Never doubt the power of a devoted fanbase and 90’s nostalgia my dear readers. It brought back Toonami, has seen franchises from The Muppets to Power Rangers given second wind, and now, it has brought back the soda that defined a decade, Surge.
You read that correctly my dear readers: after more than a decade, many mournful retrospectives, and the largest fan movement in the Internet, Surge is being reintroduced.
For those who don’t remember Surge, or who haven’t read my retrospective of everyone’s favorite fully-loaded Citrus soda, Surge was a soda produced by Coca-Cola from 1997 to 2003, in a brief, unsuccessful attempt to compete with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew. Where Surge did succeed however, is earning a place in the hearts (and likely bloodstreams) of the generation that grew up guzzling gallons of the stuff.
Then came the age of social media, and Surge fans gathered, petitioned, and yes, surged to show their support of the soda, and their desire for Coca-Cola to bring back the brand. At long last, Coca-Cola has listened.
Toonami’s been on a bit of a hot streak lately – the last few months has seen it become the host of the massively popular Attack on Titan, and before that, Space Dandy (more on that show in a few weeks) and the very popular Sword Art Online among others, and they start airing Hellsing Ultimate next week. Today though, I want to talk about a show that having just finished its run on Toonami, has proven to be one of the hidden gems on the block recently, Black Lagoon.
Black Lagoon is based on a series of manga that’s been running on-and-off since 2002, following a band of mercenary pirates operating out of Southeast Asia, it’s something of a cult hit among anime fans for its grindhouse style and black humor. Having watched its entire run on Toonami, read on to see why I think Black Lagoon may well deserve your attention.
Rock Okajima was a low-level employee for a Japanese company, until a fateful counter on a business trip in Southeast Asia left with him getting taken hostage by pirates, and after his employers deem him expendable, choosing to throw his lot in with his former kidnappers. The group, known as the Lagoon Company, work as mercenaries and smugglers out of a den of thieves known as Roanapur, doing dirty jobs for even dirtier clientele. Though initially well out of his depth, Rock soon integrates himself as a dedicated new member of the Lagoon Company, finding himself in the thick of crime and violence, and much to his own horror, finding that he’s beginning to enjoy it.
I’ve talked about Cannibal Holocaust before, how it may be one of the scariest movies ever made, and is certainly one of the most controversial. It’s the progenitor of the found footage movie, a gem of grindhouse cinema, and one of the most overlooked and influential movies of the last thirty years, for better or worse.
The reason I bring this up is that today, I was supposed to be reviewing a film inspired by it, The Green Inferno, director Eli Roth’s first film in six years, seeking to bring back the cannibal film in all of its gruesome glory, and finally put some bite back into the for the most part toothless found footage subgenre. I say supposed to because though it was planned for wide-release to nationwide theaters today, instead, I am only just now hearing that the movie has only recently been pulled from release.
Distributor Open Road Films has removed The Green Inferno from its release schedule, with no future release date announced at this time. The delay is, at least officially, the result of disagreements between Open Road and distributor Worldview Entertainment, the latter of which is now balking at commitments to promotion and advertising for the film made by their former CEO, Christopher Woodrow, who was recently fired from the company. Since then, Worldview entertainment has been in a state of flux, and evidently The Green Inferno is among the casualties of the studio infighting.
While there has been a notable British presence in global culture for centuries, and in modern pop culture since the British Invasion of the 60s, but one must admit, there has been an upswing as of late. Monty Python made waves with its farewell tour, and James Bond is better than ever. BBC shows like The Musketeers, Sherlock and Doctor Who are ratings gold. Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit books and movies have defined fantasy for a generation. None of this is surprising – what is surprising though, is that thanks to social networking, we are witnessing an embryonic British subculture akin to what is more common from Japan or China.
Sadly, with any new subculture, there comes the ugly underbelly – and in the case of various Anglophile subcultures from Harry Potter to Doctor Who, we’re watching the rise of a brand of British Weeabos – Teaboos.
For those who don’t know, a weeaboo is a typically Western Japanophile taken to utterly extreme levels to the point even other members of the subculture typically treat them with scorn. I’m sure many of you know the type, even if you didn’t know the term – a shrill otaku-type who loudly proclaims their love of all things Japanese, despite their knowledge of Japanese culture being superficial and almost entirely limited largely to anime/manga and video games, snack on Pocky, insert badly mangled Japanese honorifics into everyday conversation, and derides Western culture while claiming an obscure harem anime ten other people have seen outside Japan as the high-water mark of human culture. To say nothing of the plans to move to an otaku-friendly Japan that doesn’t even exist.
With that explained, with the rising British-influenced subculture, so has risen said cultures equivalent of the Weeaboo – the delightfully named Teaboo. Swap out the anime, manga and Pocky for BBC America, Harry Potter and crumpets, while retaining the obnoxiousness and annoyingly superficial knowledge of their adopted culture, and you have a Teaboo.
Hot on the heels of the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who, BBC America was quick to use the occasion to promote some of their other new shows, Intruders being the chief one, debuting right after the Doctor Who opener. While I’ve talked plenty about Doctor Who before – and would like to add know that I am very excited about the direction Peter Capaldi is taking the character, especially since the Twelfth Doctor seems to be taking some cues from the Third – I’d like to draw some attention to another show, that tonight, just had its season finale, and has surprisingly become one of my favorite new shows. The show, if you haven’t guessed already, is The Musketeers.
Based off the famous adventure stories by Alexander Dumas – and thankfully far more faithful then the last adaptation of the Three Musketeers I discussed on the site – the show follows the titular triage of rogues, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, along with aspiring apprentice D’Artagnan, as they solve courtly capers, face down threats to France, and navigate the shark infested waters of palace politics between the young King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. Though the tale has been told at least two dozen times before in the movies, The Musketeers marks the first true attempt to flesh it out over the course of a TV series, which once you’ve seen the show in action, you’ll only wonder why nobody tried it sooner.
It should be abundantly clear by now that I am an enormous fan of The Expendables franchise. Not only was the first film my very first formal movie review, and the sequel the debut of my video reviews, but having been raised on old-school action movies, and looking up at the action heroes who played them since childhood, these retro-revival action movies have always been right up my alley. Of course, the fact that both Expendables movies have been utterly enjoyable, action-packed, adrenaline-fueled thrill rides certainly doesn’t hurt, nor does the fact they’ve sparked a renaissance of similar movies.
So naturally, I’ve been looking forward to The Expendables 3 pretty much since they announced the film. That said, even Sylvester Stallone admits nervousness about the third film, and that they wanted to try something different to avoid franchise fatigue. Some of the things done have been intriguing – the chosen director Patrick Hughes is a relatively new director, and the choice to bring in a lot of younger actors into the film, along with more genre stalwarts like Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, and even Mel Gibson to play the villain.
Of course, there have been some concerning details too, the biggest being that my fantasies about Sly Stallone disemboweling Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic ass went up in smoke when they decided to pursue a PG-13 rating for the movie, which did a lot to distance fans of the Expendables franchise for its unabashedly hard R-rated action. The movie will be facing much heavier competition at the box office this year too – after a shockingly slow July, the August box office has already seen two movies break the $100 million mark, both 80s throwbacks like The Expendables, both great and terrible. Beating Michael Cera’s career to death is one thing, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Michael Bay at the box office may prove a challenge even for The Expendables 3.
Of course, that doesn’t even touch on the biggest controversy surrounding the movie, and the biggest threat to The Expendables 3 at the box office, that nearly a month ago, a DVD-quality release of the film was leaked online, quickly going viral, having been downloaded on various torrent sites over 2 million times within the first week. Such an event it almost without precedence, but it doesn’t take an expert box office analyst to realize that with a free copy of the movie still circulating online, the movie is going to take a huge hit at the box office.
It’s a daunting road ahead, and the odds are against them, but that’s just the way any action hero likes it. So can the Expendables overcome stiff competition, a PG-13 rating and online piracy to once again take the box office by storm? Join me my dear readers, as I review The Expendables 3.
My dear readers, as you read this, I’m in the theater watching The Expendables 3, hopefully being overwhelmed by utter amount of adrenaline coursing through my veins, watching the once and future kings of the action genre do what they do best. While you will be getting a review from me tomorrow – with a few other surprises soon to follow – for now, I would like to share with you the handiwork of Garrison Dean, a director and video editor whose fan trailers for the Expendables movies manage to be just as awesome as the movies themselves.
This is Garrison Dean’s recently released trailer for The Expendables 3…
Today the new Ninja Turtles movie comes out, and though it should surprise absolutely nobody, it’s utter and complete garbage. Why would it be anything less? It’s produced by Michael Bay, directed by the hack who made Wrath of the Titans, and written by a triage of hacks whose best work was the awful Kristen Stewart Snow White movie. The plot and action scenes rip off the very worst of the corporate conspiracy/chosen one tropes seen in The Amazing Spider-Man movies, yet somehow made even dumber. It throws the TMNT mythos and tropes under the bus, even after fan outrage forced them to change plans to make them trans-dimensional aliens or have a white guy play Shredder. The biggest name attached to the movie is a toe-thumbed anti-Semite who proceeds to turn April O’Neil into an empty sex pun. The special effects are so cheap looking the trailers for the film had people compare the turtles to Shrek, and the trailers show the GOOD shots from the movie, with most of the rest looking cheap even by special effects standards a decade ago. To quote Bob Chipman over at The Escapist, it’s the worst thing to happen to turtles in a movie since Cannibal Holocaust.
Again, this shouldn’t surprise anyone – if it does, or you ignore all the warning signs in some forlorn sense that ‘maybe it won’t be so bad’ that’s fine, but you’re also why a Transformers movie with a running gag around statutory rape just became the first movie of 2014 to make $1 billion at the box office. Please, unless you want a future that includes Ninja Turtles 5: Revenge of the Dark Side of Extinction, with Shia LeBouf playing Casey Jones, don’t give this movie your ticket money. Go see The Expendables 3 next week. Go see Guardians of the Galaxy again. Heck, rent any of the original movies, even the third one is better than this travesty.
That said, I may have something for those of you wanting a fresher dose of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action without the bad taste the new film will leave in your mouth. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Casey Jones.
Today my dear readers, I am literally taking a stroll down memory lane. For the first time since 2010, I am standing in Fort Gordon, Georgia, a military base where I spent a year of my time in the US Army. I’ll be the first to admit, my time here had its ups and downs, but save perhaps the intense and unforgettable ten weeks I spent in basic training, had more of an influence on who I am today than perhaps any time of my life. So needless to say, it got me reflecting on the old days, and upon lingering thoughts of the greatest paradox about military service.
That for better or worse, you will miss it.
While nostalgia for the past is certainly not uncommon, regarding military service, I know better than to look back with rose-colored glasses. I will be the first to admit that time in military service, mine included, has more than its fair share of heartache and hardships. I’m not just talking about the rigors of basic training either – the fact you signed up to have your body and spirit broken and rebuilt in BCT is a part of the job everyone who enlists knows even before walking into the recruiting office. I’m talking about the scores of other small sufferings.
My dear readers, you might not know this, but I am a Godfather, and proudly so. Today perhaps more than most, because my godson turns one today, and by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have traveled over six hundred miles to watch see him for his first birthday. Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it if it meant traveling all the way from Mars, but I digress.
So given the occasion, I wanted to share something I wrote for him, a letter for my godson on the inside of a collection of fairy tales I’m giving him. I hope these words manage to touch you as I hope they will touch him one day:
To my dear Godson,
By the time you are old enough to read these stories on your own, I hope you’ll have already begun to take some of the lessons in them to heart: