March 2011

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] A new Batman/Superman animated movie? Awesome!

PEOPLE: A lot of the same people who have been involved in all animated depictions of Batman & Superman since 1990, such as producer Bruce Timm. Kevin Conroy voices Batman for the 19th year or so, and Tim Daly from Wings picks up the Superman role he’s been playing for a good 15 yrs. This is the so called “Timm-verse”, which is really the “verse” that has been putting out the best DC-based superhero animation for the past 20 years. Including recent movies we’ve watched, like Green Lantern:First Flight, Superman:Doomsday, etc.

Clancy Brown is Lex Luthor — just like he’s been for quite some time in the animated Batman/Superman universe. We also have LeVar Burton (Giordi from Star Trek:TNG), Xander Berkeley (George Mason from 24 Season 1-2, and a minor role in Gargoyles), Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek:TNG), Jennifer Hale (well-known voice actor from 200+ endeavors), Allison Mack (Chloe from Smallville), John C. McGinley (Office Space, Puff Puff Pass, Se7en, Platoon), Robert Patrick (the T-1000 in Terminator 2, Bridge To Terabithia, Last Action Hero, Die Hard 2), Hector Elizondo (Beverly Hills Cop 3, and a ton of cartoons), Grey DeLisle (Mandy from The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy, Azula from Avatar:The Last Airbender, Spiral from Wolverine & The X-Men, Sally from The Spectacular Spider-Man, Debbie from Harvey Birdman:Attorney At Law, Asajj from Star Wars:Clone Wars, and tons of other cartoons. Also she has an orgasm in the videogame Vampires Bloodline.)

QUIRKS: Based on a graphic novel.

No holds barred. They say bitch. They say hell. They imply shit but cut it off. As the superhero based cartoons on television seem to become more and more juvenile (such as Batman The Brave And The Bold, Legion Of Superheroes, Superhero Squad, Iron Man: Armored Adventures), it seems the comic companies are starting to aim their higher-caliber adult-oriented superhero animation (such as the 1990s Batman & Superman cartoons, and the 2000s Justice League) to direct-to-DVD releases. This means fewer episodes, but higher quality — as well as no need to go through a specific channel’s standards and practices censorship.

This takes place in the present. They open up with a news barrage talking about the bad economy, and an obvious Jon Stewart making politically-relevant comedic remarks about various current events. Lex Luthor is president now — and everybody hero-worships him, even when he does something wrong. (Kind of like Obama.)

Oh, and an asteroid made of kryptonite is going to hit the earth in 7 days, like in the movie Armageddon.

Oh, and also: There’s a $1 billion bounty on Superman and Batman, for being non-government-sanctioned vigilantes.

With this combination of factors, you know things are going to get interesting.

VISUALS: Great animation! The characters look somewhat like they do in the Timm-verse, but more buff and ragged.

BAD STUFF: Very short. Precisely 3 22-minute TV episodes in length: 66 minutes.

And surely they could have [highlight for spoilers] used the wormhole to simply move the asteroid, rather than using it to move nukes to the asteroid? One explanation is that maybe we couldn’t make wormholes big enough.

A lot of people say this was lacking on story. Personally, I think superhero action works with or without a great story. Good action without a good story still makes for good visual entertainment. But of course a better story makes everything better! Some people like this better than the graphic novel, due to a change in how the public is turned against Superman.

CONCLUSION: Despite what some people feel are a few plot flaws, we absolutely loved this. This is one of the most superior animated incarnations of both Batman AND Superman, and the style seemed to be edgier, more modern, and more “realistic” (which is admittedly kind of an oxymoron with Superhero sci-fi).

RATINGS: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.

RECOMMENDATION: Didja like Justice League? Then you better go check this out.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Superman & Batman last teamed up in the Timm-verse in the “World’s Finest” movie, which also had them both independently figuring out the other’s secret identity: One of my favorite Timm-verse moments EVER.

MOVIE QUOTE: “God bless America. God bless me!” -President Lex Luthor

/yard sale sign/ Busy extended weekend. Company thursday night. Party friday. Tax preparation saturday afternoon. Party saturday night. Potluck party sunday. Parents+grandparent visit monday. So when I got up pretty early (for me) Saturday, I chose not to go to yardsaleing.

Eventually we went to our 1PM tax appointment, but realized we were running 10 minutes early or so. We decided we’d stop at one sale if we saw one. We tried 2 different ones. The one we went to had signs that were very poor, wrapped roundly around telephone polls so you weren’t really sure which plane tangent to the pole the arrow is supposed to exist on. Eventually, despite 3 signs, we found the yard sale. This was after missing another sale that used paper plates.

Paper plate signs are *BAD*. It means it’s 90% likely the sale is utterly useless; peoples’ stuff is often exactly as classy as their signage, and if they had to use paper plates for their yard sale signs, they probably lack enough class to have junk worth buying. *Confusing* signs, however, are a good thing. It means that people who tried to go to the sale failed, which decreases your competition and increases your odds of finding something good. *Obsolete* signs are the worst. You bring me all the way down a street for nothing, I’m beeping all the way back up. If you don’t like it, get on your neighbors to take their invalid signs down. You’re wasting my gas, time, and effort!

Anyway, despite their confusing signage, we managed to find the sale. These people wanted prices that seemed quite high for yard sale stuff. They were still good prices, though. Just not the steal we’re normally used to. And they at least pretended to only speak Spanish, so bargaining was gonna be hard. Their stuff was a mix of garbage and expensive things. It seemed like they spent themselves crazy, spent themselves out of their house, and now were losing everything. On sale included HUGE video projectors (could I even carry it?), drums, many TVs, 2-3 XBOX 360s, other consoles, toys that hadn’t even been opened, or were opened but never used. Tons of stuff.

They even had a duplicate of one of Carolyn’s cat tents for $1, but she opted not to get it. I thought someone wanted one, though, so that might have been a mistake.

We spent about 10 minutes there, were 5 minutes late to our taxes, and stopped at it again on our way back (after calling up Mark I to solicit advice on whether to buy a bass drum or not, and then not listening to his advice when he gave it).

Because the sale was on the way, we really only spent about ~25 minutes total on yardsaleing, and at most a mile of extra driving. Already on the way somewhere == LOW OVERHEAD!

Total spent was $38.35 plus ~$0.12 gas for 1 mile of driving, for a total cost of $38.47.

We bought 7 items – for a total estimated value of $163, leading to a profit of $124.53. To earn that much after taxes you’d really have to earn $180; money saved (by not having to spend it) is actually worth more than we realize when the government’s cut is taken into consideration.

Anyway, this works out to a “wage” of $298/.87hr as a couple or $149.44/hr per person. Really high because it was a quick stop with no overhead and more expensive stuff than we usually buy at yardsales.

  •$15.00: LiteOn LVW-1105HC video capture DVD recorder / MPG4 DVD player.  11″ x 10.6″ x 2.0x”/ 6.2lbs. Our first DVD player! (Not counting PS2s.) Remote missing, but I am planning on using this primarily for converting, not watching dvds, so that will not be an inconvenience.
    This will let us convert VHS to DVD, plus it’s really small, so we can take it to places that don’t have dvd players.
    It can also play MPG4 files; no clue if that means Divx AVI, or if MKV support is included (guessing no).
    It also automatically pauses dvd recording when you hit the end of a vhs tape you’re recording.
    Apparantly you can also program it to record shows; some people use it like a DVR, but with with DVD-RWs instead of a harddrive.
    Let’s hope it works!
    [Amazon page] [CNet review] [TechRader review]
    (EV:$80-$150 new, $250 at launch, so we’ll say $40 now)
  • $8.00: drum, bass drum, Pacific CX Series 14334, 23″ head, 21″ deep, brown/wood color, with Aquarium Super Kick 1 head ($70) (needed tightening, and sounded MUCH deeper once I spent 20 minutes tightening all the drum head bolts), Gibraltar Click Pad – part of this $900 set (EV:we’ll call it $100 depreciated to $75)

    unfortunately, just the bass drum :)

  • $5.00: drum, tom-tom, FirstAct Discovery Designer Jr., 14″ head (damaged with a crease that does not affect the drumming), 10″ deep, blue – part of this $200 set (EV:we’ll call it $40 depreciated to $30)

unfortunately, just the tom-tom :)

  • $5.00: dustbuster, Trisonic TS-VM300, still in box – our FOUR OR FIVE dustbusters we got for our wedding in 2000 are finally almost all dead. Great that we ran into one right when we were soon going to need one. ($12.50 price sticker on it) (EV:$10)
  •$2.50: puzzle, 3’x2′ floor puzzle, 48-piece, solar system, Melissa & Doug brand, brand new and verified complete (3’x2′), new condition ($$7)
  • $2.50: flying saucer, remote control, still in box – for our cats, X-Day, or both – in box (49mHz frequency model) (suggested retail price:$40, and it was brand new/unused, so I am EV this at $40, not the $75 Amazon is selling it for) – okay, this saucer doesn’t really fly that high actually. No good for X-Day, barely good for the cats.

  • $0.35: yarn, huge lump, looks new, pink/purple/green/blue (for darning socks) (EV:$1)

Click here for other Yard Sale-related postings.

* EV stands for “Estimated Value”, which I estimate by looking things up in Google Shopping/Google/Amazon/Ebay. I don’t always deduct for an item being used, unless it’s actually in worse condition in a way that matters. For example, I estimate books at the cover value. I also try to only count shipping if it’s the type of thing that would need to be shipped, and only if the price isn’t “fixed” (i.e. 1 cent items that cost $10 to ship would not be $10 in person). (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] “The story of a man who teaches people how to kick other people in the face.”

LIMERICK REVIEW: (not a great one; these are hard!) An instructor who’s wife liked to fuck,
idolized superstar Chuck The Truck.
His wife went too far,
then left in the car.
Some people don’t have the greatest luck.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Tae Kwon Do guy’s wife sleeps around a lot. His hero is not heroic.

PEOPLE: Jody Hill‘s first feature film — before making the hilariously dark hit Observe And Report. Watch for this guy’s future movies — he’s going somewhere.

Starring Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, Observe And Report, Land Of The Lost, and uncredited roles in Fanboys and Superbad); Mary Jane Bostic (a n00b) as his wife; Ben Best (who co-wrote it) as the famous fighter; and keep an eye out for Collette Wolfe (Jody Hill‘s wife, also the “crippled” girl in Observe And Report, 17 Again).

QUIRKS: The title is a semi-literal translation of Tae Kwon Do, which is what this movie is about. It’s a sports comedy. A martial arts comedy. But fortunately the sports remain a background plot advancement device, while the comedy itself takes the foreground.

BAD STUFF: Nothing!

CONCLUSION: The dialog and jokes for this movie were insanely funny. There’s really not a way to summarize the brilliance of how this movie played out. It was extremely funny!

RATINGS: Netflix: 4/5. IMDB: 8/10. Tempting to give this 5/5 stars, as it didn’t really fail anywhere other than having 2 montages that weren’t comedic montages. But maybe we’re just spoiled after the best comedic montage ever in Wet Hot American Summer.

RECOMMENDATION: See it!! It’s an easy-to-overlook great comedy.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Sports comedies with ridiculous people full of themselves are all somewhat similar to each other. If you liked this, you might want to try Blades Of Glory.

MOVIE QUOTE: There’s soooooooooooo many… But if you haven’t seen it, you might not want to read all of these:

Fred Simmons: Dentistry? I can’t even believe that’s something that’s real.

Suzie Simmons: I was so drunk – like, Myrtle Beach drunk.

Fred Simmons: Meditation is terrific and all, but I’ve never heard of it saving anyone from a gang rape type situation. Meditate on that. Rape.

Fred Simmons: I’m so hungry I could eat a grown man’s ass right now!

Fred Simmons: Let me think about that for a second. Ok, I’ve thought about it and I think my answer to that question would have to be “fuck you”. I don’t care if you wake up in a ditch with grown men shitting on you and jumping on top of your head. Maybe your nose will turn into a big ole dick and you can stroke that all the time. I hope your hair turns into dog shit one day. You wake up and you run your comb through it and all that it is, is little trundles of dog shit. The worst shit that you could imagine. AIDS… it’s cool. Everything comes around sweetheart.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Lauren & Andy seemed to really like it. Glen liked it. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] The sequel movie to Night Watch.

PEOPLE: Same ones as last movie.

QUIRKS: Russian urban fantasy sequel. Just like the previous movie, Night Watch, this became Russia’s highest-grossing movie.

Based on a book. Actually, the events in this movie are still events from the Night Watch (1st) book, and not from the Day Watch (2nd) book. So calling this Night Watch 2 is not at all inaccurate.

VISUALS: Excellent fantasy visuals!

MORALS: Chalk kicks ass.

CONCLUSION: This was much more coherent and less confusing than Night Watch 1. Overall, a much better movie. The pieces of both movies fit together, and events in the 1st movie are brought to light [or dark :)] here. While the first movie had quite a few flaws, this one didn’t have any.

RATINGS: Carolyn: Individually, Netflix: 4/5 stars, IMDB: 8/10. But Carolyn clarifies that the 2 movies put together collectively score 5/5 stars and 9/10, even though they don’t score that high individually.

I’m going to have to agree with Carolyn here. It got a 6.6/10 on IMDB in general.

RECOMMENDATION: To watch Night Watch without watching Day Watch would be a crime!

SIMILAR MOVIES: How many modern good vs. evil urban fantasy movies are there? Hellboy and Underworld come to mind.

MOVIE QUOTE: “Imperfections are hidden in darkness, Yegor. And people always have their imperfections.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Jordan & Benj liked it.

WILHELM SCREAM: Yes. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE: From the director of the movie Wanted — comes the first of 2 movies that were supposed to be a trilogy: Night Watch. (Followed by Day Watch.)

QUIRKS: This is a Russian-language fantasy movie involving the never ending battle between the forces of darkness and light.

Based on a 4-book Russian fantasy series.

Expect vampires, witches, visions, surrealism, owls that aren’t what they seem, vomiting of blood, brief medieval battle scenes, secret societies, magical abortions, telepathy, and extreme weather.

When it came out, it was the #1 all-time box office movie in Russia.

VISUALS: Incredibly fantasy visuals! This takes place in “our” normal world, but there are some parts that are *incredibly* trippy. The Gloom, for example. You don’t want to deal with The Gloom, trust me.

MORALS: You probably shouldn’t perform abortions via magical spell. And if the good guys use the same tactics as the bad guys — are they really good?

BAD STUFF: There are really several separate plots of characters that don’t relate to each other very much, which is always a turn-off to me. Throw in the fact that we watched it with subtitles, and we started to get confused about who is who. Once again, another foreign movie where we think 2 different females are actually the same female. That can be a bit off-putting.

Carolyn said there wasn’t as much of an interconnecting twist at the end as she would have hoped… And I agree. However, since this is just the first movie of a “trilogy” (that was never completed; they only made 2 movies), I consider it more of an intro to the 2nd film than a complete story in itself.

It did wrap up a bit too conveniently. “Oh, we know what the problem is now, so it’s instantly solved. Yay.”

CONCLUSION: Despite it’s flaws, this was a solid, dark, urban fantasy movie with great visuals.

RATINGS: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IDMB: 7.5/10 (rounded down to 7/10).

RECOMMENDATION: If you love modern fantasy movies with good visual effects, this is a good start! Hopefully Day Watch will be even better than Night Watch.

SIMILAR MOVIES: City Of Lost Children has some of the fantasy + darkness + urban elements — though it takes place in the 1800s, and this movie takes place in the present.

MOVIE QUOTE: “…And so it will be, until a man emerges who is meant to become the Great One. And, if he chooses the side of Light, then Light will win. But, those, to whom the truth has been revealed, say that he will choose Darkness. For it is easier to kill the Light within oneself, than to scatter the Darkness around… The prophecies are coming true.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Christie loved it. Ian & Benj really liked it. Jordan liked it. I’m surprised so many people have seen this! (more…)

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