Test of Time: The Goonies

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I know, another regular feature is just what we need around here. In the proud tradition of WrestleCrap Radio, I'm all for throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

Hey you guys! The idea for this post came from an episode of the Nick Digilio Show from a few months back. Nick and his producer, Andy 'The Count' Hermann, had a vigorous conversation on the relative merits of The Goonies. Andy is in his early 30s (the same age as the members of the Nerd Lunch crew) and thinks The Goonies is great. Nick, on the other hand, is in his mid 40s and finds The Goonies to be more or less abysmal. Nick's explanation for the difference of opinion was their difference in ages. The discussion intrigued me because, like Andy, I love The Goonies and may have had my view colored by first experiencing the movie as an 11 year old.

So with this issue in mind, I picked up the DVD from the local library and had a screening. Admittedly there are a few plot holes and the opening half hour (aside from the opening jailbreak sequence) plods along slowly, but all in all the movie holds up pretty well. It's basically a combination of Treasure Island, Home Alone, and a pre-pubescent version of Indiana Jones. As weird as that mix sounds, the distinctive characters ensure that it's still a lot of fun.

What can you get for a buck?

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In these inflationary times, the answer is not much. Wendy's recently announced the nationwide return of the Double Stack to their Super Value Menu and that may add another gem to the very short list of worthwhile dollar deals. The downsizing and downgrading of value menu hossin' is something worthy of future discussion, but I digress.

Undoubtedly in an effort to avoid being outdone by the ghost of Dave Thomas, this week my local public library began clearing out their inventory of VHS movies at the low, low price of $1 each. The selection was rather impressive, but only one item jumped out at me.

I hear that heroes don't come any bigger

Yes indeed, a near mint VHS copy of Steel starring The Big Aristotle himself, Shaquille O'Neal. Apparently heroes don't come any bigger (it says so right on the box), but superhero movies may not come much worse. I'll let you know after I able to screen it and Catwoman.

Pesky Steambugs

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While bugs might not be so annoying if they ran on steam, something like this just seems to be asking for trouble. Using bug parts and various other pieces to create a cyborg-insect, Steampunk-style is almost worse that what would happen if monkeys and dolphins teamed up to destroy mankind.

But Mike Libby has decided to spit in the face of science and create these little Frankensects. And, if you've got a few hundred bucks laying around, you can buy one or more. Or, if you're like me, you can just look at the pictures and be impressed.

Hopefully someone will come up with the Steampunk version of a flyswatter before these little guys get out of hand.

Doc and the Rock

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I loves me some Doc Savage, but I've never had the stomach to watch the 1970s movie with Ron Ely. But now Sam Raimi apparently has the rights, along with the Shadow and the Avenger and possibly several other pulp characters, and that Sam Raimi kinda has this superhero movie thing figured out.

Now I have previously suggested that Daniel Cudmore [Colossus] would be good for a youngish Doc, being a great big square-jawed guy . . . but y'know, Dwayne Johnson is great. He's funny, he can obviously do action, and the camera loves him. And the man needs a franchise. And Doc Savage is potentially a great franchise.

CT and the Hulk

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When I went to see X-Files: I Want to Believe, one of my co-workers took this photo of me:



I realized that this isn't the first time I've had my picture taken with the Hulk. As I've mentioned before, I've met Lou Ferrigno, but sadly, I didn't get my picture taken with him. Well, if I did, I don't know about it.

When I was an intern at Marvel, I had my own little station for a time. Due to a fire code issue, the Hulk cardboard cut-out that had been in the little lobby on that floor ended up in my work area. Scarier than the Hulk, is that goatee that hasn't decided to be man-facial hair yet.



Skipping much farther back, I had my picture taken with the Hulk when I was very young. He and Spider-Man (maybe even more characters, but those two are all I remember) showed up at a mall and I remember having a choice--picture with Spider-Man or picture with the Hulk. With the Bixby/Ferrigno series a favorite of mine, I chose the Hulk. I'm guessing I'm around 4 in this picture putting it at about 1980. I vividly remember that costume. It had sort of a velour feel to it.



I've since come across this web page that goes a little more into detail about the Marvel heroes mall appearance crew. On the page, they mention the well-known fact that Jonathan Frakes used to be Captain America at these gigs. Wouldn't that be weird to have a picture much like the one I have of me and Hulk, but instead of Hulk, it's Frakes as Captain America? You could look back and think, "When I was four, I got a picture with Will Riker!"

Comic Book Throwdown: Make-A-Movie

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Today over lunch, I was having a discussion with Marc, a friend and fellow nerd from work. The discussion centered heavily on the mass quantities of super hero movies we've gotten over the past ten years or so. Some are so good and some are not. Marc proposed something drastic. He says the bad movies shouldn't get made. Of course, that's subjective. It may be somewhat universally accepted that Batman Begins and Iron Man are great movies, but the quality of both recent Hulk movies is much more debated.

Do we get the great movies simply as a rule of averages? Because we have so many comic book movies, are some just naturally going to be good and some are not? Isn't that the way it is in any genre? Jason Bourne movies get made, but so do those Fast and the Furious movies.

And I guess I wonder, if I only watch the good movies, am I hurting my overall enjoyment of movies in general? If I watch the bad movies, do I not appreciate the good ones so much more when I see them? Do I not recognize greatness by having lousiness to compare it to? I don't know. Just some food for thought.

So, with the myriad movies that have been made, plenty of characters haven't had their shot yet. Marc posed a question to me today during the discussion and I figured I'd pose it here as well.

Challenge #1: Which character or team that hasn't had a movie in the last ten years or so needs to have a movie? Who should be the director? Who should be the star(s)?

Challenge #2: With all the reboots (Hulk, Punisher, upcoming Superman), which character or team from a comic book movie from the past ten years should be rebooted? Again, who should direct? Who should star?


Bear in mind the backdrop for this discussion was quality. Granted, I think any comic book character has the potential to be good, but who are some of the great characters we're missing on the screen? Pick a director fitting that type of character and with experience in the genre. And for the star, who can command the screen presence to pull of the lead character effectively while doing fantastical things on screen?

For challenge #1, I'm going to answer with The Flash, directed by Tony Scott, starring Ryan Gosling. Preceding bullet time and the CSI shows, the 1990 Flash TV show came about ten years too early. Now, a serious crime drama movie with a sci-fi element could be done so much better. Tony Scott pulled this off with Deja Vu. And he could really interject his own style to keep the speed effects from being too boring. Make it light-hearted and fun with a superb actor like Ryan Gosling. He can pull off the awkward, yet endearing police scientist and still be a hero.

For challenge #2, Daredevil, directed by Paul Haggis, starring Guy Pearce. Do a back to basics, origin reboot. Strip away the more fantastical stuff like Elektra and Bullseye. Make this a crime drama that just happens to have a vigilante in it. Guy Pearce was always my choice for this role. His performance in Memento sold me on his ability to portray a guy with a thirst for justice who has to get over a handicap. By the way, they should get a spare suit from the Spider-Man movie and just modify that to make the Daredevil costume. No cheap-looking, red-pleather suit this time.

UPDATE:
I told Marc about this post and he sent me his answers (along with graphic support) to the challenges. I thought I'd share them with you here.

Challenge #1:
Ron Howard directing Green Lantern starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Hal Jordan and Scarlett Johansson as Hal’s love interest … and because she’s really hot.

Set in the iconic America of the 1950s, a young pilot-prodigy, Hal Jordan, accepts an offer from the US to be the first man in space. After the first successful moon landing, Hal is caught between two warring aliens and the classic story of the ring and Hal’s fateful decision plays out. Hal is saved by the power of the lantern ring and returns to earth just in time to stop its eminent destruction from an invading alien race. Director Ron Howard has proven with A Beautiful Mind and The Cinderella Man, that he truly gets America from the 1930s, 40s and 50s and has shown a passion for space with Apollo 13. He truly understands what makes heroic characters heroic. Jake Gyllenhaal has proven that pretty boys can act and has proven his old-school, aw-shucks likability from his period work in October Sky.

Challenge #2
M. Night Shyamalan directing The Incredible Hulk starring Joaqin Phoenix as Bruce Banner and Bruce Willis as the yet-to-be-named head of a government task force sent to bring Bruce to justice. And Rachael McAdams as Betty Ross.

Not necessarily a reboot, The Incredible Hulk would follow the past two films as cannon and now Bruce is on the run with an U.S. Government task force hot on his heels. Leaving Betty behind, Bruce hits the road in an attempt to rid himself of his inner monster once and for all by finding an ultimate cure. The main protagonist in this film would be the Hulk as Bruce treats him as a separate person all together. The secondary protagonist, Bruce Willis’ character, would always be just one step behind Bruce in a twisting-turning game of cat-and-mouse. And in the end, Shyamalan can add his famous twist by revealing the only true cure for Bruce lies within his love for Betty. She is his only cure. Shyamalan could bring a scarier, more emotional edge to the series while still being able to pull phenomenal performances out of two of his past, proven actors. Joaqin is fabulous at externalizing inner turmoil and will bring great maturity and suffering to Bruce Banner.


The cool thing is, this is exactly how I found this picture. I didn’t color the eyes a bit. Weird. Minutes after this picture was taken, Joaquin actually turned into the Hulk and ate his personal assistant. Eww.


By the way, Marc has a blog, Zerogami. If you're into video games, check it out. Even if you're not, check it out. I never have a clue what he's talking about, but I still read it.

Decommissioning the USS Gambling Nerd

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No retrofit for this enterprise We seem to be saying farewell too often around these parts. Only a few weeks back we had a painful death trilogy and earlier this week, the voice of the movies, Don LaFontaine, headed off to the big sound booth in the sky. But now another blow to nerds everywhere: the shuttering of Star Trek: The Experience in the Las Vegas Hilton.

The Experience featured two "rides", a Trek museum, Quark's Restaurant and Bar, and a gift shop. It seems that the proprietors of The Experience and Hilton couldn't agree on terms for a new lease, so the 10 year voyage is now over. So The Nerd Lunch crew will not be making a reunion trip to Vegas in a few years. And sorry fellow trekkies, you're out of luck if you dreamt of being married on the bridge of the Enterprise, ordering up an $8.50 James Tea Kirk from your Bolian waiter, or eating Picard's Pockets (look it up, kids).

The upside is there may be some unique items appearing on eBay in the near future.

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