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Bullet Sunday 418

Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Dave!Enjoy a second helping of bullets... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Super! Not a good day for Seahawks fans...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Disappointed Seahawk Fan

Better luck net year, guys... and congratulations to the Patriots!

   
• Two! My disappointment that Mila Kunis is not in the sequel is equal to my excitement that Morgan Freeman is...

My guess is that they'll write her off in one line. As in "Hey Johnny, sorry that your wife died in a tragic liposuction accident!. How clever.

   
• Fantastic? Oh joy. Another looks like we're getting yet another comic book movie that shits all over the source material...

This may very well end up being a really good science fiction movie... but, from the looks of things, it has precious little hope of being a good Fantastic Four movie. I wish all the rights for Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four would revert back to Marvel where they belong. Sony and 20th Century Fox don't have the slightest frickin' clue what they're doing.

   
• Free the Music! Holy crap do I long for the day that music recording labels just die already so artists can sell the music they want to make directly to their fans... REGARDLESS OF WHERE THOSE FANS MAY LIVE ON THIS PLANET! I am so tired of having to pay astronomical amounts of money for pricey import albums simply because a label refuses to release the music in North America. In case you haven't heard, WE LIVE IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY, ASSHOLES! So instead of bitching and whining about music piracy, why don't you... oh... I dunno... SELL YOUR FUCKING MUSIC TO THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY IT SO THEY WON'T HAVE TO STEAL IT?

   
• Live! Even when the guest-host has been good, Saturday Night Live has been pretty sub-par this season. Then Blake Shelton came to visit and we get the funniest episode in ages...

Rumor has it that Eddie Murphy is going to make an appearance for the SNL40 celebration.If anything would get me to tune in... that would be it.

   
It's the end of the bullets as we know it... and I feel fine.

   

Eventfully

Posted on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Dave!Today was most definitely not a good day.

Try as I might, I could not seem to get ahead... and having to deal with boatloads of crap from too many people didn't help matters.

When I finally had a moment to catch up with the internets and what's been going on in the world, I was shocked to find out all the stuff I've been missing.

  • Jon Stewart Leaving "The Daily Show." Of all the things that went wrong today, coming home to find out Stewart is quitting hit me the hardest. He has some very, very big shoes to fill, and making sure they find the right person is critical to the show's continued success.
  • Spider-Man is Officially Joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The horrendously bad news about The Daily Show was balanced out by Marvel coming to an agreement with Sony over Spider-Man licensing. Finally. Finally! Spider-Man will be appearing alongside Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk, Hawkeye, and Thor. Equally good? Marvel is going to oversee the creative for Sony's future Spider-Man films. IGN has the best coverage I've found on the news.
  • Brian Williams Suspended. I honestly don't know where to weigh in on this. Brian Williams has no need... absolutely zero need... to embellish his already stellar career and accomplishments. So I tend to want to believe him when he said it was poor recollection that caused him to lie about events that happened while he was covering the Iraq War. Hell, the guy has covered so much news that it's not inconceivable he'd start mixing things up. But, seriously, how could you forget whether or not your helicopter was shot at? I dunno. I like the guy, but this is not the first time he's been caught in an untruth, and I wonder if somebody who can't be trusted to tell the truth is fit to read the news.
  • Shirley Manson, front-man for Garbage and one of my favorite people on earth, has the absolute last word on Kanye West's utterly disgusting disrespect for Beck over his Grammy win. Meanwhile, Beck, whose music I'm not a fan of but still like because he's extremely talented, had a reply that was so typically... Beck. Thanks for being you, man.
  • Richard Sher, the guy behind Says You! on NPR has died at age 66.

As if all that was enough drama, new Matt & Kim...

Geez... can Kim cut a rug or what?

And lastly...

This happened last month but I'm just seeing it now. If you're a fan of David Tennant... and why wouldn't you be?... here he is being surprised with a rather prestigious award...

I really, really wish he'd return to Dr. Who.

   

Bullet Sunday 420

Posted on Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Dave!Don't let radical winter weather get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Rescue! Am I the only one who thought that CHAPPiE was the sequel to Real Steel?

Big Robot Posters!

They're both robot movies starring Hugh Jackman. Since I never even saw Real Steel it took me a while before I even knew they were different films.

   
• SNL 40! Overall, the 40th Anniversary Celebration for Saturday Night Live was a winner. Plenty of famous SNL performers and guests and a look back at some truly amazing sketches that have come out of the show in its long history. And Betty White saying she'd guest-host again if she were asked. How could you not love that? EXCEPT... no new Eddie Murphy Sketch? What the hell? Maybe he refused to do something, but how fantastic would that have been? All we got was some kind of awkward speech that left me dying to have him host the show. Oh well. If you're an SNL fan, The Hollywood Reporter has a lot of cool stuff you should check out.

   
• Balls! ScreenCrush unleashed something I've been waiting decades to hear: Mel Brooks is Developing a Sequel to Spaceballs, Finally...

Spaceballs Posters!

With John Candy and Joan Rivers gone, it's hard to know if they will be replaced... or if their characters are going to be dropped. All I know is that Sarah Silverman would make a killer Dot Matrix 2.0. And even though I'm not a big Josh Gads fan he'd make a pretty good offspring of Barf the mog. Really hoping this gets off the ground.

   
• Carter! I have been loving, loving, loving the Marvel's Agent Carter mini series. Everything about it has been beautifully crafted and highly entertaining...

Marvel's Agent Carter Poster

I'm hoping quite badly that it gets picked up for another run in 2016.

If you're liking the show as much as I am, you may be interested in an article from The Mary Sue which investigates the real "Agent Carters" from history.

   
• Thanks! And here we go...

Guess that's the last word on that meme.

   
• UNCLE! After Avengers: Age of Ultron, one of the films I am most looking forward to is The Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake...

Incredible stuff. Few people know retro classy like Guy Ritchie, and it looks like he's done a remarkable job. Kinda sad we have to wait until August 15th to see it though.

   
And away we go... stay cozy out there.

   

Bullet Sunday 421

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Dave!Don't be sad that my trip to California delayed your favorite post of the week... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...

   
• Weekend! Had such an amazing time in San Diego for Jester's birthday weekend...

Jester's Birthday Weekend San Diego 2015
Thanks to Chuy for the Group Photo!

A nicer bunch of people you will not meet.

   
• Heart! Speaking of Jester... a song he wrote with Matthew Hayes is being performed by Kenyth Mogan in a clever Wizard of Oz inspired video... with a twist. Jester appears as Scarecrow, by the way...

And here's a behind the scenes making-of video for the video where Jester (Aaron) explains the origins of the song...

I love having talented friends!

   
• Horror! One of the biggest surprises from this past weekend was attending the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Ken Cinema...

Dave at the Rocky Horror Picture Show
Newspaper and squirt gun ready! Thanks to Jester for the Photo!

I haven't "done" the Rocky Horror in 25 years. I remember a lot of the audience participation lines... but I was surprised by how much everything has evolved. There were plenty of current pop culture references (Justin Bieber?) to be found, and a lot of stuff had been added. Hopefully it won't be 25 years before the next time... it was a lot of fun.

   
• Carrots! Best episode of Billy on the Street ever!

We have the coolest First Lady ever.

   
• Sausages! Whilst having Sunday Brunch at the marvelous Cafe 1134 yesterday, I was introduced to the fact that Soy Chorizo exists. It was absolutely wonderful in my breakfast burrito, and made an ordinarily boring egg and cheese entrée into something flavorful and amazing. Now I just gotta find it local.

   
• Spock! As I was flying home today, I learned the Leonard Nimoy has been hospitalized for chest pains. Wishing him the speediest of recoveries. Nothing would make me happier than having him make a third appearance in the Star Trek reboot.

   
And that's the end of the bullets, everybody!

   

Bullet Sunday 422

Posted on Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Dave!Don't let the drone surveillance get you down... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...

   
• Vaccinate! Classic...

And yet... the measles epidemic rages on. Thanks, Jenny McCarthy!

Jenny Stupid Fucking McCarthy

You're a horrible, horrible person.

   
• MURICA! Because nothing says "freedom" better than being able to scream "YOU'RE FIRED, FAGGOT!" when you find out that one of your employees is gay, and being 100% within the law... Arkansas has passed an anti-non-discrimination bill SB 202...

Odd Couple Promo

I've heard of legislating morality... but legislating immorality? Way to go, Arkansas. There's some terrific things about your state, but this is a fucking embarrassment. Shame on everyone who had a hand in dragging "The Natural State" back to less enlightened times.

   
• Widow! The hype machine for Avengers: Age of Ultron is really amping up, with individual character posters being released this week. Could not possibly be more excited to see this film come May...

BLACK WIDOW, BABY

Looks like Black Widow may finally... finally be getting some tech that ups her game. They showed her using a built-in taser in the last Avengers film, but that's a far cry from the "Widow's Bite" blasters she sports in the comics. I certainly hope it comes to pass, because it seems completely illogical that Tony Stark wouldn't give her some advanced weaponry to make her a stronger part of the team.

   
• Laugh? The Matthew Perry version of The Odd Couple finally debuted and it's far, far worse than I imagined. Mostly because they're using a frickin' laugh track. This idiotic and antiquated method of attempting to make unfunny crap seem hilarious is just pathetic, and only serves to underline how funny something is not to modern audiences...

Odd Couple Promo

What kills me is how Matthew Perry can't seem to find a lead role in a vehicle that's worth his talent lately. He was essential viewing in Friends, he was a revelation as Joe Quincy on The West Wing, he was bordering on genius on Studio 60, and he was terrific on The Good Wife... I even liked his movies okay. But when it comes to finding a new show, he's been rolling in shit. Mr. Sunshine was abysmal. Go On was horrific. And now there's this hot mess? Sad. Just sad.

   
• MARCIA MARCIA MARCIA! Hot on the heels of Snicker's awesome Brady Bunch/Danny Trejo mashup comes this epic art installation...

I love it when companies create ad campaigns you actually want to see. In case you missed the original commercial, here you go...

The teaser ad was equally filled with awesome...

Yep. That's advertising done right, right there.

   
• Photographic! I used to carry a pocket camera with me everywhere I went to capture those unexpected moments that are begging for a picture to be taken. Then the iPhone 4 came along with its terrific built-in camera, and I started leaving my pocket camera at home more often than not. Why bother when I can get shots like this...

Wenatchee River Fall Colors

Then the iPhone 5 was released with an even better camera, and suddenly I found myself ditching the pocket camera completely. Now that I've got an iPhone 6 with its amazing camera, I've been doing something I never thought I'd do... go on some of my travels without taking my DSLR with me. It's a mind-boggling prospect, but the shots I can get out of a frickin' camera phone are so good that it's not a much of a sacrifice at all.

This week Apple finally realized what most of us already know... the iPhone is a really good camera. And they've started a nifty ad campaign to let everybody else know it too. They've also added an amazing "World Gallery" to their website...

Shot with iPhone
Shot by Silke W. in Bali, Indonesia

A lot of people are carrying smart phone with them everywhere they go now-a-days. Which means a lot of people have a camera on them all the times. Which means a lot of photo opportunities that were once missed are being captured. It's an amazing time we live in.

   
And... I'm wrecked. See you next Sunday.

   

ULTRON!

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Dave!The new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer is out.

And it's a good one...


Avengers Age of Ultron: THE VISION!

Avengers Age of Ultron: AVENGERS ATTACK!

   

May 15th can't get here fast enough.

   

Gere

Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2015

Dave!So there I was discussing upcoming movies when The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came up. I said that I was looking forward to the film, but had to question adding Americans to the largely British cast, saying "Do we really need Richard Gere in the sequel?" This caused someone to say "Ooh! I loved Richard Gere in Sommersby!... a film I had never heard of before.

Sommersby, as it turns out, is a 1993 romance/drama starring Richard Gere and Jodie Foster. It's the story of a woman (Foster) married to a complete bastard named Sommersby who leaves her to fight in the Civil War. Years later, after being presumed dead, Sommersby (Gere) returns to town a changed man. As in, really changed. He is, in fact, not Sommersby... he's somebody who looks a little similar and assumed the identity of the original after he died in the war...

Sommersby Movie Poster

After reading the plot summary, the first thing that went through my head was "Wait a minute! Wasn't that the same thing that happened with Principal Skinner from The Simpsons?!?

So I Googled that and was taken right back to the same Wikipedia page on Sommersby that I had been looking at. If you scroll down there's a "Related Stories" section where the episode of The Simpsons was mentioned.

I was shocked to learn that this episode, called The Principal and the Pauper, was roundly hated by critics and fans alike. In fact, it's widely seen as the episode that signaled the end of the "Gold Age" of The Simpsons, where the quality of the show began a steep decline into mediocrity.

I thought I remembered the episode fairly well, and didn't recall thinking negatively about it at the time. On the contrary, I actually thought it was a clever way of keeping the show fresh... taking a character from the periphery that you thought you knew and completely changing things up... but not in a way that drastically alters the show. In fact, by the end of the show everything pretty much went back to the way it was, so the episode really didn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

And then it suddenly struck me...

My moment of zen...

When I realized that Richard Gere had made a guest appearance on The Simpsons, that everything is connected, and all the world is one...

Sommersby Movie Poster

Kind of funny how that works.

   

Turdsday

Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Dave!What a turd of a day!

The only thing that saved it from complete and total suckage was that a new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was released. And it's glorious...

May 1st.

How am I expected to wait until May 1st?

   

Hanks

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Dave!I set my DVR to record The Late Late Show with James Corden because the guy has been part of some pretty great stuff (including Gavin & Stacey, a long-time favorite Britcom). He seemed an odd choice for replacing Craig Ferguson, but I thought the same thing when Craig Ferguson replaced Craig Kilborn, so why not?

I have to admit... the show was more entertaining than I anticipated. Mostly because Tom Hanks stopped by for one of the best bits of late-night television in recent memory...

Guess I'll keep tuning in. Though I think my DVR is quickly reaching critical mass... I'm dangerously close to recording more shows than I can comfortably keep up with.

Not that it's ever stopped me before.

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Aged

Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2015

Dave!I'd like to blog about... something... but the only thing I care about now-a-days is watching new trailers for The Avengers: Age of Ultron.


Yeah, I'm pretty much checked-out on life for the next 25 days.

   

Bullet Sunday 428

Posted on Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Dave!Don't let the crappy political landscape in these United State drive you to drink just yet... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Argh! While my politics are more inline with fiscal conservative ideals, I usually end up voting Democrat because I am a hardcore social progressive. Everybody's bought and paid for by lobbyists anyway, so what's the difference? That being said, I frickin' loathe Hillary Clinton and am absolutely gutted that she's almost certain to be the Democratic candidate for president. Not that I'm not ready for a woman in The White House... on the contrary, I totally am... it's just that I don't want this woman anywhere near the Commander in Chief's desk.

I just don't get it. Her foreign policy as Secretary of State was disastrous. Against all advice, she fucked up Libya so bad that the country may never recover. She's taken so much foreign money for her campaign that I find it laughable she could possibly have this country's best interests at heart. And anybody thinking liberal anti-war ideology factors into her thinking should take a look at the shit-loads of cash she's taken from defense contractors. You think the wars we're fighting are never-ending now? Wait until Hillary Clinton is running the show. And while you're at it, take a look at the piles of money she's taken from the banking industry cesspool... she's got funds from Goldman Fucking Sachs on the books! Much as she claims otherwise, the status quo for Washington politics and its filthy finances ain't changing one damn bit with her in office. Odds are, they'd only get worse.

But of course the idiot Republicans won't give us someone I can vote for. GOP candidates I could live with (like Jon Huntsman) are eviscerated by the party even though a progressive who embraces equality and diversity is the ONLY WAY they're going to take the White House. And so let's give it up for President Clinton!

The sequel, that is.

   
• Argh Redux. Case in point for the Republicans? So far we've got Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on the ticket. I'm sure Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie will be up next. No word from God as to whether he'll be asking Michelle Bachmann to run again. A sorrier lineup of assholes, bigots, and idiots you will not find.

Unless, of course, Sarah Palin decides to entertain us all with another run.

Shit. At this point, I'm actually missing Mitt Romney.

Not that he's any more a gem than the rest of the GOP freak show that seems intent to run unelectable candidates guaranteed to put Hillary Clinton in the Big Chair.

Meh. Guess I shouldn't be too torn up... in the end it doesn't seem to matter who gets into office anyway.

   
• Honesty. What we need is this guy...

At least then we'd know where we stand.

   
• Babe. Tell me something I don't know.

   
• Underline. A moment of silence for the passing of The Bold Italic... a San Francisco-centric web zine that quickly became one of my favorite things online. You will be missed.

   
• The Ant Man! Looking better and better with each new preview...

I had sincere reservations once Edgar Wright left the project, but it looks like Marvel has another terrific film under their belt.

   
• Fight! And speaking of Marvel Cinematic hits, this week we were treated to the longest look at the film yet...

And comic book geeks around the world just peed a little bit.

And then there's this...

Three weeks to go...

   
See you next week, True Believer!

   

Awakens!

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Dave!GAAAAAHHHH!

I am losing my ever-loving' mind here!

We have to wait until CHRISTMAS for this?

Please just put me into a coma after Avengers: Age of Ultron... wake me up for Ant Man... then drop me back into slumber until Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I just can't handle it.

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Digitally

Posted on Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Dave!My relationship with Star Wars is a complicated one.

The original film revolutionized cinematic sci-fi and cemented my love for the genre that originated with the original Star Trek series. After The Empire Strikes Back came along, I became obsessed with the Star Wars Universe and it felt as though my entire life was leading up to the premiere of Return of the Jedi.

At which time my faith in Star Wars was completely shattered. Jedi was more burp and fart jokes than sci-fi. More silly than serious. More an effort to sell toys than to close out the Holy Trilogy with the respect it deserved. If not for the lightsaber duel at the end (and one amazing space battle), the film would have been a complete loss.

Then, as if fucking up the final installment wasn't bad enough, George Lucas decided to go back and take a huge shit all over the two original films with his "Special Edition" insanity. Adding stupid shit that had no business being there and generally changing stuff for the worse.

So I moved on to bigger and better things.

Eventually the Star Wars prequels were unleashed.

After the travesty that was Return of the Jedi and the "Special Editions," I held out zero hope that any new Star Wars movies would be worth a crap, but secretly I hoped. Hoped in vain, as it turned out. The prequels were utter shit, and Star Wars became nothing more than a fond memory.

And now Star Wards: The Force Awakens is coming and I find myself excited about Star Wars again. Perhaps with George Lucas exiting the franchise there's reason to hope. JJ Abrams did okay with his take on Mission Impossible and Star Trek, after all.

But that's not until Christmas.

In the meanwhile, Disney/Lucasfilm has decided to finally release all six Star Wars films on digital.

Which would be reason to celebrate if not for a few things...

  1. They're the shitty "Special Edition" films.
  2. There's no option to watch the original cuts with updated special effects, which is the only way I want to see them.
  3. The only bundled savings available are when you buy all six movies together... there's no way to get a savings on the original trilogy only.
  4. It's a massive cash grab to purchase the films individually... $20 each.
  5. You just know they're going to do another release of the original films in HD that everybody is waiting for, so if you buy the movies now, you'll end up buying them again down the road.

So... nope.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

There's only so much suffering a Star Wars fan can put up with.

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Bullet Sunday 429

Posted on Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Dave!No need to look for an excuse to go on living... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Raptor! Too many good movies on the way this year.

Jurassic World is one of them...

Daredevil Affleck

If he gets the lead in the Indiana Jones reboot as well, Chris Pratt is going to own the known universe.

   
• Movies! Speaking of movies to look forward to, where did this come from?

Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Homes off to solve one last case? Count me in.

   
• Farce! On the other hand...

This might very well be be a good movie. Not the Fantastic Four, however. Is it too much to hope that Marvel gets the rights back after this movie shits the bed? Worked for Spider-Man. Kinda.

And don't even get me started...

   
• George! He may have irreparably damaged the Star Wars franchise for an entire generation... but George Lucas isn't 100% evil. His epic plan to build affordable housing in Marin County.

   
• Blam! When did the National Rifle Association go from being an organization dedicated to gun safety to a political mouthpiece for bigoted assholes?

The NRA made a fundraising career out of terrifying people with "OBAMA'S GONNA TAKE YOUR GUNS!" Now that it all turned out to be a steaming pile of bullshit, I guess the NRA is moving on to "There ain't gonna be no more coloreds in The White House... and no bitches either!" rhetoric to bring in the donations.

Anxiously looking forward to the next round of NRA FUD designed to keep the country divided and their wallets filled.

   
• Awww! Trying to end things on a positive note for once, introducing... The Incredible Nursing Cat!

   
Until next we meet...

   

Bullet Sunday 430

Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Dave!My eyes may be bruised and battered, but I'm glad to be alive... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Thanks, Obama! The president's speech at this year's White House correspondents' dinner was literally laugh-out-loud funny. Probably the best CD speech I've ever heard. Self-deprecating in all the right ways... yet nicely vicious in the right ways too...

Killed it.

   
• Speech! And Cecily Strong did an amazing job too...

I'm guessing that's going to rub some people the wrong way...

   
• Mo! Oh shit! Did the Surgeon General's nurse just give Elmo autism?!?

Av ery good question indeed! Hmmm...

   
• Color! Man of Steel was a shitty movie that took a huge, steaming dump all over Superman... but this makeover would have gone a long way towards at least making it LOOK like a Superman movie...

Next up, Zach Snyder gets to drop a load all over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

   
• Joker Products! And speaking of taking a dump all over a beloved DC Comics character, here comes Suicide Squad...

DAVETOON! Lil' Dave is sick with his eyes closed and his tongue hanging out.

I am interested in seeing what Jared Leto brings to the role, as he's an incredibly talented actor who seems a perfect fit. But this "look" they've got going for him seems more silly than scary. I'm trying to keep an open mind here, but Hipster Joker? Really?

   
• Relief. A massive earthquake has killed over 3000 people in Nepal, injured scores of others, and affected millions. As always, Doctors Without Borders is there. If you have a few extra bucks in your pocket, you can help them to help others by donating here.

   
And now it's time to put my aching eyes to bed. See you in seven days... same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel.

   

Bullet Sunday 431

Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Dave!Don't be intimidated by The Biggest Little City in the World... because Bullet Sunday from Reno starts... now...

   
• Reno! I have been to Reno exactly once, years ago. It looks much the same. Except the Planet Hollywood restaurant is gone. That cool sign is still there though...

Reno Arch

Too bad I'm not much of a gambler.

   
• Avengers! Well...

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Not that I didn't have fun. I had a great time. It's a comic book geek's dream come true. Except it wasn't quite the movie I was hoping for. But I'll get to that on Wednesday. Probably.

   
• Rand. Was very sad to learn that the lovely Grace Lee Whitney has died...

Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand

So many Star Trek alums are passing on. And suddenly I feel very old.

   
• Supremes! Food for thought while The Supreme Court battles it out over marriage equality...

When churches get involved in politics, they should have their tax-exempt status revoked. Never seems to happen though, and they're more active than ever before.

   
• Chocolate! The flight attendant for my Reno trip was sweet to give me a chocolate bar snack. They often do this when you're an Alaska Air elite flyer and the plane doesn't have a First Class section. I guess it's supposed to make you forget you're in coach? In any event, it's such a nice gesture and is always appreciated. The interesting thing about this bar was the flavor...

Agave Quinoa Sesame Chocolate?

Agave Quinoa Sesame Chocolate? Isn't that about the most hipster flavor you can imagine? Turns out it's quite tasty though. Interesting texture and a pleasing taste. And then there's the inside of the wrapper...

Chocolate with a Side of Ass?

Chocolate plus a donation... with a Side of butt-shot? So weird.

   
• Mime Time! And, lastly, here's something to end your Sunday on a high note. Kinda.

   
And here... we... go...

   

Jupiter

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Dave!Oh good Lord.

STOP GIVING THE WACHOWSKIS MONEY TO MAKE SHITTY FILMS! Everything since The Matrix has been utter crap, and Jupiter Ascending is no different. Granted, it's one of the most beautiful disasters I've ever seen, but...

...by the time we get to the genetically-spliced human-slash-elephant spaceship pilot trumpeting before engaging thrusters, I found myself longing for the good ol' days of George Lucas burp and fart jokes.

It's just that bad...

Jupiter Ascending Poster

And yet... as I said, this is one gorgeous film. The art direction, design, and special effects are stunning.

A shame it was all wasted on such a convoluted pile of shit.

Mila Kunis, the most beautiful toilet-scrubbing maid ever, discovers that she's the genetic inheritor of the entire earth after aliens try to kill her. Luckily Channing Tatum (a half-dog-slash-half-man space warrior) drops in on his magical flying boots to save her. Then we get dragged from pretty action sequence to pretty action sequence while investigating such thrilling concepts as "bureaucracy" and "rules of succession."

The only bright spots in this heinous mess outside of the visuals are Mila Kunis (obviously) and a welcome appearance by Sean Bean as a half-honey-bee-half-man space warrior (yes, really).

Oh well.

Guess I'll go rekindle my faith in sci-fi cinema by watching The Fifth Element for the hundredth time.

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ULTRON!

Posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Dave!Okay then.

I wrote up my thoughts about Avengers: Age of Ultron immediately after having seen the film last Sunday while I was in Reno. Originally, I was going to post everything Monday, but ultimately decided I'd "sit on it" for a couple days in case I had new thoughts upon further reflection. "Days" turned into a "week" because new information kept leaking out about the film. Information that had direct bearing on my comments.

And so now there are a couple comments on my comments.

Which makes me wish I had just posted everything last Monday as originally planned, because that would have been a lot less work.

But anyway...

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A Marvel movie has topped my list of favorite films every year since I started making lists... Iron Man 2 in 2010, Captain America and Thor in 2011, The Avengers in 2012, Iron Man 3 in 2013, and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. My guess is that Iron Man would have topped my list in 2008 (if I had one back then), and it seems inevitable that Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (or possibly Ant Man) will top it this year. These films are a dream come true for a long-time comic book geek like me, and Marvel seems incapable of making a misstep with their various franchises.

At least from the "big-picture" perspective. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a mind-bogglingly huge film that defies a quick description, so I'm not even going to try. Instead, I'll just reprint the official description thusly: "When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it's up to Earth's Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans."

(UPDATE COMMENT: And the result is going to end up being one of the most successful movies of all time)...

Avengers: Age of Ultron

And, for the most part, I loved it.

It's a highly entertaining effort that has some of the most ambitious and mid-blowing action sequences ever put to film.

But it's not without its problems.

Which I get into in an extended entry. Needless to say, spoilers will ensue...

Spoiler Zone!

   
Before I begin, I feel compelled to mention that the title of the film is taken from a comic book maxi-series by Brian Michael Bendis from 2013. And yet it's an entirely different story that bears no resemblance to the source material. This is probably a good thing, because I found the comic book a bit uneven. In some places it felt rushed and oddly incomplete... in others it was plodding, bordering on tedious with an ending you could see from miles away. As if that weren't reason enough to go in a different direction, many of the key characters (like Wolverine) aren't available to Marvel Studios, having been licensed away to other companies.

And off we go...

As the movie begins, Earth's Mightiest Heroes are hell-bent on retrieving Loki's magical scepter (from the first Avengers film) and track it down to a HYDRA base in the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia. It's much too powerful and dangerous to be left in the hands of mere mortals, so Thor is quite serious about getting it off the earth.

Unfortunately for the Avengers, their efforts are hampered by the evil Baron Strucker, who has been infusing people with energy from the scepter to give them super-powers. His only(?) success story is with "The Twins"... Pietro and Wanda Maximoff... who volunteered for experimentation after their parents were killed by Stark weaponry. Pietro (AKA Quicksilver) has super-speed and Wanda (AKA Scarlet Witch) has the ability to manipulate energy in the form of physical blasts or telekinesis. She also has limited telepathy and the ability to manipulate minds by clouding them with a person's darkest fears.

AN ASIDE: I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this depiction of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch is quite different than what you get in the comic books. In the source material, Pietro and Wanda are mutants... the next evolution of humanity, and developed their powers naturally (UPDATE COMMENT: Except not any more, as it turns out). But since 20th Century Fox owns all rights to the X-Men and, by extension, mutants, writer/director Joss Whedon had to take a different approach. He chose to tie their origin to previous Marvel Cinematic Universe events, and I think his solution was a very good one. Though I sure wish Wanda's powers weren't so deus ex machina to the plot, the whole "mental manipulation" stuff conveniently coming from nowhere because Joss needed a story beat.

Anyway...

Despite Scarlet Witch using her powers to enchant Black Widow, Iron Man, and Thor, The Avengers prevail and recover the scepter... only because Wanda determines that Tony (whom she hates for making the weapons that orphaned her) will destroy himself with it. Sure enough, Stark then convinces Thor to let him run some test on the artifact, which results in him finding out that the gemstone powering the scepter contains a highly advanced artificial intelligence. Thinking this might be the key to powering his plans for a global "Ultron" defense network, he convinces Bruce Banner to help him download the AI. Chaos ensues when Ultron overtakes Tony's J.A.R.V.I.S. AI (which has been much loved since he first appeared way back in the first Iron Man) and decides (rightly) he needs to inhabit one of Stark's robots and eliminate all of humanity to save the planet. To do so, he steals the scepter and takes over Iron Man's "Iron Legion" manufacturing equipment so he can create scores of Ultron Drones to do his bidding.

So far as plots go, so far so good. Whedon got James Spader to voice Ultron, which is about all he needed to do. Spader can read the frickin' phone book and make it sound compelling, so the hard part of defining the movie's "villain" was done. The only thing that rubs me the wrong way is the utter stupidity of, once again, having totally alien technology somehow being compatible with earth-based computers (shades of Independence Day, Batman!). It's a plot point that never works well because it makes so little sense.

And then things kind of went off the rails for me.

Ultron ends up convincing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to work with him to destroy The Avengers. Which seems utterly bizarre. Even given the context of a sci-fi/fantasy epic like Age of Ultron, who in their right mind thinks that teaming up with a giant evil robot ends well? I guess an argument could be made that their lives in Sokovia kept them sheltered from every evil robot book/movie ever made, but it still seems a huge stretch that Pietro and Wanda would ignore something as obvious as "never trust an evil robot," even as a tool for revenge.

But trust him they do, so off they go to Africa so they can purchase a ship-load of vibranium from arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to make an invulnerable body from which Ultron can rule the planet. Vibranium also being the metal from which Captain America's indestructible shield is made.

AN ASIDE: Here is where Marvel brings Black Panther, super-hero ruler of Wakanda, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe... even if they don't show him directly. It also sets things up for super-villain "Klaw" (as "Klaue") and his sonic-powers to eventually show up. And while Whedon did it with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, I still think it ultimately worked. Even if it was a tad distracting from the story.

Anyway...

When the Avengers inevitably show up to stop Ultron, Scarlet Witch turns her powers on The Hulk, which causes him to flee and then tear apart Johannesburg. An awesome battle with a Hulk-Buster Iron Man suit ensues. As does one of the best action sequences of the film. An action sequence so destructive that it makes the world turn against The Avengers. Thinking they need to lie low for a while, Hawkeye flies everybody to his safe house (a farm in the countryside)... which comes complete with a wife and kids. This is a really nice turn for Jeremy Renner, whose character spent almost the entirety of the first Avengers movie being a mind-controlled stooge (which Hawkeye acknowledges earlier in a beautiful Whedonesque moment).

And it's at this point that the movie shits the bed.

Though it's probably not Joss Whedon's fault.

In order to set up future Marvel Films... primary of which is the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, the Infinity Gems are finally named by name. Which is not a bad thing except for how they did it: Thor flies off and convinces Erik Selvig to watch him take a bath. Yes, you read that right, a frickin' bath! Granted, it was a bath in magical waters that somehow allow Thor to access the visions he had while enchanted by Scarlet Witch, but come on! A magic bath? Really? This idiocy was shoehorned into the film so badly that one has to wonder if Joss Whedon was forced to do it at gun-point (UPDATE COMMENT: Sure enough, he was).

More copious amounts of bed-shitting were had as we watch Black Widow share a tender moment with Bruce Banner, who's now her boyfriend... I guess (no clue where this leaves Bruce Banner's long-time girlfriend in the comics, Betty Ross). Which has no real purpose for the story except to set-up even more future Marvel films by taking The Hulk out of the picture later on. But no worries... I'm sure he'll be back in Avengers: The Infinity War. Or perhaps a Planet Hulk film, which would be awesome.

Eventually Nick Fury shows up to give a pep-talk and pull the team together. Which is a good thing, because Ultron has now globe-hopped to Seoul so he can use the scepter to compel The Avengers' personal doctor, Helen Cho, to use her tissue-creation technology to make him that dreamy indestructible vibranium body he's always wanted (assumably so he can survive the end of the world?). As if that weren't enough balls in the air, meanwhile-meanwhile we have Tony Stark jetting off to some secret "heart of the internet" access point called "NEXUS" to find out what's preventing Ultron from gaining access to the world's nuclear arsenal and simply blowing up the earth to eliminate all mankind.

SPOILER ALERT: Turns out it's the J.A.R.V.I.S. AI that's keeping Ultron away from the nukes. Which means Ultron is just going to have to find another way to end it all.

But Ultron will have a hard time doing so without his cool new indestructible bio-mechanical body, so The Avengers make plans to steal it before he can upload his consciousness to it. Which is kinda hokey, but it gives Black Widow some awesome screen-time, so I try to be forgiving. Especially since she succeeds in stealing it so beautifully. Alas, she's captured in the process, but them's the breaks.

And now we go from "off the rails" to "off the continent" as Tony Stark decides to put Helen Cho's empty android body to good use... by uploading Jarvis into it. This does not sit well at all with the rest of The Avengers... especially Captain America... who worry that one insane homicidal all-powerful killer robot is enough. They don't need Tony making a second one. But the decision is taken out of their hands when Thor comes back from his magic bath and uses his magic hammer to create magic lightning to magically bring the J.A.R.V.I.S.-infused android shell to life (Shades of Frankenstein, Batman!). Thus we end up with something not-quite Ultron, not-quite-J.A.R.V.I.S., but something all new... Thor's magic bath vision becomes THE VISION! And one of the all-powerful Infinity Stones bonds to his forehead.

AN ASIDE: The Vision is my favorite Avenger in the comic books. His Pinocchio-inspired "I want to be a real-live boy" story arc (long before Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation) when paired with his super-cool density-manipulating properties, his awesome abilities, his relationship with Scarlet Witch, and his amazing design... well, he's the complete super-hero package. He has it all. Over the years many of my favorite Avengers stories center around The Vision or have him as a major factor. He has links to so many pieces of the Avengers puzzle that he could arguably be considered the key component to the entire team from the moment he debuted. Needless to say I was thrilled that he was being added to the Cinematic Avengers. But a little less than thrilled with his cape, which looks like some kind of nebulous CGI blob. It's so distracting that it sabotages this otherwise cool interpretation of the character.

Anyway...

The Vision is so pure of form that he has no problem lifting Thor's hammer... a test of worthiness that conveniently makes him trusted by the team and an instant Avenger...

Avengers Age of Ultron: THE VISION!

AN ASIDE: A scene of all the various Avengers attempting to lift Thor's hammer earlier in the film... but being found unworthy thus unable... is a favorite moment of the movie for me. Captain America was slightly able to budge it (much to the horror of Thor!), which had me convinced Steve Rogers would be wielding Mjolnir against Ultron at the climatic end-battle of the film once all else failed (which would been a much better ending than we got, but oh well).

Anyway...

The Black Widow manages to get an S.O.S. to Hawkeye during her captivity, which leads the entire team back to where the movie began: Sokovia. It's then that they discover how Ultron plans to destroy all humanity since he couldn't get ahold of any nukes... he's going to go all "asteroid killed the dinosaurs" and use the vibranium to elevate a massive chunk of Sokovia high above the planet, then let it fall back to earth... causing an extinction-level event.

Kind of a convoluted plan for somebody as smart as Ultron, but it leads to the best line in the movie when Hawkeye says "The city is flying, and all I've got is a bow and arrow"... so why not?

This is the part of the movie where Ultron distracts the team by sending an endless onslaught of drones against them. Which would be pretty cool... except there was so much going on that it was tough to take in everything you were seeing. Maybe subsequent viewings will make it easier to digest, but I feel this was a bit of a problem for the movie. The action felt more abstract than personal. Something Joss must have felt as well, because he decided to do what he always does to up the stakes... kill somebody off. Which, in this case, was Quicksilver. He died in a hail of bullets while saving Hawkeye who was saving a child during a massive evacuation of Flying Sokovia (courtesy of Nick Fury and a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier).

It was a Whedon move that didn't really have any impact at all. Partly because it is just so damn predictable of him... but mostly because nobody gave a shit about Quicksilver. Unlike when he killed off Coulson in the first film, Pietro had so little screen time that the audience barely knew who he was. All we did know was that he's fast... so fast he can grab Ulysses Klaue's pistol, unload all the bullets, and line them up on a table in the blink of an eye. Which makes you think that evading a hail of bullets would be a piece of cake for him, but Whedon wanted him dead, so internal logic goes out the window.

UPDATE COMMENT: Apparently I was wrong in thinking nobody gave a shit about Quicksilver. Some people cared so deeply that Joss Whedon got death threats for offing him. Stay classy, internet!

Eventually The Avengers save all the people on Floating Sokovia and figure out a way of destroying the land mass before it can destroy the world. The Vision then tracks down Ultron's last remaining body and evaporates him. So, yay, I guess. It was all so anticlimactic to me that I had a hard time really caring.

Then the team kind of breaks up. The Hulk didn't want to make Black Widow be a fugitive, so he flies off in a Quinjet. Thor's visions have him needing to return to Asgard. Tony Stark leaves to focus on bigger things. Hawkeye goes home to his family.

Which means it's time for a new team of Avengers to assemble... Captain America and Black Widow join The Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, and The Falcon to form Avengers 2.0 (with the help of Erik Selvig, Helen Cho, and (of course) Nick Fury (and probably Maria Hill as well). Roll credits.

Not that Avengers: Infinity War needed any more setting up, but a mid-credits sequence has Thanos putting on The Infinity Gauntlet so he can (finally) "do it himself." Which I'm guessing means collect all the Infinity Gems and destroy the universe so he can impress Death, whom he has a major crush on.

The end.

Like I said, in the "big picture" sense, I loved the film... despite its many problems. It just hit so many geeky buttons in me that I couldn't help but love it.

Though three overreaching problems I haven't addressed yet made it more difficult for me than it should have been...

1) Ultron is not scary or very threatening.
In the comics, Ultron is a terrifying presence. He's whacked out of his artificial mind, and the death and destruction that comes from his insanity-driven rage is a horrifying part of his character. The movie version was positively tame by comparison. Sure he wanted to destroy all humanity, but it never felt as though the Avengers were in much danger stopping him. James Spader was flawless casting, but his Ultron needed more heinous things to do to live up to his legacy.

2) The movie was all over the place.
And I mean that literally. It hops all over the globe at such a breakneck pace that you're left wondering if The Avengers and Ultron have access to some kind of secret teleportation technology we don't see. Even with Tony Stark's advanced transportation, it would take many hours to get from place to place... yet it always seems instantaneous. I like the idea of Earth's Mightiest Heroes actually spanning the entire earth, but it got a bit ridiculous.

3) Too little time for too much stuff.
In the first film, everybody had a role to play, and that's what made it such genius. For the sequel, I have a hard time recollecting exactly what Thor and Captain America had to contribute other than non-stop fighting. The Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver were all introduced, but had so little screen time that they were pretty much reduced to cameos. And speaking of cameos... was anybody not in this movie? Oh yeah... Jane Foster and Pepper Potts... except they got screen time without actually appearing. Couple the massive cast with the abundance of time wasted setting up future films and there was barely time enough for this film. Had things been stripped down a bit and more screen time was devoted to the task at hand instead of what's coming next, it would have been a much better movie.

   
Next up, Captain America: Civil War, which is already promising to have a cast that equals or exceeds The Avengers: Age of Ultron. In addition to The Avengers 2.0 team (Cap, Widow, Falcon, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and War Machine), we're also getting Iron Man, Black Panther, Ant Man, Winter Soldier, Agent Thirteen, General Thunderbolt Ross(!), Crossbones, Baron Zemo, and... wait for it... the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of Spider-Man. PLUS Martin Freeman just signed on for some unspecified role as well. I can only guess Agent Carter, Maria Hill, and Nick Fury will be shoehorned in as well. How are they going to fit an actual story in there?

I honestly dunno. But I can't wait to find out.

Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...

The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Amazing Spider-Man 2... B-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Thor: The Dark World... A
Watchmen... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B

   

Bullet Sunday 432

Posted on Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Dave!Don't be intimidated by The Biggest Little City in the World... because Bullet Sunday from Reno starts... now...

   
• Love! Yeah. Uh huh.

   
• Carter! ABC has given Agent Carter a second season!

Marvel's Agent Carter Poster

They also renewed Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which would be exciting if the show wasn't so awful. Who knows... maybe they'll actually do something with it this Fall to make it worth my valuable time. But somehow I doubt it.

   
• Dawson! In other terrific Marvel news, Rosario Dawson has been confirmed for Season Two of Daredevil... plus other Netflix Marvel projects! In the comics, she's kinda an important piece of the Luke Cage puzzle, so it will be interesting to see how they work that into his series...

Marvel's Agent Carter Poster

One of my few regrets for Season One of Daredevil was that Rosario didn't have more screen time. Hopefully that will be rectified next year.

   
• Remember? I didn't read into Age of Ultron the anti-feminist viewpoint that has some people up in arms over how Black Widow was written. I save my rage for crap like this...

I'm guessing this is a case of "manwashing" the character of Black Widow so it will better appeal to young boys. Meanwhile, young girls that are into comics and super-hero movies get shitted on. Not that they can't enjoy a Captain America toy too... but come on.

   
• Lucifer! UPDATE: This doesn't look like it's going to be a faithful adaptation of the comic book of the same name, but I'm excited to see it nevertheless...

I don't suppose it's too much to hope that we get an appearance of Constantine in this series now that his own series has been canceled? It's a natural fit.

   
And... so much for bullets this week...

   

Bullet Sunday 433

Posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Dave!Rainy days and Sundays shouldn't get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Carson! This clip is SO good. Makes me realize how much I miss Carson... and how much I'm going to miss Letterman...

As much as I'm looking forward to seeing what Stephen Colbert is going to do in late-night space, I am gutted at the prospect of Letterman closing out The Late Show. I may not be a consistent viewer, but I go on Letterman binges that make me very glad he's around. Until he won't be.

   
• Slider! Before I became a vegetarian, I was a fan of White Castle and their infamous mini hamburgers, better known as "sliders." There's no White Castle near me... I only got to eat there when I went to the coast, so it was a rare treat. After I became a vegetarian, White Castle (and my beloved In-N-Out Burger) were off the menu. Earlier this year White Castle did the unthinkable... they released a VEGETARIAN SLIDER! And I was beyond thrilled. Until I went to actually order one. Instead of a mini vegetarian burger topped with onions and a pickle like a real slider, you got a vegetable patty packed with carrots and peas and shit topped with your choice of honey mustard, ranch or Thai sauce. WHAT THE FUCK, WHITE CASTLE?!? I don't want that vegetable shit with salad dressing... I want a damn WHITE CASTLE SLIDER! To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. Once again a restaurant tries to do a good thing badly by grossly misreading what vegetarians want. We don't want a vegetable version of what everybody else is getting... we want what everybody else is getting without having to kill an animal to get it. McDonalds totally nailed it with their "McVeggie Deluxe," but White Castle... like Burger King before them... failed utterly with their vegetable-infused monstrosity. Enter Gardein's "The Ultimate Beefless Sliders"...

Kingsman Movie Poster

They're perfect. And delicious. Add some lightly grilled onions and a pickle and it's the slider I've been wanting all along. Except... holy crap are they expensive. $6.00 a box! That's $1.50 a slider! Isn't a White Castle slider like 50¢ or something? All those government subsidies for America's toxic beef industry must be nice.

   
• Kingsman! I had rather high expectations after viewing the trailers for Kingsman: The Secret Service... and Michael Vaughn blew past every one of them...

Kingsman Movie Poster

Such a great movie! It's a smart, funny, action-packed spy thriller with a cast to die for, a really good story, and violence so over the top it verges on comedic.

Following in his father's footsteps, Eggsy Unwin trains to be an elite agent in Britain's premiere secret spy organization: Kingsman. And it's a good thing too... evil internet billionaire Valentine (played to the hilt by Samuel L. Jackson) has plans to wipe out the human race! Features epic appearances by Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Mark Hammill, Jack Davenport, and Michael Caine... along with strong breakout performances by Sofia Boutella and Taron Egerton. The film did some major box office action, so I'm hoping for a sequel. If you've read the comic book version, this is considerably different, but not in a bad way at all.

   
• Seventh Son! Unfortunately, another movie I had been looking forward to did not fare so well...

Seventh Son Movie Poster

Despite a really good cast, Seventh Son ended up being a complete and total turd. Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore are great actors that defy all expectations by turning in truly awful performances. And while the story (based on a series of books) had huge potential (an 18th century evil spirit hunter learning his trade), it was utterly wasted in this mess of a film. Fortunately, like Jupiter Ascending, it bombed at the box office so we'll be spared any sequels. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

   
• Super! When I saw the extended "First Look" for the new Supergirl series, I was pleasantly surprised...

Looks like the team behind Arrow and The Flash have done it again! And then I watched the first actual trailer... only to discover that, apparently, we're getting "Team Supergirl." Which sucks ass. "Team Arrow" I get... it was core to the concept of the show's take on the character. But "Team Flash" is just unnecessary layers of shit, as Barry would have been much more interesting figuring out everything on his own. And "Team Supergirl" is an even worse idea. Why in the hell can't super-heroes exist on their own without some kind of stupid "team" there to constantly steal their thunder? Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are clearly out of ideas here, and I wish that they would stop being called in to rehash their same tired concepts over and over again on new super-hero shows.

   
• Toys! Ending things on a down-note... I was sad to learn that F.A.O. Schwarz will be closing their doors come July. This iconic toy store is probably best remembered for it's part in the movie Big, but I'll better remember it as "that one place I visit every single time I'm in New York."

F.A.O. Schwarz in the movie Big

On one hand, I get it... online shopping is rapidly displacing retail shops for things like toys, so profits can't keep up with the cost of rent... but it's still sad that such a special part of New York City is going to evaporate. I mean, damn, 145 years?

   
And... back to my rainy Sunday...

   

Rank

Posted on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Dave!I just saw my second ranking of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and thought it was about time I make my own. Which is harder than it sounds considering that I pretty much love every one of them!

But rank them I did, and there wasn't anything truly unexpected to come out of it. Except for perhaps a new appreciation of the original Iron Man film.

And away we go...

Marvel Cinematic Universe Character Rolecall

  1. The Avengers (Score: A+). This is the film that came along and made every comic book geek's wet dream come true. Finally. After suffering through the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises with their shitty stories, weak-ass villains, and nonsensical plots, we get an actual comic book team-up that's worth watching! Joss Whedon miraculously managed to weave a cohesive story that gives each character an equal share of screen-time. And having Loki as the villain was not only true to the comic book origins, but a flawless foil for Earth's Mightiest Heroes thanks to Tom Hiddleston's spot-on portrayal. Add in a jaw-dropping battle to repel a full-scale alien invasion and you've got a film I've watched more times than I can count. And am not done with it yet. Not by a longshot.
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy (Score: A+). I held out very little hope for Guardians of the Galaxy from the minute I heard that Marvel was so foolish as to try and bring it to the big screen. I mean, come on... a talking tree and raccoon? How in the hell is that going to work? But thanks in no small part to the utter genius of James Gunn's vision, we ended up with what's probably the best Marvel film to date (even though The Avengers got there first for me and claims my top spot). Rocket and Groot not only made a flawless transition to film, they were essential to what made the team work so well. Mind-bending action and effects, a serious threat to overcome, some of the funniest ideas in a super-hero movie ever, and a faithful take on the source material makes this a movie that's almost too good to be true.
  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Score: A+). The first Captain America film took an absurd, antiquated concept and somehow made it work. Beautifully. But now that we've left World War II, how could they possibly bring Cap to modern times and have him be relevant or a character to take seriously? By pulling at the threads of what is supposed to make America be "America" and having Steve Roger's unique viewpoint deal with the unraveling. This film wasn't just great... it was painfully so, reflecting on current events in a way I never thought possible from a comic book movie. As if that weren't enough, we got Falcon and more glorious Black Widow screen time. And Robert Redford.
  4. Iron Man (Score: A+). The movie that started it all. What made Iron Man so revolutionary is that it was such a fantastic translation from the comic book... faithful almost to a fault. But what really sold it was Robert Downey Jr. as Stark. Probably one of the most brilliant casting decisions in cinematic history, his performance set the tone for everything that followed. Getting Jeff Bridges to turn in one of his best modern performances as villainous Obadiah Stane was just the icing on the cake. I don't think Jon Favreau gets nearly enough credit for the founding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe... and all it takes is a fresh look at his film to see exactly why he is so deserving.
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (Score: A+). I was beyond nervous for this movie, fearing that a flag-waving super-soldier would translate badly to the big screen. But Joe Johnston made all the right moves and it turned out far better than I had dreamed it could have. First, he was true to the source material and set the story in World War II. Second, he convinced Chris Evans to take the lead role (let's face it, the guy is Captain America). Third, he did an amazing job of reigning in such epic scope to such a beautiful, personal story. Bonus: Cap's costume here is hands-down the best cinematic super-hero costume I've ever seen. A wondrous melding of World War II gear with the iconic flag design that defines Captain America. Sadly he'd get a massive downgrade in The Avengers, but things got much better in Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron.
  6. Iron Man 3 (Score: A+). Yes, I gave this movie an "A+" which technically means it ties with the five movies above... but somebody had to end up at the bottom of the stack and it feels as though Iron Man 3... great as it is... should be there. And I can't quite put my finger as to why. I liked the story very much. I loved the action. The performances (featuring yet another Robert Downey Jr. stunner) were top notch. The humor was as witty and sharp as ever. And I was so very, very grateful that we didn't go down the "Demon in a Bottle" alcoholism storyline from the comics (and hinted at in Iron Man 2) that Shane Black could have done almost anything and still got my stamp of approval. So what is it that sets Iron Man 3 below the rest? Thinking about it, I'm guessing it could be two things. 1) The whole Ben Kingsley Mandarin reveal felt awkward and forced, even though it made better sense than the racist stereotype Mandarin from the comics. And 2) The post-traumatic stress syndrome plaguing Tony in the aftermath of The Battle for New York was handled about as good as it could have been in the context of the film... but still felt a bit out of place in the grand scheme of things. The fact that it's completely disappeared come Age of Ultron just reinforces this. All things considered, however, it's still about as good as a movie gets for me and did not disappoint.
  7. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (Score: A). A great film that could have been genius if only it had the discipline to be more focused... and had Ultron being the terrifying villain he was made to be. But instead the story wandered all over the map (literally) with a series of story beats that seemed way too random... and Ultron never once felt like a threat, even when he was trying to destroy the world. So no A+ here. And yet... still a mind-blowing film that lived up to the unprecedented hype that had been built up around it. The Vision may have felt shoe-horned in (and his cape looked like shit) but we have The Vision! Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch may have powers that didn't maintain consistency and felt weirdly deus ex machina to the plot, but we have Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch! And the action sequences? Amazing. The special effects? Mind-blowing. There was just too much good stuff here to deny, and we got the sequel we all deserved. It's just that it could have been better... should have been better... and that will haunt the movie every time I watch it.
  8. Thor: The Dark World (Score: A). Truth to tell, I didn't really think this was a better film than the first one when it comes to the character of Thor. It's just that it came together in such a fantastic way in the grand scheme of things that I couldn't help but give it higher marks. It was a much bigger film since it didn't have an origin story tied to it, but that was expected. What wasn't expected was the little things that were so perfectly realized that make Thor be Thor. First of all, I absolutely loved how Thor's hammer was portrayed. The enchantment that makes it always return to Thor's hand was just so beautifully depicted as Thor went tumbling through dimensions that I felt as though I was actually watching THOR instead of a movie version of him. Second of all, Thor is a cosmic hero that goes far beyond earthly confines, and we finally get to see that here. And thirdly, Asgardians are in an entirely different world... literally... and though we didn't get as much as we probably should have, I think it was communicated much stronger in this movie than the first film (and absolutely The Avengers)... for that alone, I really enjoyed the film. Yes, the Dark Elves plot was a bit weak and we could have used a much stronger villain, but at least the antagonists in this film were consequential to the story, which can't really be said for most comic book villains at the cinema. And we got more of Hiddleston's Loki... that's always a good time.
  9. Iron Man 2 (Score: A-). For the life of me I don't understand the critical reception this movie got. Critics and fans alike lambasted it as a bad film, but I loved it. Great action beats, a compelling story, a fun villain, the introduction of Black Widow and War Machine... what's not to love? Yes, it's probably more "comic book" than "cinematic event"... but is that really such a bad thing for what's supposed to be a comic book movie? I took off half a point because it rambled a bit and didn't seem as tight as the first film... but Robert Downey Jr. once again brought Tony Stark as only Robert Downey Jr. can, and that compensates for just about any sin you can find in Iron Man 2.
  10. Thor (Score: B+). Don't get me wrong... I absolutely loved this film. Kenneth Branagh took the mystical side of the Marvel Universe and not only made it work in a way that surprised me, but somehow managed to both ground Thor as a man, yet elevate him as a super-hero. His characterization of the Asgardians (not to mention the stunning rendition of Asgard itself) approached a majesty that truly made them gods on-screen. The story was note-perfect. The special effects... especially in icy Jotunheim... were amazing. Where the movie fails and loses half a grade is the timing. The main storyline in the film takes place over what seems like two days, and it just doesn't add up when you factor in all the things that happened. Loki's false reign as king has almost zero weight when you consider he was on the throne for all of five minutes. Thor and Jane's romance seems even more implausible when you realize they're head-over-heels a day after she hits him with her car. Thor was made mortal for less than a day, and yet he somehow completely changed his views from arrogance to compassionate because of it? Yes, if you can put the timeline out of your head, this is a fantastic film (hence the B+) but I can't help but think it could have been so much better if they had just taken care to show the passage of time so events could breathe... rather than piling them all on top of each other in a ridiculous mishmash of happenings.
  11. The Incredible Hulk (Score: B). I honestly thought that Ang Lee's 2003 movie would nail The Hulk perfectly, because he seemed to grasp the concept that makes the character so compelling in the comics during his interviews about the film. Unfortunately, I didn't care for his take at all, and thought it was was a step backwards from even the Bill Bixby television show. The re-boot in 2008 was tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to a cameo by Tony Stark, so it gets included here, but a part of me doesn't think it really belongs. For one thing, the ending of The Incredible Hulk was a weak-ass mess that pretty much sabotages the entire flick... which is very un-Marvel-like. For another, Hulk was done so mind-blowingly brilliantly in The Avengers that it's tough to look back on this effort as being the "real" Hulk. Still, it has some shining moments and very good performances married to a decent script (up until the end, that is), so it makes a better than passing grade and is worth your valuable time to watch.

And there you have it. Next up? Ant Man! Which, unless I am totally taken by surprise, will end up in the middle of the pack. I can't wait.

   

Bullet Sunday 436

Posted on Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Dave!Don't let the impending heat of summer get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Charity! Before donating your hard-earned money to any organization... no matter how well-known or popular, RESEARCH THEM FIRST! That's what sites like Charity Navigator are for! Given how little charity money is available, it's critical that donations be spent somewhere where they'll be put to the best possible use instead of pissed away by people who either don't know what they're doing... or are corrupt.

THE WASHINGTON POST: The Red Cross had $500 million in Haitian relief money, but it built just 6 houses.

   
• Balls! First of all, congratulations to Serena Williams for her 20th Grand Slam Singles Victory. But it was her sister Venus who was part of the best tennis-related video I saw this week...

So frickin' adorable.

   
• Aw! And speaking of dogs who steal your heart, pull out the box of tissues...

I admit to being perplexed at the ending... until the real ending appeared. If only all advertising were this moving... and effective.

   
• Fletch! WHY, LORD? WHY WAS THERE NO "FLETCH 3?" I loved both Fletch films so hard. I purchased them the minute iTunes Store had them in HD. Of course I have them both on DVD (and Fletch on Blu-Ray... I don't think they ever released Fletch Lives on Blu-Ray).

Fletch Movie Poster

The first Fletch was probably a better film with a more interesting, complex story... but there were so many amazing funny moments in Fletch Lives (including everything by Cleavon Little!) that I ended up liking it equally.

Fletch Movie Poster

Fletch Lives earned $40 million in box office on an $8 million budget. That's down from the $60 million box office and the same budget for Fletch, but it's still a respectable haul. Especially when you consider that millions more dollars were raked in from home video. So why in the hell was there no Fletch 3?!? I dunno. Maybe Chevy didn't want to make another one? I remember that Kevin Smith was supposed to be filming Fletch Won with Jason Lee a while back (awesome casting), but apparently nothing came of it. With Hollywood remaking everything in existence, I wonder why Fletch isn't making the grade? It's too funny to be stuck in development hell like this.

   
• Africa! Misconceptions about Africa here in the USA continue to baffle me. Mostly because people keep referring to "Africa" as a "country" instead of a "continent," but there's so much more...

If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, visit Africa and leave your stereotypes and misconceptions behind.

If you are not so lucky as to visit Africa, for heaven's sake... educate yourself!

   
• Fields! Many congratulations to Maryam Mirzakhani for her historic win of the Fields Medal... one of the most prestigious honors that mathematicians can have bestowed upon them. She's the first woman to do so, and will hopefully break down a few more barriers for women in mathematics. Mirzakhani credits her brother for getting her interested in science. Unfortunately, many girls don't have such inspiration, and studies have shown over and over again that girls are actively discouraged from pursuing math and science when it comes to their education and career planning. This needs to change.

   
Annnnnnnd... DONE! See you next week!

   

Christopher Lee

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Dave!I was sad to learn that Christopher Lee had died. He's had some great roles, and has elevated a number of films with his talents... including playing Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus in the shitty Star Wars prequels (seriously one of the few good things to come out of the pre-trilogy trilogy... who else could make a character called "Count Dooku be this cool?)...

Christopher Lee as Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus

Christopher Lee as Saruman

He's had many, many other roles, of course. He actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, he's played so many parts.

Which brings me to something I've known for a while.

Fuck that Dos Equis guy, Christopher Lee is truly The Most Interesting Man in the World.

If you don't believe me, first of all he has two LEGO minifigs modeled after him...

Christopher Lee as LEGO

   
And then, as if that weren't enough, there's something amazing you should read.

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Bigger

Posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Dave!And so the hype machine is starting to ramp up for Ant-Man.

Nice to know that Marvel Studios isn't losing their touch...


"I think our first move should be calling The Avengers" — Ha!

Nice to know the film will be buying into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's only fitting considering that in the comic books Ant-Man was a founding member...

Ant-Man Movie Poster

Ant-Man Movie Poster

Ant-Man Movie Poster

Now I'm more excited for this movie than I thought I would be.

   

Spy

Posted on Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Dave!Today I went to see Spy starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, and Jude Law. Since McCarthy films can be a bit hit-or-miss (Identity Thief and Tammy were pretty awful... whereas Paul Feig's Bridesmaids and The Heat were pretty great), I was planning on waiting until it hit video, but the jaw-dropping 95% score at Rotten Tomatoes and another outing with writer/director Paul Feig convinced me it might be theater-worthy.

And boy was it. As much as I liked The Heat, I'm thinking this is her best film yet.

Spy Movie Poster

Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is CIA ops assistant who sits at a desk all day providing support for super-agent Bradley Fine (Law) in the field. But when a suitcase-sized nuclear weapon falls into the hands of Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) the daughter of one of the world's most dangerous criminals, Cooper gets to put her CIA training to the test in the real world. Along the way she's "helped" by rogue agent Rick Ford (Statham)... and her boss Director Crocker (Alison Janey) and fellow CIA assistant Nancy (Miranda Hart).

Hilarity ensues...

Except this is not just a comedy movie with espionage elements slapped on top... it's actually a really good spy movie that happens to be funny. And I think that's why I liked it so much. Melissa McCarthy isn't playing some bumbling idiot who does stupid crap for comedic effect, she's playing a highly capable agent that gets herself into situations that are funny. And, in a surprising twist, McCarthy's weight isn't written into the film as a comedic prop either. No idiotic bullshit like her not being able to fit through a door... or her breaking a chair when she sits on it... the tired old stereotypes are entirely unneeded here and joyously omitted. McCarthy's action scenes show her as a brutally effective spy in every way. As if that weren't enough, they let McCarthy be beautiful! She's a very pretty woman and, though she does go through some funny disguises, she also gets to be glamorous and sexy, which is almost unheard of for a woman her size in Hollywood movies. So thank you Paul Feig for making a film that's not only highly entertaining... but also showing the world that being heavy doesn't have to mean frumpy when it comes to the cinema.

So... all-in-all, a terrific summer movie. I'm really hoping it gets a sequel, because it would be cool to see Susan Cooper again. And since we wouldn't have to have the meek & mild character intro again, we'd be getting the all-out spy action/comedy film she deserves.

And before I go... a promo site for the movie let's you create your own Spy-Dentity...

Spy-Dentity Dave!

Getting your own Spy-Dentity is just a click away...

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WIDOW!

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Dave!GAAAAAAHHHH!

FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, MARVEL... JUST GIVE BLACK WIDOW HER OWN MOVIE ALREADY!


Black Widow

   

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding in all kinds of awesome directions... but no real "spy thriller" has hit yet. This is categorically absurd given that Black Widow and Nick Fury are freakin' made for this kind of movie. Build up some kind of amazing Mission: Impossible scenario, drop them in the middle of it, then watch them go.

Tell me people wouldn't pay good money to see that.

   

RUBY!

Posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Dave!TAKE MY MONEY!

Funko is going to release a series of POP! figures from The Fifth Element. Needless to say, I am beside myself with happiness...

   

"She's... perfect."

Funko POP! Fifth Element Figures

   

"KORBEN DALLAS!!!"

Funko POP! Fifth Element Figures

   

"LEELOO DALLAS MULTIPASS!!!"

Funko POP! Fifth Element Figures

   

"The Diva Plavalaguna!"

Funko POP! Fifth Element Figures

   

"You're a monster, Zorg..."

Funko POP! Fifth Element Figures

   

"We need to find the leader, Mangalores won't fight without the leader."

Funko POP! Fifth Element Figures

   

Now... for the question of the day... WHERE IN THE HELL IS RUBY RHOD?!?

The Fifth Element Ruby Rhod!

The Fifth Element Ruby Rhod!

Ruby is easily one of the most memorable things about The Fifth Element, and it is criminal that he doesn't get a Funko POP! figure! It would have also been nice if Father Vito Cornelius would get one, but Ruby? Essential.

UPDATE: Apparently there IS going to be a Ruby Rhod POP!... they just must be having trouble with the sculpt, because a rendering has been posted (see an image in the comments).

   

Back 30

Posted on Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Dave! Thirty years ago today, one of my favorite movies of all time was released... Back to the Future!

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the film. Probably at least 30 times in the 30 years since release. It's just one of those movies you can watch over and over again and never tire of it. In celebration of this landmark anniversary, I'll be watching it again tonight...

Back To The Future!

Few films have had this kind of impact on me.

Seamlessly blending science fiction and time travel with a genuinely sweet romantic comedy, Back to the Future hits all the right notes, and is pretty much the perfect movie.

And then the sequels came along.

Back to the Future II very nearly eclipses the original film for me. I absolutely love the movie. The clever way they managed to go back into the original film continues to blow my mind to this day. Yes, it doesn't have the heart that made the original such a special film... but my mind can't separate them, so it's all the same to me. The "future" of The Future remains one of my favorite fictionalized takes on... errr... the future...

Back To The Future!

I wasn't quite so enamored with the third film since it lacked the deep connection to the original the second one had... but still enjoyed it a lot.

And then, just like that, The Future was over.

Except it wasn't.

Thanks to some brilliant minds at Universal Studios, the franchise lived on with Back to the Future: The Ride!

Back To The Future Ride

My favorite theme park attraction of all time, the ride fit flawlessly within the Back to the Future films and was so fantastically realized that it felt as though it were a part of the trilogy from the beginning rather than tacked on for a quick buck. Unfortunately, the ride eventually closed in 2007 when it was replaced with a ride based on The Simpsons. Fortunately, the footage was preserved and is up on YouTube...

Not the same experience you got from being jostled around in a motion-controlled 8-seater DeLorean, but better than nothing!

The end of the ride wasn't the end for Back to the Future though...

Most people don't seem to be aware that the Back to the Future trilogy didn't end with Part III.

TellTale Games released a series of five Back to the Future games back in 2010. Serving as a direct sequel to the original films, they pick up directly after BTTF III...

And here's the surprising part... the games are actually good. Very good. Especially the first three installments. You should check them out!

Even if you don't like video games, you can still enjoy the story that came out of them. There are several postings on YouTube that screen-capped the whole thing. Though, obviously, if you have plans to play the games, watching the following video with utterly ruin them for you...

I don't know if there are plans to make more video games, but the movies live on in all kinds of knick-knacks... puzzles... greeting cards... and the like. Oh... and lest we forget Back to the Future: The Slot Machine!

Back to the Future... THE SLOT MACHINE!

And next up for the future of The Future?

LEGO Dimensions!

We already got a LEGO Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine set, which is fantastic...

Back To The Future LEGO!

So naturally I am beyond thrilled at the prospect of finally getting a BTTF title out of the amazing LEGO video game franchise.

   
And what's the future of The Future past LEGO Dimensions?

I dunno. Robert Zemeckis refuses to allow a remake while he and co-writer Bob Gale still alive, thank heavens... but given that the original films are still much-loved even today, I wouldn't rule out more Back to the Future in the future. More LEGO? More video games? Comics? Animation? Who knows?

The future is whatever you make it.

So make it a good one.

   

Presidential

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Dave!Screw it.

I've got my candidate...


Captain America Suit

   
Might as well. It's not like anybody else that's running is worth a crap.

   

VS.

Posted on Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Dave!As a massively huge Batman fan, nobody wants Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice to be a great film more than I do.

Problem is, it's a continuation of the crap-fest that was Zach Snyder's Man of Steel... a movie I hate so much that just typing Man of Steel is enough for me to to start going into an apoplectic fit of rage. Snyder took a gigantic dump all over Superman, and DC Comics didn't seem to care... despite the fact that it took in "only" $668 million (against a budget of $225 million). That may seem like a lot, but it pales in comparison to Nolan's The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises (each earning in excess of 1 billion). And don't even start on The Avengers (1.5 billion). But whatever, it was a bad Superman movie because it wasn't Superman on the screen.

And now Zach Snyder is back at it with the afore-mentioned Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Which looks like utter shit...

Wait... was that... The Comedian?!?

From the trailer it looks like Snyder tried to make a present-day version of Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, but had no concept as to what made that book so great... Frank Miller stayed respectful to the source material.

Oh well. Luckily for everybody, Marvel continues to knock their super-hero films out of the park. Next up? Ant-Man! Which looks amazing, by the way...

What I wouldn't give to have Marvel take over DC's film franchises.

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Bullet Sunday 442

Posted on Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Dave!Time to get all cinematic with your fine self, because a special MOVIE edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Terminated! When James Cameron released a statement saying that Terminator: Genisys was a fantastic film, I remember being relieved that finally... finally we were getting a Terminator sequel that was a worthy follow-up to T1 and T2. The trailer certainly made it look like we were getting a good film...

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. This horrible mess of a movie actually had me fondly remembering Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (which I didn't much care for), and the epic McG directed disaster that was Terminator: Salvation (which I hated). First of all, nothing makes sense. The plot is complete shit and ruthlessly eviscerates any hope for future Terminator films. Arnold was at his absolute worst, which was surprising given his recent work in Maggie. Emilia Clarke, though a good actress, was woefully miscast as Sarah Connor. But the worst offense was casting Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, who was just awful... as in film-destroying, franchise-ending awful. I mean, I guess he kind of worked for that crappy Die Hard film, but here he is so lifeless... so horribly lacking in the charm needed to pull off this iconic role... that any other flaw in Genysis is rendered moot. Even the mind-bogglingly stupid storyline which involves Sarah Connor using a 1984 time machine(?) to go FORWARD in time to stop Skynet. Yes, FORWARD. The entire film is asinine, but the leap of logic needed to get over this idea is just too much to bear. Oh well. Maybe it's time that the Terminator films just die already. Because this one... like the two that preceded it, is seriously not worth your time. Possibly even on video. Holy crap what a disappointment.
DAVE RATING: ★☆☆☆☆

   
• Teddy! Seth McFarlane's follow-up to his shockingly rude and oh-so-good good Teddy Bear film, Ted (★★★★★) disappointed in the worst way. Partly because I was looking forward to a sequel so badly and any film would have had a hard time living up to the hype... but mostly because, in an effort to top himself, McFarlane shit the bed. First of all, Mila Kunis... arguably the true heart of Ted, has been jettisoned. I don't care if she was pregnant, they should have waited until she was available, because a big part of what made Ted work so damn well was Lori and her relationship with both Johnny and Ted. By having her vanish from the storyline, they were just setting up the movie to fail. And it mostly did, despite having some funny moments...

The biggest sin for Ted 2 is that it didn't have enough funny moments. There was an attempt to go ruder, cruder, and more outrageous, but it pretty much backfired. This made the film seem too long and too humorless compared to the original. And when a comedy that's hit-or-miss in the funny dept. feels like it mostly misses... well... let's just say I had hoped for much more.
DAVE RATING: ★★★☆☆

   
• Joy! I'm going to be completely honest... the concept for Pixar's Inside Out! didn't appeal to me at all, and I was seriously thinking that it was going to be a Cars 2 level disaster. The trailer did little to change my mind...

And then I saw it and it was kinda wonderful and a little magical and oh so beautiful and just about everything a Pixar film should be. Yes, it drags enough in places to lose a star, but overall a solid flick. And now I'm looking forward to seeing it on home video because I want to see it again. Can't ask for much more of an endorsement than that.
DAVE RATING: ★★★★☆

   
• Minions! And then there's Minions... a prequel of sort to Despicable Me. I fully admit to looking forward to this film, as the little yellow terrors are easily my favorite thing about both Despicable Me and it's lackluster sequel...

Problem is... it just doesn't work. Minions are cute when they're taken in small doses, but an entire film devoted to them turns out to be borderline annoying. Hopefully Despicable Me 3 will get back to what made the original movie such a success and allow me to love minions again, because this film didn't do it.
DAVE RATING: ★★☆☆☆

   
• Fury! Mad Max: Fury Road is dangerously close to being my favorite film of 2015 so far. It was brilliantly cast, amazingly written, and beautifully crafted. As if that weren't enough, it's got balls-out action that's wrapped around a George Romero love letter to Charlize Theron and feminism. Such a good film. And just when I think that it couldn't get any better, THIS comes along...

I am not a huge fan of black-and-white films that are black-and-white for art's sake... but this? Gorgeous. I would pay to see this in the theater in a heartbeat. Sadly, while it was once promised for home video release, now it looks as though the project is dead. Very sad about that. Still, even in glorious color, Mad Max: Fury Road is well worth your valuable time. Preferably seen in a theater on a big screen.
DAVE RATING: ★★★★★

   
Next up? Definitely Ant Man. And hopefully Trainwreck, which looks like it's entertaining enough for a theater visit...

Gotta love Amy Schumer.

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Strangelove

Posted on Monday, July 20th, 2015

Dave!Can't even attempt to sum up what a complete cluster-fuck my day was today.

If I were to try, it would probably go something like this...


   
I need a vacation.

   

THE ANT-MAN!

Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Dave!ZOMG! ANT-MAN WAS AWESOME!

Terrific movie. A Marvel Studios film in every sense of the word... albeit on a smaller scale. Which was part of what made it so much fun to watch...


Ant-Man UK Poster

   
And I do mean fun.

While it has serious moments, this is by far the lightest of the Marvel Studios Universe stable of films (and, yes, I'm including the wonderful Guardians of the Galaxy).

I admit that I was pretty shaken up when former helmer Edgar Wright left the project, but it turns out the movie was in good hands. Peyton Reed put together a super-hero heist flick that was firing on all cylinders and ended up better than it had a right to be.

Master burglar Scott Lang (a flawlessly cast Paul Rudd) gets out of prison only to find that life ain't easy for an ex-con. He can't hold a job and is having a tough time trying to stay involved in his daughter's life now that his ex-wife is engaged to be married. But everything changes when he meets legendary inventor Hank Pym, whose revolutionary shrinking technology is threatening to destroy the world if Scott can't harness the power of The Ant-Man.

The story was very good, albeit a bit formulaic in spots. Probably because super-hero origin tales all seem to blend together after a while. Luckily, they took advantage of the one thing that makes Ant-Man so unique... his diminutive size. Oh... and his ability to talk to ants. In both regards, the special effects were pretty darn impressive. Not an easy thing to accomplish when you've got a tiny, tiny man riding a flying ant.

Casting was excellent. In addition to Paul Rudd, we also get the legendary Michael Douglas in perfect form as Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as his daughter Hope, Corey Stoll playing bad-guy Darren Cross, and a scene-stealing Michael Peña as Scott Lang's partner in crime, Luis (holy cats do I hope he makes future appearances in Marvel films).

From a comic book geek standpoint, it's hard to be disappointed in Ant-Man. If forced to try, I'd have to say not getting an appearance by The Wasp was somewhat disappointing. Sure, this is Ant-Man's story, but Hope Van Dyne not getting a slice of the super-hero spotlight this time around seems unfair given that Marvel's movie slate is so full that another Ant-Man movie is probably far off. If we ever get a sequel at all. My guess is that she'll be suited up for the next two The Avengers flicks once "The Infinity War" is in full force... but The Wasp getting any major screen time in stories already overflowing with super-heroes seems unlikely.

Ultimately, Ant-Man is well worth your valuable time on the big screen. I really liked it and actually do hope we end up getting a sequel. RATING: A.

   

Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...

Ant-Man... A
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Amazing Spider-Man 2... B-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Thor: The Dark World... A
Watchmen... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B

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Bullet Sunday 448

Posted on Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Dave!Don't play with matches... because a smokey edition Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Horror! I was very sad to learn that famed "Horror Maestro," Wes Craven, passed away. While he was most famous for his Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream series of films, I'll forever think of him as the director of Vampire in Brooklyn. This "so bad it's good" movie was supposed to be a comedy-horror film, but came up a bit short in both departments. Even so, I've watched it a half-dozen times because my love of all things Eddie Murphy has no shame. Well, that... and ANGELA BASSETT...

Vampire in Brooklyn Poster

Rest in peace sir. Yours is a legacy that shall haunt the night for a very long time.

   
• Denali. At long last, North America's tallest mountain, Denali, has its name back. I'm sure President McKinley of Ohio was a great guy and everything, but it's categorically stupid that an entire mountain which he never visited and had nothing to do with him or his legacy could be renamed without permission from the native people living there. This goes for a lot of lands and landmarks around the world similarly appropriated, so it's kind of nice to see the right thing happen every once in a while. Despite objections, of course. As noted in Wikipedia: Ohio Congressman Mike Turner vowed to fight the change, commenting that "I’m certain [Obama] didn’t notify President McKinley’s descendants, who find this outrageous." Which, so far as statements go, is even more outrageous given that McKinley's two daughters died as children, thus leaving McKinley with no descendants to notify. Just another piece of shit lying politician trying to manipulate people with bullshit. What a fucking surprise.

   
• NEVER GIVE UP!. I cannot decide if this is good news or bad news.

   
• BETTY! This, on the other hand, is great news. Even if I'll have to watch the horrendously shitty show Bones to see it happen.

   
• Soap. Nurse Kathy is high again!

You're welcome!

   
• Hypocrisy. For the handful of county clerks saying "I'D RATHER DIE THAN ISSUE A MARRIAGE LICENSE FOR GAY COUPLES"... you're not the heroes you think you are. You regularly grant licenses for divorced couples, atheist couples, and a myriad of other couples who are getting married against "Biblical principal," so you are, in fact, just a bunch of pathetic hypocrites and certified assholes refusing to do the work your job requires. If marriage equality is SO offensive that you can't bring yourself to do what you're paid to do... then quit and find something that won't go against your hypocrisy.

Or just fuck off and kill yourself so you can be the martyr you profess to be. Except I think we all know that, in reality, it's more likely you're just being an attention-whore drama queen whose words are as hollow as your true convictions. Or whatever. I dunno. Feel free to prove me wrong.

Whichever. Totally up to you. Just so long as I don't have to see your "religious liberty" bullshit hypocrisy being applied to a government job that's supposed to be independent of your faith. Something you knew when you signed up.

   
And... I can't see to post any more bullets because the air has gotten too smokey.

   

Vision

Posted on Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Dave!Though I loathed the unnecessary complexity they came up with for the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of The Vision, I have to say that I loves me the LEGO Minifig adaptation.

Out of necessity, LEGO had to simplify him a bit, and the result is so much better. I like him quite a lot, even though his "mind stone" is blue instead of yellow...

The Vision LEGO MiniFig

At least I did until I saw a rendering of The Vision that is much closer to his original design (minus the "sun jewel" on his head)...

The Vision LEGO MiniFig by Concore
Image by Concore at DeviantArt.

Man, even the LEGO version is vastly superior when they stick to what works!

Why Why Why Why did Marvel and Joss Whedon mess with the sublime perfection of the source material?

Oh well. Maybe The Vision will get an upgrade in Captain America: Civil War... because, damn... that ratty patchwork cape looks like something that belongs on Ragman, not The Vision...

The Vision LEGO MiniFig

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Real

Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Dave!Yesterday as I was waiting at the airport to fly home from Denver, I was trying to decide which movie I wanted on my iPad. I had a number of new films waiting on iTunes, but was so tired I decided to download a comfort movie I've seen a hundred times so I wouldn't feel bad if I fell asleep.

Real Genius, if you're curious.

The movie never gets old...

The Vision LEGO MiniFig

Where are films this funny, smart, and witty now-a-days?

I was wondering the same thing last week when Ruthless People was on.

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Panther

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Dave!The explosion of diversity in comic books lately has been amazing, but it's only been half-hearted. While there have been CHARACTERS coming along that are non-White, non-straight, non-Christian... the writers and artists BEHIND the characters haven't necessarily followed suit. But that's starting to change, and it's a great time for comic book fans because of it. By embracing diversity behind the scenes, there's going to be an even better mix of stories to read instead of the same old take over and over again.

DC Comics' Batman is my favorite comic book character. His equivalent on the Marvel side is Black Panther, also a favorite. In some ways, Black Panther is even MORE interesting than Bruce Wayne, as T'Challa is the ruler of the entire country of Wakanda, one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations on earth, and the sole producer of the rare metal vibranium...

Marvel Comics Black Panther!

And now Black Panther is going to be written by Ta-Nehisi Coates! I cannot wait to see where he takes the character, and am hopeful that it will be something new, different, authentic, and exciting!

All this and a movie too. A good time to be a Black Panther fan!

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Brave

Posted on Friday, September 25th, 2015

Dave!Worth your valuable time...


   

   

   

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Bullet Sunday 453

Posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Dave!The weekend may be ending, but the fun is just beginning because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Bond? Oh Lord. Worst. Bond. Theme. Ever. Seriously... who saddles James Bond with this whiny shit? I cannot believe that the same director who used Adele's amazingly powerful masterpiece Skyfall in his previous film would follow it up with this crap... AND I DON'T EVEN LIKE ADELE!

My expectations are running very high for Spectre, but listening to this mind-numbing drivel has me seriously questioning why. Hell, if Mendes wanted a song called Writing's On The Wall for his movie, I'm sure OK Go would have been happy to re-work their vastly superior song...

Ugh. Just ugh.

   
• JELL-O! Leave it to The Slo-Mo Guys to crank out yet another entertaining video...

Everything really IS better in slo-mo!

   
• Restless. Absolutely gutted that Catherine Coulson, "The Log Lady," has passed away just as they were finally getting around to filming new Twin Peaks...

Log Lady

She has one of my favorite character introductions of all time...

You will be so very missed in the upcoming Twin Peaks revival. Rest in peace, ma'am, the owls are quiet at last.

   
• Water! Liquid love on Mars? Thompson Twins called it...

But can you drink it?

   
• Derp! Pretty much...

It burrrrrrns.

   
• Family! This photo of a father making sure his daughter's step-father was a part of her wedding was the best thing I saw all week...

Fathers
© 2015 Delia D Blackburn Photography, and thanks for sharing such a fantastic moment.

The story here is just great, and proves that people don't have to be horrible to each other all the time. If you want to see an interview with the fathers in question, here's your link.

   
Until next week... buh bye.

   

Awakens

Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2015

Dave!And so the new trailer for Star Wars VII, The Force Awakens has dropped. Is there really anything else that matters today? Probably not.

Meh, I think I'll give it a shot come December...


   
This movie is going to make a gazillion dollars.

   

BTTF Day!

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Dave!Pepsi Perfect! Pepsi!

It's October 21st! AKA "Back to the Future Day." The day that Doc, Marty, and Jennifer traveled 30 years to the future and the year 2015! Which means that the entirety of the Back to the Future trilogy will very quickly take place in the past...

Back to the Future!

   
My plan was to blow off work and stay home so I could watch the entire trilogy from start to finish.

But, alas, responsibilities and all that.

And no Pepsi Perfect for you.

   

Making Of…

Posted on Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Dave!I think that I've mentioned a couple times now how much I love "making of" and "art of" books for movies I enjoy. There's something about getting a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process and all the hard work involved that makes me love great movies even more.

My obsession started when I was 11 years old. I saw Star Wars and was desperate to find out everything I could about the movie. In the days before the internet, this meant scouring the magazine stands. Fortunately, Star Wars was such a huge phenomena that there was no shortage of magazine articles. Unfortunately, most of them were devoted to fluff pieces and corny interviews with the stars. Nothing had much depth or new information.

Until I discovered Starlog magazine, issue no. 7...

Starlog No. 7

This amazing resource for science fiction fans provided a glimpse into movies that was unlike anything else. Not only did they talk about the films I loved... they featured articles that discussed how they were made...

Starlog No. 7
You too can download issues of Starlog from the Internet Archive!

And I was hooked.

Starlog eventually led to a love affair with Cinefex in 1980, which was nothing but lush, in-depth, behind the scenes information! The magazine dissected movie special effects to an unprecedented level, and I was in cinephile heaven...

Cinefex No. 1

Eventually the "making of" books came along. Most of the time they were a step backwards from Cinefex, but I still bought them. Reluctantly.

All that changed in 2007 when The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film was released...

Making of Star Wars Book

This absolute masterpiece of film documentation reignited my love of "behind the scenes" books and has been leading me on the road to bankruptcy ever since. Not just with new releases, but with past releases as well. Like The Story of The Fifth Element, a terrific book from 1997...

LEELOO DALLAS MULTIPASS!

   
Currently, I'm obsessed with all the "art of" books for Disney/Pixar feature films... and, of course, all the Marvel movie books, which have been fantastic...

The Art of Guardians of the Galaxy

   
If you're a fan of these books like me, there are two new releases you should be aware of...

Ultimate Visual Guide Back to the Future and Ghostbusters

"Ultimate Visual History" books for Back to the Future and Ghostbusters!

Both volumes are very nicely made and have loads of great info. Spot varnish on the photos is featured throughout (something I love in a book!) and they tried to make them a bit more fun and accessible by including "souvenirs" from the movies that they stick to pages here and there.

In the Back to the Future book you get such things as the "Save the Clock Tower" flyer that Jennifer writes her phone number on (but it's white instead of blue)... the letter Marty writes to Doc to warn him about getting shot... the receipt from "Blast from the Past" for Grays Sports Almanac (but it's paper instead of clear plastic).

The Ghostbusters book doesn't have "souvenirs" so much as "production inserts" that feature artwork, storyboards, and an animation cell. Overall I wish they had not included the extra pieces, because they're just going to damage the pages they've been adhered to. You can easily remove them (the "glue" they use is that removable "booger snot" stuff) but then they're going to get lost. This kind of gimmicky crap never works as well as publishers think it does.

Still, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters are two of my favorite movies of all time, so I'm happy to have these editions. They claim to feature never-before-seen images and exclusive interviews, so that alone will make the books essential buys for the completist.

Hopefully publisher Insight Editions will release other books in this series. I'm still waiting for a making of Spaceballs book.

   

Zoo2

Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Dave!And so the first trailer for Zoolander 2 has dropped.

I am more excited for this film than I have any right to be...

Mugatu is one of my favorite movie villains in the history of cinema. SO glad they brought him back for the sequel.

   
That trailer is so hot right now.

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Bullet Sunday 454

Posted on Monday, December 21st, 2015

Dave!Thanks to Home Automation Week, Bullet Sunday is on Monday and starts... now...

   
• The 1975! Definitely a highlight of my week... if not a highlight of my entire year... was flying to San Francisco so I could see The 1975 in concert with Jester. This has quickly become one of my very favorite bands, and their live show did not disappoint. Not only did they play tracks from their flawless debut album, there was plenty of amazing new stuff off their forthcoming one. Like my favorite song of the night, Change of Heart...

I was very surprised by how fantastic their stage set was. It's dead simple... consisting of a large video screen and four video columns... but it's what they DO with it that made the show so spectacular. If you have a chance to see them in concert (which might be tough... they're selling out everywhere) by all means give them a shot.

   
• Elephant Walk! When I was on vacation in Africa last year, my first stop on safari was at Ruckomechi camp in Zimbabwe. It's a beautiful reserve in a region known as "Mana Pools" and is billed as "The Elephant's Favourite Camp" because elephants are roaming around everywhere. They were always around, and you are constantly running across them throughout your time at camp... I even found an elephant in my shower once. For the most part, if you leave the elephants alone, they leave you alone. Just don't approach them. And absolutely do NOT get near a baby elephant unless you want a momma elephant getting annoyed with you. I loved having the elephants around, and never once had any problems with them. Which is why I was surprised to see this viral video going around of an elephant attack that was most definitely shot at Ruckomechi camp. I ate at that very table...

While this incident is alarming, it also has to be exceedingly rare, because thousands of guests (including me) have been through Ruckomechi Camp without incident. Hopefully this won't dissuade people from visiting, because it is easily one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.

   
• Star Wars! I have no intention of seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens while the hype is still running high. While I love Star Wars, that's greatly overshadowed by my hatred of people at the movies now-a-days. Used to be you only had to worry about people talking during the film. Now you've got mobile phones, which has made things even worse. I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers for The Force Awakens, but am still getting excited by the build-up to the movie. And this video by Jimmy Fallon with The Roots and stars of Star Wars is pretty awesome...

   
• Feeding! Probably one of the funniest things I've seen all year...

Ghost Mom

   
• Kitten! And now, before I go, the most heartwarming thing I've seen all week...

Amazing. I love happy endings like this. Best of luck, Lazarus!

   
Enjoy the rest of your Monday, everybody!

   

Bullet Sunday 455

Posted on Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Dave!Time to put the holidays behind you, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• COMICS! Ordinarily, today would be filled with my favorite comic books of 2015. But I've drastically reduced the amount of comics I'm reading because I'm just not finding the compelling reads I've found in previous years. The biggest disappointment being that we didn't get more installments of Jupiter's Legacy, whose first volume ended in a massive cliffhanger back in January. I dunno. Maybe I'll find my comic book renaissance in 2016, but I'm just not feeling it this year.

   
• GAH! As if I weren't already excited enough for the upcoming Doctor Strange film...

Doctor Strange on Entertainment Weekly

Less than a year away!

   
• FOOD! Food costs are going through the roof. Even a meager bag of groceries will cost $25 or more. My average trip to the store is running around $75. With this kind of cash involved, you can bet I'm trying to get the most for my money. Which is why I am getting sick and tired of having to throw food in the garbage because the quality is in the shitter. Latest example? I bought a box of Eggo Waffles only to find that once again they're covered in crystal frost. Even when you scrape as much as you can off, they still end up wet in spots. Gross. And a total waste of money. I can only guess that they are partially thawing at some point, then getting re-frozen. But it's not me. I'm seven minutes from the grocery store. From now on, I'm going to start seeing if I can take the shit back for a refund. If not, I'm done shopping there. Or done with the product.

   
• WINTERY! The weather has been pretty shitty this past week, but it made for a beautiful couple days this past week once the sun came back out...

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Not bad, Mother Nature, not bad at all.

   
• HOLIDAYS. It's not been a very good holiday season for me. The days from from Thanksgiving right through Christmas has been filled with sadness, loss, and more challenges than I would wish on anyone. With less than a week left in 2015, I'm ready to move on. So... let's wrap up the year with entries looking back at my favorite movies, television shows, and music... followed by a recap of the year here at Blogography, then get on with a fresh start in 2016.

   
And... the bullets have landed.

   

Video15

Posted on Monday, December 28th, 2015

Dave!And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of movies that came out this year.

Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of movies I saw that came out this year." As always, there's a bunch of movies I never saw that would have probably ended up on my list (we'll get to that later). And here we go...

   
THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw.

Best Movies 2015 Part 1

#1 Mad Max: Fury Road
I don't know what I could possibly add to the praise that's been heaped on this film from just about everybody. It was pure entertainment from start to finish, impeccably cast, beautifully shot... and took me completely by surprise given that I was never impressed by the original films. And then there's Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa... INTERESTING ASIDE: This is the first time a Marvel movie hasn't topped my list since I started making the list.

#2 Ant-Man
When Edgar Wright left this movie, I thought for sure that Marvel's run of amazing super-hero films was over. Instead of letting Wright make something interesting and shake things up a bit, Marvel was going to go the safe and stale route. What a bummer. Except it all somehow ended up working out. Mostly due to the impeccable casting of Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas... and a story that put a lot of fun into the genre. The result was a terrific caper film that hit all the right notes for me.

#3 Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Groundbreaking? Probably not. Entertaining? Absolutely. And that was pretty much the long and short of it, wasn't it? After a crappy third act with Return of the Jedi and a trio of prequels so horrendous that I lost all faith in the franchise, JJ Abrams finally gave us Star Wars back. As a massive, massive fan of things a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, that's all I could ask for.

#4 Avengers: Age of Ultron
I know. I know. The story was weak, fragmented, and featured a villain that wasn't the least bit scary or threatening... but it had super-hero action scenes that were mind-blowingly on-point, and proved more than entertaining (even on multiple viewings). The trick is to let go of all the things this movie could have been and just appreciate it for what it is.

#5 Spy
Melissa McCartney is hit and miss for me. I loved her in The Heat and St. Vincent, didn't care for her at all in Tammy and Identity Theif. Then along comes Spy which is her best effort yet. Rather than slapping spy thriller elements onto a comedy, Paul Feig started with a good spy thriller then made it funny. It's a difference you can bank on, and features flawless supporting cast of Jude Law, Jason Statham, and Rose Byrne. My biggest surprise of the year.

#6 Song of the Sea
As a massive fan of animation, I was fully expecting the latest Studio Ghibli release, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, would be making this list. But I never got to see it. I did, however, see another animated film that was genius... Song of the Sea. Stylistically charming and wholly magical, this came out of nowhere to take my breath away

Best Movies 2015 Part 2

#7 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
I don't know why I was surprised the latest M:I made my list... they've been increasingly entertaining films with quality directors behind the camera. This time it's Christopher McQuarrie, and he hit it out of the park. A strong story, a good villain, and an entertaining mission... just what the doctor ordered.

#8 Selma
You only think you know the story behind Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march from Selma, a critical point in the civil rights movement. At least I thought I did. Then I saw Selma and realized that history had a few surprises in store for me. This is an important film, beautifully realized.

#9 The Martian
Having read the book, I was surprised when I learned there was a movie being made of The Martian. The story is a little technical in nature, and I didn't see it translating to the screen in a compelling way. But it turns out if you shift focus to the actual action in the book, it makes for a really good movie. Surprisingly, they didn't shy away from the technical bits that made the book so good, AND found a way to keep it from bogging down the film. Somebody deserves a screenplay Oscar.

#10 It Follows
I don't want to say anything about this movie that could give something away. Suffice to say that it's a stylish horror flick that lives up to... perhaps even surpasses... the hype. If you are even a little bit of a fan of the horror genre, here's you're film.

#11 Spectre
I honestly expected that this James Bond outing would rank much higher on my list. But while it was a good and entertaining film, it wasn't a great one. And yet, if nothing else, it is beautiful to look at, just like Skyfall before it. I just wish that A) Christoph Waltz was better utilized as the villain and, B) the story actually ended up in a place that was worth the journey. Still, new James Bond.

#12 The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
I bought this on sale from the iTunes Store so I had something to watch on a business trip. I knew practically nothing about it except it was cheap entertainment and didn't have entirely bad reviews. Turns out it was actually a darn good Cold War thriller that was worth my valuable time. It was nice to see Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in a film which didn't totally suck (=cough= Man of Steel =cough= The Lone Ranger =cough=). Really hoping for a sequel.

   
HONORABLE MENTIONS...

Shaun the Sheep
Aardman does it again. To the surprise of nobody. Hilarious movie version of the funny television series. Wish I would have seen it in a theater.

Inside Out
Pixar does it again. Beautifully-animated feature film with flawless voice talent and a unique concept.

   
DIDN'T SEE, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...

The Hateful Eight
Quentin. Tarantino.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Studio. Ghibli.

Brooklyn
All it took was one viewing of the commercial and I really wanted to see this film. Didn't hurt that the reviews were stellar. I'm not one for period romance films, but this looks like something really special.

Mr. Holmes
I actually purchased this the day it was available on the iTunes Music Store, but haven't gotten around to watching it for some reason. Ian McKellen playing an elderly Sherlock Holmes that tries to solve his last case before dying? Yes please.

Creed
I'm just going to come out and say it... I was never a fan of the Rocky films. Probably because I'm not a fan of boxing. But Creed looks to be something a bit more.

Amy
I was always a big fan of Amy Winehouse's music, but not her antics. But apparently they are somethign worth watching, because everybody is raving about this film.

Straight Outta Compton
I'm a fan of the album. I expect I'd be a fan of the film telling the story of the album.

   
THE WORST...

Terminator Genisys
I didn't hold out much hope for yet another bad Terminator sequel... but then James Cameron chimed in with how great Genysis was, and I was intrigued. Not enough to go see it in the theater, of course, but enough to buy it from the iTunes Store. I was not impressed. This reboot/reimagining had a few good special effect sequences and it was good to see Arnold again... but everything else was kinda crap. Jai Courtney was an awful Kyle Reese, but that was eclipsed by the mind-bogglingly stupid storyline which involves Sarah Connor using a 1984 time machine(?) to go FORWARD in time to stop Skynet. Yes, FORWARD. Please. For the love of God... just stop with the Terminator movies.

Minions
I thought my favorite part of the Despicable Me movies would make for a fun ride on their own. Apparently not. Too. Much. Minions.

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