Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kevin Smith's 'Cop Out'

Let me preface this review by saying I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan and own most of his movies. I didn’t much enjoy the two movies he did that weren’t part of the View Askewniverse (Jersey Girl and Zack and Miri) so I wasn’t overly optimistic about this movie but I went opening weekend and was pleasantly surprised.

Cop Out is the first movie that Kevin Smith has directed that he didn’t write. I hope he hasn’t given up on writing his own films but I can see why he directed this movie. It’s filled with Kevin’s kind of humor and dialogue. With Tracey Morgan as a guest star, I think Kevin’s the only director who could have gotten that performance (and I’m sure he let Tracey and Bruce do a lot of improvisation).

Just like other Kevin Smith movies or films he’s been a part of, he’s joined by a wide range of people he’s already worked with: Bruce Willis, Tracey Morgan, Seann William Scott, and (most importantly because he’s been in almost every Kevin Smith flick) Jason Lee. And it also had richly talented people that he’s never (to my knowledge and I’m too lazy to imdb it) worked with like Rashida Jones, Michelle Trachtenberg (she’s Dawn from Buffy so I’m biased), Ana de la Reguera (who spoke only spoke Spanish and only some of her dialogue was subtitled but she was amazing), and Guillermo Diaz who is a truly scary bad guy (if you can get his role in NBC’s Mercy – a series he does with Michelle Trachtenberg – out of your head).

Actually, come to think of it, most everyone in this movie is from an NBC series…weird.

Anyway, the flick is about two cops, Jimmy (Bruce Willis) and Paul (Tracey Morgan) who get suspended from the force early in the film. This is bad news for Jimmy who is trying to come up with the money to pay for his daughter’s (Michelle Trachtenberg) wedding. He decides to see a baseball card worth enough to cover everything but the store he’s selling it to gets robbed and the card is taken by small-time thief Dave (Seann William Scott). In the hunt to get the card back, Jimmy and Paul hunt down Dave who has already sold the card to a drug lord with an affinity for baseball collectibles and become entangled in a larger plot.

The thing I enjoyed about this movie wasn’t just the humor or the familiar faces, it was that (with the exception of Michelle Trachtenberg) everyone got their moment to shine. The onscreen chemistry between the actors was amazing, each seemingly at ease with the others.

Kevin has said again and again the reason he didn’t direct some of the many action or comic book influenced movies he’s been asked to direct is that, as a director, he’s too lazy to do anything but ‘talky’ movies where it’s just a bunch of people talking. For Kevin’s first action movie, this was well done (even if our first main bad guy’s gun goes from uzi to pistol for no reason and one scene goes from day to night without so much as dusk in-between). I also would have like to see Jimmy and Paul do at least one kick ass fight scene where they beat up some bad guys.

Cop Out is a fun ride and a great buddy movie homage with franchise potential. I had a great time and can’t wait to add this flick to my blu ray shelf.
Serve, protect, and deliver laughs. Awesome.

Angel - Cordelia M.I.A.

I’ve just finished re-watching Angel from the beginning (five seasons in six weeks). I’ve only seen Angel all the way through once so this is my second complete viewing. That said, I do remember most of what happened in the series and I realized something re-watching season four.

At the end of season three, Cordelia is made a ‘higher being’ and sent to a ‘higher plane’ to serve the powers that be. At the beginning of season four, we see Cordy, surrounded by light and bored out of her mind as she tries to communicate with her ex-peers and get off the ‘higher plane.’ But I realized that from the moment she regains her memories in episode 6 (ep 72, Spin the Bottle) until season five’s ‘You’re Welcome’ (ep 100), Cordelia isn’t Cordelia. I started the grieving, knowing that Jasmine was pulling the strings all through season 4 and I wouldn’t see the real Cordy until season 5.

Technically, with the memory loss, we only see Cordy for three episodes in season four and that’s lousy because there were a lot of great Angel/Cordy moments (minus the ‘icky’ (Fred’s word, not mine) stuff with Cordy and Conner).

When the team questions Skip about Cordelia’s whereabouts in ‘Inside Out,’ they discover that Cordy’s been a cocoon since the beginning of the season but that going from the higher plane to The Hyperion might’ve been too much even for Jasmine, thus the memory loss.

That means that when Angel and Cordelia finally sit down to decide what they mean (or meant) to each other in ‘Spin the Bottle,’ not-Cordy tells him that they were in love. It’s a great moment where Cordy tells him, “We were in love.” It may have been Cordelia’s sentiment (we know she felt that way at the end of season three) but it was delivered by a doppelganger.

I didn’t realize it wasn’t Cordy the first time around because no one knew she was possessed until she stabbed Lilah, but watching it through the second time, I could see a lot of subtle manipulation going on.

Despite how I feel about Cordy’s participation in season four, it was a good storyline for a pregnant Charisma Carpenter. Besides, we all get a ringside seat in ‘Awakening’ for how the perfect day with Cordelia leads Angel to lose his soul. That moment was great (even if it was manufactured by a Shaman) because it means that Angel loved Cordelia as much as he loved Buffy but the writers never got the opportunity to play with that relationship because Charisma left the series.

Of course for a while after Jasmine is born late-season, Charisma’s role is ‘woman in coma’ before having one more adventure in season 5 before dying from that coma (in ‘You’re Welcome’). I loved the part at the end where the real Cordy does confirm that she loved him. It was an amazing and unexpected death but so unnecessary (except for the final vision) since we lose Fred three episodes later in ‘A Hole in the World.’

If Cordy had lived through season five and she really ‘left’ as she told Angel she was doing in ‘You’re Welcome,’ she might’ve shown up in the amazing IDW series set during season six.

So, in conclusion…Cordy dying, after an entire season of fake-Cordelia running around, sucked.

Oh, and Conner being constantly confused, gullible, and angry throughout season three and four was super-annoying. But Conner had an outstanding season five (I forgot about Wesley breaking the memory cube thing) and he became a character instead of a plot device.

From Angel's 100th episode, 'You're Welcome'

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amber Benson signing at Mysterious Galaxy

Tonight I went to the Amber Benson signing at Mysterious Galaxy. She was there promoting Cat’s Claw, her second novel in the Death’s Daughter series. It was a really laid back appearance where the crowd peppered her with questions and she answered them all, telling stories and joking with us.

There were only about 30 of us which was enough of a crowd to keep asking questions but small enough that when it came time to sign, she spent about four or five minutes with each of us. I talked to her about her new flick, Drones, and let her know that I was at her San Diego screening of Lovers, Liars, and Lunatics. She told me (as she’d told all of us during her talk) that they’re screening it in LA in April.

My hope is that the film will premiere the weekend of Wizard World Anaheim so I’ll already be there.

I really enjoyed my five minutes with Amber and hope that one day I’ll get to tell her the story of how she turned my into a Buffy fan. But chances are, you guys will hear that story before she does.

Anyway – the signing was awesome and I had my usual great time with Amber Benson. And if you’re ever in San Diego, Mysterious Galaxy has five or six signings every month by big time authors like Amber, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Jeffery Deaver, etc.
Amber and Speedball - awesome.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lost: The Final Season

My homepage is and they posted up a news item that said “6 Ways the Final Season of Lost is Just Like the Final Season of Buffy” so I clicked on it. I read the Kyle Buchanan penned article on and while I knew nothing about Lost, I am well-versed on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I watched the first season of Lost because its creator, J.J. Abrams, created one of my favorite shows, Alias. I found the show to be really interesting but slow moving. I stopped watching because, except for Alias, I couldn’t commit to watching a show religiously week after week. I was enjoying getting seasons of shows from Netflix and watching a bunch of shows all at once without commercials.

After reading the article, I know that the last season might be ‘just like’ the last season of Buffy but the hype of the last season has me excited to re-watch the first season along with all the rest. Buchanan describes both shows as ‘mythologically dense’ so I’m looking forward to diving into Lost one of these days.

I’m looking forward to being one of the millions of fans who really dig the show.

Of course I said that about Battlestar Galactica and I haven’t watched the first season yet. But when I do, I’ll let you know how that goes.

I know the final twist: all this happens in a cereal box!!

San Diego Gulls vs Idaho Junior Steelheads

I’m not a big hockey fan. That said, I loved going to San Diego Gulls games when they had an NHL team playing at the Sports Arena.

Now we don’t have a pro team but we do have the WSHL team, The San Diego Gulls playing their guts out at Escondido’s Ice-o-plex.

Last night I saw game two of a playoff game between the Gulls and the Steelheads. The Gulls were up by one game so it was the normal, intense game. They’re minor league with major heart and at the Ice-o-plex you can stand against the glass where players are checking each other as hard as they can.

If you’re in San Diego County somewhere and can go next year, I recommend it. Because even though they lost last night, it’s always exciting. Oh, and they have two rinks in the building just in case you get bored and want to skate.

This Seagull will poop on your car then beat you senseless with his hockey stick.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chuck and Ellen Page Commericals

Two companies have made me very happy with their advertising lately.

During Chuck, Honda Crosstour has these great commercials featuring Ellie and Awesome on their honeymoon but Morgan has stowed away. It’s a series of commercials that play during episodes of Chuck that feature all the places they go and things they do in the Crosstour. Each commercial is a full minute or more. I hope more TV shows do things like that and I hope the commercials make it onto the season three blu ray set. Just a lot of fun to watch – search “Chuck Honda” on youtube.
I can't find a screen shot of the commerical so take this one of super-hot Yvonne Strahovski at Comic Con International.

The other is Cisco which is using Ellen Page to illustrate how Cisco is connecting people all over the world. Instead of talking about the product or going on about what it does, Ellen is actually participating in the story of the commercial and experiences what Cisco does. And she seems so sweet and down to earth while she’s doing it. They always make me smile – search “Ellen Page Cisco” on youtube.

I couldn't find a screenshot for this one either so enjoy a screenshot of the website ad

Now You Know!

I’ve enjoyed the 3 3/4 inch GI Joe figures since they were first introduced. Back then I was just a kid, roughhousing and playing with other kids who had figures. Eventually I’d go on to either break (collectors know what I’m talking about) the crotch, thumb, or O-ring, give the figures away, sell them, or just get rid of them altogether.

When I got a little older I was still a bit into toys. I grabbed a cool figure here and there but never collected full lines. There was a place I’d go on Rosecrans here in San Diego called ‘I Collect.’ The store was unique in San Diego as its business was the buying and selling of old toys and memorabilia whether comic book, movie, GI Joe, etc. Kent, the owner, and I would do trades where I’d come in with things I didn’t want anymore and we’d work out a price and I’d use the store credit to grab some things I was looking for and some things that just made me nostalgic. Among the treasures I picked up were old Star Wars and GI Joe figures that I used to have.

That’s when I had the revelation that most people have – I never should have gotten rid of all of my toys. Sure I’ve been fickle and the figure I desperately wanted has turned into the figure that netted me a few bucks on eBay so that I could buy another figure, but I’ve enjoyed having a Snake Eyes or R2-D2 within sight.

Since the 25th Anniversary GI Joe figures have come (back in 2007) I have collected every single figure (sadly the vehicles take too much room so I usually get them, strip them for the figure and sell the vehicle back on eBay). It’s been so much fun to collect them until the movie came out. Now that the movie’s come out, every figure has been a ‘movie’ version of figures I already have and have been eager for new 25th Anniversary-style figures. Don’t get me wrong – I got most of the movie versions too.

The other day I was at Toys ‘R Us looking for Marvel Universe figures (I’m only missing Vision from the latest series) when I saw two more exclusive figures – an Arctic Threat Shipwreck and Doc.

That got me thinking: I wonder what other exclusives are out there that I don’t know about.

So I did the search on eBay and discovered the GI Joe Ultimate Battle Pack. The battle pack contains Cobra Commander (v37), Cobra Vehicle Gunner, Destro (v21), H.I.S.S. Driver (v3), Short-Fuze (v6), Steeler (v5) and Sgt. Stalker (v11). Additionally, this set included a Flight Pod, a H.I.S.S. Tank, and a MOBAT.

This awesome set not only came with 3 of the original 13 GI Joe figures (Steeler, Short-Fuze, and Stalker) but it also had two of the original vehicles (HISS tank and the MOBAT). The reason it had gone below my radar was that it was a Target exclusive and I didn’t frequent that store enough to catch the set while it was in stock so I would have at least known it existed (as I had with Arctic Threat Shipwreck and Doc).

There was a loose, complete Ultimate Battle Pack on eBay that I snatched up for about a third less than it was in stores and it got here in a hurry. The seller who sold it had opened the package and taken the figures out but many of them still had the clear bands that held weapons to their hands and Cobra Commander to his flight pod. It is brand spanking new.

Sometimes, even after your favorite figures have come and gone, you can find great exclusives that you didn’t know existed with an eBay search and here are some tips:

1) Exclusives are referred to as ‘excl’ ‘ex,’ etc. so searching for ‘exclusives’ will give you a broad idea of what’s out there. After you’ve found something you like – do a search for just that item. For example – I did a search for ‘GI Joe exclusive’ and came up with the Ultimate Battle Pack which was a Target exclusive. Then I did a search for ‘GI Joe Target’ and a seller had the Ultimate Battle Pack listed as the UBP (which no one else did) and it was cheaper than all of the other Ultimate Battle Packs.

2) There are great lists of figures out on the internet and some action figure lines have websites dedicated to them (like which has an amazingly complete archive of every figure, vehicle, and playset that’s ever been released).

3) Not all websites, but some like Target will tell you if an item is exclusive to them if you search for a general item (like GI Joe).

4) If you’re bummed about missing a comic convention or toy show, Hasbro usually makes items that didn’t sell out available on their website for the same price they offered it at the convention. For things like GI Joe Convention exclusives, they are available at the GI Joe Club website (heavily discounted for members of the club). Check the company who released the item to see if the convention special is available there.

5) If you break down and find you have to go to the secondary market for the item, get an idea of how much it is going for. You can use your own strategy but mine is waiting for time to pass. The people who jump on the figures right away and are scared off by the price usually forget to check back. Out of sight, out of mind. Most people move on to new things. Eventually the people trying to unload the 16 convention Transformers 25th Anniversary Soundwaves are going to have to take what they bought it for in order to unload it. Of course that doesn’t always work and some things appreciate the more time passes (but these days, that’s rare).

6) If you’re going to take the items out of the packages and display them, ask a seller if they’ll give you a discount on shipping if they’ll open the figures for you (if there are a few carded figures, ask them to just take the bubble off the board and send the board so you can cut out the filecards). That saves a lot of space and the seller won’t have to make sure it’s sent in a way that keeps the item’s packaging safe – just the item – which is much easier for them.

Now you know! And knowing’s half the battle.

Short-Fuze, Stalker, and Steeler - oh my!