Author: Craig Zablo

Mummy: What to Think

I didn’t care much for the first Mummy movie. The Scorpion King was okay. I really enjoyed The Mummy Returns. I’m not sure what to expect of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Brendon Frasier is back and this time he’s joined by Jet Li as the bad guy. That’s a good thing. It’s directed by Rob Cohen and I like his work. It will have a bunch of mummies, a yeti, a dragon and a ton of special effects. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or overkill. This trailer hasn’t tipped me in either direction. That can’t be good, can it?

Another MMA Update

Two days ago we took a look at some rumors flying around about the UFC. Sad to say, I was wrong about Dana White’s announcement. I thought it would be about a tv or merchandising deal. It wasn’t. Instead Dana announced that Lorenzo Fertitta, one of the co-owners of the UFC is going leaving the family casino business to devote his full attention to the UFC. To the average fan that announcement was a big yawn.

***

I also speculated that the big surprise on the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter was that Jesse Taylor would do something stupid to get booted out of the finals. Sure enough, Jesse got drunk, kicked out the windows of a limo and then went into one of the Vegas hotels and created more havoc. Dana White said that Jesse’s behavior was unacceptable and therefore Jesse, despite being undefeated and winning his way into the finals, would be replaced by one of the fighters who had already been beaten.

Was Jesse’s behavior wrong? Absolutely. It was deplorable. Did it warrant him being kicked out of the finals? Possibly. Obviously Dana White thought so. Dana seemed angry and embarrassed. He said that kind of behavior is not what he wants from UFC fighters. Of course, Dana had no problems with Jesse and other fighters’ drunken antics on the show. In fact getting wasted and destroying the UFC house has become one of the cliches of the series. They not only give the drunken destruction plenty of air time, but even make the antics part of the promos.

Jesse doesn’t come across as the sharpest crayon in the box. So he goes out and celebrates making the finals by doing the exact same things that gave him plenty of additional face time on the series and finds himself kicked out of the UFC. Hey, so be it. I was pulling for Amir to win it all anyway, But if I was Dana White, I think I’d reconsider my tolerance for the drunken destruction that is encouraged at the house.

***
Tito Ortiz has a pretty interesting interview HERE. I think that Ortiz still has some good fights in him. I’d love to see him take on Anderson Silva or Dana White.

AFI Ain’t Got Nothin’ on Me [Again]

The American Film Institute has come up with their list of The 10 Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres. Here are my top 3 from each genre:


Animation:

  1. The Lion King (mostly because of my memories of seeing how much my sons enjoyed it when we saw it on the big screen)
  2. Toy Story (same reason as #1)
  3. Beauty and the Best (same reason as #1)


Romantic Comedies:

Wow! There are quite a few in the top 10 that I haven’t seen. Makes it easy to pick my top 3:

  1. When Harry Met Sally (mainly because of the classic deli scene — it still makes me chuckle)
  2. Sleepless in Seattle
  3. Moonstruck (Cher and Nic Cage before he became an action star!)


Western:

This is a much tougher category. I love a good western.

  1. The Searchers (The AFI got this one right!)
  2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  3. Stagecoach

Ask me again next week and Unforgiven, The Wild Bunch, Shane or even Red River could make the list at 2 or 3.

Sports:

Ah, my all time favorite movie makes this list…

  1. Rocky
  2. Raging Bull
  3. The Hustler
Of course we all know that Sly “Rocky” Stallone and Robert “Raging Bull” DeNiro co-starred in Cop Land! [But did we all know that in 1976, both Stallone and DeNiro duked it out for the Best Actor Oscar!]


Mystery:

Another tough category…

  1. North by Northwest
  2. The Maltese Falcon
  3. The Usual Suspects

With Rear Window, Vertigo and Chinatown just missing out.

Fantasy: The AFI and I agree on the top film! [It’s my all-time #2 favorite movie.]

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. King Kong
  3. The Lord of the Rings


Sci-Fi: A bunch of great films made the list, but where is Aliens, The Matrix, Highlander, etc?

  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  3. Alien


Gangster: The AFI got it right again… at least with the number 1 slot!

  1. The Godfather
  2. The Godfather, Part II
  3. Pulp Fiction


Courtroom Drama: Wow! The AFI and I are in sync… at least for the top2.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. 12 Angry Men
  3. A Few Good Men


Compulsion would have been my third choice if it had made the AFI list.

Epic:

  1. Spartacus
  2. Ben-Hur
  3. Saving Private Ryan


Lists like these make me want to pull down some of the classics and watch them again.

UFC Update


  • Tomorrow night the final episode of The Ultimate Fighter [before the live fights on Saturday to determine the season’s champ] airs. If you’ve been following the show, then you know that the biggest shocker ending ever awaits. Previews of the episode showed the windows of a limo being busted or shot out. Dana White then said that the finalists had been determined, but because of “the incident” the person involved would not be allowed to fight and would be banned from the UFC.
    My guess is Jesse Taylor did something stupid…. again.

  • Tomorrow at noon Dana White has called a press conference where he is set to announce something that will change the direction of MMA for years to come. There’s speculation that the announcement could be…
    1] the UFC has received clearance for fights to be held in New York which will lead to fight clearance across the nation.
    2] Dana White is teaming with Vince McMahon [of the WWE] to buy complete ownership of the UFC.
    3] Dana White
    has signed Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko to fight for the UFC later this year.
    My guess is that Dana will announce either a tv deal with FOX, NBC, or ABC… or a deal that puts the UFC logo on clothes in stores nationwide.
  • Dana White has announced that Anderson Silva will move up to light heavyweight to fight James Irvin live on SPIKE on July 19th. Silva will not give up his middleweight title, but instead use the Irvin fight to guage his chances in the heavier division. Silva is considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Irvin will be a tough opponent and especially motivated coming off his 8 second knockout of Huston Alexander. Obviously Irvin is being considered a stepping stone for Silva. That could provide plenty of motivation for Irvin. If Silva wins, fights against Rampage Jackson and Chuck Liddell would create the potential for the biggest MMA fights [and prize money] ever. My guess is that could provide plenty of motivation for Silva.

    And that is our UFC update for today.

Stan Winston – RIP

Oscar-winning special-effects wizard Stan Winston passed away yesterday after a seven year battle with cancer. Mr. Winston was just 62 years old.

Over the course of his career Stan Winston worked with most of the big names in Hollywood… everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Steven Spielberg. He won four Oscars [for his work on “Aliens”, “Terminator 2”, “Jurassic Park” and “Batman Returns”] and was considered by many to be the best special effects artist in the business. In addition to his Oscar winning film appearances, Stan Winston’s work could also be seen in “Edward Scissorhands”, “Predator”, “A.I.”, “Big Fish”, “Iron Man”, and so many other fan favorite movies.

Stan Winston is survived by his wife, Karen; a son, daughter, brother and four grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

The Happening Can Wait [Spoilers]

M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the scene with his blockbuster hit, “The Sixth Sense.” Since then it’s been a bumpy ride. And while some would say that it’s been all downhill since the “Sense,” I would argue otherwise. Unfortunately the reviews on “The Happening” have been almost universally negative among fans and critics.

The movie blasts out of the shoot in the first scene with a mysterious airborne toxin causing people to kill themselves. The opening scenes are suspenseful and horrific. We’re then introduced to our four main characters: Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel are a newly married couple who are already going through a rocky phase; John Leguizamo is Wahlberg’s friend and father to young Ashlyn Sanchez.

As the four of them attempt to flee the city, reports filter in through laptops, cellphones and televisions of the toxins spreading. The movie quickly becomes a series of scenes of people either running from the wind or killing themselves as quickly as possible no matter how gruesome the death. There are some tense moments in the film [stuck at the crossroads with the toxins coming from all sides, on the porch of survivors boarded in their house, and staying overnight in the home of a truly deranged woman], but soon enough everyone’s running from the gentle breeze coming their way.

The Pitch: “The Birds” without the birds.

The Good: The opening scenes of people killing themselves as those around them try to figure out what is happening — the initial feelings of paranoia as we try to figure out what is happening — the time at the deranged lady’s [played by Betty Buckley] farm.

The Bad: Zooey Deschanel’s character/acting — the scene with the lions — the lack of conflict with what was killing everyone [how do you fight plants] — the ending.

The Ugly: The way the construction workers died — — the guy lying down in the path of the mower.

The Summary: “The Happening” isn’t one of M. Night’s best films, but it’s not as bad as most reviews would lead you to believe. My suggestion, if you haven’t seen it yet, wait to rent it.

Wanna Go For a Ride?

For a while there was talk that Sly Stallone would reprise his role as Machine Gun Joe in the “Death Race” remake. Well, that didn’t happen although the remake did. So now instead of David Carradine we have Jason Statham. Instead of Sylvester Stallone we get Tyrese Gibson?

The movie is still set in the future, but instead of a cross country race in which the participants kill pedestrians, it’s set in a prison and the contestants try to kill each other. [Not to worry, they still found a way to get women involved as “navigators”.] Advance word on the movie hasn’t been too good, but THIS TRAILER makes me think that advance word might have been a bit harsh. I think it looks like a fun ride.

 

NBC’s Tim Russert: RIP

Tim Russert, host of “Meet the Press” and NBC News’ Washington bureau chief died today after suffering a sudden heart attack while prepping for Sunday’s show. Mr. Russert was just 58. He leaves behind his wife and son.

I’m going to miss Tim Russert. He was a newscaster that I truly enjoyed watching. His love of the political process was evident in each broadcast. Although he covered the world of politics, Tim Russert never let his own take center stage. He believed that his job as moderator of “Meet the Press” was to “learn as much as you can about your guest’s positions and take the other side, and to do that in a persistent and civil way.” And that’s exactly what he did, often with a smile, and never with the feeling that it was personal. He didn’t yell or belittle those he interviewed. He allowed them to respond and gave thought to their answers. He showed respect to members of all parties. It’s too bad that more newscasters [let alone politicians] can’t adopt that same outlook.

Our thoughts and prayers will be with Mr. Russert’s family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace.

Red Goes Green

I’ve been a Cully Hamner fan for years. In fact Cully jump started my Stallone Theme Gallery with his kick butt take on Jack Carter. Over a 100 sketches later, and Cully’s is still one of my favorites.

Longtime ZONErs may remember me HERE and HERE talking up Cully’s work with Warren Ellis on Red. Today the Hollywood Reporter announced that the movie rights to Red have been picked up by Summit Entertainment and already have writing and producing teams in place. You can read the full account HERE.

Congrats to Cully and Warren. Let’s hope that the movie is half as good as the comic.

The Face of Evil

Hearing Charles Manson talking always stops me in my tracks. Maybe it’s because I was ten years old when the murders that made Manson infamous were committed. Then seeing Manson during his trial with his defiant attitude, “hypnotic” eyes, “creepy crawlers,” shaved and carved heads and family of followers — all of it definitely made an impact on this little kid… especially when I learned that Manson had served time in my hometown of Terre Haute, Ind.

When I was in high school I read Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter and at the time it was one of the most shocking books I’d ever devoured. I remember watching Tom Snyder’s interview with Manson when it originally aired in 1981. Since then, whenever an interview with Manson [and they are rare], airs, I find myself tuning in to hear his rants. It’s hard to believe that this little man who had less than twenty years of freedom his entire life became the embodiment of evil for at least one generation.

Fighters Fight

Matt Hughes lost via TKO in the second yesterday to Thiago Alves in UFC 85. I didn’t see the fight since we passed on the pay-per-view. One a month is pushing it, especially when the last PPV was just two weeks ago. In a way, since I’m a Matt Hughes fan, I’m glad that we didn’t order it.

Despite three losses in his last four fights, Hughes is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. For a while no other fighter in any weight class dominated the way that Hughes did. As the UFC Welter-Weight Champion, Hughes won 9 title fights. He also had a streak of 19 wins in 20 fights and did it by fighting everyone put in front of him including BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre. Hughes took fights on short notice, fought when injured and represented the sport well. It’s pretty clear that Hughes is no longer the fighter he once was. Not many people will ever be the fighter Matt Hughes once was… but that’s not really the point is it?

Hughes is just 34 years old. If he was in a higher weight class, where power is usually more important than speed, he’d still be fighting and probably at the top of his game. Hughes isn’t big enough to go up in weight. So what should he do? Retire? Stick around and get beat by the top fighters? Fight lesser opponents to pad his record to keep a hand in the game?

Kevin Iole, who covers MMA for Yahoo Sports, says it’s time for Matt Hughes to retire. I don’t think so. I think that Matt Hughes has one more fight that should happen before he hangs it up. Hughes and Matt Serra have had bad blood for a couple of years now. Both feel that they have been legitimately disrespected by the other. It’s a fight that fans want to see. It’s a fight that both want to have.

Ioloe believes that Hughes should retire without fighting Serra. Iole’s contention is twofold: 1] Hughes doesn’t need the fight [he’s set for the Hall of Fame and 2] Serra could win and this would further tarnish Hughes’ record.

Obviously the decision belongs to Matt Hughes alone. But here’s my two cents: Hughes should take the fight. First of all, he wants to settle his grudge with Serra in the octagon. Second, it’s a fight that Hughes, Serra and fans around the world want. Third, it would be a headline fight and what better way to go out than with a win as a headliner. Fourth, even if he loses, he does it on his own terms. He’s still a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, only now he’s a bit richer. Fifth, fighters fight. Matt Hughes is a fighter.

Dana White has said that if Matt Hughes wants the fight, it will happen. So the ball is in Matt Hughes’ court. My guess is that Hughes will want the match. See, fighters fight. Matt Hughes is a fighter.

And that’s why I’m a Matt Hughes fan.

Fear It Won’t Be Good

Anyone planning to tune in to NBC’s new horror series, Fear Itself? The series is being billed as weekly one hour horror movies from the creators of “Saw,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Freddy vs Jason” and some other recent scarefests. Truth be told, I plan to DVR the series, but I’m not expecting too much. Still, a little good horror goes a long way.

3 Less Heroes

Shelton Drum’s Heroes Convention is without a doubt one of the best comic book – media shows anywhere. Over the years longtime ZONErs have read about my adventures at Heroes Con meeting favorite artists, writers, as well as friends old and new. It was always a blast seeing who was going to add their work to my Stallone Theme Gallery or who was going to join the crowd for dinner or whose room would become “the spot” for the evening. And that’s not even taking into account the art auction, book signings, costumes, etc.
Most years the convention would be held on a date that worked for the entire Zablo family vacation. Other times my oldest son, Mike [who is into conventions] and I would share a room with John Beatty. Unfortunately this year the show is being held on a date that doesn’t work out for either plan.

Still, if YOU are able to attend the show, you should. I can guarantee you’ll have a great time. Even if Beatty, Mike and I aren’t there to add to the fun.