Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight

I have finally seen the film that everyone has been talking about for months. I have read into the hype and fell into it hard core and what did I think about the finished product? Well for starters it was a little long, but other than that ---it was Effing awesome!!!As most people know I am a big fan of comics and especially Batman. I love the graphic novels by Writer, Jeph Loeb and artist, Tim Sale and I was thrilled to see director Chris Nolan use their material as reference in the new movie. As you know from the trailers that the Dark Knight revolves around the trinity of Gotham's favorite sons; Batman/Bruce Wayne, (Christian Bale) Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and new D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). They have hit hard against the Mob bosses and criminals in Gotham and have received a hard hit back from one of the city's most bizarre, dangerous and psychotic villains ever, the Joker (Heath Ledger). For every action there is an opposite, even more powerful reaction, as the Joker's terror fueled rampage over the city can attest. Alfred (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) add their experience to the film as they try to assist Batman in keeping the balance as he finds frustration in the random malicious acts of the Joker. The Joker doesn't want money, he doesn't want power, he is a true anarchist. Throw in a love triangle between Dent, Bruce and Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and you've got yourself an epic action adventure. One of my two favorite sequences had to be the kick ass Batman extradition plan to bring a Mob boss back to Gotham and the explosive chase sequence with the Batpod. I also loved that they allowed Batman to do some real detective work as well. (They kind of dropped that element in the first film.)What more can you really say about Heath Ledger's next to last performance as the Clown Prince of Crime, I would say even if he had not passed away I would still be advocating for an Oscar nomination. He truly embodied the nature of the Joker and I truly believe that had Jack Nicholson's Joker been in this film he would have shit his pants in fear at least once. I would also say that Aaron Eckhart also deserves a notice for his heartbreaking turn as Harvey Dent/Two Face. Chris Nolan has truly put together a great adventure dealing with various hero/villain archetypes and then breaking them down. I know people are saying it's the best superhero movie ever but it's just so different from any of them it may have to go in a different category. I loved Iron Man earlier in the year but I find it hard to compare the two films they truly are as different as night and day.I really hope they can make a successful trilogy of Batman films with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale and I am looking forward to number 3--maybe they should use the title from Jeph Loeb's and Tim Sale's sequel to The Long Halloween and call the next film Dark Victory. I think it could work. If you haven't seen the movie, what the hell are you waiting for go now! I still want to see it in IMAX and you should want to see it in IMAX, I hear it is mind blowing on the super big screen.

Grade 5 Buckets

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bobby Murcer

Last week we lost another Yankee great, Bobby Murcer. Starting in 1965, Bobby was a Yankee playing with greats like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Thurman Munson. He left the Yankees for a few seasons but came back in 1979. Murcer was a 5 time MVP. When he retired in the early 80's he, like Phil Rizzuto, went into Sportscasting in the booth for the New York Yankees where he has been for two decades.When Yankee Catcher Thurman Munson died in early August of 1979, Bobby Murcer, a good friend to Thurman gave one of the eulogies at the service. Later that day he and his fellow Yankees hopped a plane back to New York to play the Baltimore Orioles. Billy Martin wanted Murcer to take the day off, but Bobby would have none of that. He was determined to play for Thurman and that he did. After the Yankees were down 4 - 0 Bobby took the game into his hands and hit a 3 run homer in the 7th. He then hit a 2 run single in the ninth making another great Yankee comeback one of the most memorable in history. Bobby never played with that bat again he instead gave it to Thurman's widow Diana.Bobby lost his battle to Brain Cancer on July 12. He was gracious and friendly as many Yankee and former Yankee can attest and his voice will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

After walking out of the theatre for Hellboy 2 I kept thinking that it didn't really feel like I was watching a Hellboy movie. You might have heard that director Guillermo del Toro will be tackling Middle Earth for the Hobbit and a Hobbit sequel and it looked like he was filling out his resume with this film.In this sequel, Hellboy, (Ron Perlman) is struggling with his secret super hero status at B.P.R.D., the elite government organization that deals with the occult and of course, giant monsters. His romance with Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) appears on the rocks and he can't seem to get his act together, he has way too many cats, makes his place a mess. He's constantly trying to piss off his boss Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) by allowing himself to be photographed while in the field. The big baddie this time is Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) an elf who is pissed about his station in life. Apparently his kind ruled the earth much like the elves of Middle Earth and because of a pact made with mankind he's forced to sulk in the sewers of New York. Of course we wouldn't have a movie if he respected the pact as he unleashes some crazy looking monsters on the Big Apple. Del Torro has mentioned that he loves Ray Harryhausen and his marvelous monsters, which if you look closely, you can see some nice homages to the monster movies of the past. Wait till you see the Golden Army unleashed, very cool. Also I really enjoyed the Street Fair for monsters it was a little of the Catina from Star Wars with a dash of Harry Potter.Hellboy was good fun much better than the first one. They really allowed Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) to get some more screen time and a little romance with the Prince's sister, Nuala (Ana Walton). I really enjoyed the new addition to B.P.R.D., Johann Krauss, (voice: Seth MacFarlane and John Alexander) a funny German who was once human but now only exists as a cloud in a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea type wet suit. The story wasn't as compelling as it could have been and it still hasn't truly been able to capture the quirkiness of the comic series but it was very enjoyable just the same.

Grade: 3 Buckets

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Pixar has done it again. After last years cooking rat in Ratatouille, the mouse house has returned with another modern animated classic. Last year at San Diego Comic Con they had an event where Ben Burtt, the sound effects guru for Lucasfilm, demonstrated the new effects for the latest Pixar film. Now this guy Ben Burtt has been around for a long time. He has worked on all of the Star Wars films, all of the Indiana Jones films, Dark Crystal, Willow, E.T., Munich and now Wall-E. This is the guy who created the sounds for R2-D2 in Star Wars, and now he's taking these talents to Pixar to create the first animated hero that mostly talks in beeps a blips and is only capable of saying his name.Wall-E was really a fun film from start to finish. The first forty minutes reveal so much about his character and the environment he is placed in without the trappings of any dialogue, except for his TV and various electronic gadgets that speak. It's truly amazing what they were able to do with so little. Wall-E is a trash compactor droid that is supposed to clean up this dusty and crap filled earth until the humans return to reclaim the empty planet. Wall-E is the only compactor droid still operating and over time he has developed emotions and the strongest one is isolation and loneliness. His only friend is what has to be the cutest cockroach I have ever seen.Wall-E finally gets some company when a mean machine lady robot named Eve starts digging around his stash looking for soil samples. Wall-E falls instantly in love with her and he ends up following her to the last Earth vessel. Now throughout the film we get a taste of the Earth before the fall. The Earth it seems was completely controlled by corporations and the President of Earth, Fred Willard, doing his best George W. Bush. The humans are fat and lazy sitting in floating chairs that take them everywhere they need to go. They are completely helpless without computers and droids. This kind of reminded me a bit of that movie Idiotcracy by Mike Judge that came out a few years ago. It was critically panned and yes it was a stupid movie, but there was some brilliance there in the foreshadowing of our nation becoming too lazy and too unmotivated to do even the simplest task.Wall-E is a light hearted thoughtful animated film and if you have kids between the ages of 3 and 35 they are going to love it.

Grade: 4 Buckets

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Superhero Smackdown Tournament: Round 2 - Strength

(Click on bracket to embiggen!)
Time for Strength bracket Round 2. It looks like 2. Spider-Man and 1. Superman are headed for a collision course in the Elite 8. But first Supes has a date with a nutty anarchist while Spider-Man has to contend with the savior of the universe.

1. Superman Vs. 9. V For Vendetta

"Remember, remember the 5th of November , the Gunpowder Treason and Plot, I know of no reason Why Gunpowder Treason should ever be Forgot."
With these words V has struck a blow to old blue boy by recruiting Supes' (Christopher Reeve) arch nemesis the uber intelligent Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) to his cause of destruction. Lex has devised a way to blow up Parliament with a Kryptonite bomb. Although Supes has a plan of his own he has learned of the plot from Evie Hammond (Natalie Portman) who appreciates what V is trying to do but doesn't fully agree with his methodology. Plus she's still kind of peeved about that month of mental and physical torture that V felt she truly needed to understand him. V has laced his blades with Kryptonite and has decided to face the Man of Steel in front of Parliament. V cuts Supes deep as old blue boy tries to talk some sense into V. He will have none of it he thinks Supes is the establishment and, of course, in his mind the establishment must go. Superman is bleeding but he is determined he get V talking. V uses his verbiage as he valiantly and vociferously boasts his propaganda. His weakness has been discovered as his soliloquy goes on for two minutes too long. Giving time for Supes to dismantle the bomb with his super speed. He melts the knives with his heat vision and locks Luthor up with V in a cell. To my knowledge V is still talking.

Winner: Superman

4. Dick Tracy Vs. 5. X-Men

Tracy (Warren Beatty) isn't one to sit on his laurels as he puts on his yellow trenchcoat and hits the streets on the hunt for mutants. Their power frightens the chief so he sends his best officer out to bring them all in. Tracy does have the Kid (Charlie Korsmo) and Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly) helping him out. He finds Toad (Ray Park) first as he hops around Tracy snatching at his hat with his sticky tongue. But Tracy is quicker than Toad thinks as he grabs hold of the tongue and tosses him into a dumpster. As soon as Toad comes to he finds himself shackled and caged in the county lock-up. On his way to Professor X's mansion he finds himself surrounded by three tough mutants, Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman(Shawn Ashmore) and Cyclops (James Marsden). The Kid strikes first but finds himself quickly in a coma as Rogue gives him just a little kiss. Tracy opens fire as Iceman freezes his pistol. A shot rings out from the rooftops hitting Iceman in the shoulder. It's the Blank Aka. Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) she takes another shot at Rogue. But this time Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) steps in to take the bullet. All of a sudden the Blank takes off her mask and starts singing a song right on the rooftop. Tracy turns all of his attention to her, man he loves to watch her perform. It gives Cyclops the moment he needs to hit Tracy with a full blast from his optic lens. Tracy hits the dirt angering Breathless. She picks up the rifle to take another shot at Cyclops but before she can pull the trigger....SNNNKKT...Wolverine guts her like a fish. The X-Men have turned the tide on Tracy and put him behind bars for once.

Winner: X-Men

3. Sin City Vs. 6. Blade

Blade (Wesley Snipes) decides to take a visit to Basin City cause he heard about a flesh eater named Kevin (Elijah Wood). Blade was a little pissed when he found out that Kevin was just a weird cannibal kid with long fingernails. Blade didn't like being chomped on and makes quick work of Kevin with his Katana. But he's not done yet he hears something that sounds like a freight train. Blade is punched into a wall by the Goliath Marv (Mickey Rourke). Marv pulls Blade out of the rubble by his head and slams him into the pavement. Blade leaps up from the ground and cuts off Marv's hand off. Marv doesn't even hesitate he uses his good hand to crush Blade's skull. Marv picks up his severed hand he gets his girl Wendy (Jaime King) to sew it back on. Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who was waiting in the van, tries to help his student by firing off a few rounds at Marv. Marv doesn't move he just smiles at Hartigan (Bruce Willis) who happens to be pointing his hand cannon at Whistler's noggin. BOOM! Whistler no more.

Winner: Sin City

2. Spider-Man Vs. 10. Flash Gordon

Doctor Zarkov (Topol) figures out how to get Flash and the gang back to earth from planet Mongo but his trajectory is off and they end up in Midtown Manhattan with Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow) in tow. Ming uses his magic ring to convince Flash that the startled New Yorkers are Ming's Royal guardsmen. Flash starts lashing out at the crowd. All of a sudden the Webbed Wonder himself swoops down to kick Flash away. Apparently Ming has entranced Zarkov and Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) as well. Dale kicks and spits at the crowd until Mary Jane Watson(Kirsten Dunst) steps up to knock her lights out. Spidey whips Zarkov into a tangled web of craziness. The Queen score for Flash begins again as Flash gets pumped. But it looks like Spidey can get jazzed on a cheezy soundtrack too. He unleashes the fury on Flash. After he's done with him he rips off Ming's weird headpiece. Ming tries to use the ring against Spidey but, unfortunately for Ming, Spidey ain't that susceptible. He just laughs and takes the ring from the sad bald man with the funny mustache. He dumps him in the East River.

Winner: Spider-Man