8/29/08

Danny Ocean and the Casino Vault of Doom

Check out those awesome shoes.Welcome, won't you?

In order to read my review of the Rifftrax for Ocean's Eleven, you will need to assemble colorful band of ethnic stereotypes to help you break into Blogger's server vaults. Once there, you must switch it with a similar but far less valuable review so that Google's guardians do not immediately recognize it as missing. Once you get outside the doors with it, however, feel free to taunt.

Or you could just click here, but where's the fun in that?

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8/28/08

Featuring Personae Even More Dramatis!

With Retsin!Welcome, won't you?

I saw Ocean's Eleven with the Rifftrax last night, but the review's not quite ready yet. In the meantime, my Rifftrax Dramatis Personae page has gotten frightfully out of date with just the last two announcements. Please enjoy the new, improved version, now with the great taste of Frulinger and just a hint of Cheese.

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8/27/08

Spider-Man's Eleven

Thrill as Doc Oc marries his high school sweetheart Anthony...  Wait...Welcome, won't you?

I'm back from Yosemite, having managed to remain entirely uneaten by bears. I also managed to arrive home with the same number of children as I had when I left, despite their concerted efforts to the contrary. But none of you care about that.

What you probably do care about is yesterday's release of the Ocean's Eleven Rifftrax, with special guest riffer Richard Cheese. I just picked up my copy this afternoon, and I'll be watching it tonight.

Also, the next title to grace the Rifftrax Presents adjunct lineup of commentaries will be Spiderman 2, with Bill, Kevin, and special guest riffer (and one of my favorite bloggers) Josh Fruhlinger--a.k.a. the Comics Curmudgeon. Look for it at the Rifftrax site on September 5, 2008.

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RP008 Spider-Man 2

(2004, Action-Superhero, color)

Riffers:

Josh Frulinger, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

This looks like a job for Captain Crybaby!

Rating: ****

In a nutshell:


Peter Parker struggles to balance his regular life with his masked alter ego.

Summary:

Spidey needs his arms for swinging purposes, so in order to ride along, MJ has to have inhuman upper body strength.Life isn’t going so great for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). Having gained phenomenal superpowers from a radioactive spider in the previous film, he now wanders the streets of New York fighting crime and so on to the detriment of his schoolwork, his work-work, and his personal relationships. After a particularly stressful day of getting fired from pizza delivery and told off by his professor, Peter drags himself to his Aunt May’s house, having wholly forgotten that it’s his birthday. His friends Harry (James Franco) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) are there to celebrate with him in a vaguely hostile, stand-offish sort of way. Harry resents the fact that Peter knows Spider-Man well enough to get close-up pictures, but won’t help Harry track the agile arachnid down to take revenge for his father’s death. Mary Jane resents the fact that Peter won’t come see her new play, or pursue a romantic relationship with her.

With his academic career hanging by a thread, Peter needs a really good term paper to pass his vaguely science-ish classes. Fortunately for him, Harry is a maniacal science research mogul (or something) with access to all the greatest mad geniuses of the age. He sets Peter up to meet Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), mad genius in charge of creating glowing balls inside giant metal horseshoes. He has a good talk with Peter and then invites him to the glowing ball/metal horseshoe gala. Since glowing balls cannot be handled with bare skin or even rubber gloves, Octavius fuses a set of four super-strong and hyperintelligent metal tentacles to his spinal column to assist with glowing ball manipulation duties. The demonstration begins. The machine gets switched on. And, of course, things begin to go Horribly Wrong.

The glowing ball grows too big and starts to suck all metal items towards itself, including the glass in the windows. (Yes, I know there’s a non sequitur in the previous sentence.) This kills Octavius’ wife and nearly kills the other attendees as well. As Spider-Man, Peter shows up to save the ungrateful Harry and pull the plug on Octavius’ experiment before it can destroy the city. Harry swears further revenge while Octavius is carted off to the hospital for tentacle removal. The hyperintelligent tentacles take over Dr. Octavius’ mind; he kills his doctors before they can remove his metal appendages and escapes into the night. Later, he robs a bank so that he can buy materials to rebuild his glowing ball/horseshoe thingy, taking Peter’s Aunt May hostage in the process. As Spider-Man, Peter tries to leap out and save her, but she ends up saving him instead.

It's got to be hard to fit in with those things, even in New York.Somewhere in there, Mary Jane invites Peter to her play. He does his best to make it, but has to stop on the way to interrupt a crime in progress. He doesn’t make it in time, and the obnoxious usher (Bruce Campbell) refuses to let him in. This serves to further Mary Jane’s disappointment and she becomes affianced to someone else. Adding insult to injury, Peter suddenly loses his powers mid-swing, forcing him to take the elevator down from the top of a tall building. At the culmination of the work/school/Mary Jane/Aunt May/Dr. Octavius situation, Peter cries and vows to give up being Spider-Man.

Peter’s performance in all the non-Spider-Man areas of his life immediately improves. He’s quite pleased with himself until he notices the growing crime rate, and eventually has to run into a burning building without his powers to help rescue a trapped youngster. Meanwhile, Harry promises Octavius a rare glowing-ball-machine element in exchange for Spider-Man’s capture. Octavius knows that Peter knows how to contact Spider-Man, and further observes his crush on Mary Jane. So he kidnaps Mary Jane, threatening to kill her unless Peter sends Spider-Man after him.

The abduction of his not-quite-girlfriend proves to be the spark Peter needed to regain his powers. The subsequent fight scene stretches from a clock tower to the El, and ends with Peter sacrificing himself to stop a runaway train. Octavius ties up the exhausted hero and delivers him to Harry. Harry yanks off the mask and sees his best friend. Peter recovers enough to break his bonds and demand Octavius’ whereabouts. Harry inexplicably knows them, and Peter swings away.

On a rotting old dock, a chained-up Mary Jane watches helplessly as Octavius constructs an even bigger giant metal horseshoe in which to house his glowing ball. Of course it goes wrong again, sucking all the metal in the near vicinity towards it, including Mary Jane’s chains. Spider-Man arrives in time to save her from being sucked into the vortex. He subdues Octavius and unplugs the machine, but now the glowing ball is too big to stop sucking. He removes his mask and appeals to Octavius for help. Octavius realizes that his mind has been overcome by villainous tentacle intelligences, and struggles to regain his humanity. He plunges the glowing ball into the river, dousing it and drowning himself. Peter rescues Mary Jane from the wreckage and confesses his Spider-Man-hood. They can’t be together because his enemies will always threaten her to get to him.

This does not appear to be a good enough argument for her, since she later runs out of her own wedding to join him. Oh, and the strain of finding out that his best friend killed his father drives Harry insane. Stay tuned for the sequel, kids!

Thoughts:

Check your aim, Harry.  Do you want to stab him or scalp him?Peter’s “we can’t be together because my enemies will threaten you” speech doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me, especially considering that by the time he finally delivers it to Mary Jane, he’s just rescued her from her second abduction by a maniacal supervillain in as many movies. Peter, every archnemesis you’ve ever had has figured how much you like MJ with ridiculous ease. They don’t really care that you’re not “officially together”; your unrequited love is more than excuse enough to check her into the Kidnap Hotel every time they feel like they need a little leverage. I guess what I’m trying to say, Peter, is that you already have your cake whether you want it or not. You might as well eat it too.

That said, Spider-Man 2 is actually the best of the series thus far. It still has everything I praised about the first movie going for it, as well as a fantastically choreographed clock tower-and-train fight sequence, and a lot of emotional depth besides. If I have to register a complaint (and knowing me, I do), it’s that there might be just a little too much emotional depth. Peter’s under a rather horrific amount of stress for most of the film, I know. In his situation, I’d probably cry that much too. I would not, however, expect people to be entertained by endless scenes of my silent weeping between action sequences. But this is a minor quibble. For the most part, it’s an exciting and involving film that’s as much about its characters as it is about ‘splosions. It’s just too bad that such a promising young sequel should have the unfortunate Spider-Man 3 in its future.

Bill and Kevin provide the commentary for this Rifftrax Presents title, along with special guest riffer Josh Fruhlinger, a.k.a. The Comics Curmudgeon. Josh’s delivery isn’t as polished as other guest riffers, but his enthusiasm and timing leave nothing to be desired. Good lines include “It’s a recession, who can afford a house and meth”; "Is that creepy or endearing, it’s hard to tell with him”; and “My three-year-old niece weeps less than this superhero.” Veteran riffers Bill and Kevin step up as well, most notably when Bill calls Peter’s intermittent powers “Arachnile Dysfunction”, while Kevin sings, “Oh you can tell by the way I use my walk / I’m a Spider-Man, / I hate Doc Ock.” It’s a fun movie coupled with a well-written and well-performed commentary, making it my favorite of the three Spider-Man Rifftrax.

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8/21/08

You Kids Play Nice While I'm Gone, Y'Hear?

We're hoping for a trip unplagued by smoke and apex predators.Welcome, won't you?

My family and I are off to brave the bears and rangers of Yosemite for a long weekend, so this'll be my last post until next Wednesday. That will (hopefully) be the date of the next Rifftrax announcement, so I don't expect to miss much while I'm gone.

Well, not much except for Tuesday's release of the Ocean's Eleven track, with special guest riffer Richard Cheese. Go here on August 26, 2008 (afternoon-ish, usually) to pick it up.

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8/20/08

The International Skull

Brain of Blood...er, Oozing Skull.Welcome, won't you?

J. Elvis dropped by the Cinematic Titanic Email Club last night with an interesting tidbit. After apparently cleaning up the last of their first release's pesky rights issues, The Oozing Skull (review here) is now available overseas. By now, of course, die-hards have already obtained copies by using American friends as middlemen, but for this is no doubt good news for the casual foreign fan.

Also, tickets for their November 1 performance at the Family Arena in St. Louis are now available for purchase here. The secret password is WASP.

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8/19/08

I Riff, You Riff, We All Riff for iRiff

I don't get it.  Why didn't they alter the original poster at all?Welcome, won't you?

Posted at the Rifftrax site today:

Think you have the chops to make a RiffTrax?

Just create and upload your humorous commentaries on anything, set your price, and we'll do the rest by hosting and distributing your content. You'll even get your very own product page to promote your iRiff. Best of all, you share in the sales of your iRiff! We will feature the best tracks on the RiffTrax home page and the funniest stuff will rise to the top based on our user comments and star rating system.

We'll be having contests with cash prizes, and the best iRiffs' artists will get invited to work with Mike Nelson and the RiffTrax guys, and get paid to make a RiffTrax Presents!

You’ll be able to start uploading your own iRiffs in October, so get working!

Until then, we've handpicked a few already-completed RiffTrax-fan iRiffs below to give you a taste of what folks can do when they put their riffing skills to work. Enjoy and get cracking on your own iRiff. Share your creative talents with the world, and maybe even make a few bucks!
So, basically, you get to make your own Rifftrax and sell them on the site. Cool. Makes me wish I could participate, but I'm afraid that's not going to happen until I get a better microphone, a tad more technical expertise, and a new house with actual separate rooms instead of one with a frankly frustrating open air design that prevents me from speaking above a whisper after eight p.m. for fear of waking up the little ones. Not to mention the need to walk softly in the loft so that my footsteps don't sound like drumbeats over my daughters' bedroom...

What was I talking about? Oh, yes. iRiffs.

There are a number of sample fanriffs available there now, including:

Lady Frankenstein, riffed by Incognito Cinema Warriors ($9.99 for a VOD file)
Speed, riffed by Riff Raff Theater ($1.99 for an MP3 commentary)
and a number of old-fashioned educational shorts riffed by Josh Way ($0.75 a piece).

While I welcome these new additions to the Expanded Rifftrax Universe, for logistical reasons, I will not be able to add them to the guide. Yes, five more films isn't really all that many (expecially when three of them are shorts) but when iRiffs fully implements in October, there's just no way I'll be able to keep up with them all.

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8/18/08

Max the DragonCon Hero

I'm a quote whore!  Huzzah!Welcome, won't you?

You may recall a post I made about a month ago, when I mentioned that animator extraordinaire Mike Salva would be showing his Mike-Kevin-and-Bill-based cartoon Max the Hero (previously reviewed) at DragonCon. And if you don't recall, well, that's okay. I mentioned it just now, too.

The things I have not mentioned before are the specific dates and times of the cartoon's two showings. Quoth Mr. Salva:

The first screening will be Friday, Aug. 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM, in the Hyatt Regency Learning Center. (This block is called "Super Heroes and Evil Organizations.)

The second screening will be Sunday, Aug. 31 at 2:30 PM in the Hyatt Regency Baker Room. (This block is called "Animation.")
If you're in the neighborhood, be sure to drop in and see it.

Update 8/19/08: Check out the sweet event poster.

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8/15/08

Otnemem

The last visible dog...Welcome, won't you?

That will be the last backwards joke for a while, I promise. I didn't even use any in my review of the latest Rifftrax, Memento. I figured that the summary would be hard enough to follow without making you read from back to front. Good movie, though.

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8/14/08

'Twas Beauty Killed the Bees

a.k.a. The Deadly Bees.  Or, wait.  No it isn't.Welcome, won't you?

First: A Cinematic Titanic review. Roger Corman's The Wasp Woman has so many needles in it, you'd think it was made in the seventies instead of the fifties. Lots of board meetings and driver's education footage too, and the above three elements take up at least half of the running time. Taking away the exposition as well would leave you with approximately four minutes worth of hot, flesh-eating wasp woman action. Review here.

Second: A correction. The Rifftrax for Ocean's Eleven will not be released on August 19, 2008 as previously reported. The correct release date is August 26, 2008. Rifftrax staff members have promised us "something fun" to fill in the week between releases.

Third: I have finally gotten around to dividing up the unwieldy Rifftrax Video On Demand section of the guide as promised.

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8/13/08

Let's Hope He's Gouda

Scooby-dooby-doo...Welcome, won't you?

First of all, I must apologize for the horrible pun in this post's title. I wasn't thinking, I'm filled with shame, and so on and so forth. Moving on to today's announcement, a Rifftrax for Ocean's Eleven will be released on Tuesday August 26, 2008*, featuring Mike Nelson and special guest riffer Richard Cheese. I've never heard of him, but I like his name.

Review for Wasp Woman coming tomorrow.

--------------------------

*Update: The original version of this post listed the release date as August 19, 2008, but this has turned out to be incorrect. The corrected post now lists the proper date.

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8/12/08

Let's Just Pretend I Wrote This Backwards

Don't trust his lies.Welcome, won't you?

I was going to write every other sentence of this post in reverse, but then decided that this only marginally intelligible joke wouldn't be worth the effort. The Rifftrax for the temporally challenged Memento has been released, and hopefully it will be worth the effort. Pick it up here. I'm planning on watching Wasp Woman tonight, so it'll be another day or two before I get to it.

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8/11/08

Child Endangerment Entertainment at its Finest

Go on Harry, chop off Dobby's head.  You know you want to...Welcome, won't you?

I know it's been almost a week but, well, Hagrid told me to go ask Aragog the Giant Spider for his insights into the making of the film, neglecting to mention that the oversized arachnid would try to eat me as soon as the interview was over. I barely escaped with my life, and then spent the rest of the week recovering from the venom. Which is a complicated way of saying that I had the flu.

Anyway, here's my review of the Rifftrax for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in a nutshell: ahem, "The sloppiest of the Potter movies combined with the funniest of the Potter movie commentaries." Read the long version here, if you like.

Also: seeing no warnings or complaints about download speeds in the various forums, I decided to brave EZTake's download service in my quest to obtain the latest Cinematic Titanic DVD, Wasp Woman. They appear to have made good on their promise to run things smoother this time; I got the whole thing at very nearly the top speed my DSL provider allows, and I'll be watching it later this week. For those who prefer their DVDs professionally pressed and packaged, the physical specimen is now available at the Cinematic Titanic Store.

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8/7/08

Halfway Stung

Bzzzzzz...Welcome, won't you?

Cinematic Titanic's third release follows their second by a scant six weeks, as the Roger Corman "classic" Wasp Woman is now available for download. I haven't tried the download myself yet, but the EZTakes product page says they've added new servers to absorb some of the demand that killed them last time, and so far I haven't seen any complaints in the forums. If it's still working by the time I get home, I'll give it a try.

Of course, it wouldn't feel like a Cinematic Titanic release date without a last-minute delay, so J. Elvis has thoughtfully provided one. According to his latest CT Email Club announcement, the physical DVD has had a "manufacturing glitch", and thus will not be available for purchase until Monday, August 11, 2008.

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8/6/08

Soon Coming Is Rifftrax New A

Don't trust his lies.Does your head hurt yet?

By the way, you should have been reading this post backwards.

Review of the latest Rifftrax release Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets coming soon.
Release of Cinematic Titanic's take on Wasp Woman tomorrow.
Reminders:

To be released on August 12, 2008. To be riffed by Mike, Kevin and Bill. Memento, the chronologically convoluted revenge thriller by Batman specialist Christopher Nolan. The next full-length Rifftrax has been announced:

Welcome, won't you?

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8/5/08

Featuring the Jar Jar Binks of Children's Literature

Something Somebody and the Something of Something.Welcome, won't you?

After a month-long gap in full-length commentaries, Mike, Kevin and Bill have returned to their Potter-bashing ways with a Rifftrax for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Grab their take on the second cinematic adaptation of the most popular children's series of all time here. Review to come.

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8/4/08

Because Everything Else is Just Too Hard

Tell us about the rabbits, Jeff.Welcome, won't you?

Why Vandalism? "Because their parents screwed them up," says this short. (Review of the latest Rifftrax short here.) Other available answers: "Because the apple was rotten", "Because my housekey inexplicably fits most ordinary door locks", and "Because the professor's pet rabbit is just so darn cute".

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