Category Archives: DVD Faves

Marvel releases alternate opening to The Avengers

The blu-ray/dvd release of Marvel’s The Avengers is just under a month away (Sept. 25th) and Marvel has wasted no time in getting us excited by steadily giving us bits and pieces of what’s sure to be countless hours of special features. While many blu-ray/dvd bonuses include alternate endings, The Avengers will also include an alternate opening. Check it out below:

This might-have-been opening to The Avengers definitely sets a much darker and somber tone compared to the rest of Whedon’s quippy, light hearted action film. It also paints  a different picture of Mariah Hill’s character and hints at a what could be a plot thread that was dropped from this installment of The Avengers and and even its sequels. Thoughts?

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by | August 28, 2012 · 5:53 pm

My favorite Christmas movies

To help you compile your holiday Netflix que, I put together some of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. I left out the TV classics like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Charlie Brown Christmas because we already know of their Christmas awesomeness that transcends all time and genres. I made two different lists, one for the kids and one for the grown ups. These movies are  timeless classics and sure to get you into the holiday spirit.  Have a Babble Christmas!
Comment about what you think or add suggestions of your own.

The Family List

The Grown Up List

#5 Polar Express
#5 Scrooged
#4 Home Alone
#4 A Nightmare Before Christmas
#3 Elf
#3 Die Hard
# It’s a Wonderful Life
#2 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
#1 A Christmas Story
#1 Love Actually

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The Original Tron

Greetings program…
After almost 30 years, TRON comes back online with TRON Legacy coming out in theaters tomorrow. As a product of the 80’s, I am one of the generation of nerds that was greatly impacted by the first ever computer generated adventure put out by Disney. TRON, ahead of its time in many ways, is arguably the most nerdiest movie ever. We are not talking about a fantastical story that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. TRON happens inside a hard drive where programs fight other programs (does anyone remember Archon?) in a gladiatorial type 3-D world. That is about the geekiest thing I have ever heard of. I mean, this makes Star Wars and Star Trek nerds sound like varsity football players and super models. Anyways, the story… Continue reading

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Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam

Superman/Shazam The Return of Black Adam is the latest incarnation of the DC Showcase line of animated features. This one however is a little deceiving since the main feature with Superman and Shazam is only a half hour long. This is the origins story of Captain Marvel and his first meeting with Superman. They are both drawn together to oppose Black Adam (the evil version of Captain Marvel). Because of the title, apparently Black Adam was returning from somewhere and is not very happy. There is very little story with the exception of the Shazam wizard imputing powers onto a young Billy Batson. The strongest part of animated short is the combat between the three. There are some great exchanges and the collateral damage is high. After a few of these DC Showcases, I am starting to wonder if it’s an asset or liability to have a hero live in your city. I can imagine there is special ‘superhero’ insurance clause just in case your vehicle gets flung into a building or something- but I digress. Overall this is a fun and polished looking short. Done in an japanese animation style, the detail is high and the animation is fluid. Two thumbs up for how it looks. Continue reading

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Santa Vs. The Snowman


Here comes Santa Claus… related movie reviews. We took the kids to the IMAX theater to see this movie created by Steve Oedekerk (“Thumb Wars”, “Bruce Almight”, “Ace Venture”, “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist”). I believe it was originally created for TV and then moved into 3D for IMAX (though it wasn’t as we saw it???).
Haven’t heard of it? Not surprised. It’s not that great, but it’s cute. The animation is along the lines of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys” – not high praise.
The story finds the Snowman having his flute accidentally broken so he steals one from Santa’s workshop. He loses it in the ensuing chase, but realizes how beloved Santa is and decides he’d like that gig. He proceeds to create an army of snowmen to do his yuletide bidding.
A Hoth-like battle follows with ‘walkers’ and abominable beasts… and hair-dryers. Ultimately, the two rivals become friends and the Snowman learns the flute was his all along… he just needed to wait one more day until Christmas.
It’s cute, fun and pretty short. The kids liked it and it was fun to see it on the giant screen.

I give it 2 and a half Babbles:

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Pieces of April

If there is any Holiday that gets robbed, it’s Thanksgiving. Shoe-horned in between the children’s favorites Halloween and Christmas, the day of official thanks is relegated to a momentary tryptophan filled blur. It’s especially reflected in the amount of movies about Turkey Day. I know Thanksgiving is associated with watching football- especially the Dallas Cowboys, which is my favorite team. But what else is there out there that can embody the spirit of this otherwise neglected holiday? I think I found it.

A few years back I discovered Pieces of April (2003). It was directed by Peter Hedges who is known for his complex but light-hearted family dramas like Dan in Real Life and About a Boy. ‘April’ is about a wayward daughter that invites her dying mother and the rest of her estranged family to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. April is also living with her interracial boyfriend Bobby who the family does not approve which adds to the tension. It stars Katie Holmes- ok, before you pass judgement, give this a chance. I know, Holmes has never been able to pull off a convincing role off since her adorable ‘Dawson Creek’ days (what you weren’t wowed by Batman Begins?). However, in this ‘Juno’ type character, she actually does quite well. In fact, I would say this is my favorite movie of hers (which isn’t saying much). So give her a shot.

Like Hedges other movies, this is about the blessing and curse of family. ‘April’ captures the love, hate, anxiety, and forgiveness that we have all experienced at one time or another during the holidays. There are multiple story lines that eventually all find their way together at the end. Filled with a recognizable cast, ‘April’ is strongly supported and I especially enjoyed Bobby played by Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher). There are some surprises with his character that I really liked (don’t want to spoil it for you).

I know what you are thinking. no thanks ‘save yo drama for yo mama’ on Thanksgiving! Don’t worry, while the anxiety levels are high, Hedges manages to keep this positive with a satisfying conclusion. It’s not so heavy to bum you out but enough to make it believable. There is nothing insidious or dark that would disturb more sensitive audiences. Nothing graphic to cause embarrassment during a family viewing either. It is PG-13 so probably not appropriate for the young ones but I would encourage it if you have teens.

Pieces of April reminds us all that no matter what has happened in the past that there is something special about family. The pain is always worth the progress. So somewhere between your turkey induced coma and mad rush to for Black Friday, give Thanksgiving it’s well deserved love by watching Pieces of April. I am sure it will make your holiday favorite list for the future.

My ‘holiday’ movie rating is different since I am a little more generous. So I give it a 4 out of 5 Babbles:

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A walking dead community

I am going to review two shows that I have recently started watching. They share nothing and everything in common. While no where near the same hemisphere as the same genre, they both share three common themes: reluctant leadership, a community of misfits, and survival in bleak conditions.

The Walking Dead
AMC’s newest drama premiered on Halloween night and ended up being the highest rated cable series of 2010. Based on a comic book series (which I am a big fan), the story follows sheriff Rick Grimes as he wakes up in the hospital after an inexplicable zombie apocalypse has occurred. The world now is a cold, harsh place with a sparse population of human survivors. As a sheriff, Grimes is seemingly the only law enforcement left on the planet although almost nothing is revealed about the state of the US or the rest of the world. Danger lurks behind every corner and surviving is based on ingenuity and keeping quiet. Survivors encountered are  desperate and flawed while strangely clinging onto a ‘normal life’.

However, make no mistake, this is a DRAMA, not an action/horror series. Walking Dead reminds me of Sci-Fi’s Battlestar Galactica. The villains and action are secondary to the interpersonal conflict of the community. Like BSG, Walking Dead is about how humans cope in dire situations and how they need each other to survive. This series will be a character study not a zombie war.  

The effects and environment have a scope of a cinematic level (not surprising since it’s created by Director Frank Darabont). Production value is high and in my opinion, it is one of the best shot tv series I have ever seen. From what I understand, it will eventually diverge from the comic book and explore new ground. I am so excited about this series and it looks like the 8.1 million viewers are too.

I give this a 4 out of 5 Babbles.

Community (Season 1)
I also started watching NBC’s Community this past week. Where else can you find more ‘walking dead’ than at a community college? I know I am a season too late but there wasn’t room on my TV vegging schedule until now. Community follows an ex-lawyer Jeff Winger as he wakes up in a second-rate community college trying to finish up his bogus undergrad degree. The community college world is a cold, harsh place with a sparse intelligent population. Seemingly the only person that has a grip on reality, Winger becomes the fearless leader of a misfit Spanish study group. Fellow students encountered are  desperate and flawed while strangely clinging onto a ‘normal life’. Community is about how humans cope in dire situations and how they need each other to survive. These characters have no idea where they are going or what their purpose is- but they just a doing it together as a community.

The writing is really witty and the characters are lovable. I would consider shows like The Office and Arrested Development as cousins to Community. I have to admit that I have not been a fan of Joel McHale until I started watching this. His snarky comments and resistant compassion makes for a great leading character. Early reports are that season 2 is not as strong so that’s making me worry a bit. But for now, I will enjoy journeying through season 1. I haven’t seen any zombies yet but it wouldn’t surprise me if one showed up!

I give this a 3.5 out of 5 Babbles:

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Undercover Blues

Another review by guest Babbler Whitney Sanderlin:

Oldie But Goody

OK, show of hands, anyone ever see “Undercover Blues” way back in 1993?  I see that hand way in the back!  For the rest of you … “Undercover Blues” stars Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner (in probably the last movie that she starred in that she could pass for under 50) and is just (dare I say?) delightful.  It’s fun and cheesy and well-acted throughout.  And for a bonus, you get to watch Stanley Tucci (perhaps one of the great character actors out there right now) as “My Name is Muerte” or “Morty.”  Dennis and Kathleen play Jeff and Jane Blue (get it? “Undercover  Blues?”) who are a super-spy couple who have semi-retired due to the birth of their baby girl.  Well, it wouldn’t be a movie if someone or something hadn’t talked them into getting back into the game, kicking butts and taking names.  If you can get over the Bourne-esque manner in which both of the Blues are prepared for everything and win at everything, all the while shooting glib lines and dropping one-liners like it was going out of style, you will like this movie too.

The plot is simple and the setting is New Orleans, obviously pre-Katrina.   The Blues are promptly sucked back into the spy life and quickly get involved in capturing the bad dudette.  All the while, Jeff and Jane must avoid the local police and Muerte, who is out for blood but generally he seems to only be good at losing teeth.  I’m not saying all the butt-kicking moves are believable nor that the Blues’ perfection doesn’t make my eyes roll involuntarily at times.  But the chemistry is good between Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner and the side characters are played well, albeit with tongue-in-cheek seriousness.  

I found the film thoroughly entertaining.  Don’t expect “007” but do expect laughs.  

I give it 3.5 Babbles

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Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

I recently watched the DC animated movie Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. However, even as a huge JL fan I was very reluctant too see this. Mainly because I was so unimpressed with Grant Morrison’s book “JL: Earth 2” that it is based off of. While I enjoy a good parallel universe story, Earth 2 did not live up to its potential and it has sat on my shelf collecting dust ever since. It was boring and frustrating- especially since the super trinity (Supes, Bats, & WW) barely interacted with their evil counterpart. What’s the point then?!?!

‘Crisis’ does not disappoint. While I was expecting a direct copy from the source book, I was pleasantly surprised by the fresh new story. Benevolent Lex Luthor travels across dimensions to implore the Justice League to help defeat their evil counter part back in Earth 2. The ‘Crime Syndicate’ was evil and menacing. Their character development was very well done, especially Batman’s counter part- The Owl. Packed with ample action, each of the JL have a chance to square off against their evil equal. It was fantastic and a fan boy dream come true. It’s what Morrison’s book so desperately needed. As another bonus, another evil plot emerges 3/4 through the adventure that really kept me invested and engaged. So often i lose steam (like recent New Frontier) but not in this one. I was gripped till the end and fully satisfied when the credits rolled. If you are a comic book or Justice League fan, I would highly recommend this movie. I think its one of if not the best DC animated features to come out that balances great action and great story telling. This story definitely does these heroes ‘justice’ and it stands in a ‘league’ of it’s own.

I give it a 4.5 Babbles out of 5

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Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden

Over Fourth of July weekend, I watched Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden (2008). This clever documentary was written and directed by Oscar nominated, documentary extraordinaire, Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me). On the eve of his first baby’s birth, Spurlock decides to answer the burning question we’ve all been asking ourselves since 911, where is Mr Bin Laden? Initially motivated by wanting to create a safer world for his future child, this documentary dives deep in the world of the average middle easterner as we learn about their hopes, dreams, pains, and problems. It’s a fun and serious view at the root of what is troubling our relations with the enigmatic and often misunderstood part of the world. In a culture that seems so far away, I discovered many familiar sentiments and emotion as these so-called ‘enemies of the west’ shared from the heart. This is a movie of hope as it helps to understand who IS and more importantly, who IS NOT the enemy. Production level is high, it’s creatively shot, and the pace is brisk (unlike many docs). This entertaining, educating, and definitely worth a rental.You can also watch it free on Hulu.

I give this a 4 out of 5 Babbles

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500 Days of Summer

So after hearing so much about this movie, I finally got around to seeing it. The basic plot is about a boy who falls in love with a girl (Summer), who does not fall back in love with him, despite the fact it seems like she should. As the movie says in the beginning though, it’s not a romance story, it’s a break up story, and a really darn good one.

The cast is really good. I really liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Of former Third Rock from the Sun fame) as the main character. He was really likable and fit the role well and he should be in more movies. But as great as he was, Zooey Deschanel was even better as the incredibly enchanting love interest that broke his heart.

This movie also stars my new favorite actress Chloe Moretz as his younger sister who has a panache for giving  him wisdom with a few expletives mixed in. You might recognize her from the movie Kick Ass, where she plays the gun toting, bladeflinging, cute but foulmouthed Hit Girl. I don’t know how long she can keep those roles up before she grows up, but I love her right now.

Artistically this movie is really, really creative. I can’t really describe it in a review so you will just have to see it, but they do a lot or really creative and clever scenes. Maybe the best part of the movie is the killer Indie rock soundtrack. Really, really good music all throughout the film, and yes, I am a music snob.

As a whole I would give this movie 4.5 Babbles. Very well done and worth seeing.

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Dr Strangelove reviewed, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

As we enter the blockbuster season and begin pre-ordering our tickets for the Next Big Bovie (NBM of the week:  Iron Man 2), we are all going to feel the pinch at the box office. Before you buy any more tickets, or hit your local Red Box vending machine, put your wallet down and step away from your credit card. It’s time to see what’s playing your favorite free online movie theater, Cinema Huludiso (aka Hulu.com).

This week’s offering is the classic Cold War satire/comedy Dr. Strangelove, a film by Stanley Kubrick. Release in 1964, this movie (full title: Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) has been around long enough to be thoroughly analyzed by persons far more knowledgeable than I. I highly recommended reading its Wikipedia entry if you are inclined to learn more about the context and subtext of the film. I’m just going to share what I enjoyed about it.

First things first: the casting is simply amazing. The movie is worth seeing just for the performances, most notable those performances (yes, plural) by Peter Sellers. He was simply amazing as three different and completely unique characters:  British Group Commander Lionel Mandrake, US President Merkin Muffley, and the titular Dr. Strangelove. Each character is as different as could be from the others in voice, tone, temperament, and physical presence. Sellers was simply amazing.

George C. Scott , who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of General George S. Patton in in 1970, portays Army general Buck Turgidson (great name!), but this time he’s a paranoid, über-patriotic jingo. Keenan Wynn, whom I always knew as the bellowing Uncle Alonzo from Herbie Rides Again, appears briefly as “Bat” Guano, a general overly concerned with private property and the assumed “preversions” of Commander Mandrake. James Earl Jones (Flight of Dragons, Coming to America) makes his film debut as Lt Lothar Zogg, an officer attached to the B-52 bomber around which the movie revolves, and Slim Pickens (Blazing Saddles) is Major “King” Kong, the B-52’s redneck pilot who is hell-bent on completing his mission.

His mission? To drop his nuclear payload on Soviet Russia at the command of a his commanding officer, Jack D. Ripper (yep, a play on Jack the Ripper), a general obsessed with defending his precious bodily fluids from the Russians. Sound a little crazy? It is, and so is General Ripper. Without any enemy provocation and under his own authority, he has sent an entire wing of B-52s, all armed with nuclear bombs, into Soviet Russia with orders to destroy military targets. The bombers have locked their communications to a code that only Ripper knows, and the President and his advisory cabinet are unable to rescind the orders without it. Commander Mandrake (Peter Sellers), aware of the general’s instability/insanity, is attempting to discover the communications code so that he can give it to President Muffley (Peter Sellers), who is being advised by the former-Nazi scientist Dr Strangelove (Peter Sellers) to take the best and brightest of the American people underground in case of nuclear retaliation by the Soviets.

Sound a little crazy? It is, but it’s all part of the fun in this “could it really happen?” farcical, commentary on Cold War politics and international relations. You don’t want to miss out on the fun, and since Dr. Strangelove is currently featured on Hulu (with limited commercial interruptions, of course), you don’t have to! I give it 4 out of 5 Babbles, but I want to know what you think, so go watch the movie and come back here to post your thoughts!


4/5 Babbles

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