Monday, May 15, 2017

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Welcome back to my latest entry going through the Fast and Furious franchise. Today I am covering the third movie in the series, 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (trailer). If you are going through my blog archives and am curious why there is no entry for 2Fast, 2Furious, that is because as I stated in my blog for the first film that is the only film in the brand that I loathe and do not own so I am going to pretend it does not exist.

-I always considered Tokyo Drift a side story in the F&F universe since Vin Diesel & Paul Walker’s characters take a backseat and this film focuses on one Sean Boswell (Lucas Black). After getting in a nasty wreck in a street race gone awry with high school rival Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan), Sean is sent packing overseas to live with his father (Brian Goodman) in Tokyo. Even in the Far East Sean cannot escape the thrills of the underground street racing scene after getting introduced to it by new friend, Twinkie (Shad Moss aka Lil Bow Wow).

-I ended up watching Tokyo Drift twice. The first time I watched it with the Giant Bomb staff commentary like I did with the first film, and the second time with director commentary from Justin Lin (Tokyo Drift marks the first of four straight F&F films that Lin directed). The Giant Bomb crew once again was a riot to listen to especially since GB head honcho Jeff Gertsmann flew nationwide to join up with the East Coast office’s crew to specifically watch this film with these guys. Jeff has a lot of awesome stories about relating to this film with his rambunctious street racing tales growing up and lays down some knowledge on drift culture and goes in depth on some car industry lingo when appropriate. Lin also had a lot of nonstop insight throughout and had a lot of love for the cast and I got a kick of his memory of car enthusiasts riding him on swapping out the engine of a Dodge Charger in order to make it drift-worthy. I also appreciated Lin explaining what it took to pull off and how grateful he was to get a certain cameo at the end of the film.

-The opening race scene where Sean and Clay race is awesomely cheesy where the two demolish a new expansion of residential areas under developmen. There is silly a BluRay GPS extra feature where each driver’s location is shown on an overlay map on the screen. I nodded along enthusiastically following the dots with intense driving action playing out to Kid Rock’s “Bawitaba” in the background.

-Tokyo Drift is the final movie in the franchise to have street racing be the primary focus of the film. Tokyo Drift’s hook on the racing is by introducing drifting to the street races. I recall being surprised at how the film made it seem like it was this revolutionary technique that was only applicable in Japan, but that was probably because I played too many driving videogames that had a drift feature such as various Need for Speed and Burnout games by 2006. Regardless, I loved how the film embraced drifting here by introducing the antagonist street racer of the film, DK aka Drift King (Brian Tee). He smokes Sean in an early race in the film as Sean is flummoxed at this radical new car technique, but luckily Han (Sung Kang) takes him under his wing and shows him the ropes at making him a master drifter in a well-produced montage.

-Spoilers ahead, skip this paragraph if you have not seen Tokyo Drift. Yes, Han makes his F&F debut in this film, and even though he bites the dust to set up the final act, Justin Lin loved the character so much that he brought him back for the next three films. When asked about this in interviews, Lin simply stated that F&F 4-6 all take place before Tokyo Drift. Sure, why not. That is fine, because Han is an awesome character and Kang nails his laid back role and even has a couple throwaway loose references in Tokyo Drift on how he use to ride with ‘The Family’ that formed in the following films so it all makes sense anyways. If you are new to the series and absolutely want to watch the films in the proper canonical order then the correct way to do so is starting off with the first two movies, then skip to four through six, but skip the post-credit scene at the end of six, then watch Tokyo Drift and then the F&F6 post-credit scene and continue on to seven and eight. If you can follow that, then you will be set and the timelines will all fall into place….I think.

-The two best scenes in the film are when Sean and Han have a serious life moment with rooftop soccer in the background and the final mountain-top race showdown between DK and Sean. It is appropriately ridiculous and filled with countless ‘yeah right’ drifts and stunts. This race went out of its way to show how advanced Japan cell phone tech was in 2006 by being able to live stream and broadcast the race with the latest flip-phones available at the time. Also, I hope you made the connection by now that F&F 4-6 all take place a couple years before the introductions of smart phones, so even though they are ubiquitous in those films, just think of them as alternate model flip-phones and avoid thinking twice about it. The race was the ultimate thrill ride and a fitting end to a surprisingly enjoyable film that did not prominently feature any of the cast from the first pair of films.

-There is a significant amount of extras on the BluRay, but unless you are seriously into car culture and drifting then you can easily skip at least half the extras. If you are a big gearhead, you will absolutely eat up Drift: Sideways Craze a one hour look at the pro drift racing scene and a few other shorter extras on drift culture. If I were to recommend just two of the 11 extra features (totaling around two and a half hours!), then check out Han’s Last Ride and Tricked Out to Drift. Those two extras break down the gang car chase scene and how the filmmakers modded the Dodge Charger in the film to make it drift-worthy. There is also a feature-length ‘Picture-in-Picture’ BluRay exclusive extra that combines all the extras and constantly switches between them all when appropriate throughout the film so that could be a better way to take in all the extra features, but I would rather suggest checking out the director commentary from Justin Lin instead.

-I still recall regretting going to the theater when initially seeing The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and thinking it was going to be a complete waste with none of the noteworthy cast in it. I was glad to be proven wrong. Tokyo Drift is far from the best film in the series, but I would still give it a strong recommendation because it is a fitting swan song for races and driving being at the forefront of the movies before the series transitioned into the over-the-top-yet-amazing-what-will-they-do-next CG experiences that we know them as today.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Creed
Dirty Work
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Interstellar
Jobs
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Wild
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

In 2014, after nearly 20 years of a tumultuous relationship with the WWE, the Ultimate Warrior (the former Jim Hellwig who legally changed his name to ‘Warrior’) was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Wrestlemania XXX weekend. It was the final step of a healing process welcoming Warrior back into the WWE fold after easing his way in by participating in the previous year’s video game ad campaign and getting interviewed for a DVD collecting his greatest matches dubbed The Ultimate Collection. What many people did not anticipate however was him suddenly passing away from a heart attack three days after his induction.

WWE immediately aired a bunch of tribute programming on the WWE Network that week which I covered here shortly thereafter. Nearly a year after his death in early 2015 WWE put out another home video with a brand new documentary on the life of the Ultimate Warrior, as well as collecting an assortment of previously unreleased matches and promos and called this collection, Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe (trailer). Read on to find out if WWE went to make this video as a ‘make good’ from their 2005 DVD that made him come off as the worst person in the business, or if the WWE doubled down and continued to disparage Warrior after his passing.

The documentary kicks off with Warrior’s unintentionally telling promo on RAW on the eve of his passing. I could not help but get chills watching in a new light a few years later. From there the feature starts off with Warrior’s first days in the business teaming with Sting and striking out in the Memphis and Mid-South territories in the mid-80s. Jerry Lawler, Sting, Warrior & Zeb Coulter are all featured here in interviews admitting they were way too green and had no idea what they were doing. I dug seeing all these old-school clips of the team, and instantly recalled a few of those so-bad-they-are-funny-matches of a very green Sting and Warrior teaming up off of Sting’s Into the Light BluRayI covered here last year.

A few minutes was dedicated to the year Warrior spent in WCCW where he credits finding himself as a single act as ‘The Dingo Warrior.’ I wish they spent more time about Warrior in this era where it is apparent how he evolved into the Ultimate Warrior persona there by the end of his run there, but Warrior does comment some about how he came into his own in World Class and there are a handful of matches and promos from his WCCW run in the extras that I recommend going out of your way to check out. From there the doc shifts to him landing in WWE by the end of 1987 and current and past stars such as Hogan, HHH, Batista, Kofi Kingston, Ziggler and Cesaro are interviewed about how they went gaga over the infectious Warrior character and entrance.

The documentary transitions into his meteoric rise up the WWE from winning his first Intercontinental Title from Honky Tonk Man to the big showdown with the Hulkster at Wrestlemania VI. I still recall watching that match as a kid and could not help but get that big feeling from that match and watched it countless times on Coliseum Home Video as a kid and for a few years it was my favorite match. The documentary got that feeling across on how that encounter was larger than life. I own the BluRay of Always Believe, and one of the BluRay exclusives is a unique ‘Arena Cam’ (AKA ‘HardCam’) only perspective of the Hogan/Warrior match with no commentary so all you here is the pandemonium of the sellout crowd from Toronto. It resulted in a fascinating take on that landmark match, and made it worth reliving again.

Throughout Always Believe there are little clips of Warrior backstage during Wrestlemania XXX with him engaging with current and past stars. At one point there is a funny exchange between Warrior and Sgt. Slaughter which served as a perfect transition in the film on how Warrior losing his title to Slaughter set up his killer feud with Randy Savage for their ‘retirement match’ clash at Wrestlemania VII. Of his initial successful WWF years I was bummed to see he that his feud with Rick Rude got the shaft with no mention of it at all here, but it is overall a much better recollection on his early years than the 2005 version of it.

The feature then shifts to Warrior’s heated years with the WWE in the early-to-mid-90s where he held the company up for cash and promptly got fired, and got fired again for missing shows in his ’92 and ’96 runs. Actually, only about 10 seconds is dedicated to his three month stint with WWE in ’96 which I could not help but crack up on how WWE glossed over it. I guess Triple H did not want to repeat his comments about his Wrestlemania XII match with Warrior this time around. I also cracked up with how Warrior’s brief run in WCW in ’98 is highlighted here. Warrior admits he only went there for the payday and he obviously was not a fan of all the hocus pocus infused into his character over there, but stated it did not matter in the end because of the big time money that came of it. Hearing Hogan admit how the feud wound up as one of his all-time blunders was nice of him to own up to as well.

I may rag in my yearly Wrestlemania blogs about the philanthropy nature of the ‘Warrior Award’ at the WWE Hall of Fame where we get to see Warrior’s widow, Dana present the award each year, but do not let that dismiss the fact that Dana and Warrior’s two daughters come off as legit wonderful people in the documentary. All three are charismatic, genuine talkers and the scene covering how Warrior and Dana met and how their wedding went down is easily the best feel-good scene in Always Believe. Speaking of the ‘Warrior Award’ however, I will take this moment to get on my soapbox and call out to WWE to please rephrase this award to Warrior’s original vision of it in his induction speech as an award to recognize the hard work of the little-talked about workers behind-the-scenes of WWE such as Jimmy Miranda and Mark Yeaton.

On the Self-Destruction DVD the interviewees were quite malicious of the Warrior character disparaging how he got gassed by the time the match started and how he was one of the most careless workers in the ring in history. A decade later in Always Believe, some of those same interviewees like Hulk Hogan and Triple H have a somewhat change of heart and still recognize Warrior’s shortcomings, but are more constructive with their criticism and eventually justify Warrior’s act by essentially saying it worked because it brought in good business. If you never saw the 2005 DVD before I recommend watching that documentary before this one because it is absolutely fascinating to see the 180 degree shift in tone on the Warrior in general. I wish they were this constructive the first time around, because while I agree with a lot of the shortcomings of Warrior’s act, it was ridiculous at how much WWE disparaged him in that original documentary. I am saying this as not even a big Warrior fan growing up (I was more of a Big Boss Man-kid). I still vividly recall that documentary’s ending being Christian’s blunt thoughts on the Warrior’s legacy being “like it or not, he is going to be remembered.”

Speaking of that DVD, Warrior and his wife are interviewed here about it, and rightfully trash WWE for releasing that and hold nothing back about how much that documentary hurt them. The feature then covers Warrior’s libel suit against the WWE and Vince McMahon and Hulk are on hand defending how their comments by saying they were misconstrued at the time and how the case was eventually dropped and nobody came out ahead at the end of it. There is a lot to read between the lines during this scene, and if you were following the business at the time, catching Hogan, Vince and Warrior’s thoughts about the DVD and the proceeding lawsuit several years later made for a very compelling segment of the feature.

Dana is then featured detailing how Hunter was imperative on repairing Warrior’s relationship with WWE. Vince, Steph and Hunter are all here commenting about what it was like to bring Warrior back for the hall of fame. Seeing Warrior’s final days backstage in these final scenes during Wrestlemania weekend is both ominous and fortunate to see how a lot of his final exchanges were captured on film. The big moments featured here from that weekend are Warrior and Hogan talking for the first time in many years and ‘burying the hatchet.’ Vince and Warrior also have a moment backstage where Warrior gifted Vince the children’s book The Little Engine that Could with his own personal foreward to Vince! Hearing Vince reflect on that moment and how he and Warrior got together for one last photo saw a rare, emotional moment for Vince on film when talking about it for Always Believe. The documentary wraps up with Dana detailing how Warrior’s last day transpired with him suddenly collapsing in the midst of traveling back home. Dana and her daughters then reflect on that weekend and Warrior’s legacy and wrap up by reading letters to their father and husband in a touching scene.

Like most of WWE’s BluRays, Always Believe is packed with a ton of extras and the first disc has 21 Warrior matches on it. WWE is getting better with most of their newer home videos only featuring matches never before put out on video, the tradeoff to this however is all noteworthy Warrior matches have already been released on other DVDs over the years. They got around this with the special ‘ArenaCam’ perspective of the Wrestlemania VI match. This is fine for the Warrior, who was like an early version of Goldberg who I primarily wanted to see for his larger-than-life entrance and to see him run rampant and squash nobodies. Believe me, there are a bunch of Warrior squash matches on here from the weekend shows I grew up with like WWF Challenge and WWF Superstars. It was actually refreshing to relive these old-school squash-fests.

There are also numerous house show matches that WWE use to record in the late 80s/early 90s. These are longer, traditional PPV-style matches, but worth taking a look at as Warrior faced off against Rick Rude and teamed up with Jim Duggan against Andre and Rude. There are a pair of fun Saturday Night’s Main Event matches on here where Warrior takes on Haku and Sgt. Slaughter where the crowd was eating up everything Warrior was doing around his championship run. Finally, there are a few surprisingly long, decent matches with Warrior facing unlikely opponents in these scenarios where Rick Martel, Demolition Smash and Owen Hart all got a surprising effort out of the Warrior.

Disc two has a whopping 2 hours and 41 minutes of Ultimate Warrior promos. This is vintage Ultimate Warrior where he mostly shouts nonsensical phrases I could not help but enthusiastically nod along too because of his organic charisma. The bulk of these promos are quick one to two minute rants of only him going off against a blue screen, but there are several longer interviews of him on the Brother Love show and having entertaining exchanges with Sensational Sherri and Ric Flair. His hall of fame speech is here in its entirety, and the aforementioned RAW promo the day before his death is here as well. It took a few sittings to get through them all, but I did not mind taking the time to get blown away by nearly three hours of random Warrior intensity. His tribute montage the week after his death is not on here, so here is a link to this very-well produced tribute.

There is just over an hour and a half of BluRay exclusives. Once again, I recommend going with the BluRay because of the alternate perspective of the Hulk Hogan match alone. There are four other BluRay bonus matches, with his WCCW match against Rick Rude and teaming up with Legion of Doom to take on Demolition in a bout that probably set a record for featuring the most face paint standing out the most. There are also 19 minutes of exclusive ‘stories’ with Dana sharing some fun Warrior courtship memories and Batista and Triple H sharing some bonus thoughts about the Warrior too. Natalya also is awesome here as she challenges one of Warrior’s daughters to an unofficial match.

Always Believe is an exponentially better documentary than 2005’s Self-Destruction. This does not hide Warrior’s wrestling shortcomings and controversies (though it does hide his real life political remarks and controversies), but it addresses them in a far more professional manner and it does not make Warrior come off as the quintessential slime ball like the Self-Destruction DVD did. Warrior is far from being my personal favorite wrestler and/or person, but he did serve up a number of timeless moments in wrestling for me in my impressionable years and Always Believe is a perfect way of celebrating those moments of the Ultimate Warrior character for past, present and future fans.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
Wrestlemania 32
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Roseanne - Season 3

A few days ago I finally wrapped up season three of Roseanne (s3 highlights) and that means it is time for another entry with my key takeaways from the season. Click here for my recaps of previous season.

-As I mentioned in my previous recaps while I liked the first two seasons, they do not feature a lot about what I originally remembered of the cast. Season three is where a lot of the key character and plot traits I originally identified with the cast started to take shape.

-That first trait is Roseanne (Roseanne Bar) working at the diner. She inexplicably is jobless again at the beginning of the season, but winds up employed at a diner in the mall. I always remembered Roseanne and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) working together at a more traditional diner and not in a mall though, but I am presuming that is to come in later seasons. We do meet Roseanne’s co-waitress Bonnie (Bonnie Bramlett) who nails the role of an old-shool truck stop waitress who does not take crap from anyone. Needless to say, she and Roseanne gel well. We also meet their boss Leon (Martin Mull). We learn a few episodes after his introduction that he is a homosexual, and the waitresses are perfectly accepting of him. I do not know my TV history that well, but I am presuming this is one of the earlier cases of a respectful portrayal of a homosexual character in TV history.

-I recall Dan (John Goodman) mostly working in a bike shop throughout the show’s run, and at the very end of season three we find out how he starts up the bike shop in a must-see show-defining season finale. Darlene (Sara Gilbert) is the character who evolves the most this season. She is still rocking her tomboy look and is still all about sports at beginning of the season, but as season three progresses she switches up her hairstyle to the long, wavy perm look I always associated her character with and she starts to deepen her voice more too and embrace her first couple of boyfriends this season too. She is not quite all the way their into her dry wit/super emo self yet, but she is well on her way.

-There are a couple seeds planted for DJ (Michael Fishman) being the stereotypical ‘weird kid’ this season. One is where he collects the heads of Darlene and Becky’s old dolls. DJ is primarily in the backdrop this season and is featured in a handful of episodes. Season three sees introduction to Becky’s longtime boyfriend Mark (Glenn Quinn). He is only in two or three episodes this season, though I imagine he will be more prominent later on. The Conner’s are not fans of Mark’s bad biker-boy demeanor and ban Becky (Alicia Goranson) from seeing him. Obviously that did not work out.

-I do not know if the third season featured a transition with some new writers that took awhile to mesh well together or what, but the first several episodes of the season are lackluster and feature a lot of sitcom clich├ęs and/or gimmicky themes in a series that established itself up until this point as that being anything but the case (minus the annual Halloween-themed episode). I was starting to get worried about the show going for a turn for the worse, but the writers eventually started clicking and getting their act together several episodes in.

-Odd story arc this season goes to Roseanne’s friend and former factory co-worker, Krystal (Natalie West) marrying Dan’s father and the two having a child together by the end of the season. It provoked quite the reactions from Dan & Roseanne, and watching those two go haywire from learning the news and come to embrace them was a fun journey to embark on. Jackie had a bad break this season as she lost her boyfriend and job early in the season and remained jobless for the rest of season three. She did remain as affable as ever though.

-My favorite episode in season three is an easy choice and goes to the episode “Scenes from a BBQ” where the Conner’s throw a Mother’s Day BBQ where all their friends and neighbors attend. It brought back memories of the chaos and fun of my old family BBQs with the family going nuts getting all the food ready, but eventually enjoying each other’s company by the end of the night. Unlike Mr. Connor however, my dad was not a master strummer of the guitar as the episode concluded with a delightful family sing-a-long.

-Like the past seasons, there are two bonus interviews that make up the extra features. They are interviews with Laurie Metcalf and Lecy Goranson. Both are a little under 10 minutes, and both are by-the-numbers interviews where they give their key memories of the major cast members and what it was like first coming on the show.

-Season three started off stumbling over itself for the first several episodes, but found its footing a third of the way through. It seems by the end of the season Roseanne is pretty close to solidifying its foundation for what I mostly remember it being, and I am anticipating starting off season four!

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy

We are mere weeks away from the release of the latest Marvel Studios film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so naturally it felt right to pull 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy (trailer out of the backlog box. I specifically remember thinking that this was going to be the first full-on flop from Marvel Studios. The comic it was based on was around off and on over the years but I never considered it a top-tier book from Marvel by any means and could not name a single character by the time the film arrived.

GotG was certainly going to be the first Marvel film to focus on a character that was not in the upper-echelon of Marvel Heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor. I also despised the original trailer for the first film. For whatever reason it played before nearly every film I caught at the theater for several months before the movie hit. The preview gave me all the wrong vibes that this was going to be full of bad jokes from a bunch of unknown heroes in the cosmic branch of the Marvel Universe that will go right over my head. I could not have been happier to be so wrong.

GotG centers around one Peter Quill aka Starlord (Chris Pratt). The film starts off with him as a young child at his mother’s deathbed, when all of a sudden a mysterious spaceship abducts him and the film immediately jumps a couple decades ahead where Quill is now a ‘junker’ (futuristic treasure hunter?) residing in a intergalactic community somewhere in another universe. A routine quest for a mysterious orb goes haywire and lands Quill in prison. It is here where Starlord teams up with some unlikely allies. His new comrades consist of Gamura (Zoe Saldana), Rocket the raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), the monstrous brute Drax (David Bautista) and a full sized animated tree capable of speaking only five words Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Ronan (Lee Pace) is GotG’s lead villain. He is a lieutenant of the high and mighty Thanos, but breaks off from him after he finds a new source of power.

Minus Groot, Marvel did a tremendous job with the casting. I will give props to Quill for this being his big motion picture breakout performance after several years on the ensemble mockumentary TV series, Parks & Rec. Saladana proved she is already capable of sci-fi greatness in the latest line of Star Trek films and went on to double down on that expertise in another sci-fi franchise. Bautista went above and beyond what anyone expected out of a pro-wrestler. Bradley Cooper shows all kinds of range with his voicing of Rocket, but Marvel could have saved a good chunk of money on the budget by having anyone voice Groot. Vin probably commanded a high dollar since he is in the midst of riding the success of the Fast & Furious money train.

Watching the GotG unwillingly come together to break out of prison in a fantastic scene and transition into a well-oiled machine by the time they take on Ronan in the final act is simply an awesome experience. Part of the reason on how they got there is a stunning job in the CG department. GotG got nominated for two technical Oscars for Best Visual Effects & Best Costume Design. After witnessing a few of its dazzling-yet-intense spaceship duels and watching the behind-the-scenes feature on the multi-hour process of what Saladana and Bautista had to go through in makeup justifies the film as being a Oscar contender in those departments.

What also helped round off this sublime audio/visual package is a five star soundtrack consisting primarily of 1970s pop hits such as “I Want You Back,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” and “Cherry Bomb.” Director James Gunn stated in the commentary for the film that Disney got every single song he requested approved for the soundtrack, and I am presuming Gunn must have spent a great deal timing when each and every song would kick in at just the right moment to add that extra dose of impact. A couple of my favorite examples of this are when the Guardians are planning their final assault on Ronan to “Cherry Bomb” and the opening title screen where Quill is dancing away to “Come and Get Your Love.” I remember being super giddy the day Google generously released the soundtrack for free on its Play Store and it has been in a consistent rotation in my running playlists ever since.

There is only one noteworthy qualm I have with GotG and it is the fact that it is too lighthearted. Do not get me wrong, nearly all the jokes and zingers in here are clever and witty and each character has several standout lines/moments in the film that cracked me up. That there is the problem however! Unlike other past Marvel films that know when to cut back and get serious, this one never lets up on the jokes, so the few times that GotG attempts to have a pivotal, meaningful moment in the movie I found myself waiting for the surprise gag to come from out of nowhere to steal the scene, and in a couple of those moments that is exactly what happened. Again, that qualm is not a deal-breaker by any means and when you are dealing with a talking raccoon and tree as two of your main actors, I could see why Marvel felt like they had to dial up the jokes to help the audience suspend their disbelief. They just dialed it up a bit too much.

There are a few extras on the BluRay you can easily cruise through in no time, but are worth consuming. There are four minutes of deleted scenes with or without commentary from James Gunn. If you have watched past Marvel films on video, you know they have some of the best produced gag reels out there, and GotG does not disappoint with a killer array of bloopers that culminates with a spectacular dance-off you have to see to believe. Intergalactic Visual FX is a seven minute look at the costume and makeup design that made me get sympathetic for what Saldana and Bautista had to go through every day on set. Guide to the Galaxy is a 21 minute all-encompassing behind-the-scenes look at the film hosted by Gunn where he explains the world lore, interviews the cast and goes into what it took to pull off the huge final battle scene. Finally Gunn goes solo for a commentary track on the film, and it is a decent solo commentary where he has a lot of notes filling everyone in on the backstory of the universe from the comics and a lot of recollections about the casting for the film.

Guardians of the Galaxy made me feel like a fool for doubting it as it went on to be both a critical and commercial success. It is one of several movies I have seen in the theater twice. If you somehow had my original premonitions on this film being a flop and avoided it because it featured a lot of characters you were unfamiliar with then go ahead and put those reservations to the side and watch this immediately so you can be ready for the sequel in a few weeks. I recommend watching it solo so you can avoid others judging you as you jam out and get your dance on to the songs throughout the film!

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Creed
Dirty Work
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Interstellar
Jobs
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Wild
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Fast and the Furious

Yesterday I caught the latest film in the worldwide hit Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious. To get a little a little bit it in the right mindset for it, I went and watched the original 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious (trailer) a couple days prior. I own all of the films, but the second installment which I detest, and as luck would have it all but the last couple were still in my backlog. I may as well cover them all(minus 2Fast) for the blog, and I think I will try and knock out a couple of the earlier movies right away before revisiting the later films down the line. Additionally, since I always kind of embraced these films in a lighthearted ridiculous kind of way, I will be a little looser with my entries for these films and will run down my highlights from each film in a bulleted list kind of way.

-Quick plot synopsis for those unfamiliar with the first film: The late Paul Walker portrays undercover cop Brian Connor. There is a street car gang stealing hot ticket Apex DVD players from trucks, so Connor goes undercover and joins Dominic Torreto’s (Vin Diesel) gang that also consists of his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), his tough-as-nails girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) computer hacker whiz Jesse (Chad Lindberg) and lifetime meathead bro Vince (Matt Shulze).

-I vividly recall my sister treating me to this film at the theater for a graduation present since it hit theaters a Friday or two after I graduated way back in 2001! Initial memories of the film were that it seemed like the coolest thing ever with all the crazy special engine closeup/NOS turbo special effects and all the bedazzling of the street cars with neon and underglow.

-I also specifically remember thinking coming out of this thinking that Vin Diesel was the coolest dude ever with him having the silent, deadly charisma and perfect chilling delivery of classic lines such as “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winnings’s winning!” and the quintessential “quarter mile at a time” speech of the film which transpired in my favorite scene in the picture. Those thoughts quickly changed when Diesel skipped out on the sequel in favor of duds like The Pacifier. I also recall Paul Walker’s BS wavy hair and as the ultimate cornball with his epic so-bad-its-good delivery of classic lines such as “I need two cans of NOS…tonight!” He gets much better in later films thankfully. This is also the only film series I can tolerate Michelle Rodriguez in since she goes on to play the same badass stereotype in all the other films she is in and is insufferable as a result. This was the first time I was exposed to her here however and she is the perfect complement to Vin Diesel’s character.

-Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) is the stereotypical Asian gangster for the film. He has history with the Toretto gang and it all comes to a head in the film’s last act after some deadly fallout after a race that transpires at the Race Wars event. He is actually a pretty compelling villain and one of my favorite antagonists from the series. Speaking of races, if you have not seen the earlier Fast films, than I have to be the one to break it to you that the earlier films primarily revolved around the underground street race scene and it was not until Fast Five when the films fully evolved into “best drivers in the world pulling off insanely unbelievable heists.”

-The truck heists were only a small backdrop to the street racing in the film, but the final truck heist scene features a lot of great stunt work and practical effects. Watching the extra feature interviews it was cool to see that a lot of the street racing and truck scenes were primarily shot with practical effects and very little CG work. Obviously that would flip with the latter films in the series.

-I got a good feeling the younger crowds are going to scoff at the soundtrack for this film, but for me this film hit during my coming of age years and thus a lot of it resonates with me still today. Reliving it does have a really good blend of (then) modern rap, hip/hop and metal. Fans of Ja Rule, Saliva and Limp Bizkit will not be disappointed! The SWAT montage scene being accompanied by Dope’s “Debonaire” is another favorite scene in the film of mine, which has a great culmination of Tran’s father giving the ever-dreaded “disappointed parent hand-slap of doom!”

-I forgot to mention I am reliving these films with a special commentary track. Giant Bomb is my favorite videogame website and they occasionally do movie commentaries. Longtime readers here may recall that is how I re-watched Rocky IV. Experiencing this film again with the Giant Bomb crew was an ideal experience for me, since they re-watched all seven films over the past few months leading up to F8. Host Alex Navarro is the well-versed lore-master of the Fast franchise and provides plenty of wisdom for casual Fast fan Vinny Carravella Fast-newbie Dan Ryckert. Dan bombards Alex with too many questions, but Alex wisely knows what to clue him into as the movie progresses. Also experiencing Dan state why he avoided the movies all these years only to make a complete 180 and end up loving this film about an hour in was very entertaining to listen in on. As always the GB guys are a riot and have plenty of wise cracks along the way that made rewatching this a lot of fun. If you want to give their commentary a listen then head here to download the track.

-The BluRay is jacked with a ton of extras. Most of them are carried over from the DVD release but there are a couple new HD extras too. Dom’s Charger is a quick four minute look at Dom’s ride and how they found that model for the film. Quarter Mile at a Time is a 10 minute-eye opener on the origins of drag/street racing and how it lead to NASCAR/F1 and modern street racing. That is all for new extras. There is a little over an hour worth of assorted extra features carried over. Of them I would suggest checking out the deleted scenes, as there are a few good ones that director Rob Cohen justified why they did not make the final cut. Making of Fast and Furious is a thorough breakdown of the cars, races and cast for the film and provides a lot of detail on what I referenced earlier on how the stunts were done. Make sure to check out the six minute short film, Turbo Charged Prelude which has no dialogue and is essentially Connor going rogue from the cops and travelling across the country to Miami to setup for the sequel, 2Fast, 2Furious. Finally, Rob Cohen is on hand for a solo director’s commentary, but as I previously mentioned I opted for the Giant Bomb commentary instead.

-I highly recommend watching the original film whether you have seen it or not. It was awesome experiencing it again and seeing how far the series has evolved over the past 16(!) years. Even if you prefer sticking with the newer films, if you are one to pay attention to all the nitty gritty details you will likely pick up on a few references and characters that stay dormant until the later movies that will give you a new look into their origins with the franchise. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, check out this incredible guide from The Ringer that ranks the Fast films along with several supplemental rankings of vital elements of the films such as “Best rapper cameos” and “Best Dom one-liners.” Very thorough, but is well worth your time to take in. Now if you pardon me, I am going to go off to a corner in my room and jam out to Saliva and Limp Bizkit.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Creed
Dirty Work
Faster
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Interstellar
Jobs
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Wild
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Friday, March 31, 2017

WWE Wrestlemania 32

Welcome to my yearly look at last year's Wrestlemania. We are a few days shy of Wrestlemania 33 transpiring in Orlando, FL. Like last year's entry, I will be covering everything on the Wrestlemania 31 BluRay. That includes the entire WM31 card, the three kickoff show matches and the entire Hall of Fame ceremony. This is always my favorite wrestling weekend of the year because WWE floods us with an insurmountable amount of top-tier programming so I cannot help but go into wrestling super-fan mode as I anticipate Wrestlemania weekend in general, no matter what the card and lineup is.

As usual, let's start with the Hall of Fame ceremony that preceded WM31 by a couple days. The Godfather (aka Kama/Papa Shango) was the first inductee and he got inducted by the APA. Their induction had a lot of jokes riffing off of classic Godfather stories. Godfather kept his speech short and sweet and delighted the crowd by hitting his sing-a-long catch phrases and dancing with his trademark 'ho train.' The Dudleyz inducted Jacquelyn next, and much like the APA's speech it was filled with a lot of jokes and gags about how tough Miss. Jackie is and how she is like one of the boys. Jacquelyn's speech was also short and sweet and she mostly gave a ton of praise to the women's division she helped kick off during the attitude era.

Probably my favorite induction of the night was Stan Hansen getting inducted by Vader. Vader had a ton of good stories on how he feared Stan coming up in the AWA and how he had some classic tag matches with him in Japan, including the bout where Vader lost his eye. Stan came out and looked like he was speaking from the heart nonstop with no notes and he just gave a tremendous speech and came off as surprisingly genuine and endearing with his unique thanks and shoutouts to the 'carpenters' of the business and even giving props to one Rick Martel whom he noted he let beat him in nine seconds one day. Just a fantastic speech.

WWE then introduced a new feature for the HoF with their 'Legacy Inductees.' Just imagine this as passed away stars who competed before the 70s getting their long overdue recognition. The NFL and MLB have a similar induction in their HoF each year too. The Legacy Class of 2016 consisted of legendary pioneers in the business such as Gerge Hackenschmidt, Pat 'O Connor, Frank Gotch, Mildred Burke, Ed 'Strangler' Lewis, Art Thomas and Lou Thesz. There were no induction/acceptance speeches here, just a 30-60 second highlight package of each inductee. All of these people deserved something so much more (perhaps an original Network special?), but at least these true pioneers got some form of recognition in WWE's hallowed halls.

The New Day inducted Fabulous Freebirds in my second favorite induction of the night. The Freebirds had a killer highlight package introducing them. Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin danced on stage to the point they were gassed in the initial moments of their speech. They both shared a bunch of classic Freebird stories, with the best being how they escaped death after a near-fatal shootout in a bar. Crowd was totally into the Freebirds, and it is finally good to see Hayes up at the podium finally after wondering what flamboyant suit he would normally be spotted in the crowd each year.

I was ecstatic to see my childhood favorite star the Big Boss Man finally inducted into the HoF. His former manager Slick gave a decent speech, but you can tell it was written for him by a WWE writer because the verbiage consisted of the entire expected WWE lingo. Boss Man's family accepted the award, and they were understandably nervous speaking in that big stage, but they gave a great speech filled with tons of funny moments for their kids growing up about how they learned of his dad's zany attitude era endeavors. John Cena inducted Snoop Dogg into the celebrity wing of the HoF (that is in dire need of a Bob Barker induction by the way). Both Cena and Snoopy gave serious, respectful speeches. Snoop has done a ton of WWE appearances since the year 2000 and his speech seemed authentic on his love for the promotion.

Dana Warrior inducted Joan London for the HoF's philanthropy Warrior award. It was filled with the feel-good, inspirational speeches one would expect out of this award. In the headlining induction, Ric Flair inducted Sting. Flair got distracted and gave a bunch of random ramblings for the first five minutes before talking about Sting in a hilarious induction. Flair noted WWE provided him with notecards to stay on track, and Sting said as he expected, Flair did not follow the notes. Sting had a good speech with many good stories and fond memories of teaming up with Robocop, a surprise nod to 'Joker' Sting and how Seth tried to cheer him up after he got injured. Sting wrapped up his speech by officially retiring from the business. Very good speech, and it was refreshing to see a primary WCW worker headline the WWE HoF for the first time.

For WM32, the kickoff show was two hours and featured three matches. We do not have to sit through two hours to see those matches as they are listed in the bonus features section and have their entrances clipped out to save on time and all three bonus matches have a total runtime of 25 minutes to make for a quicker watch. In the first kickoff match, Kallisto successfully defended the US Title against Ryback in a surprisingly good bout with both stars having several good near falls and spots throughout the match. Next up was a 5-on-5 women's tag match. This match was notable for being Brie Bella's final match and Lana's only match in the WWE so far. I was surprise there was not a single botch in this match, especially with green stars like Lana and Eva Marie in the match surprisingly hitting their moves. Brie Bella got the win for her team by making Naomi tap to the Yes-lock. The final pre-show match saw the Usos defeating the Dudleyz after D-Von got superkicked. The Usos continue their astonishing streak of only competing on the kickoff show for Wrestlemania.

The proper WM32 card officially started with a 6-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Title between Kevin Owens, Zack Ryder, Sin Cara, Sami Zayne, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Stardust. This match had the expected highspots with none that thankfully did not go awry. Kudos to Stardust for busting out the polka-dot-ladder! I was both shocked and thrilled that Ryder got his overdue Wrestlemania moment by winning the match and having a celebratory embrace with his father afterwards. AJ Styles made his Wrestlemania debut against Chris Jericho next in a really good encounter that saw Y2J win with a Codebreaker. Luckily, AJ rebounded from this and went on to have one of the best rookie years in WWE history.

The most forgettable faction is WWE history, the League of Nations (Sheamus, Del Rio & Rusev) defeated the New Day in a no-frills six man tag. Wade Barrett was ringside managing the League and it would be his final 'Mania as he was written off WWE TV the next day. Sheamus pinned Xavier Woods with a Brogue Kick and Barrett talked trash on the mic afterwards until Steve Austin, Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels interrupted and beat the tar out of the League to the crowd's affection. Brock Lesnar defeated Dean Ambrose in a Street Fight with an F5 and 13, yes 13 German Suplexes. I know because the crowd counted along. This match was far better on second viewing because Dean went on to say in interviews how Brock was not all that cooperative in this match, but Dean had several moments of believable underdog comebacks and had the crowd popping throughout a couple nearfalls.

Next up was the triple threat, Women's title match between Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. My initial notes for this match was 'Hairrrrrrr' because all three women appeared to be rocking triple their normal hair extensions. This is probably the best Women's title match in Wrestlemania history as it got ample time, and had a ton of good moments and ambitious spots from all three ladies. It got a little messy in a few spots, but in the grand scheme of things it was an entertaining affair and the three had the crowd in the palm of their hands for the entire ride. Charlotte successfully defended the title by making Becky tap to the Figure-8.

Shane McMahon faced off against The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match. The build to this match and the match itself is ridiculous on paper, but upon rewatching this Shane was surprisingly believable in nearly everything he did, minus his awful punches. There were a few really dangerous spots in this bout which really got a reaction out of me since I am not use to WWE going this far with spots nowadays. Of course I am talking about Shane's crazy dive off the top of the cell through an announcer's table. After that unbelievable moment, Undertaker carried Shane's corpse to the ring, and Tombstoned him for the win. I feel as crazy as Shane was in this match for coming around on it on second viewing, but the pacing, body language and selling all came together to create a memorable Wrestlemania spectacle, for better or worse.

The third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was next and it was surprisingly well booked again. It had a few surprise entrants in the form of Tatanka, Diamond Dallas Page and NBA Hall-of-Famer Shaquille 'O Neal. Like last year, the battle royal was paced well with only minimal lulls and usually some kind of noteworthy moment or elimination happening to keep the crowd glued in. Ultimately, it was NXT star Baron Corbin winning the battle royal in his debut WWE match.

At this point in the show, WM32 took a turn for the worse. I was enjoying the show quite a bit up until this point with a well-flowing match order that had each match gradually getting better and better. WM32 advertised an appearance of The Rock, and I was surprised to see a bummer of a Rock segment on this Wrestlemania. He came out with what looked like a t-shirt gun, but was actually a flamethrower and went on to light up a custom 'Rock' sign. I would have rather seen him shoot out tshirts. He quickly got cut off in his promo by the Wyatt Family. Wyatt's usual incoherent gibberish led to Rock challenging one of them to a match on the spot. What we got was The Rock squashing Erik Rowan in six seconds to set a new record for shortest match in Wrestlemania history. This would have been OK on an episode of RAW, but to have the WWE hype up a Rock segment for several weeks and deliver this nonsense turned out to be unbelievably disappointing. The only good thing to come out of this segment was The Rock spoofed on Wyatt being the 'Eater of Worlds' by declaring him the 'Eater of Hot Pockets.'

The final match of the show saw Roman Reigns pin Triple H to become the new WWE Champion. The crowd was not on Roman's side, and WWE did their best to mute them out by more than doubling the volume of Roman's entrance music. The match was a dull slog and the crowd was understandably burnt out at this point in the night. The crowd was not going to bite for having the WWE shove Roman down everyone's throat that night, and good on them for doing so. How did Roman say thanks to the WWE when they booked him to come out on top on WWE's biggest show of the year? He showed his gratitude by failing a drug test a couple months later and the company had to rush to get the title off him so he could serve his suspension.

If you ignore the final two segments of WM32, then this turned out to be a fantastic Wrestlemania. So just completely skip the Rock/Wyatt segment and the main event and you will be in for a far more enjoyable card than what it turned out to be.


Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016

Friday, March 24, 2017

UHF

I will never forget the first time I saw Weird Al Yankovic’s cinematic debut in the classic 1989 satire, UHF (trailer). I slept over at a friend’s around 1998/99 and we walked a few blocks to a nearby Blockbuster Video and rented it along with a couple other flicks for a movie marathon that night. For some reason, it tickled all the right funny bones for me and it ended up being one of my favorite comedies. When it hit DVD a few years later I indulged in it at least a couple more times over the years.

It finally hit BluRay a couple years ago in time for the 25th anniversary of the film, and I did buy it upon initial release but it sat in my backlog until last weekend. It was not my backlog I pulled it out of to watch however (though I did for the extras over the next couple days), but at a different friend’s place instead. We were having dinner at Hu-Hot and while waiting by the grill we noticed one of the chefs must have had on a Weird Al Pandora station and we continued to nod along enthusiastically to a few of his vintage satirical songs until we nearly simultaneously blurted out, “we’re watching UHF tonight!”

Do not go into UHF expecting an original plot, since it is as slapstick as it gets and is more of a means to an end to work in all the spoofs. Weird Al says exactly that in the commentary track. Yankovic portrays one George Newman. Along with his friend, Bob (Davie Bowe, not the singer) they are both constantly between jobs until they are gifted a fringe UHF TV station on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite their attempts at original programming, the future was looking dire for channel U52 until their janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) lucks into hosting the children’s playhouse show and it becomes a smash hit. Local major network bighead RJ Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy) is the antagonist for the film and attempts to make sure that he squashes all of U52’s momentum and put them out of business for good.

Like I said, the plot is extremely basic and plays out rather predictably, and the satirical jokes during the course of the film are hit and miss. I am still a fan of the Newman’s breakfast of choice being the hotdog-Twinkie-dipped-in-milk combo. The jokes and gags that hit really hit good, and once UHF starts to insert their one-to-two minute spoofs throughout the film, I was on board with nearly all of them. Conan the Librarian and Raul’s Animal Kingdom are my two favorites of them while Spatula City and Weird Al’s version of Rambo also get high marks from me. I lost track of how many spoofs are in here, but I would estimate that of UHF’s 97 minute runtime that nearly a third of it is dedicated to about a dozen spoofs of various TV shows and movies. Almost all of them are winners and you can tell this is where the heart of the movie is, and knowing Yankovic’s style of comedy it is readily apparent where he put most of the work in this film.

The BluRay carries over all the extras from the DVD release, and adds in a new feature that is a 51 minute panel from a recent ComiCon. Al is joined by fellow comic Jonah Ray, and the two mesh well together as they reminisce over Al’s career and answer questions from the fans. They only touch on UHF briefly for a couple of times in the panel as they spend a lot more time talking about Al’s many musical endeavors over the years. It is an entertaining panel and well worth checking out. There are only a few other extras, but do not miss out on them as UHF has one of the best takes on a deleted scenes feature I have ever seen. Instead of playing them all individually, Al introduces a 19 minute feature where he admits all the deleted scenes are miserable to watch in their entirety and he plays clips of them while narrating in between why they were so abysmal and had to be cut. It is very well done so do not miss it!

Aside from a music video and a poster gallery there is a commentary track that is required viewing. Like the deleted scenes, this is one of my all time favorite takes on a home video audio commentary track! Al is joined by director Jay Levey throughout the feature, but Jay is noticeably quiet throughout and Al pokes fun at him and eventually gives him the mic to have his say as Jay stumbles through some choice words a couple of times in one of the best moments of the commentary. Al came to the commentary with his research and has a ton of facts about the cast and crew and constantly cracked me up at what they had to do to cut costs since they were so under budget. Michael Richards joins them on commentary for about 15 minutes before suddenly leaving in a moment that I am still shaking my head over, and a couple other minor characters make brief appearances in the commentary too. Of the three plus years of doing this blog I do not believe I have raved this much about a commentary track before, so believe me when I say there is rarely a lull and that you absolutely have to check out UHF’s commentary track.

There was a small part of me going into watching this again thinking this film would not hold up since it was probably over 10 years since I last seen it and some satires do not stand the test of time, but I was glad to be proven wrong. If satires/spoofs are not your thing you probably will not get that much out of this, but if you are a fan of that style of comedy then this is right up your alley and you will not be disappointed. And once again to hammer home the point, make sure to check out the deleted scenes and commentary track!

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Creed
Dirty Work
Faster
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Interstellar
Jobs
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
Wild
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past