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Bullet Sunday 456

Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2016

Dave!A new year, 52 new opportunities for bullets, because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...

   
• STRANGE! As a huge, huge, massively huge devotee of the Marvel Studios films, I'm ecstatic that The Powers The Be are finally getting around to exploring the mystical, magical side of the Marvel Universe. I've long been a fan of Doctor Strange, and everything we've been teased with shows that they're doing it right. Starting with the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch...

Doctor Strange Movie

Will be very interested to see how they integrate magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That's going to be a delicate line to walk.

   
• ARETHA! Watching Carole King's reaction is almost as entertaining as watching Aretha Franklin flawlessly belt out her song at age 73. Almost.

Talent like that don't come along every day.

   
• WEESA GONNA DIIIIE! I loathe the Star Wars prequels with the burning hatred of a thousand suns. And then there's this...

Not that it would make me hate Jar Jar Binks any less, but it would certainly make me feel better about his presence in those shitty films.

   
• Grapes! "I sold Star Wars to white slavers?" Really? Sour grapes are sour. Geroge Lucas is just pissed that people loathe his shitty prequel movies with a passion reserved for explosive diarrhea while JJ Abrams unleashed the Star Wars film everybody wanted. The Force Awakens is on target to becoming the most successful movie in the history of the universe, and that's gotta hurt. Though I'm sure the billions of dollars Lucas got for selling off Lucasfilm to the "White Slavers" at Disney is some small consolation. Time to go count your money and shut the fuck up, George.

   
• ZONE! I'm the mayor of The Friend Zone...

It's funny because it's true.

   
Thanks, internet, I needed that.

   

Things I Bought Week: Part 5

Posted on Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Dave!Welcome to the fifth installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!

What did I buy this time? The Denon AVR-S910W Dolby 7.2 Channel 4K Receiver.


Denone AVR-S910W

I loathe having to buy new stereo equipment.

But receivers are handling a heck of a lot more than just audio now-a-days... receivers are the hub for both audio and video. So whenever video standards change, your equipment has to change with it. When we went from RCA jack video to composite video and optical sound? New receiver. When we got S-Video? New receiver. When we went to HDMI? New receiver. And now that HDMI has been improved with a new version 2 at 4K and shitty fucking copy protection has been unimproved with HDCP 2.2? New receiver.

I mean, sure, you can always use old inputs on an old receiver... I've been doing that for years and living with the lower quality picture... but it's time to upgrade.

I've been a huge fan of Pioneer equipment over the years, but they don't seem to be pushing the envelope now-a-days. My next favorite brand is Sony, but it was a more expensive option for what I wanted. So I spent days researching which receivers were getting good marks now-a-days and settled on Denon. The have a number of different models, but the AVR-S910W was on sale for a great price and did more than I needed, so here we are.

Aesthetically, the unit could easily be confused with dozens of other receivers since they're all looking the same now-a-days... though this line seems to be a bit more minimalistic, which I like. It has a fraction of the buttons of the old Pioneer it's replacing. Since most HDMI electronics can talk to each other via CEC (Consumer Electronic Control), you rarely need to press anything anyway. Turn on your AppleTV and CEC switches the receiver for you. It's mostly automatic and entirely awesome. What's crazy, however, is that the buttons you most need for non-HDMI devices (because they can't be automatically controlled) ARE MISSING. Want to switch the audio source to Bluetooth so you can play music off your iPhone? Hope you have the remote handy, because there's no button for that on the receiver itself.

And speaking of the remote... it's yet another button nightmare where you have to go hunting for what you want. Which sucks to be sure (why is it only Apple can minimize crap on remotes?) but it is fairly well organized, so there's that.

In addition to the afore-mentioned HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 compliance on all 8 of its HDMI ports (nice!), the 910 can also handle the forthcoming HDR picture spec and upscale signal from your old video equipment to full 4K. It's this last feature that sold me on the 910 over the cheaper 710, as I have old 8mm decks that will benefit from the upscaling technology. Since the 910 has an $80 instant rebate in effect, the price difference was $0, which is money well-spent.

For gamers out there worried about video processing lag, I couldn't detect any. But, then again, I'm playing everything on a Wii U now-a-days, which isn't quite so demanding compared to next-gen consoles by Sony and Microsoft. I'm assuming it won't be a problem, as the 910 has plenty of processing power to get the job done.

But enough about the video... what's going on with the audio?

Since I prefer to listen to music in headphones, the primary function of my new Denon receiver will be for home theater surround sound. Support for 7.1 surround is a given, but the unit can also handle new 3D spatial sound technology like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X... which seems a cool idea, but there's nothing really available in the consumer space encoded with those technologies yet and it requires adding more speakers than I want in my small living room. Still... nice for future-proofing the unit, I suppose. Surprisingly, you can run two subwoofers off this receiver, which I didn't even know was a thing. Since low frequencies are non-directional, I thought this was a one-and-done, but apparently two subwoofers provide a richer bass experience.

The sound itself seems very good. I'm no audiophile, but everything I've listened to is well-defined and separated out perfectly on my speaker system. Since my setup is small and fairly undemanding, the 910 is massive overkill in the power department, but it's nice to know I've got the ability to run some serious speakers at 185w per channel if I ever need to.

Denon has its own proprietary system for wireless speakers called "HEOS" which is meant to be direct competition with SONOS. If I could afford a wireless speaker system, I'd bypass HEOS because it has to share your WiFi network instead of creating a separate mesh network like SONOS does. This is a serious deal breaker, because most WiFi networks are close to saturated given all the crap we keep connected to the internet in these modern times. So while HEOS support is nice, I supposed, I have a feeling most people won't bother with it.

If you sacrifice 2 channels from a 7.1 system and can live with a 5.1 surround setup, you can repurpose those two channels as a different speaker "zone" which can be placed in another room and play from a completely different audio source. I honestly think this is kind of silly, but I guess there are some scenarios where it might be useful.

Like most receivers today, the Denon has built-in Bluetooth and WiFi for live streaming. It has support for Pandora, Spotify and Sirius XM on-deck, and can also interface with Apple Airplay-enabled devices like iPhones, iPads, and Macs. There's also support for internet radio, but the "stations" are kind of clubky to access, so I probably wouldn't. Thanks to Denon's apps for mobile devices, you can control the receiver with your iOS and Android devices. It seem capable, but also overly complex and cluttered. Still, it does easily allow you to control functions and tie into media servers as sources fairly easily, so worth the free-fitty-free pricetag.

When it comes to set-up, the AVR-S910W is dead-simple. You can use your iPhone to grab all the WiFi settings via Airplay which is super-sweet (no WiFi? Ethernet is also available). Then it's just a matter of following the on-screen instructions displayed on your TV to match your speaker setup. Thanks to the Audyssey Bronze calibration system being built-in, you can optimize your levels with ease. Just place the included microphone on a tripod in the middle of the room and the 910 will play tones to measure your speakers. The system them creates a custom profile based on room acoustics to give you optimal sound at every volume level. I know this reeks of silly gadgetry that usually ends up being useless... but can honestly say I noticed an immediate quality improvement after running through the Audyssey program. Pretty cool.

The on-screen user interface is serviceable enough, but kind of pathetic by today's standards. Mostly a bunch of text staring at you, it looks badly dated. Why Denon would invest money in all the latest bells and whistles only to choose to saddle it with a 1990's wrapper is more than a little inexplicable.

Something I've never seen before is Denon's "Eco Mode" which attempts to save electricity by restricting power to each channel based on the volume you've set. I notice no difference on my tiny speakers with Eco Mode on, so I've just left it there.

If there's a flaw to be found with the AVR-S910W, it's this... THERE IS NO SWITCHED POWER OUTLET ON THE BACK! Which means your subwoofer gets to be powered on all the time unless you want to get up, walk across the room, and manually cycle the power off when you aren't using it. Which begs the question... WHO FUCKING DOES THIS?!? Seriously, what idiotic excuse could they have for leaving off a switched outlet for your subwoofer from the feature list? Every fucking receiver I've ever owned has had a switched power outlet until now. It's senseless bullshit like this that takes great products and sabotages them utterly. This is such a moronic oversight that I am compelled to drop a grade from my score even though the unit is otherwise perfect. I just naturally assumed I'd have my outlet and was dumbfounded when I went to plug in my subwoofer and saw there wasn't one. Somebody at Denon needs to pull their head out of their ass on this one, because it makes the company look like complete idiots. Had I known about this inexcusable flaw, I don't know if I would have purchased it. But probably. There's just so many great things about it compared to the competition in this price range.

RATING: B • RELUCTANTLY DAVE APPROVEDCurrently selling for $479 at Amazon.

   

Bullet Sunday 457

Posted on Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Dave!Your cold, boring January day is about to get better, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• AUTOMANIMAL! If you're a child of the 80's like I am, you're a massive fan of Glen A. Larson's two epic masterpieces of cheesy television perfection... Automan and Manimal... NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD!

Automan and Manimal

Really cool that these shows are available again. Something tells me that they won't hold up... but that just makes them all the more perfect.

   
• CLOSED! Macy's has announced that they're closing 40 stores. Our local Macy's isn't on the "close" list... thankfully... but there's two Macy's on the list I'll be sad to have go. Downtown Spokane, which has been open since 1947 (94 people losing their jobs) and Downtown Pittsburgh, which has been open since 1946 (170 people losing their jobs). Shopped at both of them. The Spokane location had an amazing men's department... the Pittsburgh location had a great sports shop... and I will miss them both.

   
• COLBERT! While I am not a fan of the music that Jon Batiste and Stay Human blast through commercial breaks over at The Late Show, their opening credits song is probably my favorite late-night theme ever. Melodic, playful... beautiful, really... it fit the tone of the show perfectly. As if that wasn't awesome enough, the opening credit visuals by Fernando Livschitz are amazing. Lucky for us, they released a "director's cut" with tons more footage for our viewing pleasure...

Wonderful.

   
• JUSTICE? Well isn't that cute. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is overruling the Supreme Court. Um... yeah... me no think that works like you think it works. How small of a penis do you have to have in order to be waving your gavel around with this kind of delusion of grandeur? I mean, clearly he's compensating for SOMETHING. I dunno. Maybe he's scared to death that marriage equality will be too tempting and he's going to end up marrying the pool boy? The mind boggles.

   
• POOL! I have to say... this is looking very faithful to the comics...

In many ways, I'm glad that Deadpool is not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is stuck over at 20th Century Fox. That way he gets to be his insane self in a contained environment.

   
Annnnd... time to go play in the snow.

   

Bowie

Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2016

Dave!A very sad goodbye to one of my favorite musical artists...


Lil' Dave Bowie and Bowie Monkey

   

David Bowie's album Let's Dance was an amazing pop reinvention that I've played to death...


   

But my favorite Bowie is from his work on the film Labyrinth in which he managed to turn in incredible performances for both acting and music... including the song As The World Falls Down, which is about as good as it gets...

So many amazing works. You will be very much missed.

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Rickman

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Dave!And so one of my favorite actors has died. And so soon after one of my favorite musicians.

Alan Rickman is probably best known for his role of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies... or for his awesome performance as Hans Gruber in the original Die Hard... but there are three roles which I will forever associate with him that, in my mind, defined his genius...

Metatron from Dogma.
It only makes sense that Kevin Smith would cast Rickman and his golden voice to play The Voice of God in Dogma. As the angel Metatron, Rickman was at his snarky, sarcastic best, and most all of the reasons I like the film are because he's in it...

Alan Rickman in Dogma

   
Marvin (voice) from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Like anybody else could have given life to the terminally depressed robot, Marvin. The movie adaptation of one of my favorite books of all time wasn't all I was hoping for, but one thing is for sure... Rickman did not disappoint...

Alan Rickman in HGTTG

   
Alexander Dane as Dr. Lazarus from Galaxy Quest
By a wide, wide margin, my favorite Alan Rickman role is his brilliantly hilarious turn as classically-trained actor Alexander Dane who has to endure life inhabiting his most famous part... Dr. Lazarus from the cheesy television series Galaxy Quest. The level of disdain and self-loathing that Rickman has to generate for this character is beyond what any other actor could dream of achieving. And yet, he has to dig even deeper than that for one of the most touching scenes ever found in a science fiction or comedy film...

Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest

You can't watch Galaxy Quest and not become a huge Alan Rickman fan...

Truly, he will be missed.

And now I'm off to watch Galaxy Quest for the hundredth time.

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Anomalisa

Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2016

Dave!Huh.

I like to think that I'm pretty well informed as to what's coming down the animation pipeline, but this trailer for Anomalisa came out of nowhere.

And it looks amazing...

Something new to look forward to!

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Suicide

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Dave!Nobody wants DC to succeed with their movie efforts more than I do. I love superheroes. I really love superhero films. And it would be great if DC could churn out movies for their characters that are on-par with the amazing stuff that Marvel's been doing.

But their record has been utter shit. With the exception of the Nolan Bat-films, there's been too much terrible lately. Green Lantern was gut-wrenchingly awful. Man of Steel was one of the worst comic book films I've ever seen... and I'm including turds like Jonah Hex and Catwoman (also DC character films, by the way). For whatever reason, DC just can't seem to get their shit together. Even though they've got some fantastic characters to play with.

And then there's Suicide Squad. Which finally got a full trailer. And it looks like total shit...

Ugh.

And don't even get me started on what they've done to The Joker.

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BvS

Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Dave!I wish I could get excited for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie.

Batman is my favorite super-hero. I've always been a Superman fan. This should be the movie event of 2016.

But it's not.

After the heinous pile of shit that Man of Steel turned out to be, Zack Snyder has made me lose all confidence in his ability to bring super-heroes to the screen.

Even if the trailer is a bit intriguing...

But not necessarily in the right ways?

I dunno.

I'll probably go see it just because I feel I have to.

Hopefully I'll even enjoy it.

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Keanu

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Dave!Um. Yeah.

I can honestly say there's no movie I'm looking forward to more than this one now that this trailer has dropped in my lap...


   

Looks epic.

And is totally appealing to my current mindset because: KITTEN!

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Oskarz

Posted on Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Dave!Not a big fan of the Oscars.

The movies and people behind the movies that I feel most deserve to win so rarely do... if they even get nominated at all.

This year that was made vividly clear to me as the Worst. Fucking. Bond. Theme. Ever. won best song. This kind of whiny shit masquerading as "music" drives me insane. But use it as a James Bond theme? Sacrilege. It doesn't help that Sam Smith is sounds like crap live. If they wanted a song called "Writing's on the Wall," they should have called OK Go!

Yeah. I know. I already said this.

But, damn.

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War!

Posted on Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Dave!My brain.

My brain is melting.


   

Marvel continues to blow past my expectations with each new film.

Cannot wait for this.

   

Bullet Sunday 467

Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2016

Dave!Take time to make time, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Panther. Could not possibly be more excited for the Brian Stelfreeze illustrated version of Ta-Nehisi Coates' BLACK PANTHER comic! It looks like the book will pay homage to the origins of the character, but also give us something new and different to enjoy... hats off to Marvel for giving one of my all-time favorite super heroes a creative team that's knocking it out of the park...

T'Challa the Black Panther

An interview!

If you're interested in a behind-the-scenes look at how the book is shaping up, there's a Briam Stelfreeze Fan Page on Facebook. The book launches on April 6.

   
• Encryption. And, leave it to John Oliver to explain the current situation with Apple and encryption...

Forget everything else. Safeguarding our privacy is the threat of the future today.

   
• Dumbfuckery. And, speaking of John Oliver. Today being DAYLIGHT DUMBFUCKERY TIME seems like the perfect opportunity to repost this from last year...

And the idiocy continues.

   
• Prince. After Paramount dumped one of my most anticipated releases, The Little Prince, I was pretty bummed. Turned out Netflix has picked up the ball so badly dropped by Paramount...

Really looking forward to seeing this film. Whenever that might be.

   
• Humans. If I weren't such a foul-mouthed asshole, this is probably along the lines of how I'd respond to the idea of a Trump presidency. Alas...

   
And... no more bullet-time.

   

Bullet Sunday 469

Posted on Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Dave!Put down that leftover Easter Egg Salad Sandwich, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Peanuts! As a long-time Peanuts fan, I was not especially looking forward to seeing Schultz's strip and classic cartoons butchered for modern audiences, as is so often the case (see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jem, and and just about every other cartoon translation). Turns out I needn't have worried. The Peanuts Movie was pretty amazing...

Snoopy and Woodstock!

Very faithful to the source material and lots of hidden gems for Peanuts fans to find. And it was just beautiful. It LOOKED like "Peanuts" and had plenty of nods to the classic Schultz style that was the hallmark of both the strip and the animation. Loved it. Purchased it immediately on iTunes so I can watch it many times.

   
• Yes. Oh yes...

Heckling a good comic is about the stupidest thing you can do.

   
• Entitlement. An iPhone app developer announced a new app they had just released. I wish I hadn't read the comments, because they pretty much went like this...

        $2.99 WTF?!?

        Better be good for $2.99!

        Should be free.

The entitlement generation makes me want to put my head in the microwave. Assholes will spend $5 for a cup of fucking coffee without thinking twice... but doesn't believe an app developer deserves $3 for their efforts? How in the hell do you make a living from free?

   
• Miitomo. And so Nintendo released their long-awaited iPhone app called Miitomo. It's a senseless time-waster, like most of these things... but it does allow you to get creatively absurd with your wardrobe, so there's that...

Davetomo Miitomo!

Davetomo Miitomo!

Those fishnet tights are the gift that keep on giving. Davetomo FTW!

   
• Youth. I was entirely too adorable as a child...

Baby Dave Loves Watermelon!

You can tell I'm old because, unlike today's fruit, watermelon had seeds when I was a kid.

   
And... that's it for bullets this week. See you in seven days!

   

Awakens

Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Dave!

I'm on my fifth run-through of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I love the movie more with each viewing. Not because it's the greatest film I've seen... it definitely has its problems... but because after thirty-five years of waiting for a Star Wars film that didn't suck balls, here it is. Sure it's a complete re-tread of Star Wars, didn't break any new sci-fi ground whatsoever, and lacked the imagination and risk that a truly great Star Wars film should have... but maybe re-telling the Star Wars story over again in a new way is what we needed to reset everything? A re-starting point that reminds everyone why the Star Wars universe is so amazing?

I dunno.

So let's talk about the film shall we? But first... a warning...

Spoiler Zone!

Yeah, spoilers follow. So if you're one of the three people on earth who hasn't yet seen The Force Awakens, you might not want to proceed.

Okay?

Okay!

Since everybody has seen the film, it's pointless for me to recap the story, so let's skip that part.

The thing that strikes me most about Episode VII is the spaceship battles... in that so few of them take place in space. Much like The Empire Strikes Back melted my brain with Snow Speeders bringing a space battle down to "earth" (so to speak), The Force Awakens has all kinds of amazing shots which make the battles considerably more grounded. And they do it so beautifully. Shot after shot of stunning interactions between ship and environment provide a thrill much more personal than the cold emptiness of space. I mean, sure it makes no sense that Rey can fly the Millenium Falcon at expert level when she's never flown it before, but look how beautiful that shot is! And... MILLENNIUM FUCKING FALCON, BITCH...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Even when there's no battle, you can't help but be impressed. I could watch the Millennium Falcon fly across the water to Maz Kanata's palace over and over again without getting tired of it. It's just so gorgeous...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As are all the special effects, which are about as flawless as it gets.

Granted, Abrams has the benefit of better technology than Lucas did for the shit-fest that was Episodes I-III, but it was Abrams choice to do practical effects whenever possible that truly made Episode VII a vastly superior movie. The actors were able to inhabit their environments in a way that elevated their performances. And it shows. Instead of being stuck in a big green room trying to use half their brain to figure out what the hell is going on while the other half tries to make their character's lines convincing, Episode VII actors could focus on their performance. Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor are exceptionally gifted actors... but just look at the half-baked performances they turned in for Episodes I-III. The fault isn't really theirs, and I can't help but wonder how much better they would have been with a director who understands how acting works.

And then we get to the cast. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are superb in The Force Awakens. There's not a moment where they falter, and to see them light up the screen is what makes the movie so compelling. Hell, even fully-CGI characters like Maz feel authentic, and it's all thanks to unparalelled special effects coupled with the perfect casting of talented people like Lupita Nyong'o...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I hate to keep trouncing all over Lucas, but he anchored his entire pre-saga around horrendous performances from Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen. No amount of acting talent surrounding such horrors can make up for that. Abrams made sure the people anchoring his movie could deliver the goods. And boy did they. Having original cast members show up was just the icing on the cake. Especially Harrison Ford, who gave us the funniest scene in the film...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Of course, it wouldn't be a Star Wars film without lightsabers... and The Force Awakens gave us some memorable saber action. But in a good way. Not in the comical, farcical, over-the-top way that the prequels stunk up the screen. I still laugh my ass off at "The Battle of Genosis" (Episode II: Attack of the Clones) where we finally get the chance to see an entire batallion of Jedi in battle... only to have Lucas shit the bed by conveniently forgetting that the Jedi are capable of stunning acrobatics. No no... let's not have the battle be cool as fuck... let's just have the Jedi sleepily, randomly swing lightsabers around and occasionally "force push" a robot away so he falls down and goes boom...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

And that's about as exciting as the "battle" got. Holy shit was that movie lame.

But Force Awakens takes a different tact. Even if it doesn't make sense that Rey could take on Kylo Ren when she's probably never even touched a lightsaber before. I don't care how hurt Kylo Ren was... or how "in-tune" with The Force that Rey was, it was a bit ridiculous. I mean, Kylo Ren can stop a fucking laser blast in mid-air, but he can't kick the shit out of an untrained saber newbie because he has an owchie on his side? Please. But, ooh... look how beautiful it looks!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A big nod to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill here. His battle at The House of Blue Leaves between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu made for great pre-viz...

Kill Bill The House of Blue Leaves

Though putting a lightsaber fight in the snow is genius. I love how Kylo Ren and Ren are accidentally chopping trees in half and boiling snow when their sabers touch it...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

And, speaking of lightsabers, about that twist everybody saw coming...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Harrison Ford has been asking for Han Solo to be killed off for years. At least Abrams found a way to make his death mean something. The pity being that the heart and humor of Star Wars is gone. Forget Luke Skywalker, it's Han Solo that encapsulated the awesomeness of the franchise. At least all my best Star Wars memories are of Han Solo. Maybe Darth Vader. But he's already gone. I will miss Han Solo in future installments.

Ultimately, this next iteration of the Star Wars saga will live or die on the second act: Star Wars Episode VII: Echoes of the Dark Side or Star Wars Episode VII: Space Bear or Star Wars Episode VII: Return of the Return of The Jedi... or whatever. Will it be a retread of the best Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back? Or will they strike out in a more inventive direction?

Who knows.

But so long as there are spaceships and lightsabers and George Lucas is nowhere near it, I'll be there.

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Rogue

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Dave!And. Scene.

If you haven't been inundated by the teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, you haven't been paying attention. Or you're dead. Better get that looked at...

On Facebook I saw where there are people complaining that the lead character will be a woman for two Star Wars movies in a row. This is a little unbelievable to me, as there didn't seem to be complaints when the first six films had male-centric leads. I mean, sure there was Princess Leia (Star Wars: damsel in distress. Empire: love interest. Jedi: sex slave.) and Queen Amidala (Menace: damsel in distress. Clones: love interest. Revenge: lovestruck idiot baby-maker.) but does that really count? Not really. I say it's about damn time.

And the cool thing here is that we don't have long to wait. Rogue One is being released this December!

And the exciting this here is that we're going back into The Original Trilogy! Whether or not they actually exploit the awesomeness that could result from that remains to be seen (VADER, BITCHES!).

But I am hopeful.

And cautious.

The pain of betrayal from The Phantom Menace still hurts.

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Bullet Sunday 470

Posted on Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Dave!Taco Tuesday let you down? No worries, because it's now Sunday, and Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Peanuts! The Peanuts Movie was pretty amazing. Very faithful to the source material and lots of hidden gems for Peanuts fans to find. And it was just beautiful. It LOOKED like "Peanuts" and had plenty of nods to the classic Schultz style that was the hallmark of both the strip and the animation.

Guest Room Remodel Project

Loved the film. Kind of disheartening to hear that there's no plan for a sequel.

   
• Hunger. We're all in this together, people...

One person can always make a difference.

   
• SATAN! Lucifer renewed for a second season?!? But... but... but... One Million Moms boycotted the show! Because: Satan! How can it possibly survive?

Guest Room Remodel Project

Oh... that's right... people can just change the channel if they don't like a show. And, in this case, people decided a fictitious interpretation of Satan was something they wanted to watch. NOTE TO ONE MILLION DUMBASSES: THIS IS NOT A SHOW GLORIFYING SATAN! IT'S A FICTIONAL CHARACTER... NOT ACTUALLY SATAN!

   
• SATAN? Ann Coulter is saying that Donald Trump is the only one who can protect us from "Latin Rape Culture!" Really? WHO IS GOING TO PROTECT US FROM THE SYSTEMIC RAPE CULTURE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES? Oh... that's right... college campus rape is committed mostly by white men, so that's perfectly okay. Not at all scary. Not even worth talking about. And what the fuck is "Latin Rape Culture" anyway? Some new scare tactic designed to frighten women into voting for a misogynistic asshole who will make things even harder for them? I'm just dumbfounded that people are buying into this crap. Maybe I shouldn't be. Drumpf is on his way towards being a presidential candidate. Anything is possible.

   
• #RealMenLoveHearts. Amazing people can't like what they like and not be hassled for it in this day and age...

Guest Room Remodel Project

   
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

   

Bullet Sunday 471

Posted on Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Dave!Can't get no satisfaction? You've been looking in the wrong place, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• STRANGE! I love love love love Dr. Strange in the comics. Other than whitewashing The Ancient One from Tibetan to a white English woman (to appease the massive Chinese movie market, I'm guessing), this looks very promising indeed...

November can't get here quickly enough. But first? Captain America: Civil War, baby! This film is getting amazing pre-release reviews and I cannot wait to see it.

   
• Representative? Congratulations North Carolina! The homophobic asshole politicians you elected are fucking up your state real good. But you probably don't need all those billions in jobs and visitor cash... I'm sure North Carolina is sitting on piles of money to make up for what you're losing. Oh? You're not? MIGHT WANT TO REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU'RE IN THE VOTING BOOTH NEXT TIME!

Only hope now is a full-on repeal of this horrendous law, I guess...

THAT'S NOT A REPEAL, YOU ASSHOLE! Congratulations, North Carolina, you're getting exactly what you deserve for electing this homophobic, transphobic piece of shit. Might want to think about a recall.

   
• Whores! While looking around at the local antique mall, I spotted these Bible-toting dolls that made me laugh...

Whores!

Tres adorbs.

   
• Nacho Cheese My new favorite snack: over-cooked nachos. Why oh why didn't I discover that over-baking the cheese made nachos ten times more delicious?

Overbaked Nachos!

All those chips and cheese wasted.

   
• Funny Not Funny. I laughed over this for about ten minutes...

Whores!

No, I'm not proud of myself.

   
And... that's all the bullets we have or today. Move along. Nothing more to see here. Move along...

   

Bullet Sunday 472

Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Dave!Seriousness is overrated, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Anchor! Every dresser, shelf, and storage unit I have that's over two feet tall is anchored to the wall. I'm trying my best to insure that no visiting child... or resident kitty... or even an adult... is going to be hurt by a piece of furniture in my home. This is a very, very important read... especially if you have little ones in your home... furry or not. Make time to read it.

   
• Space-Muppets! Farscape movie confirmed! When it comes to episodic science-fiction television, you can't beat the original Star Trek. But Farscape came close. I loved the show for it's creativity and imagination from the very first episode, and remained a fan right up until the last show (and The Peacekeeper Wars mini-series that followed).

Farscape Cast!

I am such a fan of the show that I have autographed photos of the entire cast of Farscape (except for Rigel because he's a puppet) from when I attended the very first Farscape convention in Burbank. In order to attend the convention, I had to cut short a trip to Japan, which is why my autograph from the beautiful Farscape character Aeryn Sun says: "To David. Thanks for choosing us over Japan - Love, Claudia Black."

Yes, the show lost its way quite a bit in the last season, but it never lost its ability to entertain. I am hopeful that the movie will give us the very best the show has to offer and remind everybody why it has such a rabid fan-base in the first place.

   
• Spend. The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck is a fascinating read. I had a hard time getting past the fact that 47% of "Middle Class" Americans would have trouble coming up with $400 for an emergency. But then I think back to the medical expenses that were overwhelming me two years ago... and that was me. There were months I'd have trouble coming up with 40¢ for an emergency. Today? Yes, I could do it, but with my savings going towards a remodel and a chunk of my paycheck going towards mortgage and all that... it would not be a piece of cake by any means. Especially if it's a month I've visited Home Depot. As a follow-up, the lovely Bluegrass Food posted another powerful article: Parents are Bankrupting Themselves to Look Adequate.

   
• Save. Seems like a good time to re-post this timeless SNL gem...

Logic can be so logical sometimes.

   
• Redneckity. Nails it...

Trae Crowder is a comedian, but says he's speaking from the heart in these videos. I don't doubt it. His YouTube channel is essential viewing material.

   
And that's all she wrote for this week. Whomever "she" is. She's not me, or so I'm guessing.

   

3D

Posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Dave!Okay... my new Blu-Ray player can play 3D movies... and my TV can display 3D movies... but I've never bothered to watch a 3D movie because I don't like them much in the theater. They're dark. They're blurry. They're most-often not filmed in actual 3D so the separation sucks. All told, it's just a miserable experience. The sole exception being Avatar, which was something I could really plug my hair into because the 3D was so well done. And because it featured giant blue kitty people...

Giant Blue Kitty People!

Anyway... I bought the Blu-Ray 3D version of Avatar when it was on sale a while back, and I finally decided to dig out the 3D glasses this weekend and take a look. The 3D was absolutely spectacular... better even than the movie theater! Sure, it looked like a video game, but it was... different. So now I'm anxious to try more 3D films at home, but I don't want the 2D to 3D conversion crap that looks terrible. So I'm trying to track down films that were actually filmed in 3D with 3D cameras. And there just so happens to be a terrific website for that called Real 3D or Fake 3D!

Now it's just a matter of which movie to watch next. A lot of Pixar movies look promising. And I'm happy to see that Dredd was shot in actual 3D... so I guess that's a start.

And now for a quick look at my Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra-HD 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player...

Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra-HD 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player

I bought this player not for the 3D... there are plenty of cheaper options for that... I bought it for the HDR Ultra-HD picture to match up with my HDR-capable Ultra-HD television. To anybody familiar with this blog, the fact that I would buy into another shitty DRM-infested physical format may come as a surprise, but there's really no other way to get this kind of picture digitally, so I bit the bullet.

The UBD-K8500 player itself buys into the dopey "curve" aesthetic that has been plaguing Samsung as of late (I still don't understand the appeal of their curved TVs), which looks silly in your media center, but oh well. It's what the thing can do that I cared about, and there's actually two parts to that...

4K Picture.
With four times the resolution of 1080p, the new 4K format is a sight to behold... if you have a television that can display it! If you don't, this player is good for future-proofing and not much else. Otherwise? Well, it depends. First of all, you need a big TV. Second of all, you need to sit close enough to the television that you can actually appreciate the picture quality. Have too small a display or sit too far back, and you might as well stick with the much cheaper 1080p options out there. I have a 65-inch screen and sit approximately 9 feet away. This is the outer fringe of what's recommended to get any benefit out of the increased resolution but, when running a comparison between 1080p and 4K there is a definite difference you will notice. I sure did. It's not vastly huge since my television upscales the lower resolution quite nicely, but enough to make me want to purchase Movies That Matter in the Ultra-HD 4K format. To truly get the best bang for my buck, I move some furniture and sit 6 feet away from the screen. That's when the Ultra-HD really shines, and the extra money suddenly becomes worth the cost.

HDR.
If there were a "killer feature" to the UBD-K8500, it's the ability to send a High Dynamic Range picture to a compatible television. I have such a television, and can say with no hyperbole whatsoever that it's stunning. The expanded color gamut looks great when viewed alone... but it looks jaw-dropping stupendous when compared to a standard HD source. As I switched from 1080p to 4K HDR sources for The Martian and Kingsmen: The Secret Service it was like a hazy veil was being pulled from in front of my eyes, even though the image didn't look as bright. The color fidelity was just fantastic. Everything looks deep, rich, defined, and saturated... all without looking fake and bleeding all over the place. In a dark room on a high-quality display, I dare say that the image you get from the Samsung UBD-K8500 is better than any theater.

So... great picture quality. But what about the many, many, many pitfalls that plague Blu-Ray players of the past? Especially when it comes to speed? Blu-Ray players have historically been absurdly slow to respond... especially through the klutzy menu systems. Is the UBD-K8500 any different? Yes. And no. Yes, it's much faster than my previous 1st generation and 3rd generation Blu-Ray players, but it can still be infuriating when attempting to navigate through long menus or while attempting to jump around the disc. A lot of this undoubtedly has to do with the shitty DRM encoding (which punishes paying customers instead of the criminals seeking to steal content), but it's not like you can expect movie studios to give a shit.

The only real down-sides to my purchase were A] The price ($350!), B] The remote (once again Samsung shows that they have no clue what they're doing), and C] The lack of Ultra-HD HDR titles (no Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, alas). Other than that, I'd recommend the thing if you've got the television/set-up to take advantage of it.

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Bullet Sunday 473

Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Dave!Don't despair over your impending march to Monday, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• HASTURD! What happens when a complete piece of shit holds political power?

Apparently they get away with being child-raping garbage. God bless America.

   
• Jack! And so it looks like John Krasinski has been cast as Jack Ryan in a new Amazon series based on John Clancy's books. In all honesty, I think he may end up being the best Jack Ryan yet. Baldwin wasn't physical enough. Ford was too old. Affleck not cerebral enough. Pine was just (surprisingly) plain bad. They all lacked something essential to the character. Krasinski, on the other hand, is the whole package. If they get the story right, I think he'll knock it out of the park. And if he can get his wife to make a guest appearance, so much the better! The only thing that gives me pause is that Carlton Cuse and Graham Richard are developing the series. Given the way they took an amazing concept and flushed it down the toilet with Lost, my confidence in them delivering with Jack Ryan is very low. Fingers crossed though.

   
• English! If you're into linguistics, here's a video for you...

Of course, there are dialects within dialects on both sides of the pond, but this is a pretty great encapsulation of the differences.

   
• Shame. This is the America we're building...

PEOPLE. JUST. WANT. TO. FUCKING. PEE! As they've been doing in bathrooms for centuries! And yet, here we are... people being terrified by asshole politicians taking a non-problem and blowing it up so as to distract from what's really going on...

Again, the people most responsible for doing heinous shit in public bathrooms... ARE ASSHOLE POLITICIANS, ASSHOLE RELIGIOUS NUTS, AND ASSHOLE CRIMINALS... not transgender persons! And if you buy into the lies, guess what, you're the problem!

   
• Pop! Amazing how I'm still discovering excellent 80's pop music that I somehow missed in the actual 80's. This time? A Good Heart by Feargal Sharkey...

And, just to show that I'm not above missing out on current pop music, I recently heard Cake by the Ocean by DNCE, which is awesome...

And, yes, that's a Jonas Brother on the mic there.

   
Alrighty then... the time has come to say goodbye to another edition of Bullet Sunday. Until next week...

   

Cross-Section

Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Dave!It's Star Wars Day! May The Fourth Be With You!

Interestingly enough, Star Wars has been on my mind a lot lately because I'm finally getting around to looking at all the cool books I bought when The Force Awakens was unleashed. By far my favorite has been Star Wars: The Force Awakens... Incredible Cross-Sections.

I've long been a huge fan of cross-section illustrations. It all started when I bought a cross-section poster of the USS Enterprise when the movie franchise was started. It was glorious, and made the ship (thus the show) seem more real to me...

USS Enterprise Cross-Section Poster

It was around that time that I discovered the incredible books by Stephen Biesty. He did many amazing illustrations of both fantasy, history, and contemporary places and things. I spent hours looking through as many as I could find...

Stephen Biesty Cross-Section Illustration

Stephen Biesty Cross-Section Illustration

Biesty led me to a love of all things David Macaulay, who isn't so much a cross-section artist, but an illustrator who excels at explaining things. He even had his own TV show which supplemented documentary-style looks at cool stuff like the pyramids with his illustrations...

But I digress...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens... Incredible Cross-Sections is a book filled with exactly what you'd think it would be filled with... amazing illustrations of all things Star Wars cut away to show inside and how they work...

Star Wars Cross-Section

Star Wars Cross-Section

And yes, this is the infamous book that showed how Han Solo installed a kitchen for Princess Leia that had the internet up in arms a while back. Though, to be honest, I never saw this as sexist... I just saw it as Leia refusing to live like savages...

Star Wars Cross-Section

   
Anyway... even if you're not a massive cross-sections fan like myself, if you're a Star Wars fan, this book is still definitely worth a look...

Star Wars Cross-Section

You can get your own copy of Star Wars: The Force Awakens... Incredible Cross-Sections for pretty cheap... it's just $14 at Amazon.

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Civil War

Posted on Friday, May 13th, 2016

Dave!As a huge, huge, massively huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, you would think that I'd have seen Captain America: Civil War on opening day. And heaven only knows I wanted to so as to avoid spoilers that plague the internet... but work got in the way. Today I had to run an errand for work, and decided to see the film on the way back home.

And it. Was. Spectacular...

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

I'm putting my full comment in an extended entry so people who haven't seen it yet can do so... but, suffice to say, it's absolutely everything you want in a comic book movie. Go see it immediately.

For everybody else? Continue at your own risk...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

On Trek

Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Dave!It wasn't that I didn't like Star Trek Into Darkness... it's just that any movie which attempts to remake the best of the best Original Series films (namely: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) is doomed to fail. I spent most of the film remembering back to the original instead of focusing on what was in front of me.

Ultimately I enjoyed, Into Darkness, but left the theater thinking "Why in the hell couldn't they come up with their own story instead of recycling what's already been done?

Lucky for all of us, it looks like they're back on Trek...

I will be very interested in seeing how this shakes out.

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Bullet Sunday 477

Posted on Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Dave!Don't let the depressing lack of Saturday get you down, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Tarzan. As a massively huge fan of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, I'm pretty much done with the Tarzan movie adaptations (if that's what you can call them). The number of times I've seen The Lord of the Jungle reduced to a grunting ignoramus is legion, and has nothing to do with the actual character. Tarzan is a literal genius who speaks dozens of languages and, when he's out of the jungle, highly cultured as well. So you can imagine my eye-rolling reaction to the news that there's a new Tarzan movie coming out...

Except... apparently the movie starts out with Lord Greystoke (aka "Tarzan") in London's high society, his jungle adventuring days long behind him. Sooooooo... maybe? Heaven only knows that I'd love to finally see a half-way decent Tarzan on the silver screen. The special effects are sure up to the challenge. Alas... the heinous memories of the John Carter movie (Edgar Rice Burroughs' other famous creation) still linger...

   
• The Force. If you're a fan of Star Wars, then here's the site for you...

swanh

Amazing. Keeeeeeep scrolling...

   
• Uhhhhhhhhhh. ZOMFG! YOU CAN'T HAVE GUNS IN JAIL? WTF?! So much for "American freedom!"

Bundy

I cannot believe these stupid assholes. We have sterilized the entire Bundy clan after this idiocy so they can no longer breed, right?

   
• Taco! IT'S PEOPLE! THE TACOS AT TACO TIME ARE MADE WITH PEOPLE!

PEOPLE ARE OUR ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT!

Delicious people! Totally rethinking my stance on vegetarianism...

   
• Picard! Captain, let's beam down to Rigel for some whores and blow!

License Plate MAKEITSO!

Always good to be a starship captain!

   
And... on that note of ultimate Trekiness... I'm out of Bullets for this week.

   

Movies

Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Dave!As anybody who has read this blog for any length of time already knows... I love movies.

Love them.

I love all kinds of movies. I love everything from stupid stoner comedies to directorial masterworks. I love sci-fi. I love documentaries. I love animation. I love mysteries. I love historical dramas. I even love romance films from time to time. And while I don't like all the movies I see... I do like the majority of them. Film enriches our lives and expands our imagination, and I cannot fathom what my life would be like without the movies.

I also love people who love movies like I do.

I especially love people who can add depth and appreciation to the films we love so much.

One of these people is Lewis Bond from Channel Criswell.

I became aware of him last Fall when he did an analysis of Hayao Miyazaki films called The Essence of Humanity. Being a massively huge fan of Miyazaki's works, it could have been made just for me...

Lewis's admiration for all the things that go into a Miyazaki film were brilliantly on-point, and I instantly became a fan. The guy knows how to look at films. His entire YouTube channel is a love-letter to the movies, and his videos have become an important voice in my appreciation of them.

Then today I find out that Lewis is being sued...

This is absolutely horrifying. Copyright infringement? Really? I cannot for the life of me understand this. He uses clips from the films that he is analyzing or exploring... in the case of this lawsuit, the films of Stanley Kubrick... to support his thoughts. In no way has he ever been "malicious" with the material... at no point was he exploiting the material or damaging the legacy of Stanley Kubrick. If anything, his efforts are keeping his legacy alive by encouraging people to take a look at Mr. Kubrick's work.

I am sickened and saddened that somebody at Kubrick's estate is choosing to make money off of a Kubrick fan like Lewis in such a way. Especially considering that they went straight to lawsuit instead of contacting him directly to resolve the matter. This just shows exactly what kind of people they are.

People who don't love movies.

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Bullet Sunday 478

Posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Dave!Worried about missing out on a whole month of Dave's life? Well don't be, because an all new SPECIAL CATCH-UP EDITION of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• MY HEALTH. The bill for my first eye surgery arrived. Thank heavens my deductible is so huge... I was worried I wouldn't find anything to do with these piles of cash I've got laying around. The good news is that my eye seems to be doing okay now. The only remaining damage is a bump from where the anesthesia was injected into my eyelid. Hopefully it will disappear in time.

   
• MY DIET. I've inexplicably become a milk drinker again. I haven't had a glass in years, but recently had one with a slice of chocolate cake and fell in love with the stuff. I no longer have to worry about my milk expiring... which is cool because even though non-fat lasts forever, I was regularly having to throw it out.

Bad Monkey Lovs Milk

   
• MY DISCOVERY. Laughing Cow cheese has never been a favorite even though I love spreadable cheeses. But recently they came out with an Asiago-flavored version that's just fantastic. I eat the stuff piled on Ritz Crackers constantly...

Laughing Cow Creamy Asiago Cheese Spread

Laughing Cow Spicy Pepper Jack is worth a taste as well.

   
• MY SHOPPING. For much of my life, I've not been an antique fan. Why by old stuff when you can get brand new stuff that's cooler? My view has softened since renovating my guest room, so now I actually stop by antique shops from time to time. Which lead to my paying $28 for this cookie jar...

Cookey Cookie Jar

...and let me tell you why. 1) The bear looks like Ted! 2) Whomever made this didn't fire it properly, so it's sagging on one side and it looks like he's falling over drunk . 3) The lid is also misshapened, so it doesn't really fit the jar. 4) They misspelled "cookie" as "cookey" which is frickin' adorable. 5) It looks awesome next to my gelato machine! How many more reasons did I need? I was forced to buy it! Antiques FTW!

   
• MY SCHEDULE. My cats have turned me into a morning person. I now do my grocery shopping at 7am?...

Shopping Cart

Oh well. The nice thing is that the store is a ghost town that time of day.

   
• MY CATS. They're still adorable. Still wonderful. And I still love having them around. Such amazing animals...

Jake Sleeping Like Only Jake Can

Jenny Being Her Adorable Self

Don't know how I managed without them.

   
• MY DISAPPOINTMENT. I skipped seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in the theater but finally caught the "Ultimate Edition" on digital. My thoughts are below, but beware of SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War (yes, you read that right)...

The Horror That Is S v B

At the end of Captain America: Civil War where Bucky and Cap have beat down Iron Man and are walking away, Tony Stark says "That shield doesn't belong to you! My father made it!" and it's just crushing because of Robert Downey Jr.'s performance. You can feel that Tony is trying to stay proud in the face of defeat, but his heart is breaking on two levels, so there's a tremor in his voice. At that moment... when you are made to feel in the middle of a funny book film... you know that Marvel has completely figured it out. They put the humanity into their cinematic characters in a way that transcends the genre.

Which is why watching Batman v Superman was such a horrendous fucking ordeal. Zack Snyder thinks that taking everything dark and brooding is what adds character to the characters, but he's missing the target so badly as to be... comical. Heaping artificial drama on characters again and again and again just distracts from whatever humanity they might have. It buries it. He has zero sense of what makes a comic book movie reach past the funny books, and that's a huge problem for DC. Their movies are just dark, boring, artificial piles of shit that don't make you *feel* anything. It's the disaster-porn school of filmmaking and people are tired of it. They've seen it all before. Many, many times.

Between DC and Marvel, the one who has the most potential and the easiest road to completely slaying the genre is DC Comics. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are the most beloved and recognizable super-heroes in existence. Everything else pales by comparison. And yet by hiring a hack like Zack Snyder to helm their films... somebody who could give a fuck about the source material and changes things just because he can... somebody who doesn't want to bring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to the screen, but his "vision" of them... it doesn't matter. You go to a film called Superman v Batman expecting to see Superman and Batman... but they're not there. It's just Zack Snyder shit piled on something that vaguely resembles them.

I hated this movie even worse than Man of Steel, if that's even possible. Add another F- to my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard

   
• MY ENTERTAINMENT. Was thrilled beyond all reason that Mark Millar and Frank Quitely's Jupiter's Legacy: Volume 2 has finally, at long last, been started up...

Jupiter's Legacy 2 Cover

This is my favorite comic book series in a long, long time. Apparently they are already working up a movie... here's hoping they get somebody better than Zack Snyder to helm it.

   
And... that's all the catch-up bullets we have today.

   

Bullet Sunday 479

Posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Dave!Lose not your faith in Blogography, fair human! Because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Broked. As if it weren't painfully apparent, my blog wasn't as fixed as I had thought it was. I honestly don't know what to do about it short of a complete re-install, and I ain't got time for that. But anyway...

   
• Book. As a massive fan of the original cartoon, I anticipated hating The Jungle Book live-action remake. Well, I watched in on the plane ride home and loved it. Just incredible stuff. Where did they find the kid who played Mowgli? Amazing young actor. The fact that they got Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo is just icing on the cake...

The Jungle Book 2016

It's my understanding this was filmed in "real" 3D and is not a converted 2D movie. Looks like I have another 3D Blu-Ray to add to my shopping list.

   
• Umbrella. Before I got on the plane, I wandered through the French Quarter yesterday and had to hide under some trees in Jackson Square when a downpour started. That's when I saw a group of ladies caught in the rain who were squealing. A guy passing by handed them his umbrella. After several rounds of thank you's, this happened...
"Oh we gonna have to keep you now!"
"Sorry ma'am... Im already taken."
"Well I can see why. God bless you young man!"
And off he went into the rain without his umbrella. Then this...
"He was just like Batman!"

If I wasn't in New Orleans, one of my favorite places on earth, that would have made my day.

   
• Wrong. Kim Davis Asks Court to Dismiss Marriage License Appeal. Looks like somebody doesn't want to go down on the wrong side of history as a hateful bigot that refused to do her job. Well, I have news for you... that's ALL you're going to be remembered for as long as people remember who you are you pathetic farce. You'd think that this would serve as warning for other bigots out there, but I think we all know that's not true.

   
• Sodium. A friend of a friend closed his restaurant last December. Recently when he was asked if he would share some of his favorite recipes and he did. Then somebody asked him how in the heck he made his burgers taste so good. His answer? Butter and salt. Saturate the buns in butter before grilling them. Just before flipping, salt and pepper the patty (his restaurant had a touch of garlic powder in the mix) then flip and add more salt. Sodium nightmare? Yes. But restaurants don't have to post Nutrition Facts, so that's how he made his burgers taste great. And so I gave it a try with my Boca Burger patties. *AMAZING* The abundance of butter and salt totally takes them to the next level. High blood pressure, here I come!

   
• Doloris. When you're watching every episode of The West Wing for the hundredth time and you've JUST gotten over the fact that Mrs. Landingham died... only to have her pop up in a flashback in the episode Bartlett for America. Gets me every time. Boy do I miss this show.

   
And I'm outta bullets.

   

X-Men: Apocalyptic Cinema

Posted on Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Dave!X-Men: Apocalypse was utter garbage. Fairly decent special effects couldn't save the beyond-stupid plot that featured one of the lamest villains in movie history (a complete 180 from the awesome comic book original). As usual, Bryan Singer can't direct his way out of a paper bag, and continues to randomly assign super-powers to characters and rearrange history just because he needs to fix his crappy "story." So sick of people who obviously don't give a shit about honoring the source material continuing to make comic book films that suck...

X-Men Apocalypse Poster.

The X-Men has perhaps the best potential for a comic book movie that is continuously squandered... over six films now. Seven if you count the beyond-shitty first Wolverine film. Of the entire X-franchise, only X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, and Deadpool gave us a glimpse of what's possible.

I didn't think any modern comic book film could suck worse than the last Fantastic Four abomination, but here we are. It's incredibly frustrating, and one can't help but wonder how amazing an X-Men film could be in Marvel Studios' hands. We may never know.

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Bullet Sunday 481

Posted on Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Dave!Hold on to your freedoms, fellow Americans, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

Here's my favorite reaction videos to the US Presidential Election. All of them were chosen carefully and each one is worth your valuable time to watch. But if you just want to go for the jugular, skip down to Jonathan Pie.

   
• Russell Brand. The title of this video is a bit misleading. This is actually quite insightful and more introspective than reactionary...

Indeed.

   
• Dave Chappell. God I've missed Chappelle...

I hope this truly is a comeback. We need his voice and his humor in the world... now more than ever.

   
• Samantha Bee. Still one of my favorite commentators on television...

Anybody who thinks a woman can't be funny... anybody who thinks a woman can't bring it... anybody who thinks a woman shouldn't be given a political soapbox... well, you can shut the fuck up now.

   
• Jonathan Pie. And then there's this bit of ass-kicking...

So much agreement. If only Democrats had this kind of clarity.

   
• John Oliver. And the one I've been waiting for...

Which pretty much sums it all up.

   
• And Because It Can't ALL Be Shitty. This may very well be the closest we ever get to The Fifth Element 2...

Nice! Though, oh man would I love to revisit The Fifth Element universe one more time.

   
And, speaking of time, mine has run out. See you after the anarchy begins.

   

Ultra Mega Super

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Dave!Last night was Ultra Mega Super Moon night. As usual when celestial events are going on here, it was rainy and overcast. Fortunately, I can still bask in the glory of last year's Regular Super Moon that happened on a rare clear night.

Today was more of the same. I've been buried in work and struggling to see daylight just as I was struggling to see the moon last night.

And speaking of things I long to see... have you seen the trailers for Moana? Some of the most gorgeous computer animation I've ever seen. There have been several clips released already, all of them jaw-droppingly beautiful...

The hair dynamics are beyond amazing...

And THE WATER!!! HOLY CATS!

It doesn't hurt that it looks funny as all getout...

And it's got a chicken in it...

Moana is in theaters on November 23rd.

   

Mister Doctor Strange

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Dave!One of the first things on my agenda while in San Francisco was to see Doctor Strange in IMAX 3D. Apparently it's filled with trippy visuals that make this the only acceptable way to see it. So I drop off my stuff and rush to one of the best IMAX theaters in the country... The Metreon... only to find out that their last ever IMAX showing of Doctor Strange was 40 minutes ago. From now on they're only showing the latest Harry Potter film (Fantastic Beasts?) in the IMAX theater.

What a bummer.

Then I remembered that there was a "Mini IMAX" up on Van Ness, and decided that was probably the next best thing. So off I went...

Doctor Strange Movie Poster.

The movie was pretty darn close to perfect.

Painfully faithful to the comic book character in all the most important ways... with a few minor changes that didn't spoil it for me.

Arrogant surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange is at the top of his game... wealthy, powerful, brilliant at his job, and able to pick and choose where his talents will be used. But then one night he's texting while driving, gets into a devastating car crash, and his hands are ruined in the process.

Desperate to become a surgeon again, he wastes away his fortune looking for a cure for the severe nerve damage that makes his hands shake uncontrollably. Then, when all hope is lost and he's on his last dollar, he travels to Kathmandu in Nepal to chase down a mystical cure he stumbles upon.

There he meets The Ancient One who trains him to save lives not with a scalpel... but with the mystic arts. Thus magic has come to The Marvel Universe.

Awesomeness across the dimensions of the multi-verse ensues.

The biggest controversy in the film was changing The Ancient One from an older Chinese man to a younger Celtic woman (wonderfully played by Tilda Swinton). This was done partly to sidestep some stereotype landmines, at which it was mostly successful. The other elephant in the room was changing the location from Tibet to Nepal... a move which was made to appease the film board in China so it could be cleared for release in their country. This was a change that bothered me more than The Ancient One, because Tibetan mysticism is at the core of the character. But, oh well... when your budget investment for a film is this massive, I guess you can't afford to cut yourself out of a profitable market.

Marvel adjusted their filming and release date for Doctor Strange specifically to accommodate Benedict Cumberbatch's schedule. This was an incredibly smart move, because he is flawless as the character. He IS Dr. Strange. This seems to be something that Marvel excels at. Could anybody but Robert Downey Jr. play Tony Stark as Iron Man? Chris Evans as Captain America? Paul Rudd as Ant-Man? Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow? Chris Hemsworth as Thor? Hell, I even have a hard time seeing anybody but Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye! Cumberbatch inhabits the character with a near-unsettling ease, and it's incredible entertainment to watch.

If you have the opportunity, see the film in IMAX 3D. It's worth the effort, as the visual effects are mind-blowing to behold that way.

Right now I can't decide whether Doctor Strange or Captain America: Civil War is my favorite super-hero film of 2016. It's a very close race. I rate Civil War higher, but Strange could leapfrog after being so brilliant and fresh.

   
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard with another brilliant Marvel effort...

The Avengers... A+
The Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A++
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Doctor Strange... A
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: First Class... B
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: Apocalypse... D+

   

Bullet Sunday 483

Posted on Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Dave!Fight through that leftover turkey tryptophan food coma... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• More. As a fan of the show Gilmore Girls, I was naturally curious about the Netflix revival, Gilmore Girls: Year in the Life. The show kind of lost its way in Season 6, then really lost its way in Season 7 after creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and writing/directing partner Daniel Palladino left the show. But now they (and the entire surviving cast) is back for another go in four 90-minute "films" entitled Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall...

Gilmore Girls A Year in the Life Posters.

For the most part, I was happy to see all the characters again and felt the stories for all four episodes were solid... even though many of the mistakes I thought were made in Season 6 & 7 were, oddly enough, repeated all over again. As if that weren't enough, we finally got to hear those Four Final Words that Amy Sherman-Palladino had wanted to end the series with all along. And though the words make perfect sense and took the series to a logical place, I had two problems with how things ended. 1) It pretty much begs for more episodes. And 2) I don't know that the words mean as much now when Rory is in her 30's as they would have had they been spoken when she was in her 20's back when the series ended.

All that being said, boy was Edward Herrmann missed as Richard Gilmore. He was always such a big presence in the show, and his death left a huge void. That the Palladinos used this as an exceptional opportunity to move Emily Gilmore's story forward is to their credit.

Here's hoping Netflix will bless us with another series in the future.

   
• Watching. Speaking of television shows... my favorite show going right now is No Tomorrow...

No Tomottow Poster.

Girl meets boy. Boy thinks the world is going to get hit by a meteor and be destroyed. Adventures in life ensue. And it's funny to boot. Give it a shot if you have some free time in your television schedule!

   
• Strange? Doctor Strange has the best "Art of the Movie" book from Marvel yet. So much thought went into the bizarre visuals, and you get a terrific look at how the filmmakers agonized over them. A very cool companion to a very cool movie...

Art of Doctor Strange Book Cover.

If you're a fan of the film... or even the comic book... this is a book worth checking out.

   
• LEGO. As if the upcoming LEGO Batman Movie isn't super-awesome enough...

LEGO has just announced that the next series of MiniFigs will come from the film!

LEGO Batman Movie Minifigs.

Am dying to own them all, but here's the one that I can't live without...

LEGO Batman Fairy Minifig.

Fairy Princess Batman! Classic!

   
• Scream. Pretty much the theme song for my life these past weeks...

#TrumpsAmerica

   
And... there's your bullets for the week.

   

Bullet Sunday 484

Posted on Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Dave!Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!...

for behold! An all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Groot! There can be no greater news on the internet right now than the new teaser trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn't open until May and I already want to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3...

   
• Less. Having a mortgage wouldn't be so bad if nothing would ever break down and require expensive repairs. But it does. About every two months. And just when you think everything that has broken down has broken down and been fixed? Along comes something new. Which is why a letter for my lender was cause for excitement...

LETTER: "Congratulations! Your mortgage payment has gone down!"
ME: "No way!"
LETTER: "Way!"
ME: "NO! WAY!"
LETTER: "YES WAY!"
ME: "Dude, sweet!"
LETTER: "We're deducting $4.15 from your payment starting next month."
ME: "Fuck you, Letter."

...or not.

   
• Fixed? I love the HGTV series Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna's design aesthetic and rapport makes for a great show... especially if you're into home renovation like I am. And while I am able to mentally divide my entertainment personality's personal life from their work... it's really tough to watch the show knowing that they attend a church which would happily push conversion therapy on their four kids should any of them be gay. How can you support that?

Fixer Upper.

Even if the Gaines's don't advocate conversion therapy or aren't opposed to marriage equality... they (assumably) financially support a church that does. They are a part of the segment of society persecuting LGBT persons and, more specifically LGBT youth, just for being who they are. And it's this part of our society which is responsible for the toxicity behind the epidemic of suicides among our gay youth. They listen to the idiotic rhetoric of a church like this and think nobody... including God... will accept them as they are and see no way out. No amount of Texas charm or design sense can compensate for that.

   
• Our Dolphin. Here it is... the first book out of Thrice Fiction Magazine's Thrice Publishing. It is a wonderful, wonderful novella by Joel Allegretti that I'm incredibly proud to have had a small part in unleashing on the world...

Fixer Upper.

Order a copy for your holiday reading list... or order a dozen for gifts that are sure to be appreciated! Click here to get Our Dolphin at Amazon.

   
• Crazy. I don't know what's more shocking. That Fake Jake pounded into the catio at a full-on sprint across the back yard... or that Real Jake just sat there at the point of impact and watched it happen without even blinking...

Jenny is still scared of Fake Jake's crazy antics... but Jake is all "meh" about it now.

   
• DST. Global humiliation, domestic devastation, and the threat of nuclear war would all be worth it if President Trump abolishes clock changes and makes Daylight Savings Time permanent this coming Spring. Just sayin'.

   
Well, I guess that's it for bullets. Probably. I dunno. Maybe in an hour I'll come back and add ten more.

   

Bullet Sunday 485

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016

Dave!Don't go shovel that driveway just yet, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Does Whatever a Spider Can! I've always been more a Batman guy than a Spider-Man guy, but Marvel is looking to change that with their first Spidey film, Spider-Man: Homecoming...

I mean... seriously. Marvel seems incapable of fucking up a movie. They respect the source material and give fans exactly what they're dying to see. This is the complete opposite of what DC does, which is rewrite everything that makes the characters great and give fans what Zack Snyder wants to see... which is always a pile of shit. Couldn't be happier to be getting what looks like an amazing Spider-Man movie. The fact that Tony Stark is in there being Tony Stark just makes it too good to be true.

   
• The Artist Formerly Known As... If you're a Prince fan, GQ has a long, but highly entertaining look at his life from the perspective of people who knew him best. As if that wasn't enough... another genius, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, was interviewed over at Glixel. You're welcome!

   
• No Toys for Tots. After coming across this sorry story, I have concluded that it's probably the stupidest fucking thing I've read in a long time. A charity that collects toys for children won't accept toys raised by a tavern because they prayed on it and decided that toys coming from a bar is a bad thing? Who did this idiot pray to? I mean, she did read The Bible and know who Jesus hung out with, right? Yet another case of Faux Christians following in the footsteps of Jesus... just so long as those footsteps don't lead to conflict with their moral superiority and false virtue.

   
• Can I Be a Lesbian? This had me laughing out loud in the middle of the night at my hotel...

Fortunately, I must not have disturbed my neighbors because nobody beat the door down and strangled me.

   
• Kitty Homebody. Ever since I got back home in the early AM, the cats have been all over me. When I sat down tonight to work and watch Wedding Crashers, Jake came running in and attached himself to me then fell asleep...

Jake Asleep On Me

After a bit he ran to get a snack and I thought I was free... but then Jenny came running in and took his place...

Jenny While I Work

Then she ran to use the Litter-Robot and I figured that was the end of it... except Jake came running back to take her place...

Jenny While I Work

Eventually they must have decided I wasn't going anywhere tonight, and went back to life as usual. Until next time. As if I didn't already feel bad enough about having to leave them...

   
• Paranoia and Smoke Alarms. Just before my trip to Maine, I started getting paranoid about a fire in my garage. That's where my electrical panel is. That's where my furnace is. That's where my whole-home humidifier is. Any of those things could burst into flames and I wouldn't know about it until it burned through the walls and into the house. To set my mind at ease, I ordered another Nest Protect (smart smoke detector) to put in the garage. Now I'm wondering why smoke detectors in garages isn't a thing. Shouldn't they be? Sure it's $100 down the drain, but that's pretty cheap if my electrical panel caught fire while I was in Maine and unaware. Now my house will send me a text if the garage is on fire. So... yay? I suppose now I need to find out how to call a fire into my local fire department so I can actually do something about an alarm when I'm across the country and 9-1-1 won't connect me to the right place.

   
• A New History for Humanity. I whole-heartedly approve of this calendar. A simple change that adds loads of perspective...

Too many people think that all of humanity didn't begin until Jesus came along. This fixes the problem without completely disrupting everything. Until scientists decide that

   
• Trump Diplomacy. This pretty much sums it up...

Trump Being Trump

And anybody still calling me "alarmist" for posting end-of-days scenarios around President-Elect Trump's ignorance and stupidity can go read this and then go read this and fuck off now. You'll note that I linked to a FOX "News" story the second time since the people who love Trump and are not taking this shit seriously seem to think that FOX is the only "news" source that matters. Guess we don't have to give a shit about Trump cutting Social Security and Medicare since we're all probably going to be dead by the time he gets around to it. In the meanwhile... this is how Republicans are saving American jobs?

   
And... the bullets have flown. Until next week then.

   

Bullet Sunday 487

Posted on Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Dave!Hoping you're having a Happy Christmas if you're into that kind of thing, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Faith. I was saddened to hear that yet another of my pop artist favorites from the 80's had passed away... this time George Michael. As half of the duo WHAM!, and later a solo artist, he had an entire catalog of hits that influenced a generation of musical artists and pop culture at large...


   

   

Rest in peace, sir. Your music will live on and on.

   
• LIVE FROM NEW YORK! I've watched this behind-the-scenes video three times now. Absolutely fascinating how Saturday Night Live can time things down to the wire like this on a live show...

I wish SNL would release more of these. Sometimes, they would be more entertaining than the actual show.

   
• BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR! This is epic...

This guy should totally do audio books.

   
• IT'S NOT MINE! For those who think I'm paranoid for having two complete camera security systems at my house... I give you this IMGUR thread about a guy who found that somebody was living in his home while he was at work. Holy. Crap.

   
• The 1947. I always love behind-the-scenes videos of manufacturing processes and this one from my favorite ball-cap manufacturer, '47 Brand, is pretty slick...

A lot of work goes into creating a great cap!

   
• The 1975. And now, for the best Christmas present of all, here's The 1975's full concert from The O2 in London. Don't know how long they'll keep it posted, so enjoy it while it lasts...

Amazing. And the only contender for my favorite album of 2016.

   
Here's ho ho hoping Santa treats you kindly tonight.

   

Look, Your Worshipfulness…

Posted on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Dave!To say that Princess Leia was a game-changer for me is an understatement of epic proportions.

Until having seen Star Wars, I can't recall a "movie princess" being little more than a set decoration in need of saving. Yes, Princess Leia started out that way... she was every bit the damsel in distress for the story's two male heroes (and a walking carpet) who set out to retrieve her from The Death Star... but once Princess Leia actually hit the screen, all that went out the window.

This princess wasn't taking any shit, and the fact that she could hold her own against Vader and Tarkin was pretty amazing. But the moment I totally fell in love with her was when the door on cell 2187 opened...

        What I was expecting: "Oh, thank goodness you've come to save me!"
        What I got: "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"

And Leia's sarcasm, strength, and wit didn't end there. As anybody who's seen the Star Wars films (which would be everybody, I'm guessing), Princess Leia was kick-ass whenever she made an appearance.

A great deal of this can be laid on the doorstop of George Lucas who first wrote her that way.

But it was Carrie Fisher who made her that way.

And now Carrie Fisher gone.

Princess Dave Organa

   
Despite some incredible contributions to writing and cinema that went well beyond Princess Leia (she wrote Postcards from the Edge and was a highly-in-demand "script doctor" for a surprising number of films), it's this legendary fictional character to which she will be forever remembered.

My guess is she made her peace with it. Even those times she was wrapped in chains and wearing a metal bikini... something she had strong feelings about.

For which I'm grateful. Because she'll always be royalty to me.

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Video16

Posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

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 Captain America: Civil War
Shocker. My love of comic books was rewarded in two fantastic Marvel films, and it was really tough to decide what should come out on top. I ultimately went with Cap because the movie was just so damn good at giving comic book fans everything they dream about in a film. Hero angst? Check. Cap and Iron Man draw the line over a super-hero registration act that leads them inexorably to conflict. Fresh characters? Check. Not only do we get the debut of one of the most awesome characters in the Marvel Universe, Black Panther, we also get a brand new Spider-Man that's more faithful to the concept than anything that's come before. Super-battles? Check. In what has to be the single best super-hero fight ever committed to film, Team Cap vs. Team Iron Man was flawlessly realized. Having a massive surprise come from Ant-Man in the middle of it all was just icing on the best-tasting cake ever. Granted, the plot was a bit flimsy and filled with coincidence and inexplicable story beats... but I just didn't care. I watched Civil War three times in the theater and another half-dozen on video. I cannot fathom how The Russo Brothers could possibly top this in Avengers: Infinity War, but I'm dying to find out. You can read my review of this epic blockbuster right here.

#2 Doctor Strange
After Black Panther, my favorite Marvel comic book hero is probably Doctor Strange. This year I got to see them both on the big screen, and I was not disappointed. This film is an origin story, yes, but it's not like it could have been anything else. Unlike Batman or Spider-Man whose origin has been told to death, Strange is a bit unknown to the general movie-going public. Fortunately, what we get is anything but Yet Another Formulaic Pile of Origin Garbage. Stephen Strange is compelling in all the right ways before he becomes Master of the Mystic Arts. And he's even more compelling before he becomes Sorcerer Supreme. On top of that, we get some mind-boggling special effects that makes Doctor Strange fresh, exciting, and new compared to all the Marvel films that came before it. Yes, I too am a bit flustered by the whitewashing of The Ancient One as a Celtic white woman (deftly played by Tilda Swinton), but I get why. Yes, I am disappointed that the location was shifted from Tibet, but I get why. Avoiding stereotypes and having to be mindful of global box office means that there will be compromises when putting a ton of money into a film of this magnitude. That Marvel did so without completely destroying it is admirable in the face of realities they had to confront. Much of what they got right has to do with the flawless casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange... whom Marvel wisely postponed filming to get. He had absolutely everything the character needed to succeed in a movie, and Cumberbatch held nothing back. Doctor Strange will be appearing in future Marvel films (including Infinity War) but I want a new solo flick that's unfettered from an origin story. Badly. Here's my review of Doctor Strange.

#3 Deadpool
Given how utterly shitty 20th Century Fox treated the character of Deadpool in the utterly shitty X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I fully admit that I was skeptical when it was announced a new solo movie was on the way. But when Ryan Reynolds (who was "Deadpool in Origins as well) promised that we'd be seeing something faithful to the outrageous character we knew from the comics, I became hopeful. It was a hope that paid off in spades. This is the fast-talking "merc with a mouth" that every Deadpool fan who suffered though Origins deserved. Mercenary Wade Wilson is diagnosed with inoperable, terminal cancer after finally finding the love of his life... and agrees to experiments meant to unleash super-powered abilities that will cure him. Unfortunately, things go terribly wrong, and the rest of the movie is Wilson trying to get a cure for the cure while also exacting revenge on the guy responsible. Absolute hilarity and fantastic action sequences ensue. Even in its quiet moments, Deadpool delivers... featuring perfect secondary characters played by TJ Miller and Leslie Uggams(!!!). Rated R for a reason... many reasons... but totally worth your time.

#4 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
It's a Star Wars film. It has mind-boggling special effects. It has a return of characters you love and a new character that's destined to be a classic (new favorite droid K-2SO!). It features a plot that doesn't suck. The story is rough... even boring in parts... but serviceable. And, yes, I agree it's the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. So if you're a Star Wars fan, it's a foregone conclusion this movie is going to be on your "Best of 2016" list. That's why it's on mine.

#5 Kubo and the Two Strings
My love of animation embraces all its forms... hand-drawn... computer generated... cut-out... whatever. But the form that consistently blows me away is stop-motion animation, and Kubo is probably the most mind-bogglingly beautiful expression of it yet. Every frame is gorgeously orchestrated for scenes that are a dream to watch. It's just a bonus that there's a really great story behind it all. I will do you the favor of not disclosing anything about the plot. It's enough to know that this film is sheer magic and a must-see. Preferably on the big-screen (and, believe it or not, in 3D)... but if you missed it, home video will have to suffice.

#6 Star Trek Beyond
Rebooting the Star Trek franchise has been met with mixed feelings, and true fans either seem to love it or hate it. I absolutely love it. From the casting, which is a note-perfect nod to the original cast, to the beautiful special-effects, the films soar even when there is a misstep (of which Star Trek Into Darkness probably qualifies). Star Trek Beyond is yet another entertaining entry in the series, this time with an over-abundance of action filling the screen. But there's some real character moments scattered in there too, which is what makes the film work so well. Sadly, Anton Yelchin passed away after filming, which means this is the last time we'll see his perfect take on Pavel Chekov.

Best Movies 2015 Part 2

#7 Arrival
Color me shocked. Smart, cerebral, original sci-fi getting green-lit for a feature film? Whatever is Hollywood coming to? Oddly enough, I had read the original short fiction on which this film is based, Story of Your Life, and was not expecting that it would translate well to film given the time-bending aspects of the story. I was pleasantly surprised that they managed to get it right. Or... as close to "right" as they probably could. When aliens land on earth, world governments race to communicate with them so that they can unlock their secrets before other governments get a technological edge. The movie focuses on the American team (of course) lead by genius linguist Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) and fellow scientist Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner). As Banks gets closer and closer to deciphering the language of the alien visitors, she finds that her perception of time is being altered. An ambitious adventure in cinema follows that's a true treat for sci-fi fans.

#8 Finding Dory
Revisiting the Finding Nemo universe was a risky gambit. But Pixar completely nailed it. I hesitate to say that it's a better film than the original... but Dory is a jaw-dropping, beautiful, overall joyful effort that will not disappoint Nemo fans. Having Sigourney Weaver drop in (as herself!) on the flawless voice cast was just perfection on perfection. If you love Pixar animation, here's your film.

#9 The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rouge)
Gorgeous animation from Studio Ghibli that's a warm blanket in visual form. The story is a gripping tale of survival that unfolds like a classic fairytale... but ends up being so much more. I truly hope that this overlooked gem makes a return to theaters after the festival circuit so people can see it as it was meant to be seen.

#10 The Nice Guys
Where in the hell did this come from? I completely missed it in the theater, but caught it on a boring cross-country flight. Boy was I glad to have discovered it, because The Nice Guys everything you love in a Shane Black film. And then some. Russell Crowe hasn't been this compelling since Gladiator. Ryan Gosling hasn't been this compelling ever. If you want to see a smart, funny, sophisticated 70's buddy flick that won't bore you (except when it does)... here you go.

#11 Moana
Walt Disney Pictures has been on a roll lately, and Moana is probably my favorite film of theirs since Lilo and Stitch (though Big Hero Six deserves a mention here). The film tells the story of a young woman, Moana, who sets sail on a mission to save her people. Along the way she meets the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and a fantastical adventure follows. The action is bold, beautiful, and larger than life... all animated to stunning effect with lush, sweeping visuals... but it's so much more than just a pretty flick. It's got great music, plenty of magic, and characters with actual depth. If you love computer animation, you owe it to yourself to see Moana on the big screen.

#12 The Jungle Book.
If you had told me that a live-action remake of Disney classic The Jungle Book would hit my "best of..." list for 2016, I would have laughed in your face. But here we are. Filled with incredible CG visuals that bring the story to life like never before... and featuring one of the best "young actors" ever to appear in a movie, The Jungle Book is incomprehensibly great. And the voice cast! Bill Murray as Baloo? Ben Kingsley as Bagheera? Idris Elba as Shere Khan? It never ends. I cannot fathom how Jon Favreau managed to pull off such a feat, but I was completely engrossed in the film and truly didn't want it to end. If you skipped it because you were skeptical, now you know.

   
HONORABLE MENTIONS...

Best Movies 2015 Part 2

Zootopia
This is the film that ranked very high on a lot of critic's lists... and it's easy to see why. The characters are beautifully crafted and the world they inhabit feels fully realized. Everything is wonderfully animated and the voice cast is flawless. As if that wasn't enough greatness, it has a real story filled with humor and heart that's brilliantly told. I loved the film... a lot... but it just didn't have that sweeping, all-encompassing wonder that I got while watching Finding Dory and Moana. I struggled as to whether Zootopia or Jungle Book belongs in the final spot of my list, but settled on the latter because it was such a big surprise.

Bad Moms
I was a bit let down by the ending, but everything up to that is funny enough that I didn't care. Surprisingly original with perfect casting.

The Handmaiden
This is why people go to the movies... a beautiful story that looks stunning and has a dynamite cast. Yes, there were problems along the way and the ending could have used some work, but this sexy, violent gem gets so much right that it's easy to overlook its flaws.

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl
YES, I LIKED IT! A remake of the Sid and Marty Krofft live-action Batman spoof featuring YouTube stars Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart. It's a funny distraction that respects the source material, but is fresh and new at the same time.

Popstar: Never Stop Stopping
A complete take-down of the Justin Bieber stereotype that somehow manages to be funny and entertaining. There were some parts that didn't work which kept it from being a new This is Spinal Tap, but is overall a terrific effort.

Ghostbusters
Was it as good as the original? Oh hell no. It's not even as good as Ghostbusters 2. But it had some funny moments and excellent special effects to make that made it watchable.

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

Jackie
Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy? Sign me up.

Sausage Party
Naughty and animated. A great combination I never got around to seeing.

Moonlight
This is the movie that has been most-recommended to me this year. Can't wait to finally see it.

The Edge of Seventeen
Completely off my radar, but I've heard amazing things.

Passengers
A film starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence? Can't help but be worth watching.

Everybody Wants Some
Richard Linklater's follow-up to Boyhood. Who wouldn't want to see that?

   
NOT AS BAD AS THEY SAY...

Gods of Egypt
Yes, they whitewashed the cast. Yes, the special effects were all over the place. Yes, the story was a mess. But at least they tried to do something different. And for that alone, I was entertained. There were some big ideas here that were actually kind of cool and fun to watch... things just didn't come together in a way to make this compelling cinema.

   
THE WORST...

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
I don't even know where to start. This shitty, blasphemous, idiotic take on two of the most beloved super-heroes in the world was a continuation of Zack Snyder's horrendous Man of Steel. But since it fucked up Batman, it was probably an even worse movie. And while SvB's greatest sin is that it is just no fun (I was bored to tears despite the action beats, which were confusing and senseless)... we did get Wonder Woman on the big screen at last. Gal Godot was perfectly cast and they gave her a look that was amazing. Sadly, she wasn't enough to save this awful, awful mess.

Suicide Squad
This unbelievably tedious movie featured a forgettable assortment of villains forced to be heroes that fight an endless horde of magical zombies. In-between all that is some of the most boring, shitty dialogue you'll find. And, as if that weren't bad enough, Jared Leto's "Joker" was a fucking embarrassment.

Independence Day: Resurgence
Clearly a case of "We're making a sequel to a popular movie, but we haven't a fucking clue what to do, so... SPECIAL EFFECTS IT!" This would probably be the stupidest, blandest, dullest, most unbelievable shitty film of any year... lucky for Roland Emmerich, Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad stepped in to take the punches. I'd discuss the story, but not one bit of it was worth remembering, so I can't.

   

Suicidal Electra Joke

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Dave!Since returning from hiatus, there have been a number of half-finished entries floating around that I've been meaning to finish up and post. This is one of them.

My love of comic books and movies have collided in amazing ways last year... Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, and Doctor Strange were incredible. Unfortunately there were also boat-loads of crap courtesy of DC Comics, who just can't seem to get their shit together... X-Men: Apocalypse and Batman vs. Superman were complete garbage.

There were three other super-hero films I saw in 2016, how did they fare, I wonder?

Movie Posters

   
• Suicide Squad. DC Comics' concept of super-villains being forced to become a covert team of super-heroes has been going on in the comic book world since the late 80's. While passably entertaining on occasion, I never saw much potential as a movie franchise, yet here we are. The result is an epic mess that is a notch above the shitty Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman films... but not by much. The moronic, scattershot plot populated with a bloated cast of forgettable characters and filled with ridiculous dialogue and forced humor (that wasn't funny) ended up being just... bad. Unless you can be entertained by random special effects blowing shit up between periods of utter tedium, there's no entertainment to be found here.

And now... I'm just going to get this out of the way... Jared Leto's "Joker" was total shit. The look was apparently copied from the comic arc Batman: Endgame, which wouldn't have been too terrible, except they added metal teeth, a bunch of tattoos that were utterly stupid (why the fuck would The Joker ink "damaged" on his forehead?), and then made him a frickin' drugged-out buffoon. A massive downgrade from Heath Ledger's brilliant take in the The Dark Knight. The rest of the cast? They fare somewhat better. Viola Davis was her incredible self and dominated her every scene as Amanda Waller. Will Smith's Deadshot was pretty much Will Smith being Will Smith, but at least he's entertaining. Margot Robbie was designed to be a stand-out as Harley Quinn and, when it works, it's the best thing about the movie (though I still think the character will never be better than she was in Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series). Every other character was just window dressing with nothing of substance to do and mostly boring.

I'd get into the story, but that would be pointless. It's pretty much Suicide Squad vs. magical zombies and there's pathetic little character development or consequences for anything. RATING: D

   
• Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. It would be insanity to put a cheesy Sid & Marty Krofft Batman parody remake up against anything Marvel is doing when it comes to the super-hero film genre. This is not that kind of film. But I found Electra Woman and Dyna Girl infinitely more fun and entertaining than anything DC has put out lately. Based on the Krofft Saturday Morning live-action kid's show of the same name (starring Days of Our Lives' Deidra Hall!), the movie features online media stars Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart as two normal humans named Lori and Judy who dress up and play super-heroes in a world filled with heroes that have real super-powers. Eventually they get "noticed" by a super-hero publicity agent who turns them into the super-powered heroes they dreamed of becoming. Using gadgets dreamed up by genius Frank Heflin, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl hit the big-time and become crime-fighting media sensations. This leads to a rift in their friendship that comes just as the rise of the first super-powered villain to appear in ages. Hilarity (and some surprisingly entertaining antics) ensue. What's surprising about the movie is how it manages to be faithful to the original show, yet be completely fresh, new, and different. And pretty damn funny. For what it was designed to be, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl is a success. RATING: B-

   
• Batman: The Killing Joke (animated). Considered one of the best Batman stories to come out of the comics, The Killing Joke has been both praised and mired in controversy since its release in 1988. Praised because it featured Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's thoughtful look at the origin and longtime relationship between Batman and The Joker... controversial because of its misogynistic overtones in the crippling of Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon as a throw-away plot element. Ultimately I liked the book, but understood that it had some serious story issues that would be too much for some comic book fans. So when I heard that DC was turning it into an R-rated animated film, I was curious. Would they stay close to the original story... or would they try and fix some of the things that caused no small amount of backlash?

Turns out it's Option #3... LET'S MAKE THE STORY WORSE IN EVERY POSSIBLY WAY! I hated this film. There's a myriad of problems that ruin any chance of Batman fans embracing the movie... even if they liked the story on which it was based. Primary of which is that they have Batman and Batgirl in a sexual relationship, which is fucking absurd. Once that bullshit is out of the way, the film tries to get back on track... but the damage has already been done. RATING: F

   
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard with another brilliant Marvel effort...

The Avengers... A+
The Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A++
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... 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-
Suicide Squad... 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: First Class... B
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: Apocalypse... D+

   

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