Friday, April 27, 2007

Stark.

We saw our first glimpse of Iron Man's armor two weeks ago, and now here's the first official snap of Robert Downey Jr. as millionaire-turned-superhero Tony Stark, courtesy of USA Today. No complaints here. This one keeps looking better and better.

Bottoming Out

The Figurehead's slide down the ladder as one of the most unpopular presidents in history continues, with the most recent poll showing him at a record-low 28% job approval rating. To put this in some kind of perspective, that's almost 50 points lower than Bill Clinton's job approval back in '98 -- after he was impeached by Congress.

And, just to be fair about this, it doesn't look like folks are happy with anyone right now. And who can blame 'em, really?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"How dare you, sir."

It's been awhile since we've had some of the trademark eloquent outrage that Keith Olbermann has become so well known for, but he certainly made up for lost time with this "Special Comment" from last night's Countdown, in which he assails Rudy Giuliani and his GOP ilk for attempting to further their electoral ambitions by once again employing the tired "Vote Democratic at your own risk" canard.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nostalgia Theater: Anti-Drug Edition

I never cease to be amazed by the things I see turn up on YouTube. I don't know what's worse, that someone took the time to upload it, or that I took the time to search for it. Regardless, I have a feeling the following PSA will be well familiar to anyone who spent any amount of time watching Saturday morning TV in the mid-'80s...

Norton Goes Green; Bana Gets Bounced

I think I'm one of the few people on Earth who actually liked Ang Lee's dark, introspective take on a comic adaptation with 2003's Hulk. That said, I knew opening day that it wouldn't have legs based on its, well, dark and introspective take. That, plus the fact that it took almost an hour to see any random violence of the big and green variety. In the end, Hulk opened big, but it's second-week drop was equally large, and the movie ended up with a domestic gross of around $137 million.

Obviously this was a disappointment for Universal and Marvel, who were no doubt hoping for X-Men/Spider-Man numbers, and got something a little short of that. Then again, it sold plenty of toys, and the Hulk is still a pretty big kid in the Marvel sandbox, so it shouldn't come as any great surprise that they're going back to the well once again to see if they can't get it "right."

This time Lee's moody take has been jettisoned in favor of a more "comic book style" (interpret as you will, for good or for ill). Transporter director Louis Leterrier is at the helm of this one, so right there you know there'll be a considerable tonal shift. Also, leading man Eric Bana has been replaced by the surprising (though not unpleasant) choice of Edward Norton, who will step into the tattered purple trousers of tormented physicist Bruce Banner.


I'm a pretty big Hulk fan, due largely to the considerable influence of the '70s/'80s Bill Bixby-Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk TV series on my formative self, so it's good to hear that the new film, not really a sequel, not really a reboot, will pay homage not only to the comic books, but also to the show (most visibly with its title, The Incredible Hulk).
As always with these things, I'm cautiously optimistic, especially with early word that the movie's villain will be one of the Hulk's comic book baddies, The Abomination, but the fact that the script is the handiwork of writer Zak Penn, he of Elektra and X-Men: The Last Stand fame (or infamy, if you like) is definite cause for concern. The Incredible Hulk is due to smash theaters June of next year, so for now it's just going to be a lot of wait-and-see.

Well, duh...

Pew Survey Finds Most Knowledgeable Americans Watch 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert'

Recommended Viewing

Bill Maher from last Friday's Real Time, on the net result of the junta's prizing blind loyalty over even the appearance of competence from its political appointees.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iron-ic


Well, boy howdy, looka dat, it's the first shot of Tony Stark's ironclad underoos from next summer's Iron Man motion picture, courtesy of Ain't It Cool News. From the look of things, it sure seems like director Jon Favreau has gone out of his way to preserve the comic book aesthetic, while updating things ever-so-slightly for the 2Ks. Now, this isn't the final armor, mind you, but rather the initial suit first created by Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) while being held in captivity as a means to escape. Presumably the design of the later, more-streamlined armor is being held in publicity reserve for later, but this shot sure is cause for optimism.

The Imus Effect

Well, Don Imus has lost his job. That's the end of that. Not having ever listened to Imus and not being all that familiar with him, really, I don't have much to add, except that I'll bet Alberto Gonzales is a little pissed the whole brouhaha is coming to a close.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Contemplating Keith

These days, MSNBC's Countdown, hosted by Keith Olbermann, is pretty much the only news program I watch with anything resembling regularity. Given Olbermann's well-known political bent, as well as the anti-establishment slant the program usually takes, I sometimes wonder if I'm basically filtering out opposing sides and hearing the news I "want to hear," something I accuse the people who rely solely on Fox News of doing. I don't really have a solid answer to that, but there's no question that Olbermann's mannered, eloquent justified outrage at the current status quo makes for a far cry from the usual shock-and-awe brand of punditry that passes for journalism over at the home of the Fair & Balanced. On the subject of Olbermann himself, New York magazine has an in-depth feature on the man that's unflinching but ultimately complimentary. Check it out here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"The past is always a rebuke to the present."

The above quote is by Robert Penn Warren, and it seems eerily appropriate when viewing the following, bereft of context:
The war, far from being the last critical test for the United States, is in fact weakening our position in Asia and around the world, and eroding the structure of international cooperation which has directly supported our security for the past three decades. . . . All this bears directly and heavily on the question of whether more troops should now be sent--and, if more are sent, what their mission will be. We are entitled to ask--we are required to ask--how many more men, how many more lives, how much more destruction will be asked, to provide the military victory that is always just around the corner, to pour into this bottomless pit of our dreams? But this question the administration does not and cannot answer. It has no answer--none but the ever-expanding use of military force and the lives of our brave soldiers, in a conflict where military force has failed to solve anything yet. . .
Those are the words of the late Robert F. Kennedy speaking to us from beyond the grave, from a speech almost forty years ago, on a war all too similar to the one we currently find ourselves embroiled in. For the entirety of Kennedy's speech, visit this post by RFK, Jr.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Catch and Release

In a follow-up from yesterday's post, the Iranian government has agreed to release the British sailors. I still feel like there's a story we're not getting here, but I suppose that'll have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hardly Dying

Rocky Balboa already came back for a final encore, John Rambo is gearing up for a Christmas comeback (and, lest you doubt me, here's photographic proof), and Indiana Jones is eyeing Memorial Day of '08 for his much-ballyhooed (decade-too-late) return. Meanwhile, sandwiched in between all this franchise resurrection (or excavation, if you like) is none other than Bruce Willis' triumphant return as beleaguered officer John McClane in this summer's Live Free or Die Hard, the Len Wiseman-directed fourth installment of the Die Hard action franchise that began in 1988. It's been twelve years since last McClane graced the silver screen, but as the new full trailer shows, Willis can still "Yippee-ki-yay" with the best of 'em.

Hostage Drama

As is often the case in life, there's what actually happens and there's what he hear happened. Such seems to be the case with the developing drama currently playing out between Iran and "the West." What we "know" is that British sailors are being held by the Iranian government for, ostensibly, straying into Iranian waters, while the British, meanwhile, are arguing that they did no such thing.

Regardless of the various whys and wherefores, we still end up with Iran Hostage Crisis II: Mad Ahmedinajad, with the usual idiotic bluster and bravado from the knuckleheads on every side. Of course, all this is merely the public face of the brewing brouhaha, but according to Britain's Independent, there may be a whole other side to the story that we haven't gotten.