Saturday, December 25, 2010

God bless us everyone...

As Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, explains in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, nothing about Christmas can be separate from "the veneration due to its sacred name and origin." This is what gives meaning to Scrooge’s resolution at the end of the story: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

If there’s hope for mean old Scrooge, Dickens is saying, there must be hope for each of us. Or, as Tiny Tim would put it, "God bless us, every one!"

Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for visiting the Nostalgia Factory!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remember the night: An overlooked Christmas Classic...

When we think of classic Christmas movies we tend to remember It's a Wonderful life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and the many film adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Those are all beautiful stories brought to the screen in timeless productions that we revisit year after year, but there are so many other lovely Christmas films out there that for one reason or another have been forgotten over the years. A film no one ever really talks about when reminiscing about their favorite Holiday movies is one that I believe should be re-examined and every one who hasn't seen it should really do themselves a favor and check it out this Christmas season. I'm talking about Preston Sturges' Remember the night.

The film is a prefect combination of genres, working both as a touching drama and a heartwarming romantic comedy. The film Features a clever screenplay by the great Preston Sturges, and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in their first film together.

The story revolves around an Assistant District Attorney (MacMurray) who falls in love with the shoplifter he is supposed to be prosecuting (Stanwyck). Feeling sorry that she will have to spend Christmas in jail awaiting trial, he bails her out and takes her to her childhood home in Indiana. After seeing how cold and unwelcoming Stanwyck's mother is, he takes her to his own mother's home, also in Indiana, where Stanwyck is bowled over by the love and affection she encounters. Hanging over both their heads is the realization that they still have to return to the city to resolve the trial. The film was originally released in early January, 1940 to positive reviews. The New York Times raved, "A memorable film, in title and in quality, blessed with an honest script, good direction and sound performances...a drama stated in the simplest human terms of comedy and sentiment, tenderness and generosity... warm, pleasant and unusually entertaining."

Stanwyck and MacMurray would team up on-screen three more times, for Double Indemnity (1944), The Moonlighter (1953) and There's Always Tomorrow (1956).

The performances by both lead actors are fantastic. By the end of the picture we have truly fallen in love with Stanwyck and want nothing more than for her to finally find happiness.
The ending is very unique for a film taking place during the holiday season. Its not a happy joyful celebration like the ending to It's a Wonderful life and A Christmas Carol. What it does offer audiences is a message of hope and a reminder that we can always change for the better.

I really love this film and I was really happy to discover it's been released on DVD as part of the TCM archives collection. If you haven't seen it tune in this Friday at midnight as it airs on TCM as part of their Christmas Classics line up. You'll be glad you did.

All new PEANUTS special coming to DVD...

After many years without any new Peanuts specials, Charlie Brown and the gang return in Happiness us a warm blanket -- a new direct to DVD animated film from Warner Premiere.
The DVD will be available next spring. For those keeping count this will be the 45th animated special based on the tales of the peanuts gang by Charles Schultz.
Here's the description for the special straight from Warner's press release:

"Linus is pushed to his limits when he learns grandma is coming to visit and plans on ridding him of his childish security blanket. As grandma's arrival looms closer the Peanuts gang tries to help Linus learn to cope without his fuzzy crutch. Lucy is particular eager to cure Linus' dependency using her own psychiatric techniques, and while Charlie Brown tries to help he just doesn't have the heart to see Linus suffer. All the while Snoopy is constantly agitating matters because he wants the blanket for himself. In the end, insightful Linus points out that everyone has their own type of "security blanket" and in life a little security is a valuable thing".

I for one can't wait to see this. The DVD will also come packed with some extra features including:

  • Deconstructing Schulz: From Comic Strip to Screenplay - How the Peanuts comic strip was made into a movie
  • Happiness Is...Finding the Right Voice - Meet the stellar voice cast
  • 24 Frames a Second: Drawing and Animating a Peanuts Movie
  • Deleted Scene featuring an introduction by Director Andy Beall
  • Monday, December 20, 2010

    TRON LEGACY: Quorra and Light Runner from Spin Master...

    Spin Master's impressive TRON LEGACY toy line continues to expand with a new assortment of characters and vehicles. This second wave includes the character of Quorra, a sort of daughter to Kevin Flynn inside the computer world.

    Quorra is surprisingly well played by Olivia Wilde -- an actress I'd never heard of before. The action figure is one fans have been hoping to get since the first wave was announced and she'd been left out. She's finally starting to show up on pegs at Target stores in the West Coast. I just picked one up and since I now have the driver to the Light Runner I went ahead and picked up that really cool wave 1 vehicle at Toys 'R Us, where it's on sale for $14.99 at 25% off.

    The Light Runner is a great vehicle. In the film it's the only land vehicle equipped to handle the dangerous terrains off the TRON CITY Grid. The Spin Master toy is made of really glossy and heavy die cast metal with some plastic pieces. The cockpit opens up to sit two figures.

    The entire top, front, and back of the vehicle light up. It looks beautiful once you put two figures inside and light them up along with the vehicle. The light runner also has two pop up blasters in the front of the vehicle. The front wheels have a very cool mechanism which allows them to rotate up in order to go over obstacles on the terrain sort of like it does in the film when Quorra drives it up some rocky mountain paths in order to make her way to Kevin Flynn's hidden safe house.

    I highly recommend this vehicle at the $14.99 sale price. The more of these TRON toys I pick up and the more time I spend playing around with them the more I like this line.

    As part of the new wave 2 assortment Spin Master will also be releasing a one man light jet which looks darn awesome. I'll post pics and a review as soon as I get my hands on it.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    TRON LEGACY at Disney's El Capitan Theater...

    TRON LEGACY rocks! The film is everything I hoped it wold be. Not only is it a fast paced, action packed adventure film which utilizes the latest in 3D technology to dazzle audiences but it's also a loyal and worthy successor to our beloved 80s cult classic. We get to revisit old friends and are treated to a story that not only entertains -- but just like the original, contemplates some very powerful and interesting ideas.

    I just got back from seeing it at Disney's landmark El Capitan theater in Hollywood and already I feel like seeing it again. The folks at Disney sure know hot to put on a show and they've really pulled out all the stops for TRON LEGACY.

    The theater lobby has a cool display of props from the film including Sam Flynn's lightcycle and the digitizer which scans users into the grid.

    Just before the movie starts, audiences are treated to an exhilarating laser light show featuring the music of Daft Punk and nearly 360 degrees of laser beams. At one point all of us in the audiences were surrounded by an overhead grid of laser, fog and light effects.

    The sound system at the El Capitan is one of the best of any theater in the United States. When you combine all the firepower that system packs with the throbbing sounds of Daft Punk's score to the film the combination is mind blowing.

    Even a gigantic identity disc the size of a wall appears on stage followed by another array of dazzling laser beams and lights.

    When the laser show came to an end every single person in the audience was totally psyched for the film, which delivered in every aspect.

    I can't express how much fun it is to see a film with all the showmanship that the El Capitan adds to the presentation. It's a true experience. Too bad other theaters around the country don't do anything close to this in order to turn the movie going experience into a major event for fans.

    After you exit the theater the El Capitan gift store is packed with overpriced TRON LEGACY items. The prices are ridiculous, specially when you take into account Toys R Us' current sale which has all the toy and collectibles produced by Spin Master at 25% off.

    Surprisingly people were actually buying up stuff at these overblown prices.

    The theater also hands out the pop corn in reusable TRON LEGACY buckets which are a cool collectible and you can use them to eat pop corn during your movie nights at home. A nice souvenir you get to take home. Although with the overblown prices the theater's concession stand charges you pretty much end up paying for the stupid bucket.

    If you haven't done so already head on out to your local theater and check out TRON LEGACY in glorious REAL-D 3D or IMAX 3D.

    TRON LEGACY: 25% off sale at Toys R Us...

    If you're looking to pick up some of the cool toys from Tron Legacy head on over to your local Toys 'R Us where starting tomorrow the entire assortment from Spin Master's TRON LEGACY line will be on sale at 25% off. Happy hunting!

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Mattel Ghostbusters collection...

    After many months of painfully going through the process of purchasing action figures from the scumbags at Matty Collector an theyir dumb ass website, I've finally completed my collection of Ghostbusters figures from the new Mattel "adult collector" line.

    I only wanted the 4 'busters in their uniforms from the first flick, none of those stupid ass re-releases with different outfits or accessories for me. The figures look great and have tons of articulation as well as some highly detailed accessories. Mattel did a stupendous job on these but at $31.50 a pop (including shipping and handling charges) I ended up paying over $150.00 dollars for 5 action figures which in retrospect feels a bit like rape.

    The greatest thing Mattel did on this line is the opportunity for fans to finally have a highly detailed version of the ghost containment unit. You can get it by purchasing the Walter Peck action figure, which is pretty much a reuse of the sculpt for Mattel's Movie Masters Two Face figure from The Dark Knight. They did go through the trouble of sculpting a new head to go along with the reused body and I must say the likeness to "dickless" is pretty accurate.

    I couldn't justify spending $31.50 for a Walter Peck action figure so I told myself I was buying the ghost containment unit and getting a free Walter Peck figure. Sometimes you have to play mind-games to justify some of the stupid ways we toy collectors burn our money.

    Other figures such as Ray and Egon come with pretty cool looking mini ghosts that you can pretend to capture with the ghost trap included with the Winston action figure.

    All in all Mattel did a fine job with this line. I hope they keep up the good work and offer some of the other cool characters from Ghostbusters such as Lewis Tully and maybe even Janine.

    Here's a look at some more pics I just took. Enjoy.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Pursuit of Cobra Awesomeness...

    Surprisingly, the Toy makers at Hasbro continue to impress me. The new Pursuit of Cobra line has actually been a pleasant surprise to me. When I first heard of this line and saw some of the early prototypes I was rather disappointed, I mean how much better can they make Zartan look the 20th time or snake eyes the 100th time. It just didn't seem that appealing to me to see the same characters again redone over and over, specially after Hasbro had done such a great job at re-imagining them while at the same time staying loyal to the original looks of the characters with their 25th anniversary line.

    Turns out Hasbro's toy magicians still had some surprises in their hat, specially when it comes to the new vehicles. Let's take a look at my two favorite vehicles from the new line and the best looking figures from the Pursuit of Cobra assortment which in my humble opinion are Spirit and the wicked cool Jungle Viper.

    One of the most impressive vehicles in the new assortment is the new HISS TANK. By now I've lost count of how many Hiss Tanks Hasbro has released since the 80s but this one features the most different and daring design of them all as well as a pretty cool action feature. The new Hiss Tank can carry 2 figures and can transform from scout mode to attack mode by the push of a button. Once transformed, the cockpit and missile launchers elevate a couple of inches off the ground giving the vehicle a meaner battle ready look.

    The design of this new Hiss Tank is pretty sleek and in my opinion should've been used in the terrible Rise of Cobra movie rather than those dull black Hummers. This is what a kick ass vehicle for action figures is all about. It takes me back to the glory days of the line.

    The Joes have a new ride to meet the Cobra threat and challenge the HISS TANK with the new 4X4 Vamp -- a redesign of a fan favorite from the original vintage line. This new take on the Vamp is sleek and powerful, it reminds me a lot of the Argo All Terrain Vehicle from Star Trek Nemesis. I like it a lot. It can fit up to 10 Joes and maybe even more if you remove the missile launcher in the back and use that cargo space for extra troops.

    The vehicle has some fun features including a grappling hook and retractable winch, two missile launchers, weapons, gasoline tanks, and multiple ports throughout the chassis to snap in more weapons. This is the kind of vehicle I loved as a kid. The interior is very detailed, specially the dashboard, and the figures fit perfectly in the seats which is usually a problem in many vehicles for other action figure lines.

    I'm amazed at the level of detail Hasbro keeps putting into their vehicles. Just when you think they've done as much as can be done they go ahead and release vehicles like the new VAMP and HISS to surprise you once more. Both vehicles come with driver figures including a new version of Clutch with the VAMP.

    The VAMP looks rugged and ready for tons of action. Kids can have plenty of fun with these bad boys out in their yards. They both offer multiple play possibilities and the paint scheme and stickers on the VAMP make it look even more realistic. I highly recommend picking this one up.

    Of all the new figures in the Pursuit of Cobra line it's Spirit: Iron Knife that takes the prize for the Joes and the Jungle Viper for the Cobras. Both figures are highly detailed and come with a truckload of accessories. Not just crap, but really good looking weapons which fit perfectly with each figure's personality and the environments they are meant to be used in.

    SPIRIT is a Toys 'R Us exclusive, and one of the few TRU exclusives worth picking up in years as they're usually pointless repaints. The Jungle Viper is pretty easy to find at any store that carries the G.I.Joe toys. Once you attach all the cammo gear to the figure it becomes one of the most unique looking action figures I've seen in years

    Those of you looking for a good deal on the HISS TANK check your local Ross Store. These just started showing up for $11.99, way less than the $24.99 MSRP. I picked up the last one on the shelf at my local Ross in the west coast but reports have been coming in from all over the country so keep an eye out!


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