What We’re Watching: Mondays & Tuesdays

It’s been a crazy-long time since I’ve talked about TV here on UM, but that doesn’t mean we’re not watching. It’s an interesting season because there are a good deal of shows I’m really into, but also a lot of slots in the schedule that are left open. For what it’s worth, we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to cable and don’t have DVR, so all of our viewings are done the old fashion way, “live.”  Continue reading What We’re Watching: Mondays & Tuesdays

Late To The Xbox Live Party: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

amazing spider-man xbox 360 I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record here, but Spider-Man 2 for the PS2 is still one of my all time favorite video games. It did the open world/mission-based thing incredibly well while also offering all kinds of Spidey-based add-on powers and moves to keep things interesting as you swung through NYC, stopping occasionally to kick a criminal’s teeth in. There was a connection to the movie of the same name, of course, but not a huge one, which is great for me because I think the middle of that movie stinks

As I mentioned when I talked about the trailer for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions — which I erroneously referred to as Dark Dimensions for some reason — I really wanted to like Ultimate Spider-Man which took many of its cues from Spidey 2, but also seemed to dumb things down more than I liked. Since then I’ve kind of shied away from the franchise after not hearing great things about games like Friend Or Foe and Web Of Shadows. But, when some of my friends who are far more into video games than I started telling me that Amazing Spider-Man — based on the film reboot I still haven’t seen — might just be the next Spidey 2, I was definitely interested and actually got a copy of the game for Christmas. 

And it’s close, but it didn’t really hit all the same notes for me. In fact this game, while a lot of fun and challenging at times, really didn’t seem to offer much in the way of new gameplay experience. I’m far from an unbiased voice in this conversation, but the game itself really just felt like an updated version of a game that’s nearly a decade old. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but I was really hoping for something that would take a great game, update it for a new console and also add a lof of new goodness on to it. I mean, the open world style of games have been around for a long time and yet this one didn’t seem to add much to the sandbox. 

And yet, I still had fun with the game. I’ve mentioned plenty of times here and there that my daughter Lucy actually really got excited about this game. For a few weeks she liked watching the old 60s Spider-Man cartoon, but then lost interest but still liked the character. She saw me playing Amazing Spidey and really dug it. In fact, one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to finish this game is that I basically stopped playing it when the kid wasn’t awake. Also, not for nothing, but when a toddler is yelling at you to play a game, it can take away some of the fun. 

So there was an added level of doing something cool with my daughter that she dug while also going through a game that I liked for the most part. Again, it’s not a bad game by any means, but I was just hoping for more. Even though it didn’t do everything I wanted, I still had a great time web-swinging around a digital New York City, trying to figure out where I’ve been and where I can throw down with some bad guys. I even enjoyed the main storyline which does a cool job of mixing a zombie outbreak story and some crazy big mech robot stuff. That’s all aces in my book. 

I’ve already moved on to my next video game which actually happens to be Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions which is much more of a straight-ahead action game than an open world sandbox. I think I’m getting the hang of it and it’s a lot of fun to mash buttons while kicking bad guy butt and also hopping from timeline to timeline while experiencing one cohesive story. Fun stuff so far. I’ll probably review it when I finish, which might be another five months, we’ll see! 

Casting Internets

Last Sunday I went down to Toy Fair and covered the show for CBR. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Anyway, you can click this link and read all the coverage I wrote.

I think DC was shortsighted and foolish for hiring homophobe Orson Scott Card to write a Superman story. I think it’s fantastic that people are standing up against it, people like my pal Brett White and Patrick over at Geeks Out. The comments that I read on the page made me sad for humanity.

My pal Sean T. Collins was featured over on a site called The Setup which features creative folks talking about what kind of place they do their work in and with what equipment.

Speaking of Sean, our mutual friend Ben Morse interviewed him about Gossip Girl over on The Cool Kids Table. I have no idea what any of it means, but it’s interesting.

 

I’ve written about my unabashed love of Fall Out Boy, so I’m pretty excited to hear they’re back together. Better yet, they’ve got a new album coming out on May 7th called Save Rock And Roll. As if all that wasn’t good enough, the first single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” is damn catchy. (via Rolling Stone)

 

I think the Young Justice freak-out is a little premature (I’m guessing Cartoon Network just wants to keep DC Nation to an hour) but I’m also pretty excited about Young Justice: Legacy” a video game set in continuity and written by the show’s creators. I’m not a big RPG guy but I think I can get into this if it’s like that PS2 Justice League game or the X-Men ones that were good for a while.  (via CBR)

Whoooa. Charles Band cleaned out his warehouse and found a ton of vintage Wizard Video clamshell cases and Atari game boxes. They’re selling four a month for the foreseeable future, but for $50 each! Yowza.

I used to watch Dragonball Z after school and have a box of DVDs from the old Anime Insider library after that magazine was shut down, so I was pretty interested in reading about the first new DBZ movie in 17 years heading to IMAX theaters on SuperHeroHype.

Diablo Cody’s films don’t really speak to me personally, but I like reading her interviews like this THR one about directing while also pregnant and being a mom to a 1 year old. Sounds exhausting.

Walter Hill talked to Hero Complex about making Bullet To The Head with Sylvester Stallone and a potential Warriors remake, so it’s a must read for me and mine.

Charles P. Pierece’s Esquire piece about how a religious faction somehow overtook a major political party is instigating and insightful.

After just watching Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, I’m pretty excited for any Scott Adkins movie, especially one co-starring Randy Couture who has proven to be a ton of fun to watch in the Expendables movies. The story sounds pretty heavy, but we’ll see how it works out. (via THR)

Nick Kroll and Bill Burr are going to guest on New Girl as Nick’s family members? Holy nuts, that’s amazing. The episode will be amazing, the outtakes will be fan-friggin-tastic. (via THR)

Mark Neveldine of Neveldine & Taylor fame is doing a solo flick called The Vatican Tapes, I’m pretty excited about this. (via Variety)

 

Feeling a little violent? Want to watch pixelated carnage? Then dig this video of Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion going yard on the first level of the original Double Dragon! (via Topless Robot)

500days of summer glen brogan

I’m having trouble focusing after checking out Glen Brogan‘s (500) Days of Summer piece for an upcoming art show. It’s pretty erect.

I’ve become a huge fan of the Black Keys in the past few years, both their music and the guys themselves. I love drummer Patrick Carney’s attitude towards this whole fame thing, including his recent dust-up with Justin Bieber’s fans on Twitter. Laughed out loud at the one about the Keys being a one hit wonder and Bieber being around a long time. (via Rolling Stone)

I feel the same way about The Real World that Andrew Seigel does. Read her Vulture piece to see how alike we are!

 

I’ve always thought of Eric Clapton as a professor of guitar (partly because he reminds me of my friend’s prof dad), so listening to him talk about his history with a Gibson guitar is right up my alley. (via Rolling Stone)

Over the past few years I’ve become a big fan of digital media, but my one complaint is the lack of a secondary market for things I no longer want/need. As such, I’m interested to see what Amazon does with this patent for re-selling digital content. (via THR)

Ron Marz‘s comparison of binge TV viewing on Netflix and the comic book market makes me wish more than ever that there was a Netflix for digital comics.

After reading Please Kill Me and becoming a fan of Legs McNeil, I’m very interested in reading the entries on his list of the ten best rock books of all time.

Casting Internets

My pal Jim McCann was on The freaking Price is Right! It was so cool watching him, unfortunately he got robbed. Dude gives great face, though, doesn’t he?

Reading my buddy Sean Collins‘ review of Contagion makes me want to get it from Netflix again and hope for a copy that isn’t scratched to crap.

I feel strangely proud that Dan Trachtenberg is going to direct a Y: The Last Man movie. I was a big fan of The Totally Rad show and miss the podcast more than I thought, but am happy those guys are getting out there and doing their respective things. Also, that’s just a great book that I know he gets. (via THR)scott c showdowns the stuff

I love Scott C’s Showdowns, I also love when I happen to have seen one of the more obscure movies he does for the first time a few months before he draws things like this one based on The Stuff.

Crank and Gamer in 3D? I would love to see that. Don’t know if my brain could handle it, thought. (via THR)

Rolling Stone reports that Jack White found a recording of his pre-White Stripes band Jack White and the Bricks from 1999 recorded in a Detroit bowling alley. It’s going to be presented on white vinyl but is exclusive to TMR Vault members. Anyone have an extra $240 I can just have to get all their releases this year, that’d be rad. mike mignola catwoman

Gah, Mike Mignola drew Catwoman! Don’t know if I’ve seen this before, but I’m glad The Mary Sue posted it cause it’s radtacular. Much as I love Hellboy, I’d love to see him get back into the Big Two every now and then.

There’s going to be a Doctor Who audio drama starring Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann called “The Light at the End.” I very much want to hear this. (via Hero Complex)

I really enjoyed Charles P. Pierce’s “The Chris Christie Conundrum” on Esquire.com. This opening sentence is fantastic: Ever since it realized that the entire Republican nominating process was a competition between grifters and fools that only made sense if it produced the one man in the field whom nobody really liked, America’s courtier press has been turning itself into a pretzel trying to avoid the obvious fact that the Republican party has become demented.”

Sean Lennon’s noise rock duo Mystical Weapons sounds pretty interesting. I have no idea what noise rock means, by the way. (via Rolling Stone)

Disney’s Infinity game sounds pretty interesting. I like the concept of trying to recreate playing with a bunch of toys from different lines in video game form. Not excited about having to buy actual toys to play in the game I assume you’ll have to pay for, though. (via THR)

I love seeing trailers for Jason Statham movies on TV and have therefore had a great time seeing all the Parker ads. Anyway, while he talked to Collider about that movie, they also got updates on Homeland and Expendables 3. I think it’s rad how he’s gotten in with the old guard of action guys to the point where Stallone is rewriting scripts that he intended to star in for Statham. That’s got to feel awesome.

Whoa, Tom Morello’s filling in for Stevie Van Zandt on Bruce Springsteen’s Australian tour? I would like those shows recorded, someone make it happen. (via Rolling Stone)

Lastly, I’m excited that DC‘s reprinting Jack Kirby’s In The Days Of The Mob! I wonder how much more of his material there is to reprint, anyone know?

Just Finished Once Upon A Time Season One

In case you were unaware, ABC’s Once Upon A Time is available on Netflix Instant. When I saw this I was curious. I hadn’t heard much about the show — which I realized is the result of not talking to people about TV much anymore, one of the bummers of not having in-house co-workers — but the concept sounded interesting: characters from fairy tales are trapped in the real world and one woman is trying to deal with them while we see flashbacks to their previous lives. It sounded like a very Lost set-up, which makes sense when you realize it was created by two writers from that show Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. I proposed checking it out to the missus, she was amenable, so we gave the first episode a whirl. That was a little over a week ago and we just finished the 22 episode season last night.

To get into a little more detail, the series revolves around Emma, the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwinn) and Prince Charming who was sent to our world as a baby just before the Evil Queen (Swingtown‘s Lana Parrilla) cursed the fairy tale world by imprisoning them in a world without magic where they don’t remember their past lives. Emma had her own child who she gave up for adoption and wound up adopted by the EQ in our world. Years later, he’s one of the few people who know the truth, so he tracks his mom down, tells her what he knows and gets her to stick around town.

From there we get  episodic reveals of new characters, backstories in both worlds and growing intrigue. It’s a really well set up series that gives you enough information while also seeding new ones to keep you coming back for more. I was particularly taken by the choice to definitively show the audience that the kid is telling the truth, but having most of the town think he’s nuts, including his biological mom. There are also really creative uses of some very familiar fairy tales, I especially liked how they incorporated Belle and the Beauty and the Beast story. It’s fun because they’re basing their stories on existing mythology while creating a whole new one, kind of like a comic book relaunch/reboot/whathaveyou.

We wound up finishing the first season at around 8:50 PM last night which was unfortunate timing because the first episode of the second season premiered at 8:00 PM. I will admit that I’m a little leery about watching this show as it comes out. The beauty of checking out an entire season on DVD or via streaming is that you see all the pieces in a relatively short amount of time meaning you remember a lot more of the connections. Plus, cliffhangers (either around commercials or between episodes) get resolved a lot faster. I like that immediate gratification.

On the other hand, I have been looking for my new Lost. When I say that I don’t just mean a series with weird elements and lots of drama, half of which is told via flashback. I mean the kind of show I get really excited about every single week, the kind of show I’m deeply invested in and love absorbing. Weird as this might sound, the closest thing I have to that right now is How I Met Your Mother — which is more like Lost than just about anything — and the various Challenges.

A good testament to how much we like the show is that we’re actually planning on giving up a show we usually watch in an effort to get on board with the episodes as they air. Usually we watch The Amazing Race, but as we talked about this very serious decision last night (I kid…mostly), I pointed out that it doesn’t really matter if you miss a season of AR because there’s no carry over. If we don’t like watching OUAT in real time, we can easily switch over and not miss much of anything. So, all we need to do now is watch the season premiere online and we’re good to go next Sunday.

Ad It Up: Skate Or Die, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Defender Of The Crown Ad

I believe in my heart that this ad would have blown my mind had I seen it as a kid. Why? Because I never read ad text and just looked at pictures. As such, I would have thought that there was some insane video game coming out featuring a skater kid, the Ninja Turtles AND a knight! Of course, that’s not really the case. This is an ad from Ultra Games showing off their upcoming games Skate Or Die, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Defender Of The Crown. I never played Defender, but I remember being disappointed by both Skate and TMNT. I loved the idea of both games, but they never lived up to what I wanted from games like that. I remember the Skate Or Die controls being really sensitive and tough to master — even more so because I didn’t own the game — and that first TMNT game was just kind of a mess. You spend half the time in a top-down driving thing and then pop down into the sewers where you’ve got some stiff side scrolling action. Ah well, both games acted as stepping stones that lead to some amazing games later on down the line like the TMNT arcade game and the Skate series.

Friday Fisticuffs: Police Story (1985)

Like a lot of people my age, I was introduced to Jackie Chan in the 90s when he was just breaking through in the States with flicks like Rumble In The Bronx. Some people knew him before that from imported action flicks, though I was not worldly enough to be one of them. I have since gone back and tried to watch as many of his earlier films as possible. Drunken Master really wowed me, but I’ve also become a fan of the first two Police Story films which did a really great job of mixing comedy and action, something Chan was and still is famous for.

In this flick, Jackie plays a cop named Jackie (at least in the English dub, which is how I watched the movie). He’s part of a team sent out to take down a mob boss and his goons, but as you might expect, things don’t go in his favor. The initial mission gets botched, people get away, witness need protecting, a trial happens and everything ends with a big crazy action sequence in a mall at the very end.

While the film is firmly in the action/comedy genre, I’d say it leans more towards action. Jackie gets pushed to the edge (after having some funnier moments with the lady witness he’s supposed to be protecting) and he really goes a little crazy, going so far as to kidnap the police chief and punch a man with glasses! Unlike some of his more recent films, though, you really get the sense that this Jackie could do something really dangerous or stupid and get himself in some serious trouble.

Which is interesting because the real Jackie Chan got into some real trouble during this film and almost died. That big mall scene I mentioned has a part where he slides down a big metal pole with Christmas lights around it. They had a higher wattage going through them than they should and his hands got burned on the way down. As if that wasn’t enough he stopped breathing after a stunt where he flipped through glass. Obviously, he wound up being okay, but that’s an element of these movies that I really do like: they look and feel dangerous. I don’t want to see real people get hurt, but if real people get hurt on purpose while getting paid to make a movie and it looks cool, I guess that’s not so bad. Talk about a moral loophole.

The best part about the movie, though, is that it doesn’t feel like action porn, like you’re just killing time until the next action setpiece. Chan is super charming and funny and fun to watch, he’s got good co-stars to work with and, oh yeah, the action scenes are bad ass. The opening scene was swiped pretty heavily in Bad Boys II and features a huge gun battle followed very closely by several cars literally driving though a shanty town on the side of the hill. It’s insane and awesome. That’s followed by several different fight scenes, but my personal favorite is the most obvious: the end one in the mall. Malls are such weird places anyway, you put any kind of genre movie in that setting and I’m sold.

So, if you think that Jackie Chan only makes goofy kid movies or co-stars with Chris Tucker, do yourself a favor and check out Police Story, Police Story 2 (which I’ll be watching next week) and Drunken Master (which I really need to review on here). They are fantastic and really show how great an action comedy can be without sacrificing elements of either genre.