Bond. James Bond.

007 Group

I love the James Bond movies. I could literally write thousands of words about why I love the movies, all 24 of them.  Before Spectre came out, I sat down and watched all 23-movies in a 4-week marathon.  I loved it, despite my wife’s outward disgust and shame.

A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend and ask what his favourite Bond movie was. He said Octopussy only because he thought it was the best name in the series. For obvious reasons. See kids, even at 41 years of age, jokes about innuendo-ish names makes us giggle.  So of course I threw it on and enjoyed every minute of it.

I had watched a few Bond movies growing up with my Dad.  He wasn’t an overly big fan of Bond, but liked the movies if/when they came on TV.  I remember watching Licence to Kill the most only because it was on the movie network and my dad recorded it (yes, on VHS) for me.  Looking back at it, I wouldn’t say its my favourite Bond movie, but it was the one that I watched the most.

In my late teens, while working at a video store, I decided to watch all the Bond movies that were available (up to that point, the last movie available was, it turns out, Licence to Kill).   I had no idea in what order the moves were released and had to rely on a movie guide book to point me in the right direction.

After that, I have watched every subsequent Bond movie in theatres, starting with Goldeneye in 1995. There is just something mesmerizing about these movies that catches me on so many levels. Sure, a lot of it is crazy and if they were to be stand-alone movies, not held to the universe that is James Bond, most of these movies would be ridiculous. But because they actually do include the character of James Bond, that elevates these movies considerably. Listen, that last sentence makes as much sense as Moonraker, but hey…that’s just the way it is, right?

007 LogoI have been considering introducing my son to the world of James Bond and have had difficulty wondering a) if I should and b) which movie to start him off with. Because, if I show him the movies in chronological order, he may be bored with how dated some of the movies look. But he’s too young for the recent Daniel Craig-era movies as they’re too violent for an 8.5 year old.

So maybe I need to start with the Pierce Brosnan films?  Or maybe the Roger Moore ones…only because Moore played Bond with a bit of silliness, more so than his predecessors (yes, plural. Everyone forgets George Lazenby).  Funny enough, the weight of this decision is based on how he will answer the following question as he grows older:

Who is your James Bond?

And that’s a pretty serious question because there have been six actors to portray 007 and they’ve each brought something so amazing to the role. Yes, even Timothy Dalton, you haters!  In all honesty, its a pretty stressful question because the answer you give informs others of just the type of person you are.

As for me?  I used to think Connery was my Bond but then after watching all the movies a couple years back, I’m not so sure. And to be honest, I haven’t made my decision yet. We’ll talk about it another time. But now? Maybe its time I bring the Bond 50th Blu Ray set down and crack it open yet again, and introduce my son to the amazing world of 007.

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Is 3D Dead?

BluRay3DLogoWhen we moved to our current house three years ago, the wife ‘allowed’ me to buy a new TV for our basement. Given the area that I was putting it in, I decided to go with plasma as it was a pretty dark room and plasma benefits from a lack of light.

I was pretty excited to have a new TV, first one in about eight years, and plasma to boot!  6000:1 ratio!  And then Samsung announced they were halting production of plasma sets about three weeks after I bought mine. Figures.

The TV I bought was a 3D-enabled set. Which was cool because I thought 3D movies would benefit from being viewed at home. I didn’t mind watching films in theatres in 3D and honestly thought that, the way things were going, 3D formats would be here to stay.

Of course, you can’t just have a 3D tv but you also need a 3D Blu Ray player. Ok. So I bought that too. The first pure 3D movie I grabbed was Dredd 3D. I think I got spoiled with the notion of 3D because this movie looked gorgeous.

Every time I mention Dredd, people automatically assume I mean the Stallone flick fromDredd3D the 90’s, Judge Dredd. Same character. But a much shittier movie and interpretation of Judge Dredd. So let’s just ignore that tripe, ok?

But I digress.

I started to spend the extra $5 to get the 3D version of Blu Rays when they were released. I didn’t always watch the movie in 3D but it was good to have the option. Sometimes the 3D conversion wasn’t that great…good 3D is supposed to add to the narrative and atmosphere of the movie. Movies like Dredd 3D and Gravity were filmed in 3D, and you can tell the difference in quality vs 3D converted films, but that’s a whole other conversation.

Bottom line, if there is a 3D-option for a movie that I’m gonna buy, I’ll grab that version over a standard Blu Ray edition. But it appears as though that option may be ending.

A few weeks back I went to grab Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 at my local Best Buy. I searched the shelves and couldn’t find the 3D edition. Blu Ray? Yup. DVD? Yup. Shit, there may have been a VHS copy but definitely no 3D option. Was it possible that Best Buy sold out or maybe they just didn’t carry it?

I checked the website while I stood in the store. Nothing listed. I checked Blu-Ray.com, a site I go to for news on releases and reviews. They would surely have it listed and…nope. Nothing there. No release date.

Was it possible that Disney/Marvel would release a ‘special edition’ later on? From what I read online in the days later, that wasn’t gonna happen. So I bought the Blu Ray edition of the movie and asked one of the employees if there was any word on the 3D version. He told me that there was no 3D release and likely wouldn’t be; that he’d noticed they weren’t getting as many 3D releases.

Uh oh. But why? 4K. Apparently the studios are pushing for 4K instead and slowly getting out of 3D.

So I went online and sure enough, it’s quite hard to find 3D televisions anymore.  Sure, there are some, but more often than not, you’re finding a 3D set online and not in the brick-and-mortar store. Instead, 4K televisions reign supreme and, apparently, its taking over the home video market.

That said, I was able to purchase Wonder Woman with a 3D disc so I’m sure there are still going to be some releases coming down the pipe, but not nearly as many as there used to be.  Which is sad because, I actually enjoy watching some of these movies in 3D.

I found this online while researching for this article and think it sums everything up quite nicely.

3DTVRIP

 

Until Next time….

 

 

 

Welcome to Season Two

Hello readers. Welcome to season two of Growing Up Forty. I hope you all had an amazing summer (or winter for you Aussies and New Zealanders). This season of GU40, we’re gonna start by recapping the “summer” that was 2017.

And if you live near the Toronto, Ontario region, you’d understand why “summer” is in quotes.

Despite the weather woes, we did have some pretty good movies (Wonder Woman, Spider-Man), shows (Game of Thrones) and comics that dropped for our consumption. FanExpo Toronto was attended by yours truly (for one day only though. It’s all I could handle) and some good comics and graphic novels were consumed.

We’re gonna talk about it all this season so thanks for visiting, thanks for reading and don’t forget to participate by commenting. Because, this isn’t a news-breaking site, but rather a place where we talk about pop culture, comics and video games from the perspective of an adult/man-child.

Thanks, all

Rob

Movie Soundtracks

Interstellar SoundtrackLately I have been listening to movie soundtracks during my working hours; specifically, movie scores.  Not that there isn’t anything wrong with compilation soundtracks – I have always rocked the Singles soundtrack since it dropped in 1992 – but my focus has been on the actual scores.

When I was in high school, I was a big fan of listening to Conan The Barbarian soundtrack by Basil Poledouris.  I found that score to be altogether haunting, heartbreaking and exciting.  I used to listen to this soundtrack when I needed to get pumped up for an exam or if I was going out on a date.  Hey, we all need to find our inner courage, by Crom!   I listed to that soundtrack for so long, I eventually wore out the CD.

I had recently wrote about watching Interstellar for the second time and finding it incredibly fun and since then, I have been spinning the original soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.  This then led me to the Man of Steel soundtrack (hey, I like the movie, alright?) and then to again to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk.  I am a fan of Daft Punk but never really took a listen to the Tron score, even though I think Tron: Legacy as a movie is underappreciated.

Its funny the feelings you get when you listen to this type of music compared to a lyrical-song that we usually would listen to. Not only do the scores make me want to re-watch the movies, but they seem to inspire me in ways that my normal go-to bands cannot.

If its one thing I’ve been learning during this process, is its never too late to try new things.  Except beets.  I think beets look gross.

 

Comics: Physical or Digital?

Physical_vs_DigitalComics (both single issues and trades) are available in two different methods of delivery (sorry purists, I’m not counting weekly/daily newspaper strips): Physical or Digital.  Physical was número uno for years and then digital bounced in about 10 years ago.

I came back into reading comics in the summer of 2011 when DC’s The New 52 was launched and I was really high on reading everything on my iPad. This was the future!  Fuck paper books!  I went through my library, kept only a few books and then ended up donating the rest.  I doubled-down on the e-pub versions of books that I had physical copies of.  And when it came to comics, I thought digital copies were the bees knees, as it were. I loved them and thought there was no turning back. ComiXology Library 2

Well…if you’ve been reading this blog, you will know that I am all about the physical issues so…I was wrong in 2011.  Big time.

After about a year of reading issues on my iPad, I had a conversation with my friend Sammy who had been chastising me since August 2011 about my decision to buy comics online. Sammy thought it was great that I had come back into reading comics but then also thought that I was being short sighted, ridiculous and plain ‘ol stupid for reading my comics on a tablet. Sammy is nerd for all things pop culture.  His DNA is built upon the four-coloured world of comics from the 80’s through to today. He’s a purist, plain and simple. And while we disagree about a lot of things (such as the DCEU movies and the often-needed requirement of wearing pants), he wasn’t wrong about digital comics.

Sammy made a lot of good points about why digital comics were to be shunned and not accepted: the formatting of the comics is all wrong, including the zooming of panels; they should be viewed as one page, not bit-by bit; the responsibility to support our local comic shops and finally – the feel of a comic in your hand is more rewarding that the glass screen of a tablet.

Of course, I had disagreed with all of Sammy’s points.  I essentially told him he was an old man living in an old world and his refusal to move with the times was mind numbing.  But fuck, he was right the entire time and I was 1000% wrong.  Well, maybe 900%.

After about a year and change of buying comics online, I walked into a local comic shop and was browsing, checking out what they had and talking with the guys who owned the place.  And in my conversations, I decided to pick up volume 1 of the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman comic in the trade paperback format (I wrote about my enjoyment of trades a couple weeks ago,  if you want to check it out).

It was in that moment that I then started to buy the physical copies of my comics and, essentially, got back into collecting.  I finished out the Batman (New 52) run starting with issue 32.  Side note: I’ve often thought about finding the first 31 issues and completing the run just because I’m a completionist but I also know it’ll cost me a fortune. But I digress…

From that moment on, I began purchasing and collecting the physical copies of my comics. I had a couple of long boxes in my basement with my comics that I had collected as a kid and now I’ve added an additional long box (or two).  When DC rebooted their universe…sorry, course corrected it….with Rebirth, I expanded my collecting to more titles. I have also expanded to other comics (non superhero) and imprints such as Image and those decisions were made based solely on the atmosphere that you get in your local comic shop.

Batman Trade 1See, you can browse the racks and overhear or talk to the other comic nerds about what they’re reading.  You don’t get this when you’re scrolling through your ComiXology app on your tablet/phone.

I’m not shitting on digital comics.  Not at all.  In fact, the other day I wrote about a sale that ComiXology/Amazon was having (and still do!) and that I had picked up a couple of collections to read off my tablet.  The titles/story lines that I chose were ones where I was interested in reading them but was unsure if I wanted to drop the $30 for the physical trade.  If it turns out that, after reading the digital copy, I love the story, I will go out and pick up the trade from my local comic shop.

And its here where I think there can be a healthy relationship with physical and digital comics.  Personally, I think that physical comics are the best medium in which to read comics. I also, though, concede that it can be costly and some cannot afford to purchase the issues/trades but can still download and read them digitally through their local library.  I get that and have no issues (zing!) with that…although most libraries do have physical copies of some great titles on their shelves.

When you go to your local comic-con, the vendors don’t have digital codes for sale.  They have physical issues.  And as I stated above, this method of commerce is where you can expand your reading library based on the conversations with fellow nerds and comic lovers.

At the end of the day, whether you’re reading comics your purchased from your local store or online, the fact that great stories are being read and looked at is the key for publishers to continue to put out great content.  I just prefer the feel of the paper as I flip from page to page, rather than swiping on a screen.

___________________________________________________

When I said that my bud Sammy was nerd for all things pop culture, I meant it.  He has a passion for music and is the program director for Girth Radio where he hosts a show/podcast called My Summer Lair.  He also co-hosts a weekly podcast called Back Issue Bloodbath where they talk comics (new and old), creators and other comic-related topics.

Finally, if you’re on Twitter, follow Sammy.  His opinions and conversations will either infuriate you or make you laugh out loud. May or may not be best read while going to the bathroom, I leave that to you.

 

The Price of Gaming.

xboxonex

I used to consider myself a gamer.  I guess I still do but not anywhere in the league of those of you who sit home all day long and spend countless hours playing games, whether for pleasure or competitively.  I am the generation that started off with Atari 2600 or Colecovison; that marveled and bought the NES; that jumped at the the chance for the SNES; that dropped hundreds of quarters into Street Fighter II arcade machines.

I currently have a PS4 and previously wrote about my love affair with that glorious machine and how much I loved gaming now that I am an adult with kids.  Prior to my PS4, I had an Xbox 360 and before that, the original Xbox.  I loved those machines but chose the PS4 because it was, to me, the better system and had the better games.  I still stand by that assertion.

This past weekend at E3, Microsoft unveiled their mid-cycle system which was formally nicknamed “Project Scorpio”.  This new machine would be leaps about bounds better than the current Xbox One S and would have true 4K gaming and resolution at 60FPS and a bunch of other things that I don’t understand.  But here’s what I do understand: The Price.  The price is, to me, a very real factor when making a decision to purchase a new game system.   Of course, there is the personal preference from one system over the other, what systems your friends and what system-exclusive games are out there.  But price is pretty high and this is where, to me, Xbox dropped the ball.

Fuck that.  They fumbled the damn thing.  Because the new Xbox, a mid-generation upgrade, will go on sale (November 7) for $499USD/$599CAD.  Since I am in Canada, I will speak to my complete shock at the $600 sticker price for a gaming system.  That’s fucking nuts!

So, lets assume that the system comes with one controller and a game.  In Canada, after taxes, you’re dropping a mind-numbing $677.99 on this system. Are you kidding me, Microsoft?  That’s way too much for a gaming system, regardless if it makes all the games look better than real life and regardless if it is the fastest gaming experience I will ever have.  I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind being ok with removing close to $700 from their pocket for a game system (I’m not even going to add in the amount for new games that you would want to get, but if we did, you’re likely looking at dishing out about $1,000 all-in).

I love gaming.  And I know that this system is likely not targeted at me.  I concede that without hesitation.  A quick Google search told me that the average age of gamers in the US is 30-38.  I’m 41 and while I don’t have many friends in the low-30’s age range, I know enough that no one in that age group would drop $1,000 for this system.  Especially a mid-cycle system.  And this is partly what boggles my mind.

How many people are really dying to play their games in 4K?  I can only imagine that this caters to those with massive disposable income or those who game professionally.  Other than that, I don’t get who this system is for.  If you want to know more about the system and its internal workings, check out here and/or here.

I personally think it’s absurd that Microsoft is pricing the Xbox One X this high.  Casual gamers (and, lets face it, most of us are just that) know that if you are to stack up games vs. movies vs. books vs. whatever else, games are the better investment in your time against the money you spend.  Go to a movie, its gonna be $40-$50 for 2-3 hours times.  Buy a game for $80, the campaign is going to be about 8-12 hours, and then countless hours with multiplayer (if that’s your thing).

I don’t care what special tricks the new Xbox One X can do.  Its not a next-generation system therefore is not appealing to me at all.  Microsoft, you made two big mistakes with this system –  the ridiculous price.  And you should have kept the ‘Project Scorpio’ name.  That/s a fucking bad-ass name.  But not for $600 CAD.

Read This: The Vision 

Vision TabIf you’ve read any of my postings on this blog, it’s easy to assume, and you’d be correct, that I’m a DC fanboy.  Granted, I did read and post about Daredevil: Born Again and if you take a look at my collection of trade paperback, you will see some Marvel books in there. But for the most part, for me, it’s DC.  Their characters and story lines are more appealing to me than the Marvel stuff since I’ve come back to collecting and reading weekly issues.

I’ve spoken to my comic shop guys, read online articles and listened to podcasts discussing the Marvel books and their story lines over the last few years and nothing has appealed to me.  That is, until I listened to The Excelsior Podcast (you can find them on iTunes and here is their Twitter feed) where they spent just under two hours discussing The Vision collected editions, written by Tom King.  The episode intrigued me because Tom King is currently writing the main Batman title at DC – and let me say he is totally killing it and I love what he’s doing – and I had saw the cover to The Vision Vol.1 trade in my local shop and it stuck out in my head.

But as I am not “a Marvel guy”, I didn’t skim through it nor gave it a second thought.  Until I listened to the podcast and the hosts discussing about how good, smart and emotionally rewarding and, at the same time, exhausting it was.  I thought about the podcast for a couple of days and then a couple of weeks later I went and asked one of the guys at my comic shop about it and they said both volumes were outstanding.

Now, this is why I love going to comic book stores and getting to know the staff.  They get to know you and if they think you’re not going to like a book or comic, they’ll tell you.  They’ll also not hold back and tell you if you should be trying something new.  And knowing my preferences, they didn’t hold back when telling me I would regret not reading The Vision solely because of my lack of interest for a Marvel book.

Vision Tab2So I picked up both volumes and took them home.  And I am so glad I did.  As I stated above, I am a fan of Tom King’s current work with Batman and despite my misgivings about the publisher, he wrote such a tight story that it packed a number of emotional punches to the gut that I was not expecting to feel.

The book deals with family and as a father, I couldn’t help but feel gutted during certain moments in the overall story.  The art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta is just out of this world and totally fit the tone of the book.

Listen, there are no super heroics happening here.  This story isn’t about The Vision saving the planet for a 38th time. This is a human story by way of androids and I do implore you to read this.  If my wife would ever get over her disdain for comics as a viable medium, this would be the book(s) that I would ask her to read, its that good.

There is currently a sale at Amazon on some Marvel trades (Kindle ComiXology versions, not physical) where you can pick up Volume 1 and Volume 2 for about $6.50 CAD/each.  If you have been on the fence about picking up these books, this is an affordable way to dig in.

I honestly cannot recommend this story and these books enough. Enjoy!