June 2006

New on DVD

by December Lambeth on June 27, 2006

in DVD Reviews 

We’re here to keep you informed on hot choices for renting or buying new DVD releases. Released this week: Failure to Launch, Imagine Me & You, Madea’s Family Reunion, Cache (Hidden), Annapolis, Untraviolet (Unrated, Extended Cut),  Ren & Stimpy ‘Adult Party Cartoon, Beavis & Butt-head (Volume 2), Broken Saints, Strangers With Candy (Complete Series), Blue Collar Comedy Tour-One For The Road and, finally, Yellowbeard.

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Here’s what is getting released today on DVD:

Film:

Failure to Launch – Failure to Launch is yet another regurgitated romantic comedy where people are put together and kept apart through elaborate and contrived circumstances that could only happen in a film.  You’ve seen (and if you are like me hated) this exact film many times before. Get the rest of Alan’s opinion on Failure to Launch.

Imagine Me & You – Imagine Me & You is a hopeless romantic comedy about love at first sight between two women.  The problem?  One is getting married to her fiancé at that very moment.  Not a great film and it certainly has more than a few rough edges yet the performances and charm of the picture make it worth checking out; though despite my puntiffic title the movie itself is rather tame given the subject matter.  Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode, and Anthony Head star. Get the rest of Alan’s opinion on Imagine Me & You.

Madea’s Family Reunion – Director Tyler Perry, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, gives us another gun-totting grandma moment. Not quite as humorous as his plays and his latest piece, but does have a few moments. Here it is with 2 relationship troubled nieces and an unruly wild and uncontrollable foster teen living under the same roof, what is Madea to do? A mix of humor and serious situations, just like life.

Annapolis – How tough can it be to go through Naval basic training? Pretty damn tough if you ask Jake (James Franco), the lead in Annapolis, he gets dealt a tough hand cause he’s just that good and he’s from the wrong side of the tracks. Ssshhhhh, don’t tell, but it’s actually a boxing film, I think. Cole (Tyrese Gibson) plays the training officer that does everything in his power to make Jake quit, cause he sees a little of himself in Jake and thinks he can do better. The two box it out in the ring during the annual boxing competition.

Special Edition or Series Release:

Ultraviolet (Unrated, Extended Cut) – Why? I’m not sure why they created an extended cut, of a film that didn’t deserve the original cut. I must admit it was better than Aeon Flux and it had an interesting idea with the whole vampire hemophagia thing. Ultraviolet is protecting a 9-year-old boy who could be a threat to humans, but finds out to be the cure to their own disease. There is some pretty awesome affects and butt kicking action if you’re looking for a brainless bullet and beat’em up flick. Don’t get too excited the extended edition is a whole extra 7 minutes.

Animation: Better Late Than Never:

Ren & Stimpy ‘Adult Party Cartoon – Here is a collection, “The Lost Episodes” of Ren & Stimpy, but really, they are just the newest of a failed attempt to make us laugh. There isn’t anything like the old Ren & Stimpy, nothing compares, no matter how hard big time execs try to make up for canning the brilliant creative team that created this crazy duo.

Beavis & Butt-head – The Mike Judge Collection, Vol .2 (Released ???) – “40 cartoons hand-picked by Mike Judge”, what makes him an expert? What is this, wrong week? Beavis and Butt-head, Ren and Stimpy Adult Party, Yellowbeard, Strangers with Candy and Ultraviolet a special edition? It’s Bevis & Butt-head folks, what else is there to say, either you like them or you don’t. Then again, how could you pass on owning a DVD with titles such as, “Premature Evacuation”, “TP” and “Bungholio: Lord of the Harvest”. Fire! Fire!

Broken Saints – Company Line from their site: Broken Saints is a 24-chapter serial graphic novel that was launched on January 17 2001, new installments were posted every few weeks. Games, art, story and hidden secrets, the whole thing was online. Storyteller Brook Burgess worked with Ian Kirby and Andrew West to prove that something really outstanding, compelling and cool could be found online and that was their story of 4 warriors and there challenge against the Darkness through love, loss and sacrifice. Here is a concept from finish to not quite end, almost completely independent coming to you first ever on DVD. The creators will and have followed through with story, animated series, live-action television, graphic novel (print), interactive entertainment and toys/collectibles. Visit a Broken Saints for details.

TV:

Strangers with Candy – The Complete Series – Jerri Blank, a 46 year old “boozer, user and loser” tries to go back to school and be cool. There is everything wrong with this series, it’s just that damn funny. Jerri learned nothing from her past years as an addict, tramp, alcoholic and all around no common sense gal; to top it off, she tries to return to high school and fit in with a crowd more than a third of her age. Really, you can’t help, but laugh your butt off with this collection and all it’s very wrong lessons in life. There are deleted scenes on this collection, joy for us!

Blue Collar Comedy Tour – One for the Road– With each previous comedy tour, Blue Collar progressively got worse. The first one was a riot, the second was a tickle and this one blows. One for the Road, more like a case of Wild Turkey, so you can pretend to laugh. Of course, yes, there are a few moments that you can giggle at, but for the most part, there isn’t enough to add up to anything substantial. How many times can you hear the same “red neck” joke told over and over again, in different forms?

Finally:

Yellowbeard Yes, they have finally done it, Yellowbeard, freaking awesome. What the hell took them so long, a laugh out loud riot from 1983, with a mix of adventure, pirates, silly humor, Cheech and Chong, add a dash of Mel Brooks (no he didn’t create it, but just add the dash) and certainly a bit of Monty Python; you can’t help, but laugh. It’s completely silly and nonsensical. You would never believe that the director has done Charmed and Lois & Clark since his early 80’s glory days.

The Many Faces of Superman

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2006

in Uncategorized

Many men have played Superman.  How many can you name?  We’ve got the list and a little about each one of these Men of Steel.  Come on and take a peek at these actors who were faster than a speeding bullet and could leap tall buildings in a single bound.

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Bud Collyer

Perhaps best known for his role as host on game shows such as Beat the Clock and Break the Bank, Collyer also provided the voice for both Superman and Clark Kent on the radio show and the classic Fleischer Superman Cartoons and would go on to do the voice of Superman in the late 1960’s in various cartoons such as The Batman/Superman Hour, The New Adventures of Superman, and The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.

Danny Dark

Sadly Collier died in 1969 and was replaced by Dark who provided the voice for Superman on all of the various Super Friends shows in the 1970’s and early 1980’s which were made possible by the popularity of those original 60’s shows.  Dark was also known as the “voice” of NBC television for years as an announcer and did narration for comercials.

Kirk Alyn

Alyn donned the cape in 1948 in a fifteen-episode serial The Adventures of Superman and resumed the role in the sequel Atom Man vs. Superman two years later.  Some critics argue that despite lacking the size and muscularture of later actors that Alyn was the best ever cast in the role.  Alyn did several serials including Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom and guest roles in televison shows such as Naked City and the original Battlestar GalacticaRichard Donner, in a very cool casting move, also cast him in the first Superman film in the cameo role as Lois Lane’s father (along with actress Noel Neill who played Lois Lane along side our next entry who Donner cast as Mrs. Lane).

George Reeves

Reeves became a national celebrity which led to personal appearances around the country and became a role model for millions of children.  Reeves was the first version of Superman many people saw and he became so sononomous with the role that it typecast him for years after the show ended.  His life ended tragically in an apparent suicide in 1959 just one year after the show ended though many including friends and family point to evidence that contridicts those findings.  Despite the tragic ending Reeves brought joy to millions during his life and his status as “the Superman” would persist for an entire generation until…

Christopeher Reeve

George Reeves was great, but for those of my generation there is only one Superman and his name is Christopher Reeve.  Reeve was chosen in 1978 by Richard Donner for Superman, and its success lead to one good sequel Superman II and two that we’d rather forget.  He was largely hailed for his ability to create two separate and interesting characters in Clark Kent and Superman and to this day remains the marker to which all future Supermen will be measured.  His good looks, his honest face and sense of depth and morality came across even in the silliness of the later films.  Reeve went on to star, direct, and produce many other films, and after his tragic accident became a vocal supporter for stem cell research.

John Haymes Newton & Gerard Christopher

The Superboys.  Newton was chosen for the title role in the 1988 show Superboy.  Newton left after the first season and Christopher replaced him for the final three seasons of the show.  Though the role wasn’t a breakthrough for either star, both continued acting on various TV shows in guest spots (oddly enough they both turned up in Melrose Place).

Beau Weaver

Weaver provided the voice of the Man of Steel for the short lived cartoon put out to celebrate Superman’s 50th Anniversary simply called Superman.  Weaver has worked steadily in voice acting and radio starring as the voice of Mr. Fantastic in the animated The Fantastic Four and The Silver Surfer, and providing the voice of Octane in the Transformers.

Dean Cain

A college football star whose NFL career was derailed by injury Cain popped up in various TV guest roles before he landed the coveted role of Superman in ABC’s new hour drama Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman co-staring with Teri Hatcher.  Since the show’s cancellation, after four years on the air, Cain has starred in the short lived Clubhouse and has made TV appearances in made-for-TV films such as The Perfect Husband The Laci Peterson Story and guest spots on Law & Order SVU and Hope & Faith, and also worked as the host for Ripley’s Believe it or Not

Tim Daly

Most remembered for his starring role as anal retentive pilot Joe Hackett on the sitcom Wings Daly has worked guest starring on several televsion shows (including a reunion of sorts with Tony Shaloub on Monk), starred in the TV remake of The Fugitive, and has worked in several films.  Daly is the younger brother of actress Tyne Daly (Cagney and Lacey).

George Newbern

When Daly was unable to do the voice for Superman on the new Justice League show Newbern took his place providing the voice of Superman for this new super team.  Newbern has worked in various films (Switching Channels, Adventures in Babysitting, Father of the Bride) and several guest roles on TV shows such as Chicago Hope, Providence, and Friends

Tom Welling

The only Superman on the list to never wear (or be drawn in) tights.  A construction woker turned model turned actor, Welling got his big break when he was cast to play Clark Kent on the new WB hour long drama Smallville which centers around Clark’s teen years in Kansas.  Welling has gone on to star in movies such as The Fog, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

Brandon Routh

The last of the Supermen (at least for this list).  A relative unknown before he was chosen by director Bryan Singer (who insisted on an unknown for the part)  for the title role in the new Superman Returns.  His early career involves an appearance in a Christina Aguilera music video and guest spots on shows such as Gilmore Girls and Will & Grace, and a short run on the daytime soap One Life to Live.  On screen Routh presents many of the qualities of the Christopher Reeve Superman including a vulnerability and earnestness that Singer believes is crucial to the character.  Routh has already signed on for two sequels; so if this Superman is a hit expect to see more of him in years to come.

Superman on TV

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2006

in Uncategorized

Old Supes is about to hit the big screen once again, but over the years he’s been more at home on the small screen.  Let’s look back at the various incarnations of Superman in television shall we?  Indeed we shall…

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Fleischer Superman Cartoons – The original Fleischer cartoons are how many first viewed Superman.  The seventeen animated shorts were produced for Paramount Pictures in the early 1940’s; they still hold up remarkably well today.  The cost of each short was $100,000 dollars (remember that’s 1940’s cash you’re talking about) which was almost quadruple the amount of Popeye or what Disney spent on its shorts at the same time.  In terms of style and look it was vastly ahead of it’s time (and its look strongly influenced Batman: The Animated Series – half a centruy later).  In the series Superman fought an onslaught of sci-fi themed villains and creatures such as robots, dinosaurs, mad scientists, and meteors.  The last few episodes produced without Max and Dave Fleischer when Paramount took over the studio feature WWII themed stories with Superman fighting against America’s enemies.  Bud Collyer provided the voice of Superman and Joan Alexander played the voice of Lois Lane.

The Adventures of Superman and Atom Man vs. Superman – Kirk Alyn stars as Superman in this serial and it’s sequel.  In the first Superman battles the Spider Lady (Carol Forman) and in the second battles Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot) who is using a teleportation device and holding Metropolis hostage while calling himself Atom Man.  Noel Neill plays Lois Lane, Tommy Bond is Jimmy Olsen, and Pierre Watkin plays The Daily Planet’s editor in chief Perry White.

Adventures of Superman – The popular syndicated television show brought Superman to an entire generation.  The show’s 104 half-hour episodes first premiered in 1952 and ran until 1958.  Despite a low budget, change in theme and mood of the show, and a dramatic change from black and white to color television during the series run, the show had charm and class that many enjoyed.  Geroge Reeves starred as Clark Kent and Superman, with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen and John Hamilton as Perry White, and Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill starred as Lois Lane over the series run.  Bill Kennedy provided the narration to the famous opening sequence “Faster than a speeding bullet!  More powerful than a locomotive!  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!  Superman.”  Of the 104 episodes a fan favorite “Panic in the Sky” (episode 38) stands out.  In fact future Superman show creators loved it so much that the plot was remade in two future shows (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Superboy).

Superboy – The series followed young journalism students Clark Kent and Lana Lang (Stacy Haiduk) at Shuster University.  Superboy also helps out a government organization investigating unusual and parnormal disturbances while battling villains such as vampires,  Lex Luthor (Scott Wells), Metallo (Michael Callan), and Bizarro (Barry Meyers).  John Haymes Newton starred in the title role for the first season and when he left the show was replaced by Gerard Christopher.  Despite a limited budget the small syndicated show lasted four years and has earned itself a loyal following.

Superman – The short lived Saturday morning cartoon was created to coincide with Superman’s 50th Anniversary in the late 1988.  Episodes included Superman (Beau Weaver) saving the Earth from Lex Luthor (Michael Bell), aliens, robots, and helping Wonder Woman stop the Soceress of Time.  The series is notable for special “Superman Family Album” segments which chronicled Clark Kent’s life between his arrival on earth and his first appearance as Superman involving Clark Kent getting a driver’s license, a birthday party, and graduating from high school.  Ma Kent was voiced by Tess MacNeille (of Futurama fame).

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – The ABC hour long drama starred Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane.  The show focused much more on Clark than Superman and delved into his career as a reporter and his relationship with Lois.  The show kept to the John Byrne revamp version of the character and even worked out a tie-in campaign where Lois and Clark were married in the comic and on the show at the same time.  Other than focusing more on Clark, a few other notable differences from other adaptions include Jonathan Kent (Eddie Jones) alive and well, Superman didn’t support his trademark hair curl, and Lex Luthor (Jonathan Shea) had a full head of hair (at least for the first season).  The show ran for four seasons.

Superman: The Animated Series – After the success of Batman the Animated Series the creators moved onto a new Superman cartoon with a similar design but a lighter and cleaner look.  Tim Daly (of Wings fame) was tapped to play Superman and Dana Delany voiced Lois Lane.  Many of Superman’s rogues gallery appeared on the show including Lex Luthor, Braniac, Darkseid, Bizarro, Parasite, Toy Man, and new villains such as Live Wire.

Smallville – A new millenium take on Clark Kent’s teenage years in Smallville, Kansas.  The show centers around Clark Kent’s (Tom Welling) life on the farm and the odd events and occureances in Smallville due to “meteor rock” contamination from the meteor shower that brought Kal-El to Earth years ago.  The show’s “No Flights, No Tights” rule was a drastic change from other Superman/Superboy shows as creators agreed Clark would never fly (though he did once on the show, oops!) or ever don the Superman suit.  The relalitonships examined on the show include the friendship between Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) and Clark, Clark’s relationship to his father Jonathan Kent (John Schneider), and Clark’s love for Lana Lang (Kristin Kruek).  Though none of that got in the way of fighting all kinds of “meteor rock freaks” every week.  Recent seasons have Clark moving on to college, the introduction of Lois Lane (Erica Durance), the introduction of Jor-El (voiced by none other than Superman II bad guy Terrence Stamp), the end of the Clark/Lex friendship, and the arrival of Braniac (James Marsters) and the Fortress of Solitude.  Of interest to true Superman afecianadoes – besides Stamp, both Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder also guest starred on the show.

Super Friends & Justice League – Superman also has played prominent roles in super-team shows.  Super Friends was a 1970’s and 1980’s Saturday morning cartoon show that focused on a band of heroes (Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman) working together out of the Hall of Justice.  The shows different season sported different sidekicks such as Wendy, Marv and Wonder Dog, and later the Wonder Twins and Gleek.  Later incarnations involved the “Challenge of the Super Friends” which introduced the Legion of Doom and added heroes Green Lantern, Flash, and Hawkman.  Later shows added more multi-cultural heroes such as Samurai, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and El Dorado.  The final seasons introduced younger hereos such as Firestorm and Cyborg, and the villainous Darkseid.  Though often cheesy and full of bad coloring errors the show is fondly remembered for the narration provided by William Woodson and the overally campy fun of the show.  Cartoon Network’s Justice League was a much more serious teaming of heroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawgirl.  The third season opened up the league to more heroes including Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, the Question, Black Canary, Shining Knight, and the Atom.

Superman Week

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2006

in Film News & Trailers

It’s Superman Week boys and girls.  For the next couple days we’ll take a look at the big blue boyscout, the man of tomorrow, the last son of Krypton – Superman – all cumulating in our reviews for the new film directed by Bryan Singer and staring Brandon Routh this Wednesday.  Of course that’s not the only movie getting released this week.  Check inside for the full list.

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Here’s what’s scheduled to hit theaters this week.  Want to know more, just click on the title for film info including a full cast list.  Want a closer look, just click on the poster to watch the trailer.

Opening Wednesday:

Superman Returns

Bryan Singer’s remake/sequel involves the quick retelling of the Superman origin and then Superman’s return from space after a five year absence following the events of Superman II.  Richard Donner’s vision, Christopher Reeves’ Clark Kent, and Hackman’s Lex Luthor and more are all lovingly recreated here.  Unknown Brandon Routh takes on the role of the last son of Krypton, beach babe Kate Bosworth is Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey goes bald as the new Lex Luthor.  A little too long, and a little too familiar, but it’s heart is in the right place and has quite a few nice nods that Superman fans will recognize.  Check back Wednesday for our review.

Who Killed the Electric Car (New York and Los Angeles)

The new documentary by Chris Paine examines the mysterious destruction of what was one of the most efficient, cleanest (it produced no dangerous emissions), fastest, AMERICAN built cars ever made, whose invention should have transformed the auto industry and how it disappeared overnight.  Martin Sheen provides the narration as the film documents the odd story of the car that might have, and should have, been.  Included are interviews and clips from various celebrities including Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Peter Horton, and former Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul.

Opening Friday:

The Devil Wears Prada

Young nobody Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) moves to New York and lands a job as an assistant to the ruthless fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Maryl Steep).  The film was adapted by Aline Brosh McKenna (Laws of Attraction, Three to Tango) from the novel by Lauren Weisberger.  Close’s character is based on Vogue editor Anna Wintour who was less than pleased with the portrayal or film and rumors of her attempting to keep the cast from shooting in fashion locations have received more interest than the film itself.  After her work in more grown-up roles (Brokeback Mountain, Havoc) Hathaway retuns to yet another of her sweet and innocent bread and butter roles.

Remote Failure

by Ian T. McFarland on June 23, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

So, does anyone out there realize how full of schlock Adam Sandler’s movies are?  It seems obvious to me that the scripts about learning a “valuable life lesson” that take the writing ability of a freshman in High School just recycle the same boring themes, but The Longest Yard grossed $158 million.  I guess either I’m to critical on the guy or America has a rather large idiot count.

Click
1 Star

It’s been nearly 13 months since the innovatively not innovative Adam Sandler graced us with his presence on the big-screen, which is obviously far too long.  On average of once a year, Sandler pops out another flick guaranteed to gross north of $100 million to the delight of middle schoolers and the spite of people who know what quality cinema is.  Sandler continues the tradition with Click, a rehash of It’s a Wonderful Life, with more fart and dog-humping jokes to satisfy Sandler’s fan-base.

Sandler plays Michael, a guy who’s working a mile a minute without taking a time-out to spend with his pint-sized kids or his wife (Kate Beckinsale).  I’d go ahead and describe him to you some more, but you’ve already seen the father figure torn between working and spending time with his family a few dozen times too many in other movies as it is.

Michael’s on the verge of a breakdown until he wanders into Christopher Walken, in the back of a Bed Bath & Beyond in the hunt for a universal remote.  Walken, who I’m starting to believe doesn’t act anymore as much as just memorize lines and recite them through his bouncy dialect, gives him a remote that brings more to the coffee table than Michael bargained for, though – the remote somehow controls life outside of the tube.  That’s right, now Sandler can pause, mute or skip all of those crappy movies he puts out.

At first it’s wonderful, even though Michael decides not to take advantage of avoiding the aforementioned feature.  Instead, he uses the remote to fast-forward through important matters such as arguing with his wife and working – anything important he just skips.  You’d think that by now, Sandler would have figured out not to take the easy way out from all of his dull comedies that teach the longer road is more worthwhile; but the guy just seems unable to learn.

And so, to further the plot, the remote begins to automatically fast-forward through all of Michael’s life.  It becomes rather convenient for teaching life lessons, but overall it’s a pretty damn stupid contingency.

One catch of the film is that as Michael’s remote fast-forwards, we’re taken to that mysterious far-off place called the future, specifically the 2020s.  With this comes all sort of wacky hairdos, bright colors and walls that work as TVs.  If the script weren’t so dully put together, the film’s failure would have been promised with this idea of the years to come you might see at Tomorrowland in DisneyWorld a few decades ago.

The film’s one area of success is the casting of Henry Winkler.  Maybe it’s just this writer’s fond memories of seeing the veteran actor on Happy Days and Arrested Development, but the guy is heartbreaking as the father that Michael forgets.  It manages to give the film – dare I use such a cheesy word – heart?

Sandler has talent.  He lets himself out of his cage a couple of coveted times in the movie to make us laugh, and he proved in Punch-Drunk Love that he can act too.  But the guy just doesn’t care enough to push himself, Click is just another Sandler flick shoved into cinemas to make a fortune and then be forgotten.