Resuming the review of the cast of G.I. Joe...

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For part one, click here.

Dennis Quaid
as General Hawk
Great casting choice. I almost don't believe it's true. I've always
thought a younger Dennis Quaid would make a good Hal Jordan Green
Lantern. Now he's too old to pull that type of role off, but someone
like General Hawk in a G.I. Joe movie is perfect.

Arnold Vosloo as Zartan
Another solid casting choice. He didn't do anything for me in The
Mummy movies, but then those movies didn't do much for me as a whole
anyway. But his role in the fourth season of 24 was awesome.
Probably the second best villain that show has seen. With Zartan
being one of my favorite characters, I'm glad to see that he'll be
played by a strong villain-type.

Channing Tatum as Duke
No idea who this is. Anyone else have thoughts about this?

Use More Honey! Buckaroo Returns...

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The first time I watched Buckaroo Banzai, I did not like it. A friend professed it to be his second favorite movie and at the end, I was baffled. I questioned whether I knew my friend at all (actually, I might have been right about that, but I digress). Some time later, I saw a VHS copy in a discount bin and was convinced to buy it despite my misgivings about the movie. That gave me the opportunity to watch it again. And again.

The movie has a scene where the main character, Buckaroo Banzai, is given an ability to see Lectroids for who they really are, instead of their human form. In much the same way, years later, I saw the movie for what it really was. An absolute piece of celluloid genius. Read the novelization and it becomes ten times better.

Shortly after I met PLee, there was talk of a TV series based on the movie. And the two of us were on the jazz about that. Sadly, that did not materialize. Until recently when instead of TV form, it took the form of a comic book from Moonstone Books.

I finished reading Buckaroo Banzai: Return of the Screw trade paperback over the weekend. I wanted to like this. I really did. But sadly, I did not. Maybe I just don't see it for what it is yet. But there's a lot more to work through here than there was with the movie.

After waiting 25 years for a sequel entitled "Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League" I was disappointed to see this turn into pretty much a rehash of the first movie. Lectroids and John Whorfin...again? A very limited amount of Hanoi Xan and newer villains. The plot itself is nothing terribly exciting, and the story comes off truncated, like maybe it could have been another issue or two longer. I was really glad that Rauch was returning to write this, but he could have used some help translating the story into comic form.

When you read an adaptation of characters in live action media, it's natural to simply allow the voice of the actors to fill the roles in your head. When Buckaroo spoke, I heard Peter Weller. When Reno spoke, I heard Pepe Serna. But, there are enough new characters that I had a hard time meshing the two sets of characters together. I didn't want accept Lady Gillette into the fold because I really wasn't sure who she was.

Also, when dealing with licensed properties in a comic like this, it's important that the characters look consistent. Plain clothes characters are tough because you can't rely on the big red "S" on the chest to help the reader tell who's the main character. The artwork in this book was disappointing and confusing.

The extras in the book were nice. Good behind the scenes info on the history of the woes of bringing Buckaroo Banzai back, some cool concept art for the never-launched series, and most importantly, three full pages of painted art by my buddy Bill Wiist. Bill had pitched some cover concepts that were sadly rejected, but they ran three of them in this book. And if you don't know who Bill Wiist is, check out the bio pic on the upper right side of the blog and click on his name found under that drawing.

As I think about it, I wonder if anything could measure up to the wait. Could anything be as good as the feeling I get thinking about what Buckaroo Banzai II could have been? For that matter, would Buckaroo Banzai II have been good, or is it only the idea of it that is good?

Either way, I've been here before. Maybe I just need to read it again enough times for me to be able to see this story for what it really is...if I don't already.

This Day in Nerd Lunch History: January 25, 2004

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It's like a genetically engineered super-tool. Part pick ax, part hatchet, part crowbar, all awesome. It's the Halligan Tool. It's a tool firefighters use primarily for forcible entry. But as a nerd, I see it and think it's pretty much the human equivalent of a Bat'leth. Sure, not as sleek as the Bat'leth, but potentially just as deadly.

Due to an odd series of events relating to my job at the time, I had a handful of firefighter tools loaned to me. One of them was a Halligan Tool. Concurrent to that, I had a dual cassette deck die on me. It had been good to me over the years, it just finally died. And I didn't want to simply throw it away. I wanted to see that it went out in style.

So, in a cathartic display of sheer Halligan force, I took advantage of the tool on loan to me and smashed the dual cassette deck. But that wasn't enough. Something like this wasn't meant to be done alone. I invited Jeeg to come over and share in the fun.

Photos of this event, recorded on a bitter cold day in the midwest four years ago today, are available for viewing here.

Speaking of the Hulk...

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This list is awesome.

That Guy: Mickey Jones

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Mickey Jones. Thanks to a commercial for breath mints from a few years ago, Jeeg and I refer to him as "fresh breath guy." But you probably know him as "biker guy." During the 80s and some into the 90s, anytime there is a need for a biker gang in a movie or TV show, there would be Mickey Jones.

Probably, he is best known for his recurring role on Home Improvement. But its his appearances in The A-Team, V: The Final Battle, Dukes of Hazzard, and The Incredible Hulk that have won my heart.

Thanks Mickey Jones. I've been admiring your breath since 46th Street.

Star Trek X: Under Construction

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A trailer for the upcoming Star Trek flick has been posted over at the Paramount site. Perhaps the the only things I gleaned from it are:
  • somebody got a big computer for Christmas
  • and the front runner for the film subtitle may be "Under Construction"

A steak dinner for Mr. Abrams if it releases with that title.

Imaginary Band: The Mighty Sons of Hercules!

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I did a post awhile back about my discovery of the Sons of Hercules . . . this was a syndicated collection of Steve Reeves-type swords-and-sandals movies, where the narration was changed a bit to indicate that the lead character was a son of Hercules (thereby linking these otherwise unrelated movies).

Now, I’ve been kicking around an idea for a cheesy oldies band that could do “Peppermint Twist” and “Tequila” and “Wooly Bully”, but I was looking for a visual/thematic hook.

And then I realized . . . cheesy oldies = sixties frat rock = toga party = The Mighty Sons of Hercules. Have the band dress in togas, or even gladiator armor. Pat = Patocles, Sam = Samocles, etc.

But sadly, I am probably at the stage in my life where I should not wear a toga and sing “Land of a Thousand Dances” in public.

00Walrus #1: Dr. No

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For Christmas, I received the first 20 "official" James Bond movies on DVD. These are the two disc sets and run from Dr. No through Die Another Day. One of the longest running franchises and despite its success, it always seems to be divisive amongst its fans. Who was the best Bond? Who was the best Bond girl? The best theme? And so on.

So, I figured I'd make an attempt to watch them all again in chronological order and after each viewing, I'd come back here and share some thoughts about all those things that make a James Bond movie a James Bond movie. In this series, I'm not going to do the full walrus review, but assign a "tusk" score. Two tusks means that component was great, one means it was fairly neutral and no tusk means I could do without ever seeing that again.

DR. NO
Bond: Sean Connery - 2 tusks
Great character from the get-go. Probably the most defining scene was when he killed the scientist in cold blood. Bond doesn't make the mistakes that his adversaries make. When he wants someone dead, he sees to it. Connery has a sophisticated ruggedness early on that not even he ever quite captures again.

Girl: Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder - 2 tusks
Set the tone for the Bond girls to come. I learned on the special features that her voice was dubbed by someone else. Had the look, the exotic accent, and stayed cool under fire. Certainly one of the best in the entire series.

Gadgets: Walther PPK, Geiger Counter - 2 tusks
The gadgets hadn't really made their appearance as of yet. Bond is given the Walther PPK gun to use early in the movie and is sent a Geiger counter to use. I do enjoy the gadgetless Bond much more than the one with gadgets.

Opening Theme: James Bond Theme followed by a Calypso medley - 2 tusks
I could have done without the Calypso medley, but there wasn't a better way to start the series than to use the theme that would go on to become a classic.

Villain: Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No - 2 tusks
Set the stage for all Bond villains to come. I love that we don't see him for much of the movie. It is simply the fear invoked in others that raises his coolness factor. When he does appear, there is payoff and he sets the tone for the calm and collected villain that should be respected.

Story:
Watching this again, I came away with so much more respect for it than I had in the past. Really a simple story. More of a mystery and less of an action film. I wish more of the subsequent Bond films had been as good as this one.

Special Features:
Disc Two has a behind the scenes thing that's about an hour long. Really good and goes into a lot of depth about getting the franchise going. Very interesting and thorough. Some extra features aren't all that great, but this one had a lot of meat to it. There was a great little insight into the creation of the theme song that I actually had to rewind and watch three or four times before moving on.

Great movie, let alone a great Bond movie. And the restoration on this film was great. Looked like a brand new movie.

Steam-operated Trouble Alert

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I've seem three different sites I frequent reference these custom action figures. I thought I'd bring them up here. Nice design of a Victorian-era Justice League. Takes the Gotham by Gaslight concept and stretches it out to the entire League. A story based on these characters would be great.

I just mentioned this to PLee the other day. My comic reading habits have become non-existent, but what does intrigue me more than anything right now are the out-of-continuity stories like DC New Frontier or things that exist within their own universe like Planetary. A comic based on this Justice League would probably lure me to at least read the trade paperback.

As for the figures, I think my favorite is The Flash although the new Hawkgirl is a close second. Although, I have liked that Batman design for a long time, too.

Oddly Shaped Dice: Men of Action!

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Being a fan of all things pulp, I know that the pulp didn't completely die out after WWII. Through the 1960s, there were a bunch of "men's adventure" pulps featuring manly men fighting Communists, Nazis, large snakes, etc, and eating steaks, and smoking cigars.

I'd like to do a one-shot along those lines, with a bunch of old-school CIA tough guys headed down to Brazil to raid a hidden castle deep in the jungle and take out some escaped Nazi war criminals. Maybe set the thing around 1960ish, so they can all be grizzled WII vets and so there's a hint of that Cold War espionage craze which was right around the corner. And a scoop of Jonny Quest.

I'm talking Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum kinda guys.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: The Wendy's Stack Attack

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The Stack Attack is a relatively new addition to Wendy's Super Value Menu and, in my area, would seem to be a replacement for the old 99 cents warhorse, the Double Stack, which has disappeared from most locations in recent years. The Stack Attack is comprised of two 1/8 lb beef patties topped with a slice of American cheese, ketchup, and mayonnaise. There may not be a "better double cheeseburger out there for only 99 cents", but personally I think the buck would be better spent on a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. The Stack Attack is probably worth checking out if you're a connoisseur of value menus, but it won't revolutionize your lunch hour no matter how many Lincoln impersonators they have in the TV commercial.

Walrus B13

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I've thought about calling these posts "Retro Reviews", since none us here seem to watch any movies that have been released in the last 6 months. I guess busy lives and $10 movie tickets will do that, but I digress.

District B13 is a French action flick brought to you by Luc Besson, the man who gave us The Transporter. The action is intense and features healthy doses of both martial arts and parkour. It was the perfect thrill ride for my Christmas vacation.


Story
The plot is substantial enough to drive the action, but thin enough that it doesn't require much thought. The story moves along quickly, but two scenes early in the movie effectively introduce all the main characters and the ancillary characters are easliy understood stereotypes. So despite an up-tempo runtime of 85 minutes, none of the developments in the plot felt too jarring.

Presentation
While there was nothing revolutionary about the cinematography, I enjoyed how the fight and chase scenes were shot. Rather than the tight shot, quick cut mode that seems to be all the rage in Hollywood, the action scenes in B13 were shot with a wide enough angle that I could appreciate what was going on in the scene and fully enjoy the stunt work. Bonus points for the French gangsta' rap portions of the soundtrack.

Story score--

Presentation score--

The rewatchable walrus is definitely warranted, if only to take another look at the action sequences.

Imaginary Band: Are You With Me, Dr. Wu?

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I have a lot of imaginary bands, but only one real band . . . the Doctor Wu Rock & Soul Review, spreading classic Stax / Motown soul to the people of downstate Illinois since 1993. I left the band in 2000 and the whole thing's been on hiatus for five or six years, with periodic one-off revivals.

Aaaand then my old trumpet player got the cancer a few months back, and I decided to get the band back together for a benefit gig, which is happening January 26 at Brian's Place in Mattoon.

Fifteen musicians, give or take, including a six-piece horn section. It will be glorious, or a train wreck, or both.
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