Good to See George Lucas Is Hard at Work on Those Experimental Films...Just Kidding

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 11:30 am


There are many myths in the world of George Lucas. "I always intended Greedo to shoot first," "Jar Jar is popular with children," and of course "When I'm done with Star Wars, I'm going to make experimental films that aren't commercial."

Above is the first still from an animated musical fairy-tale version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, executive-produced and written by Lucas, featuring a pop-song soundtrack by the music producer of Moulin Rouge, Marius de Vries. It's called Strange Magic, and released through Disney via Touchstone, which means it's probably PG-13-ish (maybe due to pop-song lyrics?). Impressive...Most impressive that this is apparently opening in January and this is the first we've heard of it.

To be hopeful...or not to be?

Celebrating Veterans Day and Healing Old Wounds in Animation

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 10:00 am


Some things are tougher to celebrate than others on a site like this that normally tries to stay out of real-world issues as much as possible. But we all like cartoons, right?

25 years ago, the Berlin wall came down, and today we honor Veteran's Day. In a cartoon that's ironically also a commercial (hey, capitalism did win, after all) for room-rental service Airbnb, the daughter of a former guard on the wall talks about her father's healing process. It hit a chord with me, since my late grandfather actually made sure to track down and forgive the German prison guard who held him captive in World War II, and they became friends.

I know today is a day for the living rather than the dead, but it's been less than a year since the veteran closest to us suddenly left this world, and we're still reeling. Treasure them while they still stand.

And to all the readers who have served, in whatever capacity - I know my timing is off, but I'll say it anyway: welcome home.

Now here's a cartoon.

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Suicide Squad Movie Has Its Harley Quinn

Monday, November 10, 2014 at 8:00 am


Margot Robbie, the hottie from Wolf of Wall Street whose charms induce Leonardo DiCaprio to ditch his wife, will be the apple of another sociopath's eye in the upcoming DC Comics adaptation. Collider is reporting that she's set to be Harley Quinn, while Jared Leto is in talks (but not confirmed) to be the Joker.

I don't have much of an opinion on Robbie as Harley - frankly, I've always found Harley to be an irritating character who makes the Joker less interesting just by existing, but that's clearly a minority view - more recently it seems DC just has her drawn to be fantasy material, and Robbie certainly played that to the hilt in Wolf, though her performance showed she could be more than just the ample eye candy.

Leto as the Joker, if it happens, is more interesting - like Heath Ledger before him, he doesn't seem obvious, yet comes to the table as a solid actor whom one would expect to handle any role well. He could be the first onscreen Joker to truly be as thin as the comic version. And yeah, since Batman in the new DC cinematic universe is a veteran who's been around a while, it makes sense to also show the Joker - and maybe Harley too - as pre-existing.

I just hope when they make the inevitable movie action figure, you can put your weed in it.

TR Review: Big Hero 6 Gives Superheroes Back to Kids

Friday, November 7, 2014 at 10:00 am


You could look at Big Hero 6 as the sort of thing fans feared all Marvel movies might become when Disney took over.

Then you could look at how Marvel is still doing what they're doing, while at the same time keeping a consistent in-house style and storyline continuity, and be glad that - as promised a long time ago - they allowed somebody else to take one of their lesser-known properties and put a distinctive authorial stamp on it. That said stamp is of the Disney brand rather than any one auteur (for the record, Winnie the Pooh's Don Hall and Bolt's Chris Williams are the directors) doesn't change the fact that a Marvel adventure not beholden to continuity is in many ways a nice change of pace.

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Aqua Teen Hunger Force Did an Actual Carls Jr./Hardee's Commercial, and It's Disgustingly Amazing

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm


Carls' "tongue-in-cheek sexist" ads that feature models eating burgers they'd never actually touch without a huge paycheck involved always sat along that dubious line of being what they were spoofing. So how to prove that you genuinely believe in self-parody? Shoot a similar ad with Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Mercifully, it does not show him eating his neighbors.

Unmercifully, well...just look at that image above.

It is indeed from the official Carl's Jr Youtube. Can't imagine it makes anyone hungry, but you never know...

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Despicable Me Spinoff Minions Movie Gets a Trailer

Monday, November 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm


It's interesting - it seems to imply that Minions are almost like battered wives. So well-meaning, good-natured, and always drawn to the most evil tyrant around, from T-rex to Napoleon.

I'm not sure why '60s New York is the setting, but maybe they can work for Llewyn Davis and help his singing career.

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Marvel Teases X-Men '92

Monday, November 3, 2014 at 3:15 pm


Well, that's one way to bring back Wolverine almost immediately.

So here we see the gang in their 1992-era outfits. Will this be set in the continuity of the animated series of the time, like the way Batman '66 follows the 1966 TV show? Because it doesn't quite have the same hook of "Adam West Batman!" or "Lynda Carter Wonder Woman!" that DC's takes do.

Either way, those are the costumes I grew up liking, so it's good to see them back.

Weekend Open Thread and Last-Minute Halloween Things...

Friday, October 31, 2014 at 7:00 pm


Happy Halloween, everyone!

Again this week we'll have no thread recap Monday as David N. Scott's coverage of Stan Lee's Comikaze will be the morning feature. I don't have a lot to leave you with tonight, but I'm not without a couple of tricks and treats, like...

-A trailer for an Iranian feminist vampire western. Not kidding. Do you think they fear crescents instead of crosses?

-Spongebob 3D gets a second trailer that appears to be turning Patrick into Majin Buu.

-Todd McFarlane claims to have Spawn movie news again.

-The makers of Paranormal Activity just announced a line of horror books, now that they've gotten you used to having to imagine things rather than actually seeing them.

-It's not really nerdy at all, but if you want to see me and Julia (and our cat) acting in a web series, now you can.

Mystery Skulls Music Video "Ghost" Turns Scooby Doo Into Literal Heartbreak

Friday, October 31, 2014 at 11:30 am


I wasn't familiar with Mystery Skulls before seeing this - but they and I are clearly familiar with the same cartoon references. Fortunately, the song does not suck, so I can give it a full-on thumbs-up rather than a mixed blessing.

Especially since it doesn't end up quite where you think it will...

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Blu-ray Today: A New Nightbreed, and Pony People in the House Get Hyped

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 8:00 am

Nightbreed: The Director's Cut - I haven't seen the theatrical cut of Clive Barker's Cabal adaptation since it was first on HBO, but I remember thinking it felt like huge chunks were missing that might have clarified the story some. Now restored with some 20 old minutes taken out and 45 put back in, its point couldn't be clearer - Barker's basically doing a grotesque take on the X-Men, with homophobia/AIDS metaphors cranked to 11. In a new introduction, he says studio executives at the time couldn't understand monsters being the good guys, but I think he's being euphemistic.

Dig: Boone (pretty/dumb Craig Sheffer) has a good job and a nice girlfriend, but he dreams about being a monster and running wild in a crazy underground world. His psychiatrist, the coldly detached Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg, behaving exactly the way you'd hope David Cronenberg would behave), is curious about these fantasies, as he has some of his own about murdering families, which he promptly enacts and pins the blame on self-loathing freak Boone. Boone dies and is reborn among the monsters, who have varying levels of weirdness but all accept each other, as finally the man who walks in both worlds (bisexual, in other words) must defend against an uncaring medical profession and a whole host of dumb redneck gun nuts (in a slight twist, they're Canadian rather than Appalachian).

It's a bit on the nose, and I wish the non-Cronenberg villains weren't quite such caricatures. It's still a ballsy allegory for the late '80s (it was released in 1990 originally) and full of imaginative designs; it may be hard to take fully seriously today, but it remains a defiantly unique vision even if the hair and makeup have not aged well. Hate to say this, but a remake could work. (Note that this is different from the Cabal Cut that played a limited theatrical run with deteriorated elements; the Blu-ray cut is fully restored and not as long.)

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