Sunday, February 10, 2008

DVD Review: Fantastic 4 - Rise of the Silver Surfer (Standard Edition)

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is fluffy superhero cinema. It stars a bunch of pretty people -- even the blind woman and chromium fellow are hot -- packs in a ton of special effects, and cleans itself up nice and tidy in the end, reaffirming to any discernable viewer that nothing terrible ever really happens in movies like these. The good guys always win, the bad guys always lose, thank you for playing, now hand over your money and go home before we kick you out.

The entire group is back to defend the world from the oncoming devourer of worlds, Galactus. Galactus’ harbinger, Norrin Radd -- also known as the Silver Surfer -- has begun his routine of digging giant holes all over the globe when our heroes’ services are enlisted by the government to examine and stop whatever’s going down. After the group joins up with the government, the rest of the story becomes pretty predictable, following a familiar formula we’ve all seen time and time again: The team’s first attempt to stop the Surfer ends in failure, the dependability of one of the four is called into question, yadda yadda yadda, the questionable member seeks redemption in the end by nearly sacrificing their life for the greater good.

The acting, direction, and effects work is all pretty standard. Nothing exactly feels “phoned in,” but it’s obvious nothing was done to really push this film above and beyond the expectations set by its predecessor. The explosions are grand, the world eating is fun, and the Silver Surfer looks nice and silvery. As far as the acting is concerned, I’m still don’t buying the relationship angle between Ioan Gruffudd’s Reed Richards and Jessica Alba’s Sue Storm, but my belief in their utter lack of on-screen chemistry may just be jealously talking.

What Ioan and Jessica lack in chemistry, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis more than make up for with their own as antagonistic buddies/teammates, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. These guys are fun to watch, and while much of their relationship is childish at best, they never cease to entertain. What’s unfortunate here is that this talented cast isn’t given much to do. Each character is treated as a one-note pony, behaving in ways that only personify their single basic characterization: Reed is nerdy, Sue is responsible, Johnny is obnoxious, and Ben is grumbly. While I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect every superhero be given the same treatment we’ve seen with Spider-man or the X-Men, I also don’t think it unreasonable to expect more than we’ve gotten thus far with this franchise.

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is not a bad movie -- it’s quite entertaining at moments -- but it’s ultimately an instantly forgettable experience. Once the end credits begin to role, you’ll be off your duff and looking for something else to do or take in, spending little to no time lingering on the “greatness” or this movie. I would recommend this movie to families with kids, fans of the first film, and Jessica Alba fans -- ‘cause let’s face it; she’s down right smoking here. If none of these things apply to you, however, you can feel no shame in missing this one entirely.

ABNB! Rating: 2½ out of 5 (Cheesy fun for families, worth a rent.)

Standard Edition DVD Review:
Not much to really tell about this DVD release. It’s your typical bare bones DVD with English (5.1 Dolby Digital), Spanish (Dolby Surround), and French (Dolby Surround) audio tracks, along with English and Spanish subtitles. It’s featured in both Full Screen (1.33:1) and Wide Screen (2.40:1) on one of those nifty double-sided discs that I personally haven’t seen in years. The movie looks and sounds fantastic! The only special feature this release boasts is an audio commentary track with the film’s director, Tim Story. While Mr. Story sounds like a swell guy, my attempt at sitting through the film a second time with his commentary left me bored to tears. His approach to the commentary seemed clinical, and this need to explain his decision making process on the smallest details was zero fun to sit through. C’mon bro, it’s FF2, not Schindler’s List. Future filmmakers are not studying this movie for future ideas on how to do (or not do) certain shots -- so lighten up, drink a margarita, and have some fun.

The exclusion of deleted scenes really hurts this DVD overall. Sometimes, the business side of cinema makes it an ugly, uncaring place, and this standard edition is proof of that. Forcing people to pay extra for a two-disc special edition set, just to see deleted scenes is ridiculous. If you want to cash in, fine, release you’re fifty special edition DVDs -- but drop the price on your standard edition for those of us who don’t want two-discs of makings of, games, and comic books.

If you’re a fan of this movie, and want to own the additional goodies, I’d recommend steering clear of this standard edition, as it gives you nothing of value, other than the movie. If you’ve never seen the movie before, and don’t care about special features, rent it.

ABNB! Rating: 2 out of 5 (Rent, but not worth the purchase price.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stuck in My Head Pt. 1: Rappers in Space have Nothing to do with this Post

It's late. I ain't tired. Figured I'd scribble a few thoughts down here in the ole ABNB! blog. Give some thoughts on things I've seen recently, links to stuff I think is cool, drop some notes on stuff I have planned. Let's start with stuff I got planned...

Right now I'm in the middle of a review for Fantastic 4: rise of the Silver Surfer. That'll be done soon. I actually have a short list of reviews I'd like to finish up by next week, so that would be cool. I'm also planning to take time to write up a profile piece on Sylvester Stallone for my "Stud of the Month" feature. I don't think it's going to stay as "Stud of the Month" though. The more I think about it, the more it sounds like some kind of gay, beefcake porn mag article, rather than a celebration of Guy Movie action stars. If anyone has any cool ideas on what to call it, I'm all ears.

So far the blog is performing better than I could have expected. I'm clocking hits in the teens each day, which is a shock. I'd like to thank Shannon Tweed for all of her support. I didn't realize there were that many people still interested in either reading about her career, or looking at non-nude pictures of her. She still has the magic, I guess -- and I'm happy to ride its coattails to monster hits. I'd also like to thank the movies Cloverfield and There Will Be Blood. A few people have been kind enough to check out my reviews of those flicks via the external reviews option over at IMDb.

I wonder what goes through someone's mind when they're looking for movie reviews over there. Like let's say Steve wants to read what others think about There Will Be Blood, but doesn't trust the big media critics. He clicks on the external reviews link and is presented a rather long (and growing) list of links -- each one linking to a review of the movie. As he scrolls he eventually sees the link I put up -- the one titled "All Balls No Brains!" -- and decides that that's a worthy link to click on. Now, if you were Steve, and you wanted to read a review of an independent art house movie made by an art house filmmaker about a turn-of-the-century oil man, does "All Balls No Brains!" sound like a link you'd be apt to click on? If it does, then I like you very much.

This blogspot thing is pretty cool. I like the easily customizable templates it provides. I'm still playing around with mine, so if changes occur, don't lose your cool.

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I've been fascinated lately by a fellow named JD Ryznar. You've probably never heard of him, but if you have, you'll recognize him as the creator and one of the stars of the great Internet based TV show, Yacht Rock. Well, I think he's really funny. He makes me laugh all the time. I'm jealous of his beard. Anyway, he has a new show he's doing now called Visits With JD, and the premise is simple -- he invites a friend over, they do something fun, and then hang out while listening to music. The shows have ranged about eight minutes or so, and involved everything from the creation of dating videos to political raps to staring a business to even drinking and driving. It's simple and effective and a whole lot of fun. His dog -- a chihuahua named Fancy Ray -- acts as his Ed McMahon, and his band is his eclectic collection of vinyl records and turntable. I urge you to see it if you have the time. If you're a really busy person, you probably shouldn't check it out, because it will keep you from getting stuff done, and that would be bad.

How's my grammar so far? Would I irritate a lit major to death or what? Sometimes, I'll just sit at the computer and start typing. Then, I'll go back and try to read what I just wrote, and I'll be like, "Jesus Christ, what retard wrote this? Punctuations all wrong, they used where when they should have used were, not to mention all those extra and unnecessary o's tacked onto those to's. This person is a moron."

I hit my head yesterday as I was going to work. Bumped it pretty good. It was dark, and I couldn't see the tree branch, but it could see me, and decided to give me a hard thwack on the dome. When I touched it, I got blood on my hands. I figured, "Gee, it's a good thing I have a hat!" I put the hat on and let the gash bleed, coagulate, and dry all day. Nobody knew, because of the hat. I work with food -- the hat was essential that day. Nobody wants to by food prepared by a guy with a visible bleeding wound on his head. I wouldn't want to by food from that guy -- unless he was wearing gloves, and a hat, then it would be okay. It didn't hurt -- the bleeding wound under the hat -- because I'm a real man, and real men don't feel pain. When I touch it now, it feels rock solid -- like a giant booger. Maybe that's why I can't stop picking at it? My desire is to grab it, and start peeling it off, but that would just make it bleed again, and I don't think it's worth the trouble. Plus, I'm wearing my favorite hoodie -- my Green Bay Packer hoodie. It's green with the team logo on it, and the words "Property of..." over it. I think in a not so subtle way, my own hoodie is calling me a whore, but I don't mind, because if it is, it's true. I have a Green Bay Packer lunchbox -- you can't get more whorish than that.

I'm thinking about making ABNB! not just about Guy Movies, but also about other things that are certifiably Guy, without committing to any one thing. I think a lack of commitment to any one thing, but rather a general focus on lots of things, is itself a completely Guy way of doing things, therefore making this a more honest and relatable blog. So, yeah, maybe I'll do that. Not like it matters what else I write -- if I want readers, I'll just profile another hot woman, slap up some pictures, and watch that hit ticker rack up the big numbers.

I didn't realize "relatable" isn't a real word. Is it relatible? Relateable? Relatuble? Weird. I use that word all the time, and it doesn't exist.

But if it doesn't exist, how can I use it? I'm confused.

I think I may have just opened a grammatical wormhole paradox that will destroy the universe as we know it over the coarse of the next hundred thousand years. Better start enjoying the years we have left!

Keep your balls clean.

Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed, Shannon Tweed -- and the hits keep on comin', baby!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

ABNB! Top 10 Ex-Football Players Turned Actors

The Superbowl is right around the corner, and to honor it, I’ve decided to cook up a little list paying homage to the 10 greatest ex-football players turn actors. In order to have made the list, they had to have played professional football on some level--be it the NFL, CFL, NFL Europe, etc. Arena Football doesn’t count, because it’s not real football, I don’t care what you say. Oh, and you can’t have killed someone…or two. Sorry OJ, thems the rules.

While doing research for this list, I was amazed at just how many former pro-football players have tried their hand at acting--and even more surprised at just how good a lot of them are. When I set out to do this list, I had no idea it would turn out to be as difficult as it was. Just to show you how tough it was, here’s a short list of the guys that didn’t make the cut, and the reasons why:

Mike Ditka -- One movie under his belt. While very funny, not enough to warrant a spot on the list.
Terry Bradshaw -- See Mike Ditka.
Michael Irvin -- See Mike Ditka.
Bill Romanowski -- See Mike Ditka.
Brett Favre -- See Mike Ditka.
Alex Karras -- Moderate success on television, but no big screen success.
Bill Goldberg -- Could have placed on the list near the bottom, but I chose to go with guys I believe have contributed more to film via memorable movies and performances. This is completely subjective.
Fred Dryer -- A significant acting career, could have easily made the list, but again, most of his work was done on the small screen, therefore, I chose to bump him. Yet another completely subjective selection.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson -- Never played in the NFL, but did manage two months on a CFL team before being cut. While my criteria was that each man listed have some kind of pro-football career, I didn’t want to take the easy way out and list Rock in the top spot…because if he were going to be on this list, that’s exactly where he’d be, based on the strength of his film career.

As you read you'll notice many of these guys are ex-Raiders, and that many of them appeared in Adam Sandler's THE LONGEST YARD remake. Pretty crazy. Now let's quit mucking about and get to it! Enjoy...

The 11th Man: Lyle Alzado Pro-Football Career: 15 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Raiders
I might catch flack for leaving the late Mr. Alzado off the list, but note that it’s not a slight--it’s just a really tough crop to choose from! Looking over his career as both a football player and an actor, I can’t help but think of the great things he could have done on the big and small screens had he not died so young. I used to watch his sitcom “Learning the Ropes” as a lad, was thrilled by his evil shenanigans in DESTROYER via USA’s “Up All Night,” and hated his guts as I rooted for Ernest P. Worrell to kick his butt in ERNEST GOES TO CAMP. Most will remember him, however, not as an actor or a football player, but as an avid spokesman against the use of steroids. The brain cancer he suffered--and ultimately died--from was a result of using steroids throughout his football career, and he wanted desperately for everyone to know--especially children--that the consequences just weren’t worth it. Every time I see a clip of him in his rail-thin bandana wearing last days, it brings me to tears, because he really seemed like a good man with a kind soul. God bless you, Lyle.

10. Bubba Smith Pro-Football Career: 9 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers
What can you say about Bubba that would come anywhere near close to doing him justice? Best known to moviegoers everywhere as Moses Hightower, the soft-spoken blue-clad giant from the POLICE ACADEMY series, many might recognize Steve Guttenberg as the star of the franchise, but I don’t think anyone could argue that the supporting cast was the soul, of which Bubba anchored with authority. He’s since gone on to star and cameo in B-movies here and there, so keep your eyes peeled!

9. Don Gibb Pro-Football Career: 1 season in the NFL (this may be inaccurate) Teams Played For: San Diego Chargers
You may not know Don Gibb as Don Gibb, but you’ll surely know him as Ogre, the Alpha Beta bully who tormented the nerds of Lambda Lambda Lambda! Guy Movie nuts will also know him as Ray Jackson, Jean Claude’s butt-kicking American buddy at the Kumate in BLOODSPORT. Don’s face, size, and wild hair are unmistakable, and his persona is one of a big huggable teddy bear--with a bite. Don’s acting gigs have mostly consisted of bit parts in movies and TV shows since his days as Ogre, so while you’re flipping keep an eye out. You never know where he might pop up.

8. Lawrence Taylor Pro-Football Career: 12 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: New York Giants
One of the most colorful figures to ever come out of football, or any sport for that matter, Lawrence Taylor has repeatedly proven that you cannot count him out. Without much of an acting resume under his belt, he managed to snag supporting roles in films like ANY GIVEN SUNDAY and SHAFT, and actually deliver the goods. He even proved he could be funny on HBO’s “1st and Ten.” The Original LT, however, always seems to be at his best when he’s playing himself, whether its with cameos in comedies like last years THE COMEBACKS or Adam Sandler’s THE WATERBOY, or taking to the squared circle to battle legendary wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow at Wrestlemania XI--the man has managed to do just about everything one can do, and he’s still got a lot of years left in him. Everything I’ve seen him in I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, so hears to LT doing us all a favor, and doing a few more things in front of the camera.

7. Fred Williamson Pro-Football Career: 7 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs
Richard Roundtree may have been the face that launched Blaxploitation cinema in the early 70’s, but few carried the genre better than Fred “Hammer” Williamson. Oh, the endless amount of joy this man has brought me over the years is something to behold. Out of all the Blaxploitation leading men, Fred always seemed to be the best at addressing the issue of race, without alienating non-black audiences. Sure, much of the plot had to do with inequality, but the rest of it was just so much damn fun, you couldn’t help but ride along with a smile on yourself. It almost makes me sad that most kids today only recognize him as Frost, the big black biker badass in FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, because he’s seriously got a mountain of work under his belt! To prove the sheer brilliance this man possesses: He once starred in a Blaxploitation western called BOSS N**GER--of which he was the titular character--and get this … he also wrote the screenplay! This is one of the few films I’ve yet to see, but to read reviews and descriptions of it on the Internet, it definitely sounds like a must view to me! Way to go, Hammer--you make Richard Roundtree look like a pansy. (I still love ya, Shaft, just in case you ever read this … or someone you know reads this and relates it back to you. I’m just sayin’.)

6. Terry Crews Pro-Football Career: 6 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
You may not know his name, but if you’ve been paying attention to TV and cinema lately, you’ve no doubt seen his face. Terry Crews is big, intimidating, and gifted with an incredible sense of humor. He could easily take the easy road of being a B-movie action star (like many on this list), but instead he’s flexing more than just physical muscle, he’s flexing his acting muscles, not to mention flexing his funny bone every chance he gets. Whether he’s putting a boot to fools as T-Money on “Battle Dome,” lusting after a Wayans brother in drag in WHITE CHICKS, or burning the candle at both ends to raise his family in “Everybody Hates Chris,” Terry is proving he’s more than just another meathead ex-jock--he’s the real deal. And when all is said and done, I don’t doubt that he’ll be at the tops of many future lists just like this. All hail President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!

5. Brian Bosworth Pro-Football Career: 3 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: Seattle Seahawks
The Boz has always been a showman, and a show off. His NFL career is remembered more for his bleached Mohawk hairdo and big mouth, than any of his on-field exploits. While his career on the gridiron was short lived, the idea of an acting career began to spring forward, largely off the strength of his very popular commercials as the face of Right Guard Deodorant. His first foray into film was as Joe Huff, a detective who goes undercover to infiltrate a villainous biker gang in STONE COLD--a certified Guy Movie classic! He’s since gone on to star in other B-movie action flicks, including a cameo as an evil prison guard in Adam Sandler’s remake of THE LONGEST YARD.

4. Jim Brown Pro-Football Career: 8 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: Cleveland Browns
One of the greatest running backs of all time, Jim Brown first gained attention as a real actor in one of the greatest Guy war movies of all time, THE DIRTY DOZEN--a film he chose to finish filming at the sacrifice of his football career. He would later carve out his own corner in Blaxploitation cinema as the stoic, no nonsense SLAUGHTER. Slaughter was never as cool as Shaft, or Hammer, but he wasn’t supposed to be. The driving purpose of the Slaughter character was to provide the genre with a hard-nosed badass, and it is at that that Mr. Brown more than succeeded. Jim would go on to guest star on television, and join forces with Fred “Hammer” Williamson (8 on the list) to revitalize the Blaxploitation genre with ORIGINAL GANGSTAS. My personal favorite Jim Brown movie is Tim Burton’s MARS ATTACKS, where he plays Byron, an ex-boxer turn Casino security guard. His exchange with Jack Nicholson in the limo always makes me laugh. Byron: “I found Allah, I don’t eat pork, and I’m a better man. I faced that demon, and I don’t want him coming on again.” Art: “You gave up pork.” Priceless.

3. Frank McRae Pro-Football Career: 1 season in the NFL (this may be inaccurate) Teams Played For: Chicago Bears
You might not know his name, but you’ll definitely know his face if you’ve been paying attention to Guy Movies for the last thirty years. He burst onto the seen as Reed Youngblood in DILLINGER, and quickly parlayed the success of that role into many others. A man of literal mammoth proportions, Frank has made sure to show he’s more than just a brute giving note worthy performances as family comedies like *BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED and VACATION. He’s also the prototypical angry police captain, creating it in the Guy Movie classic 48 HRS, and mocking it in another great Guy Movie, THE LAST ACTION HERO. Of everything I’ve seen this guy in, he’s never turned in a bad performance. My favorite performance by him has to be as Jim the foul-mouthed mechanic from USED CARS.

2. John Matuszak Pro-Football Career: 9 seasons in the NFL Teams Played For: Houston Oilers, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders
The Tooz was the man. Even though he landed at number two on this list, he’s easily my favorite overall. He lived his life at full throttle, just like he played the game, and pursued acting. He made me laugh so hard I nearly crapped my Pampers in CAVEMAN, instilled a desire to have curly hair, a grizzly beard, and play football in NORTH DALLAS FORTY, and caught the attention and captured the hearts of an entire generation as Sloth, the big mutant Fratelli brother from THE GOONIES. Only the Lord knows what kind of career he would have had had he been allowed to live a little longer--more than likely he would have become some sort of B-movie action star, or continue to make goofy cameos in A-list and B-list flicks. Either way, it sure as hell would have been a lot of fun to watch him work and grow as an actor.

1. Carl Weathers Pro-Football Career: 1 season in the NFL, 2 seasons in the CFL Teams Played For: Oakland Raiders, British Columbia Lions
Carl Weathers is simply, the man. Having racked up high profile roles opposite the two biggest action movie stars of all time, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and starring in one of the best Guy Movies of the late 80’s, his selection as the greatest ex-football pro turn actor was a veritable no brainer. Carl first took on Sly’s Rocky Balboa as the loudmouthed Apollo Creed. Not only did he have the absolute coolest name ever…he looked like he was chiseled out of stone, and had the uncanny ability to flap his gums at 100 miles per hour without fumbling a single word. Apollo’s death in ROCKY IV at the hands of Ivan Drago was and is the most heartbreaking moment for me in the entire series. Carl then took on Arnie as the no-nonsense CIA agent Dillon in PREDATOR. Carl was the perfect foil for Arnold, because he could match him for strength and size. After his many cinematic success, Carl eventually earned the right to star in his own action movie, ACTION JACKSON, where he played inner city police detective Jericho Jackson. The premise of his own Guy Movie was that he, Jericho, was locked in a battle of brains and brawn with Craig T. Nelson’s evil automotive icon, Peter Dellaplane. The movie boasts all sorts of great Guy Movie moments, from a young Sharon Stone, to some quality Vanity nudiness, lots of colorful henchman, and loads of catchy one-liners. Carl had a resurgence many years later as the one-handed ex-golf pro, Chubbs in Adam Sandler’s HAPPY GILMORE, but he since become more of a supporting actor in small films and TV shows. He was last seen briefly in a series of Old Spice ads as the corporate figure head of the company.

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