Monday, November 23, 2009

Interstella 5555: A film

So, I just finished watching the Daft Punk anime film "Interstella 5555" which is a film version of their concept album "Discovery". The film is very enjoyable in the sense of it being a sci-fi, family style anime with no dialogue content, the story being told through music and images only.

Despite it having no words of dialogue, the story is fairly effectively told, despite it being a very strange sci-fi story of apparent world domination through an ancient, undying evil...through the use of several music stars from other universes. It is a very strange story, but the characters are likable, and it's fun and interesting to see every song on the album fit to the animation built for it.

The film can also very easily be analyzed through any number of lenses - the man who kidnaps the band forces them onto earth and makes them look human, and then to make the people of earth imitate them in every way. This can be interpreted easily as a metaphor for both colonialism, and for capitalism. The film also focuses on the band's loneliness, perhaps being a comment on the disillusionment with being a celebrity.

All in all, it's a fun watch if you have a spare hour in your day, and enjoy the heavy electronic beats of Daft Punk.

Akos Pakos

Hello literate masses! Good to see you again. Recently, I've been reading a very interesting book that I hope will interest you all. Have you ever wondered where the term "Hocus Pocus" and "Abra Kadabra" came from? Have you ever been curious as to why salt, water and blood are so important in culture, and in magic? Have the spirits and amulets ever interested you? What about the origin of the names of angels and the gods? Then this is the book for you!

Joshua Trachtenberg's "Jewish Magic and Superstition" (1935) is a great overall introduction to all the facets of Jewish magic in the medieval era until now. It covers amulets to incantations, spirits to divination, names to exorcisms. Albeit, the chapter on names is a little dry, and some of the chapters can be too wordy, but generally this is a very accessible, academic book on the topic of early Jewish, Western European and some Christian magics and superstitions and the real reasons behind them, and the reasons why they are or aren't in practice now.

It's sixteen chapters are an everything you want to know guide to these topics. That being said, it is true that, as a result of it being written so early in the 20th Century it is, perhaps, of the academic language persuasion, but it is still a very accessible book. Though, fair warning, there are some paragraphs and quotes entirely in other languages (German, Italian, Latin, etc.) which remain untranslated by the author, as the expectation was that the readership knew these languages, though I believe that contemporary publishings of this book do give translations of these passages in the notes.

Hope you enjoy it. Mahalo.

Wuthering Huh?

I learned about this a few weeks ago and have been following it, but I feel something needs to be said. Now, when I say what I'm about to say, some of you will surely say, "But Jordan, you're over-exaggerating, it can't possibly be the Biblical End of Times, the Apocalypse, the End of all Humanity and Civilization!" And you would be wrong. It is. The end is very nigh. What I am about to tell you is completely true, so please, I advise you brace yourselves.

Sigh. Okay. Here goes.
I have recently learned that the classic piece of literature by Emily Bronte, "Wuthering Heights", is to be repackaged with a new cover. This is not a problem, this happens every few years, right? Wrong. Not like this. There was a recent press release/statement made by the author of the "Twilight" novels that stated that Edward (Cullen) and Bella (Whatsherface)'s favourite book, was "Wuthering Heights" - for what I can only assume was literary comparison between the main character from it's moodiness and Edward's. Here inlies the problem - the geniuses at the publishing companies - who clearly hate literature - are REPACKAGING "Wuthering Heights", and English Literature CLASSIC, with a new cover designed by the same man who did the "Twilight" covers, in the same style, with a flower on a staircase surrounded by black and "Emily Bronte" written in that faux-semi-Gothic font. The kicker? There is a little yellow star bubble on the cover below the image which says, "Edward and Bella's favourite book!" . The second kicker? They're flying off the shelves.

On the article which contained this information (here, here, here, here and here - yeah, I'm thorough) there were comments - one which was, "Is this book in old timey English or normal, readable English? Because I can't help but feel this is a repackaging of the original." -- THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN IN THE MID 1800s! It's as readable as it gets! The other comment read, "Advisory: this isn't even a good romance novel! There's like, 5 pages of romance! The rest is all anger and bitterness!" - No kidding. Do these people even KNOW the story behind "Wuthering Heights"?!

I can't help but feel now, that this will lead to a new market where all classic books are repackaged with a new cover, claiming that "BLANK FICTIONAL CHARACTER's favourite book!" and then plastered with a poorly thought out cover to sell copy. This are classics which already sell well, they don't need to be revamped. I can't help but feel "The Illiad" will soon be republished with, "MAIN CHARACTER from 'Never Back Down's favourite book!" .

This is it, the world is over. Mahalo.

Lost: A Review

Recently, I ingested the entire five seasons J.J. Abrams' hit TV show "Lost" from beginning to end in barely a month. At first, I was a "Lost" hater - I hated it, and I enjoyed hating it and I wasn't in the mood to be budged on the matter. What was the worst about this was, I had never even watched it. I hated it purely based on the concept and false assumptions. But, I had to go and tell this to a rather pushy "Lost" fan, "Go on, watch the pilot episode if," he said, "if after that you don't want to watch any more of it, I won't push it." So I said fine. At the end of the movie-length premier, I was hooked and needed more "Lost". The complaints I had heard that it "all of a sudden" became a sci-fi show were, now, unfounded as "Lost" is in its essence, a sci-fi show. What's more, it's a good sci-fi show - which are rare to find. What's better is it was in the vein of the first season of "Heroes" and set in a very relatable real-world setting, but a lot less cheesy.

All the misconceptions I had had about the series turned out to be unfounded upon a proper viewing of the show. The show did not, as I thought, take place over a year each season but was actually a month, the first season being the first 44 days on the island - this created an interesting time paradox involving the actors and the events on the island - and it was not the only time paradox, as time is a predominant theme in the show.

What I found most intriguing about "Lost" is the surprising depth of it. To paraphrase a review given to the novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War", "Lost" is smarter than any sci-fi should has a right to be. Every character is based in some way around an historical figure or philosopher, the most obvious of which is the character of John Locke named after...well...John Locke. The 'main' character - a term I use loosely as a result of the inordinate number of main characters, the season six containing all previously seen twenty-six characters - Jack Sheppard seems to me to be based upon the famed Irish convict of the same name who is famous for escaping from prison something to the effect of fourteen times.

I have heard almost every possible interpretation of what "Lost" means, and what the Island is - that it's purgatory, that it's a prison, it's hell, it's not real, etc. etc. etc. ad infinatum. No one interpretation is right or wrong, and they are all well documented and correlated at LostPedia, an encyclopedia of everything that is "Lost".

For those of you who haven't seen "Lost" I won't be providing spoilers, so don't worry. The basic idea is that a plane crashes on a mysterious island, and somehow forty-seven or so people survive the crash - most of which are what we call "red shirts", named so after the character in "Star Trek" who would go down to the planet with the main characters and would...well...die, as they weren't leads, and they always wore red shirts. Of these, there are approximately 11-15 main characters at a time - it fluctuates as the seasons go on and characters die or are introduced. After some time on the island, they realize something is awry with the Island as they hear what they will frustratingly refer to as The Monster for five seasons, and soon realize they are not alone on the island. Major conspiracies, sci-fi concepts, philosophy and intriguing characters all make this show a worthwhile watch!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Longbox Blues: Deadpool #15-16, #900

I'm gonna come right out and say it: I'm a Deadpool fan.

I know, I know. Deadpool is the new Wolverine. An overused, annoying, whored-out character that isn't funny but brings in mucho $ for the House of Ideas.

It wasn't always this way. I should mention that I'm a fan of oldschool Deadpool, from the Joe Kelly era. That's right, back when the character had character, when there was depth to the Merc with a Mouth. When he was actually funny. Joe Kelly's Deadpool run actually made me laugh out loud at times, something that really doesn't happen when I read comics. Heck, I'm such a fan of that period of Deadpool history that I even dressed up as him for Halloween. (And yes, that post was written in character.)

I decided to check out Deadpool's new story: him joining the X-Men. Wait, didn't that already happen before, and didn't he get a way better costume than this new ugly yellow one?

Click to see full size
The issues began with a "Previously in Deadpool" page, which reminded me of the recap pages from Kelly-era Deadpool. That felt nice. Then I read the recap page and literally wondered "WTF."

Apparently, Wade got himself a crapload of money, bought a nuclear sub, sank it, used a tugboat to pull it, turned the tugboat into a pirate ship, tried to free the people of some island, and the sub exploded.

Since when did Deadpool become a rejected Family Guy sketch?

#15 started off strong. Stranded at sea, Wade starts to lose it. Or rather, continues to lose it. I couldn't help but think of Tales of the Black Freighter and the oldschool SNL "Land Shark" sketches (which Joe Kelly made a reference to back in '97), but that's probably just me.

He eventually gets back to shore, and the book climaxes in a very nonsensical scene that wasn't funny at all. #16 picks up soon afterwards, with Wade on the X-Men's island, applying to the team.

Cyclops later sends Domino to find Deadpool and to speak to him. Those two go way back. If I'm not mistaken, they both first appeared in New Mutants #98. The fight scene was supposed to be entertaining, but ultimately fell very, very flat. Pun NOT intended.

The jokes were lame, the story didn't make sense, and Wade looks like a freakin' burn victim rather than the disfigured monster he's supposed to be. I won't be writing about the rest of the arc because I'm not going to be reading it.

I also decided to pick up Deadpool #900. I figured that if any modern Deadpool book could be good, it would be a super-sized collection of short Deadpool stories by different people. Hell, Joe Kelly was even writing one!

#900 is a series of unrelated, uninteresting, and unoriginal short stories featuring Deadpool. Modern "lol, i has 2 vioces in mah hed" Deadpool. One of the tales was an homage to Deadpool #42, "Silent But Deadly Interlude," which in turn was an homage to G.I. Joe #21, "Silent Interlude." That one was OK. Watching Wade noiselessly fight mimes was strange in a good way, but the plot made little sense. Another featured Deadpool and a shrink. It was very bizarre, and I can honestly say that it was the only story in the book that I actually liked. The Joe Kelly story, unfortunately, was drawn by [shudder] Rob Liefeld. I know that it's only fair, since he DID co-create the character, but seriously, that man should not be allowed near pencils or any other stationary paraphernalia. The story itself wasn't good, nor funny, though it did give readers a glimpse into Wade's childhood, and into Deadpool's mysterious pouches. And the final story is a reprint of Deadpool Team-Up #1, which was awful and really felt like something out of a Wolverine story.

It's hard to be a Deadpool fan. I was disappointed by all of those books and I really don't like what they've done with/to the character. I'll go hug my Classic Deadpool trades and cry myself to sleep, I guess.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Accurate Look At: "This Is It"

This review will be shorter than most due to the nature of the film.

This Is It is not about Michael Jackson. It is not about his life, it is not about his death, though it does provide details about him as a person. At very least, one aspect of him - his level of commitment to his art.

This Is It follows the making-of process of what was to be Michael Jackson's ultimate concert. That's pretty much all you need to know. As you'd expect from a Michael Jackson performance, it is a treat to watch and listen to.

Plenty of behind-the-scenes footage is shown: choreography, makeup/costumes, special effects, lighting, etc. You really get a sense of how much of a perfectionist Michael Jackson was in terms of his music. The film features some of his all-time classics (I won't name any songs to prevent spoilers) and to see them come to life in such wonderful, strange, and unexpected ways was nothing short of amazing.

If you are a fan of Michael Jackson, you really need to see This Is It. And stay for the credits. The extra little bonuses at the end of the credits are worth it. One of them in particular made me day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

An Accurate Look At: "Zombieland"

A few months back, my buddy bought a $20 game for his Wii - House of the Dead: Overkill. Basically, it's like a video game version of Grindhouse, only you hold onto controllers instead of bags of popcorn.

Zombieland is, to put it simply, like a movie version of House of the Dead: Overkill. Plenty of action, lots of violence and gore, and great humour.

The TV spots really make it look stupid, but when I saw the trailer attached to District 9, my opinion changed. The trailer made Zombieland look like a laugh-filled action-packed romp through the zombie apocalypse, with sexual tension thrown in for good measure. Seemed sorta like Superbad with zombies (and not just because Jules is in it). Count me in!

The movie begins with a lame explanation of how the zombie infection began and spread, and though it is not plausible scientifically, it works in the humourous over-the-top-world of Zombieland. The main character/narrator, played by the guy from Adventureland (hmm, typecasted as -land movie protagonists?). It's not that I don't like him, it's just that I get the feeling that he's a Michael Cera replacement. "We can't get Mr. Cera, sir." "Then get me another funny, awkward, curly-haired Jew instead!"

The characters in the film don't have names. In order to prevent needless emotional attachment, the characters know each other by place names: where they're from, or where they're going. There are a few characters who do have names, but names are more like titles - in order to have a name, you have to earn/deserve it.

Columbus is the narrator, our guide through the United States of Zombieland. Throughout his travels, he will meet up with the badass Tallahassee (who "sets the standard of 'not to be fucked with'") and the sisters Wichita and Little Rock while trying to get back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, to find his family which may or may not still be alive.

Which brings me to an interesting idea. The survivors of Zombieland managed to live for one reason - they are smart. Columbus has a series of rules which he lives by, rules which keep him alive. Tallahassee knows how to fight, and then some. The sisters are con artists, and while they lack the survival skills of Tallahassee, or the structured logic of Columbus, they have remained alive due to their uncanny abilities of heartbreaking and swindling. But you can't swindle a zombie, so when they run out of humans they can exploit, they'll find themselves in a whole world of hurt.

Two things really surprised me about Zombieland. 1) The humour is fantastic. It is genuinely funny. I mean, really laugh-out-loud whole-theatre-roaring funny. I laughed harder than I thought and I would and loved it. 2) The writing was great. Zombieland is better written than it has any right to be. The dialogue was terrific and there was actual characterization. The characters are not just faceless zombie-killers. They each have backstories developed through flashbacks and dialogue. The characters are darker and deeper than you'd expect. I was caught by surprise. I should also point out that the acting was very good, better than the TV spots would lead you to believe. The good casting perfectly complements the writing and the characters really come to life. Excuse the unintended pun.

If you forgive the pun, it's a hilarious zombie film with brains. Put it on your shelf between Shawn of the Dead and the Evil Dead trilogy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

An Accurate Look At: "District 9"

When I first heard of District 9, I thought it was a spin-off of and/or sequel to Banlieue 13. I couldn't have been more wrong. District 9 is a science-fiction film set in South Africa, and deals with themes of segregation, dehumanization, and oppression. I would make an "I see what you did there" comment, but I'm too awestruck to try to be witty.

District 9 is probably the best film I've seen all year. Yes, it's even better than my other favourite film of the year, Inglourious Basterds, though not funny nor hilariously entertaining. District 9 is very dark, very violent, and most importantly, very, very good.

20 years prior to the beginning of the film, an alien ship arrived on Earth. The extraterrestrial behemoth occupied the skies over Johannesburg. The world waited...

But nothing happened. The ship just floated there in the air. A piece fell off, but that was it. So, the humans decided to fly up to the ship in helicopters and open it up themselves. Inside were the aliens: insect-like and vaguely humanoid, they were suffering aboard their ship.

So, the humans housed the aliens in a place called "District 9," which soon became a shanty town. The aliens were not hostile, but were treated as second-class citizens and weren't welcome in the city. Tensions between humans and aliens rose, riots broke out, etc. The humans basically just oppressed the aliens, limited their breeding, and stole their technology. Alien weaponry requires alien DNA to use them, so the humans couldn't get their hands on advanced energy weapons and the like.

One day, the humans decide to relocate the aliens from their ghetto in District 9 to a new 'housing' area called District 10, which is really just a concentration camp. Multinational Union [MNU] officers go door to door tricking the aliens into signing their eviction notices.

But a recently-promoted MNU official gets in way over his head, and soon finds himself stripped of his position, hunted by the people he worked for, and at odds against Nigerian criminals.

Poignant social commentary, District 9 brings up issues like corruption, hate, and propaganda. The aliens are bizarre shelled bipedal insect-like crustaceans, dubbed "prawns." The art design in terms of the creatures and the alien technology is fantastic. The aliens look monstrous, but have gentle eyes. Their weapons and vehicles are very futuristic and cool. And one particular piece of hardware [which I hope they make a toy of!] is just incredibly badass. The visual effects are good too, and the audio aspect of the film is terrific. The aliens' sounds and language is great - sounds effects like tubes detaching, liquids spewing, and weapons firing were excellent. The music is terrific.

District 9 is not for every one. Some might be turned away due to the subject matter, and those are probably the people who should see this movie. There is also a lot of violence and gore, plenty of cursing, some frightening images, and a handful of particularly gruesome scenes. It starts out slow as a mockumentary, moves into more disturbing territory, and features an action-packed climax.

District 9 is dark, violent, and disturbing. It will thrill you, shock you, and make you feel like shit. Thought-provoking and touching, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and strongly recommend it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An Early Look At: James Cameron's "Avatar"

So I managed to get passes to that free Avatar screening. I really didn't get it. It was 15 minutes long, started with the dude from Daily Planet telling me to put my glasses on, and the cloaked bald kid with wind powers never showed up at all!

Alright, I'm just joking.

James Cameron's Avatar is an upcoming fantasy film which takes place on a bizarre alien world, and is not to be confused with M. Night's The Last Airbender.

Knowing next to nothing about the film save for the general premise and what a few of the toys looked like, I didn't know what to expect from the free 15-minute show in Imax 3D.

After a brief introduction from the director [he basically says, "Here, have this instead of a trailer"], the audience was treated to a series of clips from the first half of the movie - "no major spoilers," as Cameron's 3D image put it.

Avatar takes place in the 22nd Century. There's some kind of hostile and very dangerous alien world called Pandora which a military unit will be visiting, but the audience doesn't know why. The world is inhabited by creatures who fight with neurotoxin-poisoned arrows and they really don't sound friendly! One of the humans is a marine in a wheelchair by the name of Jake. From what I understand, he's the main character.

I had a very hard time watching that first segment due to the 3D. This ain't no blue-and-red-plastic crap - this Imax 3D actually works! It just takes a while to get used to, and until I did, the image seemed blurry and I felt rather dizzy. But once I got used to it [which didn't even take five minutes], I had no problem at all enjoying the scenes in stunning 3D. Small details like floating leaves and 3D subtitles were particularly nice touches.

Anyway, Jake travels to some kind of lab on Pandora, where he has his mind technologically transferred to the body of one of the strange blue Pandorian creatures. The creatures are taller than humans, have large yellow eyes, a tail, stripes, and look rather feline. [Other humans undergo the same procedure; perhaps this is how they survive on the dangerous world.] The characters referred to Jake's new body as his "avatar," the new being that he controls. In his strange new body, Jake is able to do things he couldn't in his human form - such as use his legs. He is free from his wheelchair, and proceeds to ignore orders and leave the lab.

Outside, the 3D really shines. The dense jungle is brought to life and the creatures look even more terrifying. A note to parents - the giant creatures of Pandora really do look creepy, and I imagine that a scene in which Jake is chased by a huge predator would terrify children, even if it wasn't in 3D.

In his new body, Jake makes contact with the blue creatures, one of which he's currently using, and the following scenes suggest that he becomes part of their tribe, or learns their way of life. Jake is how the audience learns about the world of Pandora - they must watch him struggle with creatures and customs of the world.

In one scene, Jake tries to catch himself a winged flying dragon-like creature, with help from the blue Pandorans. In order to control the creature, they have to link minds. This is done by him first physically subduing the beast and forcibly inserting the tentacles from his long hair into an opening on the dragon's antenna.

Yes, I watched a blue furry rape a dragon -- in glorious 3D.

The last 30 seconds of the screening was a fast-paced montage of other shots from the movie - the humans arrive, and they bring their tech. Trucks that look like the Warthog from Halo, mechs and aerospace fighters that look like they were lifted from the G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 line.

What I saw was impressive because the 3D was so good, but also because the world of Pandora was so beautiful. The huge jungles, the strange life forms, the unusual rock formations, the glowing green flowers in the night - it's an alien world, all right, and it sure looks like one.

I couldn't help but get a video game feeling from what I saw - hero takes on this "avatar," explores a strange world, learns new skills, and probably will have to save it from the bad guys. Sounds like pretty much any game I've ever played.

The free screening was great, but I'm more indifferent than curious, or excited. I know slightly more about the movie than I did going in, but still not enough to care. Let me guess, this alien world is threatened by the humans instead of the other way 'round - oh no, the tables have turned! Admittedly, 15 minutes of footage taken from other several scenes can't do the movie justice. It looks like an epic fantasy adventure with sci-fi elements, and the 3D is great. But I really don't like nor care about the blue furries, nor the actor who plays Jake. But hey, that's just me.

James Cameron's Avatar opens on December 18th.

Friday, August 21, 2009

An Accurate Look At: "Inglourious Basterds"

It's not often that I look forward to a movie. But when I heard that Quentin Tarantino was directing a war film, I was excited. The trailer thrilled me and made me laugh. And for once, it didn't feel bad to play $12 for a movie ticket this summer.

Say what you want about Tarantino, his directorial style, his choices of music and actors, and his themes. He makes damn entertaining films which are fun, packed with action, and very memorable. I still ask people for sips of their Sprite to wash down tasty burgers. Though I probably won't be quoting Inglourious Basterds, it's still a Tarantino film to the core. [I'm not sure what Tarantino's film has to do with 1978's Inglorious Bastards, but if I had bothered to look it up, I'd probably figure something out!]

Basically, Inglourious Basterds stars Brad Pitt as a Lieutenant from Tennessee who commands a team of Jewish-American soldiers, a unit codenamed "Basterds." This highly-trained special mission force does terrible things to Nazis behind enemy lines in order to strike fear into the German army. And have fun while doing it.

The film opens with a title sequence. Tarantino loves his opening credits and makes them long with plenty of music. Basterds' is no different. I found myself laughing during the credits, possibly due to the various fonts, or the over-the-top seriousness. At any rate, it was a good sign of things to come.

But don't be misled to believe that it is a just a comedy, however. Don't let the trailer and TV spots make you think it's some kind of messed-up action flick. There IS comedy and action, but they are balanced well with suspense and drama. The first Chapter of the movie, "Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France..." could have been lifted from a serious war movie. [There was a particularly fourth-wall-breaking line that got a laugh from the audience, but it was actually a plot device and does not take away from the scene as much as I initially thought it would.] The writing, acting, and atmosphere of this first scene were all great and made for a powerful, suspenseful introduction to the film and two of its main characters. I don't think I'll be able to drink milk again without thinking of World War II.

Though Basterds featured many characters, the many of them had their nicknames and backstories explained through dialogue and flashback. For some, it might just be a single cutaway or a brief mention of what the Nazis call him, but the little information that the audience gains helps to make them care about the characters. He's not just some serious-looking commando, he's an accomplished author and specialist in German cinema. I particularly enjoyed one of the Basterds because his nickname was so damn funny and he reminded me of the Scout from Team Fortress 2. Grass grows, birds fly, sun shines, and brudda, he hurts people. [UPDATE: I'm not the only one who made that connection!]

Since the movie featured characters from different countries and of various backgrounds, there was a certain amount of stereotyping that I guess couldn't be avoided. Or, perhaps more likely, was included to make the characters easier to understand. For example, Brad Pitt's character was a brash, redneck American, and the British characters said "jolly good," called each other "chaps," and didn't understand what Winston Churchill was saying. That's not to say that the film wasn't internationally accurate. Large portions were spoken in their "proper" languages. The British spoke English, the Germans spoke German, the French spoke French, Norwegians speak Norwegian, the Greeks are taught their Greek. I much prefer it this way rather than Hollywood's typical "bad guys speak English with German accent" approach.

Speaking of dialogue, Bastards continued a Tarantino tradition - a lot of talking. Some scenes dragged on longer than they should have, and due to the nature of the film [time period, subject matter, setting, characters], the dialogue was not necessarily entertaining [don't worry, it's not as bad as Death Proof's]. You won't hear anyone ask, "You know what they call a quarter-pounder with cheese in Berlin?" The dialogue was important to set up the atmosphere and push the story forward. Sure, there was a lot of talking at times, but that's because there were several stories going on at once. Some have more talking than action, that's all. Fear not, however, as the film included another Tarantino staple - violence.

If you're squeamish and don't have a sense of humour, you probably shouldn't be watching a Tarantino film in the first place. Basterds had its share of violence - shooting, stabbing, beating, punching, head-butting, strangling, whipping, etc. I didn't find there was that much blood or gore, but some shots involving knifes were particularly bloody.

And if you're wondering about another Tarantino convention, yes, Samuel L. "Bad Muthaf#%a" Jackson is in Inglorious Basterds, in an uncredited role. Keep your eyes and ears peeled and you might catch him.

I thoroughly enjoyed Inglourious Basterds. It had me laughing, it thrilled me, it kept me guessing, and I left the theatre satisfied, eager to tell people just how good the movie was. It's not perfect - I really don't like the climax and ending, but maybe it just needs a second viewing.

If you're a fan of Tarantino and aren't offended by the subject matter, then you MUST see Inglourious Basterds. It exceeded my expectations and to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

Friday, August 7, 2009

An Accurate Look At: "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"

Have you ever had to listen to someone speak of something they know nothing about? Or had to listen to someone explain something they know nothing about to other people? If you answered "no," your answer will change if you are unfortunate enough to end up at a screening of G.I. Joke: The Return of Sigma 6.

The movie takes place in the "not-so-distant future." What does that mean? To put it simply, it means that they can introduce crap that neither makes sense nor is plausible in the Joe-verse for the sake of it: things like "pulse" energy weapons, active camo pyjamas, solid hologram projectors, vehicles/weapons/armour that belong in a bad sci-fi B-movie, and, of course, the "nanomites." This is the sort of crap you'd expect from that godawful '80s GI. Joe cartoon, which is even worse than this Hollywood attempt at G.I. Joe.

If you asked, "What are 'nanomites'?" I'll be more than glad to answer your question. In this generic action movie, "nanomites" are tiny little robots that can pretty much do anything because of the lazy writing. These silver plot-devices somehow turn green and can be used as weapon and/or medicine and/or brain controlling device. Open palm, insert face.

Haven't you heard? This is the TECHNOFUTURE where crap doesn't have to make sense!

And what terrible Hollywood movie would be complete without unlikeable characters? First, there's "Duke," who looks and sounds even more like a douchebag than the Duke we already know and loathe. His black comic-relief sidekick is a Wayans brother. I don't think I need to say anthing else.

But I will. There is little to no characterization for most of the important characters, besides for the occasional "oh gnoes, I has emotions" moments. There is not much to say about the acting, since there's hardly are there. I have literally "seen better actin' in fast-actin' Tenactin."

The characters are very underdeveloped. You meet them, they fight, stuff blows up, hurray. But you know nothing about them, and honestly, you don't have any reason to care about them. "Okay, she has a crossbow. That guy talks funny. That guy doesn't talk. Hurm. Is that it?" And as for the characters that DO have backstories which they bother to reveal, whoo boy. All of the storytelling is done by flashbacks which either feel very over-the-top and excessively dramatic, or not serious at all. So kids fight, and some douchebags want to get married. Who cares?

And speaking of the characters, the writers really went out of their way to make it feel like a soap opera. It seems like every character somehow knows each other from something they did in the distant past -- CUE FLASHBACK SEQUENCE!

The characters have been "internationalized." Rather than Fort Wadsworth's motor pool housing America's finest, this new international Pit has people from all over the world. G.I. Joe is once again Action Force, this time an Action Force made by the combined power of multiple governments. Probably easier to market the flick internationally this way.

Yet, despite the "internationalization" of the characters, the one they mess up the worse is the one best known for BEING from a foreign land. How ironic that this new reimagined Baroness is simply some American broad with badly dyed hair. That's it. No accent. Just some random white girl in a slutty costume. Hooray for plot devices. Way to go, Hollywood! Other characters just look really, really stupid - take for example "The Doctor" or the "Vipers" with ugly helmets with huge eyes and metal grins. These characters look like badly-designed comic-book villains. Unfortunately, the comic book they're from is NOT G.I. Joe.

Despite the movie taking place in the "not-so-distant future," the civilian ground vehicles are from the present day. Wait, what? How can there be airships and VTOL carriers out of Star Trek or Ghost In The Shell, but the ground vehicles remain the same? Did the governments of the world decide to ban new cars and instead invest that money into developing shuttlecrafts and bizarre submarines? Nah, it's just product placement. They can call it a "Steel Crusher APV" if they want, but it's just a lame-ass Hummer.

And speaking of "not-so-distant future," let's briefly talk about the Joes' equipment, shall we? Crossbows with self-navigating shells? Arm-mounted hologram projectors? Fancy suits of mechanical armour? What the crap? Does G.I. Joe buy gear from Stark Industries? If not, Tony should sue them for blatantly ripping off his armour. That shot of the ankles sealing up was more than just an "homage."

Honestly, though, "Delta-6 Accelerator Suit"? Come the hell on. Here I was thinking S.N.A.K.E. Armour was lame, and then they pull THIS out of their ass. Of all of the Joe eras to include in the flick, Sigma 6? WHY? If you don't believe that they intentionally tipped their hats to Sigma 6, stay 'til the end of the movie. If you can.

Like most recent generic Hollywood action flicks, this one features gimmickry such as shakycam, too much slow-motion, and plenty of sparks/explosions to get in the way of seeing whatever is supposed to be on the screen. The fight scenes aren't that entertaining and the chase scenes aren't much better. Stuff's moving, camera's shaking, can't see what's happening, some sort of explosion, a flip or two, some slow-motion, repeat. Again. And again. And again. Truly groundbreaking filmmaking.

There is some good among this sea of mediocrity. Dr. Who plays Destro and they did a good job with his character. They also explained a bit about one of his ancestors in what was probably the best scene of the movie - not that that's saying much. The new take on Zartan is fantastic. Much more plausible than the shape-shifting hologram-using ab-revealing Aussie biker gang leader.

There are several references which older Joe fans will pick up on. Don't be fooled by a few lines, an alternate costume, something to chew on, or a red helmet. Just because you might have chuckled at a line doesn't mean you didn't facepalm a few scenes back, and in no way begins to make up for the flick's numerous flaws.

The story is terrible, the acting is just awful, the music is generic, the gags aren't funny, the action is uninteresting, and the plot twists are foreseeable. Do yourself a favour - buy some Joe comics or a figure instead.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Failure of a line.............


I had a unique experience the other day while shopping for new G.I Joe ROC toys and I must vent. As most of you might be aware, there is a new G.I Joe movie coming out and with the new movie comes a toy launch. This launch seems to have promise; cool figs and sweet looking vehicles which are a must for any military toy line. Anyway, most stores such as Target and Toys R Us have embraced this famed toy line.



The 2 stores mentioned above got it right. Release date equals new toys on the shelf. No, they did not skimp out; each had pre designated shelf space allotted to the line! You can go into any given Target and you will see not only a chunky shelf section but 2 end caps! Toys R Us has an 8-10 foot Joe section and will have a full blown feature shop in the front end by the 22nd of this month.


As you can see there is one major retailer missing from this group.

Wal-Mart, too many, is the equivalent of evil in a retail format. These guys are pricks as a whole and here is why. First, Wal-Mart decided NOT to launch the toys on the new release date, instead they stuck to the old date of the 10th


On the 10th I decided to go hunting like millions of other eager fans who wanted to track down the items they missed at the other chains. This is what pissed me off: THEY HAD NOTHING! Yep, Wal-Mart as a whole did not put out their toys on release day**. During my travels on that crappy day, I discovered that Wally decided to leave the merchandise in the back because some thought it would not sell. How retarded is that I ask? I spoke to one manager and he stated that Joe did not have any recognizable characters but Transformers did…..WTF……Excuse me Mr. Genius, who the hell or you to say that the line has no one recognizable? Transformers have Bumble Bee and Prime, maybe Megatron and that is it.


All the other robots look the same. Joe has Destro, Duke, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Scarlett, Baroness and more! I even saw a kid walk by a display that the manager almost refused to put out and said, “Mom, look, Storm Shadow!”

I despise ignorant managers who think they know everything. I might not run a Wal Mart but I can say that I have ran a big box store and I have a degree to boot and I KNOW this stuff will sale if you give it a chance! Dumb asses like this need to go away. Your ignorance is foreshadowed by your stupidity. This same manager even stated that a majority of the Joe merchandise will clutter his clearance aisles.


Transformers have 8-12 feet aisle space, 2 end caps and a four way……..Joe has a shipper box. Yet, this chain will push the hell out of this stuff and ignore the fact that there were huge amounts of clearance merchandise well after the first movie. Yes it sold great and it was a new movie and no one had a clue on how it was going to perform…..yet they gave it a chance. Over the last 12 months, Joes were a constant sell out at retail (Wal-Mart included) yet they fail to see that.I think Transformers will own the clearance alies come January.....just look at the current stock levels!


By the end of my day, I convinced 2 managers to put out the shipper display and one store set up a 4 way at my request. As a shopper, I want to see this merchandise as it will not sell in the back room. 3 stores refused and 1 store knew nothing about Joe; absolutely ridiculous. If the line fails at Wal-Mart it will fail due to managers such as these idiots.I have decided that Target and TRU will be my Joe headquarters for the conceviable future.


**Note, some stores did put out merchandise on release date or before. In my area, out of 25+ Wal-Marts, only 1 had them out before the old release date and 1 store had the shipper out by the time I got there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

If everybody's got a price, then I'm sold


For the past several years the WWE shows have had General Managers on each brand. These GM's "ran" the show. Currently though the Raw brand has been without a GM for a few weeks since Vicki Guerrero decided that she wanted to end her successful run on WWE TV.

So when Donald Trump "bought" Raw, he announced that there wouldn't be a GM anymore, but rather there would be a different guest host each week. Certainly an intriguing concept. Now when Vince "bought" Raw back from the Donald, he kept that concept alive.

The first week we had Batista guest host. But last night we had a true legend of professional wrestling be the Host, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. I must admit I marked out.

But from what I saw from good ol' Ted, he still has great mic skills and a presence in the ring. Heck the crowd ate up his appearance with the Million Dollar Belt in tow.

So after last nights stint, I think it's time for Vince to offer the GM Job to him. It's fresh blood in the GM role and he could truly bring a different take to the part. The Million Dollar man was always a great character and I think he could provide an interesting foil to the Raw superstars.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Snikt!


By Joe Milone

The X-Men have appeared in animation many times over the course of the last twenty-something years from a guest appearance in Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, to the failed pilot known as Pryde of the X-Men.

But since the 90’s there have been 2 Long running X-Men shows, the Fox kids Classic X-Men, and the odd (at least in my opinion) X–Men Evolution, which cast most of the main characters as teenagers. I’ll gripe about that show in a later column.

But this past January (well at least in the US), a new chapter in the lives of our favorite animated mutants debuted, called Wolverine and the X-Men.

This series starts out with the X-Men disbanding after an explosion occurs at Xavier’s institute resulting in both the Professor and Jean Grey disappearing. This causes the team to disband and Cyclops goes all Emo. A year later the MRD (Mutant Response Division) starts to hunt down and imprison all the mutants. This prompts Wolverine to take charge and reform the X-Men, first bringing Beast back into the fold. Then we get a few more recruits back to the mansion, including Emma Frost. I do believe this is the first time The former White Queen has been animated, but I could be wrong

I won’t ruin the rest of the plot of the first season for those who haven’t watched it yet, because it is on par with the Fox X-Men show and has the potential to be even greater. The whole first season has already aired in Canada while we have only gotten to episode 13 here in the states.

The animation, voice acting and stories are top notch. Even considering that it is being produced by the same team who brought us X-Men- Evolution. Personally I can’t wait to see how the first season ends, and I hope that this show could run for a long time.

Any how, if you want to see this great show click here Wolverine and the X-Men
They have every episode that has aired on Nicktoons thus far. If you have ever been an X-Men fan in your lifetime, you owe it to yourself to check out this show. You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Raping is... EXTREME!


This Raping is... EXTREME!
by David Swan

Holy Shit... what a difference 24 hours can make! It was just yesterday that myself and a group of friends were watching WWE's "The Bash" pay per view and we were saying how ECW was possibly the best of the three WWE brands. Well apparently a small robot with a satellite dish was sitting in my house and beamed the signal directly to WWE Headquarters, because less than day later ECW has been dismantled... blown up... and destroyed beyond recognition.

Now this isn't the first time that this has happened, most wrestling fans will remember Tazz almost pulling a Benoit on national TV as the ECW brand was raped and pillaged during the 2008 WWE Draft. This time felt different though. We are less than three months removed from the 2009 WWE Draft and more specifically the Supplemental Draft, so it seems odd that the mid-card needed another reshuffling.

The point of ECW is simple, its to give new wrestlers a televised place to sink or swim and to get over with the WWE Universe. ECW creates a unique opportunity for the WWE to get fans familiarized with new Superstars before the debut on RAW or Smackdown!. The formula has worked very well so far: CM Punk was over enough to capture the World Heavyweight Title his first night off the brand. Kofi Kingston, The Miz, and John Morrison are all now major players after getting their first major breaks on ECW.

As I said early, as of late ECW had become the best it's ever been causing everybody to stand up and take notice, apparently including Vince McMahon. If the show was performing that well, it must have meant it was time to bring its stars up to the next level. This was accomplished in what only can be described as one of the most lopsided trades in the history of trades. If wrestling were real, ECW Interim General Manager, Tiffany would have not only been fired but dragged out into the streets and beaten for allowing this trade to go down.

ECW lost a mind boggling 7 of their top 10 wrestlers (Jack Swagger, Evan Bourne, Finley, Mark Henry, David Hart Smith, Tyson Kidd, & Natayla) and in return pick up 3 mid-carders (Shelton Benjamin, Goldust, & William Regal) and 2 Divas (The Belle Twins).

My gut reaction is that some of these moves may have been premature. Benjamin and Regal will benefit the most from the trade. With ECW losing ALL their top heels its almost certain that Benjamin and Regal will rise to the top very quickly, possibly resulting in one, or both, capturing their first Heavyweight Titles. only time will tell if Swagger, Bourne, and The Hart Dynasty will succeed on their new homes, but if they do it will eliminate all doubt in the star making ability of WWE's "Third Brand".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An Accurate Look At: "Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen"

In the first Great Depression, Hollywood managed to survive by spewing out terrible, generic cut-rate movies. People would flock to theatres, forget about their woes for a few hours, and Tinseltown would rake it all in.

Sound familiar? It should.

Generic Hollywood Robots II: Return of the Product Placement is a two-and-a-half-hour orgy of mediocrity. Remember the 1998 Godzilla re-imagining? The needlessly radical redesign, the overly large cast of uninteresting humans, and the plot which seemed to have been added as an afterthought between explosions?

Sound familiar? It should.

The team who reduced the Transformers to nothing more than a brainless teen comedy have returned to once again reduce the Transformers to nothing more than a brainless teen comedy.

If you thought that the character development was bad in the 2007 flick, guess again. It's even worse this time around, with more characters who have less screentime than ever before. Think of the Redshirts from Star Trek. Only this time, they've given them names and even action figures. If you're only going to give a character one line and 30 seconds of screentime, you probably shouldn't have bothered to have put them in at all. Why would a character come to Earth just to drive through a few buildings, not even get a full robot mode, and ultimately get blown up?

And speaking of the 'robot modes,' have you ever crumpled up a ball of aluminum foil? Congratulations, you've made an accurate replica of a movie 'Transformer.' What's that? Your replica has no limbs and can't even turn into anything? Well, why not put it on a wheel? Feet are SO 1980s.

Seriously. A construction vehicle that turns into what looks like the robot equivalent of an abortion? A head between two wheels and arms? Where is the torso? Where are the legs? What the hell IS that thing? And don't get me started on the motorcycle triplets. Three motorcycles who don't have a robot mode between them. Picture a jack-in-the-box, with the head on the end of the extended spring. Now put that jack-in-the-box on top of a unicycle. According to Hollywood, you have a robot. Are they trying to make a Beast Machines reference, or just make their designers look lazy? And speaking of terrible designs, the main villain, a bastardization of one of the more memorable Transformers villains (and the ONLY character in this movie who should have had flames) looks like Makuta from Bionicle, and doesn't even turn into anything.

There are many 'robots' in this flick. Too many, in fact, with more literally leaping out of nowhere. Can drones tunnel their way across oceans, and just happen to be in the right area of the right country during an important battle? Do Constructicons reproduce asexually? Do they have Multiple Man's abilities? Sure seems that way because they can be everywhere at once, despite being combined into some kind of gorilla-like Shop-Vac.

Also, way to misunderstand Cybertronians. Megatron calls no one 'master.' Transformers do not cry. They do not have green blood. They do not speak like inner-city thugs. They have their own lexicon of slang and curses and need not borrow the humans'.

But don't worry. The robots aren't the only characters who are awful. The humans are, too. Forget about acting and characterization. Oh no, you can rely on stereotypes to instantly understand everything about a particular character. Paranoid geekboy? Check. "OMG, it's my destiny" guy? Check. Airheaded women? Check! People with learning disabilities? Minorities? Double check!

Why? Why must they make two of the robots who get the most screen time turn into awful-looking Chevrolets with repulsive paint jobs? And why must those cars turn into slang-talking stereotypical gangstas? The Retardicon twins (Hurp and Durp) have huge ears, gold teeth, oversized eyes, speak in human slang, and can't read. Of all the characters to give screen time to, it had to be these two. Primus, why? It was like watching a pair of mentally deficient wannabe rappers having a seizure.

Along with the awful characters came other staples of this kind of movie-making: too much gimmicry, too much special effects, too much frat boy/douchebag/unfunny humour (wrecking ball testicles? Dog buttsex? What kind of 12-year-old wrote that into the script?), and of course, airheaded/airbrushed women who are only cast for two reasons. And their reasons are on their chests.

At one point, Megan Fox's character is seen airbrushing what looks like some trashy tattoo onto a motorcycle. How very appropriate.

This flick is incredibly difficult to watch. And not just for the foreseeable plot twists (I use the term 'plot' very, very loosely), the excessive amount of uninteresting/undeveloped characters, the excessive special effects, a story structured almost as badly as this write-up, and the incredibly forgettable generic soundtrack (which, come to think of it, seems highly fitting). For some reason, this hack of a director loves gimmicks such as shaky-cam, lens flare, motion blur, and slow-motion - and combinations of any of the above. Not only do these 'techniques' feel overdone and tacky, but they really make the movie literally unwatchable. What's going on? What just happened? I don't know, because the camera wouldn't hold still while the sun blocked everything on screen while everything moved around really quickly. If you expect people to pay damn near twenty dollars to watch your drivel in Imax, show some courtesy and let them see the movie.

The best way to describe this flick is to compare it to a 90s comic book - 24 pages of over-the-top 'toughguyness' and badassery for no reason (to the point that characters act out of character), characters no one has any reason to care about, excessive fighting and violence for the sake of excessive fighting and violence, whenches, and bad stories, complete with a holographic cover, a collector card, plastic bag, and whole lot of ads.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon and Kate plus 8 divided by 2


By Joe Milone

I’ll be the first to admit (and proudly) that I’ve never watched Jon and Kate plus eight but unless you live in a spider hole you can’t avoid this unholy brood. Besides the show itself, the family has graced every tabloid in the country for the last few months. Whether it’s Jon cheating on Kate or Kate cheating on Jon or announcements of Kate’s plastic surgery, I for one have had enough.

Apparently on last nights show they announced the breakup for the marriage. Kate was quoted as saying "I don't want to be alone," she said. "I don't want to do this alone but that's required and I've got to do it." Sure she doesn’t want to be alone, after all now she’s a single mom of her own baseball team.

On the flipside Jon didn’t seem as depressed as Kate. “I'm hurt by all of this," he said. "But I'm excited and hurt at the same time because I have a new chapter in my life. I'm only 32 years old."

So while they are going to be separated, they will continue the show. “Jon will come here when it is his days," Kate said. "We will flip-flop that way."

So now that they are going to split up perhaps they can split the 40 remaining episodes into two shows, one featuring Kate and one featuring Jon.

For Kate maybe they can try “Kate plus eight plus Bunkmate” where every week Kate brings home a new potential husband and sees how he adjusts to living with her bitchyness and the gaggle of kids. Or how about Kate plus 8: home improvement edition where Kate supervises her children’s construction club as each week they renovate a needy families home.

For Jon, they could possibly have him feature on the Bachelor or what would be even better is if they move him from State to State where he becomes Jon Gosselin: DCF Enforcer. Each week he could investigate families who have delusions of grandeur about making a reality show. First stop The Octomom!

In any case, after this season, I hope that these fools disappear into the void forever.

Monday, June 22, 2009

WWE axes 2 more.


By Joe Milone

It’s the time of the year where we see the WWE clean house and the two latest releases really come as no surprise. The two wrestlers in question are diva Candice Michelle and Sim Snuka.

Let’s start with the train wreck known as Candice Michelle. She tried out for the Divas search in 2004 but failed to make the top ten, however she was hired anyhow and began life in the WWE as a “make-up” artist. Shortly after she started competing in the ring and I’ll admit she showed some promise.

It also didn’t hurt that she became the go-daddy.com girl and was featured in an ad at the Super Bowl. The ad was controversial and as we know Vince loves controversy. She also posed for Playboy which was eye pleasing as well.

She tried very hard in the ring and you could tell she was learning her craft well. She even captured the woman’s championship which was quite a big step. Then in horrific fashion she fell off the top rope on an episode of Raw, breaking her collar bone. She was out of action for about 3 months and when she returned to the ring, it wasn’t long before she reinjured her collar bone and was out of action again.

All the injuries did nothing to help her in the ring. You could tell that she wasn’t all that comfortable out there, gingerly moving about and looking generally horrible. The matches were so bad, they had to edit some of the taped performances to make her look better, and they were still noticeably bad. Shortly after returning, she was reinjured.

During this period it was reported that she was partying around Los Angeles, rather then rehabbing. This was not such a smart move and had to incur the wrath of Vince. Although she was moved to Smackdown during the recent draft, she never appeared on camera. This past Friday, in a move that should surprise no one, she was released. I’m personally glad that the plug was finally pulled on this experiment.

The second release should really come as a shock to no one that follows the WWE. Jimmy Reiher, Jr aka Domino aka Sim Snuka finally got the axe dropped. First debuting in 2007 on Smackdown with his partner Domino, he captured the tag titles once and shortly after the loss, Deuce and Domino got split up. Deuce was drafted to Raw and Domino was released shortly after the split.

Initially after the draft Deuce was no where to be seen, but a few months later he started to appear again. Then he announced that he would like to be known by his “real” name Sim Snuka. In real life Reiher is the step son of Superfly Jimmy Snuka.

So now it appeared that he was heading somewhere and he was recruited to be part of Randy Orton’s Legacy group. But after two weeks he was cut from the group and not seen on tv again.

At this point I figured we would see the famous “We wish you well in your future endeavors” message on the WWE website, but it didn’t happen. He was unseen for months. Sim would resurface during the Wrestlemania Fan Access shows, brutally injuring Dolph Ziggler. And if that wasn’t enough, Sim appeared as the camera man who caught the Undertaker after a suicide dive out of the ring during his match at mania.

Of course by caught, I mean he let the Undertaker drop to the floor almost injuring the phenom permanently. I’m positive that the Undertaker wanted to kill this guy after the match, and the Taker is one guy you don’t want to make mad.

Some more cuts came and it was only a matter of time before Jimmy Snuka jr got the boot. Well more then two months went by and still nothing. Would Sim sneak by? Finally the day came and Sim was axed, probably a year or more past his expiration date.

With these two gone, the Jesse’s and Jimmy Wang Yangs of the WWE could sleep a little easier at night, at least for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Smallville Recap & Preview



"Smallville Recap & Preview"
by Dave Swan

*Warning: Contains Smallville Spoilers*

In my last column I wrote about the unspoken battle between The CW and the TV show 'Smallville'. But this time I want to talk about the show itself, and specifically it's most recent season. This season the show underwent a lot of drastic changes, both on the show and behind the scenes.

Coming into season 8, 'Smallville' lost a lot of key players. The show's creators and executive producers, Alfred Gough & Miles Millar left the show as did three key actors, Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang), & John Glover (Lionel Luthor), all of which had been with the series since the pilot episode in 2001.

While many fans looked at this as a terrible thing for the show, I thought it could be a blessing in disguise. While the Lex & Lionel interaction had always been my favorite part of the series, after seven years some things had grown stale. Lex & Lana especially had been featured in over 150 episodes of the show and to be perfectly honest had completely run out of things to do.

With the departure of these major characters, the show's writers brought three new actors into the mix. Justin Hartley returned to the show as a full time cast member, reprising his role as the extremely popular character, Oliver Queen (aka The Green Arrow). Joining Hartley were two brand new characters created specifically for the show: Tess Mercer, the new CEO of LuthorCorp and Davis Bloom who would later transform into Doomsday, the only villain powerful enough to kill Superman.

Fully aware that the lose of so many characters might turn off some long time fans, the 'Smallville' staff decided to give fans some of the things they had be asking for, starting from the very first scene of the season premiere. The show opened with the long awaited return of The Justice League (this time comprised of Clark Kent, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Black Canary, and a brief appearance by Martian Manhunter), who had not been seen since season six.

The Clark Kent character began transforming into the more traditional version, that fans have become accustomed to. Clark began working at The Daily Planet and the show started teasing a love interest in Lois Lane. Also Clark began embracing a duel identity, dawning the red & blue as a crime fighter known as the "Red Blue Blur".

The writers of 'Smallville' also began incorporating more and more characters from the DC Universe, instead of random made up 'Freak of the Week' characters. DC Heroes included: Clark Kent, Kara Kent (aka Supergirl), Green Arrow, Impulse (aka The Flash), Black Canary, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, and The Legion of Superheroes. We also met a cavalcade of villains including a deformed Lex Luther (not played by Rosenbaum), Brainiac, Doomsday, Maxima, ZOD's wife Faora, The Persuader, Toyman, and The Injustice League (Plastique, Parasite, Livewire, & Neutron).

The season focused heavily on two storylines, the inevitable collision between Clark & Doomsday and a love triangle between Chloe Sullivan, Jimmy Olsen, & Davis Bloom... both storylines came to a head in the season finale.

In possibly the most shocking moment of this or any season, Davis Bloom's affection for Chloe eventually drove him into a rage and he killed Jimmy Olsen by impaling him through the chest. Before Jimmy died he managed to return the favor spearing Davis into a structure impaling him as well. At Jimmy's funeral we learned that his full name was Henry James Olsen (not James Bartholomew Olsen as it had historically been). Chloe than took Jimmy's camera and placed it around the neck of a Jimmy's younger brother, a freckle faced boy with a bow tie.

When Clark and Doomsday had their throw down many fans felt disappointed that it lasted only two minutes. Clark eventually grabbed Doomsday and threw both of them into a building that had been rigged to explode by the Justice League and trap Doomsday in a mineshaft. Clark and Doomsday both went into the building as it exploded burying them alive. While this might not have been the most climatic fight, I believe that it will only be the first of many between the two on the series.

In addition to wrapping up these storylines, the season 8 finally did more than possibly any other finale to set up the next season. Chloe was left with her wedding present from Jimmy, a building that will serve as the Justice League's "Watchtower". While standing in the tower she has a conversation with Clark who is appearing to her in some type of metaphysical form. He says that he was wrong and that it is his human upbringing that is a threat to humanity... not his Kryptonian heritage. He has no knowledge of how he "escaped" the collapsed building and fades away at the end of the conversation.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tess Mercer has come in possession of an orb that she (and we) are lead to believe is the lost Kryptonian City of Kandor. Once Clark & Doomsday are disposed of and no longer a threat the orb activates and releases Jar-El's arch-nemises General ZOD.

With the gears already in motion for storylines involving The Justice League, Kandor, & General ZOD, season 9 appears to have no shortage of new material to work with. It has also already been confirmed that we will see the arrival of a new character "Mason" and Brian Austin Green will be joining the cast for "at least two episodes" as another major villain, Metallo.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Captain America throws his Mighty Shield!!!


When Captain America throws his mighty shield!
By Joe Milone

Just a few days ago I was having a chat with my friend and fellow contributor to the Nail Gun, Dave Swan. One of the things we touched on was how long it would take for Steve Rogers to come back to life and return to the role of Captain America.

Well it looks like the conversation was topical because just a few days later Marvel Comics announced that the original Star Spangled Avenger would be returning on July 1st with a miniseries titled Captain America Reborn.

It was bound to happen sooner or later as no one truly stays dead in comics. How it will happen, I have no idea. But I do look forward to seeing it unfold. For me it will be the first Cap comic I purchase in over 15 years.

Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America has been highly acclaimed and following Roger’s death Cap’s former sidekick Bucky was placed in the role of Captain America. But this was a Cap who used a gun along side of the famous shield. To me Cap doesn’t need a gun, which is why I look forward to seeing the real deal return to life. Plus the new Cap costume is horribly bad, looking more like something out of Buck Rogers (but maybe I'm just a sucker for the classics)

It doesn't surprise me though. With The Captain America and Avengers movies announced, I would think that Marvel would want the comics to match the big screen. And Marvel would like both to be big successes.

Two questions come to mind as a result of this revelation:
What will happen to Bucky?
And how long will it take before DC comics follows suit and returns Bruce Wayne to the mantle as Batman?

Stay tuned True Believers.

Somebody Saaaaaaaaave Me!


Somebody Saaaaaaaaave Me!
by Dave Swan

Wednesday, June 17th: a day that will live in infamy... today The CW Network officially announced that it's #1 show, Smallville, will return for its 9th Season on September 25th. Now if your running to write this down on your calendar, you have probably already noticed something... September 25th is a Friday.

Yes, after 8 highly successful seasons, The CW has decided to move it's top rated show to what is historically the WORST night for TV shows. The Friday night line-up for CW has been especially miserable since the network eliminated it's previously highest rated show, "WWE Friday Night Smackdown!" from its line-up stating the show "didn't fit the network's vision". Apparently, the "network's vision" was to finish in last place EVERY week since, including struggling to even put up 50% of the viewers that "Smackdown!" has been putting up on it's new home My Network TV.

The CW undoubtedly had ALOT of explaining to do after their new "Friday Night Comedy Line-up" fell flat this past season and they responded quickly... by canceling all the shows on it. Now they literally have a night of television that in the course of a year went from their highest performing night to the worst performing night of ANY major network. The CW needed help, but luckily they have their own resident superhero to call on.

In 2000, The CW (then The WB) brought to life the latest in a long line of Superman television shows, entitled "Smallville". "Smallville" however was different than any Superman series that came before it, in the simple fact that "Superman" wasn't the star of the show. Instead of the traditional 'Man of Steel' the show focused around the life of young Clark Kent and his trials growing up in the 'Meteor Capital of the World'.

The show was a mixed bag for comic book fans... while many enjoyed it, traditionalist had a hard time coping with many of the changes that the show had made to the Superman Mythology. But regardless of how the comic geeks felt about the show, one thing they couldn't argue was that the show was a huge hit for the still fairly new WB Network.

The show was originally predicted to go "four or five seasons" and now nine years later it is still running strong (in fact the series' star Tom Welling has already signed on for season 10). So it seemed natural, on paper, that The CW would call upon it to save their collective asses. Unfortunately, things aren't always what they seem.

Now if it's one thing I hate its a conspiracy theorist, but I think I've witnessed enough over the past few years to say this is a valid claim. I believe, and fear, that The CW moving "Smallville" to Fridays is nothing more than an attempt to kill the show. Now instinctively you would ask 'why would a Network want it kill it's top show?' and that is a very valid question and one I have no logical response to. All I do know is that The CW has done it before.

When the WB Network transformed into The CW in 2006, the first order of business was an extremely unpopular one. The network immediately announced they were canceling one of the network's flagship shows '7th Heaven' after 10 seasons stating the show had become 'too expensive to produce'. The decision was so unpopular that the network was flooded almost non-stop by letters from fans and they were left with no choice BUT to resurrect the show for an 11th season.

Unfortunately, even though the show obviously still had a fan base and was performing well, the Network was still determined to get rid of it. They did so first of all by CUTTING the show's budget and making it impossible to bring back many of the show's stars, next they moved it off it's longtime home of Monday nights (so that they could unveil their new 'Monday Night Comedy Lineup'... sound familiar?) and dumped the show on Sunday nights with very little fanfare and in direct competition with 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition', a very popular show geared towards the same exact demographic. '7th Heaven' finished up the season before once again being canceled.

In recent year's "Smallville' has become the proverbial "red headed stepchild' of the CW family. The network invests literally no time, energy, or money in promoting the show and when they DO decide to promote it they make mistake's that no professional company would make. For example last season they released all the promotional material for the 'Smallville: Season 8' premiere a week after the episode had aired and early 'Season 9' promotional material incorrectly lists characters that are no longer on the show and features actor's heads photoshoped on other actor's bodies.

As September 25th draws closer Clark Kent will enter his greatest battle... the battle for his show's very survival. Their are two foreseeable outcomes to this fight. Outcome #1 is that 'Smallville' single handily resurrects The CW's ravaged Friday Night line-up and receives no credit for it's monumental deed. The other outcome unfortunately isn't as positive and The CW will succeed where Lex Luthor, Brianiac, and Doomsday couldn't... they will successfully kill Superman.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

F'N ECW

F'N ECW
by David Swan

Last Thursday marked the three year anniversary of the full time resurrection of Extreme Championship Wrestling and amazingly more than a quarter of a decade later, "hardcore" ECW fans are still crying about it. Well its time for this to come to an end, somebody has it say it, and I guess its going to be me... The new ECW is better than the old ECW!!!! I'll do you one better than that the majority of the old ECW SUCKED!

Now before all of the smart marks rise from their parent's basements to attack me, allow me to defend my opinion. ECW's Legacy is completely fueled my nostalgia. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, this isn't a new revelation, but it needs to be stated. Nostalgia causes our parents to claim that shows like "I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners" were 'hilarious' and causes people from my generation to swear that "80's cartoons are better than the $hit on TV today". We live in a society driven by nostalgia... if you don't believe me look no further than the Hollywood Box Office. This summer alone the biggest films are ALL remakes of ideas from the 60's, 70's, & 80's... Star Trek, X-Men, Transformers, & G.I. Joe.

Now back to ECW, for anybody reading this that's not familiar with ECW, here is the very abridged version of the history of the company. ECW was founded in 1992 by Todd Gordon, and reached its most notoriety in the mid-late 90's under the leadership of Paul Heyman. In August 1994, a well timed publicity stunt helped ECW gain momentum as an "anti-establishment" wrestling company when Shane Douglas captured the NWA Championship and immediately threw it in the garbage and declared himself "ECW World Champion".

ECW established a rapid fan base and produced many ideas and stars that were "stolen" by WWE & WCW. Paul Heyman masterfully portrayed the WWE & WCW as nothing short of Satan & Lucifer and used that image to gain the support of wrestling fans and wrestlers alike. Heyman would repeatedly accuse Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff of raiding his talent roster, but the truth is that Heyman was WWE's payroll at the time and much of ECW was being funded by Vince McMahon. WWE and ECW even ran several "inter promotional" angles leading into ECW's break out year.

It been debated a million times as to what caused the fall of ECW, in my opinion the blame falls solely on the shoulders of Paul Heyman, but not for the reasons that others claim. In the end Paul made the mistake of forgetting that ECW was a "niche" product that appealed to a small percent of wrestling fans. ECW expanded way bigger than it should have, by the end of the 90's ECW was running monthly Pay Per Views, had a weekly prime time show on the TNN Network, had DVD deals, video games, and action figures. The problem was that while they had all these things, what they lacked was a fan base big enough to warrant them and before long the company crumbled around them.

On April 4, 2001, Paul Heyman officially closed the company and declared bankruptcy. Vince McMahon then proceeded to buy the remain of the company from the courts, paying off the nearly 9 million dollars in dept that the company had acquired.

In 2005, WWE released a DVD documentary called "The Rise and Fall of ECW" the DVD was such a huge success (rumors have it that this DVD alone brought in more money than it cost WWE to buy ECW) that in June of 2005 held an ECW Reunion Show on Pay Per View. A year later, WWE re launched the company as the WWE's third brand.

By pretty much every bodies account the original launch of the WWE's ECW brand was a mess. WWE fans had little interest in seeing much of the old ECW talent and ECW fans automatically resented anything that wasn't from the original ECW. Eventually, WWE realized what Paul Heyman had forgotten five years earlier... that a world wide brand could not survive being marketed directly at a "niche crowd" and when WWE completely transformed ECW into a WWE style product the product FINALLY became watchable.

Its become trendy to bash the new ECW but I'm going to defend it.

FACT: ECW gives you the highest percentage of wrestling per show of any wrestling program on TV.

FACT: ECW has been the home of COUNTLESS new superstars that would have been welcomed into the old ECW with open arms: CM Punk, Evan Bourne, Tyson Kid, Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, and Elijah Burke to name a few.

FACT: ECW has been the home of many established stars that the "internet community" LOVES: Rob Van Dam, Chris Benoit, Matt Hardy, Chavo Guerrero, Fit Finley, Christian, Hurricane Helms, and others.

FACT: The new ECW has already produced more main event talent than the old ECW. Not one World Champion from the old ECW would ever go onto another World Title after leaving (and no TNA does not count in my book). Where as Rob Van Dam, CM Punk, Big Show, Mr. McMahon, & Kane have all held the ECW & WWE/World Championships.

FACT: Nearly one million more people watch "ECW on Sci Fi" every week than watched "ECW on TNN".

Back in the 90's, ECW was a proving ground for young talent. Countless future World Champions including: Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, and Steve Austin all got their big breaks there. And that is one thing that hasn't changed, years from now we will look back at men like CM Punk, John Morrison, Kofi Kingston, The Hart Dynasty, Evan Bourne, and others and remember that they TOO got their first BIG breaks in ECW.

In closing, its time for people to realize that the ECW they remember is gone... its gone and no matter how many companies try to replicate it, you simply can't capture lightening twice. What stands before us now is a new ECW, an ECW that in many ways is far superior to its predecessor and if some people would give it a chance they might actually enjoy themselves.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pulling the Trump card


Last Week Vicki Guerrero (The widow of the Late, Great Eddie Guererro) quit her post as the General Manager of Raw. In real life Vicki claimed she wanted to go home to spend more time with her family. Personally I think it's ridiculous seeing as she works one day a week, but whatever.

While certainly not the most attractive woman, she proved to be a great heel generating tremendous heat. In that aspect she will be missed.

The WWE website promoted a new GM of Raw to be named this past Monday night. Many speculated that it would be Ric Flair, especially since the show hailed from Natch's hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Well last night Vince appeared on Camera and said he wouldn't be naming a new GM, but rather he would be naming a new owner of the RAW brand. And in shocking fashion Donald Trump was named as new owner. I don't think the smartest of the marks could have seen that one coming.

The Donald is no stranger to the WWE. Trump plaza played host to Wrestlemania's 4 and 5 and at Wrestlemania 23, Trump was in the Corner of Bobby Lashley when he took on Umaga (who had Vince in his corner.) I've also seen Trump in the crowds watching the shows at MSG, so I gather that he is a fan.

So how did this all come to pass? My guess is that it was suggested by the Network as a way to boost ratings. USA Network and NBC fall under the same parent company and The Apprentice is a pretty big hit on NBC. So this stunt will most likely gain attention in the media, which works out well for both McMahon and Trump. Perhaps the WWE will have some kind of involvement on the next season of Celebrity Jeopardy for extra cross promotion.

But the bottom line to me is how much is Trump really going to add to the show to a weekly basis? His "promos" are horrible and his act is tired. I wonder how quickly he is "bought out". But this is something of a new twist to the show, so I will watch with interest and see what develops.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Scary Washing Machine


Looks like a normal washing machine to me, but I present the Scary Washing Machine, originally being sold here: http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing.aspx?id=223309871And I quote from the original auction
Old mid 80's Fisher and Paykel top loader.
Goes like a rocket!

By 'goes like a rocket' I actually mean that literally.
It actually shakes the house.

It's the loudest most violent sounding washing machine I have ever encountered.
It makes guests scared and children cry. I've lived with it like that for almost a year and it still scares me.

Once while washing a load of towells it got a bit out of balance and it got so out of control for a minute that I swear I actually saw a porthole to another dimension open above it just for a second, there were dinosaurs on the otherside and they looked scared too, it almost sucked me in but I held onto for my life to the deepfreeze. It sucked my shoes and pants off though and it got the iron as well which pissed me off because it was quite a good one. Luckily it sucked it's own power cord out of the wall and stopped before the whole house went in.
I drew a picture of the dinosaurs i saw incase people didn't believe me, they are partly red because my green felt ran out half way through.

I think it would be good to paint it matt black and put steel spikes all over it and draw demons on the front, however I have added an image of another possible customization option for people who like horses.

On heavy duty spin cycle it sort of sounds a bit like the tortured howls of 1000 undead writhing in the sulphury pits of hell mixed with a train with carriages full of scrap iron sliding down the road with no wheels, on fire, into a bell factory.

Thankfully it's bite is not as bad as it's bark. It washes fine, completes cycles, does everything it's supposed to.
It leaks a bit when it's running, always has.
Its a bit grubby, could do with a wipe down, I refuse to touch it because I'm still getting over the whole dinosaur scare thing.

If your in a fix and need a cheap washing machine and are either completely deaf or hate your neighbours this baby is for you.

$1 reserve, pick up only, Waterview Auckland.
Selling to pay for my counseling.


Well if you hate your neighbors or want to open a portal to jurrasic park, this might be for you. Plus the sale goes towards a good cause for the man's counseling. But then the question remains, did the machine drive him mad to need the counseling in the first place.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Extreme-ly Happy Ending

Last night the WWE held the ppv formerly known as One Night Stand, Extreme Rules. The show as a whole was enjoyable, but the one thing that stood out for me was Tommy Dreamer becomming the ECW Champion.

The deal was that Tommy's contract was up and if he didn't win the ECW title, he was finished as a wrestler. And in storybook fashion he was able to capture the gold by defeating Jack Swagger and Christian.

This is a guy that the everyman can identify with, he's nothing flashy as far as ring work is concerned and heck he hardly ever wins a match. Thing is I'm a fan. I've watched him throughout his career from ECW all the way up to the WWE.

And the one thing that truly seperates him from from is peers, he's not selfish. Tommy Dreamer always put the business ahead of himself. He went out there and put people over and made them look good. And he is still a crowd favorite.

If this is Tommy's last hurrah, then I'm glad he got a shot at being a champion one last time. And from the emotional look on his face I think he appreciates the honor as much as we appreciate the man himself.

Thanks Tommy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

RIP Transformers Animated

After the end of Transformers: Cybertron, which had many things lost in translation due to it being a dub of a Japanese Anime, fans were left waiting for a new Cartoon featuring their favorite Autobots and Decepticons.

Prior to the live action movie hitting the big screens in 2007 sone sketches were leaked featuring some very different takes on the famous property. Many, including myself weren't sure what to make of them. They were quite different from the designs that we were used to in the past but I'm open minded and was willing to give it a chance.

Soon more news leaked out about the series. It would be written in the US and the voice actors would be performing in the same room together, a throw back to the old voice recording sessions. Which makes a huge difference because the actors are able to interact rather then simply dubbing over the voices. You could liken it to the old radio programs I guess. This all seemed to make the show intriguing.

The first three episodes aired in December 2007 as a mini movie and was met with mixed reactions by the fandom. Some questioned the style of the show, which was similar to the Teen Titans animated show. Others praised it for it's uniqueness and it's storyline.

The show itself featured a great story with great voice acting. It was a new continuty but drew inspiration from all of the series that came before it. Many easter eggs were given for the long time fans of the franchise, while making ise;f enjoyable to new fans as well. Over the course of 39 episodes, the show became very solid and it is, at least in my opinion the best show of the franchise, right behind the original series.

Adding to it were the figures, which resembled their animated counterparts almost to the "T". Another first for the franchise, which had never happened in the past.

Sadly at Botcon 2009 (The annual Transformers convention for those who don't know) it was announced that the show has been canceled in it's current form. Hopefully they decide to revisit the show someday, perhaps in the form of a DTV release. But for now we'll have the DVD's and toys to look back on this great show. Hopefully the next TF series can live up to this one, but Animated set the bar quit high.

Friday, May 29, 2009

This blog and what it's about

I'm Joe and welome to the nail gun. I'm not going to dwelve into anything about myself, but rather I wanted to make this first post on the blog to give you the reader an idea on what this blog is all about.

The truth is, I don't think I could narrow it down to one particular topic. This blog will be random thoughts on any variety of subjects from books to movies to sports, cartoons to history. Consider this blog to be a potporri of useful (and useless) information for your reading enjoyment.

As for the title of the blog, well that's another story for another time.

Take Care
Joe