It was on the tip of my tongue. Really.
Just a little hint was all I wanted, and I couldn’t find it. Back in the mid-eighties, I watched a mildly amusing (very mildly) film that had some nice quotable lines. I’d like to give proper credit when I use them, because while it’s fun to be obscure, it’s even better when you can prove you’re not making it up.(Continued on Page 39)
The good news: the Indiana Jones movies will be on DVD in November.
The bad news: the box set includes “Temple of Doom.”
Han shot first.
We never saw Newt’s family.
There was no World War II scene.
The government agents had guns.
Think of your favorite movies, the way you remember them. Pick them up on DVD, and there’s a disturbingly high chance that the movie you see will be different somehow. Maybe it’s subtle, adding a few minutes here and there that were originally chopped out for runtime or ratings issues. Maybe it’s dramatic, restoring huge chunks of material that were arbitrarily slashed away by a clueless studio. More and more often, though, it’s the result of a director revisiting his earlier work and simply changing his mind about how best to tell the story.
I call this “pissing in your whiskey,” because the director is insisting that the best work he could do ten years ago has soured in the barrel, and needs an infusion of mature creative juices.(Continued on Page 146)
Ever since DVDs were introduced, I’ve made a point of checking every few months to see if they’d gotten around to releasing Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. Tonight I discovered that it came out last month.
Sadly, it only seems to be available in pan-and-scan, not widescreen. Beats hell out of my old VHS copy, though.
Since this was also the day that the state of California permitted me to take my new Browning Buck Mark pistol home, today officially qualifies as A Good Day.
I’m horribly rusty with a pistol, though; at twenty-five yards I couldn’t get twenty shots into a group smaller than four inches. With a .22, no less. Blech.
Is it just my copy, or is the new Meaning of Life DVD horribly choppy on most DVD players? I suspect that it will work fine on the one that supports progressive output, but all the others fall apart any time there’s any significant movement on screen. Deeply disappointing, since they all play other discs fine.
Update: I have four DVD players — seven if you count the computers — and only one can show this disc without serious tearing in almost every scene. That is, of course, the one that has progressive output, so there’s no interlacing. This is the only DVD I own that looks this bad with standard interlaced video; I don’t know what they did in the mastering process, but it sucks.
Okay, most of them are lame, and many will grate on the nerves of anyone who has two brain cells to rub together, but this one was worth it.
Continuing my trend of finding out about DVD releases a month after they reach the stores, I tripped across a copy of Dirty Pair: Project Eden today. I practically knocked over the shelf in my haste to grab it, because my ancient bootleg VHS copy is almost unwatchable, and this is one of my favorite OAVs. There’s just something about scantily clad Women of Mass Destruction.
[The Dirty Pair Flash DVDs, and the recent graphic novel Run From The Future, on the other hand, do nothing for me; I don’t like the art, and I don’t like how they redefine the characters. The rest of the stuff is action/comedy gold, though.]
My other recent discovery was the John Carpenter cult classic They Live, best known for the lengthy and surprisingly realistic fight scene, in which two big guys beat the crap out of each other, and then spend the rest of the movie limping around like someone just beat the crap out of them. Loads of fun, and a far better alien-invasion story than just about anything else ever made in Hollywood.
None of the local retailers have They Live in stock. When I asked, one chain store manager complained “they ship me two copies of a great film, and thirty copies of crap I’ll never be able to sell.”
The local Borders cheerfully offered to order it for me, and since I’ve still got at least a dozen DVDs piled up to watch, I told them to go ahead. When I checked back today, I discovered that they expect it to take one month to get the order in, if it’s in their warehouse.
WTF? A recent release, and the best they can do is send the warehouse a polite note asking if they could pretty-please send one along sometime after Thanksgiving? Should I point out to them that borders.com is an Amazon storefront, and I could have it before the week is out?
At least, not at Borders. Nine days after special-ordering a copy of the They Live DVD, released in September, I received the following postcard:
“The publisher reports that this title is currently OUT OF STOCK. Your order has been CANCELED. Please check back in a few months if you are still interested. Thank you.”
Fortunately I was able to find a copy at Suncoast, and if that had failed, Amazon has it in stock. Hey, Borders, guess what I’m going to do the next time I can’t find something in your store?
Ready? A Major Motion Picture Event, written and directed by the man who brought us Independence Day, about global warming. The sort of global warming that causes a simultaneous breakout of tornados, tsunamis, and other CGI disasters all over the world (or at least the parts Hollywood is interested in), and then brings on an instant ice age.
I figure he’ll find a way to blame it on Bush.
Best. Fight Scene. Ever.
After all the trouble I went through to find a copy, I’m delighted to report that the new DVD of They Live is worth the effort. It’s a bare-bones budget release, but they didn’t skimp on the transfer. It’s crisp and clean, sounds great in Dolby Digital, and the film itself is every bit as entertaining as I remember.
The IMDB page currently refers to an older DVD release, produced by Image in 1998. The quality was apparently rather disappointing. I’m glad they did it right this time.
Stargate, the movie. Not what most people would think of as a typical Christmas Eve film, but I’m a bit burned out on anime after the ending of Mahoromatic (although I didn’t feel nearly as betrayed as Steven Den Beste, partially because I’d read the spoilers and they were even worse than the reality. But I digress). After polishing off my traditional Christmas dinner (pizza with pepperoni, onion, green peppers, and extra cheese, with a $20 tip for the delivery driver), I went through my piles of DVDs and picked this one.
Stargate holds a special place in my heart as one of the most godawful big budget science fiction films ever made. Magnificent visuals, but plot holes you could drive a truck through. I am constantly amazed that the producers of SG-1 managed to salvage a mostly coherent backstory out of this turkey.
It was quite a remarkable feat, really. They didn’t just keep the visuals and the names, they managed to use almost every element of the story, jettisoning only the most ludicrous aspects, and subtly tweaked what they kept. Better still, their new material fit in almost seamlessly, creating a rich universe ripe for exploration.
The biggest achievement of SG-1, however, was that it hit the ground running. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another SF series where the actors slipped into character so quickly and believably, and did things that made sense. Even with the occasional weak episode, the on-and-off casting, the rare slip into handwaved technobabble, and the Sci-Fi Channel’s habit of jerking the schedule around, it’s one of the few tv shows I actually look forward to.
I sort of follow Smallville (the first time in history that Lex Luthor has actually had a personality!). I mostly follow Angel (where do they find those women?!?). I usually watch Good Eats. I never miss Stargate: SG-1.
I’m told that the producers of the Stargate film felt horribly betrayed when MGM turned the property over to the people who developed SG-1. They wanted to make a feature-film sequel, taking the story in a completely different direction. To that, I can only say, “thank you, MGM”. I can’t shake the feeling that their sequel would have had all the charm of a flashback to the planet Zeist.
[much like the final episode of Mahoromatic; guess I can’t stop that digression after all. I suspect I’ll be gathering and extending the comments I’ve been exchanging with Steven on this one; I think I can beat his 5700 words and explain why I initially told him that the last five episodes “didn’t suck” :-)]
As expected, Keanu Reeves as Hellblazer’s John Constantine is going to suck. Even if you manage to get past the fact that they’ve made him an American and set the movie in Los Angeles.
Please stop doing this.
A remake of Walking Tall, starring The Rock. Kill me now.
…because it means I cannot remove my glasses to blur out horrible sights.
Starsky and Hutch, the movie, starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Snoop Dogg. Adding insult to injury, it’s A new comedy from the director of “Old School” and “Road Trip”.
The less said about The Son of The Mask, the better. Gouging out your own eyeballs with a spoon will be the summer fad, I think.
Latest rumor is that Britney Spears wants to be the next Bond girl.
I suppose the only sane response is to hold a competition to name her character. I nominate Trampona Streetcorner.
Could someone please explain to me how the film shown in this trailer could possibly deserve the title I, Robot? Or even how they managed to pull this story out of Asimov’s legacy? “Sci-fi action thriller suggested by the classic short story collection”, my ass!
Adding insult to injury, the official movie site is a steaming pile of Flash.
Why does every girl in this film look like a cheap knockoff of some other recently-popular teen actress? Or do they all look like that these days?
I refuse to believe that the original turkey made enough money to justify a sequel.
“The Rock” is set to star in Spy Hunter, a movie based on the classic arcade game, possibly directed by John Woo.
There’s a new teaser trailer for Constantine, the extremely loose adaptation of Hellblazer that stars Keanu Reeves as an American occult investigator in Atlanta. Who carries some kind of gold cross-shaped shotgun-thingy with a rotary magazine, that he occasionally lights with an eldritch Zippo.
I’m going by the teaser here, because I refuse to have anything to do with this turkey. It’s not a question of “will it suck?”, but “precisely how much will it suck?”. Based on the sub-Keanu-grade acting in the teaser, I think it’s going to be the worst comic-book movie yet. And it may hold the title for several years.
I wasn’t surprised to find that my receiver takes a second or so to sync up to a new digital audio stream; this is not an unusual flaw. I was surprised that Airport Express isn’t sending a continuous audio signal to the receiver when it’s active, and that iTunes sends each song in a playlist as a separate digital stream.
Net result? My Kenwood VR-407 loses the first second or so of every song unless I set iTunes’ crossfade option to at least four seconds. With that, the first song is still chopped, but as long as I don’t change tracks manually very often, the majority are ok.
This would be acceptable as a short-term workaround, even though I despise crossfade, except that the device isn’t terribly stable. Several times in the first hour, the audio stream simply locked up and had to be restarted.
Bottom line, until there are updates for both iTunes and Airport Express, it won’t get much use at my house. I could switch the connection to analog to avoid the crossfade, but that won’t do anything about the unstable connection.
Good: releasing Aladdin on DVD. Bad: including a video of Jessica Simpson singing “A whole new world”.
Wow, the eyes really are the windows of the soul.
Worth every penny I paid for the seven DVDs (but I am not, repeat not, buying the Noir otaku soap). There are a lot of things I could say about it, but I think it’s sufficient to say that the ending is driven entirely by the way the characters were developed during the course of the series. Nothing has to be explained in terms of “the director added it to make the plot work out” or “they needed a cool fight scene here, so X did Y”.
The plot does work out, and you definitely get the cool fight scenes, but it’s because the heroines and villains are doing what they should do, given the sort of people they are and the situations they’re in.
After viewing the latest trailers, I just can’t decide which film is going to be worse, Nicole Kidman’s Bewitched (yes, that Bewitched) or Keanu’s Constantine. For a long time, I thought Constantine would set a new low in franchise abuse, but then I was exposed to the concept of Kidman as Samantha.
I have to admit that I can’t think of a better Endora than Shirley MacLaine, although I doubt that will be enough to save it. For me, Kidman’s best film will always be BMX Bandits.
Once again (and hopefully for the last time), Lucas proves that his best movies are those written and directed by someone else. It’s very pretty, though.
It was difficult to keep from analyzing the gaping holes in plot and logic, but somehow I managed often enough to enjoy the experience. I suspect I’ll manage to watch it once more when it comes out on DVD, but that’s it. There’s not enough meat to it to reward multiple viewings.
Like many geeks, our entire office went out to see episode 3 today on the company dime. Reflecting on the experience during the drive home tonight, I realized that I finally understood Lucas’ vision.(Continued on Page 2311)
Coming this fall: The Legend of Zorro, sequel to The Mask of Zorro, once again starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It appears to come from the same school of sequelizing as The Mummy Returns, including the annoying child.
Co-written by the executive producers of Jack of All Trades and Alias, which tells me nothing. Same director, cinematographer, and sword master as the original movie, which I must confess are good things. What the trailer really seems to lack, though, is any hint of the charm of the first movie; both leads seem to be trying to mimic their earlier work without much success.
Just watched the high-resolution trailer for Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm (normal, boring Quicktime trailer here). The 720p version isn’t entirely smooth on my 1.25 GHz G4 Powerbook, but still quite gorgeous; upgrading to Quicktime 7 Pro and switching to full-screen mode improved it a bit (and, of course, enabled the various save and edit options as well).
The woman in the trailer who looks a lot like Claudia Black apparently isn’t, by the way.
Saturday, a friend was flipping through channels and left this running. I’d never gotten around to seeing it, since I generally consider Tarantino an overrated hack. After a few minutes, I was mentally apologizing to George Lucas for the things I’ve said about his ability to write dialogue. Fortunately, we were soon able to get back to something more interesting.
Last night, I got bored and found it on cable again, and watched some more. I felt like I was slowing down to watch a train wreck. I didn’t enjoy it at all, but a question just kept running through my mind: “has it hit bottom yet?”.
The answer was always “no”.
“…is a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie!”
I’m not entirely sure why, but it must be so. Perhaps it’s the unique vision of writer/director Kevin Munroe, as displayed in his previous hit, the D-grade console game Freaky Flyers. [disclaimer: I’ve never heard of this game, and apparently neither has anyone else]
Nice rendering in the trailer, though.
Just search for it on Google and Youtube. It’s terrifying, in a “do I really need a Japanese Xbox 360 right now” kind of way. If you find yourself downloading the 720p version of the trailer from that German torrent site, all hope is lost.
[Update: this site seems to have the best set of screenshots showing the gameplay. I like the dialogue in this one:
My initial response to the vintage-pulp poster for this film was, “oh, I don’t think so”.
My second response was “well, Christina Ricci’s been looking kind of hot, recently, so I should at least watch the trailer. After all, she is in chains.”
After watching the trailer, I’ve moved to “this could be fun.”
I own a Toshiba SD-K700 DVD player. It’s a nice DVD player, and it’s never given me any trouble. Until tonight.
Tonight I attempted to watch Casino Royale, and it wouldn’t load. So I switched to Stranger Than Fiction, and that wouldn’t load, either. Then I tried The Prestige, which worked fine. All of my other DVDs still worked, too. (and yours worked in another player)
Three brand new releases, and the two that don’t work say “Sony Pictures” on them. Hmm…
[Update: the story has finally hit Slashdot]
Why it might not suck:
No, not that one. Or that one. Or, well, anything you were planning to see this summer.
The teaser trailer for the new Get Smart movie should have spent a lot less time on Max, and a lot more time on 99 (Anne Hathaway). Or 23 (The Rock). Or the Chief (Alan Arkin). Or even the empty phone booth (uncredited), because the actor they cast for Max just doesn’t have it.
Jim Carrey in Horton Hears A Who. At least it’s not live action.
Jodie Foster romances the stone? It could work.
Scott informed me that I’d managed to get this song stuck in his head, and it seemed unfair to make him the only one. This is the entire Hello!Project army, circa New Years 2007. The big girls come on stage about 2 minutes in.
When confronted with the concept of Winona Ryder as Spock’s mother, it shorted across the generation gap.
Not my education, you understand. I merely quote. More here.
J: My pardon; did I break thy concentration?
Continue! Ah, but now thy tongue is still.
Allow me then to offer a response.
Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray.
J: What country dost thou hail from?
J: How passing strange, for I have traveled far,
And never have I heard tell of this What.
What language speak they in the land of What?
J: The Queen’s own English, base knave, dost thou speak it?
J: Then hearken to my words and answer them!
Describe to me Marsellus Wallace!
JULES presses his knife to BRETT’s throat
J: Speak ‘What’ again! Thou cur, cry ‘What’ again!
I dare thee utter ‘What’ again but once!
I dare thee twice and spit upon thy name!
Now, paint for me a portraiture in words,
If thou hast any in thy head but ‘What’,
Of Marsellus Wallace!
B: He is dark.
J: Aye, and what more?
B: His head is shaven bald.
J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?
JULES strikes and BRETT cries out
J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?
J: Then why didst thou attempt to bed him thus?
B: I did not!
J: Aye, thou didst! O, aye, thou didst!
Thou hoped to rape him like a chattel whore,
And sooth, Lord Wallace is displeased to bed
With anyone but she to whom he wed.
Marshall, Will, and Holly reunite to pretend they’re adapting Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. In 3-D. This doesn’t look like a winner.
The trailers for Hellboy 2 may or may not be advertising a good action flick. One thing they’re definitely advertising is the creeping doom that is political correctness.
Take a good look at this frame:(Continued on Page 3074)
When did The Rock become a pop-eyed cartoon dad? Because I’d swear that in the absolutely dreadful trailer for Race To Witch Mountain, his facial expressions were produced by animators.
We’re planning a bad-movie marathon for some upcoming weekend. I’ve already acquired DVDs of some of my more memorable college rentals (in particular, Video Vixens and The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak)), but our planning reminded me of two others that weren’t available last time I checked:
…and now they’re mine!
When we got down to my house after seeing Spamalot, Nellie wanted to see Holy Grail. As I dug through the DVDs piled on my shelves, she was alternately amused and surprised by the contents of my collection, until I reached the one that turned out to be right above Holy Grail. I showed it to her, and got the reaction I expected: IT MUST BE MINE! (for a brief loan, at least).
When I told the story to Dave at lunch today, his blank stare reminded me how crucial a few years can be when it comes to pop culture. It had simply never occurred to me that someone in my usual circle of friends would never have heard of this:(Continued on Page 3354)
After watching the Avatar trailer, I have only one thing to say: if you’re going to remake Pocahontas as a big-budget SF film, you could at least license the music from Disney.
The gist of this and other reviews is that it’s exactly what the trailers promised: gorgeous graphics demos strung together by a weak, derivative story that hits you over the head with a whopping big moral sledgehammer.
Much thanks to the Duck for his review of this film, which led me to include the DVD in my latest order from Amazon Japan. I was able to find a set of soft-subs for it that seem to be reasonably accurate (and were apparently used to subtitle the bootleg DVDs that people were selling on Amazon US for a while). It’s a gorgeous, ugly, moving, and quite sad film, and Joe Hisiashi’s score suits the material perfectly.
The few non-Duck English reviews I’ve found come at it with an axe to grind, making them basically useless for evaluating the film. Oddly, they all seem to think that no one outside of Japan would be interested, which says more about them than it does about the film.
It’s not available on BluRay, but the image quality is still superb (Handbrake ripped it at 850x364). Sample screengrab below, from late in the film.(Continued on Page 3470)
I’ve always thought of the phrase “comeback album” as meaning “first release in a long time from someone who’s dropped out of sight”. In the K-pop universe, it apparently means something quite different. Girls’ Generation released two incredibly successful EPs last year, had a major concert tour, released a single with a popular boy band, is constantly on television in one way or another, and one of the members is even the lead in the current theater production of Legally Blonde.
Everywhere you look, though, you see talk about their eagerly-anticipated “comeback” album, Oh!. Just like the Fall ’09 Genie EP was their previous comeback, and the Spring ’09 Gee EP was the comeback before that. The anticipation makes sense to me; they’re talented and hot, and their label invests in quality songwriting, choreography, costuming, and career development. It’s just that “comeback” seems to have crossed the ocean with only its literal meaning.
So, on to Oh!:
They’re performing this song constantly on television, in all three of the outfits featured, as well as little white tennis dresses with knee socks (go ahead and look; you know you want to), but that’s not all. The fans had barely recovered from the surprise ending of the video when they started performing the second song from the album, Show! Show! Show!. I could do without the excessively curly hair extensions and the “hats”, and to be honest, it’s not my favorite musical style, but I can watch them all day long…(Continued on Page 3509)
I know there’s a market preference for translating foreign movie titles (with some interesting rules and exceptions), so that, for instance, Sleepless in Seattle becomes “If we should meet by chance…”, etc, but I think you’ve really missed the point with this one:
For the kanji-impaired, that’s “Old Man Carl’s Flying House”.
Overheard in the office break room:
“Yeah, did you see the new John Carter movie? I guess it was a remake, from like before Star Wars, before Star Trek.”
Okay, maybe I’ll just get the first one.
I could eat a pile of VHS tapes and puke a better list than this. Some of the movies do belong on the list, but in wildly different positions; others are, um, kinda sorta not action movies, or kinda sorta not good.
Timerider is coming out on Blu-ray in March. Does this mean that we may see an HD release of Fred Ward’s finest movie, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins?
“…even in the Eighties!”
Back in June, I expressed my envy of the fact that Japan got a DVD release of Megaforce, and we didn’t. So, guess what finally came out in September in the US?
According to Gene Wilder, Harrison Ford’s part in The Frisco Kid was originally intended for John Wayne.
I really want to see that movie.
Okay, I agree they’re both Blu-ray discs, but other than that, I don’t see how you got from Casablanca and African Queen to this.
Like most people, I skipped the theatrical release of Disney’s John Carter. Watching it for free last night confirmed that this was the correct decision. The story’s a mess; either I dozed off during key plot points, or they left them out. I suspect the latter, but have no desire to go back through it again and find out. Odd pacing, too, and perhaps the worst-integrated flashback I’ve ever seen; it really felt like a few seconds from a completely different movie, and I briefly wondered if it was a glitch in the playback.
I’m glad it tanked, because I really wouldn’t want to see what they’d do to the rest of the novels if they made a sequel. There are plenty of flaws in the original stories, and things that wouldn’t translate well to a modern film, but the choices they made for this one just didn’t work. It felt like they deleted about twenty minutes of story-telling to get the runtime down to “way too long”.
While watching The Wolverine with friends on Saturday, I caught a bit of Hello!Project music in the background about an hour in. When Logan tracks down Noburo to question him, he finds him partying with two European girls, and this is their sexy party music:
(for a brief moment, I misidentified it as Sade; I really hadn’t noticed the stylistic similarity before)
Oh, by the way, this being an H!P group (the 2005 shuffle unit Sexy Otonajan (“Sexy Grownups?”)), two of the girls are 12 years old, with heavily padded bras.
This arrived. What makes it special? It’s widescreen, not the pan-and-scan that was released in the US.
Audio is English, with Japanese subtitles.
I just learned that there is a limited-edition Bluray box set of the complete Columbo series, for the Japanese market. It includes the English audio tracks, though, so the only snag for most people would be navigating the menus.
It comes in a cigar box.
It looks like there will be a UK release in July, at least.
First words in the new Star Wars teaser: “Real sets. Practical effects.”
Implied: “A writer. A director.”
Not the dubious Chinese version, not the unsourced-import versions available on Amazon US, and sadly not an actual US release, but the new UK transfer that was released two days ago, and was waiting on my desk today.
I’ll have to hook my gaming laptop up to my TV, since it’s region B. After that I’ll rip it, as I did the Remo Williams UK Blu-ray, so I can watch key scenes as needed.
A movie that was more entertaining than its premise promised. Zero rewatch value, and about as quotable as a phone book, but a decent way to pass an evening, and free on Amazon Prime Video.
It really felt like I was watching a loud remake of Highlander. I kept quoting MacLeod and The Kurgan, and was honestly disappointed that the scientist/hostage/babe didn’t get to reenact Brenda’s bit from the final battle. I was so looking forward to Our Hero saying “what kept you?”.
In good news, CloneBD’s most recent update fixes the video problems I had copying the UK Bluray of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, so with the region-coding stripped, I can now watch it on my big TV without plugging in my laptop.
In dubious news, they’re making a new Destroyer movie, with the director promising to follow the novels more closely. Fans of the books mostly hated the movie, but the origin story in the novels is pretty awful. In fact, it took 10+ books for the formula to settle down and develop the relationship between Remo and Chiun, and you don’t have time for that in a movie. So if it’s going to reintroduce the character with an origin, it can’t be the origin from the books, and it can’t take a dozen adventures to build up a relationship between the leads.
The fact that the director involved is also doing remakes of Predator and Doc Savage doesn’t increase my confidence at all.
[Update: still doesn’t work on a Playstation 3, so I suspect the video has the PAL framerate; I’ll have to use one of the CloneBD options that reencodes the video if I want it to play on less-capable machines, but meanwhile, it works on my TV. Now to test the rip of Buckaroo Banzai…]
Saw the trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie. The nicest thing I can say is that I hope the movie is nothing like it.
Note that the trailer opens with the words “30 years ago, four scientists saved New York”, which suggests that the people responsible never saw the original.
70-year-old Hiroshi Fujioka reprises his role as the original Kamen Rider in a new movie (while also appearing in this year’s big NHK samurai drama, Sanada Maru, which I’ve caught a few episodes of).
Hopefully the soft-subs I found for the DVD still line up with the new release. I don’t see anything about changes to the film.