23 March 2009

25 Years of Turtle Power!

This year is, believe it or not, the silver anniversary of the Turtles's debut.  Mirage Comics, Playmates Toys, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and Ubisoft are combining for a year-long Shell-abration.  In addition to new Turtles animated series episodes, comics and action figures, the following will all be labeled as part of the 25th Anniversary:

Turtle Power in Print
The Turtles first appeared in Mirage Comics's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 in 1984 (unless you count their appearance on the back cover of Gobbledygook #1 as their first appearance); a 25th anniversary reprint will be available 2 May...for free!  It's part of the annual Free Comic Book Day.  On 14 June, Mirage will issue the 540-page TMNT Collected Book, Volume One, reprinting the first eleven issues in their entirety.

Turtle Power to Play
Action figures were always a part of the Turtle experience, and Playmates Toys's original molds are being brought back this year!  In addition to the four Turtles themselves, April O'Neil, Splinter, Shredder, Foot Soldier, Rocksteady, Bebop, Slash and Casey Jones will be available soon.  Figures weren't the only toys, though, and they won't go it alone this year, either; you can also get your grubby little paws on the Party Wagon!  There will also be a separate line of figures based on the Turtles's original comic book appearances; this line will also include Splinter, Shredder and a Foot Soldier.  Gamers should look to the fall for the release of Ubisoft's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up.

Turtle Power to Watch
Lionsgate is up to the seventh season of its DVD release of the classic animated series.  Rather than one four-disc set, though, they've decided to release each disc separately...boxed with a replica of one of Playmates's original Turtles!  Disc 1 is packaged with Leonardo; 2 Michaelangelo; 3, Donatello; 4, Raphael.  Warner Bros. is also going to issue a boxed set of all four movies on DVD and Blu-Ray Disc in August.

16 March 2009

Film: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Directed by Steve Barron
Story by Bobby Herbeck
Screenplay by Todd W. Langen and Bobby Herbeck
Starring: Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas
Date of Screening: 14 March 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Cinescopes Personality Type: Chosen Adventurer

I distinctly recall the frenzy that greeted this film nineteen years ago for its initial release.  I was eleven years old, and I loved the Turtles.  Most of the audience, I would suspect, expected the film to resemble the animated series that we had come to know and adore.  Little did we suspect that it would, instead, favor the original comic book series--something none of us knew a thing about, in all honesty--as its basis.  It's hard to say the film is played "seriously" when it revolves around four anthropomorphic turtles trained as ninjas, but the humor is certainly not as juvenile as was the cartoon.

The screenplay is, effectively, an amalgamation of the first several issues of the comic book series.  Splinter (the rat) learned to be a ninja from his master, Hamato Yoshi.  Yoshi fled to New York with Tang Shen, the woman he loved, rather than fight rival Oroku Saki for her; Splinter watched from his cage as they both fell before Saki's hand.  Escaping, he encountered four turtles in the sewer, coated in radioactive muck.  Before long, the five of them have anthropomorphized and Splinter has trained them as ninjas, naming them after Renaissance artists--Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael.  The story picks up some years after the fact, as a rash of thefts plagues the city.  News journalist April O'Neil (Hoag) has turned up reports that the activities bear a strong resemblance to previous robberies committed a while back in Japan.  In case you need me to connect the dots, Saki (now operating as "The Shredder") is behind them, having become a sort of martial arts master Fagin.

I was honestly surprised at how well the film has held up over the years.  Granted, any screening benefits from an audience that already loves the film, and nearly everyone laughed in unison at the same parts throughout the 95 minute long feature.  That's the kind of audience buzz that is unique to screenings of older movies, and one of the reasons I continue to delight in the Midnights at the Baxter series.  As a bonus, they arranged for us to be fed pizza from Spinelli's (included with the price of admission), and my wife discovered their concession stand's fountain drinks include Cherry Coke!

The print itself could have been better, though this is nitpicking.  Many of the dark frames looked very over-exposed, giving off a grainy, gray-ish look.  Also, there were two or three moments that "skipped."  For a nineteen year old print, it's hard to complain, though.  On a personal note, I found it especially rewarding to have introduced my 13 year old cousin to not only this film, but the Turtles in general.  Mayhaps Baxter will see fit to screen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze soon?

11 March 2009

AFI's Top 100 Movie Poster Classics

I missed it, but in 2003, the American Film Institute ranked the one hundred greatest movie posters of the 20th Century.  Movie Goods has a collection of replicas, shown in a ranked gallery you can view here.  At the risk of spoiling the whole thing for you, I can tell you the top ten are as follows:
  1. Gilda (1946)
  2. Sin of Nora Moran (1933)
  3. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
  4. The Mummy (1932)
  5. King Kong (1933)
  6. The Kid (1921)
  7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  8. The Birth of a Nation (1915)
  9. South of the Rio Grande (1932)
  10. Cleopatra (1917)

03 March 2009

Passionate Maverick No More!

When I first submitted my list of top ten favorite films to get my Cinescopes personality type, I imposed some criteria.  Firstly, I elected to exclude any film I did not then own on DVD.  My reasoning was that if I hadn't seen fit to spend the money to include it in our library--which includes a lot of things that we only bought because they were dirt cheap--then it wasn't that important to me.  Secondly, I excluded franchise films.  As a big geek, it would be too easy and too tempting to fill the list with James Bond, Star Trek and Star Wars titles.  Rather than deal with that level of scrutiny, I sidestepped it altogether and excluded these outright.

Recently, I've become very interested in possibly "going Blu" by year's end.  The first question, of course, is which titles are upgrade-worthy, and which are ones I would be content to leave on DVD?  This "desert island" approach got me to re-evaluate my Top Ten Favorite Films list, and of course, once you've done that, it's a stone's throw away from an updated Cinescope.  The new list, in alphabetical order, is:
  • Batman (1989) - Chosen Adventurer, Existential Savior
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) - Loyal Warrior, Passionate Maverick
  • Eyes Wide Shut (1999) - Existential Savior, Rebellious Lover
  • Glory (1989) - Loyal Warrior, Passionate Maverick
  • Jurassic Park (1993) - Chosen Adventurer
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - Chosen Adventurer, Passionate Maverick
  • The Matador (2005) - Destined Hunter, Dedicated Idealist, Loyal Warrior
  • Tombstone (1994) - Destined Hunter, Passionate Maverick
  • The Transformers: The Movie (1986) - Chosen Adventurer*
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Existential Savior, Magical Creator, Loyal Warrior
My current Cinescopes personality type?  Chosen Adventurer!

01 March 2009

Born to Be an Invincible Optimist

On a whim, spinning out of my analysis of the 2004 election and the relationship between the top grossing films and the general public as voters, I decided to find the Cinescope personality type for 1978's top grossing films.  Apparently, I was born in a year of the Invincible Optimist:
  1. Grease - Vivacious Romantic, Invincible Optimist, Loyal Warrior
  2. The Deer Hunter - Determined Survivor, Loyal Warrior, Destined Hunter
  3. Halloween - Destined Hunter
  4. Up in Smoke - Invincible Optimist
  5. Superman - Magical Creator, Chosen Adventurer
  6. Revenge of the Pink Panther - Courageous Detective, Invincible Optimist
  7. Midnight Express - Passionate Maverick, Determined Survivor
  8. Faces of Death - ?
  9. House Calls - ?
  10. Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Destined Hunter
Naturally, I find this amusing, because I've often been accused of being a pessimist.  I jokingly respond that "I'm Optimist Prime!"  Of course, it's worth noting I've only seen two of these ten films; I enjoyed Superman; Grease, not so much.