Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apicarnage at Game Underground

Hello Youtubes!
A follow up on Keith Apicary's USA tour:
Apicarnage at Game Underground on September 18th, 2011

He wanted to call the tour "Cruisin USA" but couldn't clear the rights. Keith teamed up with fans at Turtles in Time and challenged them to Fatal Fury 2. He also gave insight on his family, told an interesting story about his dealings with G4, talked about his latest date at Papa Ginos and preformed his songs. He also called us a bunch of nerds. Well, guess what Keith? You're the nerd, Virtual Boy!

Click on the "JUMP!" link for the videos:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

"Well, there is no way it's better than The Planet of the Apes. I mean, those apes were really good actors." - Michael Kelso

WETA... what can't you do? I guess that question would lead to some technical answers on the limitations of this prolific special effects company. But, that is the point. It's not easy to be incompetent with WETA. Well, I guess they can't make James Franco's acting better. I'm just kidding! Thought I'd jump on that band wagon for some quick laughs. Seriously though, James Franco did a good job in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He's a very capable actor. sarcasm... With that said, it was tough for me to believe James Franco as a scientist though. He plays Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a scientist who developed a cure for Alzheimer's disease and inadvertently increased the intelligence of the Chimpanzees that he experimented on. What made James Franco's character acceptable to me was the emphasis on the "person," the characterization of Will Rodman, instead of just having James Franco acting as a scientist. Throughout the movie, I didn't really care that he's a scientist and saw him as a son wanting to cure his father (John Lithgow) of the unforgiving disease. You might call this "smoke and mirrors" and you might be right but, it worked. In any case, this also worked with the apes in the movie. Each featured ape in Rise of the Planet of the Apes were treated as characters with motivation, emotion, and idiosyncrasies which, made me forget that they were CGi. This is a reminiscence of Ray Harryhausen's fantastic work. WETA did a phenomenal job translating facial expressions from live actors to the onscreen CGi'ed apes. Who better to motion capture the hero ape Caesar than Andy Serkis (Gollum of The Lord of the Rings). This was crucial because Caesar carried the entire movie. He had to be believable.

When I heard a reboot for The Planet of Apes was going to happen, I worried. Then I heard that 20th Century Fox wanted to do a prequel, I thought it was a terrible idea. Later, I learned Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, I started to wonder, "are they going to touch upon the time traveling? When in the timeline is this movie going to take place?" There were more worrying when I learned that the movie took place in our era and it follows the original films loosely. I thought I wouldn't want to watch this movie after all. It was WETA's test footage of a CGi Caesar that convinced me Rise of the Planet of the Apes might be worth watching. And I am so glad that I took that risk. It was a risk of $10 and 105min of my time, not much of a risk but, I could have been doing something else.

The team responsible for Rise of the Planet of the Apes was more than competent. Rupert Wyatt was the director and the screenplay was written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Did I already mention that WETA did the special effects? The movie was emotionally charged, relying heavily on their actors. John Lithgow playing Charles Rodman (Will Rodman's Father) did a heartbreakingly amazing job. I don't think I'd ever seen a movie with such great chemistry between a non talking computer generated character and a live actor. The screenplay had a few easter eggs for the fans of the original Planet of the Apes series but it didn't blatantly hit us on the head with a reference heavy sledge hammer. It was done well. Maybe the one over the top reference was when Draco Malfoy's character Tom Felton... or rather Tom Felton's character Dodge Landon shouted, "it's a madhouse!" Which wasn't that bad at all, it was entertaining and generated a few laughs in the theater. Overall the movie was entertaining with some great pay offs which was the result of well timed and well placed set ups. The imagery of the movie was surprisingly amazing.  I did not expect this from a summer popcorn movie or a remake churned out by the Hollywood machine. The scene shown in the trailer of leaves raining down in a suburban neighborhood as the apes swing from the tree tops was eerily beautiful on the big screen. This is due to Andrew Lesnie's cinematography. There were a few other awesome moments in the movie, like the battle on the Golden Gate Bridge... or when we first see the messed up ape Koba... or when the silver back gorilla Buck... I don't want to give anything away... I recommend checking out Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The movie is proof that there is nothing wrong with remakes or reboots or re-whatever when the property is treated with respect. This will be another blu-ray buy for me. I'm going poor buying these movies but, I can't help it. If I didn't like movies I wouldn't be writing about them.


Captain America: The First Avenger

During April of 2010, Marvel Comics launched a crossover event called Heroic Age. This was suppose to emphasize the Marvel Heroes being... "heroes." It was a result of the grey areas the Marvel characters tread upon during the Siege and Civil War crossover events (and most of the 90's Marvel books in my opinion). Comic book fans criticized the Heroic Age event's timing because it coincided with DC Comics' Brightest Day crossover event. I was in the same boat as these fans... until... I watched Captain America: The First Avenger.

Captain America: The First Avenger carries the spirit of the Heroic Age not just for Marvel Comics but with anything to do with the moniker "hero" (Green Lantern film makers should take note). Before Captain America was the star-spangled WWII hero, he was a puny kid from Brooklyn, NY named Steve Rogers. Small in stature but not in heart. He stood firmly for his beliefs. A CGi shrunken downed Chris Evans (isn't as bad as it sounds) plays the runty idealistic Steve Rogers who kept on being rejected from enlisting in the US Armed Forces. He was determined to join the fight against the Axis Power and kept on trying. He even traveled miles to different cities hoping a recruitment office would accept his application. This tenacity caught the attention of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who was waiting for the right candidate to test his Super Soldier Serum on. With the help of Dr. Erskine, Steve Rogers was enlisted into Colonel Chester Phillips' (Tommy Lee Jones) special unit which confused the Colonel as to why a sickly runt was assigned to him. Dr. Erskine proved his point to the Colonel by throwing a grenade into the middle of the training unit. Everyone scattered for cover except for Steve Rogers, who jumped on top of the grenade to protect his fellow soldiers. The message of the movie was clear, Steve Rogers is Captain America even before the Super Soldier Serum. The serum was just a catalyst to help his physique catch up to his indomitable spirit. Heroes doing Heroic things (Green Lantern take note)! Marvel Studios successfully transferred the Heroic Age on screen.

Under Joe Johnston's direction (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo) and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely screenplay (both wrote three of the Narnia movies) Captain America: The First Avenger felt like an episode of Band of Brothers at times but, with some exaggerated comic book elements. During the montage of Captain America's tour in Europe, I thought he was going to run into Captain Winters and Easy Company (I watched too much Band of Brothers). Speaking of HBO's World War II series, Captain America's tour around the U.S. selling war bonds reminded me of John Basilone in The Pacific. The creative team was definitely conscious about the tone of war movies set in that era. They also dabbed a bit of steampunk to Captain America: The First Avenger for a surrealistic feel. Most of the impossible tech was reserved for the villain of the movie, the Red Skull. The diabolical Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith of The Matrix) took on the role of the insane Nazi. Hugo Weaving was able to balance his acting between over the top villainy and straight vileness with success. I hope he'll show up in The Avengers. Another thing I appreciated about Captain America: The First Avenger was that Chris Evans as Captain America kept his mask on. Whenever I walk into a super hero movie, I'd make it a game to count how many times the hero will take his mask off. The ironic thing about Captain America keeping his mask on is that, he doesn't have a secret identity so, he doesn't need a mask to hide his face. Still, the mask was kept on throughout the whole movie when he was in costume. Maybe it was taken off once... just maybe... but... with the other super hero movies, the heroes who needed to protect their identity kept on taken their masks off (or have them conveniently ripped off). Captain America: The First Avenger is definitely recommended. Marvel Studios has done a great job with their recent movies. This will be another buy for me when it comes out on blu-ray on October 25th. I hope the blu-ray has the full The Avengers trailer at the end like it did at the theater. Go Heroic Age!


(a bit of interesting trivia: Captain America: The First Avenger made more money with its foreign release vs domestically)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Yes Man," Starring Darth Vader

Hello Youtubes!

My copy of Star Wars: The Complete Saga on blu-ray pre-ordered in January still hasn't been processed by Amazon by the way. The release date was this past Friday, 9/16/11. Come on Amazon! What's the hold up? What's the point of pre-ordering?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Keith Apicary - Talking Classics

Hello Youtubes!

This week on "Hello Youtubes!" let's talk classics. On a fateful day, while searching for Neo Geo game footage on youtube, I stumbled upon Keith Apicary's Talking Classics - Neo Geo video. The video showcases some video game nostalgia ridiculousness on the level of the Angry Video Game Nerd. Also, Keith Apicary reminds me of a certain super enthusiastic Neo Geo friend I have. The Neo Geo is a great system. I can't argue with you on that but, technology has moved on A... you know who you are...

Anyway, Keith Apicary will be making an appearance at the Game Underground in Framingham, MA on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 8pm as part of his tour. There is a $10 admission fee for the Keith Apicary show. Here's the link to the Game Underground Website:

Game Underground

Check out the Game Underground September Events Calender for more info (be sure to click on the 18th):

Game Underground September Calender

I'm pretty sure he'll be performing this:

Here's TalkingClassics's youtube channel and you can also find Keith Apicary on

TalkingClassics's Youtube

Talking Classics

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Robo Roll'd

Hello Youtubes!

This time for "Hello Youtubes!" we have an oldie but a goodie. Have you ever played Chrono Trigger? If so, have you ever noticed how "Robo's Theme" sounds like Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up?" I didn't make the connection until much later. Yasunori Mitsuda, the composer of the music in Chrono Trigger claims that he hasn't heard of "Never Gonna Give You Up" until he got Rick Roll'd:

The Original Videos:

Here are two remixes I found on youtube. I find the first video hilarious as Rick Astley rocks to "Robo's Theme."

Youtube took the video down. Here's one with the audio but no video: