A box of Cheeze Makes for a Fun Weekend

Last week, I placed a “hefty” order with Amazon.com.  I would venture to say that 90% of was pure “cheeze” entertainment.  Movies and TV shows on DVD, that while never going to win any awards (at least none to be proud of!), were staples of Staurday and Sunday afternoon fare back in the day.  Kids today are spoiled with the various movie channels, genre specific channels, and the advent of home videos that the joy that many of us felt, lounging in front of the TV (it was analog-RIP, and we only had the over the air channels), on a weekend afternoon, watching absolutely rotten movies and TV shows.  Heck, ABC even had Friday Night Movies as a regular feature.  But all that has been consigned to the dust bins of history, and the nostalgia of us that remember.

So, as I said, I placed an order with Amazon, dropping a small wad on some of those cheezey movies and shows of my youth.  OK, so not all of it was cheeze.  I did get the first season of NCIS, so I’ll exclude that from this commentary.  But the rest of it was pure Saturday morning and afternoon fare.  Some it was “retro,” dating to the early to mid 1970’s, a bit from the 80’s, and a bit that is “modern.”

For “conniseurs” of such fare, I highly reccomend looking for the “Midnight Movies Double Features.”  I picked up two of these, at a very reasonable price ($8-$9 each).  The first was one I had wanted for a long time.  I kept passing it over for quite a while, but since I could not find it locally anymore, I broke down and ordered it through Amazon.  This is the “Midnight Movies Double Feature” of “The Land that Time Forgot,” and “The People that Time Forgot.”

I first saw these on a Saturday afternoon, probably sometime around 1979 or 1980.  I think local channel WRGB 6 showed them.  “Land” is based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs story.  In short, it’s about the survivors of a torpedoed merchant ship who are picked up by a German U-Boat in 1916, and find themselves on an island where evolution works in a very different fashion.  The big star of the movie is Doug McClure.  Fans of the Simpsons may find the name tantalizingly familiar, and with good reason.  The Simpson’s character “Troy McClure” is a combination of Doug McClure and Troy Donoghue, two “heart throbs” of the late 1960’s early 1970’s. Fans of “classic” Dr.Who will notice one Anthony Ainley, aka The Master, in this movie as well.

This is far form Academy Award winning film making.  And that’s a good thing.  It’s a fun action adventure movie.  It doesn’t try to be anything other that faithful to the original source material.  The same can be said for the sequel, “The People That Time Forgot.”  The sequel does have a late in the film appearance of McClure, but the main star is Patrick Wayne (son of John Wayne) and Sarah Douglass (later to appear as the evil queen in Conan the Destroyer).  Both films can be considred “period pieces,” given that the original ERB stories were written at the end of WW1, and reflect that era wonderfully.

The other “Midnight Double Feature” I picked up has “War Gods of the Deep” and “At the Earth’s Core.”  “At the Earth’s Core” is another Doug McClure vehicle, this one also having Peter Cushing and Catherine Munro.  This is another movie based on an Edgar Rice Burrough’s story.  It’s a straight forward Victorian science fiction story, much like many of ERB’s contemporaries like Jules Verne.  Simple story line is a Victorian era scientist and his assistant build a giant drilling machine and travel to a strange land beneath the Earth’s crust.  Just like any of the various versions of “Jouney to the Center of the Earth,” it has the same basic premise, and a few anachronisms.  Even so, it’s another fun bit of esacpism, a good way to kill a couple of hours without feeling cheated.

“War Gods of the Deep” is a Vincent Price movie.  Unlike the previous three films, this one is loosely based on a poem by Edgar Allen Poe (City in the Sea).  It is also known as “The City Under the Sea” and “The City in the Sea.”  The film also features Tab Hunter, another one of those pretty boy actors of the “beach bingo” era.  The film has a slight Lovecraftian over tone, with an under water city, and merman type slaves.  Anyone who has played the video game “Bioshock” will see more than a passing resemblance to many of the settings and characters.  In many ways, this is a fairly typical Vincent Price piece.  Price plays a tyrannical, megalomaniacal ruler of the under water city, whose own ambitions eventually lead to his downfall.

What needs to be remembered in all four of these films is when they were made.  The most recent is from 1976, 33 years ago now (ouch!).  So one must keep that in mind when viewing, as the special effects and such are definitively dated.  However, once you get beyond that (which is a problem for many younger viewers), one will find some find performances, excellent cinematography, and quality writing.  If you are a fan of action adventure movies, and not just the shooting and explosion packed films made since the 80’s, then definitely drop the $15-$20 for these two double feature movie packs.

This brings me up to a staple of Saturday morning viewing in the mid-70’s, Land of the Lost.  Oh this is terrible TV is so many ways, yet is thoroughly enjoyable none the less.  Yes, I know, the effects are horrible, the green screen work is lousy, and all too apparent.  The stop motion animation is not even up to Ray Harryhousen standards.  The acting is B-List at best, and dinner theater at worst.  Yet the actual stories, the writing is rather good.  It’s a shame to a degree that such visions were never properly realized on screen.

Anyone who grew up in the 70’s will remember this series, as long as they had access to a TV on a Saturday morning.  Park Ranger Rick Marshall and his daughter Holly, and son Will are trapped in another dimension, brought there while rafting.  The show lasted three seasons, and a total of 43 episodes.  The show wandered from prehistoric creatures (all those dinosaurs), to dimensional time travelling (Enik, The Marshalls, and various “guests”), to high end Science Fiction (the pylons, weather control, etc).  This was another creation of Sid and Marty Krofft, also known for creating HR Puffnstuff.

OK, I fully and freely admit that I got this one purely for nostalgia’s sake.  So far I’ve watched the first disc of season 1.  It’s both as bad, and as wonderful as I remember it being.  Perhaps that’s just the rose colored glasses of youthful memories coloring my perceptions, but what the heck.  If anything, I appreciate the writing far more than I ever did as a child.  The effects are truly, painfully dated, and on the cheap.  Yet is has this wonderful Dr.Who quality to it, though I must say that Dr.Who and the BBC did it all better, and on a tighter budget.  Even so, I found it quite relaxing to lie on the couch  and watch this.

I did not however, get the lunch box set.  I just got the regular boxed set of all three seasons.  I just couldn’t justify the extra cash for the lunch box edition.  Not to mention I’d have no place to put it.  😉  I’m gathering that these sets have been released to coincide with the motion picture version about to come out.  Previously, the seasons had been available, but only as individual sets.  I do not plan on going to see the movie version.  Why?  One, it’s a Will Ferrell movie.  I don’t care for anything in which he stars.  They tend to be terribly unfunny.  Ferrell is best as a supporting actor, not a lead.  Second, I just can’t get past the idea of Holly getting the hots for Rick.  Eeeewwwww.  I don’t care if in the movie she’s not his daughter but an admirer.  I have been forever poisoned by the original series characters, so all I can see is an incestuous relationship, even if it isn’t.

I also found a great deal on all three seasons of Tripping the Rift.  This animated series had a good run on the SciFi channel on cable a few years back.  This humorous animated series follows the crew of the Jupiter 42 on its escapades across the universe.  They go from one one misadventure to another.  This is a fairly humorous send up of just about every SciFi show ever made.  Obviously swipes at Star Trek and Star Wars abound, along with far more subtle, and not so subtle references to many other SciFi classics and not so classics.

This is definitely an adult oriented series.  Between the language and overt sexual references and banter, and graphic, though cartoon violence, this cannot be reccomended for anyone under the age of 14.  Even so, I still find this to be a fun romp through space.  It is witty and incisive in its writing, and in the voice acting,  It’s pretty much all CGI, and that is very clear.  But it works extremely well for this series.  Dorph Bobo alone is worth the price of admission.

So, I should be more than set for entertainment for a while.

PS3 Game Review- Resident Evil 5

Without a doubt, this will be the early odds on favorite for Game of the Year (GOTY).  One of the more highly anticipated games of 2009, this does not fail to deliver the goods.

The game picks up some time after the events of Resident Evil 4.  You take the reigns as Chris Redfield once again, this time as an agent of the Bio terrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA).  You are teamed up with Sheva Alomar, another BSAA agent, to investigate an occurrence of Bio Organic Weapons (BOW) research in an unnamed West African nation.  The usual and expected Resident Evil antics happily follow.

Game play is essentially the same as in Resident Evil 4.  The view is an “over the shoulder” view, with some specific views, such as when you use a sniper rifle.  Movement, aiming, combat actions, and the like are all ports of the RE:4 system, so those who have played RE:4 will already be familiar with them.  I must admit it took me a bit to get used to them again after playing so much Call of Duty, and it having been so long since I played RE:4.  Even so, it all came flooding back in short order.

Unlike previous Resident Evil games, there is a strong co-op play element here.  It is not necessary to play co-op to complete the game, as the co-op AI is fairly intelligent for once.  Not perfect, but more capable than many games.  It does not pay usually to get too separated from one another, as if either you or your partner dies, it’s game over.  With such a strong co-op aspect to the game, there are some “new” commands to work with that are situation specific.  If you or your partner is trapped or pinned by the enemy, there is a command to help them out (or call for help), which is indicated once you are in range.  If you or your partner are dying, you can rescue them by getting close enough and pressing the O button.  Doing so will restore just enough health to get you or your partner out of the dying status, but you better have an herb or first aid spray ready.  In addition, there are several situations where you will have to separate yourself and your partner to get past an obstacle or to gain an item.  One will “assist” the other in a jump, which will be indicated on screen.

The co-op play aspect is very central to the game.  While not necessary to have a partner to play with, I can see where it will enhance the game play.  I have not yet tried co-op in any form.  You can play co-op both online or off line.  Off line is split screen, so having a “big screen” TV will be an asset here.  Otherwise I suspect you will lose detail, and the play will actually be hampered by the lack of ability to see enemies approaching your partner.

Combat, as previously stated, is the RE:4 engine, just refined a bit.  Weapon combat is relatively unchanged.  You aim, you fire, repeat as needed.  Where the noticeable improvement comes is in hand to hand combat.  In the right circumstances, you get opportunities for some “special” hand to hand attacks.  As an example, Chris Redfield can do some nasty upper cut type punches, knocking back and stunning enemies, and in some cases, kill an enemy.  Sheva has some of her own as well, but I haven’t had an opportunity to try them out yet.

The weapon assortment is nice.  The weapons are all real world items, from the M92 pistol, to an RPG-7 type launcher.  I’m not quite sure why there are 3 different models of sniper rifle though.  There just isn’t quite enough variation between them honestly.  In total, there are: 4 Pistols (M92F, H&K P8, SiG P226, M93R); 4 shotguns (Ithaca M37, M3, “Jail Breaker,” “Hydra”); 4 SMGs, though 2 are Assault Rifles (Vz61, AK-74, H&K MP-5, SiG 556); 3 Sniper Rifles (S75, Druganov SVD, H&K PSG-1); 3 Magnums (S&W M29, L.Hawk, S&W M500).  Ther are some “special wepaons” as well.  There is a grenade launcher (like the ARMSCORP rotary launcher), the mentioned RPG-7 style launcher, a stun rod (suped up cattle prod), a long bow (so you can go all Rambo), a Gatling Gun (think Jesse Ventura in Predator), and at times, some turret weapons, mounted on trucks or fixed emplacements.  Just as with RE:4, you can buy upgrades for each weapon, increasing various aspects.  Unlike RE:4, there is no “mysterious merchant” from which to get items and upgrades.  Instead, you can buy before you resume a game, after you die, or between chapters.  This is a good/bad thing.  The good is that if you get stomped, you get a chance to upgrade after dying.  The bad is that you don’t get an in game opportunity mid chapter as in RE:4.

The enemies are a varied assortment of bad guys from previous Resident Evil games.  I mean, who knew that having played the Resident Evil: Outbreak series would ever come in handy?  Most of the opposition are variants from RE:4, the Las Plagas infected zombie types, and such.  The bosses are interesting for the most part, with varying degrees of difficulty.  There are a few “old friends” who make their appearance in the game as well.  I won’t go into details here as I don’t want to spoil any of the story elements.

The story itself is interesting.  The designers and writers have definitively moved the game story on, and are not just rehashing the same scenario over and over.  OK, so they are in a very broad sense, but the devil is in the details.  The biggest change is the setting.  Instead of being in a dark urban setting, or in a claustrophobic base set up, you are in the wide open of West Africa.  No brooding storm clouds hang over head, it’s not perpetual night.  The sun shines brightly, sometimes too brightly (to be expected in a tropical clime).  The various open spaces, such as the villages, are actually more troublesome than the close confined spaces of previous games.  If you’ve ever seen the movie (or read the book) Black Hawk Down, there are several scenes in game which will evoke those same images.  The combat situations tend to be short, intense affairs, and can come somewhat unexpected.  I say somewhat, in that you know something is going to happen, but the timing is just off enough to throw you a bit.

A quick note here on the game story and the Resident Evil: Degeneration movie.  While it is far from necessary to have seen the movie for the game’s story, it will give you just a bit more back story to the bad guys in game.

The graphics and sound design on this game are superb.  The cut scenes are extremely well rendered, using motion capture technology to improve the movements of characters.  Much like many of the current generation games, the scenery itself is worth just taking a moment to look around.  The villages are wonderful in their details, the shading and light sourcing is paid careful attention to (shadows are “correct”), and the characters and enemies move “naturally” (though there are still moments where things don’t look quite right).  The sound is well done as well.  Not only do you get the “background noise” of an environment (wind, water dripping, machinery, etc), but even “proper” sounds of running enemies, and things going crash when they get shot or knocked over.  A good example is in Chapter 3 when you’re cruising around a lake on an air boat.  You get a proper meshing of the engine whirring, and the water splash from the wake and the boat slapping up and down.  Majini (the “new” basic zombie) also make a nice thud when you run over them in the boat.

I had been eagerly awaiting this game since the end of last year.  I even “geeked out” and went to Gamestop’s midnight release to get it.  I still am of the opinion that RE:4 was one of the best games for the PS2 I ever played.  So, my expectations for RE:5 were fairly high.  I had played the demo several times prior to release, but all that did was whet my appetite.  The full game has not disappointed me at all.  As I have not yet played any form of co-op, I can’t speak to that.  Nor can I speak to the DLC available.  Nor have I attempted the Mercenaries or Versus modes yet.  I’m not that good yet.  Even so, there is replay value here.  After surviving a first play through, you should have enough stuff, upgrades, and points to spend, that you can be a bit more thorough in a second or thrid play through.

9.5/10

Bluray Movie Review- Event Horizon

Let me begin by saying I was not one of those who saw this in the theatre.  So I did not bring all that baggage with me when I first saw it.  I first saw this either on video (VHS or DVD), or on one of the movie channels.  Thus I had the ability to watch this in the comfort of a home, even if it wasn’t my own.  A lot of people were disappointed with Event Horizon when it came out.  Personally I blame the Paramount marketing folks for this.  They couldn’t make up thier minds if they wanted to push Event Horizon as a SciFi flick or as a horror flick.  In the end, many people ended up going into the movie thinking it was one thing and getting another.

But I like the movie.  It was not a traditional SciFi movie, nor was it a traditional horror movie, though it has elements of both.  The story is fairly striaght forward.  Sam Neill is a scientist who had designed an experimental space engine to travel vast distances instantaneously.  The initial flight went wrong, and the ship disappeared for 7 years.  But it reappears, and a rescue ship, captained by Laurence Fishburne is sent, with Sam Neill in tow to investigate what happened to the titular Event Horizon.  Naturally, nothing goes as expected.

The most stunning part of this movie is the visuals, and is one of those movies that just demanded a Bluray treatment.  The secenes with ships, the fly by, the near orbit space station, and even the singularity drive were impressive at the time.  In Bluray, on an HDTV they are still so.  Yes, there are a few instances where the CGI shows through, mainly in the opening sequence with objects “floating in zero-g.”  Some of the object look decidedly like CGI constructs, and the lighting is off in a few scenes.  Even so, there’s more to praise than detract visually.  The ships alone are worth the price of admission.

The audio didn’t seem to me to have been remastered in anyway.  Then again, it was done originally in a high end Dolby at the time.  So the actual sound quality is fine, if not spectacular.  Even so, it could have been remastered into Dolby Digital for this release.

The etcras are fairly typical.  The usual making of short, commentary tracks, and deleted scenes.  They obviously did some new interviews for one of the segements, which was interesting to watch.  Interviews with Paul Anderson (director), Jason Isaacs (DJ), as well as production team members were actaully fairly interesting to watch for once.  Not a whole lot of insights to be had, but the anecdotes were of value.

On the whole, this is a more than worth while pick up for fans of the movie, or of similar genres.

Damnatus- The Movie

Fans of the Warhammer 40K Universe, be it through the table top miniatures games (WH40K, Epic), the Dark Heresy RPG, the Dawn of War PC game series, Final Liberation, or what ever, will by now, have heard of this fan movie.  It gets commented on the various messgaee boards at least once a month, sometimes more.  Those same people will also know of the legal challenges raised by Games Workshop, which effectively scuttled the release of the picture.  It can be found on the internet, just don’t ask me where or how to do so.  Though it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.  The trailer can be seen however (www.Damnatus.com):

There is a better quality trailer available on YouTube, but it doesn’t have the English subtitles.

GW’s stupid legal issues aside, this is an excellent fan movie IMO.  Yes the acting and fights scenes range from average to cheezey (like a LARP group really into their roles), but it’s a solid 40K story.  Even the “low budget” special effects and “wide shots” are worth while, better than many video games with a “real budget,” and 95% of what the SciFi channel puts out as Saturday night fare.  It is obvious that Damnatus was never quite finished in post-production.  This is really noticable in the CGI shots, which at times have an unifinished look to them.  But the legal challenge issued by GW’s nimrod marketing and legal departments probably scuttled that.

If you’ve seen it, then read on.  If you haven’t, well, this won’t make all that much sense to you.

As I was watching Event Horizon, I got to thinking about Damnatus.  Event Horizon is a good movie for a “40K feel,” and the perils of warp travel.  Which made me think about Damnatus, which I recently watched.  I got to thinking that if someone wanted to, they could turn Damnatus into a real Hollywood motion picture.  The elements are all there, and with a bit of Hollywood polish and shine, could be really awesome on the big screen.

My mian thoughts focused on casting the Damnatus as a major Hollywood production.  The rest of it really doesn’t matter.  It would all get the high end treatments by ILM or whoever for the effects.  Maybe a John Williams score as well.

So, the cast:

Inquisitor Lessus: Sam Neill.  This character only appears at the begininning and the end of the film, and needs a certain screen presence.  Sam has the right look, and conveys the right appearance on screen.

The Inquisitorial Operative Leschias: The “younger version” should be Shia LaBouef. The “cultist” version should be Robbie Coltrane.  Not sure Shia can pull of the last third of the movie, but he at least looks right for the part.  I’m open to any more suggestions here.  The more I think about it, I really want someone other tha Shia LaBouef for this role.  Someone give me a name here!

Osmar Adeodatus: Sean Pertwee.  The son of the late Jon Pertwee (aka Dr.Who), has the right talents for this role.  He’s played military roles before, and can pull off the right fanatical attitude for the PDF commander.

Nira Gippus: Need a “babe” to play the role of the novice psyker.  She also need to be “young looking,” figuring the character to be no more than 24 years old.  Rose McGowan was my first choice, but I’m waffling a bit on her.  No actress is striking me as “ideal” at the moment.  So, suggestions are more than welcome.

Hiernoymous VI von Remus: Our ostensible hero must be a serious star, but one with action flick chops.  Given the nature of the character, and how he progresses in the story, my choice is Clive Owen.  His dry wit and presentation fits perfectly with the character’s almost resigned fatalism.

Sgt. Corris: James Marsters.  His role as Spike (Angel and Buffy), as well as his turn as Captain John in Torchwood, make him well suited for this role.  Corris is a bit of an odd ball, a semi-superstitious gun slinger with a rapier wit and just a touch of mental instability.  It’s a role made for Marsters IMO.

Wodan Dubrovnik: Adam Baldwin.  No, he’s not one of “those Baldwins.”  This is the guy who played Jayne on Firefly and in the movie Serenity.  Dubrovnik is not that much different from Jayne in terms of characters, so Adam was a natural fit for me.

Oktavian Stimme: The actual physical portrayer for the Techpriest just needs to have the right size.  The voice will be over dubbed, preferably by Laurence Fishburne.  I had thought of James Earl Jones, but that would have lead to some uncomfortable comparisons to Darth Vader, which is not what we’d be going for.  But Laurence Fishburne would do a stellar job of it.

Inquisitor Zyriakus Makkabeus: Rutger Hauer.  Few people can pull off the whole is he a good or bad guy type role.  It’s tough to switch between trying to be imposing and villainous, and then to being a somewhat sympathetic character.  Hauer has done this several times before in films (and TV), and would be ideal for this role.

Imperial Naval Officer: This unnamed character has several lines, and only appears with Inquisitor Lessus.  So, this is essentially a cameo role.  So who better than Christian Slater?  It’s right up there with his appearance in Star Trek VI, where he informs Captain Sulu about the USS Enterprise.

Everyone else in the movie is an extra, a target, cannon fodder.  They just need to die well on screen.

So that’s my casting call for this “what if” scenario.

The director was easy: Ridley Scott.  Between Alien and Blade Runner, and even Black Hawk Down and Kingdom of Heaven, Scott has the right approach, the right “feel,” and the right sort of directorial vision a project of this sort would need.

So, if I ever get a few hundred extra million to throw at this project…

OK, So I’ve been lazy of late

And I haven’t done much of anything with this blog in quite some time.  Sue me.  I’m not one of those whose entire existence, whose sole self worth is determined by the number of hits I get here.  This is a place where I get to sound off when  I so feel like it.  I am not compelled to post daily, nor do I have any sort of need to do so.  I post when I like, about what I want.

That said, I have had thinsg to post of late, from PS3 game reviews, to Bluray movie comments, even to some political ramblings.  I just never quite got around to it.  I think I’ll get to it this week, or maybe weekend.  But as a teaser, for those that care (all 5 of you I’d guess), these will include:

PS3 games: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe; Call of Duty: World at War

Bluray Movies: The Dark Knight; Resident Evil-Degeneration; Hellboy II; Event Horizon

On the political front: Kirsten Gillibrand’s appointment to the US Senate; Who will replace her in the 20th Congressional district; the “bail out”; the farce that the Minnesota Senate race has become; Joe Bruno’s “indictment”.

That should keep enough posts coming for a few days…

Band of Brothers (Blu-Ray)

I had been holding out on getting this set, waiting first for a wide screen version at a reasonable price.  Then came the announcement that HBO was going ot release it on Blu-ray, so another wait on getting this.  But it was finally released on November 11th, Veteran’s Day here in the USA, Rememberance Day in the British Commonwealth and Western Europe, more than vaguely appropriate. 

I had preordered this through Amazon, for about 50% off retail, which made it a real bargain.  This is HBO’s seminal series (produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg) covering the story of Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne from D-Day to the end of the Second World War.  Based on the excellent book by Stephen Ambrose (controversy aside), this 10 episode series was so well done, in all aspects, that it should be considered “must see TV” for anyone over the age of 12.

It is not always an easy show to watch.  Then again, it’s not supposed to be.  It is a warts and all account of the men of Easy, the highs and lows, and the changes that they went through.  The Blu-ray format, especially with a decent surround sound system, truly enhances this experience for the viewer.

First off, I must speak about the sound,  The Dolby digital sound is simply incredible.  Case in point, I was watching Episode 7 I think (The defense of Bastogne), and as the attack began, I found myself actually ducking as you can quite literally hear the bullets whizzing past your head, or the mortar and artillery shells screaming down at you. 

Unable to avoid repeating myself, the picture is super clear, and you can see just about any detail you care to look at.  Some poeple I’m sure will complain about some sections having a “grainy” look to them.  This is not a defect, or a problem with the format, or a bad quality print.  It is intentional, a cinematic “trick” to give an “aged” look to some scenes, especially close ups. 

But the real value here is in the extras.  Unlilke many DVD’s, Bluray or regular, the Band of Brothers set has extras that are more than worth while.  In fact, to get the absolute most out of this set, you will want to watch the series three time, in its entirety.  You will not be disappointed.

First, watch the series with out any extras.  This will allow you to more fully enjoy not only the series itself, but the extras as well.  Second, you watch the series with the “maps” extra turned on.  This feature gives you an interactive map of the progress of Easy Company, and how the episode in question relates to it.  Third time through, turn on the “In their own words” feature.  This is the gem of the extras.  With this feature turned on, you will get Picture in Picture (PIP), interview segments from the actual Easy memebers talking about the events of the episode.  This is priceless stuff really. 

In addition, there is the usual extra type stuff to be had.  A documentary on the making of the series, and some additional interviews with the members of Easy company.  These extras should not be over looked, but as stated, are not the real special features of the set.

All in all, I can find no fault with his set.

10/10

Five more for the BluRay collection

Birthdays have to be good for something, so why not for adding more movies to my collection?

So, in honor of my having surivied another year on this planet, I picked up five more Bluray movies: the Hulk, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, and James Bond Set 1.  I was originally just going to get Dr.No on Bluray, but then I saw the 3 disc set, and as I did not have any of the three in the set, I picked that up instead.  Now on to the individual stuff….

 

The Hulk:  This is the second attempt at bringing the Hulk to the big screen.  This is not a sequel to the previous Ang Lee version, but an attempt to reimagine the character, and bring it in line with the Marvel cineverse that being formed.  This version is no better and no worse than the Ang Lee version, it’s just different.  I’m still not buying Ed Norton as Bruce Banner, and I didn’t like William Hurt as Tunderbolt Ross or how that character was handled.  I also did not like how Abomination looked.  It was too Resident Evil for me.  All I could think of when I saw Abomination on screen was “Heck I took him out with three rockets,” as he just looked so much like the Tyrants in RE (the video game).  I did enjoy the use of the old TV series musical cues (ncluding the theme music), the references to the TV origin, how the Hulk was rendered on screen (he no longer looks plastic), and several other “fan boy” references. 

As for watching this on Bluray, it’s worth while.  Between the sharpened image, the digital sound, and the extras, this is a worthy pick up.  The extras have some interesting documentaries and behind the scenes stuff, and anyone interested in digital animation will have a field day.  I must say though, I no longer sit through anything where Joe Quesada or Tom Breervoort have anything to say.  Their prattlings just annoy the crap out of me, and I will skip over anything with them in it for more than 0.000000000001 seconds.  I get enough of their patting themselves on the back elsewhere, I don’t need it or want it here.  These shorts on the comics need to focus more on the original creative teams, and less on the pompous jackalopes that currently run thinsg at Marvel.

Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crsytal Skull:  First off, this movie is not as bad as it has been made out to be.  Yes, it gets somewhat ridiculous, even for an Indiana Jones movie, but it’s still far better than Temple of Doom.  It could have been handled better, but there was a time factor at work here. 

Harrsion Ford is still great as Indiana.  It was good that the role took into account his age, matching the character’s to it roughly.  It was nice to see Karen Allen return as Marion Ravenwood as well.  The way Shia LaBouef’s character, “Mutt,” was handled is questionable.  His first appearance was just way too reminiscient of Marlon Brando in the Wild Ones for me.  And even though the story line was extremely hokey, even for an Indy movie, it did work in an Indy kind of way.  I just wish the ending was different.

I have not gone through all the extras as yet.  There are the usual shorts on making the film, the casting, etc.  I’m sure that once I do, I will have yet another reason to want to smack George Lucas around like a red headed step child. 

The movie itself is superb to watch in HD.  The effects and cinematography really get a chance to shine through.  The sound is solid, as it’s done in Dolby Digital, and is impressive with surround sound.  As with just about any movie made in the past three years, watching it in an HD format is the preferable way to do so.

James Bond Set 1:  This three disc set includes Dr.No, Live and Let Die, and Die Another Day.  It could be renamed as the “Bond debut set,” as each movie is the first appearance of three actors who play Bond (Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan).  I really wanted a copy of Dr.No, and as I didn;t have the other two movis in this set already, I went with this for $89 rather than Dr.No alone for $35.

Bond fans should rejoice at this set, and the other set which has Goldfinger, Thunderball, and For Your Eyes Only.  The prints have been digitally restored and cleaned up, the sound remastered, and in a few occasions, errors corrected.  The colors are now bright and vibrant, the details, even on the 1964 release Dr.No , are impressive.  Much like with The Fifth Element, these are now probably “better than in the theater.”  All three are more than enjoyable to watch in the new HD Bluray format. 

The extras here though are wat really makes this set shine.  The documentaries on how the franchised got started, the back story of Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, how Sean Connery got the role, etc are all very well done, and enjoyable to watch.  You also get bonuses like Roger Moore as Bond on the UK TV show “Mainly Millicent,” as well as “lost” documentaries and footage.  There are also select scenes tied to specific characters you can access, where you get just the scene that features that character.  The breakdowns are by Bond, Allies, Women, Enemies, Combat, and Q. 

anyone who claims to be a Bond fan, and has a Bluray player would be remiss in not getting this set, even if you already own them on some other format.