February 26, 2012

League Assignment #3: Where are they soon?

Filed under: League of Extraordinary Bloggers — fairplaythings @ 10:53 pm

This league assignment is subtitled “the one that doesn’t involve collecting humans.”

Allowed back for the third installment of the series, this week Cool & Collected asks: The 80s and 90s were filled with kids and teens in the movies. Which movie would you like to see a sequel made in 2012 with the original cast members, who have aged the same as you and me.

This might get me kicked out of the league, but I’m turning the premise around. Instead of looking back with nostalgia, let’s look ahead with hunger.

I want to see Kick-Ass 2034.

Yes, I know there is talk of a sequel, but here me out. Imagine, if you will, that it becomes a one-off movie. Twenty-two years down the road, Hit Girl is 34 years old. Perhaps she’s a cop like her dad (and adopted father), maybe she’s hung up the guns and the cape, or maybe she’s a mess, the realization of what’s she done catching up with her. Kick Ass is 40 years old. Perhaps the last adventure was the last adventure and he does settle down with his high school sweetheart, raising a couple of kids and finding himself behind a desk reliving past glories in his head. Or he’s been unmasked and forced undercover to protect himself and those around him. And Red Mist? Has the now 40 year old has consolidated his hold on the New York Crime families?  Or been dethroned and seeking vengeance against all comers?

And some catalyst to bring them together, as allies or adversaries, anew.

Now that’s a movie worth waiting for. Because the sequel of any movie that makes Nicolas Cage this cool is worth waiting for.

A sampling of what other members of the league had to say:

  • To come….

February 20, 2012

League Assignment #2: To the Batmobile!

Filed under: League of Extraordinary Bloggers — fairplaythings @ 12:31 am

Well, Brian certainly has a way of getting me back into the blogging game. Here I return again to the next contribution to the League of Extraordinary Bloggers!

You have an unlimited budget and space is not a problem. What piece of Hollywood memorabilia would you want hanging around in your batcave?

You would think this would be an easy question. I can already hear the cries of “just pick one of the Transformers from the Bay films and be done with it!” And in fact that can pretty easy be done. It was only recently that there was an auction to buy Arcee from her brief appearance in Revenge of the Fallen for a mere $17,000.

But y’all know what I think of the Bay films. And anyway, it’s Ratchet that I would want anyway.

But we’re talking about unlimited budget and space.  An original colonial viper? The bridge of the Enterprise? The original Batmobile? A hoverboard? (Actually, this just about became the item in question but it would have to work, dammit!, to bypass all contenders into the core of my heart…) The TARDIS? My god, the mind reels!

Anyway, I could not could not COULD NOT narrow it down to one. So here are my top three in no particular order:

The Dewback (Star Wars: A New Hope)

Here’s a dirty little secret: I was never really into Star Wars toys and figures. Oh I loved the movie (still jealous all these years later that my friend Philip got to see Star Wars in the theatre for the first time while I can only claim that honour for the Empire Strikes Back). But although there were some cool toys - the imperial troop transport, the Death Star (which I only came to appreciate more recently), and the AT-AT - I never went after memorability for the movie like I have for other areas of nostalgia.

But this isn’t a figure we’re talking about. This is the REAL DEAL. So what is worthy of such a place in my collection? While there would be full size mock-ups of the x-wing fighter and possibly for the Snow Speeder (two definite short listed candidates), I suspect (though don’t know for sure) that a lot of the bigger vehicles were scale models.

But I know for sure that one item was real: the Dewback that was lovingly created for Star Wars and ultimately didn’t work as intended. It’s always been one of the cooler toy, so the idea of having the real thing in my collection is just too cool for skool.

Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)

Is it wrong to add a person to the list, making her into a mere object to adorn a toy shrine? Probably. Dammit I’m going to do it anyway. I liked G.I. Joe (surprisingly) in the end. Oh I winced at the dialogue, and Snake-Eye’s mouth, the choice of characters, the weird triangle of Duke-Baroness-Cobra Commander, and most everything to do with the Commander, but given all this, it really could have been a lot worse. And it did have some good stuff going for it. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Christopher Eccleston. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Storm Shadow. A silent Snake-Eyes. Zartan. The Villains Win!

And it gave us Scarlett.

I though Ms. Nichols did a decent job in the role. I also thought she looked like Scarlett. And I’m saddened to hear that she’s not a part of G.I. Joe: Retaliation (while Channing Tatum will be). Anyway, if the skies the limit, I think having the real Scarlett as part of the collection is a go.

V.I.N.Cent (The Black Hole)

So I started this post with the contention that I couldn’t decide on simply one artifact, and then added a giant thunder lizard and an actress to my list. Really, how can you possess a person, let alone a thunder lizard. But a droid? Very possessable.

And while I think R2 is a fine droid and all, I love the style and flair of V.I.N.Cent. He talks. He hovers. He has cool legs and gismos. And he’s under appreciated. And really, what more does one want in their collection than an under appreciated robot from and under appreciated film?

V.I.N.Cent for the win.

A sampling of what other members of the league had to say:

February 11, 2012

League Assignment #1: It takes an assignment to bring out the writing muse

Filed under: League of Extraordinary Bloggers — fairplaythings @ 8:27 pm

“Oh the year was 1776
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now…

Wait a minute… The year is 2012, I’m not Stan Rogers, and this is not a folk blog. But you wouldn’t know it from my most recent absence. After a smattering of blogginess at the beginning of the year primarily concerning the event called Botcon, I disappeared again, the victim of work assignments, training and extracurricular activities of a non-toy variety. I extend (again) my apologies to you, regular and faithful readers.

But let’s put my absence aside. This is a a toy blog after all - open, dammit, open! - so let’s get back to it.

Recently, I had the opportunity to make another appearance on my friend Steve’s Roboplastic Podcastalypse  to discuss Robotix, a construction toy of the mid-1980s that tried (and failed) to contort itself into the action figure toy premise so common at the time. For a bit of a nostalgia walk down Skaloor lane, and to hear Steve’s latest revelations of the fate of the proposed second year run on Roboforce, go get the postcast here.

In other news, as you may know from a more active twitter feed, I’ve recently joined The League of Extraordinary Bloggers. I mean, how could I refuse the call to arms of Brian at Cool and Collected to assemble a group of dedicated bloggers who would discuss, muse and debate a variety of topics on a regular basis. Like livejournal’s writers’ block, except way less lame.

Forced inspiration - just what an infrequent toy blogger needs! So here I am for the first installment.

What movie is, or was, your “go to” Saturday matinee — the comfort movie you always popped into the VCR on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the movie you watched over and over again, driving your parents crazy while you recited the lines along with the characters on the screen?

Of course, we’d have to start with a subject on which I do not have a ready response.

Strange as it may sound, I really don’t have a “comfort” movie. Sure, I have a list of favourite films, and films for multiple viewings, but there isn’t (or wasn’t) a film that I completely destroyed with multiple viewings. Honestly, there are so many new (or old) programs that I want to see (hello Doctor!), it almost feels reckless to spent time on multiple repeats. Currently, we going through Star Trek: The Next Generation, episode by episode, and hope to get to the second series of the new V and the (finally!) officially released Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future soon. I’d also like to go back and watch through the recent Battlestar: Galactica (at least until the middle of season four) and Buffy.

What I do throw in when I am at a loss are old episodes of Beast Wars and Beast Machines. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge G1 fan and the dialogue and stories hit me in the old nostalgic part of my brain (in a way that most of GIJoe cannot). But Beast Wars and Beast Machines are both visually beautiful and tremendously well written that it’s hard not to be drawn back to them. Strangely the collected serialized Robotics that I have for my Region 2 player can also get thrown into the mix. But even if it is marketed as a movie, it really isn’t quite as advertised.

I doubt that on my list of favourite movies, I’ve sat through any of them more than a dozen times. Strangely, the single film I went to see on more than two occasions was Michael Bay’s 2007 Transformers. I say strangely because, as regular readers of this blog know, I was (putting it mildly) not enamored with its sequels, Revenge of the Suck or Suck of the Moon. And despite these viewing, Transformers does not have a place on my 10 ten list.

But back in 2007, when I first saw the film in Providence, Rhode Island with 500+ Transformers fan, I completely fell in love with it. It was to me what Transformers fans claim its two sequels were - a beloved popcorn film. It really was a classic example of a film that divided its three acts into very distinct styles:

  1. Suspense / horror - the weird artifacts, the building mystery of strange vehicles and machines and the initial confrontations with the Decepticons, there was a sense that Bay was actually capturing how the world would interpret giant changing robots from another world - with fear and apprehension.
  2. Comedy - almost from the moment that Optimus Prime begins introducing his teammates, right up until the unfreezing of MBE 1, the whole film plays almost like a juvenile comedy. Sex jokes, fire hydrants, oblivious parents, urine - it’s like these thousands of year old machines arrived to turn the planet into animal house. And the film would have been damaged had things not changed gears again.
  3. Action / adventure - once Megatron is loose, we get back to a semblance of a movie. These autonomous robotic organisms from the planet Cybertron were not wisecracking friends, they were galactic gladiators whose arrival heralded a terrible threat to all existence and our chance for survival.

Five years ago, how could anyone know that this film would be followed by two sequels, each of which would be the second highest grossing films for their year of release? Or that Bay would take the “comedy” style from the second act of the first film, already sprinkled lightly throughout the other parts of the film, and decide that gay jokes and dog humping should trump subtlety every time? Or that the subsequent films would muddle the identities of both Prime and Megatron to the point that they were no longer recognizable - the hero a cold blooded killer, the villain a pathetic second banana. Or that he would take the somewhat problematic but completely understandable premise of the first film - Optimus Prime and Megatron were shared guardians of their home world until a quest for power led Megatron and his followers to try and seize the soul of their world - and then add contradiction after contradiction into Revenge of the Fallen (the arrival on earth of the Prime and their betrayal by the Fallen millions of years after the war for Cybertron had begun and the Prime were already extinct) and Dark of the Moon (the crash on the moon in the early 1960s of Sentinel Prime in league with a Megatron who had disappeared from Cybertron millions of years before in a vain attempt to retrieve the All-Spark from space). Or that despair and disgust at the last two films would lead me to question what I liked so much about the first one (to say nothing of leading to very very long sentences like the previous one?) At the time, given modest expectations and hopes, Transformers was a somewhat imperfect film that hit enough touchpoints to be worth eight separate viewings in the theatre. Eight.

I saw the second and third film a total of once each. Just enough to know how wrong things went.

So that’s my entry on the topic of “comfort” movies. Not exactly on topic. But an interesting chance to talk a bit about the first film for a change. And of course bash the sequels.

And, in case you are interested, this is my list of favourite films:

  • Fight Club
  • Shawn of the Dead
  • John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Superman Returns
  • 28 Days Later
  • Usual Suspects
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • High Fidelity
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Run Lola Run

A sampling of what other members of the league had to say:

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