The Challenge Rivals II Episode 4

I don’t usually like to front load these posts with all the Challenge: Rivals II details, but I just have to point out that the two major fights in this episode revolved around one person supposedly writing a wrap about another and a third person throwing a condiment on a fourth. Seriously. Adults were flying off the handle about poorly crafted flows that might not even exist and ketchup.

That first conflict stemmed from a night out at the club that kicked the episode off. There’s some flirting between Jonna and Jordan as well as something between CT and Nany that is, of course, shot so that Diem’s also literally in the picture. At some point back at the house, Jemmye tells Nany that Diem wrote a rap about her. This seems to equate to something like, “She bludgeoned your cat with your mom,” in Nany’s head because she gets all up in Diem’s face. Diem’s like, “Uh, look at me I can’t rap.” Jemmye claims she heard it in the bar. My wife and I looked at each other during this and said, “Can you believe we’re watching two adult women argue about a rap that no one heard or saw?” The next morning, Johnny and Leroy actually did write a rap about Nany and posted it in the kitchen. Hilarious.

Jemmye and Leroy have a thing going on. Wes sees this and immediately jumps in to sew seeds of destruction. He brings up Leroy and Knight to Jemmye who says she wants to get down with Leroy and she says that she’s not worried about doing it with Knight still there. The editors then cut to Knight wading in a pool drinking wine out of what looks like a square vase of some kind.

The challenge, called Stumped, was pretty bonkers. There was a bamboo maze and the team had to go through tied not only to one another but also to a 25 foot pole. Teams got disqualified after 20 minutes. Whenever they throw something like that in, you assume it’s going to take a long time, but far fewer people got DQed than I expected.

Since it was a women’s day, let’s gloss over the guys. Every team but Knight and Preston finished. Knight fully placed the blame for this on Preston after initially saying that his partner was in charge. Nice play, there. It basically translate to, “I know we’re not going to finish this, so I’m going to put it all on this guy.” It boggles my mind that they’re still in this game. Oh, Jordan and Marlon won for the guys which means they get to chose who goes in what order next time and get some cash.

The first two teams of women to go up were Nany and Jonna and Cara Maria and Cooke. Neither looked particularly competent out there, but both eventually finished. After that it was Aneesa and Diem along with Theresa and Jasmine. Aneesa and Diem killed it pretty quickly as you might expect. But, Theresa and Jasmine could just not get coordinated — partially because Jasmine’s arms are like a T-Rex’s compared to her partner’s — and wound up getting DQed. Finally, it’s down to Emily and Paula as well as Jemmye and Camila. The latter team winds up getting off to a great start, but Camila winds up losing it as Emily and Paula blow past them and finish. The remaining team got the two minute warning from TJ and it looks like they’re getting the axe, but they pull it out at the very end. Of course, Theresa and Jasmine are going in and it’s up to the men to figure out who will go up against them in The Jungle.

The decision making time was kind of weird this time around. Most of the guys seemed okay with the same strategy Diem talked about last episode which is to keep sending in the same team to piss fewer teams off overall. Wes seemed to think this wasn’t a great way to go, but didn’t really present an alternative to camera. He and CT did talk to Cooke a bit who went around to the guy teams seeing if they’d vote in Diem and Aneesa instead. Ty seemed receptive to the idea, but Zach looked at her like she was insane saying something like, “Why would I rock the boat when I’m in a pretty good spot right now?” She came back with something silly along the lines of, “Because it’s the right thing to do!” Laughable. Still, it seemed like she might have swayed something or other.

As it turned out, Cooke’s stumping didn’t do much of anything. Diem says she talked to everyone as well, but we didn’t see it (we didn’t see a lot of seemingly important elements revolving around her this episode now that I think about it). Anyway, five of the teams voted for Cooke and Cara Maria while Ty and Leroy once again did a throaway vote of Nany and Jonna which I think is part of their plan, distract with a weird pick that can’t possibly sway voting.

After the voting, Jemmye’s drunk and running around. She steals Cooke’s shorts and Knight smacks her on the butt, which was out of line. Jemmye got in his face, so to get her away from him, he sprayed ketchup on her. As it happens, Jemmye has a phobia of the condiment. This sounds as ridiculous as it sounds, but she ran away screaming out of the room only to come back in with a trash can which she threw in his general direction. The fight went off and on, but was mostly verbal. Leroy saw all this and said he’d rather not get into it with Jemmye because she’s drama-central. The next morning he lets Theresa paint his toenails.

The Jungle was pretty interesting. The women walked into the arena to see a large metal gurney hooked up to several different car batteries. This looked suspect to me from the beginning. I assumed a lot of it was window dressing. Adding to the atmosphere was the fact that TJ was standing there in a crazy leather or rubber apron. He explained the game called, Can You Take It? which would pit members from opposite teams strapped to the gurney with 400,00 megawatts of electricity running through it. Whoever lasted longer without quitting won. Best two out of three got to stay. He even announced who was going against each other and asked if they were ready to start.

After a quick commercial break, TJ explains that this is all a gag and that both teams get to stick around. I was actually embarrassed that I didn’t see this coming because it was so obvious. Then again, we’ve seen these game-makers send these kids into a semi-gas chamber for yucks. Back at the house Cooke and Cara Maria are pissed as are the other top dog female teams. Not really sure why. What does it change? They won their previous Jungle and it changed nothing for them, why would this change anything?

As it began, the episode ends with a club scene. This one’s got a good deal of dancing and flirting but the focus is different. This time, Diem decided to take the advice CT gave her earlier in the episode and went out without a wig, bandana or hat on. I know I don’t know any of these people personally, but I felt really happy for her that she was able to get past that hurdle. Now CT needs to stop flirting with other girls, they need to work through their crap and form a mighty Challenge Union!!!


oldboy james brolinSites like Deadline are reporting that Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake has been pushed back from its original release date of October 25th to November 27th.

Have you guys read about McAfee Anti Virus creator John McAfee’s real life adventures as chronicled in Wired? They’re pretty insane and very movie-ready. It makes sense, then, that Deadline‘s reporting a film in the works with Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski to write and John Requa and Glenn Ficarra to direct.

the carey treatment

The Warner Archives just announced that they’ve got The Carey Treatment for sale. This Blake Edwards directed film stars James Coburn as a shrink investigating a colleague’s supposed crime. The film’s based on a book by Michael Crichton called A Case Of Needs.

According to TheWrap, Casino Royale director Martin Campbell is in talks with Paramount to direct Alpha, a film about “a Navy Seal sent to South America to train dogs for combat service.”

scott c great showdowns blain predator

Scott C. has a killer art blog called The Great Showdowns where he draws adversaries from various movies. Today’s installment features Jesse Ventura as Blain from Predator with his gigantic gun going up against a jungle camouflaged Predator. Awesome.

300: Rise Of An Empire Motion Poster Reminds Us Of Trailer

IGN posted a pretty cool looking motion poster for 300: Rise Of An Empire featuring star Sullivan Stapleton as Themistokles. Follow the link to give it a look. Normally a poster like this would make for a good Bullet Point, but this reminded us that there’s a trailer for the film we haven’t shown yet. What better time than now?

The film is a sequel to Zack Snyder’s 2006 adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300. It’s said to take place simultaneously with the original film or at least during the ongoing war. Noam Murro (Smart People) signed on to direct this one which Snyder produced.

Here’s the official synopsis from Legendary and Warner Bros.:

Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel Xerxes, and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield—on the sea—as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war.

300: Rise of an Empire pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemesia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

300: Rise of an Empire also stars Eva Green, Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro. It premieres March 7th, 2014.

Yen Kicks Through Language Barrier In Special ID Trailer

special id identity donnie yen

We might not be able to understand what’s being said in this trailer for Special ID (a.k.a. Special IdentityTe Shu Shen Fen), but two things are made very clear: first, Donnie Yen (Dragon, Ip Man) continues to kick all kinds of ass and, second, director Clarence Fok Yiu-leung (Naked Killer) sure makes pretty looking movies.

Here’s a bit of context by way of plot description thanks to Asian Movie Pulse:

Yen takes on the role of Zilong Chen, an undercover police officer deep within the ranks of one of China’s most ruthless underworld gangs. The leader of the gang, Xiong (Collin Chou), has made it his priority to weed out the government infiltrators in his midst. Struggling to keep his family together and his identity concealed, Chen is torn between two worlds.

Upping the stakes, as Chen’s undercover comrades are being dealt with, one by one, Chen fears his days are numbered. Now, he must risk everything to take down the organization and reclaim the life he lost when he took on this perilous assignment. As the action mounts, Chen must do everything he can to protect the SPECIAL IDENTITY he wishes he never had before it’s too late.

With that in mind, check out the trailer:

Special ID opens in China, Hong Kong and Malaysia on October 3rd. It doesn’t currently have a US release set as far as we can tell.

Astonishing X-Men Trade Post: Volumes 1-4

astonishing x-men vol 1 gifted Astonishing X-Men (Marvel)
Written by Joss Whedon, drawn by John Cassaday
Collects Astonishing X-Men #1-6 (Vol. 1: Gifted), #7-12 (Vol. 2: Dangerous), #13-18 (Vol. 3: Torn), #19-24, Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (Vol. 4: Unstoppable)

Never let it be said that TJ Dietsch doesn’t re-evaluate his opinions. While talking to my pal, colleague and gigantic X-fan Brett White recently, I said something to the effect that I didn’t get all the hype around Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. Of course, I understand that the creator of Buffy and Firefly has an enormous and rabid fan following, but the story didn’t blow me away when it was coming out. At the time, this book was incredibly late (24 issues took four years to complete), something I had no tolerance for as a lover of monthly comics (oh how times have changed). Also, there was part of me that was in the, “Of course people are going to like your book when you can cherry pick your cast and bring in one of the most popular artists in comics” camp. I was kind of a jerk back then.

But, after re-reading Ed Brubaker’s Rise & Fall Of The Shi’Ar Empire and Mike Carey’s Supernovas, I figured I should give Whedon’s X-Men another shot. I’m past a lot of the biases I used to hold and am always interested in reading something great. Plus, I was able to get all four from the same person in one Sequential Swap, so why not give them another read?

I’m glad I took some time to come back to this book because each trade has several key plot points that were pretty memorable. Even though I remembered they were coming, there was enough of a memory cloud around the proceedings that I could enjoy them again without knowing the exact blueprint of what was going on. Gifted picks up after Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, a run I’ve tried to read a few times and got distracted by bad fill-in art to the point where I couldn’t go on (but would like another crack at). Whedon’s initial idea for this team — consisting of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine — is that they’re getting back into more traditional costumes and going out to save the world like normal superheroes in an effort to show some people that mutants don’t need to be feared and hated.

Gifted, the first trade, sets all this up while also giving them a “mutant cure” to deal with and an alien named Ord to fight. The cure brings out different opinions from different mutants and leads to interesting dialog and conflicts (specifically between Wolverine and Beast). As you might expect, there’s a more sinister plan behind all that that leads into the rest of the series, but I don’t really need to get into spoilers here. Oh, we also see the return of Kitty Pryde’s deceased beau Colossus, something that surprised just about everybody at the time.

astonishing x-men vol 2 dangerous

Dangerous drops another bomb on the X-Men as well as the students at the Xavier Institute For Higher Learning: there’s more to the Danger Room than meets the eye. As it turns out, the Shi’Ar programming used to upgrade the systems years prior eventually gained sentience, but Charles Xavier needed to keep his students sharp and therefore suppressed it.  This eventually comes back to bite him in the butt when the programming — dubbed Danger — takes humanoid form and starts attacking the mutants.

This leads to an all-out battle the brings the previously absent Prof. X back into the fray to clean up one of his many mistakes. I don’t actually know why he wasn’t around and it’s never explained, but I guess he was dealing with the New X-Men fallout? Or Genosha? Or something? Anyway, they fight, Professor X explains why he did what he did and the team moves on.

Fun side story, this along with the revelation in Deadly Genesis that he sent an entire team of young mutants off to their deaths lead to a fun Wizard feature I wrote called something like “Professor X Is A Jerk” running down his incredibly long list of transgressions against the students he’s supposedly intent on keeping safe. If anyone has a scan of this feature, please drop me a line in the comments.

The second to last book in Whedon’s X-Men run does what I expected it to do from the very beginning: reveal Emma Frost’s true, evil nature. I knew from my limited experience that there was something of a love triangle involving her, Cyclops and Jean Grey before Jean died at the end of New X-Men (does a Jean Grey death even count as a spoiler anymore?), but Emma and Scott were together from the beginning of Astonishing and I didn’t trust her one bit and neither did Kitty.

Of course, this is played up for maximum effect as it appears as though Emma is using the X-Men’s greatest weaknesses against them in an effort to destroy the team. Wolverine gets reverted back to his little boy mentality, Beast is devolved into a wild cat and Cyclops loses his powers. All these moments are pretty intense, harrowing and also serve to teach the characters something about themselves (whether they’re paying attention or not).

astonishing x-men vol 3 torn

There’s not a lot of time to think on these lessons, though because the series’ other two main villains reappear as Ord and Danger decide that this is the perfect time for them to attack as well. You might expect a gigantly huge brawl between all these forces, and you do get a bit of that, but then Agent Brand swoops in with a S.W.O.R.D. ship, teleports them all aboard and heads off for Ord’s home planet, Breakworld. Oh and it was all Cassandra Nova’s fault that Emma went bad for a minute there.

Everything comes to a head in the final volume Unstoppable as the X-Men travel through space to face the Breakworld. We learned in the first volume that this race of warriors wants to destroy Earth because they believe a mutant (Colossus) will kill them all. Agent Brand wants to put a stop to the conflict between the two worlds and things move along from there with one character making not quite the ultimate sacrifice in the end, but close to it. I’ll get into spoilers later, but there’s an aspect of that ending I really enjoy and an aspect that falls flat for me.

So, what did I think of the run overall? I liked it, but don’t think it’s spectacular. The overarching elements don’t do a whole lot for me, but I did really enjoy the character stuff. Peter and Kitty’s relationship is fascinating to watch. Kitty’s distrust of Emma was easily relatable for me. Cyclops’ leadership realizations. Wolverine’s over-the-top teaching methods. These were all great, but at the end of the day, I just didn’t care about the big bads of this book. Sure, it sucked to be Danger, but it was super easy to call her weakness. Ord seemed like a real threat, but turned out to be kind of a joke. And the reveal of the whole prophecy thing was less “HOLY CRAP!” and more, “Oh, okay.” I liked what he did with Emma, but the end of that arc seemed really abrupt. I wonder if the lateness of the book and or scheduling problems had something to do with what felt to me like a rushed conclusion to the third story.

Speaking of conclusions, let’s dub this paragraph SPOILERY. The end of the whole series finds Kitty Pryde stuck in a giant bullet heading towards Earth. She’s somehow bonded with the projectile’s structure and can’t get out. But, she’s able to use her powers to phase the whole thing through the Earth, saving the day. But, she’s stuck in there, just traveling through space for the foreseeable future. This was a very nice emotional moment, but the very nature of this kind of story kind of undercuts it for me. I’ve become a bit jaded regarding Big Two Superhero Comics, but even when this final issue came out the first thing I thought was, “They’ll probably get her out a few months from now.” Had this been a creator owned comic or one of Whedon’s TV shows, that ending would have a lot more weight to it because it would mean more in the long run.

astonishing x-men vol 4 unstoppable

Overall, though, I’d recommend checking out Astonishing X-Men if you’re one of the few people who haven’t already. It’s got a lot of that Whedon charm that comes through in snappy dialog, but also presents itself in such a way that makes it easily accessible. My wife read the first two or three trades years back and didn’t seem to have any problems understanding what was going on. I probably had to explain the Legacy Virus and maybe Cassandra Nova to her, but otherwise it’s pretty accessible. And, even though I didn’t fawn over it, this is a really solid superhero story that utilizes humor, action and these characters’ shared history in a way that makes this uniquely an X-Men story. Sometimes you read books like this and they feel like they could be about anyone, especially if the writer has a very specific kind of voice that comes through. But in this case, this doesn’t feel like a Buffy story wearing X-Men costumes, it’s an X-Men story through and through which is probably why Whedon assimilated so many X-fans into his army of fans (assuming they weren’t already on board).

2 Guns Red Band Trailer Brings Out The Big Guns

2 guns poster

Depending on which channels you watch or radio stations you listen to, you’ve probably seen and heard a lot of ads for 2 Guns. The film stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as two undercover investigators from different organizations who join forces after realizing they’re being set up.

Baltasar Kormákur helmed the project which reunited him with Contraband star Wahlberg. From the looks of things, the flick seems to be a pretty solid mix of action and comedy, with Wahlberg playing the colorful jokester to Washington’s far more serious straight man.

The red band trailer below features many of the scenes from the TV spots, but with a few more explosions, Wahlberg witticisms and the occasional swear word. It’s technically NSFW (depending on where you work), but only just barely.

Based on a Steven Grant comic of the same name 2 Guns also stars Bill Paxton, Paula Patton, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos and Fred Ward. The movie opens this Friday.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Says “We Gotta Make A Good Conan”

conan arnold schwarzeneggerMuch like his pal, co-star and one-time business partner Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger is returning to many of the roles that made him famous several decades after the fact. In addition to a new Terminator film that’s in the works, the former governor is also looking to reprise his role as Conan in The Legend Of Conan.

Frederik Malmberg, the CEO of Paradox Entertainment went over to The Arnold Fans and fielded some questions about the project covering everything from Arnold’s role to potential directors.

After explaining that the Fast & Furious team is working on the film he said, “It’s just in the phase where it takes a lot of work to get the script just right … We have a great story. Everyone loves it. This is a role that’s perfect for him and he’s very involved with the whole Universal team. It’s the best team they have. Arnold has been very instrumental to being this together saying, ‘We gotta make a good Conan!’ I think if we do this right, we can do two more Conan movies right after. I think Game of Thrones also shows a huge interest in fantasy. I’m psyched about it.”

Malmberg continued by saying they’re focusing on the story — making sure it’s not cheesy or “too much of a throwback” — before talking story details. “The idea is that this takes place AFTER Conan has been king,” Malmberg said. “But this is the legend of Conan where he has been gone and people say, ‘Do you remember the good ol’ days when Conan was around?’ And now it’s time for him to come back. In the stories and you can also see it when he’s sitting on the thrown and the narration on that last scene of the movie…’with a troubled brow’ …you can tell he’s not really happy being king. So, it’s time for him to go out and do battle … The idea for this particular film is that he will be the lead, a lot of people ask if we’re going to introduce a son of Conan and passing the torch? The idea is to not. No, this is Conan’s movie. This is Arnold’s movie!”

It sounds to us like everyone involved wants to make something good. The Last Stand was surprisingly good, so we know Schwarzenegger still has his chops, even if that film was more “shoot ’em up” than “sword and sandals.” Still, we’re looking at this one  with cautious optimism for the time being.

Who would you like to see direct The Legend Of Conan? We’d like to see Neill Marshall (Centurion, Doomsday, Game Of Thrones) get in on some Conan action. He’s shown he can do this kind of movie, but we’d love to see what he can do with one of the biggest names in action.

[via Collider]

Halloween Scene: Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

shaun of the dead poster

It’s funny. With a lot of movies, especially big-deal horror movies from the past decade like Shaun Of The Dead, I usually have a solid memory of the first time I saw it. In this case, I’ve got nothing. I was in college in 2004 when the film came out and was probably hearing things about it. I remember watching it at some point and loving the ending and then checking it out on DVD later on with my wife who was into it aside from the ultra gore (which I’d forgotten about for the most part). I do remember that my pal Rickey Purdin passed me the DVD copy I watched last week because he had an extra, but that’s about it.

With Edgar Wright’s latest film The World’s End hitting theaters, I figured it’d be fun to go back and watch Wright’s other movies Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, all of which happen to reside in my DVD collection. You guys, this is such a good movie, I can hardly stand it. It’s so good, I actively disliked myself for about half of it for not watching it more often. Yes, you’ve got the high quality gore effects that tend to get left behind in horror comedies and you’ve got the fantastic comedic elements, but there’s a huge, gigantic beating heart to Shaun that really drew me in this time around.

First off, you’ve got the friendship between Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost). On the surface it seems like any other dude friendship in movies, just two adult children hanging out, drinking and playing video games. But you also get that element of two friends who have been friends for ages that might be growing apart, where the friendship might actually be inhibiting one or both of the parties from evolving as individuals.

Then you’ve also got Shaun’s relationship with his mom Barbara (Penelope Winton). He loves her, but doesn’t love all of the decisions she’s made, specifically when choosing a mate. That’s a deep connection that really tugs at the heart strings when Shaun has that last moment with his stepdad Philip (Bill Nighy). I know I’m a much bigger softie these days now that I’m a parent, but that was a really amazing emotional beat in the middle of zombie movie. So good.

Finally, you’ve got Shaun’s relationship with Liz (Kate Ashfield) which is kind of a synthesis of the ones he has with Ed and his mom. They’ve been together so long that she’s starting to think he might be holding her back while at the same time, there’s a deep, emotional almost assume connection between them. Watching the movie this time around, I got a bit of a Madame Bovary vibe from Shaun. Because he’s seen so many movies and TV shows, he thinks things are going to turn out a certain way, but the real world isn’t fictional (even this one packed with undead monsters). Shaun winds up stepping up and proving that he’s the hero he always imagined himself to be, which winds up solidifying his relationship with Liz.

The beauty of this film is that it balances all of those relationships — plus more, I didn’t even get into all the stuff with Ed and Diane — with all that great humor and gore. It really is just a wonderful movie and I didn’t even talk about how well constructed the movie is. The way Wright shot Shaun’s daily routine at three different stages in the story was so great to watch, I remembered it was coming and got really excited as it unfolded. I’m sure there’s a lot more in that department that I’m missing, but I’m still kind of in a euphoric state after enjoying the film so much.

Lord And Miller Hopping On Board 22 Jump Street

21 jump street poster

21 Jump Street surprised a lot of people when it came out last year. People weren’t sure what to think of the comedic take on the 80s Fox drama about young-looking cops infiltrating high schools to solve crimes, but the combination of Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill’s script, Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s direction and the chemistry between stars Hill and Channing Tatum made the film a comedy-action hit.

Lord and Miller talked to Collider during SDCC this year and announced a good deal of information on 22 Jump Street, which will be their post-The LEGO Movie follow-up. First up, they discussed some of the challenges in nailing down the script.

“People don’t wanna see the same movie that they saw the first time, they don’t wanna see something super different from the first movie, and navigating what that is has been challenging,” Miller said. “We didn’t really sign on to this movie until about a month ago because we didn’t feel like we were sure that it would be a good movie, and then finally we got to a point in the script where we were like, ‘Okay, I believe this will be a good movie.’”

“It’s more about their marriage, basically,” Lord said after talking about how he and Miller looked to their own relationships for inspiration. “If the first movie is about two people getting together for the first time, this is about what happens if you try to really make the relationship work.  We’ll probably never do another bromance after this one, but we’re trying to get as emotionally deep into that as possible.”

He also quickly explained the story-logic behind the name change: “It’s called 22 Jump Street because they move across the street.”

Production is expected to begin in New Orleans this September.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Ninja Turtles Technodrome Playset

Last week’s TCT entry was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer Playset, a longtime favorite of mine that I admitted wasn’t very flashy by playset standards. That’s not the case with the Technodrome, however. This was, I think, the biggest Turtle toy put out during the franchise’s heyday.

I didn’t have this toy either, but did have one friend lucky enough to have one. I actually don’t remember it as much as I do the Sewer one, but just look at how cool it is! I’m a longtime fan of playsets, but you know what my favorite kinds of playsets are? Onces that double as vehicles, which is exactly what the Technodrome does. And just look at all the dangers this piece holds for our heroes on a halfshell!