Bon Voyage

Hey Gang, I usually don’t post on the weekends because I know everyone’s out enjoying their weekend (or drinking in the dark watching Road House on TV), but I wanted to let you know that I won’t be around next week. Em and I will be on a vacation first with my parents and then with my dad’s whole family on a Disney land and sea package. It should be a ton of fun and hopefully I’ll come back with some cool pictures to show off.

In the meantime feel free to peruse the posts from my old blog Kicking It Old School which I have copied and pasted onto this very site. There’s a lot of fun horror and comic reviews in there.

Have a good week, I know I will!

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus Ain’t So Good

It’s like Public Enemy says, folks, don’t believe the hype. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is nowhere near as cool as the trailer had us believe.

And by hype, I of course mean this crazy trailer that everyone was passing around the internet:

Every cool part of the movie is right there. I didn’t even realize this movie was put out by Asylum, the same guys that do Transmorphers until BC over at HorrorMovieADay pointed it out. By the way, I swear I don’t try and copy his viewing choices, though I do get inspired to check out movies like Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. I did make note of a lot of the same things though.

For instance the special effects are pretty good as far as the title characters go (and, in some cases, they’re more developed than the actors), but these weird flashes of white are super freaking annoying. At first I thought it was lightning, but then it was under water as well and kept happening over and over again. And inside of a sub.

Aside from being incredibly slow and boring, the movie was also poorly acted. Lorenzo Lamas plays a total asshole, who’s also racist. It’s played tongue in cheek I guess because he says something like “I’m an equal opportunity racist.” He’s actually pretty funny, but not in a way that seems on purpose.

There’s also alot of other bad actors playing military types. There are two captains. The boat captain is awesomely ridiculous. I think he’s the one in the trailer who says something like “It rises” or whatever. The other is the captain of the sub and seems to be channeling Chris Penn in all his exasperated glory. It’s crazy.

The person that disappointed me the most was Ms. Debbie Gibson (the part of me that loved watching her in music videos on Nickelodeon when I was a youngin’ will never call her Deborah). To be honest, I didn’t even remember she was in this (or Lamas), but I got psyched when I saw her in the credits. Unfortunately, her delivery is pretty flat throughout the whole thing. Instead of harping on it, just watch this Debbie Gibson video from the 80s. I wanted the official one, but couldn’t find it (which means I couldn’t find it with a simple search of YouTube).

There was one bright spot in the movie (and not the digitally inserted ones) in the form of Sean Lawlor who played Debbie’s professor. I’m not quite sure if he’s that good or if he’s just really good compared to everyone else. Holy crap, he was in Space Truckers! Oh IMDb, you never cease to impress me.

So, yeah, this is a bad movie. If you read this interview and, hopefully, HMAD’s, and you still want to check it out, you’re beyond help, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Outlander Was Surprisingly Good

I say surprisingly because the only thing I ever heard about Outlander (2008) is that it feature Vikings vs. aliens. In fact, when it was released on DVD in the last couple of weeks everyone referred to it as such. So, I added it to the top of my queue as I’m want to do with delayed movies and forgot about it. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

The funny thing about watching movies on the train is that I don’t have any information on the movie, just what’s in front of me. Having put the disc in the player the night before and not reading any of the Netflix disc info I thought I was watching a really impressive movie from no name actors. It wasn’t until I looked the movie up on IMDb that Jesus himself starred. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Jim Caviezel in anything, so he just looked like any other dude to me and I definitely didn’t recognize Ron Perlman with all that Viking gear on (and sans Hellboy trench coat). William Hurt’s in it too, but he just looked like an old guy to me.

I’d like to flesh out the plot a little bit more for you guys too, assuming there aren’t a lot of people who saw it (according to Wiki it was only given a one week release, which is a shame because it’s one of the best original sci-fi movies I’ve seen in a while). It’s kind of a mix between Halo, Planet of the Apes, Predator, Alien, Pathfinder (but not shitty) with a few other references/homages thrown in like The Fugitive. Our main character is actually an alien of the space marine variety. He crashes on Earth during Viking times and helps them fight a rad-looking alien monster thing called the Moorwen.

Speaking of the Moorwen, the filmmakers did a great job creating the beast and really had fun with all the tail-whips and whatnot, but the really interesting aspect of the creature for me was the fact that it utilized bioluminescence to lure it’s prey (and to look like a rave at times). It’s just a cool idea that I haven’t seen before and the effects looked really good. Maybe it’s because I was watching it on a tiny screen, but I hope it would have looked just as good on my big TV.

It might sound kind of a straightforward plot, but there are all kinds of reveals and not the crazy twist kinds, just past-revealing moments that really flesh out the plot. Turns out our hero may not have been such a good dude and the Moorwen might have been victims themselves. There’s also a whole other mess going on between Hurt and Perlman’s people. Plus, the films I rattled off above don’t get copied exactly by any means, it’s just hard to watch any alien movie without thinking of Alien or Predator. Outlander takes all the elements, adds their own twists, mixes in the Viking stuff and blends them together in a nice cocktail, kind of like how Doomsday took all these rad elements and put them together, though I think it’s a bit smoother in Outlander (and with fewer ingredients).

If you’re an action, sci-fi fan or even a horror fan (there’s lots of blood, caves, monsters and corpses), you should definitely check it out.

Wizard World Philly Weekend

Last night Em and I got back from Wizard World Philly and, as always, it was a trip.



After picking up Justin and Rickey , we got to the show Friday morning and got right to work after getting some lunch after checking in. The highlight of my day was sort of moderating a Q&A panel with Tom Savini, a man whose work I’ve been enjoying since I started watching horror movies. I say “sort of” because Tom handled the thing pretty much on his own while I struggled with a laptop. For anyone in attendance, I swear I’m slightly more adept at computers than I appeared at the panel. Tom was a great sport though and once we got everything up and running he showed off the next installment of Chill Factor, which was a story he wrote and directed and had the students that work with him to learn filmmaking do the rest. It was pretty rad, so keep an eye out for it. Em was even nice enough to video tape the whole thing, so maybe I’ll get it up on YouTube at some point. I didn’t, however, get a picture with him because I was running around so much.

Later that day there was a big toy industry panel that was super interesting, just like last years’. Look for more information on that in ToyFare. Friday night we grabbed lunch at a place called the Field House (you can actually spend the full weekend at WWP without going outside if you want to because so many things are connected around there). After that we headed down the hotel bar and had a good time. It’s always fun to sit there and see who you’ll run into. I ended up talking to guys like Shane Davis, Dennis Calero and Matt Serra, a fighter who was super nice. Plus, you always see random people walking through the lobby.

After a late night we got up and headed back over to the convention center. If you guys didn’t hear, Jesse Falcon showed off some potential future Marvel Legends for 2010 at his panel (X-Force Warpath, Lady Bullseye and Maddrox!). It was rad getting a peek at those and we’ll be getting more info at SDCC.

After that I headed over to Emma Caufield’s booth and escorted her to her panel room which was packed. For those of you who might not know, she’s Anya from Buffy. She did a great job and everyone really seemed to have a great time with it. As a Buffy fan, I was one of those people having a great time. I’m really hoping that the future projects she talked about come out quickly.

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Right after that we had a really great Customizing 101 panel with Matt “Iron Cow” Cauley, Bobby Torres (why can’t I find a link?!) and Pierre “Airmax” Kalenzaga. I learned a lot about toy customizing and I really want to give it a go. Now I need a studio. Or a man cave. I’m still hoping for man cave.

But, the big event of the night for us toy guys was the second annual ToyFare Hall of Fame awards. It was great seeing most of last year’s winners along with this years’ (Jesse Falcon, Tim Bruckner and Aaron Archer from Hasbro for Transformers, Randy Bowen couldn’t make it). Justin did a great job with the presentation and I muddled through with my Power Point presentation. I think it went well and everyone was really happy.

That night Wizard threw a party along with Kaiju Big Battle at a place called The Trocadero that was a 130 years old. As you may be able to see from the picture we were up in the balcony looking down on the fight. It was pretty crazy, though a little slow. Tired from standing all day, a few of us migrated into the adjoining room where karaoke ended up taking place. But it took a while. A bunch of the people we were with filled out the slips to sing and we were sitting there waiting and the room got PACKED. Then some guy said something about Skeletor. I had no idea what that was about until freaking Skeletor showed up. This guy was great, but what no one knew was that it was a gong show. So, you got up to sing and he’d gong you. Sam got gonged unceremoniously early which was BS, but Justin, Alex and Jim all got up there and rocked the mic. I missed a full on, all dude version of “I Am The Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor” because Em and I had to bolt, but it was worth it cause I think I would have passed out if I stayed in that room any longer. Check out the slideshow below for some incredibly blurry photos of the creepy stairs up to the bar, the Kaiju battle, the karaoke area, Justin, Sam and Alex singing. Plus some shots of Skeletor. Maybe I’ll tell people I did all this in Photoshop.

After that we met back up in the lobby where I got to meet some more cool people, but the funniest thing was seeing a bunch of people who just got back from a wedding reception at about 12:30AM looking at Lou Ferrigno walking away and being absolutely shocked. I’m guessing they didn’t know anything about the con and that was a pretty awesome experience for them.

Sunday was slower because it didn’t last as long, which was good because I think most of us were pretty exhausted. Justin, Alex and I had a Twisted ToyFare Theatre panel that was a lot of fun. We got a lot of good questions and it’s funny because I’m starting to recognize the people that show up to the toy panels. I also plugged the blog after some cajoling, so hopefully one or two of you guys made your way over here and are liking the site.

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The highlight of the day though was getting a sketch by Steve Dillon. I am a huge, HUGE Preacher fan and got him to do a Jesse Custer, which was well worth the donation to Hero Initiative. Heck, I would have probably paid my last paycheck (don’t tell Em). I don’t think Em had ever seen me geek out that much, I was super psyched. After that we got our things together, I had yet another cheesesteak (with whiz, this time, it’s way better that way) and we made the long trek back through New Jersey.

All in all, it was hard work, but a ton of fun as cons tend to be. The people I talked to all seemed to have a good time and I’m looking forward to the next one.


Fanboys (2008)

Before I start getting my post-Wizard World Philly post together (here’s a preview, Skeletor karaoke) together I just wanted to say a few words on Fanboys, which Em and I just finished watching. Maybe it’s because I just experienced fanboy-ness to the extreme this weekend and my inner fanboy was all over the place, but I REALLY liked this movie.

The story’s about four (eventually five) lifelong Star Wars fans in 1999 who are anxiously waiting for Episode I to hit theaters, but the problem is that one of the guys has cancer and they don’t think he’ll last the six months until the premiere. So, they go on a road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch to watch a rough cut of the movie before it opens. Of course there are plenty of hijinks along the way and TONS of guest appearances and geek injokes. There was a lot of trouble getting this movie into theaters because the powers that be weren’t sure whether they wanted to keep the cancer plot in the movie. Well, I was excited about this flick since I first heard about it and can’t imagine how bad it would be without that element behind the plot. It really is the heart of the movie and I’ll be honest, the end got to me. Even more so than Darth killing the Emperor. Now, you know that’s serious.

I was worried that I wouldn’t like the movie because the guys on the Totally Rad Show didn’t like it very much. Our tastes don’t match up perfectly, but I do respect their opinions and ours match up a good deal of the time. I think the wait hurt the movie and it really is kind of a big injoke, so I can see why your big audiences wouldn’t have wanted to check it out. Em’s seen all the Star Wars movies, but she’s nowhere near the geek I am, so she didn’t necessarily pick up on all the things I did, but she still dug it. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, it’s probably not the best flick for you. It’s kind of like how you might be able to enjoy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, unless you’ve seen all of Kevin Smith’s movies a bunch of time. By the way, Kevin Smith makes a cameo I didn’t know about that had my laughing like crazy. But, in the end, I really liked it and recommend it to all my Star Wars brethren. Plus, it makes fun of Trekkies, so that’s cool.

Finally, The Perfect Synthesis of Star Wars, Star Trek and Hip Hop

Now that the Star Trek hype has settled down, I bet you, like me, thought you wouldn’t be seeing any more Star Trek references on TV or in music videos. That’d be kinda lame right? Kind of out of touch? Well, like Eminem , Dream disagrees with my sentiments.

I’ve gotta warn you, this song is stupid, even Kanye’s part is just okay, which is too bad because his first two albums are pretty rad. But, if you’re looking for what looks like the bridge of the USS Enterprise on the Millennium Falcon, then this is the video for you.

Iron Mongering: The Armor Wars

A couple weekends back, Em wanted to watch Iron Man again, so we did and it was great once again. I do wish the end fight would have been a little bit more awesome and well-balanced instead of so clearly one-sided on Iron Monger’s side. Anyway, it got me thinking that, over a year ago, I decided to check out various Iron Man stories and talk about whether a newbie would be able to jump right in and enjoy it or not. Well, with the news that Mickey Rourke is playing an armored version of Whiplash and pictures even surfacing, I think Armor Wars might actually be a good place for people looking to get a jump on the potential story behind Iron Man 2.

As the folks over at Slash Film have pointed out, the first two press photos from Iron Man 2 seem to be connected, with Tony Stark looking at what looks like a model of the arc reactor that Whiplash is wearing. I’m going to go one step further and guess that there might be some Armor Wars elements in the film. You see, the plot behind Armor Wars is that Tony Stark discovers that all these different armored villains (and even some heroes) have been using his Iron Man technology to commit crimes. This pisses Tony off and he goes rogue, taking out heroes and villains in a single minded attempt to neutralize their armors.

So, maybe in that first picture we’re seeing Tony discovering Whiplash ripped off his armor tech and he’s pissed. Sure, it’s an awful lot of guessing, but that’s what blog are for right?

Okay, so back to the trade. It’s written by David Michelinie, pencilled by Mark Bright and one issue by Barry Windsor-Smith and inked and co-plotted by Bob Layton. The book collects Iron Man #224-232. I’ve already gone through the basics of the story, but the devil’s in the details as Tony Stark goes a little crazy trying to neutralize the armors, he even attacks a superhero, and member of the Avengers, Stingray to do so. What I really like about the story is how nicely it fits into the overall Marvel universe. It mostly has Iron Man characters and villains, but it crosses over into other arenas when necessary, like when SHIELD gets involved or when the Avengers (the West Coast Avengers to be exact) show up to ask Iron Man what the heck is going on.

But, that being said, I don’t think this would be a difficult book for someone whose only experience with Iron Man is the movie. You’ve got Rhodey and Tony and SHIELD, elements you’d be familiar with and the villains and other heroes get explained pretty well in the book itself, but if you’re ever confused, I’d suggest hitting up Wikipedia, like when a dude called The Captain shows up looking kinda sorta like Captain America (it really is him, I promise).

So, in addition to being a compelling story, I think Armor Wars makes a lot of sense as a first look as far as comics go for new fans. It’s also a good book for current comic fans to check out if they thought Tony’s actions over the past few years seem to have come out of nowhere. This book put a few things in Civil War into context for me, though I still think no character has been screwed over and mishandled quite as much as Iron Man, though I keep hearing good things about Invincible Iron Man, I just haven’t been able to scrape the trades together.

One other thing I wanted to mention, and it’s really more of an oddity, is the size of the trade I read. I got it along with an original Guardians of the Galaxy trade in a Swap from Sequential Swap (seriously, you should all join this rad service) and both of them are kind of a funny size. You can see a scan of the cover itself, which I believe is different than the current trade cover, below followed by a scan of a regular sized comic overtop of the trade. As you can see, the trade is a little shorter and a little longer than your average comic, so they had to shrink and maybe stretch the pages when they reprinted them. Or maybe they’re just shrunk. I didn’t really notice anything while reading it, I just thought it was odd. Checking the date, this trade was created in 1990, back when there weren’t a lot of trades being produced, just the big, big stories like Armor Wars… and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Best Of The Best: High Fidelity (The Movie)

For a few years now I’ve been on this absorption kick, trying to watch as many new movies and TV shows, read as many new books, comics and trades and listen to as much new music as possible. And by “new” I mean new to me, not necessarily brand new. This has probably been going on since right after college. In college I didn’t have a lot of money, but I’d still check out new movies at the theater and on the rare occasion when I could rent something, so that left me to peruse my personal DVD collection and those of my friends’. Well, one movie that I saw in high school, which spurred me on to read the book and then eventually watch the movie over and over again was High Fidelity (2000).

When I first saw High Fidelity in high school I was pretty enamored with the idea of working in a record store (still am really). I also really liked the idea of Top 5 lists, discovering new music and hanging out with music nerds and musicians. It wasn’t until I read the novel that I realized how weird of a guy Rob (the main character, played by John Cusack) is. Saying the dude has relationship problems and issues with women is like saying Michael Myers is irked by promiscuous teenagers. Anyway, Em and I watched High Fidelity on the car ride back to Ohio about a month ago (well, I recited every line in my head while she watched it for the first time on our portable DVD player). It was probably the first time in three years that I watched it. I used to watch it about once a month my Junior year of college when my roommate would be away from the room at night, it was his copy, so I had to buy my own once he graduated later that year.

It’s funny how different I look at things now that I’m older. I still love all of Jack Black’s lines and still want to a own a magical record store that doesn’t go bankrupt, but I look at Rob a lot differently now. I see how damaged he is and wonder what happened to him. I’m also glad that things worked out for him by the end of the movie, but also wonder if they stuck. Maybe when he turned 40 or 50 he flipped out and went through another crazy decade or something. Basically, I’ve been thinking about how these characters that were so important to me when I was maturing, dealt with further maturation, cause this growing up stuff can really suck.

Philosophy aside, I actually got into an argument with someone in the middle of a movie for my film class in college over High Fidelity. The movie was called Mifune (1999) and is from Denmark. The main woman in the movie is taking care of her mentally handicapped brother who’s obsessed with Toshiro Mifune, an actor in many an Akira Kurosawa film. I think there was something about aliens too, but who can remember all those subtitles? Anyway, I got into an argument saying that the main female character was Laura from High Fidelity and whoever I was with was completely convinced I was wrong. Well, I went right home and IMDbed her and was right Iben Hjejle was in both, so suck it whoever that was. Knowing that, it explains a few of Laura’s vocal ticks that always made me curious.

So, I guess I haven’t really explained why I like High Fidelity so much, but I’m not really sure if I could. I don’t know how into the movie I would be if I hadn’t fallen in love with it when I was younger. It’s like, I didn’t like Reality Bites when I first saw it because I thought Ben Stiller shouldn’t have been such a pussy, but maybe if I was really into the idea of making films that would have been enough to keep me hooked. I should check Reality Bites out again actually, it’s been a while. Anyway, I used to wonder when I was in high school if I would still really like movies like Empire Records and Dazed & Confused when I got older, because I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High with my dad one time and I don’t think he enjoyed it as much, probably because you remember things like Phoebe Cates’ boobs and not that abortion stuff. Well, luckily for me (at least so far) I still like a lot of those movies. It’s a weird combination of quality and fondness, I’m guessing, with a sliding scale depending on the flick. High Fidelity still strikes a chord with me, but I wonder if 50-year-old TJ will be reclining in his hoverchair and still enjoying watching John Cusack go through his Top 5 Break-Ups Of All Time on my holo-glasses with the same enjoyment as I do now. If not, I at least hope I’ll still remember all of Jack Black’s lines. Let’s just hope I’m not wearing a Cosby sweater while watching.

Oh, and anyone wonder how close the movie is to the book, it’s super freaking close. Like, so close they turned the book into the script word for word. Well, it’s not British, but everything else is in there, just peep the deleted scenes for scenes from the book that didn’t make it into the movie (I love the stuff with the jilted wife trying to sell her cheating husband’s record collection). There was also a musical on Broadway that I missed out on, but Ben saw, hopefully he (or anyone else who’s seen it) will comment. Hopefully next there will be a video game to continue the slow media evolution of this property. Just think of how much fun it’s be to kick the shit out of this f#cking Ian guy in a myriad of different scenarios? Get working on that Flash dudes.

Also, check out this video I just discovered on YouTube, I’ve never seen it before!

Charging Ahead: Charles in Charge Season 2

I’ve made no secret of my love for the first season of Charles in Charge. The first season was awesome and even though I talked about how choppy the transition from the first family (Season One) to the second family (Seasons Two through Five) was, I enjoyed Season Two just as much as One.

The funniest thing about going through the episodes is when memories flood back and soak me in decades old thoughts. This first happened on the second episode of the season called “The Naked Truth.” Charles takes Adam to his art class with Buddy. Charles wants to go because there’s a girl in the class he has a thing for. Then it turns out that said girl is the live nude model. I can’t point out the exact moment, but at some point, I remembered the scene shot for shot. I’m pretty sure this is the first “naked lady” I ever saw, even though you only get a look at her feet as the robe drops and a shoulders-up shot of her. That was wild.

Memories aside, the show impressed me with how honest it was. Charles and Buddy didn’t straight out say they wanted to bang chicks, like a normal college guy might today, but they definitely allude to it in creative, sitcommy ways. But, the thing I love about this show is that it’s got heart, it’s honest, and it’s funny. There’s one part where Charles is trying to deal with his mother visiting and he refers to how she’s always treating him like a kid to which Buddy responds with something like “She cleaned your diaper, there’s no way she can see you as an adult.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt like this at one time or another.

Since it’s summer and most of the good shows are off the air, I highly recommend for everyone to give Charles In Charge another look, especially because you can watch it on Netflix Instant Watch. I can really never watch just one episode, it’s usually a group at a time, which leads to some sleepy train rides sometimes, but it’s worth it. My only problem is that the last two seasons aren’t available on DVD yet and, as far as I know, haven’t been put on any production schedules yet. Anyone else want to start a petition with me?