26 May 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Baby Doll

Mary Louise Dahl, aka Baby Doll, is a Websteresque villainess created for Batman: The Animate Series, though she only appeared in two episodes, she was an interesting Batman style baddie that will hopefully one day be adopted into comics cannon.

Baby Doll suffers from a disorder called systemic hypoplasia, similar to dwarfism but more extreme, which causes its victims to cease aging at a certain point in childhood. Dahl stopped aging at approximately the age of six. As a result, she has the mental and emotional capacity of an adult, but the body of a child. At one point, Dahl was a successful actress on a family sitcom, That's Our Baby, but her fading stardom as well as the fact that no one takes her seriously as an adult drove her criminally insane.

Baby Doll first appears in an episode that ran towards the end of the first run of Batman: The Animated Series in an episode called "Baby Doll." In it, Batman and Robin investigated the kidnapping of several actors, all of whom once starred on the sitcom That's Our Baby. She played a toddler whose catch line was "I didn't mean to." Initially, Mary Dahl was viewed as a possible target, but Batman soon learned that the woman was more villainous than she looked.

After her sitcom was canceled, Dahl tried legitimate acting, but her efforts were critically panned. Twenty years later, Dahl — adopting her former show persona, Baby Doll — returned to kidnap her former co-stars and return them to the abandoned set where That's Our Baby was filmed in an attempt to recapture the happiness she had when she was on the show. Batman freed the actors from Baby Doll and chased her to a carnival. There, they enter a house of mirrors where Baby was confronted with a distorted reflection of herself that, in her mind, resembled what she would look like if she had a normal body. Instead of attacking Batman, Baby Doll shot the mirror. She then broke down, sobbing "...I didn't mean to."

After Batman: The Animated Series completed its run, a new and slightly re-vamped show called The New Batman Adventures aired. Baby Doll showed up in one episode of this series, Love Is a Croc, in which she teamed up with Killer Croc, whom she believed to be a kindred spirit. In the end, Baby Doll betrayed Croc when she realizes he was only using her.

Thus ends the tale of Baby Doll.

Villain Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul

Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll

The Dark Knight returns in 419 days!

25 May 2007

Megatron looks Mega-Pissed

Behold a new image of Megatron courtesy of themovieblog.com

Looks like they went the lipless route, though with teeth like those, what does Megatron eat?

20 Moments of Simpsons Ingenuity (10-6)

Part 1 and Part 2 of this countdown offered up the following creative mix ups.

20 - Simpsons Bible Stories - Season 10

19 - 'Round Springfield - Season 6
18 - Springfield Up - Season 18
17 - The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase - Season 8
16 - The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular - Season 7
15 - Flaming Moe's - Season 3
14 - Treehouse of Horror VI - Season 7
13 - Who Shot Mr. Burns? - Seasons 6 and 7
12 - Lisa's Wedding - Season 6
11 - Bart vs. Australia - Season 6

Now onto the top 10:

10 - Bart of Darkness - Season 6

Bart of Darkness was a great episode on its own, but even better when you realize that it is a beat for beat parody of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. One of the things that makes this such a great episode is that it works on both levels. While other episodes had done parodies before, this was the first to make the parody so interwoven into the story. Other inspired parodies would follow including You Only Move Twice which gave fans a look at the villainous side of the James Bond franchise, Das Bus which did Lord of the Flies, and 'Tis the Fifteenth Season that gave us another take on How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

9 - A Streetcar Named Marge - Season 4

Musical numbers have been a part of the series since Bart's "Batman Smells" rendition in the 1st episode, but musical episodes didn't exist until A Streetcar Named Marge. Some later episodes would also dabbled with musical numbers (Marge vs. the Monorail, Homer and Apu, Bart After Dark). And full scale musical adaptations of Mary Poppins, Evita, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music appeared in Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious, The President Wore Pearls, My Fair Laddy, and Yokel Chords.

8 - Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire - Season 1

Let us not forget that The Simpsons used to be just little shorts on the Tracey Ullman show. Transforming the shorts into a 30 minute sitcom was a bold move that paid off big. A whole Simpsons universe of supporting characters was created and continues to grow 18 seasons later. Though this wasn't the first full length episode produced (Some Enchanted Evening was), it was the first aired, and it will always remember it as the 1st episode of the series.

7 - 24 Minutes - Season 18

The Simpsons have done clever parody before (see #10), but this episode deserves its own entry on the list of innovative episodes. Not only did the plot of the plot flow like that of the show 24, the visual style presented here was a real departure for the series. 24 Minutes featured countless (and satirically unnecessary) split screens to up the intensity of the terrorist stink bomb plot. Even though the story was a bit of a stretch of realism, the story was adapted in a fairly believable way or the Simpsons universe. Other hit shows The X-Files and American Idol were parodied in The Springfield Files and A Star is Torn, but never before has The Simpsons so radically altered its style to imitate the fine art that is Fox TV.

6 - The Way We Was - Season 2

This episode introduced an ongoing storyline set in the Simpsons past. Not only did it allow us to learn more about young Homie and Marge, but it allowed some good satirization of the 80s. This was the first episode to offer a look at Simpsons at a different age, though we would eventually delve into the further past, future, and alternate realities. This story continued to unfold in I Married Marge, Lisa's Sax, and The Way We Weren't.

24 May 2007

Yar, Pirates Ahoy!

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End opens at 8:00 tonight! So if you catch the first showing, after previews, and 3 hours of movie, you should be getting home by midnight. Make sure to post your thoughts and reviews here.

So why is the movie opening tonight rather than at midnight or tomorrow?

My hunch is that after Spider-Man 3 demolished the 3 day weekend record with $151 million, Disney realized that Pirates 3 would probably not recapture that record. Though Memorial Day will boost the films overall take, it will also dilute the 3 day totals a bit. So, Disney (probably wisely) decided to not worry about records, and worry instead about making boat loads of cash. None of the money made tonight before midnight will count toward the weekend total, but with huge demand for the film, Pirates 3 could make around $10 -$15 million extra during this early window. Who knows, maybe those Johnny Depp loving teens will even still be back during the weekend for another 3 hour helping.

Anyways, expect Pirates to have gathered about $175 million before Memorial Day is over, an great 4 1/2 day take.

Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Radar Blips - Dragonheart

The Year: 1996

The Players: Dennis Quaid and Sean Connery as the "Last Dragon"

The Take: $51 Million

Is this a sequel to Braveheart?: Nope, the title is a reference to the fact that the evil king has attained near immortality by receiving a heart transplant from a dragon.

Why you should see it: There are not very many dragon films out there, and of the handful that there are, this one aint bad. Sean Connery as the voice of Draco is a nice touch as well. Its the story of a knights quest to wipe out Dragonkind after he believes a dragon heart transplant corrupts the young king turning him into a tyrant.

Dragonheart - 2 Legendary Tales Double Bill

23 May 2007

20 Moments of Simpsons Ingenuity (15-11)

Part 1 of this countdown offered up the following creative mix ups.

20 - Simpsons Bible Stories - Season 10
19 - 'Round Springfield - Season 6
18 - Springfield Up - Season 18
17 - The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase - Season 8
16 - The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular - Season 7

In this part we will count down from episode 16 to 11.

15 - Flaming Moe's - Season 3

It seems that nowadays an episode of the Simpsons has to have a celebrity guest no matter how forced the inclusion may be, or how minor the celebrity. Back in season 3, this was not so. Prior to Aerosmith's gig at Moe's most of the series guests had voiced actual Springfieldians rather than themselves. Flaming Moe's established that Springfield would be a hot bed for real world celebs to just "pass through."

14 - Treehouse of Horror VI - Season 7

I will be honest, the real innovation didn't come until this episode's 3rd act, Homer3. While the first two "Horrific" tales were perfectly serviceable, this last act brought Homer (and Bart) into a computer animated 3-D environment. There are a number of mathematical easter eggs hidden in this singularity which would make geeks and Futurama fans squeal with glee. Also, the episode ends with Homer in the real world - the show's first live-action sequence.

13 - Who Shot Mr. Burns? - Seasons 6 and 7

Never before or ever again did the Simpsons end a season on a cliffhanger, in fact this is the only pair of episodes in the run so far to make a two-parter. That alone was a bold move, but this hour-long episode was also a massive publicity stunt with cleverly inserted clues as to the real culprit behind the shooting.

12 - Lisa's Wedding - Season 6

Having delved into the past several times, it was only natural for the Simpsons to peer into the future. This episode chronicles to courtship of Lisa to a young British aristocrat. Like all successful ideas, this one would be imitated later in Bart to the Future and Future-Drama (which features a cameo by Futurama's Bender). I am not sure if the future episodes all fit together continuity-wise, but I guess that is OK since the future is not set in stone.

11 - Bart vs. Australia - Season 6

By now, the Simpsons travelogues have become a tired tradition, but when Bart vs. Australia debuted it was a great shake up seeing our favorite family lampooning a foreign setting and offending the locals in real life. Though Bart had been sent to France in Season 1's The Crepes of Wrath, Australia was really the first of the family vacation episodes, an idea that would be revisited with trips to Japan, Africa, China, Italy, Canada, Brazil, England, and New York City.

22 May 2007

Ink Blots LXV - An American Tail

Don Bluth followed up his masterpiece The Secret of NIMH with another mouse movie. This time, the story focused on the immigrant Mousekewitz family who fled mother Russia for New York because "There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese." Along the way, little Fievel aka Filly was washed overboard and separated from his family leading to the Grammy winning classic song Somewhere Out There. Aside from the quest to reunite Fievel and family, the story involves the American mice's plan to send all the cats to Hong Kong, as it turns out there are cats in America and the streets actually aren't paved with cheese.

The film is all right, but it isn't really that exciting. The songs are one of the main highlights. One thing that really annoyed me was that Fievel's sister was the only one that was even looking for him. Daddy mouse kept explaining away any hints that his little mousling was still alive.

In 1986, An American Tail's $47 million earnings were considered a pretty decent success - significantly larger than Disney's Great Mouse Detective's $38 million earlier that year. Like other Bluth projects with moderate success, this film spawned a ton of follow-ups. There was Fievel Goes West, the theatrical sequel, then the TV series Fievel's American Tails. Also there were two more direct to video sequels, The Treasure of Manhattan Island, and The Mystery of the Night Monster.

In all, this is a nice "tail" of the immigrant struggle relatable to kids, but not really a movie I want to watch over and over again. Sorry Feivel. You get a B-.

21 May 2007

Ha HA ha, Is the Joke on Us?

Now when you go to http://www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com/, gone is the reveal of the Joker melting from Dent's campaign poster. Instead is the text "Page not found." But when highlighted, the following appears:

Page not found. HA HA HA ha ha ha HA Ha HA HA HA HA HA ha HA HA ha HA HA HAha ha HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ha HA HA HA HA HA ha HA HA ha...

Now this is where I got clever, and I am dang proud of myself for finding a HIDDEN MESSAGE. If you cut and paste the entire message into word, and delete all "ha"s you are left with the message "See you in December." Could we be getting a Trailer with the Joker in it then? I am just glad that I don't have to go tet a tet with the Riddler. I bet he would stump me.

Certainly this is official stuff, in any case its working to build buzz for next years Batman flick.

Batman - The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 (Batman / Batman Returns / Batman Forever / Batman & Robin) (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Batman Begins (Widescreen Edition)

Geek has Surprise Role in The Dark Knight

Thanks to Chris for the heads up. Anthony Michael Hall has been cast in The Dark Knight. Here is what he had to say about the part:

I signed a confidentiality agreement, and I can't say which part I'm playing because it affects the story," says Hall. "I can't give away the suspense — it's a $200 million surprise, and I don't want to be the guy to ruin it.

Could he be setting up the Riddler for part 3 with a portrayal of Edward Nygma? Any other guesses?

20 Moments of Simpsons Ingenuity (16-20)

In honor of the Simpsons 400th episode, I put together a little top 20 list. There are plenty of "Top Episode" lists out there, so I thought I wouldn't bore you with another one of those. Instead I though I would put together a list of the most innovative/influential episodes of the Simpsons. These certainly aren't all on the best lists, but they did all mix up the formula... with mixed results. Feel free to tell me that I am way off base in the comments, or to add your own picks. I will try to give you 5 episodes to chew on every couple days this week. So, with no further ado, I give you:

20 - Simpsons Bible Stories - Season 10

While this wasn't the first episode to bring in alternate realities, it was the first to present the 3 short stories formula with the Simpsons playing various other roles in a non-Halloween setting. There are quite a few qualifiers there, that's why this only comes in at #20. This has become a perennial favorite, and themes for this "wacky" episode have become tougher to come by with the last two outing being themed with "Water Stories" and "Tales of Revenge." episodes following this formula include: Simpsons Tall Tales, Tales from the Public Domain, Margical History Tour, Simpsons Christmas Stories, The Wettest Stories Ever Told, Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times.

19 - 'Round Springfield - Season 6

One of the things that has kept the Simpsons around do long is that nothing ever changes. No one ages and at the end of the episode, all is back to normal (or at least it is by the time the next episode starts). This episode dared to kill off Bleeding Gums Murphy. Though a fairly minor and unimportant character, it was still surprising that next week, the dude was still dead. Other "permanent" changes would come in the Simpsons universe including the Van Houten divorce, death of Maude, adoption of baby Ling Bouvier, and Barney's sobering up.

18 - Springfield Up - Season 18

This episode isn't he first to offer peeks into the past, but the flashbacks are done in a new way. Documentarian Declan Desmond has visited Springfireld in 8 year intervals chronically the journeys of several Springfieldians including the surprising origin of the "crazy cat lady." The fact that any innovation is left in season 18 is impressive.

17 - The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase - Season 8

Chief Wiggum PI, The Love-matic Grampa, and The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour all nailed ridiculous spin-off formulas in these 3 parodies. It takes clever writing to make such bad television on purpose. This episode also introduced the idea that The Simpsons are just actors, an idea that will be masterfully revisited higher on this list.

16 - The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular - Season 7

Troy McClure hosted this "behind the scenes" episode. While this wasn't the first (So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show), or last (Gump Roast) clip show, it was by far the best. Instead of rehashing old episode plots, this Spectacular offered new material in the form of deleted/alternate scenes from previous episodes, and trivia. If you HAVE to make a clip show, this is how its done. Other, less cool clip shows included Another Simpsons Clip Show and All Singing, All Dancing.

The Simpsons - The Complete Sixth Season

The Simpsons - The Complete Seventh Season (Collectible Marge Head Pack)

20 May 2007

I'm a Marvel Villain You're a DC Villain

Another parody has arrived

The first 2 sets can be viewed here and here.

Shrek Comes in Ogre and Above

Holy Shrek! It wasn't a surprise that Shrek won the weekend, but the scale in which he achieved that goal was impressive. King Shrek set the third highest weekend total ever with 122 million bones, topping Shrek 2's mighty debut back in 2004. With next weekend being memorial day, Shrekster should be crossing the $200 million mark soon. My $325 million prediction may turn out to be a bit low, I also suspect that Shrek may end up in the #2 spot ahead of Spidey.

Speaking of Spider-Man 3, the film dropped another 51% from last weekend, but has climbed up to $280 million. The web-head may come up shy of my prediction, but $300 million is a done deal, and $330 to $340 million looks likely. 2010 may see another showdown between these two box office behemoths.

Next weekend, the Pirates are sailing into town. I stand by my prediction that they will NOT take the 3 day record from Spider-Man 3, but if you throw in Memorial Day and Thursday night showings the pirates could come out of next Monday with around $175 million in the coffers. We shall see. Surely though, X-Men: The Last Stands Memorial Day Weekend record of $123 million is about the be trounced. Arrrrrrrrrrrr.

Current Rankings:

#5 Delta Farce - $6,126,000 (-.-%)*
#4 Georgia Rule - $12,614,000 (-.-%)*
#3 28 Weeks Later - $18,611,000 (-.-%)*
#2 Shrek the Third - $122,907,000 (37.8%)*
#1 Spider-Man 3 - $281,858,000 (74.2%)*

*Percentages indicate accuracy compared to my predictions

My Predictions:

#9 Evan Almighty - $170,000,000
#8 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - $175,000,000
#7 The Bourne Ultimatum - $185,000,000
#6 Transformers - $205,000,000
#5 Ratatouille - $260,000,000
#4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - $275,000,000
#3 Shrek the Third - $325,000,000
#2 Spider-Man 3 - $380,000,000
#1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - $395,000,000