My Top Films of 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesHere again is my list of my favorite movies of the year. The number one movie is my favorite movie of the year, but everything else is kind of in a random order. Kindof.  I didn’t type too much about each movie, but I’m okay with that.

14. Godzilla

WAY better than the Matthew Broderick version from 1998. This is Godzilla as it was meant to be seen. I actually own this one.

13. The Giver

I was surprised by this, and really enjoyed the story.

12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Two words: Megan Fox. Just kidding. These two words: Turtle Van.

11. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Why, Bryan Singer, do you have to ruin an otherwise good movie with that shot of Wolverine at a window? Why? For that, you’re an idiot. The rest of the movie makes my list.

10. Bears

Disneynature takes us on an adventure with Bears.

9. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone elevate what would have been an otherwise bad Spider-Man movie and it makes my list because of their chemistry alone. Too bad it had Electro in it.

8. Transformers: Age of Extinction

Dinobots.

7. How to Train Your Dragon 2

As good as, if not better than, the first film. It soars.

6. Muppets Most Wanted

Not as good as The Muppets, but I expected that. The soundtrack didn’t grab me as fast as the first one’s did, but in listening to it over and over in my car, I began to love the songs nearly as much. The opening song for the film serves as a transition between the style of the first movie and the style of the second. Here’s hoping for a third!

5. The LEGO Movie

Surprise of the year. Great movie. The end of the movie took an otherwise hilarious movie and gives it a depth that I didn’t see coming.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

I had a great time with this one, but didn’t like some of the jokes in it. Not a fan of innuendo. But it was still a great time, and Groot became a fan favorite overnight.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A great Captain America movie. Not enough Agent Carter, as she kind of stole the show in The First Avenger, but she’s getting her own mini-series soon, so there’s that.

2. Big Hero 6

I didn’t expect to love this movie as much as I did. Baymax is a new favorite character, and I wish that I had one.

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

My favorite movie of the year, bar none. The final movie in Middle-Earth and I couldn’t have been happier with it. It elevates the prior two Hobbit films, and thanks to the stunning conclusion I can now place The Hobbit next to The Lord of the Rings on my shelf. Everything was here, from Bard’s stunning and moving confrontation with the dragon Smaug to Bilbo watching his friend Thorin fall apart. It culminates in a scene between Bilbo and Thorin that is emotional and the heart of what this story is all about.

In the end, I’m pleased with Peter Jackson’s work on The Hobbit. I have seen very undue criticism fired at Jackson, but here’s the thing: It is not Jackson’s fault that he was working from weaker source material this time than he had for The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit was written by Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings by Frodo Baggins. Both had different ways of telling their stories, and that is actually reflected in the movies the same way. The Hobbit is no less an achievement in film than The Lord of the Rings, they’re just very different stories with vastly different motivations and stakes. For one, it wound up with a battle that was fought over a massive hoard of gold as well as a critical stronghold for what could be an upcoming war. For the other, it was the very survival of the people of Middle-earth. It was always going to be different. Our reactions to it are the same as reactions to the source material. Some like The Hobbit better than The Lord of the Rings and others vice versa. Likewise, the movies.

I just wish that people would stop believing that The Hobbit was widely hated. That’s not at all true. It tops my list for 2014, and that’s enough to categorically say that I’m correct. Best movie of the year.

Haven’t Seen:

Exodus
Into the Woods
Night at the Museum 3
The Wind Rises

Biggest Disappointments:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Hopeful that Part 2 elevates this one to another level the way that the Hobbit movies were by the third part.
Interstellar – Enjoyed watching this until the end collapsed the story in on itself.
Maleficent – I like Disney’s direction, but was not a fan of how they approached the three fairies. I would have rather had three jawdroppingly beautiful fairies than what they did here.
Noah – I visited the set. I met Russell Crowe. I met Darren Aronofsky. I met the film’s producers and climbed around the Ark. I was told many things about the movie that didn’t actually make it to the big screen. What I was told would have been great. This wasn’t.
Unbroken – I liked it and then I didn’t. And then I kept not liking it. It had a coda at the end that should have been shown on screen. That would have made all the difference.

How to make a true Ghostbusters sequel

GhostbustersPaul Feig is working on a reboot of Ghostbusters and there are other films also in the works that may or may not be connected to the original two films. Feig has said that he could not figure out how to make a sequel work 25 years later. He also wants to have the sequel be a total origin story because he loves those. He even used Iron Man as an example, with the first film being fun because it was about the origin of the character, versus the sequel because we already know the character and what they’re capable of.

Thing is, even the original Ghostbusters isn’t really an origin story. We don’t know why the three main guys were doing paranormal research at Columbia University, or why they stuck with each other after being kicked out of the university. We don’t know their backstories or why they’re interested in the paranormal. We never see them build the proton packs, traps, or containment unit. We just know that they didn’t have any of this stuff, and then they did. And that’s where Feig’s movie could draw its’ inspiration and actually BE a sequel to the originals.

Feig wants it to be in a world that doesn’t believe in ghosts, that discovers that ghosts are real. The strength here is that, it’s been 25 years since the last major ghost related event. An entire generation has grown up since then, living without a supernatural presence that they know happened. Similar to how children today will hopefully never really understand 9/11 because they didn’t experience it, likewise the way my generation didn’t really understand the gravity of the JFK assassination.

On top of all of that, by the time of Ghostbusters 2, which was only FIVE years later, there were skeptics. This comes from all sides… at a birthday party where a kid tells Ray that his dad said they were “full of crap” and that’s why they “went out of business.” So it’s already been set up that the world won’t just buy into this. Especially in New York City, where people sitting in a restaurant barely reacted to Louis when he slid down the window outside of the Tavern on the Green.

So, here’s where the movie begins. The four women that are going to join forces to become the next group of Ghostbusters have separate experiences that lead them toward that goal. If one of them is in a ghost hunting group, it’s because they were inspired by stories they’d heard about ghosts in the past and wanted to validate that which has been deemed invalid by the science community, which calls what they do “pseudo-science” as an insult that invalidates everything they’re doing.

Whatever menace it is that arises, they wind up joining forces, discovering that the original team hung up their packs after that even in 1989, and attempt to restart that business. And when they do, that’s when they meet Ray and Winston. Ray and Winston agree to show them the ropes, and that’s when they go back to the old firehouse for the first time. It’s nearly as spider-webbed as it was in the first film. They go downstairs to a vault, and when they open the door, there they see the old Proton Packs, still ready to go.

They go on their first call with Ray and Winston, which is reminiscent of the Slimer call from the first film. After that comes a montage where our new team is going around busting ghosts. Ray and Winston serve more as trainers and advisers from that point forward.

What do you think? Would this concept work? Is this too formulaic?

How to make a true Karate Kid sequel

The Karate KidA few years ago, Sony Pictures made a movie that I’ve never seen. They called it The Karate Kid even though it is set in China, where Kung Fu is the martial art most studied. Moreover, it was (according to all reports) practically a shot-for-shot, scene by scene remake of the original. The original was and is one of my favorite movies of all time. The issue with the remake is that they just made the same movie, and if I wanted to see that story, I’d always put in the original movie.

That being said, here’s how a true Karate Kid film would win over fans like myself, who have no interest in watching a remake of our favorite movie. First thing to remember here is  this: if the movie is set in China, use the prominent Chinese Martial Art: Kung Fu. And call it The Kung Fu Kid. But if you’re calling it The Karate Kid and it’s still set in China, then use that as your strength.

Put Daniel LaRusso in the film as the teacher for the new kid. The kid should have a similar backstory to LaRusso, being a fish out of water. If it’s set in China, then the one problem to solve is how to get LaRusso over there. Perhaps that is solved by making a simple change to the story, and having the kid be LaRusso’s own son.

And here’s where it builds up: in a land where everyone else is learning Kung Fu, LaRusso trains his son in Karate.

As he’s teaching Karate to his son, things begin to escalate similarly to the original film, and the son begins to get frustrated that he’s not learning Kung Fu. At this time, LaRusso reveals that everything else his son has been doing has been part of the practice of Kung Fu. See, LaRusso had been a black belt in Karate and decided to learn other martial arts, and also knew Kung Fu. It’d be a mirror of the scene in which Miyagi shows LaRusso that he’d been training him the whole time.

Next comes the tournament, as father watches son participate. Whether he wins the last fight in the tournament or not, he earns the respect and friendship (!) of the guy that bullied him.

Instead of ending at the end of the tournament, it ends with a shot of LaRusso teaching Karate to a class of students that includes his son, and the other kids. The message being that Karate and Kung Fu can be complementary.

What are your thoughts? Would this work as a true sequel?

Wonder Woman’s next new Costume for 2015

New Wonder Woman Costume 2015Here we go. Wonder Woman has been through a lot of costumes in the last few years. This summer, beginning in Wonder Woman #41, she’ll be wearing another more modest costume.

She’s way more covered up now than she was with Jim Lee’s New 52 redesign.

WONDER WOMAN #41 Written by MEREDITH FINCH Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and  JONATHAN GLAPION THE JOKER Variant cover by BRIAN BOLLAND On sale JUNE 17 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US RATED T

A daring new direction begins with the arrival of a brand-new villain! But while he may be new to us, he’s not new to the world he seeks to tame. And speaking of villains, Donna Troy’s quest to destroy Wonder Woman ratchets up another gear (if that’s even possible!), while the games of the Gods bring dark portents to the ultimate Amazon!

Source: HitFix

7 Reasons More GameCube Controller Adapters for Wii U are Coming

Wii U GameCube Controller AdapterDear fans of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U,

I feel your pain, regarding the GameCube Controller Adapter for Wii U. It’s being sold at ridiculous prices right now with very little coming from Nintendo of America as to the availability of more of this item.

But more are coming. It just might take until after Christmas before we see them on shelves. I’d say that, by May, there will be so many out there, scalpers won’t be able to sell them for more than $15.

How do I know this?

1. It’s a total sell-out as soon as it hits store shelves. Nintendo isn’t going to look at this and do nothing. They’re not a company of idiots. This is like printing money for them, and they’re going to do that.

2. They’ve designed packaging specifically for this product, and it’s got an SKU number for stores to stock it. The SKU number is 7522006, and the Model number, for those that are wondering, is WUPAGGKA.

3. They made the adapter in the first place. It required designers, testers, manufacturing and approvals for the device to be sold. The first shipment of adapters couldn’t have possibly covered the costs involved here.

4. It’s probably around $2 in parts that they can sell for $20. That’s an insane markup. All that it’s doing is translating the signals from four controllers so that the game can understand it.

Nintendo GameCube Controller Adapter for Wii U5. It doesn’t “only work with Smash Brothers.” The box art for the controller (sold separately) even says as much. From the back of the box:

The classic Nintendo GameCube controller is now updated and optimized for playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on the Wii U system (requires connection via a GameCube Controller Adapter for Wii U-sold separately).

The ergonomic design, competition length extra-long cord, built-in rumble feature, and flaming Super Smash Bros. icon completes this specially designed Super Smash Bros. edition of the timeless Nintendo GameCube controller.

The GameCube controller is compatible with the Wii U, Wii, and Nintendo GameCube systems.

When used with a Wii U system, look on the back of Wii U game packaging to see which games use the GameCube Controller.

There it is… right there at the end. “…look on the back of Wii U game packaging to see which games use the GameCube Controller.” Nothing about it only being used on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but a strong hint that it can be used with other Wii U games. And the manual for the GameCube Controller goes on about that, basically repeating the same information, but in a slightly different way:

For Wii U, you must use Wii U software that supports Nintendo GameCube controllers. Look for this icon on Wii U game packaging for games that are designed to be used with this accessory.

And it has the GameCube controller icon next to that.

6. They are still selling the GameCube Controller Super Smash Bros. Edition. If they weren’t planning on making more of the adapters, they wouldn’t be selling these separately. Controllers that REQUIRE the use of the adapter. Which leads us to number seven.

7. They sell the GameCube Controller Adapter separately. If they meant for only the first shipment of Controllers and Adapters to satisfy all of the fans of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, they wouldn’t have gone to this trouble. They would have, instead, created mega sets with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, that included an adapter and four GameCube controllers. But they didn’t. They sold a version of the game that comes with one controller and an adapter with enough ports for three more. And they knew that people would purchase the GameCube controllers without purchasing the Adapter, and still be in need of an adapter to be able to use the $30 controller they just purchased for the game that it was made for.

My best educated guess is that Nintendo has put in a massive order with whatever factory it is they use to create these devices, and they’re getting the devices ready for shipping to the United States.

If I’m wrong, and Nintendo has stopped production on a product that they could sell to millions, then Nintendo owes those of us that purchased a GameCube controller from them, with the hope that we’ll find an adapter. Either a full refund, or an adapter. And the adapter would cost Nintendo a $20 sale, rather than a $30 refund.

I still can’t believe I was holding an adapter and decided to try to find the Smash Bros. bundle for a $10 savings. Now some jerk is selling that adapter for $100 to an enabler that couldn’t wait for Nintendo’s next shipment.

Anyone that tells you Nintendo isn’t making any more GameCube Controller Adapters has one for sale on ebay or Amazon for $100+.

And if Nintendo won’t continue production on it, a third party will, and they’ll eat Nintendo’s lunch for probably about $10 or $15.

Ghostbusters 3 to be All Female Team, Directed by Paul Feig, and a Reboot

Paul FeigI’ve been rolling this whole thing around in my head for the last month. Really a few months, since this was the threatened direction for the next Ghostbusters film. A film that I’ve been waiting for since 1989. I’ve wanted more Ghostbusters and now it’s actually going to happen. I’m going to get what I wished for… but you know what they say… be careful what you wish for, you may actually get it.

About five and a half years ago, I even listed Paul Feig on a post about who should direct a third Ghostbusters film. I had found a list of potential directors on a couple of sites, and added Feig to the list, so in the words of Egon Spengler, “I blame myself.” At the time, I said:

“Paul Feig is a director that was also the creator of the short lived, but brilliant show Freaks and Geeks. He’s directed many of the funniest episodes of such shows as The Office and Arrested Development. His comedy style seems like it’d be a good fit for a new Ghostbusters, as he is able to capture the feel of the 80s so well in Freaks and Geeks, which wouldn’t necessarily matter for a modern day GB film, but it would at least keep the overall feel of the series thus far intact. I wouldn’t mind seeing his name attached to the helm.”

What a difference five years makes. Feig has directed a bunch of movies that I’ve never seen. I’ve only seen about 20 minutes of Bridesmaids, and didn’t enjoy it. And now Feig loves working with women. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. The problem lies in the makeup of the team. If Feig had said that he was continuing the story with a new team that would include women, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Over the years there have been many women that have been on the team. Having a team with at least one guy opens up the property so that boys and girls alike can watch and enjoy it, and see someone that they could dream that they might one day grow up to become. Seeing someone of your own gender in a role gives you something to aspire to.

What are Paul Feig’s plans? Read the rest of this entry »

Girl Meets World renewed for Season 2!

Girl Meets WorldIf you know me, you know that I’m a big fan of Boy Meets World. After watching the complete series on DVD a few years ago, I looked up the cast online and tweeted them my thanks for an incredible series. I watched most of it when it was originally on TV, and was practically always the same age as the characters in the show, except when they jumped over a couple of years here and there. I also remember thinking, when I finished the seventh season, that I wished there was more, so I could see where the characters went from there. And then it happened. Disney announced Girl Meets World would be coming. A couple of years later, it started, and it’s everything that I could have wanted from a sequel to Boy Meets World.

At this point, we’re about five episodes into the first season of the show, but it’s already shown the same quality of writing, moral lessons and heart of the last series. The fact that they have many of the original members of the creative team from Boy Meets World involved really shows. In style, it’s kind of a mix of the first few seasons of Boy Meets World. I watched the complete series of Boy Meets World again, this year, to prepare. Girl Meets World is like catching up with old friends who now have kids of their own. Ben Savage’s physical comedy hasn’t skipped a beat, either.

Today, Disney Channel announced that Girl Meets World will have a second season! Hopefully the show brings us all the way to season seven, so we can see a conclusion that somehow mirrors the one at the end of Boy Meets World. This announcement brings us one step closer! Also of note is that Girl Meets World is the #1 ranked show among kids and tweens, and has been ever since it premiered. It’s found an audience with fans of the original show, as well (clearly).

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IDW’s Ghostbusters On-going Comic Book Cancelled… sigh

Ghostbusters #20IDW Publishing announced this week that the end has come for the Ghostbusters comic book that has delivered excellent content for the better part of three years. I’m very proud of the team that created it. It brought back the feel of the movies and the cartoons at the same time, while delivering great new adventures on a monthly basis.

I have hope that one day, IDW will bring this great team back together for another go-round. It’s the reason I started reading comics again. I’ve bought at least two copies of every single issue, and gotten many issues graded (now I could do the rest of the series, knowing there’s an end in sight). I’ve also got them all digital (all released so far), and I’ve been planning to get the Total Containment book version, and hoped to get a volume 2 with the next part. Hope that’s still a possibility.

My thoughts are somewhat complex as to why this happened. I know that it was a tough decision by those involved, but it seems to me that there might be larger reasons in play for this. This announcement comes mere weeks before Comic-Con. The Ghostbusters 30th anniversary is afoot. There may well be some pretty big announcements on the way from Sony, regarding the long awaited third Ghostbusters movie. There may even be other Ghostbusters media announcements, like a new cartoon, toy line, and other things.

Either way, I can’t say I didn’t do my part to support this comic book, and I hope that you pick up some issues in this great series. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed that you did. It’s been a fun ride, and it will be bittersweet when the final issue arrives in my mailbox, but I can always go back and read them all over again.

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