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Half in the Bag: Pixels

July 27, 2015

I’ve only seen one Adam Sandler movie in a theater, and Punch-Drunk Love was more a movie that Adam Sandler happened to be in. I’d have to be heavily sedated to be dragged to any of his cinematic offerings. So I won’t be seeing Pixels. But thankfully we have the fine gentlemen at Half in the Bag, who watch this crap so we don’t have to. Enjoy. Or not.

Happy 75th, Bugs

July 27, 2015

Bugs Bunny is 75 years young today, having made his animated debut three quarters of a century ago in the Merrie Melodies short, “Wild Hare.” For the generations of us who grew up watching Bugs and the rest of the Looney Tunes stable, those of us whose pop culture vocabularies were filled out by the Mel Blanc-voiced creations, this is a big day. So have yourself a plate of Hasenpfeffer in honor of the most famous leporine crossdresser of them all.

Christopher Reeve and a 1980s camcorder will make you believe a kid can fly!

July 25, 2015

I liked Man of Steel, Superman’s most recent film iteration. I look forward, with some trepidation, to him (finally) sharing a screen with Batman next year. But no one ever wore the cape and boots like Christopher Reeve, and it’s likely that no one ever will. And really, could you picture Henry Cavill in the above commercial? With his chainmailish, muted costume, and after snapping (justifiably, granted) Zod’s neck? Read more…

Will the more (Moore?) outlandish James Bond return in Spectre?

July 22, 2015

Though I wasn’t nuts about its final act, I quite enjoyed James Bond’s last outing, Skyfall. It had good action and a quality villain, and hints of the enjoyable lunacy from the Roger Moore days, something Daniel Craig said he was willing to embrace. Read more…

Sunday Stupid: Tom Hanks raps! And dances! Kind of! And Dan Aykroyd does too!

July 19, 2015

Tom Hanks has evolved into a modern version of revered screen stars of yore, well-liked both for his work onscreen and his amiable, even keel off of it: a latter-day Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, etc. Does anyone out there hate the guy? Anybody? And why would they? Unless, of course, they’re still steamed about wasting their money on Joe Versus the Volcano tickets. But really, who’s still grinding that ax? (Okay, I still am — I wanted to go see The Hunt for Red October, but my stupid friends insisted on Joe. Yeah, I ran with some real dummies back in the day.)

It’s been so long since Philadelphia diverted Hanks to a serious, Oscar-bait career trajectory, we forget that most of his early movies were zany comedies that tried to outdo one another in their silliness. And there may be no sillier moment in Hanks’s 1980s oeuvre than a little side project that went along with one of those comedies. The “City of Crime” music video ladies and gentlemen. Well, this exists. Read more…

A good thing in a small package? – Ant-Man

July 16, 2015

Ant-Man poster

One keeps wondering what the bridge too far will be for Marvel’s movie slate. While there have been some narrative clunkers put out by this relatively newfangled Hollywood titan (Age of Ultron was a rather wan successor to 2012’s transcendent Avengers), none have been that classic momentum killing disaster: the box office bomb. You kind of thought that Guardians of the Galaxy with its talking raccoons and ambulatory trees might have fit that bill, but lo and behold it was one of the biggest cinematic hits the House of Ideas has ever had. Suddenly Chris Pratt is an A-List star because of it, which is mind-boggling. Yeah, the chubby loser from Parks and Recreation.

Maybe Marvel really does have the Midas Touch when it comes to ticket receipts. Maybe they do have that coveted, mythical license to print money.

Well, we’ve come to another effort that might not tickle the audience’s fancy as others have, a potential tripwire on the road to riches. Ant-Man, ladies and gentleman. A founding Avenger, but the tiniest of the bunch. Who shrinks to the size of an ant. Who can talk to ants. Sort of like an insect Aquaman. This could be trouble.

Verdict? Ant-Man isn’t great. It’s okay. “Capable” would be a word that I’d use to describe it, with moments of brilliance when the titular hero is shrunk down and doing his thing. But the family “drama” that undergirds the movie (the term is in quotes because what we get is barely deserving of that appellation) is the plainest of plain vanillas, and the plot is utterly predictable. But you know what, it’s a Marvel movie, it has its moments, and most members of the audience won’t feel cheated out of their hard-earned cash.

Click on through for some more detailed thoughts, including some spoilers, as well as a final rating. Read more…

Will the final Fantastic Four trailer make you bury your face in your hands?

July 14, 2015

I think everyone by now is just waiting to see how Fox has managed to botch comicdom’s First Family this time around, and whether Josh Trank’s rumored set difficulties show up in the finished product. At least we’ll always have Roger Corman’s iteration of the Fantastic Four, which was excusably bad due to its budget and keep-the-rights intent, and thus not as excruciating as its successors.

One thing this newest venture “has going for it” — you have to put that in sarcastic quotes — is what will likely be its utter botch of Doctor Doom. This trailer gives us our best look to date, and he looks awful. You get the feeling that he’s being held back not to make his eventual onscreen reveal cooler, but to delay the backlash until the opening weekend. It takes a special kind of suck to ruin one of the great villains this fictional medium has ever produced, and if that’s what winds up happening — kudos! Another triumph!

Thrill at the Suicide Squad Comic-Con trailer, co-starring the Joker’s orthodontia!

July 13, 2015

I can’t say that I’m overly interested in this upcoming Suicide Squad take — it seems odd to me to go to a villain team-up so early in your shared universe, when the heroes haven’t even been established yet. And this rather soporific sizzle reel isn’t exactly changing my mind. But whatever — it has its moments. Though Viola Davis is no substitute for CCH Pounder, she seems capable stepping into Amanda Waller’s plus-sized wardrobe, and Jared Leto’s new Joker, dreadful early reveal notwithstanding, seems to be, you know, crazy. This is a good thing.

Note: it appears that human charisma-vacuum Jai Courtney is playing Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. Excelsior!

Will the Comic-Con Batman v Superman trailer make you bleed?

July 11, 2015

Note: Due to a recent illness and a subsequent trip down the rabbit hole of the medical system, the blog has been silent for a while now. Since the upcoming World’s-Finest-movie-by-another-name is, despite its underwhelming marketing to date, my most anticipated film in years, let this (hopefully) latest bit of promotion mark a return to activity.

And this newest Batman v Superman trailer out of Comic-Con? Better. It has its moments. Have to love Bruce Wayne charging towards the danger as everyone else flees for their lives. Robin’s costume, covered with Joker graffiti. “He is not our enemy.”

Still wish this Superman was a little less dour, though. A little more sunshine, please? Just a little?

Farewell, David Endocrine Letterman

May 19, 2015

The departure of David Letterman from the late night broadcast airwaves has generated much online comment and many nostalgia-driven puff pieces, and I’ll try not to add too much to that burgeoning heap. But a few points before the gap-toothed one rides off into the sunset: One, it’s easy to forget how big a deal Letterman’s move to CBS was, and how it was one of the bigger things to happen in television history — in a TV landscape where the big three networks were still the Big Three Networks. I mean, it was HUGE. Two, we should all thank Mr. Letterman for his contributions to the comic book medium, both his The Dark Knight Returns doppelganger, David Endocrine, and his Avengers-loving self. Three, twenty-two years sure goes fast. I don’t feel old, but I’m sure as hell not a teenager anymore, taping the first Late Show on my VCR. Time flies, folks.

Watch the Supergirl First Look so that you don’t have to bother with the TV show!

May 13, 2015

I realize I’m not really the target demographic for this show, but yeah, this looks kind of pointless and terrible. At least there’s the oddness of Calista Flockhart’s plastic surgeried face, though. Tune in, true believers!

Take out a second mortgage and buy some 1980s Transformers VHS tapes!

May 12, 2015
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Optimus Prime Megatron Grimlock Jazz Soundwave

When I was a mid-1980s kid I was utterly flabbergasted that my parents balked at buying each and every Transformers VHS tape that Family Home Entertainment released. How dare they, you know? Read more…

Sunday Stupid: It’s JFK vs. The Silly Bastard Next to the Bed!

May 10, 2015
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The public image United States presidents tend to project is one of considered reserve. They may raise the tone of their voice when out on the stump, but they always try to keep things on a generally even keel. This is what made the Nixon tapes so startling. It was jarring to hear the Chief Executive cussing and swearing like some old sod shooting the breeze on a rickety chair in front of the general store.

Nixon’s downfall was what did away with the idea of presidents recording their Oval Office conversations, but we still have his predecessors’ tapes to clue us in on both important moments in history and the amusing minutiae that might concern a head of state. And there’s no more entertaining minutiae than the time Jack Kennedy got all riled up over a dopey picture in the paper. Read more…

Jack Davis artwork notwithstanding, no kids were ever this excited about playing Reactor, right?

May 9, 2015

Jack Davis art Reactor game

Asteroids? Yeah, maybe Asteroids would work kids up into such a frenzy that they’d levitate in front of the TV. But Reactor, you’re no Asteroids. And thus Jack Davis’s talents, once deployed to depict no lesser figures than Dr. J and Rick Barry, were utterly wasted here.

You know you’re back in video game pre-history when the Sears Video Arcade is mentioned.

Mold, broken – The Dark Crystal

May 7, 2015

Dark Crystal comic cover

The don’t make them like that anymore. This is one of the oldest clichés in the movie world, so ancient it almost stretches back to the beginning of the motion picture industry, when the business was measured in years, not in decades. It’s used to wistfully harken to a somewhat fuzzy film paradise of yore, when movies were better, where the glow of nostalgia now infuses everything with a patina of quality that the cold, harsh realities of the present can never ever reproduce. And, like all clichés, there often isn’t a lot of truth to it. Movies are movies, always have been, good and bad have been constant parts of the equation, and there really isn’t a proverbial, monolithic “they” doing anything wrong. This is more empty psychological yearning than genuine commentary.

But.

But there are rare films that are the very embodiment of those words. And when you’re talking about a richly conceived fantasy epic starring puppets that brought together the fertile minds behind Kermit the Frog and a little movie called Star Wars, they seem more than applicable.

The Dark Crystal, ladies and gentlemen. They don’t make them like that anymore. Read more…