Monday, March 26, 2012

Full House, Full Memories

Disclaimer: this one’s gonna be pretty stream of consciousness.

FULL HOUSE was a show that ran in the early 90s about a widowed sportscaster and his three daughters. Four people is not very full, you might say, but there was also a stand up comedian for babies in the basement and a Greek exterminator/Jon Bon Jovi wannabe in the attic. Occasionally the neighbor girl that everybody hated came by too. But wait!

full_house_1

Greek Bon Jovi also later married a lady sportscaster and had twin boys! Now the house was really pretty full.

The madness of San Francisco!

I have some very vivid memories of FULL HOUSE, as this was one of my preteen must-watches. At one point I was very conflicted because some bastard had programmed it right up against the MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS, and I was only able to watch this on Wednesdays.

I remember my mother angrily demanding to know whether or not Lady Sportscaster ever had to clean cuz LOOK AT HER in her spotless white clothes FFFFFFFFFFFF

I remember Greek Bon Jovi having a big hit in Japan with a song about the youngest daughter of Guy Sportscaster. But when they got to Japan they never showed anything but the hotel room, which was distinctly low-rent for a show that had totally gone to Hawaii and Disney world previously.

What a classic!

Speaking of the DisneyWorld episode, the plot was that Michelle cut in front of the line at something, stealing Stephanie’s (the middle sister) title of Princess For The Day. A big ass Genie from ALADDIN popped up and everything, and it was totally shot on location. I remember thinking this all very unfair to the other kids at the park, since Michelle and Stephanie were already on Full House, so leave some cool stuff for the plebe kids, huh?

JOEY GLADSTONE – hoo boy. The comedian who lives in the basement and whose entire range of material consists of either Popeye impersonations, Rocky & Bullwinkle impersonations and this:

I mean, I’m pretty sure babies can’t go to comedy clubs cuz they’re all open way past their bedtimes.

DJ, the oldest daughter had a boyfriend named Steve. He voiced Aladdin in the Disney movie, and he was also dressed up as Aladdin when they went to Disney World. That was a pretty good in-joke.

I remember a Full House episode where Danny promises DJ an appearance by McHammer, which the crowd finds uproarious and Uncle Jesse has to haughtily corrected him with "It's EMM SEE Hammer!" Scandalous behavior for a mid 90s gentleman! PLEASE HAMMER DON’T HURT ‘EM indeed.

But you could also learn stuff on Full House! It was where I learned who Little Richard and the Beach Boys were.

Greek Bon Jovi wasn’t always Greek though. Before he was Jesse Katsopolis, he was Jesse Cochran. I have no idea why that change happened. Post it in the comments below! He became super Greek after that, inviting several of his relatives from the old country to The Full House. There was a grampa that conveniently died so we could learn about death, and CUSSIN STAVROS (hilariously played by John Stamos himself), a sleazy Balki/Borat hybrid who got handsy with Lady Sportscaster so we could learn about sexual harassment. I think maybe Jesse punched him which, if he did, no doubt got a WOOOOOOOOOOOOO reaction from the studio audience.

Stephanie’s catchphrase pre-puberty was HOW RUDE like Jar Jar Binks. Toddler Michelle may also have had one but I only remember her swaggerin’ out of the room, leaving the audience in absolute hysterics.

The three bachelors sang Elvis Presley’s My Teddy Bear as a lullaby.

My memory of the last episode is Steve picking up DJ for senior prom, but that feels so anticlimactic it can’t be true. Which is of course a perfect place to end this post!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mars Needs YOU!

I’ve often noticed with this blog that I only really get to writing quickly and easily when I’ve got something to shit on. I’ll write about TWILIGHT, I’ll write about SUCKER PUNCH, I’ll write about Vin Diesel needing to get outta the FAST franchise already.

But not today. Today, I speak to you, O My Dozens Of Readers, to tell you about JOHN CARTER. You probably haven’t seen it (yet), and that’s okay. Here’s why.

John-Carter-Poster

JOHN CARTER is based on a series of early 20th century books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (yeah, Tarzan dude) about a Confederate Civil War veteran transported to Mars where he has crazy adventures with green six-armed monsters and marries a space princess. Now, the first book was called A Princess Of Mars. People have been trying to get a movie made for decades (John McTiernan almost did in the early 90s, and Robert Rodriguez came close in the early 2000s), but the technology was either not yet completely there, or the money fell through.

Now, in 2012, we finally have a 250mil+ adaptation, a scant century after the book was first released. Produced by Disney and directed by Pixar guy Andrew Stanton (FINDING NEMO, WALL*E), the movie that’s in theatres now is a delight. Oh yeah, I can already hear you say, so why haven’t I seen it yet? I can recognize awesome when I see it!

Probably because you have no idea that it is awesome. You see, in 2011, Disney released MARS NEEDS MOMS, an apparently (I haven’t seen it) really shitty CGI cartoon that bombed big time. Shit man, this got suits at Disney to thinkin’. P-people don’t wanna see Mars movies, r-right? It can’t be cuz it was shitty, people watch shitty movies all the time! Yeah, yeah, that’s probably what happened! MOMS just bombed cuz people don’t wanna see Mar… Oh. Shit. We’re making another Mars movie. God, what are we gonna do??? It’s already deep in production! Oh! Oh! Oh! Let’s, like, never mention Mars in the advertising. The title’s gonna have to go too. Psssh, who the fuck wants to see JOHN CARTER OF MARS, right? JOHN CARTER, people will pay for that.

Interestingly enough, the last Mars movie to make decent money was TOTAL RECALL. This was twenty years ago though, and it had no “Mars” in the title, and starred the biggest movie star in the world at that time.

The trailers didn’t help any. By not focusing on “Mars” and strangely enough ignoring the “Civil War veteran” angle as well, people just thought it was a weird, blandly named STAR WARS/AVATAR rip-off. As a friend of mine said:

[JOHN CARTER] sounds like a movie that stars Denzel or Cage, but one of those movies that you always forget they made when you’re naming movies they starred in, you know?

Initial reports of box office showings have already been pretty bad, with CARTER’s US debut barely beating out last week’s winner THE LORAX for the number 1 spot. But you know what, that’s fine. When a movie underperforms in its first week, but sorta comes back in subsequent weeks, that’s what gets interpreted as good word-of-mouth. If you’re gonna see CARTER, it’s best that you give Disney the impression you heard from someone who saw it that it was actually pretty good, and that was what swayed you, not the shitty marketing campaign.

Why the fuck would I go and see it though brah?

OKAY ASSHOLE HERE IS A LIST OF THINGS THAT MAKE JOHN CARTER AWESOME

  • JOHN CARTER is an earnest movie with lots of heart. It’s never winking at the audience, and the jokes it makes are jokes made by characters. No one ever comments on how dumb the situation is, or how silly an outlandish character looks. The movie just goes with its silly premise. When two green, tusked aliens get mad at each other, they literally go GRRR GRRR and butt heads and clank tusks together like mad elephants (scene pictured above). It looks silly as fuck, and my audience was giggling, but the music was telling us it was GRAVE and OMINOUS. I love that!

  • JOHN CARTER is the anti-“STAR WARS prequel”. The acting in JC is broad, over-the-top, passionate; in short, perfect for such a big story. It is literally the opposite of the STAR WARS we’ve known for the past ten years, with emotionless robots reading boring lines. People yell and laugh and scream and hug and slap each other on the head for being dumbshits.

  • JOHN CARTER’s effects work has CGI and mo-cap complementing amazing location shooting. Even though much of Mars, or Barsoom, as the natives call it, is desert-y, there’s constantly a sense of discovery, wonder and awe at seeing/learning new things about the place.

  • JOHN CARTER stars Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, the aforementioned space princess. She is a woman in her early thirties with the tiniest bit of belly fat. She’s also absolutely gorgeous, and it’s kinda sad that this is a Thing That Should Be Remarked Upon. But good on you, Disney, for not casting a skinny 21-year-old in what I assume you wanted to be a franchise starter.

  • JOHN CARTER is the kind of movie where a planet’s centuries-long civil war can be totally resolved by a Guy That Can Jump Real Far And Punch Things Good. Also, the bad guys were winning because GHOSTLY Mark Strong gave Barbarian King Dominic West a way awesome blue space laser that West mounts on his arm and shoots people with from his ship.

  • JOHN CARTER is a bit slow to get going (in fact, I’d have scrapped the opening scene on Mars altogether), but it really excels at character relationships. The movie looks and sounds good, but unlike AVATAR, it actually makes you care about all of its principal characters the way any (good) Pixar movie would. Carter himself needs to shake off his BROKEN MAN VETERAN thing throughout the movie, and becomes pretty badass gradually. Dejah is smart, capable, sexy, and (dare I say it) someone little girls should find pretty cool. Tars Tarkas and Sola, Carter’s two green Thark friends have their own little personal subplot that resonates quite well with not much time devoted to it. And then there’s Woola. Pretty impossible not to love him.

I could go on, but this is already one of my longer entries. Point is, if you like movies like STAR WARS (you know, how it used to be) or INDIANA JONES (you know, before…), you will absolutely love JOHN CARTER. It’s a story seemingly belonging to another time and place, like its ‘”Suthun gennuwmun” main character. A story of adventure and discovery and chivalry and romance and six-legged dogs with top speeds of 250 mph.

“Evangelical” is not a mode I often assume when talking about a movie, but I, for one, would love to revisit Barsoom with the same people in front of and most definitely behind the camera. I hope I’ve managed to convince you as well.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mass Effect Memories: 5 Badass Moments

With the release of its third installment this week, Mass Effect madness is hitting a fever pitch on the interwebs. Follow me and Matt down Memory Bank Lane and reminisce about the 5 most distinct, amazing, badass moments this side of Phoenix Massing. It’ll tide you over until EA fixes that face-importin’ bug.

femshep

5) Shepard, first human SPECTRE (ME)

Fairly early into the first game, you expose Saren for being a crooked ass SPECTRE. Despite his dastardly machinations and bald faced lies, Shepard manages to convince the council to throw him out on his Turian ass and in the meantime instate the very first human SPECTRE (aka Space Jack Bauer). It's the first in a series of expertly manipulative moments that give the player the idea that (s)he is pretty much the most important motherfucker in the universe, together with the appropriate pomp and circumstance to go with it, ending with the first launch of the Normandy. Are those two moments I smushed into one? I can do that, I'm a SPECTRE!

Hey! Listen!
4) Fuck you, Shadow Broker! (ME2 DLC)

Shepard has infiltrated the Flying Storm Cloud Castle of one of the most powerful and elusive information brokers in the galaxy. After having murdered your way through the Broker's elite assholes (in some cases making their corpses fall into an endless chasm, Wile E. Coyote style), you come face to face with the man himself. Although man may be too kind a word! Shepard, being the übermensch that (s)he is, immediately deduces what could have transpired to turn Space Bowser into Space Rupert Murdoch. The imposing creature rises up from the desk to ominous music, revealing an even bigger hulk than was previously imagined, with high tech shields to boot! But in an awesome display of why YOU, THE PLAYER, are fucking awesome, Shepard simply cracks his knuckles, goes "Let's do this the hard way, then," and simply decks the asshole. YES.

I MUST BREAK YOU
3) The Terminator Babbly (ME2)

At the end of ME2, Shepard and his crew have made the horrible discovery of exactly why the Collectors were abducting whole colonies of humans to their secret lair in the galactic core "where nothing can live." Reminding you that the MASS EFFECT franchise is a series of complex, human interactions, but also incredible pulp silliness. Were the Collectors torturing the humans for strategic information to aid their Reaper overlords? NOPE! They were grinding them into a fine mulch for their precious GENOME JUICE (mind on mah money and mah money on my mind) so they could make a HUMAN REAPER. And yes, it looks exactly like a Skynet foetus. It's ridiculous and retarded and amazing and awesome. I mean, were they just gonna attack the Citadel with a huge Beastie Boys robot?

2) Mordin of Penzance (ME2)

Bioware is well-known for their fantastic character interactions. In fact, a running gag among gamers is that flagship titles like Mass Effect and Dragon Age are nothing more than extremely elaborate dating sims where, instead of taking Mitsuko out for Ramen, you kill darkspawn with Morrigan to get in her pants. But it's not just the dating side of things! Bioware consistently manages to make the majority of NPCs interesting and worth talking to, even if they don't have quests. Fast-talking geneticist Mordin Solus is a pragmatist first and foremost, but a hell of an operette singer if you get to know him!

Shepard really should have clapped after that.
1) SHEPARD COMIN'! FUCK YO GRAVITY! (ME)

A Reaper is laying waste to the Citadel. The skies are aflame. The Council may be reduced to molecules at this point. Your nemesis and former colleague Saren is high up in the Council Tower and has overridden all nearby mass relays, effectively cutting off all possible reinforcements. Even as you race to confront him, he cuts the power and artificial gravity, trapping you in an elevator about a mile down from where you need to be. In perhaps the most cinematic moment of the series, Shepard simply goes "Fuck that", opens the elevator and just walks to the top of the building, blasting bad guys all the way. Seriously, if a movie ever happens, the gravity shifting and Shepard walking out of the elevator, with a space war brewing around him would be a HELL of a trailer-ending "whoa" moment. And it's just such a perfect moment of Shepard doing shit on his own terms, thinking outside the box, giving you that whole "baddest crew of the galaxy" feeling.

Moment’s at 4:40.

Here's hoping ME3 provides us with many more of these moments.

I chose the FemShep trailer cuz FemShep is best Shep.