Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"By Odin's Beard!" - or Something Close to It!

Branagh promoting the film at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con
As of this past weekend's box-office receipts Thor is the #1 movie in America, finally giving Kenneth Branagh the blockbuster director's status he's deserved for over two decades.

Similarly, it has bumped the Mighty Avenger's status from B-List to at least A-Minus-List notoriety a feat that Marvel has been trying to pull off in the five decades since the God of Thunder took to the pages of Journey into Mystery #83.

Although the "general public" has been categorized as being unaware of Thor's presence up until his star-making turn at the cinemas, Thor has been floating around the periphery of pop culture providing some entertainment and quite a few chuckles to those of us who grew-up knowing and loving Longbeard's Son.

Here's a few of my personal favorite Thor appearances in the media that pre-date his super-stardom:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last Bit of Blarney

It's the last day of Irish American History Month, and if you haven't checked out the post I did over at MTV Geek about Irish Cartoon characters you can check it out over here.

But before hopping over there, close the month off right with, perhaps, the best rendition of "Danny Boy" ever recorded... Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson and Animation

Over at the SAC Blog I posted a brief look at an animated life (in more ways than one.)

Click on the screen shot from The Jackson 5ive to dance on over:

Friday, May 8, 2009

On Some Outta Space S#!t, Like You Watch Star Trek... WOO-HAA!!!

When you're faced with the unsolvable problem of 43 years of labyrinthine continuity; 5 television series; countless novels, comic books, collateral and expanded universe lit; and a rabidly loyal fan base protecting a dead property... what do you do?!? What do you do?!? Well, in the case of Star Trek, you do exactly what JJ Abrams did, and pull a James Tiberius Kirk - you throw out the problem and rewrite the rules... and you do it in a way that everyone wins the un-winnable.

Bravo, Mr. Abrams. Bra-fucking-vo.

Without getting too much into the spoiler-y details of the plot (which gets better the more one thinks about it),
Star Trek indeed re-introduces us to the original crew of the Starship Enterprise, as all of the hype, news stories and commercials have promised it would for the past couple of years -- and it does so in a way that makes these characters accessible to the generations of the uninitiated that have sprung up and are just looking for a decent action flick, while retaining the characterizations, catchphrases and everything that fans of the original love about the 1966 series.

Most of the actors, especially Karl Urban (who as Leonard "Bones" McCoy is completely unrecognizable, if you only know him as Eomir from
Lord of the Rings) do it in a way that rises above an impression of the original performer; and some of the characters, like Uhura, are given so much more to do than their 1960's counterpart that they in fact are another person completely. Zachary Quinto is Spock, by the way. Besides his uncanny resemblance to young Leonard Nimoy, which must have had the septagenarian thinking he was actually having a trippy mirror flashback to the 1960s while he was on the set filming his supporting role as "Spock Prime" (their credit, not mine), Quinto owns the part by putting that quiet slow burn of emotion that fans of Heroes have known for 2.5 seasons to better use than its had in any of the last 20 or so episodes of that dying phenomenon.

The only actor in the mix that I feel bad for is Chris Pine, and its not because he didn't pull his weight. He was fantastic as this verison's Jim Kirk, but he's not Shatner. Unfortunately, a lot of people forget that Shatner wasn't "Shatner" either, at least not until he learned how to laugh at himself in the late 70s/early 80s. In fact, much like the Late Vegas Elvis, Shatner's Kirk wasn't even a good joke until all of the horrible impressions of him catapulted the character into infamy before enjoying what is now a lasting, good natured fame.
(I'm sure even affable Bill himself would admit that he was doing an impression of those impressions of himself, when he shouted the word "Khan!" into pop culture immortality circa 1982.) Pine, Abrams and writers Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman even manage to play with all of the fun bits of Shatner's Kirk that have been pointed out and dissected for decades, before letting this Kirk be the unreal, almost bland, action hero prototype that he's supposed to be - the one that he actually was when he swaggered across televisions from 1966-69 like any other cowboy sherriff on the boob tube.

FX and production values are as top notch as a summer actioner should be, and as I'm not an insanely die hard fan, I don't care that the movie's designers had the good sense to update everything a bit -- instead of slavishly adhering to the tech manuals and blueprints that have made book publishers an absolute mint over the years.

The movie's one weak point is the villain, who is more of a plot device than a character. Now, I don't know if it's because he's written that way or because he's played by Eric Bana, who actually managed to make The Hulk boring in 2003. As Nero, a renegade Romulan, he blandly declares his expiration date as the talented "It Boy" people heralded him as five or six years ago. I don't care who this guy was in Australia in the 1990s anymore, so I would appreciate it if critics, producers and directors would stop trying to sell me a faulty bill of goods on the man. He's made nothing but unimpressive crap for years now, and if he needs any more work, he should go back to Australia and try to fill the void that Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe left by being good actors in American movies during roughly the same time frame that Bana "crossed over" too.

Bana's lack of anything in terms of acting or character barely detract from the overall film though, and in no way should that stop anyone who either casually enjoys Summer movies or is a die hard Trek nut from getting in those theaters and catching this great flick. Even Shatner can dig it, and not just because it completely leaves the door open for him coming back the franchise again... Whoops. I said it. But c'mon I was pretty good at staying away from the details thus far... I didn't even tell you how that's at all possible, which is really the reason to see this version of Star Trek.

Fun Fact: "Beam us up, Scotty" was never said on the original show. It entered the popular lexicon via Star Trek: The Animated Series. Also... I'm a complete nerd!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Great Moments in The Goon Hand

My oldest friend, semi-regular source of inspiration and sometimes personal annoyance Dan Darragh recently made an intentional suggestion for a blog topic that I thought was amusing enough to explore -- as opposed to his playing an unintentional Zmuda by feeding me entire posts via our IM chats. This could probably turn into a series if I feel like putting any work into it. We'll see...

Great Moments in The Goon Hand

We've all probably seen it, if not in real life -- say at a suburban New Jersey strip mall on a Saturday evening -- then at least in the films of Martin Scorsese. I'm talking about "The Goon Hand," which Urban Dictionary defines thusly:

Taking a firm grip of the meaty underside of a woman's upper arm, making it easy to muscle her around. Most times uttering "you're making a scene" into the woman's ear. If done correctly, it will look like you are softly touching her back and whispering something sweet to her, when actually you are leaving 4 small bruises on one side of her arm and one giant thumb bruise on the other side.

Though perceived domestic violence is not fall down laughing funny, The Goon Hand (at least in concept and when executed for entertainment purposes) has an unmistakable place in popular culture, and is at least worth the chuckle that "Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!" still gets to this very day. If you can't muster that much, then I guess this post is not for you. Doesn't make either of us an asshole, now. If you feel your ire percolating, track back to a post about me running around in my underpants when I was a little kid, or, take a look at a picture of me doing it. We're all friends here.

For this installment,
I'm paying homage to Casino, in honor of a two week training program I'll be subjecting myself to for a potential stint as a bartender in a slots parlor. It features one of the Crown Princes of The Goon Hand, Robert De Niro, and is directed by - no surprise - Scorsese. Yes, even when playing a mostly non-violent Jew, it seems that Bobby D can't help himself from dealing out the "Guinnea Squeeze" especially when under the watchful eye of his paisan, Marty.

Watch De Niro administer 40 full on seconds of the maneuver to a shrill Sharon Stone in the clip below:

(Note: The Goon Hand clocks in kinda early (at the 1:03 mark), considering the entire clip is about 10 minutes long... and subtitled in Arabic. In addition to violence, the video also contains such horrors as Stone trying to make out with Joe Pesci, so viewer discretion is definitely advised!)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Words & Pictures, Enemies & Allies

Hey y'all! Do you like superhero stories, but all those damned pictures get in the way when you're reading comics? Well I discuss the cure for that at the Sequential Art Collective Blog! Click HERE to fly on over and read about... reading.