Category Archives: Pop Blitz

The Blitz 7/1

The Blitz for 7/1/2012

Happy Independence Week Popsters! Are you ready for that extra day off? Strange, I know, that it falls smack dab in the middle but, hey, it’ll break up the schedule a bit and the weekend will come just two days later! I myself am looking forward to walking that very fine line of drinking and blowing shit up, all while trying NOT to freak out my Schnauzer, (she’s a very sensitive little girl, this would not be her favorite holiday.)

Alright, we’ve got a lot to cover today so, without further yada, yada, yada, let’s get the party started!

• Ted

♦ ♦ ♦ 1/2

Director: Seth MacFarlane  

Starring: Mark Walberg, Seth MacFarlane and Mila Kunis

Every Summer there’s always one action flick that stands out above all the rest, my instincts tell me we’ve already seen that one, (The Avengers), likewise you can usually count on one solid comedy to sneak up and surprise us during the blockbuster season. I could be wrong but my best guess is, that comedy opened this weekend.

Fans of Seth MacFarlane’s twisted sense of humor, featured weekly on the popular animated series Family Guy, are sure to love this one and, if like me, you’re not a fan of the cartoon, (I’m more of a South Park/ Simpsons guy myself), take heart, MacFarlane’s irreverent and often just plain bizarre jokes work exceptionally well coming from a magical & filthy stuffed teddy bear.

After having seen Ted and also taking into consideration The Other Guys, The Departed and The Fighter, I am now willing to forgive Mark Walberg for his hideous work in The Happening, (it’s now safe to say the blame for Walberg’s awful performance in that flick falls mostly on the artistically challenged M Night Shyamalan and a very bad editor).  

Of course the real star of Ted is MacFarlane himself, who also wrote and directed this perfect vehicle for himself, which showcases each of his talents brilliantly. I have a new found respect for his abilities and humor. 

Mila Kunis supplies the appropriate amount of eye candy but, as in all of her previous roles, really doesn’t show me anything I don’t believe a hundred other actresses could do. Is she hot? Sure. Is she talented? Sure, reasonably so. Are her performances memorable? Ummm, no, not especially. 

Ted is an instant cult classic in the same way films like Anchorman and Animal House were and, like those flicks, I expect it will be quoted for many years to come. Allow me to be one of the first: “Y’know, somewhere out there are four terrible fathers I wish I could thank for this great night!

• Pop Bitez DVD Pick of the Week: The Artist

If you haven’t had a chance to catch this year’s Best Picture/ Actor Oscar Winner now’s your chance, turn down the lights, crank up the sound, (yes, it’s silent but it’s got a great score that also won the Academy Award), and enjoy! I can’t tell you how much I love this flick or how many times I’ve seen it, (I’ve actually lost count). 

Check out this clip, one of my favorites, have you ever seen two people falling in love communicated with so much expertise in such a small amount of time? Brilliant!

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• Super Mario 3D

So cool, I love stuff like this! This guy is seriously gifted, I’ve rarely seen better!

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• Eytan and the Embassy- Everything Changes

I’ve been saving and meaning to include this video for weeks now and decided to just get it out of the way today. You’re going to love this one, especially if you grew up in the age of MTV. I’m digging the tune but, is it just me or do these guys sound a lot like Squeeze? Ah well, there are a lot worse bands to be influenced by I suppose. Enjoy!

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• HBO’S The Newsroom? 

Haven’t seen it, nor do I intend to, which is why, you’ll be happy to know, I won’t be reviewing it. Why? With the possible exception of the STAGE version of “A Few Good Men“, I am not one of those fawning admirers obsessively slobbering over Aaron Sorkin’s witty repartee’. In fact, I can’t actually think of a more overrated writer in the last twenty years, (Stephen King and M Night Shyamalan come close but I still think Sorkin is king.)

If Aaron Sorkin is the smartest person in the room, (and word is he really believes this is the case), you’re probably in the wrong room and need to find yourself another party.

Sorkin has been infamously vocal regarding his feelings towards the internet and writers like myself, apparently he finds those who keep themselves electronically informed a little intimidating. I refer you to Hans Christian Anderson’s classic short story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, as a possible explanation for his seemingly paranoid fears. 

Kudos to the guy who put this together, no doubt it had to be a pretty painful task. 

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• Is Anybody There?

I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress! For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesty of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?

In what has become a bit of a holiday tradition here in the states, Turner Classic Movies is broadcasting the classic movie musical 1776  this July 4th at 5:00 pm, (check your local listings for exact times).

I can think of no better way for you and your family to avoid the blistering heat this Independence Day than to sit yourselves down in front of the tube in the comfort of your air conditioned homes and enjoy this funny, classic and educational film. Who knows you might actually learn a thing or two about your country and the real reason for this season? It’s as important today as it was in 72 and 76, enjoy!

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• Captain America 

We can’t really have a July 4th Pop Bitez Blitz without having at least one reference to Captain America, now can we? 

At this point I’m sure most of you have seen last Summer’s big screen version as well as this Summer’s monster hit The Avengers, (out on Blu-ray 9/25) but how many of you know about the previous attempts to bring the Captain to the screen in 1990 and 1944?! Take a look at these two clips and tell me you don’t appreciate last year’s flick even more than you originally thought you did!

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• Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance

 

 

I’m sure you’ll find this one floating around on Facebook again this year, I encourage you to share it yourself. It’s a television classic definitely worth repeat viewings.

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• Madison Rising- Star Spangled Banner

And what better way to wrap it up today than with a tribute to old glory herself? A special shout out and thank you to my buddy Jonathan who turned me on to this one recently, you’ve got some excellent taste my friend!

I promise you Popsters, you’ve never heard our National Anthem done quite this way! Turn it up, it ROCKS!

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*And with that Popsters, I wish you all a very happy and safe Independence Day! Celebrate, Rejoice and try not to blow up the neighbors house, m’kay? Until next time, Cheers!- Scott

 

The Blitz

Happy Monday Popsters and welcome to the scorching Summer of 2012! Are you ready for another sweltering week of work and sweat?! Yeah, me neither.

The good news is, here in the states, we’ ve got a holiday just around the corner! Soon it will be time once again to grill some steaks, drink ourselves stupid and blow some shit up or, as we like to call it in Phoenix, AZ, Friday night!

We’ve got some fun stuff for you this week so, without further yada, yada, yada, let’s get this party started!

• Brave (2012)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ out of a possible 5

Pixar/ Disney

Directors: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell and Brenda Chapman

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson

So much has been written about the groundbreaking history of Pixar’s success throughout the years that a critical backlash was bound to come, sooner or later. No doubt the disappointing cash grab and extended toy commercial that was last year’s Cars 2 invited much of this derision and, sadly, it seems to have carried over a bit to the studio’s latest release, the beautiful and heartwarming Brave.

For the record, the critics, (and sometimes the public), and I haven’t always agreed on the Pixar flicks. As an example, I did not love Toy Story 3, (oh no, sacrilege!!), I found it unnecessary and felt they were rehashing a theme already covered- to much better effect- in Toy Story 2, (essentially extending the heartbreaking montage from 2 showing Jesse’s owner growing up and moving on to a 90 minute sequel for 3). I was also more than a little disturbed and offended by that would be “holocaust moment”, as the toys surrender to their fate on their way to the incinerator. If I had to pick a single moment when I fell out of love with the animation house that Steve built, that was it.

As for Cars 2, I did the one thing I NEVER would have expected I’d do at a Pixar movie, I walked out. The horrible and cloying misstep was just too painful to witness and felt like a complete betrayal of everything I’d come to expect from the people who brought us Finding Nemo, Up and The Incredibles.

Cars 2 was Pixar’s attempt, (and most likely the board of suits at Disney), to join the ranks of the abysmal franchises that are Shrek, Ice Age and Madagascar, (all of which I loath). It was filmmaking at it’s lowest common denominator and made the investors fat and happy but left the true fans befuddled and depressed.

Which brings us to Pixar/ Disney’s 13th feature film release, Brave, which, naysayers be damned, is a nice return to form for the animation giants.

Unlike many of the other reviews I’ve read, I’m not going to compare this film to any of the others in Pixar’s library, quite frankly I find those reviews incredibly lazy. I believe, as always, each film needs to be accepted on it’s own merits. “Is it as good as (fill in the blank)? Please. Enough. Get over it.

From the first frame of Brave you know this is a Pixar film, the quality is more than evident and, on their weakest day, their talents are head and shoulders above the wannabes at Dreamworks and Nickelodeon. Their attention to detail is, I believe, the secret to their massive success and Brave is no exception. After watching the trailer for the cringe inducing Madagascar 3, (which played immediately before Brave), it struck me that the Pixar films, (with the exception of Cars 2), don’t force laughs and most often have a depth of substance you won’t find in an animated film from any of the other studios currently producing the big titles.

One of the other things I’ve always admired about Pixar is that when it comes to casting the voice talent, unlike their competitors, they have never really been star f*ckers. They tend to simply hire the best actors for the job, instead of chasing “big box office names”. The star of Up? Ed Asner. The star of Finding Nemo? Albert Brooks. The Star of Ratatouille? Patton Oswalt.  Brave is no exception, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson and Kelly Macdonald are far from being blockbuster names and yet I can’t imagine a better cast. Just listening to Connolly deliver his lines with his thick, AUTHENTIC Scottish accent made me want to immediately find Mike Myers and waterboard him until he willingly admits his accent in Shrek was pure shite. 

I won’t give you a synopsis of Brave, for those that have read my previous reviews, (which, admittedly, I don’t really enjoy and don’t often do), you know that’s just how I roll. I’m not paid per word like so many of the other goofball critics out there so I’ve got no need or reason to take up space with that stuff here. I will tell you that the trailer for this film doesn’t really do it justice and I believe- in part- that may have something to do with the fear of giving too much away, this is one of those movies where the less you know going in, the more you’re sure to enjoy the ride. The trailer itself showcases the more broad moments of humor from the film, (which, oddly enough don’t feel nearly as broad in context), and really is only showing you scenes from the first reel of the flick.

In lesser hands-(cough, Dreamworks, cough)- the “cute” factor of this story would have been dialed to eleven but, as is the case with nearly all of the Pixar movies, the filmmakers have done a nice job of keeping the whole thing smart and grounded. As an example; from what you’ve seen in the film clips, you’d expect Merida’s brothers, a trio of “wee red haired devils”, to steal the show with precocious over the top mugging and mischief but the directors have done a really nice job of keeping them in check and allow them just enough to keep your 5 year old engaged. That restraint is, in the end, what I think separates Pixar from their competitors.

Now, as for the 3D, skip it, actually avoid it at all costs! It’s common knowledge that 3D effects diminish light by up to 30 % and with Brave taking place largely in the dark woods and a dimly lit castle there are moments in the 3D version that are almost too dark to fully take in. The bottom line is, the artwork in this film is exceptional and you don’t need to watch it as if it were somewhere near the tip of your nose. There are some films I have enjoyed in 3D, (Hugo, Avatar, Tangled), this is definitely not one of them.

As always, the Pixar feature was proceeded by a short film, this time around it’s La Luna, which was actually nominated for a Best Animated Short at the Oscars earlier this year. I’m happy to report that nomination was more than warranted, in fact La Luna may actually be one of my all time favorites. It’s one of the few that feels like it could be expanded into a feature, (though I know it never will).  

Next up from Pixar is Monsters University, the sequel to Monsters Inc. From the trailer it looks like it might be fun but, still, I’m not going to lie, I have never been all that excited about seeing the words “Pixar” and “Sequel” in the same sentence. 

By the way, stay until the end of the credits for Brave, for what I believe is the first time, Pixar has added a stinger at the end that you will definitely want to see.

• The Pop Bitez PopCast for 6/25

It’s here! The first official PopCast for the summer of 2012! Prepare to be rocked! This week we’ve got new music from Smashing Pumpkins, Fiona Apple, Hot Chip and a lot of hot new indie bands you might not know yet but definitely should and will!

So, what are you waiting for? Tune in, Turn on and POP out!

• Disneyland’s Cars Land Opens

Speaking of Pixar’s Cars, (I didn’t hate the first one), Disneyland’s California Adventure in Anaheim opened their multi million dollar Cars Land last week which features FOUR new rides!

Depending on how you felt about the flick, (or more importantly I suppose, how your KIDS felt about it), this looks like it might be a lot of fun.

It’s clear they spared no expense and their attention to detail, as always, is impressive and inspired. 

Here’s a few vids that will give you a nice overview.

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• Transformers: The 3D Ride 

Well aware that their biggest competitors over in Anaheim were spending big bucks on several new attractions, Universal Studios Hollywood opened a new multi million dollar ride this week as well.

I’m not a big fan of the Transformers flicks but this still looks like a pretty cool ride.

Of course, if they had created an attraction called Megan Fox: The 3D Ride I would have been there yesterday. (Yeah, I know, but still…).

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• Let’s Pizza?

Given I’ve spent time living in both NYC and Chicago, the two biggest pizza hubs in the U.S., the prospect of a vending machine pizza is a dubious thought to say the least. That being said, compared to Pizza Hut, Dominos and Papa Johns, how bad could this pie really be? After all, they emphasize in this video the pizzas are never handled by “human hands”, which is comforting when you consider some of the folks you’ve seen behind the counters of your typical neighborhood pizza parlors. 

I’ll say this for them, they look pretty tasty in this video. As you might expect, I’m also a fan of their spokesmodel… though they might want to work on the dubbing a bit. 

Let’s Pizza is due in the states sometime this year.

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• Hughes the Force

There have literally been thousands of Star Wars fan films at this point, all of them in varying degrees of insanity and brilliance but this one has to be the best I’ve ever seen.

Hughes the Force asks the question: what would happen if the world of John Hughes suddenly collided with the universe of George Lucas? It’s essentially Weird Science with a slave Lea action figure, something I might add I tried several years ago, (my experiment however resulted only in a mound of melted plastic and a broken heart).

Make some time for this one, you’re going to love it!

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♠ Have a great week, stay cool, until next time Popsters, Cheers!- Scott

The Pop Blitz

 

 

Welcome to the weekend Popsters, thanks for stopping by! I hope the week was kind to you and you’re ready for some more Poptastic frivolity!

We’ve got a lot to cover this week so, without further yada, yada, yada, let’s get this party started! 

• The Perfect Father’s Day Gift!

Have you been wracking your brain trying to figure out what to give the dad who has everything? Why not show him you think he’s the real king and buy him an iron throne, or rather, THE Iron Throne!

The HBO Store is offering life size replicas of the famed throne featured on the hit series Game of Thrones and it’ll only set you back 30,000.00! Yeah, it’s a little on the pricey side, I’d love to know how many they’re actually going to sell, my guess is it’s a fairly limited market. Ah well, we can dream, can’t we?

If you want it, here it is, come and get it!

• Disney World’s Art of Animation Resort

The House the Mouse built opened their Art of Animation Resort this past week in Orlando, Florida and it looks, as expected, pretty freakin’ amazing! The Finding Nemo and Cars suites are available and ready for occupancy and the Lion King and Little Mermaid rooms will be ready by the end of the summer. 

Go here to make your reservations and check out this nice video overview courtesy of the folks at AllEArs.Net!

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• Prometheus: The Paper Trailer

Ridley Scott’s long awaited Prometheus opens this weekend and definitely looks like one I’ll have to brave the crowds to see! (The truth is, I’ve actually been waiting to see this flick since I first heard about it two years ago.)

An artist who is obviously even more excited than I am about this movie took it upon themselves to put together a shot for shot recreation of the trailer using only construction paper. It’s pretty brilliant, check it out!

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• Movie Simpsons

A very dedicated fan of The Simpsons has put together a very cool site featuring all of the movie parodies featured in the show’s 23 year history.

The Simpsons is the longest running sitcom/ animated program in U.S. television history.

Check out the site, it’s AWESOME, DUDE! DOH!

• Disney’s Wreck It Ralph

Disney released the trailer for their holiday season feature, Wreck It Ralphthis week and it sure does look like a lot of fun. It also appears that the line between Pixar and Disney is continuing to blur more and more these days. Of course, this was to be expected since Pixar’s John Lassiter is now the head of Disney’s entire animation division. 

Wreck It Ralph opens in theaters 11/02/2012 

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• A Brief History of Video Games

Speaking of video games both old and new, check out this brief history of the medium that once eat all of our quarters and now just eats most of our time. I really love stuff this, you will too, check it out!

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• The Black Keys Are Creeping Me Out!

The Black Keys have released a second video for their new single, “Gold on the Ceiling“, and this one really creeps me out. Great tune, really strange vid. I apologize in advance if this one gives you nightmares, sweet dreams.

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• New Tunes for June!

To help kick off the month we’ve got a brand new PopCast for you this week featuring some great new tunes from Garbage, Beck, Plaster, Kimbra and Guided By Voices, to name but a few. It’s the perfect mix to play by the pool as we inch closer and closer to the official start of Summer 2012!

Tune in, Turn it up and POP Out!

• The Wiyos- Twist

I’ve been a pretty big of The Wiyos for quite awhile now and I’m absolutely loving their new album, Twist, a collection of songs inspired by, of all things, The Wizard of Oz.  You’ll hear them in this week’s PopCast and I strongly encourage you to check out this short documentary about the making of their new concept album. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot more about these guys in the not too distant future, the cream is clearly rising to the top!

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• Sexy Jedi Bubblebath! Saber 2: Return of the Body Wash

The Geek & Gamer Girls from The Nerdist Channel delivered yet another inspired video last month, this time featuring light sabers, wet tank tops and a damp Wookie. Who could ask for anything more?  

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• It’s a Shame About Ray

We really lost one of the greats this week with the passing of Ray Bradbury. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I had this damn song stuck in my head ever since I heard the sad news. Regular visitors of Pop Bitez first saw this one almost two years ago. It’s still damn funny and a nice tribute to the legendary author, even if it’s one I’m sure he never expected.

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• The 2012 Tony Awards

The 2012 Tony Awards are this Sunday night and- as always-  will be broadcast on CBS, (check your local listings for exact times.)

It should be a fairly entertaining show this year with Neil Patrick Harris once again hosting and live performances from the nominated musicals including Evita, Newsies, Jesus Christ Superstar, Porgy and Bess, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Follies, to name but a few.

If I’m betting I’m going to put my money down for Once to take home the coveted Best Musical of 2012 Award. There really was no other show this year that received the rave reviews like they did and, judging from the clips I’ve seen, I think I can understand why. I really loved the film the musical is based on and I hope to be seeing this one on the “Great White Way” before the end of this year, until then, I’ll just have to settle for the videos, (and Glen Hansard’s concert in Phoenix two weeks from today!)

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• Bunheads

I caught the pilot to the new series Bunheads a few weeks ago and, much to my surprise, I really liked it! It’s actually hard NOT to like.

The premise is almost ridiculous and highly implausible but the writing is smart and funny and the cast is great, particularly Broadway darling Sutton Foster.

I have to say I was more than a little shocked by the end of the premiere episode and a little disappointed by the conclusion,( you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it), I didn’t see that plot shift coming and you won’t either. 

I don’t know about you but I’m setting my DVR for this show. I’m very curious to see where this one goes, it’s a real charmer, even if it feels like they might “jump the shark” at any minute. 

Bunheads premieres on ABC Family, Monday 6/11 9pm/ 8pm Central

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Pop Nuggets

• Check out these Star Wars iPhone cases, I can’t decide between R2 or the Wookie.


• I love a good opening title sequence, my current favs would have to be Game of Thrones and Dexter. Art of the Title is a way cool website that goes in depth with the creators and filmmakers behind some of the best, check it out when you have some time.


• As I’ve always suspected, there really is no such thing as a “sold out” concert, check out this interesting piece from NPR that explains it all.


• Are you ready for the return of that cat eating alien? It seems like it’s about that time. 


• The Django Unchained Trailer is Here! 

So, what do you think? Are you going to be spending your Christmas with Quentin Tarantino this year? I can promise you we are, can’t wait!

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• Mr. Rogers Wants to Get in your Head

I’m loving this new remix from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood! Man, this really takes me back, like a melancholy acid flashback! Fred is digging in the garden of your mind, whoa, awesome! 

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♥ Alright Popsters, that’s all the news that’s fit to POP for this week! Thanks again for stopping by, have a great week! Until next time, Cheers!- Scott