Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Treasure

Call it a Christmas tradition. Every year about this time, I always like to watch my copy of "It's A Wonderful Life."
Some people have called it too sappy, too corny, too...whatever. But this Jimmy Stewart classic is a rare treasure.
The Frank Capra directed film stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, and features a whole host of wonderful character actors you'll immediately recognize, and the story will tug at your heartstrings.
For me, the film is better than any filmed version of "A Christmas Carol." It has, essentially, the same central message. Don't take anything for granted, and live life to the fullest.
If you haven't seen it in a while, I strongly encourage you to make it a point to see it again this Christmas season. And if you've never seen it, what are you waiting for?? I can guarantee you won't be disappointed, and I'd also be willing to bet that you would even get a little misty eyed more than once.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and I want to echo Grant's sentiments in the previous post, we really do appreciate our readers, and podcast listeners. Thanks for taking time out to read our posts and listen to our podcasts. By the way, this week on the podcast we've got some great stuff just in time for Christmas, so be sure to check it out!


Happy Holidays From PopSnap!

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to wish you all a happy and safe holiday season. I would like to thank all of you who have visited our blog, checked out our page on facebook, and listened to our podcast this year. It's great to know that there are plenty of people out there interested in pop culture. Jody and I are excited to have PopSnap going and look forward to bigger and better things in 2010! Our final podcast of the year is up and you can listen to it by clicking on the right side of this page or heading on over the facebook it checking it out there. Jody and I talk about all the movies being released over the next few weeks and we take an early look at the Golden Globe Nominees.

Speaking of the holidays -- this is one of the best times of the year! There's plenty of new films being released with awards season coming up. I finally caught "The Blindside" last weekend and it was a real treat. It's on my short list of the best movies of 2009.

Of all the movies being released around the holidays, I'm the most excited about "Up In The Air," starring George Clooney and directed by Jason Reitman. The movie looks like a great mix of comedy with a little food for thought thrown in between.

Don't forget about those stocking stuffers -- some of the most popular movies of the Summer are fresh on DVD and Blu-ray shelves. "The Hangover" is out in stores now. Be sure to check out "(500) Days of Summer" which hits stores next week!

Thanks again for helping us kick off the first year of PopSnap! Be sure to stay on the lookout for pop culture buzz over the holidays!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Lost" Season 5 On DVD

Need I say more?
For the "Lost" faithful, the headline is enough. The latest season of the popular, enigmatic ABC program has now made its way to DVD and Blu-Ray, just in time to watch before the final (gasp!) Season 6 premiere on February 2nd.
When last we saw the gang...
(*Warning, brief spoiler material--if you haven't seen Season 5, stop reading now!!)

Ok, you made it past my spoiler alert. I know some people who haven't seen the material, and you know who you are...
Anyway, last season brought us some spectacular images, and new puzzles to solve. We finally met Jacob, and oh, what a tangled web he weaved. The scene on the beach with the Man In Black, as he is affectionately known, is an all time classic.
I remember reading an interview with the two guys who played Jacob and MIB, and they both said they weren't given too much direction on how to play that scene--so there's still quite a bit of mystery there.
For me, Season 5 was my favorite since Season 2 and the revelations about the Hatch.

I just received my copy today, and am looking forward to viewing at least some of it this weekend.
All of this certainly whets fans' appetites for the final season, which ABC has been promoting heavily, although without any new clips--and they're doing a very effective job of it.
So, if you plan to review the latest season, enjoy it, and we'll be talking a lot more about "Lost" as we get closer to that all important Tuesday night in February... Can you feel the excitement?
Here's a Season 5 promo:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mr. Monk And The Big Goodbye

It's sad to see a good television show come to an end.
And that's why I felt especially nostalgic while watching the series finale of "Monk" on USA Friday night. On the air for 8 seasons, the program broke the rules of a traditional cop show, blending in just the right amount of comedy along with tight storylines and characters that were a genuine pleasure to watch week after week.
I'm proud to say that from the beginning, this was a show I felt comfortable watching with my parents, and trust me, there are far too few of those left in the vast wasteland of TV.
I had the good fortune to meet Lee Goldberg, who wrote a couple of episodes of the show, and is the man behind the "Monk" books, which are still in print. I asked Lee why there weren't more shows like this one on these days, and his reply was simple. He said, "The show (aims) for an older audience," and it wasn't the demographic most advertisers were after.
That's a real shame, and it ought not to be that way. The show won multiple awards, and star Tony Shalhoub, a fine actor, was showered with acclaim for his portrayal of the obsessive compulsive detective.
He said he simply felt it was time to move on, and I certainly wish him well. He and his fellow cast members did a great job over these 8 seasons.
So, here's what happened: Friday night's episode managed to solve one the show's biggest mysteries: the cold case involving the murder of Adrian Monk's wife, Trudy.
I had long felt that this was an unnecessary subplot to the program, but am glad they managed to wrap it up so neatly, and everyone moved on. Monk wasn't cured of his problems, and his life as a police consultant continued.
The episode's end was a montage of clips from past shows, punctuated by a new song from Randy Newman, "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone." And, yes, it was enough to make me shed a tear or two. Indeed, Mr. Monk, you (and the rest of those characters that populate your life) will truly be missed.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn is a list of casting notes/news/tidbits going on in the world of pop culture. It's like someone just popped a fresh batch of popcorn -- and the smell is too good to pass up!

Empire is celebrating its 20th anniversary with photos of some of the most iconic characters/films over the last 20 years.

The new Iron Man 2 poster is here! (thanks to Superherohype)

Paul McCartney talks with "USA Today" about writing the original song for "Everybody's Fine."

Tobey Maguire tells "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" that "Spider-Man 4" will begin filming soon.

"Lost" Season 5 hits store shelves this Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Wonders Of "Fantastic Mr. Fox"

This is one of the topics we'll be talking about on our weekly podcast tonight, so be sure to check it out by going to the link on the right hand side of the page.
Last night, Grant and I got a chance to see the new Wes Anderson film "Fantastic Mr. Fox," based on the story by the great Roald Dahl.
If you're not familiar with his work, perhaps these titles will ring a bell: "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory," and "The Witches" are just two more of the late author's stories.
We're lucky, because Anderson decided to bring this movie to life using a technique that has all but become extinct when it comes to motion pictures. He and his crew put it together using stop motion animation, meaning you take a picture, move the character a tiny bit, take another picture, and so on, until you get something that looks like it's actually moving in front of your eyes.
The results are, well, fantastic, and the behind the scenes work is truly fascinating.
Check out some of the work that went on to make this movie by watching below.

Many "mini documentaries" have been put together on all of the work that went into the project.
As is true with his live action work, Anderson assembled an all star cast for the voices that includes George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and others to play Mr. Fox, his family and friends.
Over the last couple of days I watched an interview with Wes Anderson that appeared on Charlie Rose. You can see it on, just search for Wes Anderson.

You might think that this movie is just for kids. Not so. I would recommend it for all ages--it holds up well, and there are plenty of laughs for the whole family. While I don't think it will suit everyone's taste, the visuals alone are enough to keep you asking, "how'd they do that?"
And while it might not be the CGI-fest that "2012" is, Wes Anderson and his team of experts have proven they don't need computer animation or even 3D to make this work, and work well.
He has expressed interest in doing another movie in the same way, and I hope he does in the not too distant future.
If you do miss it on the big screen, be sure to check out "Fantastic Mr. Fox" when it comes to DVD sometime next year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn is a list of casting notes/news/tidbits going on in the world of pop culture. It's like someone just popped a fresh batch of popcorn -- and the smell is too good to pass up!

The $550 million dollars made in the first 5 days for "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2"is the largest 24-hour launch in the history of entertainment.

An "Iron Man 2" trailer is coming soon!

Check out "Wired" for a review of "Super Mario Bros. Wii"

"GamerTell" says Target's Black Friday sales are some of the best around.

Head on over to "Slashfilm" for a preview of "Crazy Heart," starring Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"New Moon" Fever!

They're young, they're in love, and they're vampires and werewolves (well, at least some of them are).
I confess, other than that, I really don't know anything about the "Twilight" franchise, but plenty of people do, and they're very excited about the sequel, "New Moon," which opens on Friday.
Based on the series of best selling books, the movie version of "Twilight" launched the careers of some of these young actors, who will no doubt go on to appear in many more films.
As for an official opinion on the whole deal, it's really hard for me to say. I can't deny that it has whipped millions of fans into a frenzy, but fans alone do not a good film make.
My prediction: An $80 million opening weekend, and another strong weekend ahead with more people seeing it again over Thanksgiving. If you do plan to see it, or have seen it, we'd love to see your comments.
Meantime, enjoy this clip:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Favorite "Trek" Films

With the release of the new "Star Trek" film on DVD (which I very much enjoyed in theatres this year), I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and give a shout out to some other movies in the "Trek" franchise that I found great escapist fare.
It should come as no surprise that "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan" is my all time favorite of the "old school" "Trek" movies. Great storyline with Ricardo Montalban reprising his role from the TV series episode titled "Space Seed." This is a fine example of a cool concept blended with a fantastic score, and an excellent story that sets it up for what I thought was a disappointing sequel. Still, it's one of the best, and Kirk certainly has a worthy adversary in Khan.
See a clip from "Khan" and read more after the jump.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Live Long...and Watch Many DVDs

The best movie of the Summer, "Star Trek" is storming to stores nationwide today. This isn't your father's "Star Trek." The new movie introduces us to a younger crew of cadets as they embark on the first adventures in The Enterprise. Director J.J. Abrams continues to develop Grade-A projects. The script, special effects, and actors come together for the perfect popcorn adventure!

The film is being released on Blu-ray and DVD just in time for Thanksgiving next week. There are sure to be plenty of Trekkies that will pick this up for themselves and maybe even pick up an extra copy to stuff someone's stocking this holiday season. You can get the one disc that will just give you the basic film or the two disc comes with loads of special features including a blooper reel.

I've never been a big "Star Trek" fan, but this movie is what filmmaking is all about. It will take you on a non-stop adventure through the "final frontier." So, with temperatures cooling down and activites being limited outdoors...pick up The Starfleet Crew and give them a try. I promise you will not be disappointed!

To J.J. Abrams' films and the future "Star Trek" films --- "Live Long and Prosper."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn is a list of casting notes/news/tidbits going on in the world of pop culture. It's like someone just popped a fresh batch of popcorn -- and the smell is too good to pass up!

Popsnap! would like to wish a Happy Birthday to one of our favorite readers, Katie Mercuri!

Fox Searchlight is offering FREE advanced screenings of "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Just click on the icon on the right side of the page.

MTV debates who should play Black Cat in "Spider-Man 4."

"V" was the biggest premiere for ABC since "Lost" debuted in 2004.

According to the AP, the future of Aerosmith is still up in the air.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sesame Street Hits The Big 4-0

   The popular PBS children's show "Sesame Street" turns 40 this year, and there are celebrations aplenty.
A new book is out with lots of behind the scenes photos and articles about the program.
I have fond childhood memories of coming home from school, and spending time with Grover, Kermit, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and the gang.
Those were indeed precious times. It was learning disguised as fun, and it worked. And it's still working for millions of children not only in the United States, but around the world.
For me, Sesame Street was part of a block of educational television that included "The Electric Company" (featuring Morgan Freeman as the Easy Reader!) and "Mister Rogers Neighborhood."
I have many favorite moments from the show. I was, and still am, a big fan of Bert & Ernie, and the Cookie Monster is always a hit. The show featured animation as well, and I distinctly remember one animated bit where a mother is giving a grocery list as her daughter tries to memorize it: "A gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and a stick of butter," or something to that effect. It's close. She repeats it over and over as she travels to the store.
I am so grateful to have had these programs in my life as a child. "Sesame Street" gave you the fundamentals--basic language and math skills, plus how to live your life as a decent person. And it's all done in a wonderful way kids can instantly relate to--puppets with funny voices.
Of course, you can't forget that classic opening theme song: "Sunny Day/Sweeping the clouds away/On my way to where the air is clear/Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?"
Jim Henson had already created commercials with some of his muppets in the years before he hit the "Street," (I'm sure you can still see them somewhere on the internet), but he struck gold when he paired his creation with education.
I wish he were still around to celebrate this milestone. He left an amazing legacy that has changed the lives of millions of children for the better.
Thanks, Jim, and let's raise a glass (of milk or juice) to 40 more years of this spectacular show.
Check out this video which combines another of my favorite shows "Mad Men" with "Sesame Street."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alien Invasion

Tomorrow night, Earth will once again be invaded by aliens. (I wonder if anybody keeps track of this kind of thing on a fictional basis...)
ABC has dusted off the old 80s NBC series "V" and given it a new look for the 21st century.
On Sunday, SyFy replayed the old version, and I just couldn't resist giving it another look. Marc Singer (remember "The Beastmaster"?) played a television news photographer who gets some up close and personal video of the "visitors" who promise all sorts of things in return for certain needs of their own.
Without spoiling anything here, I'll just say that the aliens are not what they seem, and the "V" doesn't really stand for "visitors."
It's a cool concept, and one that I'll surely be watching. The show has a slick look to it, and good casting.
Elizabeth Mitchell from ABC's "Lost" is one of the stars of the show, which features some other faces you might recognize, including Scott Wolf as an eager reporter (the new Marc Singer?) and many others.
Without a doubt, if visitors from another planet were to come here, it would be the most significant event in history, and I find it hard to believe people would be able to do anything at all to get back to "normal," since we would all be so curious to find out more about these beings.
You can watch the first few minutes of the show below. I've seen the clip, and trust me, there's nothing in it that isn't already covered by the many previews you've already seen.
So, what do you think? Will you be watching "V"? Did you see the original? Leave us a comment.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Lot Of Activity

"Paranormal Activity" has been tearing up the box office. The small budget film tells the story of a young couple living in California and how they deal with the presence of a demon. The movie was made for only $11,000 and has already passed the $60 million mark. I had a chance to see the movie recently and it does not disappoint. The theatre was packed and everyone in the crowd was on the edge of their seat. I'm a fan of scary movies, but a lot of the newer "slasher" films these days don't really appeal to me. "Paranormal" takes the most important element of horror, timing, and uses it utilize jumps and screams throughout the film. This movie sticks with you!! It will make you think twice about certain everyday things that happen (sorry, no spoilers here) and how they impact your routine.

These days it's simple to get caught up in the money and the special effects. It's nice to see that a simple, small budget movie can still have the impact of the million dollar action flick. I have seen a lot of horror films, and "Paranormal Activity" is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here's The Pitch: Baseball Movies That Score

Tonight, the New York Yankees took on the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of the 2009 World Series. So, here are my picks for some of the best baseball movies ever made.

"The Natural" Robert Redford is perfect as a natural born baseball player with a mysterious past, who finally gets to play pro ball late in life.
One of the best casts ever assembled. Watch out for Wilford Brimley as the stubborn manager of the New York Knights, as well as the great Richard Farnsworth at his side. Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Robert Prosky, and Darren McGavin round out the cast.
The film also has a wonderful score by the truly gifted Randy Newman.

"Field Of Dreams" Kevin Costner leads another all star cast with this movie about a farmer (Costner) who risks everything after he hears a mysterious voice say "If you build it, they will come."
What he builds is a baseball field, and then he brings in James Earl Jones to help him solve the mystery. Also featuring Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson and the late, great Burt Lancaster, "Field Of Dreams" is indeed a wonderful film.

"The Pride Of The Yankees" Gary Cooper stars as baseball phenom Lou Gehrig in this heartfelt drama about a man who rose to baseball superstardom before he was cut down in the prime of his life by a terrible disease. Great story, great cast. Don't miss this classic baseball tale.

"A League Of Their Own" Penny Marshall directs Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna in this story based on the real life women's baseball leagues of the 1940s. While most men were off fighting World War II, women came to the rescue of the great American pastime. Tom Hanks plays a baseball player just past his prime, who's given a second chance to coach one of the women's teams. Watch out for David Strathairn and Jon Lovitz as a baseball scout. And if you look closely, you'll also spot me in the stands. I was lucky enough to be one of the extras in this film, which was shot in Indiana. Tom Hanks very entertaining both off and on screen.

Countdown To Halloween--Movies Guaranteed To Give A Good Scare

Ask anyone, and they'll tell you I'm definitely -not- a fan of modern day "slasher" films.
I hate all of them. I mean, seriously, who wants to pay money to watch someone get brutally murdered??
As it turns out, plenty of people do, and that's why Hollywood keeps turning out these things.
Since Halloween is just a couple of days away, I wanted to point out some other classic scary movies that will make you jump or grab the person next to you.

"Halloween" (The original) Still as creepy as it ever was, this movie succeeds where it should--the anticipation factor. The music is really what gets you here--that fabulous piano-rich score, telling the audience that, yes indeed, something very bad was about to happen. It's a simple construction of a movie, and the panic on the face of a young Jamie Lee Curtis is enough to keep your heart racing. Violent, yes, but not nearly as much as current movies.

"Poltergeist" From the '80s, this is a film that doesn't really start out terribly scary, but lulls you comfortably into the family home where Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams sleep soundly until those magic words: "They're heeeeeeerre!" from young daughter Carol Ann.
This should be good, as it was touched by the hand of Spielberg. As scary as they come. Be sure to put away any clown dolls before watching it.

Speaking of Spielberg, for sheer terror, check out his early effort called "Duel."
Originally made as a TV movie, it stars Dennis Weaver as a businessman on a road trip who finds himself in a showdown with a semi. It all starts when Weaver passes him... The cat and mouse game is guaranteed to make you squirm in your seat. Helpful hint: Don't watch it the night before any long trips.

"The Others" Nicole Kidman stars in this story of a woman and her two small children who stay at a remote house in the country. Then strange things start to happen at home. Curtains vanish, things go bump in the night, the housekeepers add a dash of extra creepy, you get the picture.
The music alone will make you want to turn away. I saw this in theatres, and opened my eyes at the wrong time. Ouch. It felt like I jumped 6 feet in the air. The usher says it was only 2.

"The Omen" Gregory Peck unwittingly becomes the adoptive father of the son of the Devil. Yee-ikes. The music alone is enough to unnerve you, and the story moves along at a breakneck pace. By the way, I'm talking about the original here, not the recent remake. As Peck finally uncovers the unspeakable truth about his son Damien, you'll find yourself reaching for the nearest nightlight. Its sequel, "Damien: Omen II" isn't bad, either. But you can skip the third one, even if it does have Sam Neill as the title character. 

"Dial M For Murder" The list wouldn't be complete without something from Hitchcock. This clever plot will keep you guessing. Most any Hitchcock film will fill the bill this Halloween. You might also like "Rear Window," with Jimmy Stewart. A recent movie called "Disturbia" with Shia Lebeouf, that's loosely based on  "Window" is also very good. David Morse is excellent as the creepy next door neighbor.

"Psycho" How could I possibly leave out this Hitchcock chiller? A great film that many only remember because of the infamous Bates Motel--people tend to forget that the first half showcases Janet Leigh with a hidden agenda. A great score and tense plot will leave you wanting more. Look for character actor Martin Balsam in a small role as a private detective.

Naturally, there are plenty of movies with a good scare or two out there, these were just a few of my favorites.
Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Overpriced Hollywood Stars

I recently watched a documentary on the British comedy troupe "Monty Python" released to celebrate the team's 40th anniversary.

Although I was familiar with some of their stuff,  the documentary provided unique insight to their beginnings,  back stories of  the three feature films, as well as what each one of them is currently working on.

Which brings me to the subject of this article. At the end of the documentary, we see that John Cleese has recorded his lines for the upcoming "Shrek 4," which comes out next year.
I didn't see the third "Shrek" movie, where he apparently also had a speaking part.
What astonished me was something I read a couple of days later--that he was paid the equivalent of $1 million dollars for 23 minutes work. 
You read that right. He worked for less than half an hour, and was paid a million bucks. 
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a John Cleese fan if there ever was one, but c'mon, folks--this falls under the "Are you serious??!?" department.
Nobody, and I mean nobody,  deserves to be paid that much money.

A couple of years ago, news leaked that Tom Hanks was to become the highest paid actor in history after his deal for doing "Angels & Demons" that brought him a whopping $50 million dollar paycheck.
Think about that.  Most of us will never see a million dollars, much less 50 times that.
It's completely mind-boggling. 
Do I still like Tom Hanks? Of course! He's one of my favorite actors, and a tremendously talented individual. He's just not worth $50 million for one movie. 
Most A-list actors don't need the money anymore, and chances are he donated a large portion of that money to charity and other worthy causes, but we'll probably never hear about that.
Still, in this economy, when studios like Paramount Pictures claim they don't have the money to market a film like Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island," you gotta wonder how they can fork over hefty salaries to actors.
Excuse me, I need to call my agent...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Transforming To DVD

"Transformers: Revenege of the Fallen" is now out on DVD and Blu-ray. It's the biggest film of the year. Through August, Optimus and the gang have grossed more then $800 million dollars worldwide. There's a bunch of different versions at many outlets throughout the country. I picked up the "Big Screen Edition" which includes the IMAX scenes from the film. No, I don't have an IMAX at my home, but the "Forest Battle" is my favorite scene in the movie and you can see more of the fight with the wide angle lens. There's even an Optimus Prime replica for blu-ray fans that are interested.

I'm a special features type of guy, and "Big Screen Edition" does not disappoint. There's over 3 hours of features, including deleted scenes, interviews with Michael Bay and Steven Speilberg, and loads of behind the scenes footage. The movie is one of the biggest spectacles ever put together, and you can certaintly see that in the special features.

I grew up with "Transformers" so I was excited when I heard about the possibility of a movie. The first movie was AWESOME and the sequel expands the world of gigantic robots by ten times! The original is still my favorite, but this film takes special effects to a whole new level. Pop some popcorn, call over a few friends, and sit down and enjoy the show!

Monday, October 12, 2009

In Which We Talk To Whitney Matheson

She writes a daily blog for called "PopCandy," and a little while back, we got a chance to talk with Whitney Matheson about her experiences at this year's Comic Con in San Diego.
Yes, it's a little late, but she's an extremely busy person.
Check out the interview below:

PS: What do you think will be the biggest "sleeper" movie or TV show to come out of Comic Con?

WM: "I'm not really sure how to answer this, because these days Comic-Con is pretty much dominated by the big-budget movies and series. But the film I was most impressed with was "Kick-Ass," a movie that didn't have a distributor when it came to the convention. The filmmakers received a standing ovation, and, sure enough, it now has a distributor and a release date."

PS: What are you most looking forward to on TV this fall?

WM: "FlashForward" is interesting. I've also heard great things about "Stargate Universe," though the premiere is still on my DVR!

(*PS: In related news, ABC just picked up "FlashForward" for a full season!)

PS: What one thing from Comic Con (movie or TV show) can you just not
wait to see?

WM: "I hate to repeat myself, but it might be "Kick-Ass" - that movie looked so good! Also, I'm intrigued by "Avatar" ... who isn't?"

PS: What was one of the most revealing items from the "Lost" panel?

WM: "Ooh, there was so much I wrote a blow-by-blow description! I was happy to hear that Elizabeth Mitchell would be returning. And each video clip was extremely revealing (do a YouTube search to see them), even though I'm still not entirely sure what they all mean."

Our thanks to Whitney for taking time to answer a few questions! Be sure to check out her writing every day in PopCandy on

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Take A Break?

Paramount has recently announced that "Transformers 3" will be released in 2011. Director Michael Bay already has a few ideas rolling through his head and has already met with Hasbro to talk about adding some new robots to the mix. I love Transformers, but I'm on the other side of the fence on this one. Don't get me wrong I want a third installment, but I just don't want it rushed into my face...I mean Hollywood never does that right?? I had hoped that Bay would take a break from Optimus and focus on something else for a change. He had plans to make a small budget movie before completing the trilogy. This would help him get a new perspective on the things he has done so far and how he can supplement them.

I am THE biggest Transformers fan, but it's no secret that there are a few problems with "Fallen," -- you can find some of my complaints in an older post. I'm also one of those that stand behind Bay -- instead of the thousands that continue to bash him all the time over the web. I will still be first in line for the third movie, I just wish he would do something else first.

Can directors learn from their mistakes? We will find out soon enough. Sam Raimi says he has learned from "Spider-Man 3" and hopes to make the fourth installment much better -- he actually did another movie before jumping back on the wall crawler.

Optimus Prime is one of my favorite icons. Is there anything wrong with waiting an extra year before we see him slash up a few more Decepticons??

Patience is a virtue.

Friday, October 2, 2009

"The Twilight Zone" Turns 50

Submitted for your approval...

50 years ago today, Rod Serling's classic series "The Twilight Zone" made its debut on CBS. The show featured not only the best writing around, but top notch talent and acting that made you think--really think about what you were seeing and the message of the story.

I have far too many favorite episodes to just pick out just one. Among those I really enjoyed, Burgess Meredith as the bookish bank teller who just wants to read, then when he does get all the time in the world, he breaks his glasses. I believe the title is "Time Enough At Last."

Of course, who can forget Earl Holliman in the very first episode, "Where Is Everybody," as the subject of a military experiment on isolation gone awry. There are big stars in just about every episode of the series. They were all really morality tales, and Rod Serling's prologue and epilogue was nothing short of poetry--the kind of writing English teachers dream of, and has no equal on TV today. 

I'm so grateful (and you should be too), that this truly legendary series has been preserved on DVD so future generations can enjoy the iconic storytelling.

What's your favorite episode?

Theme from the Twilight Zone - Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel

You've Got A Friend In Pixar

That's right ladies and gentlemen, Pixar is going back to its roots to release "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" in 3D! The move is the first of many as the company gets ready for "Toy Story 3" next Summer. It's actually a double feature -- you pay for one ticket and get to see both films, a preview of "Toy Story 3," and an intermission thrown in between. Many people argue that most movies these days aren't worth the $40 dollars you would spend at the theater -- with "Toy Story" you don't have to worry about that.

I know, I know, seeing Buzz and Woody fly around in 3D seems like a gimmick, but I'm a fan of the latest 3D films. "Monsters Vs Aliens" was great in 3D and last week i became really hungry all of a sudden during "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" thanks to my 3D glasses. Pixar did not originally create these two movies for a 3D release, but early reviews online say that the films look great on screen.

So, if you wondering what to see at the movies this weekend or if you just need a break from the real world -- check out "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" in 3D! They are only in theaters for 2 weeks, so grab your Woody shirt and get to the movies quick!

You can't go wrong with Pixar.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"FlashForward" Reviewed

By now, most people have seen the new ABC show "FlashForward," which has been hyped as "the next Lost." So, as you may imagine, I was really looking forward, no pun intended, to its debut last week. 

The storyline was intriguing--people all over the world black out for 2 minutes, 17 seconds, a time when many of them see a vision of the future. We learn that these futures, although different for every person, are in fact connected. 

After everyone wakes up, we see that there has been some sort of global attack, and streets are in chaos. We're still working on that mystery.

Let me first say that I'm in. The show has a high "what happens next" factor, and I'll tune in for that reason alone. Having said that, the show is, by no means, another "Lost." The only way I can connect it to "Lost" is the big mystery, and a lot of characters. The minute you start comparing a TV show or movie to an already established hit, you're setting a near impossible goal. To both satisfy fans of the existing product, while also drawing in new ones. Very tough indeed. 

I read a recent article with which I must agree. Whereas "Lost" immediately developed characters you cared about, loved, or hated, then added the "what's going on here" element, "FlashForward" has done just the opposite. First we get the "what's going on?" then the characters. The show has a fine cast of talented actors, notably Joseph Fiennes and John Cho, among many others, but really needs to work on character development.

Where "Lost" gave us an onion that's been slowly peeled week after week, "FlashForward" has chopped up the onion, and now we have to see how in the world it all fits back together. 

You can watch "FlashForward" Thursday nights at 7 on ABC.

Another "Legendary" Season

Season 4 of "How I Met Your Mother" arrives to store shelves today. The show is a love story in reverse, it's based on a true story that the creators actually lived through. In the future, Ted (Josh Radnor) sits down with his two kids and begins to tell the story of how he met their mother. He decides that it's time to find that special someone after his roomates Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) get engaged. With the help of Marshall, Lily, and his new best friends Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders), Ted sets off on the journey to find Mrs. Right. The show is narrated by Bob Saget. It took on a few unexpected twists last season (sorry, not going to mention any spoilers here). I'm a big fan of HIMYM and own all the seasons on DVD. It may be the only sitcom ever to end a season in the middle of a word! This Spring's surprise hit, "I Love You, Man" helped get co-star Jason Segel on the map. Along with Segel, Neil Patrick Harris is back in the limelight and has put the days of "Harold and Kumar" behind him thanks to the CBS hit. In a world where "Reality" shows try to fight for every ounce of our viewing pleasure (or maybe it's displeasure), I'm glad that there are still a few sitcoms out there to help us laugh, but also give us some food for thought.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome Back, Halo!

As we speak, students and workers around the country are skipping their classes/jobs in order to dive back in the Halo world. Bungie's latest installment, Halo 3: ODST hits shelves today. The game is set between parts 2 and 3 of the Halo trilogy. Although gamers can't play as Master Chief, this installment has plenty to offer. The graphics look great and there's even a bonus disc that includes all the multiplayer maps from all the Halo games. The new "Firefight" mode is like Gears of War's horde mode where you can take on wave upon wave of bad guys. If there's one reason why the Halo series is so popular it's MULTIPLAYER. The great thing about Halo is that you and your friends can spend hours taking out each other through Xbox Live. I've spent hours upon hours of my life in the Halo world. The franchise has changed video gaming forever. The popularity of Halo: Combat Evolved went under the radar in 2001, but 2004's Halo 2 broke the record for most video games sold in one day! Bungie is always up to date with the latest graphics, soundtracks, and A.I. that help make their games feel like you're in an epic movie. For more on Halo 3: ODST, including Bungie's interview with "USA Today," click here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Jay Leno Show

Here's Jay! (again)
Much has been made of NBC's decision to bring back Jay Leno at put him on at 9p.m. central time Monday through Friday.
And for good reason.
What we're witnessing with "The Jay Leno Show" is a fundamental change in the way television programs will be produced. If this succeeds, and by all accounts, it will, you can look for ABC, CBS, and FOX to counter program using similar strategies.
Leno is a juggernaut. He constantly beat Letterman in late night ratings, and Letterman has a contract with CBS through 2010. It's not inconceivable that CBS could easily bring good 'ol Dave into that 9 o'clock slot. I wouldn't look for that to happen anytime soon, since he's already giving a pretty good drubbing to Conan O'Brien at 10:35.
In any case, Leno himself says he doesn't expect to beat ratings winners like "CSI: Miami," or similar shows with a large following.
It doesn't really matter, because in the long run, NBC will still be the winner, turning out twice as many original programs with Leno, at a cheaper cost than producing hour long crime and/or medical dramas that would normally fit into that time period.
So, how will this affect the talk show guest situation? Leno's already scooped up some serious star power with Jerry Seinfeld set to be the first guest on the program. Let's just hope this won't mean Conan gets the leftovers. In public, O'Brien seems very supportive of Jay. But still, you gotta wonder.
I'm personally looking forward to the show, which debuts Monday night. It promises to be funny in a number of different ways, and putting Brian Williams in there (among other comedy "correspondents"), is a cool touch.
Will it work? Who knows? Time will tell. NBC says it's giving Jay 2 years to find an audience.
That's a looooong time in the land of television programming. Very long indeed.
We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dreamcast Day

Today is special day for many folks due to the date being 09-09-09. There's sure to be plenty of weddings and parties in Vegas to celebrate the occasion. I want to give a shout out to a special anniversary on this lucky day. Happy Birthday Dreamcast! The Sega Dreamcast debuted on this date in 1999. I can still remember the old promos with the 9-9-99 numbers attached to them. In case you don't remember, the Dreamcast was relased before PlayStation 2, Nintendo's GameCube, and the Xbox. Crazy Taxi is still one of my all time favorite video games and the graphics hold up pretty well in today's world. The Offspring supplied Crazy's soundtrack, which also helped make the game more enjoyable for fans around the world. I spent hours upon hours playing NFL2K1 and College Football 2K2: Road to The Rose Bowl thanks to my investment in the Dreamcast system. Soul Calibur may have been the greatest achievement of the Dreamcast -- the game received a perfect score on many sites and the franchise still continues on other platforms. The Dreamcast was canceled in 2001, after struggles with the upcoming PlayStation 2. The system was ahead of its time when it comes to video games and the world wide web. It was the first console to include built-in internet support for online gaming. So, as you play your Xbox 360's and watch your Blu-ray's today...take a look back and you will appreciate all that Sega accomplished. Happy birthday Dreamcast!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer Smash Up

Today is the official start of the Fall movie season. I'm really excited about checking out "Extract." In honor of the new movies kicking off the season today, I thought I would put a ribbon on the Summer. Roll out the red carpet...

Top 5 Movies of The Summer

1) "Star Trek" - A lot of anticipation and nervous geeks were scared to see what J.J. Abrams would do with their beloved franchise. He did not disappoint. It's hard to ask for anything more out of a Summer movie than what the "Enterprise" delivers.

2) "The Hangover" - One of the funniest movies I've seen in a long, long time. A nice original spin on the comedy genre. It's great to see how a simple cast (4 friends) and setting (Las Vegas) can come together to create a laugh it up roller coaster.

3) "(500) Days of Summer" - Zoey and Joseph combine for two of the best performances in recent memory. The film takes the relationship and puts a 21st Century spin on it. "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates will be making a few bucks on iTunes thanks to the soundtrack.

4) "Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen" - No doubt that my favorite sequence of the Summer is the forest battle scene in this film. There's just something about seeing a childhood hero (Optimus Prime) come alive on an IMAX screen that gives me chills every time. The film has flaws -- there's no such thing as a perfect movie, but delivers enough of my hero to satisfy my hunger.

5) "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince" - It may be the best movie in the "Potter" franchise ("Prince" & "Azkaban" are tied...flip a coin and whatever it lands on is the winner for that day). Very satisfying to see one of the better books come to life while you're watching these actors grow.

Summer Disappointments

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" - The film is just one fight scene after another. Show me some character development and creative dialogue. The cast was fine..just show me Sabertooth, Deadpool, and Logan building up their characters toward something instead of throwing them into a blender.

"Terminator Salvation" - Show me the war that Sarah Connor talks about! Sam Worthingon is great as Marcus, but show me the friggin' war!

Pet Peeve Of The Summer

There are plenty of items I could add to this long list, but I only have one...


I'm the biggest "Transformers" fan and I know that the sequel was a letdown, but there's no need to keep the bashing party going. Maybe Bay set the bar too high? I'm finding that many people were so upset with Bay that they seem to lash out against his filmmaking in every movie review out there. Just last week I was reading an article on "Halloween II" and someone turns it around and throws in how "Fallen" sucked. We all get that many of you are upset with the have made your point and now it's time to move on. I have problems with the film too -- the twins, the length, and the dream -- ,but I respect and appreciate Bay's vision as an action director and explosion master. The film did surpass the original in box office receipts, so whether you hated it or not Bay made his due.

Looking back, these are just a few of the things that I took from Summer '09 -- box office style. I hope everyone was able to at least catch one Summer movie. We didn't have a billion dollar movie this Summer, but we had some pretty memorable charaters and cameo appearances.

Beaming Back

"Star Trek" is coming back to IMAX theatres starting today! Paramount is putting J.J. Abrams' Summer smash back into many box offices nationwide. The movie only enjoyed a two week run in many theatres, due to "Night At The Museum: Battle For The Smithsonian" taking over in late May. You can catch my favorite movie of the Summer starting today at 85 IMAX theatres in the U.S. and Canada. The film will stay in IMAX until "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" replaces it on September 18th. has a complete list of the 85 theatres. So, if you haven't seen it yet or want to catch it in IMAX for the first (or second, third, fourth) time...head to one the theatres and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Tonight Show" Takeover!

Okay, so here's my question--what exactly happened Monday night on "The Tonight Show"?? Did anybody see that?
Comedian/Actor Norm MacDonald (who I must first say is one of my favorites), was the first guest, and although, at first it didn't seem like he was drunk or high, he clearly appeared to be under the influence of something.
First, he had a bit with jokes based on the news (typical Norm stuff--jokes taped into a newspaper), then he told this long, drawn out joke about a moth visiting a podiatrist.
Finally, when he had used up all of his time, Conan brings out his next guest, the very funny Thomas Haden Church, and Norm ended up interrupting him, until Church finally had to speak out. Norm was cursing, even suggesting that he didn't care, and that they should just bump the musical guest. Funny or just plain embarrassing? You decide.
Check out the show below.

DVDs To Look For

The only good thing about the Summer movie season coming to an end is that some of the hits will be on DVD sooner rather than later. Before we get all depressed about the upcoming fall slate of films (there are sure to be a few hits here and there), let's check out some DVD and Blu-ray release dates...

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" - September 15th - The first movie of the Summer, but turned out to be a letdown for many mutant fans like myself.

"Star Trek" - November 17th - The BEST movie of the Summer PERIOD.

"Angels & Demons" - November 24th - I mean, Tom Hanks did get $50 million for something...right?

"Terminator Salvation" - November 23rd - Director McG says the DVD and Blu-ray will feature an additonal 30 minutes of footage. The movie has its flaws, but Sam Worthington delivers one of the breakout performances of the year.

"The Hangover" - December 1st - The funniest movie of the year. The biggest surprise of the Summer is also helping Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis land some major dough.

"Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen" - October 20th - Four words...OPTIMUS PRIME FOREST BATTLE.

"Up" - November 10th - You can't go wrong with Pixar.

These are just a few of the Summer movies and their upcoming release dates. Some of the hits are still playing at the box office, so certain dates haven't been set.

Make sure to tune in to this week's podcast where Jody and I will break down the Summer Movie season that was and have our picks for best and worst of the season.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend In Pop

So, at last, the Weekend In Pop returns. I know you've all been anxiously waiting for it.
There were really no new movies I wanted to see in theatres, but I did catch up on a John Hughes oldie at home: "Pretty in Pink" with Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McArthy, James Spader playing a great high school preppie jerk, and Harry Dean Stanton as Molly's out of work, but well-meaning Dad. And was that Andrew Dice Clay as a bouncer?? Wow. Great cast and sweet story (but weird opening song). I'd never seen the movie before, and was quite impressed. Teen angst at its finest.
On television, "Monk" had a nice surprise for me. They shot scenes at the hotel I visited in L.A. back in June, the Hyatt Regency Plaza. It was kind of weird to see from that perspective. A good episode.
Also watched "Eureka," "Defying Gravity," and "Mad Men," which had two or three "cringe" moments. Especially when that slimy Pete Campbell and his wife were dancing at Roger's party. Pete kept looking up at his boss like some sort of trained animal begging for approval. Pathetic. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine performance totally in keeping with the character. Another great scene--things got ice cold when Roger's new wife, Jane (a former secretary), bumped into Joan at the office. Yikes. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out this week on AMC.
Last, but certainly not least, I picked up an old "Calvin and Hobbes" collection and reread some of my favorite comics. Those are awesome! There's a new documentary about Calvin's now retired creator, Bill Watterson. You can check out a preview and find more information by clicking here.
Looking forward to seeing Mike Judge's new movie "Extract" this weekend!

Escaping Together

This isn't your father's country music. I was lucky enough to attend the Keith Urban & Sugarland "Escape Together World Tour" Saturday night at the Sommet Center in Nashville. The house was packed and the stage was set for a rockin' night in the Music City. Sugarland opened the concert with their voice-powered song "Love." Jennifer Nettles' has one of the most recognizable voices in country music today. The expectations are always high when a popular band or group (especially country) plays in a Nashville venue. Keith and Sugarland had played in Knoxville the night before, so I expected to see some fatigue in their show...guess not! It had been 5 years since Jennifer and Kristian last played in Nashville. They recently added Brandon Bush, who played keyboard in the band Train. Sugarland isn't an opening act band. Normally, bands are jumping for the chance to open up for them, so I didn't view their set as an opening act and trust me, it wasn't. They exceeded my expectations. Their set included R.E.M's "Nightswimming" and Michael Jackson's "Rock With Me." Jennifer can sing anything she wants, and it was nice to see them implement different genres into their performance. They even covered "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves as their final encore. There's no doubt that the highlight of their show was "Stay." Using only one spotlight and an acoustic guitar, Jennifer's words brought the house down. There's just something special about turning the lights and the techno down for a few mintues and letting your voice and lyrics do the talking. Sugarland wrapped with a standing ovation by the crowd and the stage was set for Keith Urban.

Some people only think that Keith Urban is just a sidekick to Nicole Kidman who happens to have a few country songs...if they only knew! KEITH CAN PLAY. From the opening guitar riffs in "Hit The Ground Runnin'" to the sweet touch of "Tonight I Wanna Cry," Keith can do it all with a guitar. I've always heard that he can play, but have never seen it in person until now. Realize, this is coming from someone who sees Keith Richards and Joe Walsh as my "Guitar Heroes." Keith used at least 10 different guitars and played the "hello" out of all of them. There's plenty of ways to judge a concert. Crowd reaction and interaction is another key factor for me. During the middle of one of his hits, he ventures through the crowd to the back of the arena on a small box stage. There he finishes his song and plays a couple more from the "Stage B." The audience erupts as he opens "Making Memories Of Us" on the box stage with just one spotlight and an acoustic guitar. There's not many people that can bring 20 thousand on their feet by just using an acoustic guitar and vocals. "Only You Can Love Me This Way" wraps up the acoustic set on the box stage and he cranks up a faster tune and heads back to the main stage. From the moment he came down to the box stage the concert changed. The audience was already electric, but that volume and tone jumped 3 decibels after fans saw that Keith is all about fan interaction. One of the most impressive songs of the night was "You Look Good In My Shirt." The song itself is one of my Urban favorites, but the performance raised the song to a new level. Not only were the guitar riffs great, but Keith went back into the stands to "wail away." I was impressed the most at how Keith used the adrenaline of the audience to help power this tune. Plus, how many artists can actually stand on a seat in the stands (with thousands of screaming fans around you) and jam like it was your first time playing that song? Encores are a big part of concerts these days, and Keith nailed it. "Tonight I Wanna Cry" was the sweet opening that every artist needs for an encore. He ended the night with "Better Life" and confetti flew from the rafters.

After the confetti settled and the crowd scattered, I knew that this wasn't just any other concert. I wanted to make sure that I took some time to let things settle in before I gave my review....and my opinion is still as strong as ever! I've seen The Rolling Stones play Soldier Field in Chicago, The Eagles rock the streets of Memphis, and Dave Matthews Band pour out its heart at Vanderbilt University...Keith Urban and Sugarland are now on that list! I've seen tons of concerts...okay I'll admit I'm a concert junkie...and this one is up there near the top. From crowd interaction to song selection, you couldn't ask for a better show. These artists poured their heart out and left it all on the stage. They realize that times are tough, and made sure that they gave everyone an "escape" for a night. I'm not writing this to campaign for country music...there's plenty of people who are disgusted with it...I'm just saying that maybe you should give it a chance? This isn't your father's country music. These songs aren't about losing your dog, or your girl, or getting drunk...these songs are about living life. I can live my life a little bit easier now, thanks to one great "escape."

Check Out "Sweet Thing" from the concert below....Thanks YouTube....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Little Horror

In honor of Rob Zombie's "Halloween II" coming out tomorrow, I thought I would recommend a few horror flicks that might get you into the "suspense" mood.

Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" is an American classic. Everyone has heard the "slasher" theme at some point in their life. Norman Bates is one of the most intriguing characters in movie history.

John Carpenter's "Halloween" is one of the best horror films ever made. You always hear that music makes a movie -- this film proves that fact is ever so true.

"Halloween II" is one of the better horror sequels. The film takes place right after the original as we follow certain characters to a certain hospital.

Wes Craven's "Scream" is my favorite horror/thriller movie of the late 90's. The opening sequence is one of the best in the horror/thriller genre.

These are just a few of the horror favorites that are out there on DVD. If you have plans to see Rob Zombie's film or if you just need a weekend "jump" these films are great popcorn material.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Shutter" To Think It

Word spread on Friday that Paramount Pictures has pushed back "Shutter Island" until February 2010. The movie was scheduled for a release this Fall. I was sad to hear that Paramount was moving the next project by one of my favorite directors,Martin Scorsese. "Shutter" features an all-star cast including Leonardo Dicaprio, Kim Williams, and Mark Ruffalo. Many critics and fans were looking forward to seeing this film and have already projected it would make a splash during awards season. Paramount says they don't have enough money to market the movie at this time....WHAT!!?? The company has enough to market "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," but not enough to market a movie featuring Leo and Scorsese? Movies move from Fall to Winter to die (in award season terms..that is). The only movie recently that moved back to February and did great in awards was "The Silence Of The Lambs." As a fan of Leo, Scorsese, great movies, and Paramount, I hope that the film still reaches its full potential next year...only time will tell. In the mean time, we can always go back and watch "Shine A Light" and "The Departed" by Martin Scorsese until "Shutter Island" comes out.