machine. This remake offers no real satire (except for the inclusion of Sam Jackson as a Fox News type news host, but that felt tacked on and fell completely flat), nor does it offer any real commentary beyond: Being turned into a robot would totally suck.

This movie takes that entire concept and really explores it to the fullest, and it's absolutely horrific. You really feel for the character and his family in this film far more than you did in the original, which I suppose is a compliment in terms of writing and acting and direction, but as an overall concept it was so off-putting it made it nearly impossible to be entertained. I spent the entire movie wanting them to deactivate Robocop and put him out of his misery. There's actually a scene where we just see his head and his lungs attached to a bunch of cords while he begs the scientists to kill him. Who thought that would be a good idea? Who thought audiences wanted to see that?

So the entire concept was just muddy, which made the entire plot confusing and hard to follow, both intellectually and emotionally. I never really knew what was going on, who I was rooting for, or why the villains were supposed to be villains. There is some reveal toward the end, but I didn't get it. What made Gary Oldman's scientist character a good guy while Michael Keaton's CEO character was supposed to be a villain? None of it worked, and every character was pretty much unlikable and boring, except for the guy who played Robocop and the gal who played his wife. They both did a god job, although not so much that the dude got out of the shadow of Peter Weller's original iconic performance.

Visually, the film had some nice special effects and some cool action sequences, especially the training set piece that pit Robocop up against a hundred or so robots. The look of Robocop himself left a lot to be desired, however, and it was such an odd choice to start the film out with him looking so much like the original, only to later paint him black and making him completely bland and boring. In the original film, and at the beginning of this remake, he looks like a robot. In this new design, he actually just looks like a guy in black body armor. That's not cool.

Anyway, that was the Robocop sequence, which was a failure for me, but at least it was a noble failure. It attempted something new and tried to tell a wholly different story than the original, but unfortunately the story it choose to tell wasn't interesting, and the characters populating it were all boring. I say... skip it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Renting Movies

Remember when you used to be able to rent movies?

I wanted to rent that new Robocop movie the other day (hey, I'm proud of it), but it's not available on Netflix, it's not at Redbox, and it's not at the no-name Redbox competitor they have at the grocery store next to my work. However, it is available for sale at Target and for download on the iTunes movie store. Well... I don't want to buy it, and I don't want to pay five dollars to watch it on my laptop. It was released on blu ray / DVD two weeks ago, but Netflix has their release date as the beginning of July. Who knows about Redbox.

If only there was some kind of store where one could rent BLOCKBUSTER movies the day they are released.

Anyway, end of rant.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So Awkward: Star Wars Original Trilogy Discussion

Jester finally got around to watching the Star Wars original trilogy for the first time ever, so she and Don chat about it. Featuring special guest Lando Calrissian:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

So Awkward: Chips Ahoy Taste Test

Jester and Don try a bunch of Chips Ahoy flavors... to mixed results:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

In Memoriam: Rik Mayall (1958 - 2014)


There aren't many people about whom I can say are among the funniest people I have ever seen, but Rik Mayall is most definitely among them. In fact, he's pretty high on the list of the funniest people anybody has ever seen. Today he died at the too young age of 56, and my heart goes out to his friends, his family, and anybody who loves to laugh.

In his honor, I offer this clip which I have already posted on my blog more than once, and which I will no doubt post over and over again as the years go by, because, as I have said before, it is the single funniest thing I have ever seen ever. I have probably watched this clip over a 100 times, and it makes me laugh every fucking time.

Damn.

Don and Jester review Edge of Tomorrow. Don loved it, Jester... didn't:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Don Reads Comics: Big Trouble, Batman '66, and Age of Ultron

Don reads Big Trouble in Little China #1, Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet #1, and the Age of Ultron mini series:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Funko Friday

Jester and Don go crazy buying and unboxing Funko Horror Mystery Minis:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Iron Man 3

Well, this movie was dreadful.

When taking in the Marvel movie series as a whole, the Iron Man films stand out to me as not quite fitting in. They just aren't as fun. They just aren't as faithful to the source material. They just aren't... any good. Then again, they are the biggest hits of the bunch, so what do I know? I just spent the last three decades of my life reading Marvel comics and watching comic book movies. That doesn't make me any more of an expert on what's good or bad than somebody who has never read a comic or seen a movie, but it did lead me to the opinion that Iron Man 3 was as bad a comic book movie -- dare I say... just as bad a movie in general -- as any I've ever seen. You know... it was dreadful.

I don't recall Tony Start being a narcissist in the comics, at least not to the extent we are shown in these films. Nor do I recall him being so self-destructive or toxic to every other person in his life. That's not Iron Man, that's Ralph Kramden. I guess what I'm saying is that in the comics, Iron Man is actually a hero, while in these films he's just an asshole who occasionally uses his suit to stop people from harming Iron Man or Tony Stark's company.

Sure, in the comics Tony Start fought personal demons, but he overcame that and they defined him as hero. In the films he has demons too, and even though he overcomes then at the end of each film, the subsequent films begin right back with him being the same asshole drunk who only thinks about himself.

In the Avengers film, Stark actually was kind of a hero toward the end and fought for something other than saving himself, but but in the solo movies, it's just Tony Stark being threatened, and then using Iron Man to save himself. And in each film, there is less and less Iron Man at all. This movie had maybe fifteen minutes of Stark in the actual suit. Most of the rest of the film was either just Tony Stark by himself, or with a suit that was radio (or whatever) controlled remotely. Iron Man doesn't use robots!

But the worst thing about this movie is that it's just so boring. Nothing happens for most of the movie and the overall story was so poorly told I never really knew what was happening or cared about anything. I also heard a lot of people describe this film as dark, but I didn't see that at all. It's actually a wild, farcical comedy, and none of it was funny.

I mean, what is there to say about a movie where Gwyneth Paltrow has a better action sequence in the Iron Man armor than Tony Stark himself? Oh yeah... that it's dreadful.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Crossbones

I downloaded this pilot episode for free on the iTunes music store, and it was worth every penny.

I don't know what that means either, but it sounds like the opening to a snarky review, right? Anyway, I actually really enjoyed this episode about John Malkovich as real-life pirate Edwin Teach, aka Blackbeard. This is one of those shows where I'm not sure if the original premise was "a show about pirates" or "a show where John Malkovich gets to show off," but it delivers on both counts. It's a pretty good pirate show, and Malkovich doesn't disappoint. Seriously, if you like John Malkovich, check this out. He nails it.

The rest of the cast is good too. The "hero" is played by Richard Coyle, who looks so much like Russell Crowe it's actively distracting, but I thought he did a pretty great job. There's also a nice performance by an actress named Claire Foy who may, in fact, be the most bewitchingly beautiful woman I've ever seen. Check out this episode and prove me wrong. Oh, and remember Julian Sands? He's in there too. You don't remember him? Ah well, he's still in there.

It's not a perfect pilot, and it is the kind of premise that will make you wonder, "how are they going to get an entire series out of this setup?" But it's good fun, the acting is great, and the locations and sets are gorgeous. It's a big budget NBC series so it'll probably get cancelled within a few months, but I'll watch it until then.

Josh Brolin as Thanos


Hey... that's pretty great. I approve.

Source

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Don Reads Comics: Thanos Annual and Marvel Star Wars Comics


Don reads the new Thanos Annual by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim, and a dozen or so issues of Marvel's classic Star Wars series from the 70s.

Some Stuff I've Watched Recently

Here's a quick run down of some stuff I've recently seen that, maybe, aren't deserving of longer reviews, or at least I'm too lazy to give them any:

Foyle's War
A British-produced detective procedural set in Hastings, England during the second World War. It's slow-paced and hard to get into (I had to try watching the first episode about three times and finally push through before it clicked), but boy is it good. It was a recommendation by my sister Tanya, who referred to it as "the British Colombo."I don't completely agree, since Colombo is more silly and funny, but both are about unassuming but brilliant police detectives who solve murders with an almost supernatural level of skill and brilliance.

And the setting is just cool and leads to some interesting stories and concepts. It does require a bit of knowledge about the second world war, but it's still accessible as a straight up murder mystery series. Anyway, I recommend it and think it's a lot of fun.

12 Years a Slave
Ok... I didn't actually watch this one, just the first thirty minutes or so, but that was long enough to learn it wasn't for me. Great movie. Great performances. Great direction. Great cinematography. Great period costumes and locations and sets. But after about the tenth torture scene, I decided to do something else. An important story to be sure, and we should never forget the atrocities of slavery, but I just didn't want to sit through a three hour movie that was so bleak and gruesome. I already know slavery is awful and I think I'm a nice person, so I am ok with skipping it.

But check it out if you're interested. I wasn't.

Pompeii
What does it say about me that I turned off 12 Years a Slave and actually finished Pompeii? In my defense, Pompeii is the kind of movie you can have on in the background while you do other things, like fold your laundry, work on your blog, or just search the web. You can't do that with a real movie, just a fake one like this, especially one by the phenomenally underwhelming director Paul W. S. Anderson.

Also, what does it say about me that I've seen every film by Paul W. S. Anderson but only one or two by Paul Thomas Anderson? Anyway, this movie was pretty terrible. It was basically just Gladiator, except it ended with a volcano erupting and killing everybody. I'm not even joking: It's literally the same plot as Gladiator, where a guy's family is murdered and then he's kidnapped and forcibly turned into a Gladiator... and then a volcano just erupts after an hour of twenty minutes then the movie ends. Of course, I knew all of this going in and didn't expect to be surprised, but I did expect the action to be better directed and edited, for the CG to look a lot less cheap and fake, and for the acting to not be so dreadfully bland.

Anyway, feel free to skip this one. You were gonna anyway.

All is Lost
Robert Redford as a sailor on a sinking yacht somewhere in the middle of the ocean. There is only one actor, two sets (the yacht and, later, a life raft), and less than a minute of dialogue in the entire film. It's basically just about a guy in a sinking boat, and... well... all hope is lost. It's a good film with an entirely original and brave concept that I recommend for movie fans who want to see something different, but it falls short of greatness if only because it's a bit too slow paced in some places, and a bit unbelievably over the top in some other sequences.

Anyway, this is one of those movies I put on my Netflix queue almost at random, and then when it came I couldn't remember why I thought that sounded good. It sat on my shelf for a week or so before I finally decided to just give it a try for a few minutes, but right from the start it hooked me in and kept me interested.

There's really not much to say about this one, and the story doesn't have any twists or turns or even a real plot. It's just a guy in a sinking boat, but the direction was great and Robert Redford nailed it. Check it out.

Thor: The Dark World
I liked this movie, even though I can't remember a single moment where I wasn't completely confused. I never knew what was happening, what the relationships were between the characters, or anything about the overall conflict. Simply put, it made no sense at all... but it sure was fun. Visually, it was really awesome and took the glimpses of Asgard from the first film to the next level. The original Thor was about an Asgardian trying to make his way on Earth, while this film is all Asgard all the time, and it's the better for it.

The first Thor is probably a better film, and it certainly has a more coherent story, but this one was just sillier and campier and more fun. The special effects were dazzling, the action set pieces were exciting, and all of the actors seemed to be having so much fun, especially Tom Hiddleston as Loki who has offically ranked as the greatest villain in the history of comic book movies. Maybe.

Anyway, I recommend this one. It's great fun.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

So Awkward: Oreo Taste Test

Jester and Don taste test a bunch of new Oreo flavors so you don't have to:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Funko Friday: More Mystery Minis

Jester and Don celebrate Funko Friday by going to Minnehaha Park to open some Mystery Minis:

Donald Reads Comics week 1: Star Trek and Original Sin

Don't doesn't really have any friends who read comics, so he decides to talk about comics to his videocamera:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Changes to my Youtube Channel

This is probably of no interest to anybody, but I decided to make a big change to my donpfeff youtube channel: The biggest change being that I took down all of the videos and won't be updating it any more. 

Why? It's something I've been thinking about for a long time, actually, and the time finally became the right time to do it. Here is the explanation I posted on my youtube channel:

What happened to all of my other video reviews? Well, they have been deleted by me and I am officially retiring as a mash-up style film reviewer on youtube. Why? I have been doing this for years and for the most part the reception from viewers has been incredibly positive and encouraging, but behind the scenes I have had to deal with countless issues about copyrights, fair usage rules, and various other things that led me to believe what used to be a fun hobby could in fact get me into trouble, even though I don't believe I was doing anything wrong and all the clips I used were fair use.
However, I'm not a legal expert and it finally occurred to me if that you have to ask yourself if something is illegal -- or even just immoral -- then it's probably a good time to stop doing that. Right? 
What happened to all of my other video reviews? Well, they have been deleted by me and I am officially retiring as a mash-up style film reviewer on youtube. Why? I have been doing this for years and for the most part the reception from viewers has been incredibly positive and encouraging, but behind the scenes I have had to deal with countless issues about copyrights, fair usage rules, and various other things that led me to believe what used to be a fun hobby could in fact get me into trouble, even though I don't believe I was doing anything wrong and all the clips I used were fair use.
However, I'm not a legal expert and it finally occurred to me if that you have to ask yourself if something is illegal -- or even just immoral -- then it's probably a good time to stop doing that. Right? 
Also, and even forgetting issues of copyright, I simply wanted to move on from editing together those kinds of video projects and, instead, working on content that is solely my own to use and do with as I please. 
So Donpfeff may return at some point, but until then I'm going to be posting more original content on my So Awkward Show page. I hope anybody who loved my videos here check out my videos there, and please accept my gratitude for the love and support you all have shown me over the years.
Well, except for all the haters, but even they occasionally made me laugh.

Basically, what began as a fun way to learn more about video editing and share my opinions on films to more people turned into something I became increasingly uncomfortable doing. Take my Spielberg-a-thon for example: I intended for it to be a loving tribute to one of my personal heroes, but after so many of the videos were flagged for possible copyright infringements, I decided that might, in fact, be a lousy way to pay tribute to somebody. I don't think anybody who watched those videos would deny they were lovingly crafted and well-intentioned, but I still don't want to run the risk that what I presumed was fair usage was actually infringement. Over the years I have had many offers to monetize my channel, but I turned them all down because I was already having problems with copyright accusations.

So it just wasn't fun any more. The videos I have been doing with my friend Sarah for our So Awkward channel have been fun, although nowhere near as popular or well received. But then, when I first started doing those video reviews, nobody liked them much either.

Bottom line, if I'm going to be posting things online, I want to make sure they are all my own creation. I want to make sure everything I do is legal and moral and, mostly important, in line with my own sense of right and wrong. I realize I am probably over thinking some dumb video reviews on youtube.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Funko Friday: The Ghostbusters Funkos

Another So Awkward Funko Friday video. Believe it or not, but Funko Fridays are the most frequently requested videos for So Awkward. In fact, they are the only requests we get. This is a pretty good one:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

So Awkward: Wizard World Minneapolis 2014

Jester and Don attend the 2014 Wizard World Comic Convention in Minneapolis, MN and meet James Marsters, Michael Rooker, Ralph Macchio, and more!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Star Wars Kinect: I'm Han Solo

Apparently there is a Star Wars dancing game on the Kinect. This is more embarassing than the Star Wars Holiday Special:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Funko Friday: Mystery Minis

Don and Jester start buying a LOT of Funko Mystery Minis. They're pretty awesome.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The highest praise I can give to these Marvel movies is that every new one has become my favorite Marvel movie. This movie isn't quite as epic in scope as the Avengers -- nor is it probably as entertaining -- but it's probably the best constructed Marvel film yet, with the best cast and the most emotionally satisfying story arc. This is just a straight up awesome comic book movie, and I highly recommend any fan check it out on the big screen.

I really liked the first Captain America film, but with some reservations. Storywise it was a bit weak, with the second half really failing to live up to the opening origin sequence. It worked because Chris Evans was so great as Captain America. This one works because it's just a good movie. Of course, Chris Evans is still great as Captain America, solidifying himself as the king of Comic Book movies, since just off the top of my head I can think of about seven he's starred in, which must be some kind of record. Even more impressive is that, almost without exception, he's the best thing in every one of them. What can you say about an actor who nailed both the Human Torch and Captain America? I can't think of a single actor about whom both of those casting choices make sense and could actually work. I would even go so far as to say that Chris Evans as Captain America is the first perfect casting in a comic book movie since Christopher Reeve played Superman.

Anyway, I like Chris Evans.

I liked the rest of the cast too, especially Anthony Mackie who shows up in his first appearance in a Marvel movie, and nearly steals the entire series away from every other Avenger, and I'm no joking. I was skeptical about the inclusion of Falcon, not because I didn't think that the character is a perfect partner for Captain America, but just because I didn't trust the movie to not fuck it up. After nearly ten Marvel movies, I should've been more trusting. Mackie was great, not just because he's a fabulous actor, but because the character was so well written and his chemistry with Evans was just incredible. The filmmakers made the smart decision to omit any kind of tacked on love subplot and let the friendship between these two heroes be the dominant relationship that carried the film. The film actually opens with the two men meeting, and even though it's just two dudes talking, it could've gone on for the entire film and I would've enjoyed it. That's how good these two guys are.


We've also got the return of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Her debut as the character was shoe-horned into Iron Man 2 for some reason, but luckily for her that movie was such a mess nobody even remembers how lame she was. Then she showed up in the Avengers movie, and while she wasn't bad, she just didn't stand out amongst Gods and Iron Men. She just didn't have much of a hook to her character, and some how the fact that she outsmarted Loki was more unbelievable to me than anything else in the film. But for whatever reason, she finally clicks here. The performance is the same, but the actress is given more to do, and the character is given a sense of vulnerability and humanity that she lacked previously. She's actually shown to be the enigma she is in the comics, and skirts the boundaries of right and wrong. Also, Johansson is more gorgeous and sexy than ever, for whatever that's worth.

Then there's Sam Jackson once again as Nick Fury, who at this point in the series is just phoning it in, but that's ok because even a weak performance by Sam Jackson is better than most Oscar-winning performances by anybody else. The best sequence in the entire film (perhaps even the entire Marvel series) was the set piece where the assassins try to break into Nick Fury's armored SUV.  Robert Redford also shows up, and he's still insanely handsome and is probably the only actor on the planet who out-cools Sam Jackson. I also really liked the guy who played the Winter Soldier, whoever he was.

Action-wise, this movie was off the hook. More than any action film in recent memory, there were real stunts, actual car-crashes, and a distinct lack of CG through-out. The fight scenes in particular were fantastic because they actually looked and felt like two people fighting, albeit stylized in a comic book fashion. There's actually a fight between Captain American and Batroc the Leaper, and it's every bit as cool as that sounds (if you're a comic book geek, that is). It was directed by two guys named Anthony and Joe Russo, who I've never heard of before, but they nailed it.


I even liked the story, because it made sense, was possible to follow, and actually had moments of real suspense. I can't remember anything about the stories from the Iron Man movies. I've never read the Winter Soldier storyline from the comics, but I remember hearing about it when it was announced and thinking to myself, "that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard." Well, I can't comment on how faithful this was to the original story or that character, but I didn't think it was dumb at all. I thought it was really clever and really cool. I actually thought the Winter Soldier was one of the coolest villains I've seen in any comic book movie. I'm not going to spoil anything, but when his identity was revealed, the guy in the seat behind me actually gasped. I just thought that was funny.

If I have any complaints at all about this movie, it's that Captain America's costume still sucks. Why is this so hard? Richard Donner nailed the Superman Costume, then Tim Burton nailed the Batman costume, and then... nothing. Why has every costume since then sucked? The film actually opens with Captain America in a really cool looking costume, but it's not one I've ever seen, but then again, I haven't read the comics in close to a decade. At the end he puts on the costume from the first film, which worked as a part of the story, but I much preferred the costume from the Avengers, even though that one still was garish and over designed. For most of the film, it's just Chris Evans in street clothes swinging around his shield, which is weird for a comic book film, but actually preferable to the awful costume he finally puts on.

So... go check it out. It's awesome.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

So Awkward: Danbo Kit

Jester attempts to put together a Danbo kit she bought online. It's not easy, but it is very, very awkward.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jobs

Remember this movie? It's the one that got made because somebody in Hollywood realized that if you put a beard on Ashton Kutcher, he kind of looks like Steve Jobs. Actually, I'm probably not being fair to the film: When you put a beard on Ashton Kutcher, he really looks like Steve Jobs. Talks like him too. And walks like him. There are sequences in this film where the camera follows behind Ashton Kutcher as he's walking through the halls of Apple and you'd swear it's actually footage of Steven Jobs himself. That's not much of a hook on which to base a film, however, which is why this film about the founder of Apple feels a little... rotten. Ha ha ha.

But seriously, it's not a bad film, it's just a made-for-tv level biopic that somehow got released in theaters. It's entertaining and it's good if all you want is a peripheral, rushed view of the life of Steve Jobs and the impact he had on Apple Computers. If, however, you want to really learn about the man or the impact his company had not only on Computers but on Western society as a whole, it falls flat. Steve Jobs was one of the most pivotal, polarizing, influential, and important creators of one of the most fertile generations the world has yet scene, but that doesn't mean his life story translates to a great film. After all, not everybody's life is Shakespearean. But this film could've tried a little harder.

Structurally, it's just too rushed and kind of disjointed to have any real dramatic impact. We learn a bit about Apple, but only Apple, and if we don't see a view of the computer industry as a whole, how are we supposed to understand how much they changed it? There's one scene where Steve Jobs calls Bill Gates to complain about how he thought Windows was a copy of his Operating System, threatening to sue him and ruin his company, but that's the only mention of Gates or Microsoft. Hey... how did that lawsuit turn out? Did Microsoft go out of business?

Then there's the moment where Jobs was ousted from the company he formed, and then literally five minutes later he's brought back on as the CEO. That was five minutes on screen, but over a decade in real life. I remember when Steve Jobs came back to Apple. It was huge. You just can't get that impact when his exile and eventual return encompass ten minutes of the film. There was also this weird interlude near the end of the film that shows Jobs at him with his wife and kids, which I honestly thought was a dream sequence because these family members had never been shown before, or, if they were, I must've been day dreaming or something.


But there were moments of brilliance in the film, mostly dealing with Jobs's early attempts to sell various venture capitalists on investing in Apple. His growth from a lost hippie to a marketing genius was entirely believable, mostly based on the strength of Kutcher's performance. Nobody is ever going to call Kutcher a great actor, but he really did capture something of the essence of Jobs, not entirely and not throughout, but often enough to let you understand why so many people worshiped his leadership. Unfortunately the rest of the cast was mostly wasted on underwritten caricatures of actual people. The guy who played Woz, for example, was just some random fat guy with a beard. He was ok, but nowhere near as charming and brilliant as the real Woz.

Overall, the movie was fine and held my interest, but I don't feel as though I learned anything about Jobs or Apple that I didn't already know. In fact, I kind of felt as though had I not already known a fair amount about both, I maybe would've been completely lost. It just didn't really come together as a whole, with a story that was rushed and felt like a cliff notes version of a man's life. But I still say it's worth checking out because Kutcher really nailed it, and even though you don't learn much about the man, it did give a sense of what it was like to be around him, and that's pretty cool.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street

Remember years ago when David Spade used to do those Hollywood Minute bits on SNL? There was one where he "reviewed" the then newly released film Casino by saying, "I liked it better the first time... when it was called Goodfellas." Anyway, that's all I could think about while watching the now newly released film the Wolf of Wall Street. This movie was ok. It's worth watching. I liked it, but... well... I just liked it better the first time, when it was called Goodfellas.

Of course Spade was making a jest at the similarities between Goodfellas and Casino, since both were Martin Scorsese-directed mob pictures starring Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, but at heart both were very different films... but this one is Goodfellas. No, it's not about the mob and DeNiro and Pesci are nowhere to be found, but scene for scene and beat for beat it's pretty much the same film. Except while Goodfellas was great, this one was just ok. I maybe preferred Goodfellas because it was more fresh and original and unlike anything anybody had ever made before, or maybe I just preferred it because the mafia is a more interesting -- or at least entertaining -- subject matter.

I know why the mafia are bad people. Wall street... I don't know anything about Wall Street, and this film didn't really teach me anything. Maybe I wasn't paying attention enough, or maybe it's just that I'm dumb, but I never really followed much of the actual Wall Street wheeling and dealings. The film details an extensive FBI investigation into a Wall Street trader, but I never knew what he was doing to break the law. He did lots of drugs and banged lots of whores, but what was illegal? All they ever said was that he broke the law and made illegal deals, but I didn't really know what laws were broken or how the deals were illegal. So at the end of the day, I never really cared much, which is too bad.

Also, it's a three hour movie, with at least half of that time just spent on people getting high and banging whores. It was all fun and entertaining, but I dunno. I just never cared much about the story, and every main character was so awful it just got hard to watch. But Martin Scorsese sure knows how to keep a story moving, even when that story is ultimately hollow.

Comic-A-Thon Part 11: Batman and Robin

I don't hate this one as much as everybody else, but lord knows it's awful:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

So Awkward: Funko Friday Tyrion Legacy Collection Review

Jester reviews the Tyrion from Funko's new Game of Thrones Legacy Collection:

Comic-A-Thon Part 10: Batman Forever

Blessed are the Geeks COMIC-A-THON Part 10: Batman Forever, one of the most underrated comic book films. I like this one.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

So Awkward: Camp Takota Review

Me and Jester watch Camp Takota, the new film by Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, and Mamrie Hart, all three of which star on better Youtube shows than this one:

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bates Motel


Here's a strange TV show. I don't mean that it's strange because of the events depicted, but because of its entire concept and execution. Oh, and also because of the events depicted too. It's just a strange show, but I liked it and enjoyed it and recommend giving it a try, since it's available to stream on Netflix. That's how I recently binged through the first season's ten or so episodes in a weekend. How did you spend your Valentine's Day?

It's ostensibly a prequel to the 1960 Hitchcock masterpiece Psycho... except it's really not. It's more of a reboot or revamp that uses a hotel setting, the familiar mansion, and the name Norman Bates, but other than that, it's such an entirely different story that it seems odd that they kept the whole Psycho connection at all. I knew things would be weird when the story opened and it was set in the present day. I guess I just assumed that it would take place in the 50s or 60s, but that was when I assumed it was actually going to be a prequel to the film. I understand why they didn't want to make a period piece, but somehow the transposition of the time period hurt the authenticity of the storytelling. In other words, I simply find it hard to believe that the Bates Motel exists in a world with cell phones, facebook, and GPS. What was a creepy, remote, isolated location in the film is now a retro motel that would be a hotbed of hipsters flocking from the nearby metropolis where everybody looks like a model from Abercrombie and Fitch. I just find it hard to believe a town of this size and obvious wealth doesn't have a Ramada or a Holiday Inn somewhere. 

And as though the youth of a delusional future serial killer wasn't enough to sustain audiences, they had to include subplots that involve warring mobs in town, drug dealers, corrupt police officers, and an underground Asian sex slave trade that uses the motel as their base of operations, all set against the backdrop of a typical highs chool drama. If Alfred Hithcock ever had the opportunity to return to life and check out an episode of this show, he'd be like, "what the fuck did they do to my movie?"

However, it's ridiculously entertaining, suspenseful, funny, and impossible to turn off once you get hooked. It's basically a soap opera that takes place in the Bates Motel. They even added in a brother for Norman who I don't remember ever being mentioned in the film, but he's also fun and gets into a lot of crazy shenanigans around town.

What really saves the show from getting too over the top in its insanity is that the cast of actors are all so good. I had my doubts going in that anybody could replace Anthony Perkins, but Freddie Highmore is really good and obviously studied the films because he completely nailed the character. He looks and acts just like Perkins, but in a way that somehow still felt organic and natural and not just a parody or an impression. I also liked Vera Farmiga as the mother Norma Bates, who was always fun to watch... although at times perhaps a little too fun, almost as though she was the only member of the cast who understands how ridiculous this show is and is just having fun with the role.  Then there's a bunch of other people, all of whom are fine and very good looking.

So, anyway, that's Bate's Motel. The first season is available to watch on Netflix and it's only ten episodes long. It has enough in jokes and references to Psycho to feel reverent and respectful, but it's so different that even if you haven't seen the movie you can enjoy it on its own. In fact, you might even enjoy it more. Give it a try. It's fun.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Yahoo! Has No Heart

In honor of Valentine's Day, Yahoo! compiled a list of the "Ten Cheesiest Loves Songs EVER," and it's just about the worst thing I've ever seen. You can read their list and explanations here, but allow me a moment to rebut their choices:

#10. Bryan Adams, "Heaven"
Right off the bat, I don't understand how Yahoo! staff writer Shawn Amos defines "cheesy." Seriously, how is this song cheesy? This is a beautiful, pure, heartfelt love song that is sold by one of the greatest pop voices of all time. I love this song. Who doesn't love this song? Cheesy? I dunno about that. I'd maybe admit it's corny. Perhaps even sappy. But it's a love song, and it stands out because Bryan Adams sells it and makes you feel like he means it. Anyway... This song is awesome.

#9. Stevie Wonder, "I Just Called to Say I Love You"
I'll give them this one, since it's fairly cheesy and saccharine, at least in comparison to the overall oeuvre of Stevie Wonder, one of the most gifted musicians of the twentieth century. However, I still call foul on their mean-spirited write-up, and would offer the rebuttal that this is still a great, catchy song. A sappy love-long by one of the greatest song writers of all time is still a great song. In fact, I would say this song excels and connected with audiences because it was cheesy.

#8. Lionel Richie, "Hello"
Fuck you, Yahoo! Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

I'd give them this one if it was a video of the cheesiest videos of all time, since it's really terrible and weird and creepy. But as a song, this is one of the most haunting and beautiful songs ever written... and it is most definitely NOT a cheesy love song, since it is about longing for an unrequited love. If anything, this is one of the most beautiful anti-love songs ever written.

#7. Extreme, "More Than Words"
I've never met anybody who doesn't love this song. Then again, I've never met anybody who wouldn't admit that it is one of the "cheesiest love songs EVER," but lovingly so. Check out the write up on this song:
"Extreme is one in a long, insipid line of '80s hair bands who got all sensitive by busting out their Washburn acoustics and unbuttoning their shirts."
Fuck you, Yahoo! Again, this is another song that works and stands out because it's cheesy, most notably because it's by a band that is most typically known for its hard rock ballads. Yahoo derides them for getting "all sensitive," while most of the world applauded them for it, and embraced this beautiful fucking song. And really... cheesy? It's sung from the perspective of a man who is tired of his partner mindlessly saying "I love you" without actually proving she feels that way. That's the antithesis of a cheesy love song.

#6. Bobby Darin, "If I Were a Carpenter"
What an odd choice. First of all, how many people have ever even heard this song? How many people even remember Bobby Darin? Personally, I love Bobby Darin and consider him one of the finest pop vocalists of all time, and while this isn't one of this best, it's still a great performance by a great singer. But, again, check out their write up"

"It has cred, because folk artists always seem to have cred (whether they deserve it or not)"

I honestly have no idea what the writer meant by that. First of all... Bobby Darin isn't a folk singer. Second of all, he doesn't seem to have cred, he fucking has cred. He's Bobby fucking Darin.

#5. Chicago, "You're the Inspiration"
Of course, any list of the cheesiest love songs EVER would be remiss if it didn't have something sung by Peter Cetera, but even here they fucked it up. You're the Inspiration? I'm not going to say this song isn't cheesy since it most definitely is, but I don't understand how it was chosen over "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," "Love Me Tomorrow," or "If You Leave Me Now," which is hands down the cheesiest song by any once awesome rock band. And just to be clear, I still love that song, but it definitely should be on any list of the cheesiest love songs EVER.

And don't get me started on the solo work by Peter Cetera, all of which is one thousand times cheesier than "You're the Inspiration," especially "Glory of Love," or "Next Time I Fall in Love," his duet with Amy Grant which is probably the cheesiest love song EVER. (I still love that song.)

#4.  Kenny Rogers, "Lady"
Kenny Rogers performed a song about a paraplegic whose wife is cheating on him, and yet this is his cheesiest love song. Look... I'm not saying Lady isn't a cheesy love song... but the fourth cheesiest love song of all time? It's cheesier than the six songs that came before it, sure, but I think I've proven that those songs aren't all that cheesy either.

#3. Bette Midler, "Wind Beneath My Wings"
This is a cheesy song to be sure. But one of the cheesiest love songs EVER? Is this even a love song? I always thought this was a song about friendship, not love. I would agree, however, that it's a really creepy song about using another human being and describing that as friendship, but it's really not a cheesy love song.

#2. Air Supply, "The One that You Love"
Let's say you were a Yahoo! writer tasked with the assignment to create a hack list of the cheesiest love songs EVER because it's Valentine's Day and they need to hit their bandwidth quota for the month, what do you do? Well, you pick a song by Air Supply song, of course. But wait... you've already picked a bunch of obvious pop hits, so you can't use the logical choice  "All out of Love," or even "Making Love out of Nothing of All," so you dig into Air Supply's catalog and choose one that nobody remembers or cares about or would ever rank among their cheesiest songs. 

#1. Chris De Burgh, "Lady in Red"
You didn't expect that one, did you? Of course not. Nobody did. The cheesiest love song EVER? Even in their description they admit that Chris De Burgh wrote it about his wife. That means it isn't cheesy, it's sweet and sincere. And even if you didn't know that, it's still haunting and beautiful. Seriously, Lady in Red as the cheesiest love song EVER? On a list that includes songs by people like Peter Cetera, Air Supply, and Lionel Richie?

This song is really cheesier and more cloying and trite than "Having My Baby" by Paul Anka, "Loving You" by Minnie Riperton, "Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band, "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright, "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris, or "Muskrat Love" by either America or Captain and Tennille, which is literally about two muskrats who are in love?

Seriously, I could go on and on with dozens of other songs that are infinitely cheesier than any of Yahoo's picks... but I'm not going to do that because I'm not an asshole who creates lists just to mock people who are vastly more successful and talented than I am. And to be clear, even my previous paragraph is full of songs that were huge hits that I love as a listener.

Well, except for "Having My Baby" and "MacArthur Park," both of which are just awful.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

In Memoriam: Sid Caesar (1922 - 2014)


One of the funniest guys who's ever lived is now one of the funniest guys who's ever died. Now, that's a terrible joke, but Sid could've made it work. He could make anything work. There's a very short list of people whose work, art, worldview, and comedy stylings have shaped my life and made me the man I am today... and Sid was one of them.

Funny guy. Funny, funny guy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Escape Plan


This isn't a movie I'd recommend to most people, since while it has a clever story, fun acting performances, nice set pieces, decent direction, and great production design, at the end of the day it exists -- and even succeeds -- for one reason alone: Nostalgia for the two stars. If you have never seen a film starring either Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, or, even worse, you have seen one and didn't enjoy it, this movie isn't for you. HOWEVER, if you are a fan of either actor, or, even better, of both of them, I'm happy to report that this movie is a lot of fun. I liked it. I'd even say it's good.

Stallone and Schwarzenegger need no introduction, but I'll give them one anyway by saying they are the two greatest and most popular action stars in the history of motion pictures. Maybe Errol Flynn is also on that list, or Douglas Fairbanks (both of them), Bruce Willis, Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, Jackie Chan... you know what, I need to make this list someday soon, but needless to say, I'd put Sly and Arnold at the top... and forgetting about the two Expendables films that each had little more than cameo appearances by Arnold, Escape Plan is the real deal: A buddy action movie starring both men. The only real problem with this movie is that they aren't cops, preferably one who's by the book while the other is something of a loose cannon. Then again, they're both nearly 70 years old, so the idea of them playing people with actual jobs they didn't retire from is silly. Also, the concept of having them as convicts in a maximum security prison is kind of fun because Sly played one in Lock Up while Arnold did something similar in the Running Man, although as something of a self-proclaimed expert on both films (and anybody who knows me won't question my expertise on the films of these two men), if there were any inside jokes or references to either of these movies, they went over my head, much to my disappointment.

Anyway, here's the story: Sly plays a security expert who is secretly sent to prisons to test their facilitates by attempting to break out, but when he is sent to test a secret government prison for the world's most political prisoners, he realizes that he was betrayed and sent their for real, so he has to use all his skills to break out once more. Or something. Anyway, Stallone and Arnold plan a prison break, and it's a lot of fun to watch and the plan they hatch is very clever, even though the entire concept is ridiculous and everything that happens is impossible to believe. In other worlds, it's a perfect throw-back to an 80s action movie. And let's be clear: This is an 80s action movie. I don't mean that it was an homage to movies that were made in the 80s, but that its stars are both in their 80s.

Zing!


Stallone is really the star of the film, since he is the main character who gets to do the most stuff and has the greater screen time, but that's balanced out by the fact that Arnold completely steals the movie because he's just better, or at least he seems to be having more fun. Stallone is the better actor by far (and my favorite actor, along with Jimmy Stewart, Orson Welles, and William Holden, all of whom are on my short list of those whose work I'll see just because they are in it, no matter what), but he kind of phoned it in a little here while Arnold really went for it, and probably gave the best performance of his career. Seriously, Arnold was great in this film, and actually gave a really good, really effecting and effective acting performance.

We also had nice acting performances from an oddly diverse supporting cast that includes 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, Sam Neil, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Jim Caviezel. Caviezel was particularly good as the evil warden of the prison, but close your eyes whenever he comes on screen and prove me wrong that he was just doing a Christopher Walken impression. I'm telling ya, he was doing Chris Walken, and it was hilarious.

Anyway, I don't have much else to say about Escape Plan, other than that it was a joy to watch as a fan of Stallone and Arnold, although I probably wouldn't rank it amongst the best by either of the two. I also wouldn't rank it amongst their worst, and I recommend it for fans who finally want to watch these two guys on screen together. It's not the best movie ever made, but the talents and charms of both men is undeniable, and while their on screen chemistry isn't exactly electric, it's still pretty great and elevates the film beyond a simple action flick into something memorable and worth checking out.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Comic-A-Thon Part 7: Marvel Animated Memories

Blessed are the Geeks COMIC-A-THON Part 7: Marvel Animated Memories, where I do something a little different and just talk about the different Marvel Comics inspired cartoons I used to watch when I was a kid. Some hold up... some don't:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Riddick


Riddick is the best movie ever made.

Oh wait, I'm sorry... I accidentally left a word out of that sentence. I meant to write:

"Riddick is the best Riddick movie ever made."

And anybody knows me, knows what high praise that is, since I'm a fan of Vin Diesel in general, but of Riddick in particular. Vin Diesel is a fine actor, but not one who has shown a whole lot of depth or versatility over his career, so when I single out Riddick as my favorite of his characters that's only because Riddick tends to kill the most people, and Riddick the film gives him probably the most people (and monsters!) to kill. It also maybe has the most thoughtful attempt at an actual story, but that's neither here nor there. We were talking about Riddick, right?

Riddick premiered in the 2000 film Pitch Black, which was a very fun film that was elevated over a sci-fi channel original movie for one reason: the star making performance by Vin Diesel. Well, the rest of the cast was fine too, and David Twohy is a very good action director, but the story about an escaped convict who can see in the dark, then gets marooned on a planet full of aliens that only come out at night is as B grade as it comes. Still, fun, albeit thin film that was a sleeper hit and made Vin Diesel a star.

Cut to 2004 and the release of The Chronicles of Riddick, the half-baked attempt to turn Riddick into an epic sci-fi film franchise. I loved The Chronicles of Riddick. I literally own three different copies of this film: I own the DVD, I own the DVD as a part of a Riddick trilogy pack (along with Pitch Black and a Riddick anime), and I also own the Blu Ray. It's one of my all time favorite movies, and seeing it in the theater ranks as one of the greatest film spectacles I've ever witnessed. It's just so epic and over the top. However, it was a huge flop because nobody but me and maybe a handful of other nerds give a shit about epic sci-fi adventures. Had this been just some random sci-fi film, it would have just been a flop, but the fact that it starred the guy from Pitch Black made the fans of that film who expected more of the same actively hate this one. I can't really blame them, since Pitch Black was more like Alien, while Chronicles was more like Dune meets Dungeons and Dragons. It's the weirdest movie a major Hollywood studio has ever released in the theaters... weird in concept, but also weird that they thought it would make enough money to spawn a whole series.


Anyway, I told you that Riddick history lesson so I could tell you this: Riddick (the 2013 film), is the perfect bridge between the stripped down thrills of Pitch Black and the epic world-building of Chronicles. It's defintiely a sequel to Chronicles, since its opening fifteen or so minutes attempts to resolve the cliff-hanger ending from the previous film, but after that it goes full on into Pitch Black territory, with Riddick left for dead on yet another planet full of mercs out to capture him and monsters out to kill him. And that's just fine.

There is actually a good thirty or so minutes of this film that has Riddick alone on this planet, attempting to find shelter and food and fend off the elements and various predators... and it's amazing. It's basically like that movie Cast Away, except it's got Riddick in place of Tom Hanks, and instead of making friends with a volleyball, he murders a giant scorpion monster.


And then the mercenaries come to capture Riddick, although little to they know they were actually lured there by Riddick so he could escape. In a first for the series, the mercs are actually given some depth and aren't all just villains. In fact, the dynamic between Riddick and the main merc played by Matthew Nable is one of the highlights of the film, and kept me guessing about each one's motivations and intentions right up until the end. This guy was actually the first character in the entire series that felt like a threat to Riddick. The rest of the cast was a lot of fun too, and included the always good but underused Bokeem Woodbine, the gorgeous Katie Sackhoff from Battlestar Galactica, and former WWE star Batista, who should basically play a villain in every movie ever (I already raved about him in my review of The Man with the Iron Fists).

Oh, and Riddick also kills a bunch of people and lots of monsters, after which he always made a joke. That should have been my whole review right there. Oh, and there's also some boobs.

Anyway... that's Riddick. Go rent it. You'll have fun.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Comic-A-Thon Part 6: Batman

Blessed are the Geeks COMIC-A-THON Part 6: Batman (1989), hands down my all time favorite comic book movie ever:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Comic-A-Thon Part 5: Green Lantern

Blessed are the Geeks COMIC-A-THON Part 5: Green Lantern, the not all together good, but not all together bad film based on one of my all time favorite comic book characters:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

So Awkward: Happy Birthday, Jester

It's Jester's birthday! Here's a quick video of her opening her present from our buddy Custom Chris: