Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Made You A Muxtape: Summer '08

Dicking around with Muxtape, I made a nice little mix, perfect for an afternoon kicking it back on the patio with a book and a beer. Now if only it actually reached a temperature in Chicago where I could be on my patio without a parka....

*Most, if not all, of these songs are available on eMusic, so if you hear something you like, head on over there and pick them up (if you're not a member, you can get 25 free tracks for no obligation up front, it's a great deal).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quickly: Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I liked it. Perhaps not as much as I wanted to, but that much enjoyment would have proably required at least one change in pants during hte film, so perhaps it's fo rhte best. It certainly fits in with the other three and Roger Ebert put it the best as to their order of quality:

"All you can do is compare one to the other three. And even then, what will it get you? If you eat four pounds of sausage, how do you choose which pound tasted the best? Well, the first one, of course, and then there's a steady drop-off of interest. That's why no Indy adventure can match "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981). But if "Crystal Skull" (or "Temple of Doom" from 1984 or "Last Crusade" from, 1989) had come first in the series, who knows how much fresher it might have seemed? True, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" stands alone as an action masterpiece, but after that the series is compelled to be, in the words of Indiana himself, "same old same old." Yes, but that's what I want it to be."

So let's just say it was still some tasty sausage.

Quick breakdown of the problems I had with the flick (THAR BE SPOILERS BELOW MATEY):

  • -They're pushing Shia LeBouf to be the "next" Indiana a little too hard in the movie. Not wholly over the top (ie. Jar Jar), but just enough to grate a little.

  • -This is my damage: why do I find aliens less believeable than Hindu Stones, The Lost Arc & The Holy Grail?

  • -I don't think Indiana Jones shot anyone at all.

  • -In Last Crusade you had the perfect ending to the series: Indiana & Co. literally riding off into the sunset. To justify a next installment, I felt they had to improve upon that ending. They didn't.

  • And to leave on a high note, what I liked:

  • -Karen Allen & Harrison Ford's back and forth dialoge was really good. I'd pay to see them together in a screw-ball comedy of some type.

  • -Along with that, Harrison Ford actually looked like he was enjoying himself, something I haven't seen from him in a movie since, probably, the last Indiana Jones movie.

  • -All Cate Blanchett was missing was moustache to twirl. The best villain this series has had since Belloch and the Creepy German Dude in Raiders.

  • -Come on, no matter what, it's Fucking Indiana Jones. I mean, just thinking about the theme music makes me want to go see it again. Here, take a test, sing the lyrics to the theme (below, from here) and try and stop your body from involuntarily getting up and walking ot the theatre:

    In-di-ana fuck-ing Jones

    In-di-ana moth-er-fuck-ing Jones

    In-di-ana fuck-ing Jones

    Bite my ball-sack you Na-zis I’m In-di-ana fuck-ing Jones
  • Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Three New (ish) DC Comics

    The Brave & The Bold #13

    Oh TB&TB, what shall become of you? Oh, I know, cancellation. Anyway, here's what happened with this book, the fans said, "Hey DC why can't you give us a solid, fun, action comic with star creators, star characters, that doesn't require vast knowledge of continuity, and is shockingly free of decapitations?" DC's reply was, "Here you go." The Fans then said, "Never mind, I think Mark Millar has Mr. Fantastic punching a baby this week somewhere else."

    Anyway, on to the issue at hand. Now that the story arc that was told over the first 12 issues is over, Mark Waid is filling out the remainder of his run with a few done-in-one issues, this one featuring art by Jerry Ordway. This is a fun little murder mystery starring Batman and the Golden Age Flash and is pretty much exactly everything people say they want out of comics. It's a full story, well told, with action and easily the best bit of dialogue I've read this month:

    Yes, that is geriatric Flash yelling at those DAMN SAMUROIDS TO STAY OFF HIS LAWN!!

    Booster Gold #9

    After reading Calvin and Sallyp's raves (maniacal raves on the part of Sally) about this title, I decided to give it a shot, as I was paring down my pull list. Booster Gold is a bit of a sticky wicket. Despite a newer costume design, he's still the most 1980's of superheroes. I mean, just say his name and you'll induce giggles in anyone who didn't love the Justice League International days, indeed, it even seemed like DC had given up on him, making him only the latest of the members of that team that were sacrificed to event-o-mania (the hit list: Blue Beetle, Rocket Red, Max Lord, Ralph & Sue Dibney, and coming soon: J'onn J'onzz and Batman). But instead, they turned it on it's ear and gave him a very good character arc in 52 and launched this series, which I promptly waited for trade on, and that will finally arrive next week.

    Anyway, this is another one of those series fans seem to have been clamoring for. Nobody gave a flying fig about Ted Kord until he bought it in the run-up to Infinite Crisis and suddenly half of the world was clamoring for them to bring him, along with the rest of the JLI, back to life. Well here you go fans, now buy the damn book.

    Blue Beetle #26

    For our final exercise in fan-service, we have Blue Beetle. This is another one of those books people have been asking for, for years. It's a new title, featuring a young, Hispanic super-hero that is appealing to both teens and older fans alike. It's fun, well paced and oftenly hilarious. Of course, no one is buying it.

    ANYWAY, in order to broaden their fan base for this series, they decided to do an issue with 90% Spanish dialogue. Mind you, this is appropriate, with Jamie (Blue Beetle) taking his new girlfriend to his family reunion, most of whom only speak Spanish. Unfortunately, I don't speak a word of Spanish, but the art makes most of the action clear, and the english-language script is reprinted in the back of the issue. It's a well done, but it left me rather cold, mostly because I'm a moron who doesn't understand a word of Spanish. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a xenophobic jackass like this guy, and I totally support their reason for doing this issue, this way, but it just wasn't my favorite of the bunch. I would hope that DC makes an effort next year during Free Comic Book Day to put out this book, as I have a feeling it would bring in some new readers. Mind you, that assumes that DC is still publishing this book in one year's time, which is, at best, a 50/50 proposition.

    Anyway, that's my round-up of the low selling DC titles I've read in the last month. I've been debating on whether to plug into the blogohedron zeitgeist and take a pass at Secret Invasion, but I just can't do it. Here's hoping Final Crisis turns out well, Grant Morrison, make like Flash Gordon and save us all.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Movie Review: Speed Racer

    So, finding myself with a freed-up late-afternoon yesterday, I decided to go see a movie. Though Speed Racer was singing to me with the siren call of the explodo, I was determined to see a "good movie" and looked at David Mamet’s* kung-fu flick Redbelt as a good opportunity. Well, after reading Kevin Church’s lukewarm review of Redbelt and two trusted reviewers' raves about Herr Racer, I decided that I could take a chance on the Wachowski Brothers (er…whatever they are now).

    WARNING: Speed Racer contains the following: Jumping cars, exploding cars, racecar vikings, ninjas, John Goodman, John Goodman fighting ninjas, Shaft, a character named Inspector Detector, kung-fu, British gangsters, a distinct lack of physical laws, a car-mounted catapult that fires beehives, piranhas, a chimpanzee wearing a tuxedo, and candy…Dear God the candy. If any of the above sound too absurd for you to suspend your disbelief, well, stay home and watch some Bergman. For the rest of you, buckle up.

    I’ll say it first off, this is not a great movie, or really a movie at all. It’s a spectacle, the colors, the quick cuts, the sheer insanity of many of the visuals that borders on the incoherent. At times I had to remind myself to blink because I could feel my contacts drying up on my eyes because I was staring so intently. 12 hours after walking out of the theater, I’m hard pressed to remember exactly all of what I saw, but I know it was cool. I realize that this sounds as if I’m damning it with faint praise, but this movie feels as if it was made for and by 12-year-olds. From the early, imaginary scenes featuring crayon-animated dream sequences, to the candy-coated visuals, to the use of the word “ass” as if it’s the most damning swear of them all, I can totally see kids across the nation watching this movie on HBO hundreds of times on the living room floor as their Mothers beg them to, for God’s sake, go outside and play. It’s a next generation Karate Kid.

    As for the visuals, the CGI doesn’t look quite real, but it’s not supposed to so it’s not jarring. Complaining that the racing scenes don’t look photo-real is like comparing Bugs Bunny to a real rabbit, sure they’re not the same, but Bugs is a hell of a lot more fun.

    Yes, the “plot” scenes between races tend to drag a bit, but they’re still not bad, the actors do the best with what they’re given and the fact that they hired several very good actors attest to the fact that they were at least trying.

    Overall, if you can put your brain into the right frame of mind for this flick, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy yourself immensely. If not, go see Made of Honor and suffer for your so-called maturity.

    *Update: If you're still wondering whether this movie is for you, here are the first seven minutes:

    Between this movie and the sheer enjoyability of Iron Man, I have a feeling this could be a very fun summer at the multiplex.

    *Quick Mamet link, I was amused to see that the character Sparky was played by the same actor (the awesomely named Kick Gurry) that played the mercenary Jones in Mamet’s totally fantastic Spartan. A movie you should watch right now, if you haven’t seen it before.