Thursday, June 26, 2008

Step into the "Twilight" Zone!

In our next episode, Johnny and I will be discussing three book-to-movie adaptations: one good, one bad, and one that's coming out in December (I WILL be there at midnight!). Yes, you guessed it, Twilight! This book is truly a phenomenon; time and again I've heard about people who picked up the book with skepticism and couldn't put it down. And yes, this includes everyone: guys and gals, young and old, teachers and students. It might even include my brother...stay tuned!

The Twilight Guy recently posted his review of two chapters at once, after finding himself unable to stick to the "one chapter per day" rule. My other favorite fansite, Twilight Lexicon, has a collection of stories from teachers who have used the Twilight series in the classroom. As a huge fan of the books, I am incredibly excited to read about my favorite series bringing people together. Stephenie Meyer's books have literally changed people's lives in ways you'd never expect.

If you've never read Twilight, do yourself a favor and check it out. Seriously.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Video Revue finally returns!

You've been waiting for months, and finally, it's HERE: The new Video Revue!

In episode #8, Johnny and I discuss game shows. We focus mostly on some you've probably never heard of, as well as touching on a few of our standard favorites.

You can subscribe to us through iTunes, or download/listen here:

We'll be back soon with "Page To Screen: Part One" as we look at books turned into movies. If you've got comments on this show, or anything else, don't forget to e-mail us at

Monday, June 16, 2008

Movie Revue: Kung Fu Panda!

Po the panda loves kung fu more than anything in the world (with the possible exception of food). His idols are The Five, a group of kung fu masters who protect China from evil: Tigress, Mantis, Viper, Monkey, and Crane. The latest danger is a leopard named Tai Lung, who can only be defeated by the Dragon Warrior. Po leaves the family noodle-selling business to watch the tournament that will determine the Dragon Warrior's identity, and accidentally becomes the Dragon Warrior himself. But was it a mistake, or is Master Oogway right when he says, "There are no accidents"?

Monica says: I love this movie. It's got some great voice work, including Jack Black as Po, Dustin Hoffman as his reluctant master, Shifu, and Angelina Jolie as Tigress. Oh, and Jackie Chan (!) as Monkey. Lucy Liu also voices one of the Five; obviously the animals of ancient China were more into gender equality than the humans in "Mulan." The animation in "Kung Fu Panda" is superb, including some hilarious training sequences after Master Shifu finally discovers how he can turn the uncoordinated, overweight Po into the powerful Dragon Warrior. The plot is surprisingly good for a "kiddie movie," including Tai Lung's back story. I would've liked to hear more about the history of Tigress and the rest of The Five. Maybe it will be discussed further in a sequel (I feel fairly confident there will be one, after three "Shrek"s and a second "Madagascar" coming later this year). Overall, an entertaining movie and an enjoyable movie experience.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of five.

You'll get Johnny's take on "Kung Fu Panda" if/when he sees it. The new "Video Revue" should be up in the next few days. You'll notice some surprising changes, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Movie Revue: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indy's back, and this time he's protecting America from the Reds. A team of Commies is after the Crystal Skull, which promises its owner infinite power. Or something like that. Anyway, it's up to everyone's favorite secret agent/professor to find the skull first, with the help of another professor, an ex-girlfriend, and a young man who has a strange connection to Dr. Jones.

Johnny says: It was extremely funny, especially a scene where the young man (Shia LaBoeuf) uses a snake as a rope to save Indy and his girlfriend Marion from something that acts a lot like quicksand (but isn't). We also find out Indy's real first name, Henry. That especially plays an important part in another funny scene where Indy meets his old partner, "Ox" (Henry Oxley, played by John Hurt). I really can't mention all the other funny things, because there are just too many. I give this movie....four and a half stars out of five.

Monica says: I wanted to like this movie. I really did. But somewhere in between Indy's surviving the nuclear warhead test by climbing into a refrigerator, and the third time their boat went over the waterfall, I realized even I have a limit to my suspension of disbelief. The stunts that Indy and Co. pull are simply physically impossible, and I only forgive breaking the laws of physics if one of the characters has fangs and/or superpowers. I haven't seen all of the other "Indiana Jones" movies, but "Raiders of the Lost Ark" wasn't nearly as ridiculous. The acting is good, but the plot was just too weird for me. I won't even go into the end, when it is revealed who (or what) is behind the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which happens to be the same as El Dorado. I came up with an alternate title, which I won't post here because it gives away the end. But in my opinion, it's a better title than "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

I can't wait until this movie comes out on DVD, because it will undoubtedly get the RiffTrax treatment from Mike Nelson and the rest of his buddies (check out RiffTrax! It's MST3k for blockbuster movies!). Johnny and I were riffing the movie to each other already, so I'd love to have the professionals take a crack at it. Still, "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was enjoyable, and there were some pretty cool scenes. I also laughed a lot, but some of the laughter was from how impossible it was. I'd give the movie three out of five stars.

Total: 7 1/2 out of 10.

Johnny and I recorded our next episode of Video Revue, but I don't know when it'll be up. Our good friends over at Subject Cinema, who do the final edit for our show and post it on Podshow, are going through some pretty scary stuff right now: Kim, who's been battling some unidentifiable illness since March, has spent the past two days in the ER. Yikes. Kim, we're praying for you and TC. Your first job is to get well.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hooray for Technology!

I've decided that my family has the best cable provider. The rates are consistently low, and they'll never go up; we always know exactly how many channels we'll receive; we didn't have to buy a package deal; and we can switch our service any time we want.

Of course, that's because we don't have cable.

So with the impending switch to all-digital signals (February 2009) and due to my brother's constant nagging, I ordered two coupons for the converter boxes that will allow our analog TVs to receive digital signal. Yes, we need converter boxes. And Johnny figured out how to set it up in tandem with our VCR.

Yes, we still have a VCR. We use it to record programs because DVRs are fracking expensive. And to watch our extensive collection of VHS movies (because replacing our VHS movies with DVDs would also be fracking expensive, especially when we can find VHS tapes 4 for a dollar!).

Yes, there are people in the world who still buy movies on tape. Gasp.

In other news, the iPod classic is amazing! I saved up all year to upgrade my mp3 player to something with more than one gig (it was a gift, and I do love my iPod nano, but still...) so I decided to go all-out and get the 80-gig Classic. I've quickly become addicted to the iPod games, especially Tetris (despite its evil controls) and Phase.

What's Phase, you ask? Quite possibly the most awesome hand-held game ever. I will be the first to admit that I'm not a "gamer." I've picked up character names from Nintendo games just from being around my brother, but I've never really played any of them. Then this year, I discovered Guitar Hero. Oh my gosh. That game is amazing. And addictive. And at $90, plus the cost of whichever game system I'd want to use it with, completely out of my budget. Then along comes Phase, which is essentially "iPod Hero." It combines my two favorite techno-gadgets, and I play it incessantly.

My nano usually has to be charged once a week, because I only listen to it on the bus (the rest of the time I just play iTunes on my computer). But now with Tetris and Phase, I've got to charge my new iPod nearly every day. And I play Phase while it's charging.

One more plus: all of the iPod games are $5 each. If you've got an iPod anyway, why not have video games on there with your music and movies (and podcasts)?

Speaking of podcasts, the newest Video Revue will be up this week! Johnny and I discuss game shows, and whatever else pops into my head, on "Survey Says: Video Revue!"

Also look for our blog review of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (or, as I like to call it, "Indiana Jones and the Close Encounter").