The Dark Knight Strikes

Chaos in Print

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I feel like pointing out that the whole genesis of this column came about when my best friend suggested I should do more pop-culture analysis. “I’d love to see you write one about why you think Batman’s so cool,” he said. So, for this deep, dark trip into personal nether-regions of my mind, you can blame him.

He’s been one of the most enduring superheroes of the past 60 years. He’s been a dark avenger of the night, a bright, cheerful hero of the Silver Age, and a gross parody of the genre. He is vengeance. He is the night. He is the Batman. And he is perhaps the one superhero I love the most. But how did I reach this point? How did I arrive at the place where, at the ripe old age of 28, I still collect the trade paperbacks and read them cover to cover? I suppose it all started way back in the summer of 1989….

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Chaos in Print

Granted, in Canadian pop culture, there’s very little that we have to call our own. We’ve got very little in the way of our own TV industry, film industry, and music industry. As for a fast food industry, though, there’s one thing that rises above it all. There’s one nationwide restaurant we all look to and claim as our own. At least, I think that’s why Tim Horton’s has gotten so freakin’ popular in recent years.

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Free Money

Chaos in Print

I don’t like wading into political debates. Granted, I do enjoy politics and follow them closely, but debates are not friendly to me. No matter how well prepared I am; no matter how many statistics I have in my corner backing me up, my opponent always seems to have just that much more in his/her corner, and it’s not long before I’m left gasping for breath. My opponent walks away, assured of his/her victory, and I’m left there questioning my own beliefs. But, there’s something going on right now that I feel I just have to contribute my own two cents. That’s the upcoming $400 “prosperity bonus” going to every Albertan.

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Movie Review – Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Wallace & Gromit:  The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Directed by Nick Park and Steve Box

Starring the voices of Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, and Nicholas Smith.

When you stop to think about stop-motion animation, one of the first things that comes to mind is Wallace and Gromit.  The dynamic duo, created by Nick Park as he was working for Aardman Studios, quickly became very endearing characters in the world of animation.  Three shorts were produced, two of which one Oscars.  So, in the late 1990s, when Aardman signed a deal with Dreamworks Animation to produce full-length stop-motion animated films, we all kind of knew that it was just a matter of time before Wallace and Gromit got a feature-length film.

The film opens with Wallace and Gromit’s latest business:  Anti-Pesto, a humane pest control agency.  And, with the town’s annual Giant Vegetable Competition coming up, they find business booming, as they rid all the town’s gardens of rabbits.  Of course, all this action soon has Wallace capturing the eye of Lady Tottington (Carter), the town matriarch and sponsor of the competition.  And, it also draws the ire of Tottington’s main suitor, the villanous Victor Quartermaine (Fiennes).  But, all this is causing problems for Wallace and Gromit.  They humanely capture all the rabbits, but then, they don’t know what to do with them.  Then, one night, Wallace gets an idea.  He wants to use his new invention, the Mind-o-Matic, to brainwash the rabbits into not liking vegetables.  But, sooner than you can say “jackrabbit,” the experiment goes horribly awry, and now the town’s gardens are being stalked by a massive, hulking Were-Rabbit.  It’s up to Wallace and Gromit to capture the Were-Rabbit and win the heart of Lady Tottington before Victor goes all ape-poop and starts blasting everything in sight!

This movie is friggin’ funny.  Granted, it is British humour, so you have to be into that sort of thing, but there’s a lot more going on.  There’s this one bit involving a coin-operated biplane that had me just going nuts.  And, the best part about it is, it’s all quiet.  That scene plays out without any dialogue.  No wise-cracking overpaid celebrity that dominates animated films these days.  This is simple, understated, and very, very, very funny.  And you know, in this era of slick computer animation dominating the field, it’s kind of cool to see an animator’s fingerprints on a clay model.  Check out this movie, you will not be disappointed.

(Oh, and another thing.  You may have seen the TV spots that announces that this starts with an animated short film called The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper.  I just want to say that that short film is lame, lame, lame.)

3.5 Nibs



Chaos in Print

The 1990s will most likely be remembered as an influential decade in movies. This was where we had the rise of the independents. Miramax suddenly became one of the hottest studios in Hollywood, bringing a multitude of smaller, indie films to the mainstream. Thanks to this rise, we got a mind-blowing twist ending with The Crying Game. Quentin Tarintino re-wrote the crime thriller with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Robert Rodriguez amazed us with his low-budget El Mariachi. The decade opened with Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather films, predicting that, “very soon, the greatest movie in the world will be made by a little girl using nothing but her father’s video camera.” Coppola was almost proved right near the end of the decade with the massive success of The Blair Witch Project. These indie directors, dubbed “artisans” by most because of how they wrote, directed, edited, gave themselves small roles, and baked cookies for the crew, seemed to signal the next wave in Hollywood. And, out of it all, arose the cult following around a director named Kevin Smith.

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