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Star Trek: The Ranking

Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2017

Dave!I can never quite figure out whether I am more of a Star Trek fan or Star Wars fan. It's probably I love them both equally. One big difference is that there's little debate on how the Star Wars films should be ranked. Empire is the best, the original is next, and everything that followed was total shit until Force Awakens kinda made things good again.

With Star Trek it's a radically different situation. Since I'm old enough to be an original series fan, my picks skew towards Kirk & Co. — while Trek fans that came late to the game tend to gravitate towards Next Generation.

With that in mind, here we go...

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan The gold standard for Star Trek films. A beloved villain, plenty of action, smart humor, a great story with lots of memorable moments, and a shock ending that rocked the sci-fi universe. On top of that, the special effects were fantastic. But my favorite thing about the film was the dialogue, which was written and performed so beautifully. Weather it's quiet moments of reflection or Khan's unhinged rants... it's a delicious feast for longtime Star Trek fans from beginning to end.
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home A great story built around a great idea is all you really need for a fantastic Star Trek film... everything else will work itself out. But The Voyage Home went beyond that by giving fans a time travel story packed with some of the funniest moments in Trek history. The end result is just a plain fun movie with appeal outside of the franchise's fan-base.
  3. Star Trek The potential for disaster in rebooting the franchise was huge, but JJ Abrams reboot got so many things right... even if it bathed all of them in an ungodly amount of stupid fucking lens flare. The casting was note-perfect... especially with Karl Urban channeling DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy. We got a good story as well, packed to the rafters with excellent action and special effects. Using rogue Romulans as bad guys wasn't exactly inspired, but it worked. Overall? A very good start. Or re-start, as it were.
  4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country This was a terrific Star Trek adventure, even if there were hiccups along the way. But, more importantly, it was a good send-off for the original series characters (thank heavens it didn't end with the hot mess that was Star Trek V). That the film also built a bridge to The Next Generation without shitting all over itself was just the icing on the cake.
  5. Star Trek Beyond It may have gone off the rails a few times and had an overly-complicated ending... but it was still a lot of fun to watch because there was plenty of action and "Star Trek magic" to keep things moving. A nice recovery in the reboot universe after being disappointed with Into Darkness.
  6. Star Trek: First Contact The only Nest Generation film I enjoyed, this was a smart, clever outing that moved at a speedy clip and featured one of the best thing to come out of Next Gen: The Borg. But they didn't just leave it at that, they came up with The Borg Queen to make things fresh... and added time travel to make things fun. If only everything that followed was even half this good.
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness Though the reboot sequel had some harsh criticism lobbed its way, I actually enjoyed it. Would I have rather see something different than a re-telling of the best Star Trek film on this list? Sure. But it was entertaining to the end, and that's more than you can say than many films on this list.
  8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture Yes, it was unbearably long, drawn-out, and even boring in spots, but it was the first film in the franchise and there was a lot to love, even if just the chance to see all the characters again. And I still think the story concept is one of the best to come out of Trek canon. It's just that it could have been so much more entertaining with action added to the mix and less pertinent elements dropped.
  9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock When an entire movie is devoted to rectifying the mistake of killing off Spock, you're sure to get into trouble real fast. If not for the inspired casting of Christopher Lloyd, this movie would be pretty much a loss.
  10. Star Trek: Generations I never understood how anybody could greenlight a script with so many obvious problems, but I'm guessing that they felt the historic mingling of new and old would cover any sin. They were wrong. I didn't think Star Trek could get worse than killing off Captain Kirk in such a lame-ass manner, but all I had to do was wait for the final two movies.
  11. Star Trek: The Final Frontier This movie was a huge waste of time, effort, and money. Surely they could have come up with something better than this to follow The Voyage Home, but no. Instead we got Spock's half-brother in an idiotic quest to find God in the center of the galaxy. Barf.
  12. Star Trek: Nemesis This is a film that could have slayed with its story concept... if only the writers would have had bothered to find a way to make it interesting. Instead we get something that plays out like a forgettable episode of the TV show. They could have at least let the Next Generation crew go out on a high note after the previous disaster (see below), but instead we got this mess.
  13. Star Trek: Insurrection So awful I don't even know where to begin. This was like a very long, boring, and badly-written episode of Next Generation but with less scope and precious little genuine humor.

And next up? Star Trek: Discovery. I had high hopes when it was announced that Bryan Fuller was at the helm. Then became worried when it was announced he had stepped away. But, still... it's Star Trek, so I'll be watching.

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I Did Not Have Urinary Relations With Those Women

Posted on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Dave!And so... about those Golden Globes...

I'm not a huge fan of award shows, because the winners rarely reflect the movies I enjoy and the performances I gravitate towards. But, then again, my favorite films of 2016 were Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Deadpool, so make of that what you will.

Anyway... this year the Globes were better than most, but there are still some corrections I would make...

   

MOVIES

Best Supporting Actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Who Should Have Won: Sebastian Stan, Captain America: Civil War (the entire weight of the movie rested on The Winter Soldier, and Stan killed it).

Best Original Score: La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Arrival (beautiful, powerful stuff).

Best Original Song, Motion Picture: "City of Stars," La La Land
Who Should Have Won: "How Far I'll Go," Moana (never saw "La La Land").

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Who Should Have Won: Viola Davis, Fences (never saw the film, but... Viola Davis).

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy: Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool (not even a contest).

Best Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, Doctor Strange (markedly fresh super-hero fare).

Best Animated Film: Zootopia
Who Should Have Won: Kubo and the Two Strings (Zootopia was fun, but Kubo was on another level entirely).

Best Foreign-Language Film: Elle
Who Should Have Won: The Handmaiden (absolutely stunning cinema).

Best Director: Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Captain America: Civil War (wrangling this many heroes in a coherent film is amazing).

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy: Emma Stone, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Grace Helbig, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl (no joke... the funniest female performance I saw all year).

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy: La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Deadpool (so obvious).

Best Actor, Drama: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Who Should Have Won: I dunno.

Best Actress, Drama: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Who Should Have Won: I dunno.

Best Picture, Drama: Moonlight
Who Should Have Won: I dunno. Moonlight looks good, but Arrival was the best drama I saw in 2016.

   

TELEVISION

Best Actor, Television Drama: Billie Bob Thornton, Goliath
Who Should Have Won: Matthew Rhys, The Americans (a great show and he's great in it).

Best Actress, Television Series Comedy or Musical: Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Who Should Have Won: Kristen Bell, The Good Place (what can I say, I love her and I love this show).

Best Television Series Comedy or Musical: Atlanta
Who Should Have Won: No Tomorrow (love Atlanta, but No Tomorrow is my favorite show of 2016)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Who Should Have Won: Charlotte Rampling, London Spy (this was a great show, and Rampling had a lot to do with why).

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Who Should Have Won: The Night Manager (such a great spy thriller).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
Who Should Have Won: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager (seriously, such a good show).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Who Should Have Won: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager (ditto).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
Who Should Have Won: Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager (ditto again).

Best Actress, Television Drama: Claire Foy, The Crown
Who Should Have Won: Keri Russell, The Americans (toughie... loved Foy, but think Russell had the edge).

Best Television Drama: The Crown
Who Should Have Won: Westworld (as much as I liked The Crown, Westworld was my favorite).

Best Actor, Television Series Comedy or Musical: Donald Glover, Atlanta
Who Should Have Won: Donald Glover, Atlanta (absolutely deserved).

   

Bullet Sunday 498

Posted on Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Dave!Thank heavens I'm taking half-a-day off work, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Stop the Insanity! Make it permanent... abolish it... split the difference... I honestly don't give a fuck. Just make it so that we're not dicking around with the clocks twice a year. This stupid shit... this utter madness... has got to end...



Seriously. If Trump wants to do ONE FUCKING THING that will benefit humanity in a way that every other fucking thing he's done has not... GET RID OF THIS IDIOTIC BULLSHIT!!!

   
• Healthcare. Finally. Broken down so even I can understand it! The puzzling way Republicans want to replace the individual mandate, explained with a cartoon.

   
• Wonderful. Do I dare get my hopes up after DC has shit the bed so many times now?

It could be incredible. If... only if...

   
• Loneliness. A sobering article that makes for an interesting... albeit more than a little depressing... read: The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness...

Loneliness
Illustration by Mario Zucca / Boston Globe

I don't know that I'm "lonely" so to speak. But most of the people I'm closest to don't live near me, and that can be difficult.

   
• Olive Garden. I had no business laughing at this as hard as I did. The whole concept of people in Olive Garden commercials acting like they've never seen a restaurant... or food... before, is epic...

I dare say that President Trump existing has made Saturday Night Live the funniest it's been in years. Even for sketches that don't feature President Trump.

   
• The Most Important Thing You'll See All Day. Yes. You can resist authority. In some cases, you're obligated to resist authority. Like when you are being lied to and your rights are being violated by authority. The video below is in three parts. Watch all three of them. Know your rights...



And here's a follow-up interview (good information, terrible sound)...

Have a phone with video capabilities? Film everything. Always film everything when it comes to the police. Even if you support the ideal of law enforcement (as I do)... Always. Film. Everything. Even when it's not happening to you. Because the police are not above the law and you just never know.

Note that the guy who filmed the video, Jesse Bright, tried to handle this without going public. All he wanted was an apology for having been lied to and illegally searched. Only after he was deterred at every turn did he released to video... not for personal gain, but to let everybody know what their rights are. He has no interest in any officers being punished or fired or anything. He just wants this critical information out there. Good for him.

I have a card in my wallet and in my car with the following statement:

Statement If Stopped or Questioned by Police or any Government Official
   
“Officer, I Assert My Fifth Amendment Rights As Stated On This Card”
   
Pursuant to the law, as established by the United States Supreme Court, my lawyer has advised me not to talk to anyone and not to answer questions about any pending criminal case or any other civil, administrative, judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory matter. Following his advice, I do not wish to talk to anyone about any criminal, civil, administrative, judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory matter, without my lawyer present. I waive no legal rights, nor give any consents, nor submit to any tests or other procedures, without my lawyer present. I ask that no one question or talk to me, without my lawyer here to advise me. I do not wish to answer any questions. I want to see my lawyer. Please call my lawyer immediately.
   
See: Miranda v. Arizona, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), Maness v. Myers, 419 U.S. 449 (1975), Hoffman v. United States, 341 U.S. 479, (1951), Lefkowitz

Know. Your. Rights.

   
And now it's time to chew gum and vacuum. And I'm all out of gum...

   

The Hangover

Posted on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Dave!Is there anything worse than hanging out at your hotel waiting for your flight home once your vacation is over?

Probably.

Probably lots of things are worse than that.

But when you are sleep-deprived and drinking for three days straight?

No. No there most certainly is nothing worse than that.

But on the plane I watched possibly the greatest Las Vegas movie ever, The Hangover, so I guess it's all good...

Jenny at the Window!

This movie fascinates me no matter how many times I see it. It came out of nowhere and was just so good. Sure it was followed by two crappy sequels, but that first one? Magic. Everything about it was perfect... from the story to the casting to the jokes. I've lost track of the number of times I've seen the film, but I laugh every time.

Which is a good thing, because my vacation is done.

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Bullet Sunday 499

Posted on Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Dave!Time to burn this muther to the ground, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• The Government is Not Your Friend. In all seriousness, I wonder what it's going to fucking take before US citizens wake the hell up to how their privacy rights are being chipped away by elected officials. Our bought-and-paid-for-Senators just voted to undo internet privacy regulations, which means that you ISP can sell your browsing history to advertisers. Our privacy is up for grabs, and fuckers in the GOP are the pimps making it happen. Might want to look into a VPN to protect yourself before this gets run through the House.

   
• GET OUT! I'm just going to chime in with the vast majority of critics and say that Get Out is one of the best films this year...

Get Out Movie Poster

Jordan Peele has absolutely killed it. So far as suspense thrillers go, this is a tough movie to top. Easily going to make y "Best Of" list for 2017. Go see it!

   
• Final Dimensions? Rumors have been swirling that my favorite game of the moment... LEGO Dimensions is getting canceled. Back in January I was dismissive of such rumors. But now? Evidence is mounting.

LEGO Dimensions Super Friends

Needless to say... this sucks if it's true. Sucks hard. The sets that have been coming out lately are better than ever, and a lot of fun to play. More sets for properties like Beetlejuice, Powderpuff Girls, and Teen Titans GO! have been delayed, but are still on the way, so there's that. But still... I hope we're getting even more sets before LEGO hangs it up.

   
• Headlines. So... when you see a headline like this pop up in your newsfeed...

State Senator Found with Teenage Boy in Hotel Room

You have to guess... will this be some godless liberal senator scumbag with no moral values... or will it be a "family values" Christian who supports anti-gay, anti-trans legislation? Lets find out together, shall we?

State senator found with teenage boy in hotel room.

Big fucking surprise. It's the "family values" Christian who ends up being the fucking pervert. YET AGAIN! It's always these assholes getting caught texting things like "I'm gonna fuck you like a good little boy if you keep calling me daddy." They can't seem to help themselves. Which is why every fucking time I see some politician asshole going out of their way to shit all over LGBT equality, I automatically expect they're fucking pedophiles. And history seems to back this up.

   
• Assemble! Oh goody. Justice League looks like a total rehash of Batman vs. Superman... incomprehensible action sequences strung together with boring shit nobody cares about...

At least Zack Snyder is consistent with his suckage.

   
• Gubermint! There's so much fucked up shit going on with our Trump-infused government that I could fire off another fifty bullets just to touch on it. But doing so will probably make me want to blow my head off, so I'll pick just one...

Senate sanctions killing hibernating bears and pups in their den

You can read about it here. What a bunch of fucking monsters we have representing us. If they are willing to treat innocent animals like this, there's no hope for us. None.

   
So over bullets for today.

   

Bullet Sunday 500

Posted on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Dave!You may be thinking that after 499 Bullet Sundays I'd be giving up! But never fear, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Whedon! I am beside myself with hope... JOSS WHEDON IS GOING TO DIRECT A BATGIRL MOVIE! Which is both really great... and incredibly odd. Great, because Whedon may actually end up with a seriously good take on the character... odd because you'd think he'd hit Marvel up for a Black Widow movie, since he's already played around in that universe. Especially since Black Widow is, potentially at least, a much more interesting character.

Oh well. I'll take Whedon BatGirl...

It's BatGirl!

Hopefully he'll make it a fun film instead of glomming onto the absurdly shitty "dark" DC Comics cinematic disasters that Zack Snyder has crapped out of his ass. Nobody wants that.

What I would like is a LEGO BatGirl movie...

It's BatGirl!

How awesome would that be?

   
• Homecoming. I swear... it's as if Marvel doesn't know how to fail...

This trailer looks like we're getting not only an amazing Spidey-film... but we're also getting a film that's firmly entrenched in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At last. Can't wait!

   
• Besson! I know I'm pining away in vain at the idea of a sequel for The Fifth Element... but I guess Luck Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is as close as we're going to get...

It certainly looks like compelling sci-fi. Here's hoping.

   
• Funneh. Anybody out there watching Trial and Error? I find it surprisingly entertaining and quite funny...

MURDER BOARD! MURDER BOARD! MURDER BOARD!

   
• Guess. Okay then... will the pedophile principal be a godless liberal from a public school... or a God-fearing Christian from a private Christian school? Let's read and find out together, shall we?

Tulsa School Principal Arrested For Child Pornography.

Big fucking surprise... it's the God-fearing Christian. YET AGAIN. And yet over and over again we're told it's trans persons using bathrooms that's the big danger. It's homosexual teachers that's the big danger. It's gay characters in cartoon movies that's the big danger. Anything to distract people from the actual fucking danger that kids have to face. Give me a fucking break.

   
• Song Like You. My current earworm...

Just 18 years old. Amazing.

   
And... onwards towards another 500 Bullet Sundays.

   

Vapor In The Shell

Posted on Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Dave!The ScarJo Ghost in the Shell film was a weird amalgam of the original anime movies (based on the manga), the TV series, and a new story arc for the main character. I didn't hate it... and it was very pretty to look at... but the film itself was kinda boring. Maybe it's because I was so familiar with the source material, but it felt like the film was all future-city fly-overs, expositional dialogue, and a misguided attempt to make some kind of statement on technology that completely missed the target. The action beats were good (and pretty faithful), but not enough to elevate the film to any level of excitement for me...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Poster!

The whole whitewashing issue was not as bothersome as I expected... I mean, I get why they felt the need to do it... but it was disappointing just the same that they didn't give the role to a Japanese actor. Yes, they wrote an explanation for it into the film as a central theme, but it was still kind of half-assed. How frickin' sweet would it have been to get Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) or Chiaki Kuriyama (Go Go Yubari!) as The Major?

Oh well. It didn't end up mattering. The film is bombing despite the star casting, so I guess that's that.

Major, out.

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Rogue One Redux

Posted on Friday, April 7th, 2017

Dave!To 3D or not to 3D?

Before James Cameron's Avatar, I was firmly against 3D movies. They always looked like crap and tended to be more of a distraction than an enhancement to the film. But then Avatar did 3D right. It was stunning. It added to the entertainment value of the movie. I decided to start taking a look at the rash of 3D films that followed... and was disappointed. Unlike Cameron, who developed special 3D cameras, the vast majority of films were "post-processed" into "fake 3D" that were headache-inducing garbage.

But then things started to change.

Even though most films were still not filmed in 3D, they were shot with 3D conversion in mind. The end result just kept getting better and better. Unfortunately, theaters didn't keep up. Faulty equipment and old projector bulbs meant 3D movies were dark and muddy. Even though the films themselves were looking great, you rarely got to see them that way. I gave up on 3D for a second time.

And then I got a 3D television and Blu-Ray player.

After a few "test" 3D films, I became more and more impressed with what I was seeing. After a while, any major movie I had to own was purchased in 3D. It's more expensive, but you often get the iTunes digital version along with it, so it seemed worth the investment.

I mention all this, because I just got Star Wars: Rogue One on 3D Blu-Ray, and while the movie is fantastic, the 3D quality seems to be going backwards. Instead of the stunning 3D conversion we got with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this film is bland by comparison. The 3D is weak, dark, muddy, and even a bit blurry...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Poster!

   
Given how much I loved the movie and how high my expectations were after the last Star Wars 3D Blu-Ray release, this was a major disappointment. Especially given that it cost a whopping $30 plus tax.

Before I get to my spoiler-ridden observations, I think it would be helpful to explain just how much I loved Rogue One by putting it into context of the other movies...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Poster!

   
Yes. You are seeing this correctly... I put it above the original Star Wars. It's that good. Heavy on awesome special effects, but with a story that doesn't get overwhelmed by them. Flawlessly cast and faithful to the original "world" in just about every way.

If you haven't seen it yet, don't go any further. If you have, my thoughts are in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Bullet Sunday 502

Posted on Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Dave!Sure it's Easter, but there are other reasons to celebrate the day, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Kitty! Everything I love about cats can be found in this one clip of a kitty trying to escape the field at a Marlins game...

What a trooper! Apparently a Marlins' employee adopted the cat, who was named "Don Cattingly" in a Twitter poll.

   
• Kedi! And, speaking of cats...

Can't believe I have to wait until November for this to come out on video!

   
• Atomic! Okay... putting aside the fact that the trailer for Atomic Blonde features music by both Depeche Mode and New Order... how badly does watching this make me want to see the movie?

Charlize Theron should be in a lot more movies.

   
• Ragnarok! Speaking of movie trailers... how amazing is the latest Thor movie looking?

I'm part of the minority who actually likes the Thor films. The first one was really great at establishing the characters. The second stumbled quite a bit, but was still entertaining. But this? Probably the best Thor yet. Possibly one of the best Marvel films yet.

   
• Spicey! Melissa McCarthy is hosting SNL on May 15th. I'm hoping it's just an hour-and-a-half of her impersonating Sean Spicer, playing out the best of his ongoing fuck-ups. Verbatim. In the meanwhile, we have yet another flawless sketch from last night's episode...

What a big, beautiful slice of chocolate cake.

   
• Politics! The more you know about how politics work in this country, the more you think that we should burn the entire system to the ground and start over...

Politicians don't act in the best interest of those they represent because they don't have to. That's the underlying reason we're as fucked as we are.

   
Now go eat some eggs, you animal.

   

A Flashback and Steve Jobs

Posted on Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Dave!This morning when I stepped into the shower, my foot hit the cold tile and I immediately had a flashback to my vacation in Fiji. This is not unusual... most people have experienced sights or smells or other sensations which trigger memories. But usually it's a memory that makes sense. And I could not for the life of me figure out how my foot stepping on cold tile could be associated with Fiji when everything in Fiji is hot. At best, the apartment I stayed at was cool. Nothing in it, including the tile, was cold. So what they heck?

It was an hour later as I was packing up my junk to go to work that it dawned on me...

Steve Jobs.

Last night I had finally gotten around to watching the movie Steve Jobs which was a fascinating (albeit fictional) look at my all-time favorite personal hero. And while people who knew Steve said that it didn't reflect reality and the character in the movie seemed far more hostile and cruel than the Real Steve Jobs (especially later in life where he mellowed quite a bit), it was nevertheless an entertaining movie. Michael Fassbender was a compelling and charismatic Jobs and, much to my surprise, Kate Winslet completely nailed playing Joanna Hoffman. Getting Seth Rogan to play Woz and Jeff Daniels for John Sculley was just icing on the cake. Loved the movie. I give it five stars.

And so... Fiji.

I had been snorkeling with sea snakes and sharks then cruising with dolphins. The boat had just returned to the shallows where I was getting ready to trudge across the mud-flats back to shore. My iPhone, which was safely stored in a waterproof tote, came into cellular range and beeped. There was a text message waiting for me. A text I dreaded, because it was likely bad news. Eventually I made it back to the scuba shop and fished my mobile out of the bag.

It was a text from my brother telling me that Steve Jobs had died.

My feet were still wet. I was standing in the shade on terra cotta tile made cold thanks to a box fan blowing on it.

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Bullet Sunday 503

Posted on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Dave!Everybody have a nice Earth Day?

Good! Because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Sikh! Essential viewing...

The more you know...

Sikhism is a fascinating faith that I haven't studied nearly enough.

   
• Kingsman! Holy shit! Going back to insert this in Bullet Sunday because it's just too good. I loved the first film, and it looks like the second is going to be more of the same!

Very cool that the American version of "The Kingsmen" makes their debut... " The Statesmen!" I wonder if a spin-off franchise is at hand? So long as Matthew Vaughn is involved, that's fine by me!

   
• Krypton! Ooh a TV show based on Superman's home planet... Krypton. This could be interesting! Wonder how faithful they'll be to the source material? Will we get to see the Scarlet Jungle? The Gold Volcano? How about Vathlo Island? The Jewel Mountains? Or even the Red Ocean? Can't wait to find out. The series is being developed at SyFy but, for reasons too fucking stupid to comprehend, they're killing the trailer everywhere it pops up. So I can't share the trailer. I can only share this hilarious reaction video from Double Toasted, which only shows parts of it (NSFW)...

The trailer is getting pretty good buzz. God only knows why SyFy is keeping people from sharing it.

   
• Mountains? When your CAPTCHA tells you to select all the mountain images, so you do... only to find out that they must live in Nebraska and think hills are mountains, which they most certainly are not...

CAPTCH Mountains... Not

#1 and #8 qualify as "mountains"... alrighty then.

   
• These Days! "Take That!" is a band that didn't get huge success here in the US when compared to their home in the UK, where they are massively popular. Even so, I've always liked the band, and was surprised to find out that they released an album back in 2014 that I missed entirely called III. The lead single is a track filled with poppy fun that I can't seem to get out of my head...

Kind of cool how Take That! keeps chugging along even after losing two of their bandmates.

   
• Puppy! And, lastly, your weekly dose of "Awwwww... cute!" is right here...

Amazing how Mother Nature works.

   
And now... I could really use another day of my weekend.

   

Bullet Sunday 504

Posted on Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Dave!Time to celebrate another week down the toilet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• DC! I have made no secret of my love of all things coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe... and my deep loathing of all things coming out of the DC Cinematic Universe. This fan video puts the reason why in vivid relief...

100% accurate. DC has a habit of taking fun, exciting, uplifting hero stories and degrading them to joyless sequences of death and destruction that are a chore to watch. Why in the hell they don't put the team in charge of their TV shows in charge of their movies I will never know. At least they know how to make the characters fun to watch. Justice League, a movie I should be on pins and needles to see, is something I honestly don't give a shit about. Not when we've got Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther coming up. Not to mention Infinity War, which promises to blow the doors off of any super-hero film yet seen.

   
• Piper! I never got to see Finding Dory in theaters, but bought the Blue-Ray in 3D so I could watch it at home. Never had time to explore the "extras" on the disc, but today discovered it has a Pixar Short called Piper included...

That snippet is just the tip of the iceberg. Such a wonderfully adorable bit of animation! Well worth tracking down if you haven't seen it yet.

   
• Tarzan! The novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs are some of the most imaginative and entertaining reads I've ever experienced. That he started writing them in 1912 just goes to show how incredible a storyteller he was. Between John Carter of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes (and a slew of others), he has a wealth of material just begging to be adapted into movies.

And they have been.

Unfortunately, they've mostly sucked. John Carter was a total shit-fest that abandoned everything that made the character so compelling. And Tarzan? In the books he is an extremely intelligent character who speaks dozens of languages and is as accomplished in civilization as Lord Greystoke as he is in the jungle as Tarzan. But what do we get? Every time Tarzan comes to the screen, he's a grunting ignoramus that barely knows how to speak because he's written more as an animal than a man. For any Tarzan fan it's a massive disappointment, and I'd all but given up hope that we'd ever get an adaptation of The Lord of The Jungle that wasn't crap. Enter The Legend of Tarzan...

Now, this is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even a flawless adaptation of Tarzan. But holy crap... it's the closest thing I've yet seen, and I loved it. All that plus it has Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz in it! And gone are the days of Tarzan being a stupid savage! Hell, they even made an effort for Jane to be more than a damsel in perpetual distress! Sure the CGI, which actually started out quite good, ultimately degrades to a level that was below-par, but it didn't destroy how much I enjoyed watching the story unfold. So... ignore the critics. If you like Tarzan... the REAL Tarzan... this is a film that's definitely worth a look!

   
• TRADER JOE'S CONSUMER ALERT!
"Have you got any more Black Bean and Jack Cheese burritos? I took the last two."
"I think that's all we got. Have you tried the Super Burrito? It's the same except it's made with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Really good."
"Okay, I'll try it, thanks!"

And so tonight I decided to have a late lunch /slash/ early dinner and give it a try. I take a bite and it's not bad... light on the sweet potato and heavy on the quinoa... but it's got a nice spicy bite to it. And then... AND THEN... I take another bite and there's something crunchy/leafy/weird. Is that spinach, I wonder? I dig the wrapper out of the garbage and... IT'S NOT SPINACH... IT'S FUCKING KALE!

Trader Joe's Super Burrito HAS FUCKING KALE IN IT!!!!!

TRADER JOE'S TRICKED ME INTO EATING KALE AND NOW I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO DIE!!!

KALE!!!!!!! GAH!!!!

Needless to say, I am not in a good place right now, and I appreciate everybody's understanding as I attempt to mentally and physically recover from this tragedy. I will soon be setting up a GoFundMe page in an effort to help with the massive costs involved in getting me healthy again. WAAAAAHHH!!!! WHO PUTS KALE IN A BURRITO?!? WHY, LORD? WHYYYYYYY?!?.

   
• Let's Play! Alrighty then... time once again to play the "Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...

JUDGE ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING OF A MINOR.

Oh yeah. Big fucking surprise... he's not only Tea Party and Ku Klux Klan supporter, but also a former Trump campaign chair! Because disgusting shit like this is only bad when Democrats are doing it, I guess? Republicans do this kind of heinous shit and "their base" elects them to the school board!

BONUS ROUND!
"Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...

GOVERNOR RESIGNS AMID SEX SCANDAL.

Hmmm... let me guess...

   
• Bullshit! And lastly, an article that's well-worth a read, regardless of religious affiliation is here: America Isn’t Growing Hostile Towards Christians, It’s Growing Hostile Towards Religious Bullies. Because, look... so long as you can walk into a post office and buy a stamp with Jesus on it for Christmas... I've had just about enough of this bullshit notion that Christians are some kind of persecuted class and there's a war on Christian ideology. As somebody who is not a Christian and sees just how pervasive the religion is in dominating so many aspects of American culture, it's embarrassing that people are trying to keep this one alive. And yet FOX "News" is undoubtedly already warming up new ideas to make "The War on Christmas" become something out of nothing again. Because what plays better than victimization on TV?

   
Time to reload...

   

Volume Two

Posted on Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Dave!Today was long-time blogging friend Howard's 50th birthday!

And to celebrate, he rented out a theater at The Alamo Draft House Denver so a group of us could watch Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2.

Given my love of the first film, I was really, really looking forward to seeing it...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Poster

And my verdict? Not as good as the first movie, but a fantastic film that's high on entertainment value.

For more of my spoiler-filled thoughts, you'll have to read on in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 505

Posted on Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Dave!It's good to be home, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Travel Day! Last night I was going to head into Denver for some dinner and bumming around after Howard's birthday party, but made the mistake of "laying down for a minute" and decided I'd rather order out pizza and watch TV. After pizza, I decided to pack up my crap, iron tomorrow's clothes, and get everything ready to go for today. Always a smart move, because I just love being able to roll out of bed, shower, and head out on a travel day. Why I don't do this more often I will never know. I guess that deep down I prefer the mad dash of getting ready in the ten minutes before my ride arrives? Who can say?

   
• Home! When I arrived back home today, the first thing I did was start unpacking. Jenny felt threatened by dirty clothes flying and retreated to her basket...

Jenny in a Basket

Jake kept trying to crawl all over me, so I grabbed his favorite blanket and finally gave in while I was sorting laundry...

Jake Cuddles

Laying down was a mistake, as I fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke up, Jenny had joined in and I was covered in kittens. There are certainly worse homecomings.

   
• Things to do in Denver. Side-by-side on the Denver "Things to Do" rack at my hotel...

Guns and Weed Brochures

But which to do first? Hmmmm...

   
• Hope! As a huge fan of Greek mythology for as long as I could read, I've always had a soft spot for Wonder Woman. When George Pérez reinvented the character in 1987 by jettisoning decades of bad choices so she could be tied even stronger to her Greek mythological origins, Wonder Woman quickly became one of my favorite super-heroes. Which is why I've been awaiting her big-screen debut with absolute dread given the horrendously shitty movies DC has been churning out lately. And yet... there's hope...

Not bad. Not bad at all. I guess we'll know for sure on June 2.

   
• Spidey! And lest we forget that Marvel has a super-hero film of their own coming out this summer...

I mean, holy shit. I liked the first two Tobey Maguire films okay, but this... THIS... is Spider-Man! He moves like you'd expect Spider-Man to move, and it's a glorious thing to see. Cannot wait for July 5th!

   
• Neutrality 2. I have said pretty much all I have to say about the pig-fuckers in our government wanting to sell-out the internet to big media companies. But now that our corrupt asshole of a president is mounting a new assault, all I want to do is explode with rage. Here's a more rational response...

How the American people can be SO FUCKING STUPID as to put up with this FUCKING BULLSHIT is beyond me. But, hey... the American people elected a pussy-grabbing Cheeto Jesus as president, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

   
And I'm fucking done.

   

The LEGO Batman Movie

Posted on Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Dave!My plan was to wait and review The LEGO Batman Movie after it hit home-video so that I wouldn't spoil anything for those who hadn't seen it. That day is tomorrow. And I'm still hesitant to spoil anything by reviewing it, because it's just so frickin' hilarious and amazing.

Suffice to say, it's about the best thing you'll ever see, and you simply must watch it.

The movie is everything great about LEGO Batman's appearance in The LEGO Movie, but ramped up to an absurd degree...

The LEGO Batman Movie Poster!

I have no doubt that I'm going to end up watching the film a hundred times when it goes on sale tomorrow. It's that good.

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

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+
Deadpool... A
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+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... 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-
The LEGO Batman Movie... A++
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-
Suicide Squad... D
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Thor: The Dark World... B
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+

   

LEGO Cinemania

Posted on Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Dave!In celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released on iTunes (a film I absolutely recommend you should see)... Apple put a bunch of movies on sale and gave their visuals a LEGO treatment.

I liked them so much that I wanted to be sure and save them to my blog in case I ever wanted to see them again...

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

A couple of these films could have been vastly pproved if they were LEGO creations... just sayin'.

   

Spy Pain and the Homecoming King

Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Dave!Even through the pain-medication-induced haze I was mired in, sleep last night was fitful.

Around 4:30am the pain medication wore off, so I reluctantly downed another pill in the hopes that I might get a bit more rest before having to go to work. Unfortunately, my body was not having it. Sleep is pretty much impossible when you can't get comfortable, and I was about as uncomfortable as I could be.

And so I turned on Netflix with the plan of distracting myself to sleep as the medication hit. The first thing I see? Hasan Minhaj has a comedy special out called Homecoming King. I love the guy on The Daily Show... really love the guy for his work at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner... and thought it was worth a shot.

It ended up being one of the best things I've seen...

Seriously. If you are a Netflix subscriber, stop reading this and go watch it. If you are not a Netflix subscriber, then start your free trial and watch it. If you have already burned your free trial, then bite the bullet and pay the $8 to watch. Because Homecoming King is everything you could want in a comedy show... funny, smart, painful, charming, hopeful, devastating, educational, sad, witty, and beautiful.

But mostly funny. Which was the vacation I needed right now.

Because the minute I turned off the TV and checked into The World... I saw coverages of the bombing in Manchester and that Roger Moore had died.

I've run out words when it comes to news of yet another terrorist attack. Except to say that I can't fathom the hatred that fuels somebody to bomb a venue that was filled with kids. It's a horrific act that has me wondering if this planet is quickly getting to a point that it's beyond saving. That any of us... even a terrorist... can do something like this... the case for humanity's continuing existence just gets weaker and weaker.

And then there's 007.

They say that the James Bond you like best is the one you grew up with. For me, that was Roger Moore.

Not that I knew anything about James Bond when I was a kid.

But then come 1977, Star Wars was unleashed on my 11-year-old brain. Needless to say I became completely obsessed, and was so hungry for more sci-fi space opera that I was tuning into anything that even hinted Star Wars. Including the James Bond film Moonraker in 1979. Which sealed my fate as a huge James Bod fan as well...

James Bond Returns in MOONRAKER!

Yes, yes, I know Moonraker is not rated very highly in the Bond canon, but I loved it. I still do. I loved it so much that when VHS rentals were ushered in with the 1980's, my family would rent that giant VHS player so I could see all the Bond movies I had missed. Which, for me were Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me. I never much cared to see the Sean Connery films because Roger Moore was the Bond I knew.

Then we got more Moore with For Your Eyes Only (still one of my favorites!), Octopussy (not one of my favorites), and finally A View to a Kill (with the incomparable Grace Jones and a made-for-Bond-villain Christopher Walken!). And while I eventually grew to love Sean Connery's films... enjoy Pierce Brosnan's films... and rekindle my love of the ultimate spy when James Bond was reimagined for a modern world with Daniel Craig... Roger Moore will always be the James Bond to me. Say what you will about his take on the character, it was always entertaining.

Not that Roger Moore defined himself by the character he played. He spent decades working with UNICEF and other children charities. He also used his celebrity to fight against animal cruelty, and is credited with getting foie gras removed from British store shelves (a food born out of horrendously inhumane treatment of ducks and geese).

Sir Roger Moore, you will be missed.

   

Shave and a Hair Cut… Two Bits!

Posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Dave!Yesterday morning I woke up early. I was too uncomfortable to sleep, so I took Oxycodone to keep my kidney stone pain at bay... then decided cut my hair. In retrospect, that was a terrible decision, because my hair ended up all jacked up. Despite opiates coursing through my system, it hurt too much for me to attempt to fix it, so I just put on a Red Sox hat and let it go.

Probably would have been smarter to wait until I'm feeling better. But I've gotten pretty good at cutting my hair... and my grandfather was a barber... so experience and genetics were on my side.

The Fifth Element!

   
Until they weren't.

I joked with friends that I look like the insane "Smoke You" neighbor of Korbin Dallas in The Fifth Element...

The Fifth Element!

   
LEELOODALLASMULTIPASS!

The Fifth Element!

   
Anyway...

This morning I attempted to fix my hair. I was in surprisingly little pain, didn't have to take an Oxycodone, and felt in good enough shape to tackle my head.

I think I made things worse.

Apparently touch-ups are a more complicated matter than cutting your hair correctly the first time...

The Fifth Element!

   
I haven't decided if I'm going to give it another go this weekend. I'm pretty sure I can fix it if I wet my head first next time. And, hey, I always have the option of buzz-cutting it, or coming up with something totally different, so there's that...

The Fifth Element!

   
I should probably also look into making better life choices.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do a couple lines of cocaine and work on the electrical wiring in my bathroom.

   

She’s a Wonder…

Posted on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Dave!I've been a fan of Wonder Woman since I was 11 years old and Lynda Carter appeared on my television wearing those satin tights. By the time her final season aired, my 13-year old self was head over heels in love. Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman. At least she was the closest thing to Wonder Woman mere mortals could get.

After the cancelation of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, my interest in the Amazonian princess waned. I was a huge DC Comics nerd, but never bought many Wonder Woman comics unless a guest star I liked was showing up. Most of my exposure to her came from her appearances in Justice League of America, where she was almost always overshadowed.

And then... genius artist and storyteller George Pérez rebooted Wonder Woman in 1987...

Wonder Woman #1 Cover

The series is a master-work, delving deep into the Greek mythology of the character. No longer a "female Superman," Diana had a clear purpose and direction that distinguished her from other super-heroes in the DC stable. Having married my love of Greek mythology with my love of comic books, I became a massive Wonder Woman fan.

Fast-forward to today, and we have a new iteration of Wonder Woman to capture our imaginations. This time, finally... at long last, on the silver screen...

Wonder Woman Movie Poster

I'm going to put my spoiler-laden review in an extended entry, because the last thing I want to do is ruin such an amazing film for those who haven't seen it. Suffice to say that it is one of the best DC Comics adaptation we've yet seen. Only The Dark Knight can touch it. And nobody could be more thrilled than I am to say that. After the horrendously shitty string of DC movies we've endured... Man of Steel, Suicide Squad, and (Lord help us) the pile of shit known as Batman vs. Superman... I was beginning to lose hope.

But Wonder Woman changes everything. Faithful to the source material. Beautifully designed with mind-blowing special effects. Flawlessly cast. Terrific story. Awesome directing. Great music. It's the total package, and everything you want in a super-hero film. It's so good that you'd almost think it was a Marvel movie!

So... definitely go see it before reading any further...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 510

Posted on Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Dave!Time to bask in the rosy glow of the blogosphere, because an all new edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Batman! It's difficult for me to think about Sunday bullets when my head is trying to wrap itself around the passing of original Batman Adam West. It's even tougher to try and explain how his television show influenced my childhood. Yes, the show was cheesy as all get-out, but my love of comic books and super-heroes all goes back to Batman, which I faithfully watched in reruns every day after school...

Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin!

But the thing that cemented me as an Adam West fan is how the actor totally owned his character, and leveraged everybody's love of who he was to get an entirely new career as an animation voice actor. While probably best known for the Mayor of Quahog in The Family Guy, he voiced dozens of roles...

The Family Guy Mayor Adam West

There have been a lot of famous people rushing to express their condolences, but the one we've been waiting for is from Adam West's Robin, Burt Ward. And with that... godspeed, Adam West. You will be missed.

   
• Black Panther! And... we're finally getting a real look at the long-awaited Black Panther movie. Like everything Marvel touches, it's looking incredible...

And, to think, we've got the new Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok movies coming soon! So great.

   
• LEGO CATS! What happens when two of your favorite things get smooshed into one? There is a company making LEGO Cats!

LEGO Cats!

AWESOME! Thanks to long-time friend and food blogger extraordinaire, Foodiddy, for the link!

   
• Nail Me! Of the many tools I've invested in, my pneumatic brad nailer is one of my favorites. Being able to BAP! BAP! BAP! nails into place is a time-saving bit of wonderful I can't get enough of. There's a price you pay, however, and that's having to lug around an air compressor. For this reason, I've been dreaming of buying a nailer that is cordless and tankless... like the Milwaukee 18-Volt 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer...

Milwaukee Fuel 18 Nailer

Problem is... it's like $400, which is a lot of money.

But then Home Depot sends me an email saying it's on sale at 40% off... just $240! And that comes with a new M18 Fuel battery! Sweet! I mean, I don't have $240, so it will have to sit on my credit card with my biscuit cutter, but it's still pretty great. If you're in the market for such a thing, the sale runs through June 21st!

   
• NEWSFLASH: A Studio Ghibli Theme Park Is CONFIRMED for 2020. — And... guess where I'll be going in 2021? There is no way to properly express my enthusiasm for even the idea of such a magical place.

   
• Humanity! I think it's awful we have to make commercials to explain lessons in Humanity 101 but, if we must, this is what it should look like...

This wonderful spot on foster homes for kids is not something new for Norway, they are also responsible for this amazing commercial...

And yet I live in a country that would rather build a useless border wall that will ultimately cause more harm than good (while doing fuck-all nothing to solve drugs or illegal immigration problems) instead of put any money towards those who need it most. That's how fucked up things are now, and how far we've fallen from the basic humanity that used to define us. Shameful.

   
• NEWSFLASH! Jeff Sessions says he’s ‘surprised’ Americans aren’t embracing his anti-marijuana stance. I'm betting a LOT of things surprise this dumbass moron. Like electricity. And indoor toilets. And being able to bring a woman to orgasm...

Sessions Dumbfuckery
Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

I am sick and fucking tired of wealthy old white men making decisions based on their idiotic, antiquated notions. Legalization of cannabis is a growing trend because THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY WANT IT, and I find it ironic that Sessions comes from a party who's all about state's rights... except when it comes to something he doesn't like. What a fucking hypocritical douche.

   
And... no more bullets. There's a new episode of American Gods to be watching!

   

One Hundred Sixteen

Posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Dave!Thanks to ceiling fans and evening ventilation, I have yet to turn on the air conditioner this year despite having some 90°+ days.

Needless to say, I'm ecstatic. Next to heating, running the air conditioner is the most expensive use of electricity I have. It can easily approach $100 per month if I'm not careful. Like last year when, apparently, I really liked being cool on hot days. This year I can't afford not to be careful, hence my ecstatic nature.

Next week this time I will be in Las Vegas for some meetings and to visit friends. The temperature there has consistently been over 100° with the forecast calling for a high of 116°... that's ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN DEGREES.

Fortunately I am not paying for that air conditioning.

In other news, I finally got my hands on the Wonder Woman: The Art and The Making of the Film book...

Wonder Woman: The Art of The Making of The Film Book

I love these kind of movie books... especially for the Marvel super-hero films and the Disney/Pixar films. I usually end up buying all of them, as the "how" is sometimes even more interesting than the movies themselves. This one is no exception. The production values on Wonder Woman were incredible, and seeing all the thought behind some of the decisions made just adds to the experience.

Of particular interest is the design for Themiscyra, home of the Amazons. If you've seen the film, you can just imagine.

And if you've seen the film and like it as much as I do, then checking out this book is a must.

   

Bullet Sunday 513

Posted on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Dave!It's the Sunday before the Monday before the 4th! And there's even more to celebrate, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Wonderful! Over the decades we've had DC Comic Book heroes make their way to the movies with persistent regularity. Batman and Superman have had numerous incarnations in dozens of films... including the recent piles of shit that Zack Snyder has unleashed upon the world with Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. But what about the other hero in the DC holy trinity? What about Wonder Woman? Where's her movie? She's always been shoved aside, presumably because DC questioned whether anybody would go see her in a feature film. Heck, even Green Lantern finally got a movie back in 2011, and he's not nearly as recognizable as Wonder Woman. Everybody knows who she is.

And then, at long last, our patience was rewarded when Wonder Woman hit the big screen.

And has been completely killing it.

This week Wonder Woman trounced both Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice to become the top-earning film in DC Comics history at the domestic box office...

Box Office Mojo DC Universe Films Ranking!
Stats taken from Box Office Mojo

Internationally, the film has considerable ground to cover before it eclipses Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, but the point has been made.

It's Marvel all over again, proving that good movies with second-string characters that are faithful to the source material will be more critically (and quite possibly financially) successful than crappy movies with top-tier characters that shit all over the source material. There is a reason that these characters endure. To ignore what got them there is to ignore what people want to see.

   
• Flash! And, speaking of shitting all over the source material in a Zack Snyder DC Comics movie... everything that's wrong with the new costume that The Flash is sporting in the upcoming Justice League film is on full display when you look at what LEGO had to do to translate it into a minifig...

LEGO Flash Minifigs!

I can't even tell what the hell is going on there. The Flash is the "fastest man alive." As such, his costume has always been painfully sleek and minimal in appearance. But not now. Now they've wrapped him is laughably idiotic armor plating that makes him look anything but sleek. He's the exact opposite of sleek...

Zack Snyder Flash Movie Abortion!

I mean, COME ON! He looks like a clunky robot with an inexplicably massive codpiece! Even more clunky and robotic than Cyborg, WHO IS LITERALLY A HALF-ROBOT CHARACTER. Grotesque and more than a little embarrassing for DC, who has had such excellent translations of The Flash in previous endeavors. Particularly in their animation department...

Animated Flash Costume!

And even their television show...

Television Flash Costume!

To "think outside the box" is not a bad thing... sometimes it's critical to making the leap from comics to screen work. But what we have here is a fundamental lack of knowledge about what makes The Flash be "The Flash." Which means the Justice League movie is undoubtedly going to suck ass. What a shame.

   
• Balls! This past week was the 30th anniversary of Spaceballs, one of my favorite comedies...

Spaceballs Movie Poster
Photo from Getty Images

Over the years there have been numerous rumors of a sequel (including this past Spring), but the only thing we've gotten is thirteen episodes of an animated series. My hope is that one of these days it will actually happen.

   
• Vaccinate! The amount of misinformation out in the world is horrifying. Everybody has an agenda, and you can never be sure what's behind the information you're getting. But the fact that diseases we once eradicated have come back... and come back huge... should give pause when it comes to condemning vaccinations...

Scary. Too scary.

   
• Hjalmarsson! Though I've found it harder and harder to keep up with hockey, I nevertheless obsessed over my beloved Blackhawks as they battled their way to the playoffs last season. That Nashville took them out immediately did not dampen my enthusiasm for the team. What did dampen my enthusiasm was finding out that one of my favorites players, Niklas Hjalmarsson, had been traded...

Niklas Hjalmarsson via Getty Images
Photo from Getty Images

The guy was a big part of what got them to three Stanley Cup wins, so I'm understandably gutted. He would throw himself in front of the puck under circumstances no sane player would, which only made me love him more. He gave everything he had to the team, and this is a serious blow to Blackhawks hockey. Yes, I know that it relieves some salary cap problems, but I can't wrap my head around a team without Hjalmarsson there. Thank you, sir, you will most definitely be missed.

   
• Freedom! When you use freedom of speech to speak out on the issues that are important to you but criticize others for doing the exact same thing, you're no patriot. You're a douchebag. And speaking of... I don't always agree with Chelsea Handler, but thought this was an important message to share...

Of course, "freedom of speech" doesn't mean "freedom from consequences of free speech," which is an increasingly popular misunderstanding to have... but let's save that for another holiday.

   
And... I gotta be to work tomorrow, so no more bullets for you!

   

Bullet Sunday 514

Posted on Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Dave!The heat may be blasting like a furnace outside, but there's hope for all humanity because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Moana Three Dee! I used an Amazon gift card I got back on my birthday to buy the Moana Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-Ray set. The animation is so gorgeous that I was interested to see how it looked when rendered out in 3-D...

Moana 3D Blu-Ray Set

Turns out that it's pretty great. For the most part. The 3-D kind of falls apart when the action gets really fast, but is otherwise an amazing visual treat. The astounding quality of computer animation now-a-days is just mind-blowing. Marry that to some of the best songs to ever come out of a Disney film and you've got magic. My favorite Disney song ever would be Jermaine Clement playing a giant crab...

And who knew that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had it in him?

Forget Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's best work is with Opetaia Foa'i in Moana...

I prefer the 2-D version to 3-D, but the movie is so amazing that there really isn't any wrong way to watch it. If you haven't seen Moana, you need to get on that.

   
• Artifacts! I fucking hate Hobby Lobby. Which is to say I wasn't the least bit shocked when it was revealed that they had been caught with illegal ancient artifacts from Iraq. Undoubtedly purchased from terrorist organizations like ISIS, who are well-known to fund their terrorism by doing exactly this kind of thing. But yeah, tell me again how "Plan B" is morally reprehensible to you. Because a cluster of cells in the womb is more vital than fully-formed humans trying to survive relentless terrorist attacks? OH... THAT'S RIGHT... THE FULLY-FORMED HUMANS ARE BROWN PEOPLE HALF-A-WORLD-AWAY WHO PROBABLY HAVE ICKY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! MAKES PERFECT SENSE! Hobby Lobby and their morally superior bullshit is utter garbage.

   
• Fight or Flight! More United Airlines fuckery. It doesn't matter that they "scanned the second ticket wrong"... the standby passenger is the one who should have left once the mistake had been discovered. And United's shitty solution is absurd. A voucher? That's what they offered me after I got screwed over, and I told them to shove it up their ass because I was never flying their shithole of an airline again. I don't understand why anybody does.

   
• Jupiter! Nine months waiting for Jupiter's Legacy Volume 2, Issue 5. Nine months. And it was about the most anti-climactic comic book ending they could have possibly given us...

Jupiter's Legacy Vol. 2 No. 5

Absolutely no surprises. After all the imagination that went into the nine issues prior, we get a straight-forward story that could have been created by absolutely anybody. And we had to wait NINE MONTHS for it? Nothing even remotely special. I don't know why I get my hopes up for shit anymore.

   
• Comma! One of my favorite West Wing episodes is titled after a Mark Twain quote: "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Except... Aaron Sorkin abandoned the Oxford comma and butchered it to be Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics, which changes the meaning (hey, Lies and Statistics could be the name of a book like Dungeons and Dragons or something). It drives me insane. As does most sentences where an Oxford comma would be helpful to clarify intent but instead goes unused. Every time I spot a missing Oxford comma, I can't help but assume that the writer doesn't know how the English language works. And yet... there is still debate over this crap like there should actually be a question over whether Oxford commas should be used. IT TOTALLY SHOULD! There is no penalty for using one when it's really not necessary. There can be huge penalties for not using one when you should have. Case in point? Click through to this hot mess.

   
• Holy Shit! I have become numb to the daily dose of horror and idiocy that comes from having President Trump in office, but his latest round of tweets has me convinced that the man running the country is one of the stupidest people on earth...

Putin Trump Fuckery

Can you imagine... can you even fathom in your wildest imagination... what the reaction would have been by Republicans if President Obama had said this? They would have completely lost their minds. Apparently it finally dawned on Clownface VonFuckstick how insane this is, because he later tweeted that he believes it "can't happen," over something he says never happened in the first place? Or did happen? Or didn't? Depending on the day. Or whatever. Ivanka is catching serious heat for being an unelected, unqualified seat-filler at the G-20 conference, but at least she can form a coherent sentence. Why not put her in charge? Because nothing could be worse than what we have now.

   
And that aughta do it! See you next Sunday!

   

Emoji Movies

Posted on Monday, July 17th, 2017

Dave!I love good marketing.

The problem is that so few companies manage it.

Apple happens to be a company that excels at good marketing. Like when they converted the banners in the iTunes Store to LEGO in celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released.

And now... the banners across the top of the "Movies" section of the iTunes Store were all movie titles constructed out of emojis! (in celebration of The Emoji Movie perhaps?) I copied all of them because I just couldn't stand the idea of such brilliance being lost. How many can you guess?

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Even the "featured titles" were spelled out in emoji...

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

So great.

   

The Golden Circle

Posted on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Dave!Of all the movies coming out this year, the one I am most looking forward to is Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which is a sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service. The first film was fantastic because it was one of those rare movies that comes along and feels entirely fresh while being wholly familiar at the same time. Yes, there's a lot of James Bond in there, but it doesn't tread the same waters at all. In many ways, Kingsman out-Bonded Bond by rebooting the British spy thriller to new heights.

I mean, just look at it...

As for the rest of the movies I'm dying to see in 2017? Here are my top ten so far...

  1. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
  2. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  3. Blade Runner 2049
  4. Thor: Ragnarok
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  6. The Dark Tower
  7. Atomic Blonde
  8. Dunkirk
  9. Coco
  10. The Disaster Artist

I grant you that The Disaster Artist is an odd choice. But the first trailer debuted, and watching Dave Franco channel Tommy Wiseau is absolute cinematic magic...

Compare to the original...

A movie about the making of one of the worst movies of all time that actually looks good? Sign me up.

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Bullet Sunday 516

Posted on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Dave!Never fear, super-fans, because a Very Special Comic-Con Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• THOR: RAGNAROK! I liked the first two Thor movies quite a lot. Especially the first one, which did a masterful job of introducing Thor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was grandiose and epic in a way you need a movie with gods to be, and set the tone for Thor in everything that would come after (including a couple Avengers movies). And now, the third Thor film is ready to be unleashed this November:

Super sweet! Kind of an 80's vibe, even in the amazing poster...

Thor Ragnarok Poster

Marvel amazes me. Every movie they release is an escalation of what's come before. Sometimes it doesn't work 100% (I'm looking at you, Age of Ultron) but most of the time it seriously does. And Thor: Ragnarok looks to be knocking it out of the park. Can't. Wait.

   
• THE DEFENDERS! But before we get treated to new Thor, first we get to see the culmination of all four Netflix series... Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron First... with The Defenders. This seems like a great idea, and a logical culmination of all that's come before...

Time (and August 18th) will tell whether or not it's clever enough to be worthy, but getting Sigourney Weaver as your villain was a great start. Cool. All this and The Punisher coming by years' end too.

   
• THE INHUMANS! Also dropping prior to new Thor? The Inhumans. Originally they were getting their own movie but, after the franchise was turned to shit in ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I guess they felt a movie was aiming too high. Instead we get a compromise. The first episode is being released to IMAX theaters in September, then the show continues on ABC...

Eh. Probably good that they didn't attempt this in a feature film, because Medusa's magical hair was never going to look fantastic. Regardless, nothing I'm seeing here has me too excited. ABC had an amazing opportunity to do something truly different by taking The Inhumans into extreme weirdness, but it looks like Just Another Super-Hero Show on the Small Screen. Not surprising... I can't stand Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it doesn't look like ABC is attempting to break any new ground here like they did with the amazing Agent Carter series. Pity.

   
• BLACK PANTHER! And here is where I start to lose my shit. I'm a huge, huge, massively huge fan of Black Panther. I was thrilled to see him finally join the MCU with Captain America: Civil War, and am positively giddy at the prospect of seeing him get a film all to himself. The technically advanced world of Wakanda is going to make for a heck of a movie, assuming they get the story right. And, from the looks the first trailer, they are definitely trying...

And that poster...

Black Panther Poster

Since this is Marvel, I'm assuming they've nailed it. Not knowing is kinda killing me. Having to wait until February 16th to find out is really killing me.

   
• AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR And then there's the culmination of every Marvel Studios movie ever released coming to a theater near you on May 4th. The footage at Comic-Con has not been released yet (if ever), but they did give us a gatefold poster to drool over...

Avengers Infinity War Poster

Which conveniently breaks down into three panels for closer inspection of all the awesomeness there is to unpack...

Avengers Infinity War Poster Panel

Avengers Infinity War Poster Panel

Avengers Infinity War Poster Panel

First of all... BLACK WIDOW IS A BLONDE THIS TIME AROUND? Wonder what in the hell that's all about. Second of all... why is Hawkeye getting the short end of the stick again? He's barely in the poster at all, and doesn't even get an action pose with his bow and arrow! Granted, he could arguably be seen as the weak link in The Avengers, but his fantastic ongoing comic book series show that this is not the fault of the character. It's what the writers do with him that makes him a weak link. Holy crap I wish they'd give him a Netflix series where he can finally shine. Next up... Spider-Man in a black suit is interesting. I don't hate it but, after so many movies where they weren't faithful to the comic book, I felt they finally nailed it with Civil War and Homecoming... so, why? And then... so very, very happy that they are apparently pushing the Scarlet Witch & Vision romance forward. That's an element 100% from the comic books, and I think it totally works. Then penultimately... holy crap did they do a frickin' amazing job capturing Thanos! Bad. Ass. And lastly... Cap with a beard! My expectations for Avengers: Infinity War are on overdrive. I'm expecting they'll be exceeded.

   
• JUSTICE LEAGUE! Blargh. DC Comics and Zack Snyder's idea of what makes a good super-hero movie is so nausea-inducing that I'll tackle that one tomorrow. I'm having too much fun loving on all of Marvel's awesomeness tonight.

   
And that's it for Comic-Con 2017. Until next year, True Believers...

   

Justissssss Leeeeaguuuuue

Posted on Monday, July 24th, 2017

Dave! I am so far beyond giving a shit about Zack Snyder's shitty DC Comics super-hero movies that I honestly don't know if I'll even bother seeing Justice League in theaters.

I mean, just look at this bullshit trailer...


Some observations...

  • Dark. Dark. Dark. Dark. And more dark. Jesus, what an awful-looking downer of a movie. The occasional attempts at humor are completely wasted when the atmosphere is nothing but bleak, dire, and depressing.
  • Cyborg and The Flash look like total and complete shit. Whomever designed their fucking horrifically bad costumes should just give it up. Aquaman is equally incomprehensible, but at least he doesn't look defective.
  • In an obvious attempt at playing off the tremendous success of Wonder Woman, they lead off with her... but she's fighting a small group of regular human bad guys? Pathetic. FUCKING PATHETIC!!! We've seen this stupid shit over and over and over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!! IT'S NOT FUN! IT'S NOT INTERESTING! IT'S JUST BORING AND SAD. WHAT THE FUCK?!???
  • And OH MY GAWD... ENOUGH WITH THE SECRET IDENTITY CRAP! I am so very, very thankful that Marvel gave up on this silly bullshit. They use it when it makes sense (ala Spider-Man, who is ultimately just a kid with a regular life to hang onto) but everywhere that it is just a tired distraction, they've not bothered to bore us with it. But DC? No. We've still got Bruce Wayne crap to bore us. Still got Clark Kent crap to REALLY bore us. And now they've decided to saddle Wonder Woman with Diana Prince working as a fucking museum cleaning lady? WHO GIVES A FUCKING SHIT?!? Seriously... does Zack Snyder EVER take a minute to look at what makes modern super-hero movies work? EVER?!??? Secret identities were a great way to fill time without a need for expensive special effect shots in the 1980's... but we're waaayyyy past that now. We get it. DC heroes have secret identities... but you don't have to fill precious screen time with it anymore. GET OVER IT ALREADY!
  • Nice to see the Amazons again... but the introduction of the movie's big bad (Steppenwolf?) is almost cringe-worthy. Are DC's costume designers forced at gunpoint to put unnecessary and distracting textures EVERYWHERE? It looks fucking ridiculous. Jack Kirby's creations deserve so much better than this.
  • At least they make Aquaman's underwater action look good. Maybe there's hope for the upcoming Aquaman movie, and it will be another Wonder Woman rather than a shitty Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman. If, for no other reason, than we're getting James Wan in the director's chair. Hopefully he'll add some fucking FUN to the film instead of fifty layers of depressing. Again.
  • Oh joy. I was worried we would get all the way through the trailer without seeing a Wonder Woman ass shot. But, nope... even after helping to win World War I, she's still just another piece of ass to DC's movie division!
  • After getting a frickin' amazing "speed effect" with Quicksilver in the X-Men films... and a more subtle, but equally good speed effect for Quicksilver in Age of Ultron, just look at the awful thing they came up with for The Flash. Running in slow motion to simulate super-speed? Groundbreaking. Or it would be if The Six Million Dollar Man hadn't pioneered it in the 1970's. Even when they do move him at actual super-speed, the overabundance of lightning is just silly. Does he kill people with all that stupid electricity when he runs by them? I mean, it's fine when used with subtlety, but this? Zack Snyder is obviously compensating for something here. Probably a shitty story.
  • And... again with the disaster porn. It's as if Zack Snyder doesn't know how to make a movie without the entire world exploding. Which begs the question... how the fuck are there any people left alive on earth when absolutely everything is getting destroyed all the time? This is fucking absurd, and I don't understand how the entire plot of DC's latest film slate can be summed up as "explosions." Doesn't anybody at DC care?

It's said that Joss Whedon is doing extensive reshoots for Justice League after Zack Snyder had to remove himself from the film to deal with a family emergency. I don't think punching up the dialogue (Whedon's specialty) is going to help. It's just pouring more money down a hole. What's really sad here... almost to the point of tragedy... is how much better the DC television division is at making good super-hero live action. They should have turned the Justice League movie over to them and built on the terrific, faithful, and far-superior versions of The Flash and Superman they already have on TV.

But instead we got this crapfest.

Maybe one day we'll finally get a DC Cinematic Universe that doesn't suck copious amounts of ass... but, sadly, that day is not today.

Or even tomorrow, apparently.

   

Boston Logan Blonde

Posted on Monday, July 31st, 2017

Dave!I've been (mostly) awake from 4:00am last Friday. As the hours all blend together, I'm finding it hard to wrap my head around what day it is. Or where I'm at.

This morning I drove from Maine to Boston so that I can fly out tomorrow morning. Early. The plan is to try and get some sleep, but first... falafel lunch and a movie.

Because you just cannot resist Charlize Theron...

Atomic Blonde Movie Poster!

   
Before I even get to Atomic Blonde... the soundtrack is frickin' amazing (seriously amazing, and the story behind the soundtrack is interesting as well).

The movie is a spy-thriller that takes place during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and here's (most of) the German-infused/inspired-pop tracks from that era that they picked...

  • David Bowie - Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)
  • Peter Schilling - Major Tom (Völlig Losgelöst)
  • HEALTH - Blue Monday
  • Tyler Bates - C*Cks*Cker
  • Nena - 99 Luftballons
  • George Michael - Father Figure
  • After the Fire - Der Commissar
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees - Cities in Dust
  • Re-Flex - the Politics of Dancing
  • Marilyn Manson & Tyler Bates - Stigmata
  • Tyler Bates - Demonstration
  • A Flock of Seagulls - I Ran (So Far Away)
  • Kaleida - 99 Luftballons
  • Til Tuesday - Voices Carry
  • The Clash - London Calling
  • Tyler Bates - Finding the Uhf Device

Since I have bought almost all of those songs already, I don't even need to buy the soundtrack... I just need to make a playlist! One song I just had to have was HEALTH's cover of Blue Monday, which wasn't better than the New Order original, but it had a different "feel" I really liked.

Anyway...

As I mentioned, this is a spy-thriller set in Berlin in November 1989 just as the Berlin Wall is about to fall. An MI6 agent is killed by a rogue KGB operative who steals "The List" off him which contains all allied field agents operating in The Soviet Union and Europe. Charlize Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, one of MI6's top spies, who is being interrogated about her actions in Berlin to recover "The List"... meaning that the bulk of the movie is being told in flashbacks.

TEN DAYS EARLIER: Lorraine's contact in Berlin is MI6's top operative there, David Percival (played by James McAvoy). Working together (and even against each other), the movie is a cat-and-mouse game against the Soviets to find "The List" and identify "Satchel," a double agent for the Soviets who betrayed the MI6 agent that was killed. Along the way there are some nice twists and turns that kept me interested... but I have to admit the penultimate "twists" could be seen coming from miles away. The final "twist" was not something I anticipated, but it didn't really have any effect on the story, so it honestly didn't matter much. The film, while pretty great, could have been SO much better had they only made it so that the final moments were an interesting payoff for everything that came before. It wasn't.

That being said, I still recommend Atomic Blonde because the action sequences and soundtrack are just too perfect. And Charlize Theron is beyond kick-ass in every way possible. I would not mind at all seeing a sequel if it gets me more Lorraine Broughton!

If I had a negative, it would be that director David Leitch, who handled most of the movie with such brilliant ease, showed himself to be a fucking hack of the lowest order when he injected a Wilhelm Scream into the action. When are directors going to learn that the gig is up on this bullshit? Everybody knows what to listen for and, when they finally hear it, the sound effect immediately takes them out of the movie. Criminally stupid, and yet directors are still being idiots about using it. I wish studios would forbid Wilhelm Screams until the end of time.

And that was that.

Using the awesome Boston Silver Line, I headed back the the airport and my hotel for an epic nap experience. I would have loved to have gone to the Red Sox game at 7:00, but lack of sleep would have made that impossible.

Oh well. Next time, Boston. Next time.

   

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Posted on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Dave!As anybody who has read this blog for any length of time knows... I am obsessed with Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. In some ways, it eclipses sci-fi greats like Star Wars and Star Trek for me because it was just so damn fresh when it was first released in 1997.

I've spent many days pining away for a sequel that never came.

So you can imagine my anticipation level when I learned that Besson's new film was being touted as the "spiritual successor" to The Fifth Element... even though the source material for the film actually served as the original inspiration for sci-fi films like The Fifth Element.

Thus the French comic book Valérian and Laureline becomes the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets...

Valerian Movie Poster!

And... well... it's no Fifth Element.

What Valerian is can be summed up as "visually breathtaking and sublimely imaginative." Everything about the film is beautiful to look at and exciting to behold because it's just so fully realized. You get the impression that Besson must have spent insane amounts of time figuring out even the tiniest details of the Valerian universe... and it shows.

Unfortunately... there's too much else lacking for me to fall in love with the movie.

First of all is the casting. Dane DeHaan (Valerion) is certainly doing his best to be charming and interesting amongst the lavish scenery, but he never quite pulls it off. He's supposed to be head-over-heels in love with his partner in the Space Police (or whatever), but it never feels real. Instead of the roguish charms we got with characters like Han Solo, Valerian comes across as too stiff one minute, too detached the next, and downright wooden the next. I could never get vested in him at all. Slightly better was Cara Delevingne as Laureline, but it was hard to buy into her character when the sparring with Valerian feels so forced. The whole "Oh we hate each other, but the whole time we were actually falling in love" trope falls entirely flat, even though Valerian professes his feelings from the get-go.

Where the casting most decidedly did not fall flat was when we got to Rhianna playing a shape-shifting exotic dancer called "Bubble." She gave her performance everything, and the nature of her character's abilities lit up the screen. Sadly, near the end of her screen-time, Bubble condenses into tired platitudes of love that never came across as convincing, thus sabotaging my favorite character in the movie.

As I mentioned, the CGI work is mind-bogglingly good and, if there's a reason to see this film before it leaves theaters, this would be it. The reason would most certainly not be the dialogue that Besson came up with. Encrusted with enough corny lines about the nature of love to make you cringe, it's an even heavier ham-fisted effort than we got from Leeloo in The Fifth Element... which is to say that it was horribly distracting. Too many lines fell flat either by construction or delivery ("Time flies when you're having fun!" - groan, really?).

As for the story?

I don't even know.

Decades ago a peaceful race of beautiful beach-dwelling aliens on planet Mül are wiped out during a battle between two forces above their world. The small group of aliens that managed to survive are trying to get their world back by getting their hands on an adorable alien pet known as a "Mül Converter" who can shake out duplicates of everything it eats... including "pearls," a powerful energy source needed by the aliens. What follows seems to involve the aliens taking over a growing section of the massive space station, Alpha, which causes the Space Police (or whatever) to call in two of their best operatives, Valerian and Laureline, to solve the mystery of what's happening in there... because all other soldiers sent in have disappeared.

I'd hate to say that the story then becomes boring... the wild special effects are anything but boring... but it kinda does. It's also wildly inconsistent. One minute Valerian and Laureline's sentient ship ("Alex") is essential to explaining story elements... then it is completely forgotten and ignored the next. When Valerian enters the "mystery section" of Alpha, Alex loses contact. Then she gains contact. Then she drops off the face of the earth again. These kind of "deus ex machina" interludes drive me insane. If you can't be fucking consistent with a "character," or offer a clear arc for their time on screen, then it's probably best to not have that character screwing up your screenplay with inexplicable drop-ins that are more frustrating and intrusive than anything else.

By the time things finally wrap up, I was almost relieved that I wouldn't have to suffer through it anymore. There's only so far that incredible CGI effects can take you. This isn't "Star Wars Prequels Bad," but it could have been much, much better if there was something... more... to support the visuals.

So... overall? A disappointment. This was not The Fifth Element I was looking for. That being said, I'd still recommend seeing it in theaters just to experience the jaw-dropping beauty of it all the way it was meant to be seen.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is tanking hard at the box office. As I'm writing this, it's barely cleared $60 million against a production budget of $172 million. This is a real shame, because I think there was room for some very interesting stories to be told in that universe. Given a sequel, I'm confident that Luc Besson could have taken the criticism of what didn't work, fix it, then give us something that truly delivers on everything that Valerian could have been. Alas, it's probably not going to happen.

And now I'll just be sitting over here... still pining away for my sequel to The Fifth Element... something else that, alas, will probably never happen.

   

Ultra HD 4K HDR

Posted on Friday, August 4th, 2017

Dave!As going to movie theaters gets more and more annoying with assholes texting on their phones and smacking their popcorn and talking non-stop, I've spent a goodly chunk of money building a decent home theater. My setup is not extravagant by any means, but it is nice enough that I don't necessary miss the theater as much as I thought I would.

The cornerstone of my set-up is an Ultra HD 4K HDR television and Blu-Ray player plus a decent stereo A/V receiver capable of processing it all.

But that's only half the battle.

The other half being Ultra HD 4K HDR movies to play on it all. It's the only way you're going to get the fantastic picture clarity and high dynamic range color that the format offers.

And so I've been buying 4K movies from time to time... especially when they go on sale.

The verdict?

Almost too good. The picture is more like what you'd get from a hi-def cam-corder than what you'd see in a movie theater. It looks... fake?... kinda. Not necessarily in a bad way, it just takes some getting used to. It also takes a lot of futzing with your television picture settings to get the best possible visuals. For me that meant upping the brightness, lowering the contrast, and finding a saturation level that works.

What you see, thanks to the 4K Ultra High Definition picture, is even the tiniest details of everything happening on-screen. Every stray hair... every spec of dirt... every line and crease... there is nothing that can hide from such a ridiculously high resolution.

What you also see, thanks to the High Dynamic Range, is a color pallet that's jaw dropping. You only thought that Leeloo's brilliant orange hair was bright... until you see it in HDR. It's so vivid and bright that it almost takes on a life of its own.

So... is Ultra HD 4K HDR worth it?

Yes.

And no.

Yes, because it's the absolute best way to watch movies at home... assuming you have a system that can take advantage of it and a television big enough to do it justice. Newer movies (like Kingsman: The Secret Service) are mind-blowingly beautiful with their stunning color fidelity and clarity. Even older movies (like The Fifth Element tend to be gorgeous, though be forewarned that film grain will be perfectly preserved and on vivid display if you get too close.

No, because I am not entirely convinced that the cost is worth it. My 65-inch television is great, but in order to get any benefit from a 4K picture, I have to be sitting a maximum of 8-1/2 feet away, with the ideal distance being 4-feet, 9-inches. This means I have to push my coffee table out of the way and slide my couch forward every time I watch a 4K movie.

In this respect, the resolution isn't as big a selling point as the high dynamic range color, which is great at any distance.

And so...

If you can afford a massive screen on your television... or just want color that's next level... it might be worth a look. Otherwise? Probably not. For most people 1080p is plenty.

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Rotten Movies

Posted on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Dave!The movie review compendium site Rotten Tomatoes is both a good thing and a bad thing for the movies I love. Good because movies that critics like which might be missed are getting some exposure and hype they deserve. Bad because movies that critics hate which aren't necessarily "rotten" will dissuade movie-goers from seeing something they might otherwise enjoy.

My movie tastes are all over the map but, in general, I tend to agree with the majority of critics.

But not always.

And apparently I'm not alone, because last night I saw this article pop up: IGNORE THE CRITICS! 10 ‘ROTTEN’ MOVIES YOU SHOULD TOTALLY WATCH ANYWAY. As I read through the films in their list I was all "Yes! Yes! ZOMG, YES!" and so I thought I'd post the link and offer up a short comment on why I agree some of these films are not actually all that "rotten." Though some of them, like To Rome with Love, a film by asshole Woody Allen that stars Roberto Benigni and Jesse Eisenberg (two actors I don't care for at all)... I'll take a pass on.

Anwyay, here we go...

Rotten Movies 2017 List

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a hauntingly beautiful film that has an overall life message that I strive to achieve. And that's on top of being a wholly wonderful work of art to behold... despite starring Ben Stiller (who is perfect).
  • 50 First Dates is a movie I've seen dozens of times because I cannot bring myself to flip past any channel playing it. Poignant, funny, beautifully shot, and charming to the end... despite starring Adam Sandler (who is not perfect, but actually very good).
  • Eurotrip is indeed a raunchy comedy that is wall-to-wall offensive and overflowing with bad taste. It's also hilariously funny, despite kinda falling flat at the end. Some of my favorite cinematic comedy moments of all time are right here, and seeing Lucy Lawless as a Dutch dominatrix is everything. SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW! SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW!
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith is such over-the-top fun that I cannot comprehend that it received bad reviews. The chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is probably one of the best pairings in modern film, and it is used to brutal effect from start to finish for high entertainment value. As if that weren't enough, the story is well-written and the special effects are great.
  • Troy is not a favorite, but I did find it an enjoyable take on the genre. Certainly a better film in every respect than horrendous Ben-Hur remake. Yes, it could have been edited with more care because it's "flow" is off and scenes run too long, but it's still worth your valuable time.
  • Defiance kinda collapsed under its own weight, but it's a great story that gave us a well-crafted film. And you seriously cannot complain about the cast, which was very good. Flawless? No. Worth watching? Absolutely.
  • Wet Hot American Summer is a movie you absolutely have to be in the mood for... it's silly-stupid in the worst possible way... but that's why I like it so much. Well, that and the great cast, which delivers every raunchy, stupid line like their lives depended on it.

So... if you're ever looking for a movie to watch and you skipped one of these because of poor reviews, you might want to take another look!

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Apple TV 4K HDR

Posted on Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Dave!Investing in a new Apple TV when I have such blind hatred for the previous iteration is probably incredibly stupid... but I have a huge chunk of movies and music purchased from the Apple ecosystem, so it's kind of a necessity to keep up. Especially now that Apple is offering free upgrades to 4K HDR video for all your previous movie purchases (when available, of course).

And... I suppose I should just run through the fine points rather than re-hash the broad strokes, since those are mostly the same.

Apple TV Box
Looks identical to the previous one. I'm sure there's probably quite a few differences under the hood, but I ain't opening it up to check.

Shitty Fucking Apple Remote
Still unbelievably fucking shitty. The touch-input area is just as stuttery and unresponsive as ever, making simple tasks like navigation frustrating... and complex tasks like keyboard input unbearable. I fucking HATE this piece of shit. The only difference between the new one and the previous one is that the "menu" button has an elevated white circle drawn around it.

Shitty Fucking User Interface
Still unbelievably fucking shitty. If you've purchased anything more than a dozen movies or TV shows, you'll go absolutely bat-shit crazy trying to navigate through pages upon pages upon pages upon pages upon pages of crap. Especially when you're forced to use the unbelievably fucking shitty remote.

4K
The 4K picture is totally great. Remarkably, I've not yet gotten any of the streaming errors or throughput problems which plagued the previous Apple TV. Considering that there's probably a lot more data coming through the pipe for a 4K picture, this is truly shocking. My guess is that there's new compression tech that makes this possible... but only time will tell as to whether or not Apple's unbelievably fucking shitty media delivery will rear its ugly head.

HDR
I have an HDR-capable TV. My stereo receiver is HDR-capable. When I plug Apple TV directly into my TV, the Apple test-program says that HDR will be used. When I plug into my stereo receiver, however, the Apple test-program says that my television isn't HDR capable, and it will downgrade to regular color fidelity. And, of course, since this is Apple we're talking about, there's no way to just force the fucking thing to deliver the HDR signal that my receiver and TV are capable of. This kind of shit drives me i-n-s-a-n-e. Do it Apple's way or no way at all.

Picture Quality
I put in my copy of Kingsman on 4K HDR Blu-Ray then started up Kingsman 4K HDR from Apple TV. Then I switched between them. Not even close. The 4K Blu-Ray picture is superior in every possible way. The color is better. The clarity is better. The contrast is better. Black levels are better. There's literally nothing that's not better on 4K Blu-Ray. The Apple TV 4K image has crisp details in fine items like hair and text... but mooshy areas of softness any time the color values are similar, particularly in bright spots. This is undoubtedly a function of the high compression, but I have no idea what's responsible for the other issues. The bright, almost washed-out haze that permeates every scene is just bad compared to cable or Blu-Ray. I don't recall the older Apple TV having this problem?

Audio
Seems on-par with what I got from the Blu-Ray. Rich, full sound.

HomeKit
Apple's pathetic attempt at Home Automation... which they call "HomeKit"... is pretty awful. I'm guessing a big part of why it's awful has to do with it being run through Apple TV. Sure it beats having to purchase a dedicated hub, but maybe with a dedicated hub it would have been worth a crap. When I swapped out the old Apple TV for the new Apple TV, it took several attempts to get HomeKit commands working... but at least they ended up working without my having to do any crazy setup revision or anything.

And So...
If you're dying for the best possible picture on your 4K HDR television, you'll have to keep buying 4K HDR Blu-Ray discs. Apple isn't even in the same ballpark. That being said, the picture quality is a step up from non-4K non-HDR Apple TV. So... until HDR 4K Blu-Rays drop to the same price as Apple TV digital purchases, you may still gain benefit from the latest and greatest Apple TV. The fact that Apple doesn't charge a premium for the higher quality is a nice bonus for anybody investing in the 4K HDR... but don't be fooled into thinking it'll be the same quality as the equivalent Blu-Ray.

   

Bullet Sunday 526

Posted on Sunday, October 1st, 2017

Dave!Time won't give me time, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Discovery! I can honestly say that the new Star Trek: Discovery is shaping up to be my favorite television Trek since the original series. Rather than recycle the same old thing, they seem to be intent on taking the show in entirely new directions. Some for the better (ditching the "one big happy family" concept is refreshing), some for the worse (why in the hell re-imagine the Klingons yet AGAIN?). Tonight's episode introduces us to Captain Lorca (brilliantly played by Jason Isaacs) and the USS Discovery (with a gorgeous saucer section married to a butt-ugly triangle body) along with a rather unique premise for the show involving "space spores" which is just bizarre enough to work...

Star Trek Discovery Logo

Given the exceedingly high production values, I'm not going to bitch about the $6.00 a month fee to watch the show on "CBS All Access." But, if what I'm hearing is true, CBS plans on airing the first half of the season now, then waiting until 2018 to air the rest. Thus dragging out the length of time their subscribers have to be subscribed (assuming they aren't smart enough to cancel Access until Discovery starts airing again). This is just shitty as all get out (if true) and I have to wonder if CBS realizes how pissed off people already are that they have to pay a premium in the first place?

   
• So Sick! I've been wanting to see The Big Sick since it debuted. I finally got my chance...

The Big Sick

Such a good film. The fact that it's based on a true story is just icing on the cake. Other than playing Dinesh in Silicon Valley, I haven't seen Kumail Nanjiani in anything but bit parts previously (including his hilarious spot in an otherwise awful movie Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates). He's pretty fantastic, and this movie just goes to show how somebody's real life can be every bit as entertaining as fiction. If you're looking for a movie to rent, it's worth a look.

   
• So Sicker! Apparently co-writing and starring in "The Big Sick" is not Kumail Nanjiani's only brush with brilliance...

Joe Walsh Is A Fucking Asshole

Joe Walsh is fucking garbage.

   
• Gag! And speaking of fucking garbage... Megyn Kelly is fucking garbage. For years she was a divisive shill for the far right masquerading as a "journalist," and now she's decided to reimagine herself as a non-political talk show host...

I cannot fathom why NBC hired her. Did they really think they were going to attract FOX "News" viewers?

   
• Tweeter! If you mine President Trump's Twitter feed there's a dose of hypocrisy to be found for everything he does...

Another Stupid Fucking Tweet by the Asshole in Chief

But the Toxic Cheeto Dumbass dedicated his golf trophy to Puerto Rico, so I guess that makes all the difference?

   
• Just Jack Plus One! I love British comedian travel shows. As if having funny moments isn't enough, they always visit interesting places. Jack Whitehall and his father are in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in this first season and it's great. If you enjoy travel shows... it's worth a look!

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father is available on Netflix now. And, while you're at Netflix, be sure to check out Master of None and Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King.

   
See you next week

   

Blade Runner 2049

Posted on Friday, October 13th, 2017

Dave!And so I went to see Blade Runner 2049 last night. When it was announced, I did not have my hopes set very high because A) Twin Peaks returning was one of the worst things to happen to that franchise and I was certain they would destroy a classic film that's one of my all-time favorites, and B) I don't care for Ryan Gosling that much... probably because he's not cast in the type of movies I like to watch (the only appearance I could remember was The Nice Guys where he was great).

Then the reviews started pouring in... each one praising the film for both story and visuals, some saying the effects were as stunning as the original. I was baffled that this could be happening, but totally bought into it.

Walking into the theater, my expectations were very, very high...

Blade Runner 2049 Poster

   
And I was not disappointed.

First of all, I think they continued the story in a way that made perfect sense and was painstakingly faithful to the original film. Second of all, Ryan Gosling was absolutely perfect.

I am not going to spoil anything here. This is a film you need to experience for yourself. The only thing I will say is that it's a long, long movie and scenes go on for just a little more than they have to. But overall I think this leisurely pace sucks you into the world that is being built, and was not necessarily a bad thing.

If you were a fan of the original, see it.

If you like good science fiction, see it.

If you appreciate beautifully-crafted films, definitely see it.

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Bullet Sunday 528

Posted on Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Dave!Put on your Sunday Best, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Midnight Trailer! It's great how Marvel attempts to distinguish their movies in tone and look. Black Panther appears to have all the hallmarks of a Marvel Studios movie... but is very different at the same time. Kinda a sci-fi take on super-heroes with a heavy African influence...

First Doctor Strange, now this? Needless to say, I can't wait. Black Panther is one of my favorite Marvel heroes, and the fact that he's getting a movie fills my fanboy heart with joy.

   
• Hammer Time? You know how when you read a news headline and you think it's just too crazy to be real and it certainly has to be from some parody site? Yeah, that... Home Depot Panics Over Millennials; Forced To Host Tutorials On Using Tape Measures, Hammering Nails.

   
• Have Bigotry, Will Travel! America's new biggest export... hate...

Kim Davis Takes Struggle Against Gay Marriage To Another Theater: Romania.

This idiotic piece of shit is not a hero. She's not a marriage role model. She's just a bigot who refused to do her job. And now she's taking her bigotry on a world tour. Fuck her. Fuck her up her hypocritical thrice divorced ass.

   
• Jack is Back! I'm a pretty big of theTom Clancy "Jack Ryan" books... and even liked the movies despite the fact that they kept changing the actor (from Alec Baldwin to Harrison Ford to Ben Affleck). So when Amazon Prime announced they were developing a show around the character starring John Krasinski, I was intrigued. And here we go...

Interesting! Definitely something I'll be checking out.

   
• Gently! Last year we were treated to yet another television treatment of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. It was insane, but in the best possible way. A dozen random threads that made no sense somehow managed to come together at the end in a way that made you want to go back and watch the whole thing over again. The show itself is really tough to describe, but here's Dirk Gently himself to make an attempt...

Season two just started. The first three minutes immediately got me addicted to the show again...

It probably helps to have seen (experienced?) the first season for yourself before heading into the second. But, if you enjoy the utterly bizarre, it's worth a look.

   
• Poopsie! And, lastly, just because I feel the need to not have suffered through this alone, I present Poopsie...

There's a lot of ways to sell pet food, but this is probably the most unique I've seen.

   
And, on that note, no more bullets today. Go make a poopsie and enjoy your week!

   

Bullet Sunday 529

Posted on Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

Dave!I am Sundaying so hard right now, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Feral! This past Monday was "National Feral Cat Day." My cats, Jake and Jenny, were feral kittens when they were found. I don't think they quite adapted to foster care, and were still very much feral little scrubbers when I adopted them. Weeks of patience turned into months of building trust which has turned into 1-3/4 years of the best furry friends I could hope for. They are still, in their hearts, feral cats who are very slow to trust. And they hide the minute anything out of the ordinary happens. Sometimes, on rare occasions, they are even wary of me. But most of the time they love crawling all over me for pets and attention and I've never been lonely since they took over my home. Feral cats are more work than those kitten raised around people... but I wouldn't trade mine for the world. If anything, I think I appreciate them more than I would other cats because I had to put effort into getting them to accept me. And once they did? There's no better feeling...

Jake Naps

Jenny is a Cuddle Bug

Kitty Pals

If you have the opportunity to help out a feral cat, the work is definitely worth the reward!

   
• Dimensions? And so... it would seem that LEGO Dimensions is no more. Typical. Oh well. The gameplay was getting tired... but it was kept fresh by the licensed properties they kept bringing to the table.

LEGO Dimensions Game

Wish they would have got LEGO Star Wars in the mix before signing off... after Disney Infinity dried up, it seemed a natural.

   
• Get Help! The reviews for Thor: Ragnarok have been stellar. And with each new clip released, I just want to see it more...

Cannot. Wait.

   
• Lucifer! Right now there's a lot of good television going on. In addition to The Good Place, which is the best show on television right now, we've also got Star Trek: Discovery, The Flash, The Orville, and Supergirl... not to mention some of the indy oddball stuff (like Dirk Gently), which makes it tough for me to keep up with my shows. But that one show I will always make time for? Lucifer!

Lucifer's Maze on a not-so-good day

Last season was fantastic because "Mom" came to visit, which led to some interesting directions for the show. Now they seem to be focusing on fleshing out secondary characters instead of bringing in new ones, and I couldn't be happier. Maze is probably the best character on the show after Lucifer, but has been largely marginalized. But this last episode (S03:E03 Mr. and Mrs. Mazikeen Smith) puts her in the spotlight and the results are so amazing I find myself wishing they would spin her off into her own show. If you're not watching, you really should be.

   
• Jack! Another show I've been very much enjoying has been the revival of Will & Grace. Though I strongly dislike the two main characters, secondary characters Jack and Karen always seem to salvage the show. The latest episode (S09:E04 Grandpa Jack) is no exception. Jack, who discovered he had a son (thanks to a sperm bank "donation") gets an even bigger surprise when he discovers his son had a son, so he's now a grandpa!

Jack meets his grandson

I will not spoil the story except to say... it's both hysterically funny and emotionally devastating at the same time. And it has two guest appearances that are absolute gold. When they restarted the show, I was hoping that we'd see Jack's son again. I never expected that his story would be this good. Well worth a look.

   
• Decor! When I moved into my home, I noticed that the previous owner had left a lot of decor scattered about. None of it was too my taste, so I made it my mission to toss it all out. The only thing left is a lion head above my doorbell and a weird dried flowers plaque with hooks I use for my keys and hats. The plaque was useful, but I vowed to replace it when I found something better... I never did. The lion I was going to ditch when it was removed for painting... but I ended up putting it back. Don't know why. I kinda like him, I guess...

My feisty lion head!

My key hooks!

I suppose one of these days I really should go shopping to find a replacement for my key hooks.

   
And... Sunday is over. So too are the bullets.

   

Bullet Sunday 531

Posted on Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Dave!Snow may be here but be of good cheer, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• RAGNAROK! I haven't seen Thor: Ragnarok yet because life has been insane lately... but I will be doing so sometime soon. I hope. If you haven't seen it yet and want a spoiler-free experience, DO NOT watch the video below, which is somewhat spoilery, but hilarious...

Of course, the commercials are more spoilery than this, but, yeah.

   
• Tokyo! There are many places on this earth I feel at home in when I visit. Tokyo is one of those places. Which is strange, because it's a city on my list that's very much removed from my "normal." Maybe I lived there in a past life? I dunno. But I love it there. And because I love Tokyo, I also love films which feature the city (Lost In Translation is a great example). And now there's a short film called The Tokyo Project...

If you have HBO and a half-hour to kill, I highly recommend it. Clever story. Beautifully shot. Well worth your valuable time.

   
• Miyazaki! One of the many, many reasons I love Miyazaki films so much is the incredible attention to detail that goes into every frame. I watch them over and over and over because the wealth of details is something to be savored. Here's an Instagram by en93kitchen that focuses on the food in his films, and shows a side-by-side comparison to actual food that's been prepared to look like what's in the movie...

XXX

Amazing!

   
• Busted! Despite the fact that "Mr. Plinkett" is a fictional character (played by Red Letter Media's Mike Stoklasa) the movies analyzed under that monicker are, for the most part, spot-on. His reviews are as insightful as they are entertaining, and I've spent a lot of time watching the Red Letter Media YouTube channel. The latest Mr. Plinkett in-depth was for the Ghostbusters 2016 reboot. A film I mostly hated, but could never really articulate why. Luckily, I no longer have to try. It's nearly an hour long, but balls-on accurate and worth your valuable time...

That fact that the review also includes smart analysis of what made the original Ghostbusters so damn brilliant is just a bonus.

   
• What Happened? So... essentially you can take Hillary's book, rip out the pages, insert this Politico story, and then read What Happened for reals I guess? My loathing for Hillary Clinton is well documented. The fact that I was forced to vote for her because I didn't want a Trump presidency is something that enrages me to this day. The more information that comes out about how there is nothing "democratic" about the Democratic Party should shock nobody. That's the way politics work in this country. What should shock people is that nothing will be done and nothing will change. Ever. We just don't want it badly enough.

   
• Dip! I swear... Eric Trump discovering Fun Dip on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" is one of the best thing I've seen all week...

Dies. Again.

   
It's the end of bullets as we know it...

   

X-Men! Fantastic Four! Fox News!

Posted on Monday, November 6th, 2017

Dave!The big news of the day is the rumor that Twenty-First Century Fox is in talks to sell off most of the company to Disney. Not exactly groundbreaking, as movie studio consolidation has been ongoing over the years... except one thing.

Disney is the corporation that owns Marvel Comics and, more relevant to the point, Marvel Studios.

And since Twenty-First Century Fox had bought the Marvel movie rights for X-Men, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, and Deadpool (and subsequently crapped out a series of shitty X-Men films and even shittier Fantastic Four films plus an awesome Deadpool movie) buying the studio would mean the potential to fold these stellar properties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper. I mean, look how frickin' incredible bringing Sony's Spider-Man rights into the Marvel cinematic fold ended up being?

What could possibly top Avengers: Infinity War? I dunno. But Avengers vs. X-Men might do the trick, if handled properly.

Because a part of me wonders if merging the X-Universe with the Avengers universe would be a good thing. First of all... the entire concept of "mutants" would have to be woven into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Until now, they haven't even existed. The creation of mutants could easily be dropped into the fourth Avengers film... maybe Thanos explodes and the energy washes over earth and mutates a bunch of people... but would that be too much in an already crowded universe of characters? Maybe. Then again, to finally... finally get a decent X-Men film after years of mostly shit would sure be a treat. I am just not convinced that they shouldn't remain separate, even if Marvel takes over the property.

The Fantastic Four, on the other hand? No such reservations. Integrate them into the MCU as soon as possible!

The Fantastic Four by Mike Wieringo!

In the comics, The Fantastic Four was Marvel's first "super team" and is literally the cornerstone of their entire integrated super-hero-verse. Their footprint looms large over everything that came after, and it has always amazed me that with such a wealth of material (over 50 years' worth!) that we can't seem to get a FF movie that's worth a shit.

My hands-down favorite version of The Fantastic Four was Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo's take which began with an arc called "Imaginauts." In an effort to make them more than Just Another Super Hero Team, Waid/Wieringo imagined them as a team of explorers who happened to have super-powers, and their relationship as a family was put front-and-center. It was entertaining as all get-out. And, despite being one of Marvel's oldest franchises, it felt fresh, new, and exciting. As the MCU passes 10 years of existence, isn't an infusion of fresh, new, and exciting what they need to carry them into the next 10 years?

Marvel hardly needs counseling on how to handle their movies... I mean, holy crap, they just keep getting better and better... but please. Can we pretty please finally get a Fantastic Four movie that lives up to their potential? We've been waiting for so long.

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Ragnarok And Roll

Posted on Friday, November 10th, 2017

Dave!It is tempting... so very tempting... to say that Thor: Ragnarok is my favorite film to come out of Marvel Studios. Except... how can it be? Surely my favorite film is the first Avengers movie. Isn't it? I mean, that was the prize. That's what everything had been leading to. Finally, at long last, we had a super-hero team movie that actually worked. That was actually good.

And yet... holy crap was Ragnarok amazing. Hilariously funny, but not so farcical that the action beats and serious bits fell flat. Game-changing, but still completely faithful to the source material. Different in feeling and tone from the Marvel we're accustomed to, but still familiar and wholly entertaining.

Thor: Ragnarok is the complete package.

XXX

There are precious few things about this movie I don't love. A short list, just to name a few things off the top of my head, that I love most...

  • Chris Hemsworth's considerable comedic talents on full blast.
  • Cate Blanchett as Marvel's best (and most deliciously evil) movie villain yet.
  • Jeff Goldblum being the most Jeff Goldblum we've ever seen... or will likely ever see again.
  • Loki. Just Loki being Loki.
  • Every second Valkyrie is on the screen.
  • A smart... so very smart... evolution of The Hulk.
  • Idris Elba. Finally being given something worthwhile to do as Heimdall.
  • Kirby-inspired amazing visuals.
  • Mind-bogglingly awesome special effects.
  • Just a really good, funny, highly entertaining story.

I have no idea what the coming Avengers: Infinity War means for Marvel's original character base. Iron Man? Captain America? Thor? will any of them even survive it? If Thor does, they could do a lot worse than to invite back Ragnarok director Taika Waititi (who says he'd love to do another one).

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

Ant-Man... A
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+
Deadpool... A
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four (2005)... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Fantastic Four (2015)... D+
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... 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-
Spider-Man: Homecoming... A+
Suicide Squad... D
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Thor: The Dark World... B
Thor: Ragnarok... A++
Watchmen... B
The Wolverine... B
Wonder Woman... A
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+

   

Marvel Cinematic Rank

Posted on Monday, November 13th, 2017

Dave!When I put in my two cents on Thor: Ragnarok, I mentioned that I was questioning if it were my new favorite Marvel Studios movie. Ultimately, I decided it just couldn't be. When The Avengers came along, it was my every comic book fanboy dream come true on the screen. The magic from that movie hasn't gone away. Yet.

But then I had somebody ask me... How would you rank the rest of the Marvel movies then?

Well, this is how... at this moment, anyway...

  1. The Avengers (A+) — My comic book fanboy dream come true. Not much else I can say.
  2. Thor: Ragnarok (A++) — Hilariously funny while staying true to the character. A complete surprise.
  3. Captain America: Winter Soldier (A+) — Technically Marvel's #1 movie because it was just so flawlessly put together.
  4. Captain America: Civil War (A++) — If The Avengers was my fanboy team-up dream come true... this... this is the cherry on the top.
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy (A+) — A D-list team given one of the best Marvel movie treatments.
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger (A+) — Brilliant origin story that plays on nostalgia rather than blind patriotism.
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming (A+) — Everything you want a Spider-Man movie to be.
  8. Doctor Strange (A) — Mind-bogglingly brilliant, beautiful, and fun.
  9. Iron Man (A+) — The movie that started it all. Still holds up today.
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (A) — A terrific follow-up to the original made great by Baby Groot.
  11. Ant-Man (A) — A complete home-run for a character that doesn't seem movie-worthy.
  12. Iron Man 3 (A+) — A great Shane Black spin on the character that pays off because Robert Downey Jr.
  13. Avengers: Age of Ultron (A) — Though I enjoyed it, this was not the movie I was hoping for. Ultron was not made at all scary enough for a villain to take on The Avengers.
  14. Thor (B+) — Timing issues aside, this is an underrated gem of a movie.
  15. Thor: The Dark World (B) — I actually liked this movie a great deal, it just has a hard time when pitted against the others in this list.
  16. Iron Man 2 (A-) — Again... I really liked this movie (hey, it introduced us to Black Widow and Rhodey!), but it just falls short in comparison to the others.
  17. The Incredible Hulk (B) — A decent-but-not-great movie that feels divorced from the rest after the role was switched to Mark Ruffalo.

Interesting to note how some movies rank higher when I grade them, but lower when compared to other movies in the list. Iron Man 2 with an A- rating, for example, comes in below Thor: The Dark World with a B rating. On its own merits, Iron Man 2 had so much to love with Black Widow and Rhodey coming onboard. But it's just not as good a story as what we got with Thor: The Dark World (though, admittedly, not by much).

But what's even more interesting to note? There is not a clunker on that list. I love all the films. Marvel is firing on on cylinders, and the movies they release just keep getting better and better and the universe they're building continues to grow.

And they show no signs of slowing down. Still to come? Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Captain Marvel, Avengers 4, Spider-Man 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3.

And, if rumors are to be believed, we may actually finally get a Black Widow movie after 2019, so.... bonus points.

   

Bullet Sunday 534

Posted on Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Dave!It's time for a Very Special Antarctic edition of Bullet Sunday, which starts... now...

   
• Go! Antarctica is a pricey trip, but it's not the horrific monetary spectacle you might think. Not including airfare, you can take the same ship I did... have the same type of experiences I did... for as little as $5,000 in Antarpply's 2018 season. I went via Muench Photography Workshops, which was quite a bit more expensive... but it had world-class photography instruction with people like Will Burrard-Lucas, which made it worth the ridiculous cost. If you've always had a hankering to see the bottom of the world, it's worth saving your pennies to do, and doesn't necessarily have to cost $15,000 for a great experience... penguins and all.

Penguins!

   
• Darkness! The strangest part of being back to the Real World? That it gets dark. Something that barely happened when I was in Antarctica. The fact that it starts getting dark around 4:00 and is pitch-black by 5:00 just makes it all the stranger. I've gotten used to light at 10:00 at night!

   
• Photography! My most used lens was a 24mm-70mm. It worked for glaciers, icebergs, and wildlife that was near me. My second most-used lens was a 70mm-200mm... which I really, really wish was a 70mm-400mm. Fortunately, my 200mm lens optical quality is excellent and I had massive 42.4 MP images I could easily crop into... but things would have been much easier if my telephoto had more reach. I also took a 10mm-18mm ultra-wide angle which I used occasionally. I didn't use any other lenses I took.

I highly recommend having two camera bodies on you. That way you can have both zooms handy and be sure to capture most anything at a moment's notice. You also have a backup body in case one fails, which is pretty much essential isn't it? You aren't going to go all that way and not have a camera!

I took a monopod because it was easier to pack than a tripod. I never once used it. I imagine that you could set up for taking shots, but there was plenty of light to go handheld 100% of the time, and the flexibility was critical towards getting my best shots.

I fretted over condensation accumulating when I came from the cold outdoors to the warm indoors ruining my cameras. Was never a problem (heck, my glasses never even fogged over). It was suggested that I take a plastic zipper-bag to put my camera in so that the condensation forms on the bag and not my camera. After spending weeks finding one big enough, I never had to use it.

I bought a massive dry-bag that I could put my whole camera bag into so my gear would be safe during a Zodiac landing. Thing was... I never took my entire camera bag. Just my two cameras and their lenses. Which meant my dry-bag was massive overkill. I should have bought a smaller one and just wrapped my cameras in towels or something.

I took circular polarizing filters. Never used them. They might have been handy to cut glare on the water when the whales turned up... but they were just a hassle every other minute of the day, so I ignored them.

   
• Un-Borrowed! I needed a backup camera body, but couldn't afford to buy a full-frame one to take with me. So I decided to rent one from BorrowLenses.com. I received an email telling me that I could pick it up at Kenmore Camera the day before I left. I went to pick it up and it wasn't there. I called and found out there was a mess-up of some kind with UPS, and it wouldn't be arriving until after I left for the airport. Their attitude was absolutely shitty. First of all, they would never give me a tracking number so I could find out if it was THEIR fault or UPS's fault (of course they blamed it on UPS). Second of all, they did nothing... NOTHING... to try and make the situation right. It was all "Oh well... stuff happens!" No offer to buy a body from Kenmore Camera and rent that to me. No offer to express ship to my hotel in Buenos Aires. No attempt to find an alternative. No offer to try and find a rental company in Argentina. Absolutely NOTHING. They didn't care about helping me out in any way, despite their promise to have the camera available on the date I requested.

And so... I had to spend $1400 I did not have to buy a camera I did not want. Especially since I could have put that money (if I had it) towards a new Sony a7R mark III. Such a crappy situation. I mean, what choice did I have? What was I going to do? Go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica without a backup camera? Impossible. Thanks for absolutely nothing, BorrowLenses.com for being a total piece of shit.

UPDATE: I complained on Facebook. Borrow Lenses refunded my money and gave me a credit for future rentals. They were apologetic about the situation (this time) which has me wondering if I just got the wrong customer service agent... or if they only act this way when called out publicly?

   
• SmartWool! There was a lot learned on my expedition to Antarctica. The most surprising? How fantastic SmartWool socks are. I have been wearing them ever since I got back and have had warm, comfy feet despite cold temperatures in my home town (and a history of cold feet).

SmartWool Sock!

Don't know how I'd get through winter without them now that I know about them.

   
• Warmth! As it turned out, I worried way too much about being too cold. As it's summer in Antarctica and global warming is actually a thing, it was never all that cold. Certainly not even close to how freezing cold it was on Cadillac Mountain when I was waiting for the sun to rise in Acadia last month! I usually ended up taking off my winter coat on land excursions and just wore my fleece, waterproof pants over jeans and long underwear. Only a couple of times when the sun was clouded over and it was snowing did I double up on long underwear and wear my coat. And, despite buying hand-warmers and spending two days in Ushuaia finding Zippo lighter fluid to put in them, they went unused. So glad I didn't rent an arctic parka and snow pants. I would have never put them on. I guess what I'm trying to say is... prepare for the worst. Make sure you have enough clothes to stay warm if the weather is terrible. Have layers and layers available so you can build the outfit you need to be comfortable in cold weather. But... don't obsess over the idea that you need to buy Antarctic-winter-level expedition gear to stay warm. Unless something goes really sideways, you just won't need it (and if things go that sideways, your landing will probably be canceled anyway). I'd recommend following the advice you'll get from your ship if it conflicts with my experience... but it really shouldn't.

The only thing that ended up being a little cold was my feet because the rubber boots you get from the ship for the landing are not well-insulated. My SmartWool socks with liners made sure it never got that bad. On cold days where I'd be in snow for long periods, I doubled my SmartWool socks, and... problem solved (seriously, those socks are amazing).

One final tip... it was highly recommended that I get two or three pair of Merino Wool long underwear. The stuff is soft (not scratchy) and does a really good job of keeping you warm. Best of all? It doesn't trap odors, so you can wear a pair for several days and not smell like a locker room. Which is what I did... except... I bought some inexpensive disposable men's underwear (which seem very much like cotton panties... or "manties") as a fresh daily barrier to help keep my long undies clean. Worked great. Took up practically no space in my suitcase. In the end, Merino Wool is a bit pricey but so worth it. I bought two pair of the mid-weight tops/bottoms directly from Minus 33 and was very happy with it. I loved that it was so thin that I could double it up on colder days and be toasty warm.

   
• Sun! The sun reflecting off the snow and ice is pretty harsh. Take good sunglasses (and, if you wear glasses, get good prescription sunglasses). And, oh yeah... TAKE SUN SCREEN! I had a friend tell me that he got sunburned pretty bad on his Antarctica trip. So I took Banana Boat SPF 30 and applied it liberally to my face. Wore it every landing we had. Still got burned. So... take a higher SPF than 30 if you want to avoid sunburn!

   
• Expectations! I was warned many times to keep my expectations in check. Antarctica is wildly unpredictable on all fronts, and having lofty expectations is almost certainly setting yourself up for disappointment. All you can really do is get excited for the possibilities... then roll with whatever comes your way. I mean, just look at my trip! We had to cancel one of our landings so we could detour to have somebody airlifted to Chile for a medical emergency. We had to cancel another landing because of bad weather. And yet... everything worked out. I was just thrilled to see what I got to see and do what I got to do...

Antarctica Neko Harbor

And, seriously, it could have been worse. It can always be worse!

   
• Inflight Movies! With nearly thirty hours in planes that had a rather large film library, I was able to watch a few movies to occupy my time getting to Buenos Aires and back...

  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets — I went into this movie with such huge expectations... it was to be the spiritual sequel to The Fifth Element for heaven's sake. But it let me down in so many ways. Watching it again with zero expectations let me enjoy it for what it was, and I may actually kinda like it now.
  • Atomic Blonde — I loved this movie so hard. Between the Cold War spy plot, perfect 80's soundtrack, and Charlize Theron kicking abundant amounts of ass... it was too good to be true. It only improves on second viewing.
  • The Mummy — THIS is what was supposed to kick off the new, improved, and unified "Dark Universe?" So bad. So groan-inducing awful. Tried too hard to capture the fun of the Brendan Fraser version and failed miserably. Really hated it.
  • Logan Lucky — Smart. Funny. Surprisingly good entertainment.
  • Ghost in the Shell — As a huge fan of the original manga and animated series/film, I was let down by this ScarJo movie spectacle. On second viewing, the problems are still there... but the amazing visuals are too. I don't hate it. I just wish it could have lived up to its potential.
  • Power Rangers — It starts with a bull masturbation joke and just gets progressively worse from there. The TV show reveled in its cheesiness... the movie tries to take it seriously and failed utterly. Nothing makes sense. Everything is stupid to the point of being offensive. I'm embarrassed for everybody involved.
  • John Wick: Chapter Two — Really wish I saw this in the theater. The original completely surprised me with how good it was. This one was just as good despite my high expectations. The ending sets us up for a third installment that promises to up the stakes yet again... I'm ready.
  • Alien: Covenant — While not the disappointment that Prometheus was, it still falls way, way short of being Alien-worthy.

   
And... no more Antarctica for you. Or for me. See you next week.

   

Video17

Posted on Thursday, December 28th, 2017

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.

Favorite Movies 2017

#1 Thor: Ragnarok
While critics were kind of meh on the first two Thor movies, I loved them. The first captured the grandeur and majesty of a prince of Asgard and set up Loki as a major player in all that would follow. The second faltered a bit on story, but had the best Thor action we had seen to date. And now we get Thor: Ragnarok which heads into new, more comedic territory to deliver one of the most entertaining Marvel Studios films to date. Writer Eric Pearson, who came out of nowhere with only episodes of television's Agent Carter under his belt absolutely nailed the perfect balance of action to laughs. Director Taika Waititi went full-on Jack Kirby with the visuals and made the script absolutely sing. And then there's the flawless cast headed by Chris Hemsworth and his way underutilized comedic chops... plus Tom Hiddleston being the best Loki yet, Cate Blanchett taking the crown as Marvel's best villain yet, Jeff Goldblum being the most Jeff Goldblum we've seen yet, Mark Ruffalo giving us (by far) the best Hulk yet, Idris Elba finally being given something substantial to do and bringing the best Haimdall yet, plus Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie... easily one of the best additions to the Thor saga yet. The plot is almost incidental given the amazing cast and visuals, but it doesn't suck. Thor and Hulk in a buddy movie and it's glorious. By far my favorite film of this year. Of most years.

#2 Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Sony Spider-Man films went from pretty good and took a slow slide to comic book tragedy. I was always glad when a new one was released, but never cared much for what I saw. Until Marvel got the character back and made him exactly the character he needed to be. Spider-Man: Homecoming is easily the best Spider-Man to ever hit the screen. Painfully respectful to the source material (holy crap... Spider-Man is just a kid!) with some fantastic updates (Aunt May isn't ancient! Tony Stark is his mentor!) and laced with dazzling special effects that never overwhelm the story, I loved every minute of the movie. Michael Keaton adds new dimension to The Vulture, who is stealing all the tech in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and creating powerfully-armed super-criminals which Peter Parker stumbles upon. Trying to balance being a super-hero with school, his friends, his aunt, and his love-life gets to be quite a challenge, but makes for fantastic entertainment. Robert Downey Jr. popping up from time to time is just the icing on the cake.

#3 Wonder Woman
It's no secret that I positively loathe the new "cinematic universe" being created by DC Comics and Zack Snyder. Dark, depressing, and absolutely no fun... Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, and Suicide Squad just plain suck. I hated them all. But then Patty Jenkin comes along and plucks Wonder Woman from the gloom to create a glorious representative of what the DC films should be. Taking place in World War I, Steve Trevor crashes into the ocean near Themiscyra, home of the Amazons. Princess Diana, born into a destiny for greater things, leaves paradise to search for Ares, god of war and whom she is convinced is behind the horrors emveloping the world. Things don't go quite as she planned, but Diana becomes the hero we need along the way. Kudos to Gal Gadot and Chris Pine for their amazing performances, which elevate an already remarkable story. When Diana climbs out of the trenches to cross "no-man's land" and save a village in France, we were treated to one of the most surprisingly emotional moments on film in 2017. It was that moment that Princess Diana became Wonder Woman, and Patty Jenkins brought hope to the future of DC Comics on film.

#4 Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
The original Guardians of the Galaxy has long been one of my favorite Marvel films. It was a complete surprise. I held no hope at all it would be any good, but James Gunn figured out a way to make it more than "good" and I loved everything about it. The sequel didn't capture my imagination like the first... the story is a bit convoluted and lost a bit of the emotional charm... but it's still a wholly entertaining ride that I loved to watch. Kurt Russel pulled off the character of "Ego" the way few others could, which just added to an already flawless cast... the highlight being "Baby Groot," who absolutely nobody can help falling in love with. But above everything is the emotional center that Gunn put at the core of it all. Peter Quill's self-discovery and need for family drives the story in ways that most super-hero flicks can't match, and that's why the movie works as well as it does. Cannot wait for Volume 3.

#5 Blade Runner 2049
It's an unnecessary sequel with a story that was in desperate need of editing, but it was also a revelation with stunning visuals that made it a worth successor to the original film. Most people I know either loved it or hated it with nothing in-between, and I totally get that. And it's part of the reason I liked the film so much... it totally went for the brass ring and took risks that could alienate its audience. Was it the story I most wanted to see? No. But it was still very much in keeping faith with the original, and Ryan Gosling as the Replicant "K" has once again upped my opinion of his talents (the first time being in The Good Guys where he was amazing). Harrison Ford's return as Deckard was in many ways underwhelming, but this isn't his story, so it works. Yes, the film dragged on with every scene feeling far longer than it needed to be, but it was also amazing to look at and had an unexpected emotional punch. Dismal box-office practically ensures we won't be getting any more Blade Runners until the inevitable reboot seven years from now, and that's probably okay. Though, by the end of the movie, I was left very much wanting to see more of the dreamy future world that K lives in. I guess that's about as good as an endorsement as I can give.

#6 Atomic Blonde
Charlize Theron is a fantastic actress who knows exactly how to inhabit the roles she takes on. Never is this more apparent than with this 1989 Cold War spy thriller that is filled with some of the best "James Bond" action you will ever see. Relentless action highlighted by some of the most brutal fight scenes you'll see by a woman... or a man. The fact that it was such an amazing 80's soundtrack attached is just the icing on the cake (though I honestly can't picture the movie without it). The twist on a twist at the end was not as surprising as it could have been, but it wraps things up well and has me dying to see a sequel.

Favorite Movies 2017

#7 Get Out
Who knew? I dismissed Get Out as another Key and Peele bit of funny fluff like Keanu and had no plans to ever see it in theaters... thinking maybe I'll catch it on video. But the critical acclaim built up so fast and was so overwhelmingly positive that I had to see it. I was not disappointed. Jordan Peele has stepped away from comedy (while leaving one foot in the pool) to craft a remarkable thriller that has a running commentary on society that few others could handle so deftly. And yet... wholly entertaining on top of that.

#8 LEGO Batman: The Movie
Amazing. DC should just scrap everything they're doing and just LEGO everything. I laughed more time in this film than any film in recent memory. I was sorely tempted to just slap this at #1 and be done with the list... but... so many good films this year.

#9 Coco
It's as if Pixar releases shit like Cars 2 and Cars 3 then compensates for it by releasing stunning works like Brave, Finding Dory, and now Coco.... A heartfelt story married to lush, colorful, gorgeous visuals. Seriously, this is one of the prettiest films ever made.

#10 Kedi
It took owning cats for me to fall in love with cats. Kedi is a love-letter to the stray cats of Istanbul... thousands of them... and the people who interact with them. If you're fascinated by felines, documentaries, and other cultures, this is your movie. Heck, even if you're not into any of those things, this is still your movie.

#11 Baby Driver
A lot of movies tout themselves to be "thrill-rides" and end up being anything but. This movie is a thrill-ride that actually delivers. Edgar Wright took both car chase movies and heist movies to another level by combining gritty action with a phenomenal cast and a killer soundtrack. It's a real shame that Kevin Spacey turned out to be a shit, because this movie typifies him taking on a subordinate role in a film and just killing it.

#12 Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name)
Just when you thing the body-swap trope has been done to death and you never want to see it again, director Makoto Shinkai uses it to craft a beautiful, compelling, complex love story unlike any other. Besides being beautifully animated, the story has real emotional impact and a twist you feel. It's a real shame that so few Westerners will see this movie because it's well worth seeing.

   
SPECIAL MENTION...
I love a good standup film. I live for a great standup film. Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King is a standup film to die for. I've seen it five times. I will undoubtedly watch it a dozen more...

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

Because I am not an Indian-American Muslim, Minhaj cannot speak to my experience being an Indian-American Muslim. But he makes it so that I can relate to his story and reach a place where I can better understand what it means to be an Indian-American Muslim in this country... and only the very best comedians can do something like that. This is game-changing, groundbreaking, beautifully-realized, entirely entertaining comedy film that is not to be missed. And that's true no matter who you are or what you believe.

   
SPECIAL MENTION...
Last year my #9 movie was La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle), which was a 2016 movie for me because I saw it on the festival circuit. It was put in general USA release this year, so I'm mentioning it again because it's just too beautiful to overlook...

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

La Tortue Rouge - The Red Turtle

Gorgeous animation from Studio Ghibli that's a warm blanket in visual form (there's no dialogue). The story is a tale of survival that unfolds like a classic fairytale... but ends up being so much more. I feel incredibly fortunate to have seen it on the big screen where it's visual grandeur can truly be appreciated, but it will resonate with you when viewed at any size. Watch it. And watch it without distraction so you can soak it all in the way it was meant to be experienced.

   
HONORABLE MENTIONS...

  • Dunkirk. I didn't think of Christopher Nolan as a historical drama filmmaker, but this is a film which proves his storytelling knows no boundaries. Everything about it is meticulously orchestrated to deliver emotional impact in the best possible way. I saw this in IMAX, which is probably the best way to experience it, but it's really unmissable, glorious filmmaking in any form.
  • The Big Sick. Based on comedian Kumail Nanjiani's real-life relationship with (now-wife) Emily V. Gordon, this is a romantic comedy filled with wit and charm that's made fresh by the cultural divide in the middle of it all. With beats of dark humor popping up from time to time, it's a movie that strives for entertaining substance... and succeeds.
  • I Am Not Your Negro. "The story of the Negro in America is the story of America. It is not a pretty story." Based on an incomplete manuscript by James Baldwin, this is a telling of that not-so-pretty story. A brilliant, visionary film taking a hard look at race in this country that demands to be seen.
  • Colossal. Where? Where did this come from? I saw no advertising for it when it was in theaters. I only saw it when it popped up on iTunes as an "editor's choice" kind of thing while I was bored and looking for a movie to watch. I was so intrigued by the cast (Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis?) and the concept (movie monsters?) and the reviews (critics absolutely loved it?) that I was compelled to buy it. Loved it. Brilliant in every way.
  • Gifted. I loathe "heartwarming kid movies" and avoid anything that even looks it like the plague. But this was the only movie I hadn't seen on a long flight, so I dug in hoping that Chris Evans would do a decent enough job to salvage it. Imagine my surprise when not only did Evans turn in a phenomenal performance... but the story was really good as well. Oh... and the kid wasn't nearly as annoying as they usually are.
  • It. A pleasant surprise in many ways, I avoided this film in theaters because I didn't see how they could top Tim Curry's amazing take on Pennywise the Clown. Turns out they didn't attempt. to top it... they just went in a different direction entirely. Interestingly enough, this movie is only half the book. I'm guessing that, given the huge box office it did, the second half of the story will make it to screen sometime soon.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2. The original John Wick completely surprised me with how good it was. This one was just as good despite my high expectations. The ending sets us up for a third installment that promises to up the stakes yet again... I'm ready.
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I loved the first film. A lot. The sequel had escalating entertainment value, but really faltered in a number of places. I liked the movie. I wanted to love it. The fact that I didn't has me worried for the future of the franchise.
  • Logan Lucky. Smart. Funny. Surprisingly good entertainment. If you haven't seen it but are looking for a good film to watch, then just watch it. Don't go researching it or even watch a trailer. Let Logan Lucky take you by surprise like it did me.
  • Hidden Figures. A beautiful movie with a flawless cast marred by the fact that we apparently can't have accurate mainstream Black history movies based on real events without tossing in fictional white saviors to make it "feel-good-marketable" in the process.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes. We're in our third movie of the new trilogy and I don't know how they do it. All three of the Planet of the Apes films are good, but this may be the best yet. I honestly want for there to be another one if we're going to get a film like this.
  • Umi Yori Mo Mada Fukaku (After the Storm). This is a film that is intrinsically Japanese in that it is a simple, beautiful movie on the surface... with plunging depths that are only hinted at lurking underneath. Surprisingly, it's perfectly enjoyable just to let the surface wash over you without having to think so much... but there's more to the story waiting if you are game to look for it. Stars Abe Hiroshi, one of my favorite Japanese actors of the moment.

   
HAVEN'T SEEN YET, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Downsizing
  • The Shape of Water
  • Loving Vincent
  • Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
  • Lady Bird
  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • The Disaster Artist
  • God’s Own Country
  • Loving
  • City of Ghosts
  • Jane: In The Shadow Of Man
  • A Ghost Story
  • Okja

   
NOT AS BAD AS THEY SAY...

  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I went into this movie with such huge expectations... it was to be the spiritual sequel to The Fifth Element for heaven's sake. But it let me down in so many ways. Watching it a second time with zero expectations let me enjoy it for what it was, and I may actually kinda like it now.
  • Ghost in the Shell. As a huge fan of the original manga and animated series/film, I was let down by this ScarJo movie spectacle. On second viewing, the problems are still there... but the amazing visuals are too. I don't hate it. I just wish it could have lived up to its potential.

   
THE WORST...

  • Power Rangers. It starts with a bull masturbation joke and just gets progressively worse from there. The TV show reveled in its cheesiness... the movie tries to take it seriously and failed utterly. Nothing makes sense. Everything is stupid to the point of being offensive. I'm embarrassed for everybody involved.
  • Justice League. I held out no hope for this continuation of the Zack Snyder travesty wrecking the DC Comics Cinematic Universe, and swore I would wait for video. I broke my oath because I was bored while at a work site. I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would... but still hated it. A disjointed, disaster-porn mess with a useless villain that not even Wonder Woman can save. The only thing positive to come out of it was the glimmer of hope that Ezra Miller's "The Flash" could be a fun movie.
  • The Mummy. THIS is what was supposed to kick off the new, improved, and unified "Dark Universe?" So bad. So groan-inducing awful. Tried too hard to capture the fun of the Brendan Fraser version and failed miserably. Really hated everything about it.
  • The Dark Tower. You know your movie is shit when not even having Idris Elba starring in it can save the thing. A confusing, incoherent, poorly-conceived movie where even the action is boring.

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Young Hollywood Obsession

Posted on Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Dave!My first screen crush was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. Not from her initial run that started in 1975 (I was 9 years old) but later on when the show was syndicated on whatever cable channel reran old pop culture TV shows in 1981. I was flicking through channels and happened upon what I thought was some kind of military show, until Diana Prince exploded in a burst of light and Wonder Woman appeared on my television.

She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

In every sense that mattered, Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman.

To say I was obsessed is an understatement. I kept watching the show every chance I got... even when they destroyed it by abandoning the World War II setting and had Lyle Waggoner play his own son in "modern times" (while accompanied by a bleep-bloop computer named IRAC and a robot called ROVER).

My Lynda Carter awakening game me an all new appreciation for other shows I was tuning into at the time...
• Erin Gray who played Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
• Pamela Hensley who played Princess Ardala in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
• Barbara Eden who played Genie in I Dream of Genie reruns.

Of these four women who shaped my fantasy life in my developing years, I've only met one of them, Erin Gray...

Me and Erin Gray

Note she is just as beautiful now as she ever was. And she was nice!

Other crushes came and went... depending on who was the "it-girl" of the moment on MTV or in the latest TV show or Movie I liked, but everything began with Lynda, Erin, Pamela, and Barbara.

And then came Blade Runner in 1982.

Always looking for the next big sci-fi extravaganza to fuel the fire lit by Star Wars (or, more likely, The Empire Strikes Back), I trudged to the theater to take in Blade Runner, which was a big treat for me at the time.

It was there that I literally had my breath taken away when "Racheal" appeared from the dim recesses of Eldon Tyrell's corporate headquarters...

The cool, detached demeanor that Rachel exhibited throughout Harrison Ford's interrogation was just the icing on the cake. I had just fallen in love with Sean Young.

This meant saving up the insane amount of money to buy a copy of Blade Runner on VHS tape when it was released in 1983 (seriously, it was like $100 or something). It also meant following her career (going backwards to see her first film appearance in Stripes first), which was pretty hit-or-miss over the years. But I always loved Sean. Even when she would play to the absurd, like she did in 1994's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

And so you can imagine my shock when 1982 Sean Young appeared on-screen in last year's Blade Runner 2049 sequel. Looking exactly as she did when I fell in love with her 35 years ago...

Digital Rachael

Unlike the way they resurrected Carrie Fischer's Princess Leia in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sean Young looked real. So real that I was convinced they must have digitally cleaned up footage from the first movie and reused it somehow. How could it be otherwise, because everything about it Was. Real.

It also lead to a moment of confusion for me when Deckard (Harrison Ford) spoils his reunion moment in Blade Runner 2049 by telling Wallace he screwed up because the real Rachael had green eyes. Except... from my staring into them for hours at a time, I knew that her eyes were actually originally brown, just like the new copy. It's then I had an "ah ha!" moment when I realized that Decker was merely using the eye color line to screw with Wallace by essentially saying he would always know she was a fake.

I had kind of forgotten about this somewhat shocking moment from 2017 cinema until today when I ran across a story about how they actually did recreate Sean Young digitally for the cameo appearance. They just took the time to do an extraordinary job of it...

Digital Rachael

And here's the VFX reel...

Amazing.

I'm guessing in the next ten to twenty years, the visual effects will be so jaw-droppingly realistic that they can resurrect anybody from any time and bring them to life again on-screen.

I'm not going to dwell on the legal or moral consequences of doing so. But I am going to dwell on the possibility that we'll one day get an "animated" feature film of 1975 Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman.

15-year-old me is counting on it.

   

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