Digging Double Oh Seven: Octopussy (1983)

Technically I started watching Octopussy yesterday, but didn’t finish it until today, so I missed posting about it. I watched A View To A Kill today as well, so hopefully, I’ll be caught up by the end of day today (though with Jersey Shore coming up, it might be close). Anyway, I was a little skeptical about Octopussy because For Your Eyes Only felt like it was treading on a lot of old ground, plus Roger Moore was starting to look a bit old. Well, I thankfully didn’t have that problem with this flick. I knew I was in for a treat when the beginning of the movie involved Bond sneaking around in Cuba trying to well, do something, getting caught, having a beautiful woman help him out and then escaping thanks to a tiny plane hidden behind a fake horse butt that lead to a pretty great plane chase. It’s a great beginning that actually felt like the end of a movie, which is how these things are supposed to work.

THEN we’re immediately shown another Double Oh agent dressed as a clown being chased down and murdered by twin knife throwers from a circus. AWESOME. A big part of the plot involves Faberge Eggs or something, a ring of female criminals run by Octopussy and possibly the best assortment of villains in any of these Bond flicks (the knife throwers, Kamal Khan, a giant turbaned man, a bunch of  cracked-out Thuggee-looking dudes and then a dude wielding a bladed yo-yo type thing. It’s pretty great. Forget all that junk about too many villains from superhero movies, it just works here. As do the locale changes as they hop to India and other places, giving this movie a look that the others lack, which is impressive because the world seems to be running out of exotic places for Bond to bed women and kill badguys in.

On the action front, the flick doesn’t disappoint. There’s some great fight scenes (though shot in a way as to not reveal that it’s not actually Moore throwing or receiving the punches), but the real fun comes at the end of the movie when Octopussy’s army of sexy carnival women roll in and attack the bad guy’s giant palace and who else is helping them out? Q in the house, actually doing stuff. Octopussy really renewed my faith in this series. And, spoiler, A View To A Kill‘s pretty dern fun too!

Blogging Big Bang Theory S4 “The Toast Derivation”

As regular readers noticed, I didn’t blog about last week’s new episode of BBT. Sorry about that, but the missus and I were getting much needed haircuts, eating dinner and then getting packed for our trip to Ohio that weekend. I’m assuming that the episode reintroduced Raj’s sister Priya and rekindled her relationship with Leonard which got back to Penny who somehow revealed her lingering feelings for Leonard to Bernadette and Amy. It doesn’t sound like the previous episode was a game changer, but it does seem like a lot happened. Hopefully the episode will still be on CBS’s site and I can get caught up. Anyway, tonight’s episode picked up with Leonard telling Sheldon he was heading over to Raj’s to eat with him Priya and Howard. This instigates an argument between the two about the definition of a party. Sheldon says that five people eating is a party, but not when it’s at their house because they don’t have parties. The dynamic duo head over to Raj’s where he and Priya made Tex-Mex and margaritas, which Sheldon can’t seem to wrap his head around. Sheldon leaves the party and heads to The Cheesecake Factory where Penny’s tending bar. He orders a water, neat with an umbrella in it. While sitting there Amy calls him and drops the knowledge bomb that Leonard is the nucleus of the group, not him, even though he’s the most fun person Amy knows. The next day, Leonard’s heading over to Raj’s again, but Sheldon informs him that he’s having people over: his nemesis from the university Barry Kripke, Penny’s ex Zack and Stuart from the comic shop. LeVar Burton was also invited via Twitter. Once everyone’s there and it’s deemed that Burton’s not coming, Sheldon says they should go around and introduce themselves. Barry says he’s there because he was told there was a raffle (it’s at the end of the party and you have to be present to win), Stuart’s there to use their shower and Zack has trouble answering the question. After Sheldon tries to get them to play Colecovision, Atari or text based computer games Kripke says he’ll get his karaoke machine, Zack will get more beer and Stuart goes to take a shower. After that it’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”Meanwhile, over at Penny’s house, she’s hanging out when Bernadette and Amy show up in an effort to get her out of the house and to think of something aside from Leonard getting with Raj’s sister. Their idea is to go dancing, hence the little red number in the picture above. Bernadette and Amy seem really curious about attracting a guy at a club, bringing him back home, biting his butt, doing a few other things and then kicking him to the curb the next day. Penny says it’s okay, but Bernadette wants some of that. Amy recommends getting an electric toothbrush if she remains single for a while. Over at Raj’s house the gang realizes something unexpected: they miss Sheldon and his random bits of information (like that the Romans put toast in their wine which is why it’s called a toast). Just then, Sheldon shows up because his other friends weren’t having fun right and lets Priya know that she didn’t actually make chili because it has beans in it. At the very end, LeVar Burton shows up at the apartment to see Zack, Kripke and a still-in-a-towel Stuart singing “Walking On Sunshine” but disappears before they can see him cursing Twitter as he leaves.

FAVORITE QUOTES/MOMENTS

“Indians making TexMex, we might as well have had Chinese pizza.” – Sheldon

“We’re like hippies at a love in.” – Sheldon when told to sit anywhere at Raj’s.

“Don’t be needy bestie, that’s probably what drove Leonard away.” – Amy to Penny after saying people thing she’s pretty fun.

“Yo P-dog.” – Amy, showing up at Penny’s.

“That should display enough of your bosom to attract a healthy man or a hungry infant.” – Amy to Penny after selecting the red dress.

“I think it’s like Beetlejuice, we said his name too many times.” – Howard

 

Overall, this is a pretty fun episode. I like Sheldon’s alternate friends and hope they stick around for a while. It also seems like the writers have figured out a way to make Penny and Leonard interesting without having them together, though I would still like to see them get back together, especially if it devolves into a Penny/Priya catfight.

 

Old Navy Wants You To Hate Them

That’s the only reason I can guess why they would make such amazingly annoying and awful commercials such as these. The first one, with the song (sigh) “Super C-U-T-E” by something called Audio Threadz entered my consciousness last week much to my chagrin. Aside from being a punch-worthy song, just look at the singer chick’s two yahoo cohorts. Don’t they look like Deelite rejects?

Well now “Old Navy Records” (sigh again) wants to assault your senses with another track called “Welcome To The Ankle Show” by Cherrie And The Stems. At least “Super” could be a song on it’s own, on the radio or whatever (I hope that never happens) but this is a song about ankles. Seeing as how it’s probably not aimed at the Amish, I don’t think this one would be a hit.

Trade Post: Godland Celestial Edition One

GODLAND CELESTIAL EDITION ONE (Image)
Written by Joe Casey, drawn by Tom Scioli
Collects Godland #1-12, The Image Holiday Special
It’s been a week or so since I finished reading the first 12 issues of Godland and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the book. I want to love this book about Adam Archer, an astronaut who was granted powers by some aliens on a planet he was exploring and now, several years later he’s playing superhero. I want to love it because I really dig Joe Casey both as a writer and as a personality in the comics industry, plus, I want to support any non-big two superhero comic because I think they’re generally allowed to be more innovative. But, I was left kind of flat after reading this book.

The concept is great. Not only does Archer have powers, but he’s got three sisters who act as his support system. Well, one of them seems to hate him because she was supposed to be next in line for the space program which got shut down after her bro’s accident. The problem is that, with the exception of that sister, the other two are really one note and boring. You’ve got the brainy one and the one who fancies herself an anarchist. That’s about all they’ve got going for them which is too bad because there’s a lot of potential for interesting dynamics right there which, for all I know, really take center stage in later volumes, I’m not sure. Archer himself doesn’t really do much for me as a character either. He’s a true hero, but he spends a good deal of time bitching about how a fellow hero named Crashman is beloved while he is feared. It’s a realistic complaint to have, but when you’re starting off a brand new series and introducing the reader to new characters they don’t know anything about, it seems like a strange characteristic to focus on.

More than characters, though, I had trouble getting a grasp on the world itself. Is this a world that had superheroes before Archer or not? At first I figured he was the first, but then he’s got a villain named Basil Cronus who has a head floating in a jar which at the very least implies fantasy or sci-fi elements to the story. There’s also Discordia, a supervillain whose father Tormentor went underground several years prior. This is a tough complaint for me because, on one hand, I don’t want to read a textbook explaining the world to me, however, these kinds of questions begin to nag after a while which takes me out of the story. Again, it’s possible these elements get nailed down in a later volume, but it bugs me that after reading a year’s worth of stories, I’m this confused about the book.

My internal confusion spreads to Tom Scioli’s art as well, not that it’s confusing in a stylistic or storytelling regard, but that my personal reaction to it is confusing. As you know if you’ve ever seen an issue of Godland, the visuals are heavily influenced by the great Jack Kirby. I’ve become a really big Kirby fan over the past few years, so on one hand it’s cool to see what his art style might have looked like had he made it to the days of really great digital coloring and other modern artistic methods. On the other hand, I don’t know if I like someone aping another artist’s look to exactly. Some other artists who have been heavily influenced by Kirby like, say, Erik Larsen, at least add their own spin on the King’s style to make it unique to them, but Scioli’s art just looks like Kirby.

Like I said, I’m conflicted about this comic. I like the idea and parts of the execution, but was left flat by some of the characters (a complaint I had in my early readings of Kirby’s solo DC work now that I think about it). Perhaps Casey and Scioli are mirroring Kirby’s style TOO much. Anyway, I liked where Casey seemed to be going with the book enough to try and get my hands on the next Celestial Edition volume (this one is packed with extras, an intro by Grant Morrison and a full cover gallery), but I’m not as excited about the concept of doing so as I hoped I’d be.

Casting Internets

Hearing about Dwayne McDuffie’s passing on CBR today really saddens me. His works like Milestone, JLU and Deathlok all hold very special places in my heart. RIP Dwayne.

On to less depressing links. Check it out, I wrote a big thing about Conner Kent the current Superboy for MTV Geek, a surprisingly complicated story to suss out.

Not to toot my horn too much, but yesterday’s pic on my Tumblr page is pretty amazing. Go check it out.

Meanwhile, over on Topless Robot, my buddy Jon Gutierrez did a great list about 8 questionable cartoon spin-offs. Personally I’d put Toxic Crusaders at the top of the list because wow, what a difference between source and spin-off.

Kurt Busiek says Superstar will be out this week. I read the first issue way back when Gorilla Comics launched at Mid Ohio Con and have always wondered where that book went. Coolness.

Were you wondering what Soundgarden–one of the more unfortunate lost but surviving bands of the 90s–were up to? Rolling Stone talked to guitarist Kim Thayil to get the dirt.

Hip-hop data mining? I had no idea what that meant until Wired explained it. Pretty interesting stuff. It’s got to be interesting to study a form of music that has a relatively short life that can theoretically be studied in it’s completion. Scott C drew the Toxic Avenger on Showdowns! He continues to astonish.

Finally, /Film reports that Netflix has made a deal with CBS to stream some of their archived shows like Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, Cheers, Family Ties and the Star Trek franchise. I’m very excited to see all of Twin Peaks. I’ve got the first season on DVD and never got around to getting the second, so I haven’t seen the whole thing. Sounds like a fun watching/blogging experience in the making.

Digging Double Oh Seven: Never Say Never Again (1983)

While I don’t actually believe in cosmic significance to basic events, I do find it interesting that the year I was born there were two James Bond movies released in theaters. You have the in-cannon Octopussy which will be tomorrow’s movie and Never Say Never Again which brought Sean Connery back to the role he made famous quite a few years before. As I mentioned in my review of For Your Eyes Only, I was worried about this movie for a few reasons. One, I was worried Connery would be too old for the role (much as I thought Moore looked to be getting older in his series) and two, that it wouldn’t really matter because it’s not in cannon. Luckily neither of those wound up being a problem.

I should explain how there could be a James Bond movie that isn’t a part of the James Bond series. Back when Thunderball was being written and created, there was a screenwriter who worked on the project that wound up feeling as though his ideas were used somehow unfairly. There was a lawsuit and Bond creator Ian Fleming made a deal with him that involved cash and the use of some of the characters and ideas. So, with his fair share of legal rights to Bond, SPECTRE and Blofeld, that dude–Kevin McClory–got his stuff together, hired Irvin Kerschner to direct and got Connery to return as Bond. And you know what? The results are surprisingly entertaining. So much so that I wish this movie was actually included in the box set (even though it was original made by Warner Bros. it was eventually sold to MGM who hold the rest of the catalog).

Unlike the other Bond movies, this one actually addressed one of the facts of the movies that we haven’t seen addressed before: Bond not necessarily being the kind of character that fits in with modern sensibilities. In this version of the story, Bond has been around for as long as the movies have been (presumably) and now he’s dealing with a government that doesn’t seem to care about the Double Oh program and doctors who want him to cut out martinis and red meat. But soon enough, he’s needed again as the villain Largo–part of SPECTRE–has a plot to blow up various parts of the world. It’s interesting that, while part of the story revolves around Bond’s age, another part revolves around technology, specifically video games. There’s a scene in a big casino that has a whole section devoted to games like Centipede. Meanwhile, Largo has a 3D game he created himself that involves shooting parts of a 3D map of a country to gain control away from your adversary. It seems silly, but it’s actually a pretty tense moment as Bond plays–and eventually beats–the game’s creator. Is this the first video game bad guy in a movie?

From an action standpoint, the movie doesn’t disappoint. There’s an opening scene of Bond taking out some bad guys that looks like a lot of other 80s action movies which makes it kind of interesting for a Bond movie. There’s also a pretty slick car/motorcycle chase that involves rockets and even some cool gadgets as Bond and Felix Leiter fly around on what look like jet stands for lack of a better term. There’s even a big underground bad guy headquarters with accompanying assault by the good guys, some dangerous ladies (include Bond girl Kim Basinger) and a drop down drag out fight between Bond and a gigantic henchman. All in all, it’s the film’s differences from the rest of the late 70s/early 80s Bond flicks that actually makes it the most fun to watch. There’s a different take on the character and the mythos along with a lack of familiar elements that have made the last two or three canon Bond flicks kind of boring to watch. Oh, Rowan Atkinson’s even in it pre-Bean. He plays a kind of hapless bureaucrat there for comedic purposes, but his character is handled well and doesn’t get annoying, which is something that can’t be said for similar parts in other Bond movies. All in all, good stuff.

Audiobook Review: Double Cross By James Patterson, Read By Peter J. Fernandez & Michael Stuhlbarg

I mentioned yesterday in my review of the audiobook version of Patricia Cornwell’s The Front that I felt like it wasn’t an easy book to jump into. Thankfully, I didn’t have that problem with James Patterson’s Double Cross, though I did have a series of problems with it that I will get to. This is the 13th entry in the Alex Cross series and I didn’t have any problem understanding the relationships or the characters or anything like that. The story revolves around Cross and his new girlfriend/cop Bri trying to stop a serial killed dubbed the DC Audience Killer who likes to create and play characters with the aid of makeup and other disguise techniques and then kill people in front of large groups. There’s also the matter of criminal mastermind Kyle Craig who apparently used to work with Cross who has broken out of a supermax prison and is working his way up to Cross.

Plot-wise, the story was really interesting. They split the reading up between Peter J. Fernandez and Michael Stuhlbarg with one of them reading all of the hero parts and the other reading all of the bad guy parts (both DCAK as he’s called and Craig). I got into the story, was curious to find out what the deal with DCAK was and how he was finally going to get caught and how Craig was going to play into the whole thing. For that I’m grateful because otherwise, the 10 hour drive to Ohio would have been a pretty dull and boring one.

However, I would not call this a well-written piece of fiction. For one thing, everyone comes off as way too perfect. Bri Stone (terrible, made-up sounding name) is basically the pinnacle of womanhood. She’s cool and smart and funny and hot and can kick ass and a supercop and on and on and on. She seems to have zero flaws. Meanwhile, Cross–who came off as super smarmy to me and the missus as we were listening–just bugs me. He’s full of himself and arrogant and I just can’t get away from the word smarmy when I think about him (possibly do to his narrator, but I think it’s inherent in his character). The biggest problem the missus and I had with him though was that he never once tried to hide his three kid or grandmother even though he had not one but TWO crazy serial killers after him. That would be the first thing I’d do and yet you hear little to no mention about his kids except one moment where the oldest runs away after dad missed a meeting with a prep school basketball coach. Even that gets solved in moments and is wrapped up in a nice little bow.

Listening to Double Cross was kind of like watching a movie on a Saturday during the day that you’ve never really seen and don’t need to watch again but might check it out sometime in the future if there’s nothing on again. I didn’t realize until reading a few things online, but the character of Alex Cross is the same one from movie adaptations Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider which I haven’t seen but star Morgan Freeman. I think I’d like his take on the character a lot more than this one.