New DVD Releases for 09 Sept 2008

Here we go again:

  • The Forbidden Kingdom

Didn’t Jet Li retire from the movies?  (He did.  Then he found enlightenment.) Why is he still in so many of them? And shouldn’t Jackie Chan retire from the movies now, before he becomes an even bigger joke than I’m afraid he’s already become?

The trailer for the movie looked pretty on the Apple TV, though.

  • Baby Mama

Sara Palin and Amy Poehler starred in this not-terribly-well received (critically) summer comedy.

  • The Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary Edition

It has some kind of cult following, I understand.

  • Smallville: Season Seven

Still going. . . New season begins next week. This one comes with a comic at Best Buy.

  • Jon & Kate Plus Eight: Seasons One and Two

Kate can be a screaming shrew at times, but the show is entertaining.  And whenever I wonder if I can handle raising a child, I watch a show about a couple raising eight of them and realize how easy it is, by comparison.

  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries

This was a fun little show, with great animation via TMS in Japan.

New DVD Releases for 19 August 2008

I’m excited by the thought of more DVDs right now.  That probably has to do with the fact that I have my surround sound system plugged in and operational once again. Now that I’m not living in a one bedroom condo with thin walls, I can blast some volume, fill some space, and watch movies with the kind of environment you’re supposed to enjoy them in.

That all said, I’ll never have the time to watch them.  But the excitement is there, and I enjoyed plugging a few DVDs in to hear them again.  (“The Rock” has the greatest soundtrack ever.)

Onto this week’s releases:

  • Street Kings

Keanu Reeves plays an honest cop opposite the cop with political and power aspirations in Forrest Whitaker, who looks to be reprising his star turn from “The Shield.”  How he didn’t win an Emmy for that season is beyond me.  Wait, nevermind.  The Emmys are a joke.

  • The Scorpion King 2

Hot on the heels of the failure of the third “Mummy” movie comes this spin-off sequel.  Even The Rock knew better than to reprise his role for this movie. This might be direct-to-DVD.

  • Gossip Girl: The Complete First Season

It’s The CW’s last best hope for success.  That, and the 90210 series starting in the fall.

  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have confidently told you what a short-lived dud this series would be. Instead, it seems to be something of a success for FOX.  Go figure. The Terminator franchise is fast turning into one of the most convoluted and deep continuities in major media.  Usually, you need a comic book to last 100 issues to start filling in gaps like this.  Instead, there’s a TV series, three movies, and another new movie or two upcoming.  (Christian Bale stars in one. Perhaps he’ll be out of jail long enough to promote it, when the time comes.)

Next Week: “The Shield”, Season Six! The greatest drama on TV returns to DVD before the final season begins in September.

New DVD Releases for 05 August 2008

After last week’s riches, what could live up to it?  The TV world is certainly giving it a shot. Check out today’s list of new releases over at TVShowsonDVD.com.  I’ve never seen a list that long, not even during the Christmas season.  There’s nothing there that’s going to get me to click over to Amazon, but perhaps your tastes will find something satisfying there.

In the world of movies, you have this:

  • Starship Troopers 3: Marauders

I almost don’t want to get into the argument again over whether the first move was any good or not.  But, gee whiz, they made a third?  It’s direct-to-DVD, isn’t it?

  • Nim’s Island

That’s it — I’m completely out of touch.  What is this thing? It’s a kid’s movie, I’m guessing. . .

Indiana Jones and that Crystal Skull Thingy

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullsThe night before I saw “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” I perused the high def movie trailers section of my Apple TV.  I picked up three interesting new movie trailers there that I was excited to see.

Guess which trailers were shown before “Indy” the next night?  Yup, all the same ones.

It made for an interesting comparison, though.  The high def screen at home was bright and highly detailed.  The projected image in the theater was dark and almost muddy.  I can cut them some slack because I’m sure that reel’s been played an awful lot late, and blowing it up to full movie screen size is bound to cut down on some resolution. However, there’s no excuse for how dark things looked.   It’s a classic case of a theater not lighting up their movie as brightly as they could have, and should have.

The good news is, the theater was more than half empty, even being in the smallest theater upstairs back in the corner.  (After only two weeks, “Indiana Jones” had been pushed aside.  Sad.)  I didn’t have any crowd problems.  People were able to sit far enough apart to not block each other’s views, and the crowd was generally slightly older.  It wasn’t all teenagers on a Friday night.  That was nice.  There were a lot less phones going off that night.  Less texts going out.  Less giggles from the back row.

Then, there’s the movie.  I liked it a lot.  It isn’t without its faults.  Some of them are the sadly typical action movie faults in logic and physics.  But keeping in mind that this is a movie series inspired by those classic pulpy Saturday afternoon serials, you can forgive it the excesses.  Almost.

I think it was Andy Ihnatko who said that the movie looked like the writers threw all their ideas up on a white board and then forgot to edit any out before shooting the movie.  That’s my biggest problem with the movie. Some of the silliest parts come at points where the movie would have been better off just coming to a stop.

Spoilers after the break.

Continue reading

Shyamalan’s Hollywood Horror Story

Shyamalan’s Hollywood Horror Story – NYTimes.com

In 2000, he was on a conference call with executives from Walt Disney Studios discussing “Unbreakable,? the follow-up to his phenomenally successful movie “The Sixth Sense.? He wanted to market “Unbreakable? as a comic-book movie — the tale of an unlikely superhero — but Disney executives insisted on portraying it as a spooky thriller, like “The Sixth Sense.? “I remember the moment that it happened, exactly where I was sitting at the table, the speakerphone,? he recalled in an interview from his office in a converted farmhouse near Philadelphia. “That moment may have been the biggest mistake that I have to undo over 10 years so the little old lady doesn’t go, ‘Oh, he’s the guy who makes the scary movies with a twist.’ ?

I take back every bad thing I might have written about Shyamalan this week now.

I’m not a smoker

I never have smoked.  I never will smoke.

But when I saw the end of the commercial on TV tonight for the “Incredible Hulk” movie, I nearly screamed.  Right there where the rating would be is the warning: “Depictions of Tobacco Consumption.”

You’re kidding me, right? We’re so fragile as a nation now that showing someone smoking a cigarette or a cigar is an automatic restricted rating of some sort?

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

New DVD Releases for 22 April 2008

  • Cloverfield

This is really the only one I need to spotlight, isn’t it?  Looks really cool if you can stomach the hand-held camera throughout.

  • Charlie Wilson’s War

Tom Hanks went on Oprah’s show to promote this, so you know it’s a feel-good romantic comedy, right?!? ;-)

And that’s it. Sad, isn’t it?

New DVD Releases for 15 April 2008

Happy (Day Before) Tax Day (in the U.S.A.)!  What better way to spend your tax refund (I’m being optimistic for you all) than by buying a new DVD? Don’t tell the wife; just sneak out and do it.  Or, stay in, click on one of the great Amazon links incorporated so seamlessly into this post, and click away.  Use One Click shopping if you have Amazon Prime.  Go nuts!

  • Juno

This is really the release everyone is waiting for, isn’t it?  I think I’ll wait for the Apple TV rental.  Please note, though, that the two disc DVD edition seen above comes with a digital copy.  Pretty cool.

  • Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Never heard of it, but Sidney Lumet directs an all-star cast here including Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alberty Finney, and Marisa Tomei.  Impressive.

  • In The Name of The Kind: A Dungeon Siege Tale

That’s a video game-based movie starring Jason Statham.  On the other hand, Uwe Boll directs it.  ::gulp::

  • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

Yes, they made a sequel.  Go fig.

  • American Dad, Season Three

I haven’t seen the show in a year, but I know I liked it early on.  FAMILY GUY is still far superior, though I haven’t watched more than the STAR WARS episode of that in a year, either. ::sigh::

  • Alien Nation: The Ultimate Movie Collection

I figure there have to be one or two fans of that series out there reading this.

Next week: I don’t know yet.  Tune in next Monday to find out!

New DVD Releases for 08 April 2008

And so we begin another week together.  Let’s look at the DVDs, shall we?

  • There Will Be Blood

Quite the popular movie amongst the critics.  Isn’t it about 3 hours, though?

  • Walk Hard

It’s the Dewey Cox story, which doesn’t sound so exciting until you hear that John C. Reilly is playing Cox. That’s cool.  Also, Cox is madeup.  This whole movie is a sendup of the musician biography film genre, inspired by movies like WALK THE LINE.  Sounds hilarious.  I think it’s a Judd Apatow joint. Yo.

  • The 11th Hour

If Al Gore made a movie for the MTV set, this is what he’d come up with. The Leo kid from TITANIC whose last name I’m too lazy to spell correctly at the moment is responsible for this one.

  • Lions for Lambs

Ah, more Feel Good political bombast from the Hollywood set.  This time, Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, and Meryl Streep team up for a D.C. story of war, power, influence, etc etc etc.

  • Resurrecting the Champ

A boxing movie with Josh Hartnett, Samuel L. Jackson, Teri Hatcher, and even Alan Alda.

  • P2

I had never heard of this one, but I love this description:

Stalker in a parking garage. You’ve got to give the makers of P2 credit: They’ve tapped a universal source of anxiety and stretched it out into a feature-length film. Underneath a Manhattan skyscraper, chic businesswoman Angela (Rachel Nichols) is knocking off for the Christmas holiday. Everybody else has cleared out of the garage–everybody but freaky-friendly attendant Tom (Wes Bentley), and his little dog too. Before long, Tom makes it clear that he’d like to have Angela for holiday dinner, whatever that might mean. Our heroine must summon all her resources, and the challenge of a low-cut dinner gown, to fight back. P2 (no, it’s not the sequel to P) at least allows Angela a measure of common sense, as she actually thinks of some logical ways to fight back, and director Franck Khalfoun (working from an idea by Haute Tension guys Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur) does indeed get the most out of the parking garage location. But the movie’s at a loss to make these two characters interesting in any way, even at the Coyote vs. Roadrunner level. Tom’s little quirks, like miming a dance to Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” feel like a desperate attempt to add flavor to an otherwise standard-issue creepo. Bentley (best known for American Beauty) does have the face of an obsessive, and Nichols has the face (and did we mention the cleavage?) of a movie star, so they’re not hard to believe. But most of the time this movie is stuck on the wrong floor. –Robert Horton

And now I kinda want to see it.

It reminds me of a funny parking garage story.  Last week, I parked on the third floor of a parking garage and headed straight for the elevator banks.  Pushed the “up” button, waited for the cart.  It was there in a second.  The doors open, and there’s one person inside, who makes a half move for the door, realizes he’s not at the main level, and stops. I walk in and notice there’s no buttons pushed.  So I hit “M” for “Mall” or “Main” or whatever it stands for. And he says, “Street?”  “Yes,” I said back.  “That’ll get you out to the street.”  “Ah, thanks.”

What was he planning on doing?  He got into an elevator, didn’t push a button, and just planned to ride it all day until the doors opened eventually and he could see the street?  At least take a guess and push a button!  When the buttons choices are “M”, 1, 2, 3, and 4, I think the choice is clear.  But still — take a guess.

I wonder how long he was in that elevator cart before I got in?

  • Hell’s Kitchen: Season One

Exciting news: This one is “raw and uncensored.”  In other words, you’ll have the option to NOT listen to the beeps. You can hear Chef Ramsay spew a litany of “f” words at helpless schlubs for 44 minutes at a time.  BEAUTIFUL!  It almost makes me want to wait for the DVD on the current season. Almost.

  • Matlock, Season One

A whole new generation now can learn about the TV series that’s been the subject of countless punchlines over the last 20 years.  Laugh at it all you will, but I remember watching it as a kid and kinda sorta liking it.  Granted, I was 9 or 10, but still. . .

The last two seasons of THE COSBY SHOW are also out this week, and that’s about it from me. What are you looking most forward to?  Heck, what recent purchases have you been watching lately?

New DVD Releases for 25 March 2008

Hey, only 9 shopping months left till Christmas!

  • Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors: Season One

. . .includes script by JMS.

  • Painkiller Jane: The Complete Series

If you’re a big fan of the comic book, here’s the TV series.

  • The Mist

Based on something of Stephen King’s it seems. Frank Darabont is responsible for this one, so there’s a chance it’s good.

  • Party of Five: The Complete Third Season

From a time before Jack was Lost and what’s her face wasn’t talking to ghosts. . .

  • Wings: Season Six

Funny series.

Kind of a boring week, eh?

Weekend Q & A

Yes, this feature is supposed to be up on Fridays, but the Apple TV review took up too much time.. Sorry about that. Back to the questions now.

Josh has a computer purchasing question:

I have been flirting with buying a Mac as a second computer to tinker around with. What is your recommendation for a first time Mac buyer (other than the Mac Mini)?

MacBookThe MacBook. Especially if your primary computer today is a laptop, I think you’ll be impressed with the speed and power of the MacBook for the price. (About $1200.) If you’re more of a power user, then you could go with the current Mac Pro set-ups, but they tend to start at $2000. They’re very powerful and expandable (four drive bays!), but I imagine you won’t want to start your Mac life on such a large investment. (I did, but I was nuts in those days. Thankfully, it paid off handsomely and I’m still using that computer daily, 3 years later.)

On the other hand, you’re stuck using a non-Mac monitor at that Mac Pro point, so an iMac would be a worthy investment if you prefer a desktop. It’s obviously not as expandable as a Mac Pro nor as portable as the MacBook, but it’s a pretty standard Mac computer that has a stunning monitor that won’t cost you an extra grand. Really, those screens are HUGE on the current generation iMacs. (Sadly, you’ll be paying for the screen AGAIN the next time you buy an iMac.)

Is that too mushy? What kind of computer set-up do you have today? What do you use your computer for? Is lots of storage a key point for you? Are you just using your computer for e-mail and web surfing? Do you just want a multimedia system that’s easy to use? These are all things that could swing my vote one way or the other.

Hope that helps.

Paul C. wants podcasting answers:

Did the idea of doing the Pipeline Podcast come up out of the blue or had you tinkered with the idea a couple of times before getting around to it? Are you surprised it caught on and that you have lasted this long in doing it in, more or less consecutive weeks? Have you ever thought about adding in any new features to it like a top 10 worst sounding books of the week or reader’s mail/questions?

I had toyed with the idea of doing Pipeline Radio a year or more before the podcast began. The idea was to record a minute long thing once a week that we could post on Fridays with some short review/thought/something or other. It didn’t go very far because I didn’t have the time to pursue it past writing up a couple of scripts, one of which I turned into an early Pipeline Podcast. That was more along the lines of an Andy Rooney style editorial piece. I was also worried about bandwidth consumption at the time. Broadband wasn’t so pervasive, and even a minute of audio would be a slow download in those dial-up days.

When I read about podcasting in December of 2004, I knew I had to jump in. I did college radio. I did local radio up until about a year and a half ago, as a matter of fact. I wanted to use that training to do a podcast, and so I started the Various and Sundry DVD podcast and The Pipeline Podcast at the same time – Christmas Break, 2004. I had the time that week to set up a system to produce two weekly podcast shows. Once I started, I was hooked.

Eventually, the DVD podcast faded away. That was due to a lack of time and, honestly, a decrease in DVD and movie viewing habits. While I still enjoy the weekly discussions here on the blog for new DVD days, I didn’t feel comfortable TALKING about a bunch of movies I wasn’t familiar with for ten minutes a week in a podcast.

I’m not surprised the comics podcast has lasted this long. I’ve never been able to give up on comic things. Pipeline is coming up on its eleventh anniversary now and I have never ever once missed a week. Never taken a week off. I’ve been late a couple of times, I’ve pre-written things a few times, but I’ve never missed a week. I don’t think there’s another comics columnist on-line who can claim that.  I doubt there’s a print columnist who could say that, either.  This next Pipeline is the 563rd or 564th edition. I ain’t giving up on it. The podcast comes secondarily to that, and I’ve never hesitated to just skip a week when I had to. I missed a couple of weeks due to illness and one or two weeks due to scheduling and technical troubles.

The main problem with the podcast is that it’s a timing thing. The new comics release list comes out late on Monday after my chance to record a podcast. I have to record it on Wednesday, or else it’s dated by the time Wednesday night comes around. If I miss that window, I’m sure lots of people just skip over it.

I would like to do more with the podcast. Honestly, I would. I even get requests about that all the time. Oddly enough, most of those requests thank me for doing a show that’s so relatively short to the rest of the comics podcast world, but then ask me to add more stuff into it.

The simple fact of the matter is that I don’t have the time to do more than I am doing right now with the podcast. I do it because it’s not a huge hassle to spend a half hour on Tuesday nights recording and publishing the thing. Sometimes, I can even pare that down to less than 20 minutes. Even the monthly PREVIEWS podcast can be tricky to schedule out with Jamie (as it is turning out to be this month – sorry, Jamie) and finding a solid hour to an hour and a half of our lives to record.

Finally, Ezekiel asks:

What do you think of the new Hulk trailer?

Haven’t seen it. If it doesn’t show up on the Apple TV in HD, I’m not watching it. I imagine it’ll show up in there eventually, though. I hope. I do want to see what this thing looks like.

That’s it for this week.  Post more questions below, please!  I’d love to answer them in upcoming Q&As.

New DVD Releases for 11 March 2008

This is a monumentally huge week.

  • August Rush

C’mon, it’s named after me — “August.” Of course it leads the pack this week!

  • No Country for Old Men

Who doesn’t love the Coen Bros? I’ve only ever seen one of their movies and it really didn’t do anything for me. Eh.

  • Tin Man

It’s two discs to contain the full “wonderment” of this SCI FI cheapo mini-series — because that’s the only type of show SCI FI makes. Cheapo.

  • Dan In Real Life

Steve Carrell stars in a movie that, well, everyone forgot about already.

  • Hitman: Unrated

Uwe Boll did NOT direct this one. Repeat, he did NOT direct this one. Doesn’t mean it’s any good, but it does mean that there’s a small chance that it won’t suck worse than your standard Hoover upright.

  • Bachelor Party 2: Unrated

Remember the original Tom Hanks movie two decades ago? Yeah, they decided to remake it. I’m guessing this is a cheapo direct-to-DVD thing, but there’s a small chance it actually made its way to a poor unsuspecting populace of randy teenaged boys who didn’t know there was an original movie, despite the “2” in the title.

  • Bee Movie

Let’s see if Oprah wants to repeat her hour-long advertisement for this movie this week.  This will likely be the best-selling release of the week.

  • Nancy Drew

Fairly benign kid-friendly movie. It’s like Veronica Mars, but skewed younger.

  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police

The geeks out there reading this are no doubt excited now.

So what are you picking up this week? Did I miss something?

New Releases for 04 March 2008

First, some TV shows:

  • Ben 10: Season Three

The kids are eating this up. The comic fans are impressed that something created by “one of their own” is so darn popular.

  • The Love Boat: Season One, Volume OneThe Love Boat - Season One, Vol. 1

Admit it– you just sang the theme song to the show in your mind when you read the title. I know I did. . .

  • Blood Part 1

I remember kinda sorta liking the original short that this series is based on.  Whether that means the new series will be any good, though, is up in the air That’s it. Onto the movies:

  • Into the Wild

Written and directed by Sean Penn, about a college kid who sells everything and runs off to the Alaskan wilderness.

  • Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Looks incredibly silly, which means it’s one of those bulletproof family movies that will do well no matter the quality.

  • Things We Lost in the Fire

Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry. Now you know as much as I know about the movie.

Also available in HD-DVD format. Whoops.

Coming up tonight: American Idol, Guys, Round of 16.