Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 65

Actually, today, I've learned several things. For instance:

Pretty girls are actually attracted to goofy losers.

You really can't make enough movies about mall cops.

Magically turning young causes you to lose anything even vaguely resembling common sense.

It's still possible to get crap like this into theaters instead of premiering on Lifetime of straight to DVD where it belongs.

Turns out combining molten metal to a person's bones will cause that person to become royally pissed.

William Shatner had artfully moussed hair when he was young.

A movie doesn't necessarily have to be funny in order to be labeled a comedy.

Pretty girls are actually attracted to goofy losers.

And so it is we have come full circle and ended where we began. Have we learned much or nothing at all? Don't really care cause I'm done till tomorrow. See ya.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hot Man/Man Action

Normally, I don't review movies until at least the Monday after they premiere thus ensuring that I will never be able to make the claim that it was my glowing review alone that either lifted a movie to the heights of box office excellence or that it was my, "That director was a total D-Bag," comment that crushed it. To push myself down even further into the basement of irrelevance, I will now review last week's new release, I Love You, Man.

I didn't have high hopes for this since director John Hamburg's last movie was the utterly unwatchable, totally unfunny, thoroughly ungood Along Came Polly in which Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston...um...huh, my brain has mercifully blocked the plot of that from my memory while allowing me to retain the knowledge that it sucked. You can't ask for much more than that. Anyway, this more than makes up for what I assume was the incredibly stupid plot of his previous effort. In fact, I Love You, Man is one of the smartest comedies you'll ever see.

The story centers around Peter Klaven, a role that's basically the movie's Paul Rudd character so it was lucky they managed to get Paul Rudd to play him. Peter gets engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones) who, according to the movie's IMDB page, has no last name which tells me she could be hiding a huge secret we'll discover in the sequel. Anyway, after they get engaged and she calls her friends to tell them (a phone call in which Peter discovers that Zooey does not consider a single detail of their sex life too intimate to hold back from her friends), Peter experiences a moment of clarity. All of his close friends are women. Oh, he has some male acquaintances but there probably isn't a man in the world with whom he has an easy and comfortable friendship, including members of his own family who, at one point, go out of their way to point out that they are closer to each other than they are to him. He can't even think of anyone he'd like to have as his Best Man so he decides to go out and find himself a male friend. After some predictable mishaps (I wonder if it occurred to the writers at any time NOT to have him go out with annoying jerks or gays who thought he was also gay), he meets Sidney Fife (Jason Segal).

Peter is a real estate broker and it's during an open house that Sidney walks in. Sidney is a sometimes uncomfortably honest man who confesses to Peter that he's only there for the free food and to meet loose divorcees. He's also an excellent observer and judge of human nature. He's able to quickly size up every person in the room, including knowing that one of the men has yet to sleep with the woman he's brought along by the fact that he won't fart in front of her. Something about Sidney really appeals to Peter and they end up becoming a 21st century version of the Odd Couple. Peter is closed off and uptight. Sidney, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with going out in public wearing a plaid shirt, tie-die shorts and Ugg Boots. He does help Peter to open up and have fun but Peter also has to deal with the fact that Sidney, despite being in his 30s, is still emotionally immature and doesn't really have a filter between his brain and his mouth. Gosh, do you suppose this is a combination from which hilarity could ensue? Spoiler Alert: Yes. For example, after Peter confides in Sidney the fact that he wishes Zooey would give him oral sex, Sidney decides to the best thing to do with that information is to incorporate it into a toast at their engagement dinner.

I don't think I've mentioned yet just how funny this movie is. There aren't many comedies, even some that are considered classics, that are funny all the way through. I think I was at least chuckling mildly even through the eventual conflict that threatens to tear Sidney and Peter's friendship apart and no, that's not a spoiler. Anyone who knows anything about story construction knew something like that had to happen. Hell, I could give a detailed plot synopsis and this movie would still be worth watching for the incredibly funny dialogue and performances not just from the main characters but from numerous supporting characters as well. Jon Favreau especially stands out as a guy who's forced by his wife (Zooey's friend) to try to become friends with Peter. Favreau became a big time director last year with the success of Iron Man so I'm really hoping Iron Man 2 sucks so they won't let him direct anymore and he'll have more time to do stuff like this. Comedies used to be made like this before studios decided that only the stars should have be saying anything funny. I also want to commend Jason Segal. He may turn out to be one of our great comic actors. This character is distinctly different from the one he played last year in Forgetting Sarah Marshall as opposed to Paul Rudd who, while quite funny, manages to make every character he plays look the same. I really shouldn't complain too much since he's usually pretty good. I fell bad now, I hope Paul Rudd doesn't read this and get sad. You're awesome, Paul. Don't ever change, except in your movies.

So, if you haven't seen it yet, I Love You, Man is definitely worth your time. If you have seen it, you may not remember since it came out so long ago.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bizzaro World

I really can't explain how it happened that, on April 24, the movie set in the post-apocalyptic future where man is at war with an unstoppable army of mutants is only opening in New York and L.A. while the sensitive drama about a schizophrenic cellist opens in 2000 theaters. I suspect someone sent the wrong films to the distributors and was just too embarrassed to admit it. I suppose this means Night At The Museum 2 will win the Palme d'Or at the next Cannes Film Festival.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Old In And Out

Series of short comments on various topics today. Why? Because I'm tired and this is easy.


I've been bitching a lot about remakes lately but, if it's going to be done, this is how you should do it. Sure, True Grit is a classic, but it's from the Coen brothers and they say they're going at it from a different angle than the John Wayne film did by being faithful to the book. I don't really understand the concept of "shot by shot remake" that so many remakes end up being. If you're going to do it, do it differently. If nothing else, it'll piss off all the John Wayne fetishists out there and no, I don't mean John Wayne fans. I'm talking about douchebags like this guy who conflate Wayne's image on screen with reality in the same way they do to Jack Bauer today. Wayne was nothing like the men he played on screen. Hell, John Wayne wasn't even his real name.


I didn't think Monsters Vs. Aliens would be any good (mainly because I think the title is lame) but I'm always happy to admit when I'm wrong.


On the other hand, it looks like Haunting In Connecticut is going to suck big honkin' ostrich balls. (Do they have big balls? They must, right?) In this case, I'm always happy to admit when I'm right. Um, I didn't actually make a prediction as to the film's quality in that post, but I'm going to count this as one in the Win Column for me because NO ONE CAN STOP ME MUAHAHAHAHA!


To my knowledge, there's never been a decent film version of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Now it looks like Ron Howard wants to direct a movie version of the graphic novel The Strange Adventure of H.P. Lovecraft. Hey, it's Ron Howard so it might be pretty cool. The graphic novel was created by Mac Carter and Jeff Blitz which means, technically, there still will not have been a decent film version of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. That whole last paragraph was pointless but at least it took up space.


A lot of people are badmouthing Dragonball Evolution ahead of time but really, there's no reason why it should suck. Oh sure, it's going to be cheesy and dumb but cheesy and dumb doesn't necessarily add up to bad. Of course, it would help if one of the film's heroes wasn't a middle aged guy in a Hawaiian shirt. Having a guy like that save the world doesn't exactly scream quality. Also, wasn't Goku supposed to be Japanese? I don't know, maybe Goku is a common name in Wisconsin or something. Never trusted Wisconsin. Too much cheese out there, everyone is plugged up all the time.

Wow, I took a movie that had nothing to do with bodily functions and connected it to constipation. Guess I can cross that goal off my bucket list.


I've recently come to enjoy Twitter (you can follow me here). I originally did it to follow the Twitter feeds of people like Glenn Greenwald without any intention of doing anything else then some old friends tracked me down so I've been having fun talking to them as well as just posting dumb little comments like the reason for my desire to have a monkey hit me in the crotch (it's not as weird as it sounds...no, scratch that, it's weird but not in a pervy way). The biggest effect it's had on this site so far is that I found that Fury of Solace guy when he started following me on Twitter. In fact, I've gotten several new readers through Twitter. I thought at first they'd all gone away after the first few hits but it turned out they were subscribing to the RSS feed, something I often forget I have.

Anyway, I rambled long and far from the reason I brought this subject up. I present to you the reason the gods invented Twitter: Christopher Walken's Twitter page.

UPDATE 3-28-09 Apparently that guy turned out not to be the real Christopher Walken and Twitter banned his page. Too bad, he was still damn funny. Oh well, at least we still have millions of people letting us know they're having broiled scallops for dinner.

And I'm out. See ya all later.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Things You'd Rather Not Know

Upon reading Ebert's entire review of Knowing, I see he and I took a similar tack in not wanting to reveal too much, even stuff many have heard already. There were things I really wanted to say and points I really wanted to make yesterday too but couldn't. Ebert solved this by writing a separate spoiler filled review on his blog so the hell with it. If he can do it, so can I. Sure, he's a Pulitzer Prize winner and I'm some goob who blogs as a hobby but other than that, we're the same.

Just to be clear, if you have not seen Knowing and are planning on ever doing so between now and forever, stop reading now. We all good? Anyone need a beverage before we get started? Okay, here...we...go.

You know that phrase about the world ending not with a bang but a whimper? Knowing takes that and chucks it right out the damn window. When we first meet John Koestler (Nicolas Cage in one of those sad, slightly crazy performances he's so good at), he's discussing with his MIT Astrophysics class whether the universe is governed by randomness or determinism. Is everything that's ever going to happen already fixed or do we just flail about in a universe of limitless possibilities? It's an important discussion for a movie about predicting the future. John Koestler's answer to his class is, "I think shit just happens." Part of that is a reaction to the recent death of his wife. He wants to think that maybe something could have been done to prevent it. It turns out that never in the history of movies has a character been so wrong.

Whether it's through some sort of technology that literally allows them to pierce the veil of time and look forward into the future or an super advanced form of mathematics that allows them to inerrantly extrapolate future events from what is known now, a race of aliens knew in 1959 the dates and numbers of deaths that would be caused by every major disaster for the next 50 years. They broadcast this information into the head of a little girl named Lucinda Embrey who scribbled the numbers onto a piece of paper and put it into a time capsule. The aliens knew it would be opened by a boy named Caleb Koestler and that Caleb would give it to his scientist father John who would overcome his skepticism and accept its true nature. They knew that John Koestler, through his job as an astrophysics professor, would determine that the final prophecy was about a giant solar flare that the sun was going to shoot out and kill all life on Earth in less than a day.

I talked yesterday about a group of strangers and their plan. They are the aliens and their plan is to take Caleb and Abby, the daughter of Rose Byrne's character Diana Wayland and granddaughter of the little girl who made the predictions in 1959, and rescue them before the Earth is destroyed. Apparently, something in their culture kept them from just taking the kids which is why they needed to adopt the 50 year plan that eventually culminated with John in the woods giving them permission to take the kids a few hours before Earth's end.

Okay, now that I have all that out of the way, let me tell you why I think the aliens were complete and total dicks.

Oh sure, saving a couple of gradeschoolers (we see later that several pairs of kids were taken from all over the planet) in order to start the species over again is a noble and generous goal. All I could think was, "Why'd you stop there?" They knew about this damn solar flare at least 50 years beforehand, probably longer. Are you telling me they couldn't have saved more people than this or maybe even have given us technology that could have helped us evacuate at least a goodly portion of Earth's population? No explanations are given and the aliens' motives aren't even hinted at. You assume they're good and decent creatures but you never really know since they never even deign to tell us. I believe the reason for this is that one of the roles the aliens serve in this movie is to be a substitute for God.

One of the other major themes explored in this movie is faith and belief in God or, at least, something greater than yourself. John was an agnostic before his wife's death, probably due to his scientific background, and abandoned Him completely afterward. This has caused him to be estranged from his father, a former minister. Then he meets these aliens. Their powers are vast. Their thoughts are inscrutable. In the end, they require a human to exercise free will in order to do what they want to do which, ultimately, is to decide who lives and who dies.

As with God, you can't really question their plan since you don't know how or what they think. Could they have saved everyone or at least more than who they did? Was it a limitation of their abilities or a judgment call? And why did they have to subject poor Lucinda Embrey to a lifetime of depression and tortured visions? There wasn't another way to send their message? Torturing prophets is another thing God is known for, of course.

At the end, the aliens' actions restored John's faith and he was able to honestly say to his father, "I know," when his father said that they would all be together again. I couldn't help but think what an odd time it was to embrace religious faith in a God who was about to wipe out your race and everything your race ever created. In fact, these circumstances have all proven religious teachings to be wrong. The Earth itself died. Jesus didn't come back. Neither did Mohammad. Maybe the Hindus were onto something when they said the old world would die and a new one would be born, but, nah, they weren't nearly close enough.

In the end, the kids and Earth's only other survivors, a few rabbits brought along as pets, are dropped off on what I suppose is supposed to be a new Eden, an alien world with I think three moons and they run through a field to a tree with brilliantly white leaves. It's a beautiful scene. Maybe the aliens thought the children and their innocence would leave this world unspoiled by the violent and selfish ways of man and that's why no adults were brought along. I'd find that hard to believe if that's what they thought. Children can be the cruelest and most vicious creatures on the planet when they want to be. Then again, the aliens probably know exactly what's going to happen. In the end, they have to simply accept what they were offered as the aliens offered nothing else. All they can do is trust in the plan.

Oh well, love it or hate it, there aren't many movies that make me think this much about anything, much less the nature or humanity and the universe around us. That's what makes Knowing worth watching.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Half The Battle

Knowing is quite a chore for me to review. I don't like to reveal anything that hasn't already been publicly revealed in a film's advertising or some other form of publicity. This means that the things I really want to talk about, its logical inconsistencies and questionable motivations of some of its characters, all have to do with the movie's surprises. This must be what it was like to be a critic who reviewed The Empire Strikes Back and trying to write, "I absolutely loved this movie, especially the scene where you find out that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's...um...never mind." The twists and turns of Knowing aren't quite on that level, but you get the idea.

I almost skipped Knowing because most critics hated it. They found it to be unbelievable, stupid, dull and depressing. It was mainly the force of Roger Ebert's review that got me into the theater. He loved it, comparing it to one of his favorite films, Dark City which was directed by the same man who did Knowing, Alex Proyas. Yeah, I like Dark City, but when I think Alex Proyas, I think of the guy who took Asimov's classic I, Robot and turned it into a stupid Will Smith action film. Anyway, here's what Ebert said:
"Knowing" is among the best science-fiction films I've seen -- frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome. In its very different way, it is comparable to the great "Dark City," by the same director, Alex Proyas. That film was about the hidden nature of the world men think they inhabit, and so is this one.
So, who's right, Ebert or everybody else? My opinion is a little of yes and no, both and neither, could be and WTF? Let me explain.

The movie opens in 1959 when some school kids in some Massachusetts town are preparing a time capsule to be opened 50 years in the future. This time capsule seems to be the biggest damn thing that ever happened to this town as everybody turns out and makes a day out of the official burial ceremony. All the kids are supposed to draw pictures and put them into the time capsule. Most of the kids draw rockets, ponies, rainbows and other things that make me think the purpose of this time capsule is to bore the hell out of people in the future. There's one little girl, a sad looking little thing named Lucinda Embry, who intensely writes out a series of numbers. The teacher gets flustered and takes the sheet away from her before she's done which causes her to hide herself away in a closet and literally make her fingers bloody by clawing the last numbers into the wood.

Cut to 2009. We meet MIT Astrophysics Professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) and his son Caleb. If I may give a tip to any movie characters out there: don't name your kid Caleb if you don't want him to have some sort of dark destiny. In this case, each kid in Caleb's class is given one of the envelopes from the time capsule. Guess which one Caleb gets? John and Caleb puzzle over the numbers for a bit until later that night when John notices that one of the number sequences 9-11-01-2996. This, of course, corresponds to the date September 11, 2001 in which 2,996 people died in the World Trade Center. He then examines the numbers more closely and finds one sequence after another that corresponds with the date of some huge disaster that occurred over the past 50 years. As discomfiting as this is, the truly disturbing part is that there are three sets of numbers at the end that correspond to future dates. No, wait, that's not the truly disturbing part. That would be that the numbers seemed to be a message to John Koestler specifically, a man who hadn't even been born when they were written.

When they open the envelope, John and Caleb also start seeing the strangers, blond men in black overcoats, always shrouded in darkness. Caleb has a hearing disorder and his hearing aid always acts up when they are near. They never make any sort of attempt to injure Caleb but they seem fixated on him.

We also meet Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), Lucinda Embry's daughter. The insight and information she offers about her mother are what finally scares the crap out of John as the final prophecy may have something to do with the end of the world.

And...that's as far as I can go without revealing things I don't want to reveal. Did I like it? Hmm, that's actually a toughie. There were things I liked and things I didn't like. I would especially criticize the strangers, how they were written and why they did things the way they did them. I will say they were responsible for what happened to the little girl who initially wrote the numbers down in 1959 and I find it hard to believe it was necessary to subject a little girl to what turned out to be a lifetime of tortured visions. In fact, I really can't figure out why the strangers executed their plan they way they did. If I had their knowledge and resources, I'd have done it in a less dickish manner.

The movie deals with the issues of faith, religion and spirituality. John's sister is very religious and constantly offers to pray for him and yes, you do want to punch her after a while. John himself has gone full bore into atheism since the death of his wife though I get the impression he was leaning that way before that. The faithful won't mind this, though. John is the kind of atheist they love, a man who was presented by God with a burden and broke underneath it. I will say his faith is restored by the end of the film in circumstances that, I think, are the oddest possible way in which to have one's religious faith restored.

So, again, did I like the movie? I have to say yes, despite the things that bothered me. I'm glad I saw it, anyway. My thoughts have gone back to the film again and again since seeing it which makes it the very definition of "thought provoking". It's hard to believe that this week's Top 5 films contain two dark, ambitious and thought provoking science fiction films, a situation for which I assume I'll be longing this summer when the two science fiction films in the Top 5 will be Transformers 2 and the new Will Farrell version of Land of the Lost.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Nature Of Reality Is Pure Subjective Fantasy

It's been more than two weeks since I've written about the conservative movie site Big Hollywood. The reason for that is that BH has gotten boring. When they first started they were fresh and exciting with a crazed revolutionary spirit. Far right conservatives thought that this meant they would finally have a chance to kick Sean Penn and George Clooney out of Hollywood and turn the entire movie industry into the Heritage Foundation's new propaganda wing. For me, this was high comedy that I thought would never get old. Yet, here we are, not even four months since the day they went live and they're already boring the crap out of people. The liberal blogs who initially unleashed their environmentally friendly solar powered hell all over Big Hollywood now barely mention them, having gone back to their usual targets. It was just too difficult to sustain the crazy when it wasn't yielding results. I guess they honestly thought comparing Barack Obama to Ozymandias would force him to resign and appoint Sarah Palin as his successor and the fight simply left them when it didn't happen.

Fortunately, when revolutions start to die, it's not at all uncommon for splinter groups to form and try to pick up where their comrades left off. Case in point: Parcbench.com. Their founder, Brett Joshpe, stated that he was inspired by Big Hollywood. That was good enough to rate a look from me and sure enough, I found TeH CrazeY.

The article is called "The Vigilante". It's author, Chris Yogerst, goes to Regent University, a school run by Pat Robertson to which the term "higher education" can only be applied ironically. Yogerst opens with the sentence, "Sometimes in real life, vigilantes are necessary." To prove that point, he spends the rest of the article citing examples from fiction.
Perhaps it is because the vigilante uses force when innocent lives depend on it, because he is not associated with the bleeding heart narratives that run rampant in Hollywood, or because he does not view the criminal as a victim. For whatever reason though, many of us would sleep better at night with “Dirty Harry” living next door.
Since most of the people that Dirty Harry Callahan befriends end up dead, I'd probably be scared shitless to have him living next door to me.
Since Dirty Harry, the big screen has featured other intriguing vigilantes, including the main character in the Die Hard films, True Lies, and Payback, just to name a few. Television also features Jack Bauer (Kiefer Southerland) on 24. Like “Dirty Harry,” he does not have time for political correctness when lives are on the line. He is not afraid to push the boundaries in order to get information that will save an entire city and expose a terrorist organization.
What have we learned from that paragraph other than the fact that Chris Yogerst doesn't know how to spell Kiefer Sutherland's name? We have also learned that he has most likely never seen Die Hard or True Lies or, if he did see them, he was too busy begging God to forgive him for seeing R rated movies in which boobs and underwear were clearly visible to pay attention since the characters in those movies weren't vigilantes. As for Payback, well, I guess I'm not as big a movie fan as I thought since I honestly couldn't remember that one. After looking it up, I remembered it as some lame second string piece of crap in which Mel Gibson played a criminal who shot up other criminals after they left him for dead and stole his money. He's supposed to be society's hero? At least he paid attention in Rightwing Fuckwit School and remembered to mention Jack Bauer.
In January, another vigilante hit the big screen. Taken was released, unsurprisingly, to mixed reviews. The film is about a girl who is kidnapped in France by Albanians and sold into the slave trade. Her father Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson), an ex-CIA operative, sets out to find her and bring her abductors to justice. Dealing with an uncooperative local government, he takes matters into his own hands. Although nationally acclaimed critic Richard Roeper feels the film is full of “slick, loony, escapist violence,” it is a safe bet that if someone had their child kidnapped, they would want Bryan Mills there to get him or her back….by any means possible.
If my child was kidnapped, would I want Bryan Mills? Hell no! I mean, since we're talking about fictional characters, why the hell would I settle for Bryan Mills? I'd want Superman or Green Lantern or else I'd just make up my own character, Instant Retrievo Man, who has the power to find people who've been kidnapped and safely teleport them back home.

Yogerst's point here is that sometimes you need a two fisted loner who has to go outside the law to get the job done yet every example he gives comes from fiction. Where are all the real life stories of vigilantes who brutally tortured suspects and ended up finding the bomb or the missing girl or the escaped criminal mastermind? Real vigilantes usually do what these guys do. In case you didn't want to click the link, it presents six real life cases of vigilantes like the gang in Mexico who burned alive people they thought were child molesters only to discover later that they were Mexican Federal Agents. Also, when was the last time you picked up a newspaper and didn't read something about some poor falsely accused schmuck who spent a decade or two in prison because some two fisted loner who had to go outside the law forced a confession or fabricated evidence? People like Jack Bauer who have the unerring ability to know when the rules should be broken don't exist which is why the rules are in place and why they should always be enforced.

Still, good job, Chris Yogerst. This wasn't a bad attempt at right wing demagoguery. You rejected a reasoned, scientific approach and instead reached a conclusion based on narrow ideology and then ignored any evidence that said you were wrong while altering or inventing evidence that proved beyond a doubt that you were right. This means you'll have something to do after your screenplay about Darwin selling his soul to Satan for the theory of evolution gets rejected. Just make sure to say that the rejection had nothing to do with the quality of your writing but, rather, because Hollywood hates conservatives.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What Was I Talking About?

Hmm, something was on my mind Friday night but I'll be just ding dang darned if I can remember what it was. The weekend has just been so relaxing with some beautiful weather that I just kind of vegged out and am now lucky to remember my own name. I guess whatever I forgot couldn't have been too important. It's not like this is the first time I've forgotten something important, though. As they all, all of this has happened before...oh yeah, now I remember.


The previous obscenity was not aimed at you, dear readers. I'm talking about Ron Moore, David Eick and any of the other scum sucking bags of syphilis who thought it was a good idea to end Battlestar Galactica the way they did on Friday. I have a rule about keeping cursing to a minimum so I must warn you that today will be the exception that proves that rule. Also, there will be several spoilers about everything from the final scene to what Adama had for lunch (fish and chips FUCK YOU and so it begins).

First off, the series finale of Battlestar Galactica was awesome. Huh? Did I just blow your mind? Good, now you know how I feel. I'm talking about the first hour of the two hour episode. In that, Admiral William Adama leads Galactica, which is about to fall apart, on a final mission to rescue the Human/Cylon hybrid child Hera from the Cylons who captured her so they could open her up and see how she worked. This involves an intense special effects sequence that BSG throughout its five year run didn't do that much of which is a shame because it was always very good when it did. The Galactica does a head on assault against the final Cylon fortress called the Colony. This, of course, is a distraction so the Cylons don't notice the Human extraction team coming up from their rear.

For the most part, the first hour was everything I would have wanted from BSG's final episode. The first hint of stupidity came with the fulfillment of a three year old dream shared by several of the crew members in which Gaius Baltar and the Cylon Number Six carry Hera into the Opera House of Kobol. It turned out they were actually carrying her onto the bridge of the Galactica. While artfully put together, it basically turned out to be one of your lamer prophecies since it was pretty much what they would have done anyway. What, were they not going to bring her back to the Galactica? Also, Galactica's bridge was a war zone at that point as the Cylons had breached and the predictable fire fight had broken out. Oddly, their dumb little dream had failed to foresee this. At this point, Baltar did what he does best: lay on a thick coat of bullshit to pacify the Cylons and at least briefly stop the fighting. It wasn't a bad scene but we'd been waiting years to find out the meaning of that dream and they'd been reminding us about it for several episodes so I just assumed it'd have more meaning than, "You know this thing you have no choice but to do? Do that."

Anyhoo, all is well and good at this point. Well, except for when the Cylons start shooting again and Galactica needs to make a quick getaway. This is when Kara Thrace steps in, punches in some coordinates into the hyperspace drive which, by the way, was some shit she derived from YET ANOTHER MOTHERFUCKING DREAM and they wind up near a blue-green planet, third from its yellow sun. Yep, they found Earth and not the nuked Earth that was a casualty of the last Human/Cylon War 2000 years ago. Rather, this turns out to be the planet we call Earth 150,000 years in our past. The last remnants of both the Human and Cylon races decide to simply settle down with the Neanderthal tribes they observe, leaving their technology behind and everything is gumdrops and rainbows after that. The End!

Yeah, that was the stupid piece of shit ending that's gotten me so riled. I mean, COME THE FUCK ON! First there was the observation they made when they found the Neanderthals. Without even examining one, someone said, "They're like us, we can breed with them." You know what Carl Sagan once said was the most unbelievable thing about Star Trek? It wasn't the time travel, the Faster-Than-Light spaceships or the fact that the sexiest women in the universe line up around the block for the privilege of sucking Kirk's cock. No, he said that the most unbelievable thing was the ability for two species that evolved on different planets to mate and have children. That hardly ever happens on this planet and when it does, the result is usually a sterile animal like the mule. Taking their word that they can, in fact, breed with them, what sort of explanation do they offer for how such an impossible situation could take place? Gosh Davey, do you think it might be...God?

Oh yeah, God. God pretty much Deus Ex Machinas the crap out of the whole final episode. How is it that Baltar and Six have been seeing ghostly images of themselves the whole series? God. How did Kara Thrace come back from the dead? God. There has always been some evidence that some sort of intelligence was guiding them along and they would say it was God but I honestly always thought they had something clever up their sleeves and that we'd get some sort of grand explanation as to why and how all this happened. This may sound strange, but I wanted something grander that just plain old God. Even Milton knew God was boring.

Oh yeah, Kara Motherfucking Thrace. To recap, last season she crashed her ship into an asteroid and she died only to miraculously reappear, intact ship and all, claiming to have found the way to Earth. When they found nuked, uninhabitable Earth, she even found the remains of her ship and her body. We've been wondering all season long what actually happened and what she really was, the prevailing theory being that her father was a Cylon and that she was brought back using an unknown Cylon resurrection device. Is that was happened? Fucked if I know. When we last saw her, she was with Lee Adama saying her work here was done and then POOF she was gone which means again this was all the work of The Guy In The Sky.

And what about their decision to just go native? Supposedly, all the remaining Humans and Cylons decide to "not bring their baggage" to this new world and just live simple, primitive existences. I see this lasting until the day someone thinks, "Hey, I'd love to watch my Blu-Ray copy of Hudson Hawk but there aren't any players or electricity to run them. Hows abouts we recreate those?" Not that it would be about something so shallow. No, it would be more like, "Hey, my teeth are rotting out of my head. Can't we redevelop dentistry and maybe tooth paste?" or, "My kid died of something that our modern medicine could have easily cured. Tell me again why it's a good idea we decided not to have hospitals?" Living in harmony with nature always sounds cool until you actually do it. That's when you realize why most of society ran right the fuck away from nature when the opportunity presented itself and thus we are all able to comfortably read this on our computers instead of through smoke signals. You're lucky because, if it had been smoke signals, I'd having publicly bitched through the smoke about how tired my arms were.

What was the upshot of the human decision to leave technology behind? It turns out that the decision to let Colonial civilization die out meant that, 150,000 years later, we're pretty much right back where we started as we see Angel Baltar and Angel Six walking down the street wondering if we were all going to blow ourselves up again and that, as usual, God wouldn't do shit to prevent it if we did.

Anyway, thanks for five pretty decent years, Battlestar Galactica. At your best, you were entertaining, fascinating and provocative. At your worst, you were...well, what I just described. Congratulations on joining the Pantheon of Shitty Series Finales. I hope that you, Seinfeld, The X-Files, Quantum Leap and Roseanne will be very happy together.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dear Battlestar Galactica


May be more later, may not. Doesn't matter really, what's done is done.


To My Old Pals At Dreamworks

How can a movie called The Soloist be about two men? It should be called The Duoists.

You're welcome!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thou Shalt Pull the Pin And Count To Three

With three major releases this weekend and the fact that I lack the time to see all of them, I must now sit and and try to figure out which one will be the best or, barring that, which one will suck the least. As usual, I consult RottenTomatoes.com's famous Tomatometer.

I was thinking I'd go see Nicolas Cage's new science fiction film Knowing in which Nic plays some sciency type who opens up a time capsule from 50 years ago to find some pages with numbers scribbled all over them. In a bit of stunt plotting in which it actually occurs to him to examine these pages, he discovers some sort of pattern or code or whatever that shows these 50 year old numbers predicted every major disaster that occurred during those 50 years including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the release of the movie Australia. Oh sure, it looks dumb but it also has an Oscar winner who usually manages to do something interesting in even his worst movies and lots of stuff blows up in the trailer so it should be at least mildly entertaining and the slovenliness of the filmmaking isn't embarrassing, it should be okay. What did the critics on the Tomatometer say? I'll start with Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer:
The slovenliness of the filmmaking is embarrassing.
CRAP! Most of the critics seem to be like that. It currently only has a 27% positive rating. Another typical example is Matt Pais at Metromix.com.
Too ridiculous to be taken seriously and too serious to be dismissed as mindless trash.
On the other hand, we have this atypical example.
Knowing is among the best science-fiction films I've seen -- frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome.
That's from Roger Ebert. So, should I listen to Ebert or some internet doof I've never heard of? I'll have to think about that.

The other two movies are Duplicity, a thriller about corporate intrigue and I Love You, Man, the new comedy from Judd Apatow and company. Unfortunately, RottenTomatoes.com decided to go down just when I went to see how they were doing so SCREW 'EM! If they couldn't take the time to make sure a third party website was up when I went to go research their movies then they must not want my business very much.

Anyway, before it went down, Duplicity was scoring a little over 50%. It's about a couple of ex-spies played by Clive Owen and Julia Roberts who are trying to rip off some some of super secret thingie from some rich douchebags or something like that. I would just work under the assumption that it wouldn't be any good since thrillers about slick con jobs are hard to pull off but it is written and directed by the same guy who did Michael Clayton so it's possible that the 50% of the critics who didn't like it all saw the same screening in which Duplicity was accidentally replaced with a rough cut of Hannah Montana: the Movie and wondered what the hell was going on (though I'm sure they marveled at the makeup job that made Julia Roberts look 16 again).

As for I Love You, Man, well, it's an Apatow comedy (produced by him anyway) so it'll probably have something going for it. Even Pineapple Express had a few good scenes. Also, before the site went down, I think it was clocking at around 80% positive. The plot, which consists of Paul Rudd playing a mangina who befriends a total psycho A-Hole, well, it's a Judd Apatow movie and it doesn't have a stoned James Franco wearing a blond wig so, what the hell?

You know, there are loads of other movie sites where I could probably find a collection of critics' quotes. Maybe I'll...nah, who am I kidding? I still go to the restaurant where I once got E. Coli so I won't be abandoning RottenTomatoes anytime soon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Which Mountain?

Race To Witch Mountain is the greatest movie ever. I'm assuming that everyone reading this is 12 or under. If you are not, you may disagree with that first statement.

From an adult perspective, I can say it's a cute little movie that was sort of entertaining, mildly interesting and several other descriptive phrases that all contain words like "almost" and "not quite". The plot is kind of like Day The Earth Stood Still except this isn't so fucking solemn. (Oops, sorry about the language, 12 year olds. Hopefully you have responsible parents who made sure to activate controls and language filters. If you don't then fuck it, cause you've seen way worse than this.)

The movie opens as the government tracks a spaceship about to crash land on Earth. Mind you, this isn't the actual government that can't find Osama bin Laden or thinks to include limits to executive pay when shoveling huge sums of money to failing financial institutions. No, this is the all powerful and supremely competent government that exists in movies and television that easily covers up any and all existence of extraterrestrials. In this case, the government is represented by Henry Burke (Ciaran Hinds, one of my favorite character actors) who heads up a top secret facility in the Nevada desert called Witch Mountain. Since a movie made mainly for kids needs a simplistic villain and tracking down aliens who've crashed on Earth is actually a perfectly reasonable thing for the government to do, they had to make Henry Burke a total dick by making his personal philosophy toward aliens something along the lines of, "Dissect First, Ask Questions Later."

We don't want them to be dissected when we see that the aliens are a couple of cute blond kids with the exotic alien names of Seth and Sara (Alexander Ludwig and Annasophia Robb). Even though they possess superpowers and advanced technological rescources, they can't get by without the help of some apathetic loser tough guy who can single handedly take on not only the entire U.S. government but a heavily armed and shielded alien bounty hunter. Enter Jack Bruno (Dwayne "The Rock? No, you must be thinking of someone else" Johnson). Jack is a cab driver who used to be a wheel man for gangsters. This gives the movie an excuse to toss in several highly dangerous car chases. The kids just sort of appear in his cab and tell him to head off into the desert where they are confronted by Burke and his crew. His offensive driving skills combined with Sara's telekinesis and Seth's ability to manipulate density make it possible for them to trash Burke's vehicles and, even though Burke found them easily the first time, he is unable to find them again even though he knew where they were going.

It turns out the kids were trying to find some sort of data collection station hidden inside these balls of alien goo that would give them information on how to save their dying planet and blah blah blah it's not really important what it is. All that matters is that the kids have it and both the government and a powerful alien bounty hunter try to take it from them before they can get back to their spaceship which has been moved to Witch Mountain. Luckily, all they need to get in (in addition to Jack Bruno and his complete personality change) is a sexy NASA scientist played by Carla Gugino and a crazy alien hunter played by Garry Marhsall who can't really be called crazy anymore once he gets to be on a first name basis with actual aliens.

Yeah, it's a dumb plot but I can hold it to lower standards than I would for something like Day The Earth Stood Still because, unlike DTESS, it's not designed to depress the crap out of you. Even though both movies have similar themes and environmental messages, this is an escapist fantasy for kids. It has just enough jokes, action and special effects to keep you entertained and not even be bothered by the fact that a heavily fortified, top secret government facility would probably have figured that they shouldn't make their exhaust pipes big enough for people to climb around in and, if they do, shouldn't leave them unguarded.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

World of Mikecraft

Too busy to write today. Come back tomorrow. Until then, enjoy this video I made a few years ago when I played World of Warcraft. It got 33,000 hits on Warcraftmovies.com and over 100,000 YouTube hits* so I guess somebody liked it. Yes, that is what I sound like. Try not to fall in love with me.

*I know it says 7,000 but several other people posted it, one of whom even claiming to have made it, and that all adds up to around 100,000.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

All About The Benjamins

I was expecting Kings to suck because it's been the pattern over the past decade that even the very best shows have a horrible first episode. This usually happens because the creators have good, innovative, original ideas and then network executives come in with ever so helpful suggestions like, "How about we take your police procedural and make it about an elite crime fighting unit made up of former strippers?" or, "Would it be possible for one of the characters to be a cigar smoking chimp?" Often a show has to get decent ratings before the showrunners can say, "We're doing it my way now," and then a show can really take off. Even TV legend Joss Whedon, when making his new show Dollhouse, had conflicts with people who thought they knew better than the guy who had two hit series under his belt. I'm not sure how this happened but Kings has managed to avoid all this and present a first episode that, while not perfect, was interesting from the get-go.

The story is set in the fictional kingdom of Gilboa and its capitol city of Shiloh. Gilboa is more or less supposed to be what the United States would be if it were a monarchy. It's very much a modern U.S. City in which a mostly Caucasian population speaks English with American accents. It opens as King Silas Benjamin (Ian McShane*) publicly celebrates the rebuilding of Shiloh after a war several years earlier. Watching the festivities on television is David Shephard, a character apparently named by a new program called Microsoft Totally Unsubtle Television Character Name Generator 2009. David's name is not unusual. The show is filled with symbolism and foreshadowing like that. The country's most prominent religious leader, Reverend Samuels (Eammon Walker), happens to pull into the gas station run by the Shepherd family and that's where he meets David. I'm not sure if Samuels holds an official position akin to that of the Archbishop of Canterbury but he at least wields a great deal of influence with the public and it's revealed that he is the one who, as the Archbishop does, officially lays the crown on the head of the King while declaring the procedure to be chock full of Godly goodness. Thus, it is significant that he seems to sense something special in this quiet, unassuming gas station attendant in some nameless small town.

Jumping ahead two years, we see that all that, "peace in our time," crap they were talking about has fallen by the wayside as they are now at war with Gath, Gilboa's northern neighbor. David and his brother are serving on the front lines when they here that Gath has ambushed one of their companies and taken the only two survivors as hostages. They're told there will be no rescue attempt made, something that doesn't sit well with David which leads to the premiere episode's only truly dumb moment. David figures out that his fellow soldiers are being held very close to the front lines near where the enemy keeps its tanks. This means if there is an airstrike on the tanks, the hostages who are so very precious to the Gathians will be blown up. David easily sneaks into the enemy camp as Gath doesn't see the necessity in surrounding its front line camps with trenches, barbed wire, land mines, guard dogs or sentries equipped with night vision goggles. They also don't bother to post any guards in or around the tent in which the two men are being held. This makes me wonder why the hell Gilboa is having so much trouble with Gath, but no matter as David manages to successfully rescue the men and discovers that one of them is Jack Benjamin, son of Gilboan King Silas Benjamin. This is where the show kicks into gear.

In addition to his legitimate gratitude for saving the life of his son, the King sees David's status as a national hero as something that can be used to his own advantage. This thrusts David into the intrigue and politics of the King's Court and his life becomes an opera plot. Jack, the King's rescued son, turns out to be an ungrateful douchebag when he grows jealous of the favor the King shows toward David, the guy who risked everything to save his life. That and the fact that Jack and his father don't get along too well (for reasons made clear in the second hour) serve as a breeding ground for a possible betrayal on Jack's part.

David is out of his depth in his new role as Military Liaison to the press but gets by on his fame and small town charm. He really only stays around because of his attraction to Michelle Benjamin (Allison Miller), the King's daughter. The attraction is mutual which draws the King's ire, especially when David grows openly angry with the King's decision to end the truce with Gath. King Silas' mood wasn't helped any by the fact that he was blackmailed by a powerful defense contractor to restart the war with Gath. It will, after a tragic event, take yet another insane act of bravery on David's part to shut this whole war down again.

Kings has made by one of the same people who created Heroes which explains why the show looks so promising. I can see this whole thing falling apart very easily. At best, it will turn out to be a sophisticated drama about complex characters, especially King Silas who is mildly corrupt yet cares deeply about his people and his country. Still, the two hour premiere is probably the best thing NBC has made since the first season of Heroes so I'll be tuning in, at least until they add a wisecracking precocious kid who has a habit of making inappropriately sexual remarks. Or maybe they'll just go all out and add a talking car or turn Jack into a super villain who eats the brains and absorbs the powers of his enemies. Until then, I'll be tuning in.

*Star of the HBO's Deadwood, I show that I absolutely loved even though I never saw it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday Night Dive

I don't have much time to write today so I'll just say this: how much longer can Saturday Night Live have one clunker episode after another before someone says, "Uh, maybe we shouldn't have one clunker episode after another?" From what I understand, only 1 out of every 10 pitched ideas gets the go-ahead to be fleshed out into a full sketch. That means that there were 9 ideas worse than this:

They used to do that Brian Fellows sketch all the time when Tracy Morgan was a regular cast member and it always sucked so I guess someone there must have said, "The odds that it will be good are bound to change in our favor this time around, right?" Even Morgan's mastery of the "dim witted, possibly high" character he always plays in everything he does isn't enough to overcome the "tell the same joke over and over again" comedy formula that the folks behind SNL embraced years ago, a formula that they decided to double down on when they wrote this piece of crap:

"Huuuhh?" "Hrrrrmmm." "Uh huh!" People got paid huge sums of money to write that. Last but most certainly least, we have something that could have been written by a computer:

This is the point in the show where I asked myself, "Why do I still watch this show?" and erased it off my DVR. I have no idea if it got better after that and I don't want to know so don't tell me.

On 30 Rock this week, Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy character stole away the people who write the fictional sketch comedy show produced by Tina Fey's Liz Lemon. His solution to her dilemma is that she just write all the sketches herself, which she does. I thought that was a thoroughly unbelievable situation until I saw this week's SNL. I now see it as the only plausible explanation for why the show has blown goats (with the exception of Tina Fey's Sarah Palin sketches) all season long.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 64

I always thought the best way to keep your identity hidden was to put on black rimmed glasses and comb your hair slightly differently. Turns out the best way to do that is just don a blond wig.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Mixture Of Tids And Bits

There are loads of subjects for which I can't come up with enough material to devote a full post. If only I could do a post that's a mixture of short subjects. Oh wait, I CAN do that. In your face, loyal readership!


All these years, I never knew that Last House On The Left took its plot from an Ingmar Bergman film. I guess it shouldn't surprise me too much. I've seen Jane Austen and Shakespeare remade as teen sex comedies so why should Bergman be spared? Still, it was rather jarring to find that out. Bergman's Virgin Spring was based on an old Swedish story about a girl who is raped and murdered which causes her father to avenge her death when the killers show up at his house offering to sell him his own daughter's clothing. This, obviously, is how Last House On The Left can say they're not lying when they make the bullshit claim that the film is, "based on a true story." If I ever sit down and write a book called How To Watch Movies Like Mike Does Rule #1 will be: "Know that when a horror movie claims it's based on a true story, you are watching a work of such complete fiction that you should be skeptical if the movie is set on Earth." Rule #2? Always wear pants. Maybe the need for that rule is just my problem.

I've also never seen Bergman's Scenes From A Marriage. I wonder if Friday the 13th was based on that.


Speaking of Friday the 13th, that was going to be the title of today's post because, well, look at your calendar. I changed my mind because of this. That link leads to something I titled The Reader and it holds the record at this site for most pageloads. People go looking for information on that Kate Winslet movie and find this, something that was called The Reader as a joke. I've thought of taking it down but Google would probably just take people to its cache of the page if I did and I do love those big hit numbers.


To answer the question asked in this link's headline: NO NO NO PLEASE GOD A THOUSAND TIMES NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

On the off chance that the link didn't work for you the question was: Is Another RIDDICK Movie On The Way??

Pitch Black was a decent movie. This spawned a sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, which was the exact opposite of a decent movie. The good news is that it's really, really easy for projects like this to get derailed for reasons as varied as script problems to a bird chirping too loudly when the studio execs are trying to make up their minds about greenlighting it.


Uh, shouldn't you get your second movie done before worrying about who's going to direct your third? Just asking.


So much for all that, "We swear #3 is the last one," crap.


And finally, the Star Trek movie looks like it may actually be pretty good. This trailer has moved me into the "cautiously optimistic" category. We'll know in another two months. Until then...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Right Wing Movie Reviews -- Watchmen

Periodically, I'm contacted by conservative blogger Gotterdamerung. It always involves some sort of perceived political sleight for which he demands space on this site for the purposes of balance. Lately, he's been busy writing for Big Hollywood (maybe you saw his column in which he courageously took the stand that Michael Moore is fat) so this must have really ticked him off. -- MC

Hi all, Gotterdamerung here. Watchmen is the perfect showcase for Hollywood Liberalism and its anti-American values. Frankly, Hollywood must think we're morons but then again, only a moron would have gone to see it. Watchmen is evil, vicious, depraved, disgusting and gluitinous. I don't even think that last one is a word but neither is Watchmen. Do you see my point?

I wonder how much money it took to corrupt poor Zach Snyder who previously directed 300, a movie that was both the greatest thing ever put onto the big screen and the perfect showcase for right wing values. That movie made it okay for guys like me who are 150% heterosexual to look at men with rippling muscles in loincloths and drool with lust. And no Liberals, I'm not talking about lust for the kind of filthy gay sex that you all love. I haven't wanted to do that since my parents sent me to that prayer camp. I'm talking about a sort of clean, wholesome American experience that can only happen between men who--oh, what's the point? Liberals and their militant gay homosexualism will never understand such a thing.

Watchmen is an attempt by Liberal filmmakers to take the history of our center-right country and rewrite it as some sort of silly leftist fantasy. The movie takes place in 1985 and it's wrong from the get-go. Oh, they thought they were so clever they way they got everything wrong on purpose. They really thought we wouldn't notice. For example, in the movie, Richard Nixon is still President. Well, guess what, Liberals! Richard Nixon wasn't President in 1985, Ronald Reagan was. I know because I looked it up on Wikipedia. This is the most disgusting attempt Liberals have ever made at trying to smear Reagan's legacy. They're actually trying to make us believe that Ronald Reagan was never President. The fact that they thought to use good ol' Dick Nixon shows exactly how crafty they are. I know I was distracted by the warm, comforting idea that the legacy of this great man was finally being given its due by Hollywood especially after cinematic atrocities like Frost/Nixon*. I can't express the level of outrage I felt when I realized the so called "history" that this movie was trying to pass off as fact.

Another issue I have is with the so called "heroes" in this so called "movie." First, their colorful, flamboyant, tight costumes are clearly another attempt at normalizing and mainstreaming radical, homosexual behavior. This is topped off by seeing Dr. Manhattan's perfect body completely naked. I challenge even the straightest man out there to admit that he didn't have at least a twinge of gay longing. Then you have the movie's most conservative character, Rorschach. He often rants against liberals and our sexually filthy culture in such a way that he ought to be given his own shows on talk radio and Fox News yet he's treated as a complete psychopath. To show that I was displeased about this, I "went John Galt" and only ate half of the large popcorn I purchased at the concession stand. I'm sure they got the message.

Just because the shameless whores and crack dealers of Hollywood deal this stuff out doesn't mean you have to buy their poison and infect your kids' minds with it. I'm not just worried about this movie. I'm also worried about the movies that even more disgusting and depraved movies that will be made a decade from now. Those movies will probably try to tell us that George W. Bush was a bad President, that his war in Iraq was unpopular, that the conservative economic policies of the Bush administration led the country to financial ruin, that Jack Bauer wasn't real and that Barack Obama was a Christian who wasn't born in Kenya. Hopefully by then, President Palin will be have been able to find a way to shut down Hollywood for good so that every movie will be made by the people who made Fireproof.

If not, G-d help us all.

*A movie I never saw but I think it made the claim that, during the entire course of the Nixon Presidency, there were killer frosts every day and all our crops died. Again, Wikipedia told me this wasn't true. Liberals and their lies are truly disgusting.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


There are three big releases coming out this Friday and I feel that they deserve some brief comment and analysis due to the fact that this is the only topic I could come up with. None of these have Tomatometer ratings yet so I have to go on my gut instinct, the same gut instinct that told me no one would want to go see Bride Wars, a movie which had a record opening for that week.

First up is Race To Witch Mountain. I hate making predictions based on nothing but my native instincts (see above reference to Bride Wars) but I'm willing to bet this will be a big hit. It's got Dwayne "Don't Call Me The Rock, A-Hole!" Johnson playing a cab driver who has to escort two alien kids back to their crashed spaceship for what are probably very good reasons though I don't know what they are. If an alien asked me to bring him back to his ship, I'd probably say yes without question knowing that there was a better than average chance that I'd wind up in some intergalactic zoo. It's a Disney film with a well known star in a market that currently has little to no competition, at least not where family films are concerned. Also, despite my recent complaints about remakes, it looks like it might be pretty good so sure, go ahead and bet your kid's college fund on this being the week's #1.

Up next we have another remake, Last House On The Left. I have no idea if this will be better or worse than the original since the original is a movie I have never been able to finish after I rented it several years ago. The plot, of the original anyway, involved two girls who get kidnapped by a gang of sadistic criminals who repeatedly rape and torture them, even forcing them to have sex with each other. What happened then? I have no idea. That was when I hit the STOP button on the VCR and returned the tape*. The only reason I rented it was because of an excellent review from Roger Ebert, a review he still stands by today in which he compared the film to the works of Sam Peckinpah and Ingmar Bergman. I see from the ads for the new film that killers at least met a certain type of justice and original director Wes Craven seems to give his seal of approval to this remake so, who knows? Maybe it'll be good. I doubt I'll see it so I won't know.

Finally, we have Miss March, a movie whose title you will have forgotten by this time next week. This looks like one of those dumb comedies that confuses the words "stupid" and "gross" with the word "funny". The plot involves...oh hell, who gives a damn?

So, there you have it. None of what I said may matter since it's quite possible everyone will just go and see Watchmen again. If that does happen, this counts as a prediction.

*Ask your parents what I mean when I talk about VCRs and tapes, kids.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fury of Solace

I have no idea how popular this video is. I'm usually hit # 10,000,001 on YouTube when it comes to viral videos so this could be something that everybody knows about except me. I heard about it a few days ago and just got around to watching it today. It's an amateur made web video called Fury of Solace and I wasn't expecting much and much was what I didn't not get...not much was what I...screw it, here's the video.

Submitted for your approval: Fury of Solace's application for admission into the Evil League of Evil from Fury of Solace on Vimeo.

I wasn't even going to watch it since I thought it would be nothing but some dumb little piece of Dr. Horrible fanfic. It's not perfect. In fact, it's pretty damn far from being perfect. What really grabbed me was the concept. I kept going back in my mind to the idea of a man who has to do something horrible in order for something good to happen. Mind you, if some guy came up to me and said, "Kill this girl's parents so she can become a superhero," I'd probably be a tad skeptical. You know, maybe demand to see his Powerpoint presentation on the subject or something like that. Still, this is the superhero world and if people in that world stopped to question every half-baked prophecy they heard, they'd never get anything done.

I wonder what they could have done if they'd had a budget bigger than however much change they happened to have in their pockets on shooting day. Maybe the girl could have done some actual superhero stuff instead of walking casually on rooftops and down ladders. As I said, though, I have to take it for what it is. With all its flaws, the idea behind the project still managed to grab me. Reading their website, I'm not even sure of the next chapter in this story will be another video or a webcomic but I am at least mildly intrigued as to where it's going next.

UPDATE 3/10/09 -- Emmett Furey, Fury of Solace's writer, director, producer, star and, I assume, the guy who went out for KFC when everyone got hungry and who had to unplug the toilet on the set when someone backed it up, emailed me to thank me for the write up. He clarified for me that episode 2 will be in the form of a webcomic while #3 will be another video. I'm not sure how well that's going to work but, then again, it's free so who am I to complain? I hope he doesn't think I'm more than some dude on the internet who writes as a hobby and that I have some vast following I can deliver to him in the form of new fans.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Moore Money

Let me congratulate the planet for ignoring all the bad things said about Watchmen, the movie made from Alan Moore's famous graphic novel, and giving it such a strong opening, mainly because I had been wanting to use that title and now it fits. I feel like you all did this for me. Up until now, I've only been able to comment on the stupid things other people have been saying about Watchmen. Now I can say by own stupid...wait, let me start over.

Watchmen is possibly the best cinematic superhero adaptation to date, and that's saying a lot after last year's releases of Iron Man and Dark Knight. I had read the graphic novel first and the only thing I'm really wondering about is whether people who hadn't could appreciate it on the same level I did. Director Zach Snyder managed to pack way more of the book's content into just under three hours of film than I would have thought possible but there's still a great deal of content that didn't make it in. I feel like the girl I met at a showing of Twilight who was a fan of the books and described as "amazing" a movie I found to be mediocre.

One of the things Alan Moore tried to do two decades ago when he wrote Watchmen was try to answer the question, "What would happen if superheroes actually existed?" When you really think about it, the answer is obvious. Real vigilantes usually turn out to be, to one degree or another, total head cases and so it is with Watchmen. The heroes in this story are, to varying degrees, mentally ill.

The movie opens in 1985 with the murder of Edward Blake who was better known in his world as the Comedian. This takes place in an alternate timeline where masked heroes have existed since World War II (an inspired animated credit sequence quickly brings people up to speed on how different the world is because of that). It's established later that he was killed because he had discovered that an atrocity was about to happen. It's also established later that Blake was a thoroughly amoral man so if he thought of something as "an atrocity" then it must be pretty damn bad. Like some of our better comedians, Blake had the ability to wryly cut through the spin other people create about themselves and the world and expose to people the truth about themselves, like when he informs one hero that the only reason he puts on a mask and beats up criminals is because of the sexual thrill he gets out of it.

The thread that binds the plot together is Rorschach, a madman who put on an unsettling shifting inkblot mask so he could mete out the extreme punishments he feels the guilty deserve. He has contempt for pretty much everything because he does not see the complexities of human nature. You are either good or evil. The one who robs a bank for the hell of it is the same as the one who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family in Rorschach's eye. After masked vigilantes were finally outlawed in 1977, Rorschach is the only one who remained active which is why he's the only one who investigates the Comedian's death.

His investigation leads him to his old partner, Dan Dreider, who was once known as Nite Owl before the law made him give that up. Dreider's become a rather pathetic figure since his retirement, partly due to his loss of idealism and partly due to the fact that he more or less feels that a large portion of his manhood is wrapped up in the costume he used to wear. From there, Dreider and Rorschach go to see the last three members of the group formerly known as the Watchmen.

Dreider goes to visit Adrian Veidt, formerly known as Ozymandias. Veidt revealed his identity to the world after 1977 and used his fame and intellect (some call him the world's smartest man) to build a vast financial empire. Unlike Dreider, Veidt hasn't lost one bit of his youthful idealism. He still thinks he can save the world through his logic, his will and his good intentions. What we find out later is that good intentions really can be the road to Hell.

Rorschach goes to see Laurie Jupiter and Jon Ostermann. Laurie is the daughter of the Silk Spectre, a famous crime fighter from the 40s who more or less forced Laurie to take up where she left off. Her boyfriend is Jon Ostermann, also known as Dr. Manhattan, a man who can't really be called human anymore. After an accident with something called an Intrinsic Field Separator in 1959, Ostermann attained godlike powers and is the only one of the group who can truly be called a "Super" Hero. Dr. Manhattan, over the last quarter century, has moved further and further away from humanity due to his powers and his ability truly see all the layers of the space/time continuum. To him, past, present and future are now all the same. He even blandly comments that it doesn't matter if people die since their dead bodies have the same molecules as their live ones.

As the story unfolds, we see how some of the world's most powerful people try to overcome their own weaknesses and limitations to try to solve the Comedian's death before it's too late. Literally, the fate of the world is at stake. The Russians, terrified of Dr. Manhattan, have built up a massive stockpile of nukes and are getting ready to use them. Also, there's whatever the Comedian was trying to prevent, a horror show in its own right. I'm not Anthony Lane so all I will reveal about that is that it's truly a classic super villain plot. The answers and the movie's resolution are not simple. Some people found it unsatisfying. I didn't.

As I said, I compare seeing Watchmen to seeing Twilight. It will truly and ultimately be appreciated by the fans of the book. Like the teenage girls who loved Twilight, I can say that I loved Watchmen in a way most who never read the book will. I can honestly say that, for the first time in my life, I know what it is to be a teenage girl.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Willnac The Magnificent

I was actually all set to just skip any updates today and just take the weekend off yet here I am. The reason I am here is, of course, Big Hollywood, the right wing show business group blog that Andrew Breitbart and his cohorts probably think of as an online version of Galt's Gulch.

Anyway, the reason I'm breaking my rule--well, not a rule, but a strongly recommended guideline--against doing more than one Big Hollywood article per week and not sitting comfortably in the living room watching last night's Lost is because of this gem that dared to show its face in my Google Reader. It's written by comic book writer Bill Willingham. Willingham has already annoyed me in previous BH writings, which was why I couldn't just let this one slide, like when he got upset because a black man dared to suggest that there just might still be a smidge of racism left in America. Willingham's response can pretty much be summed up as, "Nope, not even a smidge, unless you're talking about racism against white heterosexuals in which case there's boatloads."

Isn't much of that in today's offering. Instead of complaints about the loss of White Male Privilege, what we have today is simply an example of something that, if such a thing existed, could have been the cover story of No Shit, Sherlock! Magazine. Basically, Willingham uses his years of professional experience to join the Guys Who Say Dumb Things About The Watchmen Club. Judged against his previous work, it's not especially offensive. It was just so mind bogglingly trite, stupid and boring that, as much as I wanted to, I couldn't let it go. Someone at BH asked Willingham to make some predictions and he responded by showing that they could have saved their money by instead asking any commenter from Harry Knowles' message boards as they could have said exactly the same things.
1) It will be quite successful, financially, and will not, as many have predicted, suffer a sudden drop-off once the hardest of the hard core geek contingent all see it on opening weekend. This is just a gut feeling. I have no evidence or inside information to support it.
Wow, it's just amazing how he's predicting that a major, high concept studio released action film with huge advance favorability ratings and buttloads of already sold out screenings that's coming out on a weekend in which it has no real competition would make money.
2) This success will inspire those who currently run Hollywood to do other “Watchmen”-like projects, only to be dismayed when they discover there aren’t any similar properties available.
Hey, that's even better. Willingham is predicting that the movie industry whose products roughly round out to 1/3 sequels, 1/3 remakes and the remaining 1/3 being ripoffs of those sequels and remakes would see a hugely successful film and try to make something just like it. And...um...I'm sorry, there aren't any similar properties available? In the time it took me to write that sentence, a dozen graphic novels about dark, nihilistic superhero deconstructions popped into my head, some of them written before Watchmen was a gleam in Alan Moore's eye. Hell, Alan Moore's Miracleman covered a lot of the same ground.

Predictions 3, 4, 5 and 6 also ironically cover the "Hollywood is so unoriginal" ground over and over again so let's skip to #7.
7) About twenty minutes into the film, about half of the audience will realize this isn’t a superhero movie, even though it was marketed as such.
He actually goes on for a while about this and I'm not a hundred percent sure what he's talking about. I was rereading Watchmen over the weekend and I distinctly recall people in flamboyant costumes fighting crime, one of whom possesses the power to manipulate atoms, see the future and teleport to Mars so it's not going to be mistaken for a Jane Austen adaptation.
At least one self-appointed victims group will express its indignation that the presence of Gunga Diners in the city scenes are an intentional slight against (East) Indians, and probably the Muslim world to boot.
Ah, he remembered he was writing for Big Hollywood so he had to make at least one allusion to those wacky minorities and their crazy political correctness even if, so far, it's occurred only in his imagination. I predict that if the complaints happen because the Indian characters are portrayed as racist stereotypes who speak in outrageous accents, allow a sacred cow to walk all over their restaurant and suddenly break into a big Bollywood musical number for no reason pausing only to behead a guy who couldn't pay his bill, Willingham and every other right wing blogger on the planet will dismiss their complaints with the phrase "Lighten up."
9) Alan Moore, who wanted nothing to do with the film, will never see it.
GENIUS! He actually managed to predict that Watchmen creator Alan Moore, who has said in numerous interviews that he has no intention of ever seeing this, will never see this.
10) The character Rorschach will enter the greater public consciousness as an icon of the left’s view of extreme right wingers — which, of course, includes all conservatives.
I predict that Rorschach will join Leonidas and Jack Bauer in the pantheon of those No Nonsense-Tough Guy-Do Anything To Get The Job Done icons to whom conservatives with man boobs and small penises like to compare themselves except when they say stuff like, "Barack Obama treats taxpayers the same way Rorschach treats criminals."

If the title makes no sense to you, it's because you don't remember Johnny Carson's famous psychic character Carnac the Magnificent, a man who would be presented questions in sealed envelopes and answer them before he opened them. Carson would hold the envelope up to his head, say the answer, open it and say the question, all for humorius effect. It went something like this:

ANSWER: Kevin Sorbo, William Shatner and Bill Willingham

QUESTION: Can you name a Herc, a Kirk and a Jerk?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Baehrly Coherent

For those of you just catching up, Big Hollywood is a website that has gathered conservative douchebags from far and wide and formed a group blog to discuss show business. I should stress that when I say "conservative douchebags" I don't mean all conservatives. I'm not talking about they who think taxes are too high and that school choice vouchers would be a good idea. No, when I say "conservative douchebags", I'm talking about the people who debate amongst themselves whether it is the Mexicans or the Muslims who are secretly running the country or that they possess proof that the true father of Barack Obama's children is William Ayres. That's the type that writes for Big Hollywood and I keep reading them and writing about them because I find the way in which they filter show business through the narrow, distorted prism of an extreme right wing world view to be the height of hilarity. A normal person who disliked the movie Cloverfield might say, "I didn't care for the actors, it was too dark and the camera shook too much." A Big Hollywood writer, on the other hand, would say, "I couldn't stand Cloverfield because of its political correctness and liberal bias. The monster shouldn't have been a giant fish. It should have been a Muslim."

Today I'm going to talk about a topic you see covered a lot at Big Hollywood, that being the idea that Hollywood movies with an unabashedly liberal viewpoint will eventually drive the movie audience away and kill the entire industry. Such a viewpoint is expressed in this article by Dr. Ted Baehr. As is usual in cases like this, Baehr proves his case by embracing the evidence that fits his assertion while ignoring the evidence that says his assertion has the same credibility as the assertions made by the guy on the street corner who screams how the government is suppressing the perpetual motion machine.

Baehr starts talking about the same guy that everyone who writes for Big Hollywood mentions sooner or later, Sean Penn.
What Sean Penn and other Communist sympathizers in Hollywood refuse to recognize (at least publicly) is that American moviegoers usually reject movies that unabashedly promote a Communist or socialist viewpoint.
A quick scan of Sean Penn's IMDB profile failed to tell me which of Penn's films promote a Communist or socialist viewpoint. The only thing I can figure is that Baehr harked all the way back to 1982's Fast Times At Ridgemont High. When Penn's Jeff Spicoli character famously said, "Hey bud, let's party," Baehr must have thought he had said, "Let's party, and by that I mean THE COMMUNIST PARTY MUAHAHAHA!"

After this, Baehr gets really funny. Oh, not intentionally so. It starts getting funny when he tries to deceive us by using averages.
In fact, this year, MOVIEGUIDE® calculates that movies released in 2008 coming from a more liberal or leftist sensibility (including Steven Soderbergh’s movie honoring Che Guevara, “Mamma Mia!” and Bill Maher’s “Religulous”) averaged only $11.4 million at the box office...
HA HA HA HA HA! Oh Lordie, I've read that twenty times now and I still laugh. First, let's talk about his list of movies, "coming from a more liberal or leftist sensibility." He mentions Che, the life story of a Communist revolutionary, Religulous, Bill Maher's documentary promoting atheism and Mamma Mia, the story of and hey wait a minute WHAT THE FUCK? Mamma Mia? Mamma Mia is being used in the same example as movies about Communism and godlessness? When I saw Mamma Mia, I thought I was just watching a movie that pissed me off because, in addition to generally disliking ABBA, I thought the whole production was generally stupid and boring. I didn't realize I was looking at a Marxist screed. Ever since I read that, I've been racking my brain trying to remember the scene where Meryl Streep held up a red hammer-and-sickle flag or where Pierce Brosnan was reading Trotski's The Lessons of October. I think Baehr included this on the list because the movie is about a woman whose daughter is trying to discover which of the three men her mom had sex with around the same time period is her father. Have I mentioned before that Ted Baehr is a religious wackjob who thinks premarital sex makes the Baby Jesus cry? I guess if you see the world that way then yeah, sure, a woman who was briefly promiscuous in her youth is on par with, if not worse than, a political philosophy that violently oppresses the rights and dignity of the individual in favor of subservience to the State. Hell, I don't know why I didn't see it before now.

Anyway, I was going to talk about averages. Baehr took the grosses of the three movies he named and said that they averaged $11.4 million which makes me say: Dr. Baehr, how stupid are you? Or how stupid do you think we are? Averages can be loads of fun for people who like to make stuff up since you can simultaneously be telling the truth and a lie at the same time. To achieve his precious "average" Baehr took the $1.3 million gross of Che and averaged it in with the $13 million gross of Religulous and...wait for it...the FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETYSEVEN MILLION DOLLAR GROSS of Mamma Mia. To put that into perspective, if you take the net worth of me, Donald Trump and Warren Buffett, our average personal fortunes are around $10 billion dollars which means I can finally afford that iPod Touch I've been wanting. Baehr also showed us that he can't do math since the actual average gross of those three films is a over $197 million. This makes me think that Baehr got his PhD from some sort of program that gives out doctorates to retarded people who learn not to stick corn up their noses.

Baehr wasn't done with his one man show, Uncle Ted's Fun With Numbers.
...but that movies with more conservative content, including the new Indiana Jones movie where the villain is a spy from the Soviet Union, “Prince Caspian” and the Christian movie “Fireproof,” which attacked the porn industry, averaged $81.2 million.
Would you be surprised if I told you that one of those movies made less than half that? Fireproof is considered to be a hit only because it cost so little to make. Otherwise, its $35 million dollar gross wouldn't have been considered to be the least bit impressive. Since he's picking and choosing, I don't know why he didn't just knock out Fireproof and toss in The Dark Knight. Then his precious Jesus & Bush-friendly average would have been over $500 million.

Anyway, Hollywood had a record year in 2008 and, according to Big Hollywood's own reporting, is on its way to breaking that record in 2009. If Ted Baehr is right and they're all Communists under the Marxist mind control spell of Fearless Leader Sean Penn, then Penn is doing a lousy job because these people are the worst Communists ever.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Since Before Your Sun Burned Hot In Space, I Have Awaited A Question


1) Does anyone know why, when someone has a vision of the future and decides to share it with the world, they can't just say, "This event will happen at this time on this date," and instead doing stupid things like scribble loads of numbers on a sheet of paper and hope someone will figure it out before tragedy strikes?

2) As always, why don't they just leave the house when they find out it's haunted?

3) How long do you think they spent trying to think up titles before saying, "Screw it, let's just use the same title over again"?

4) Does no one know that they can stay home from the movies and see this character for free on TV?

5) If you were magically made young again, do you think you'd be such a fucking idiot about it?

The answer to all of these questions is 42.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Anthony Lane Is A Dumbass or Who Morons The Moronmen?

Anthony Lane is a dumbass. Well, that was easiest post I ever wrote. Guess I'll go watch some Doctor Who DVDs. Oh wait, you probably want me to prove that.

Anthony Lane is a film critic for The New Yorker, a magazine famous for giving English teachers something to show their classrooms when they're trying to teach the definition of the word "pompous". I'm not sure if I've ever read Anthony Lane before since the only times I have ever picked up a copy of The New Yorker was when I was in the dentist's office and that's only so I can read the talking animal cartoons, turn up my nose and say, "Gary Larson does those so much better," before I snap the cover shut in a huff of superiority and pick up a copy of Cosmopolitan to find out how I can again fit into my jeans after childbirth. So my life has been Anthony Lane free up till this point until a Variety article linked to his review of Watchmen. Normally, writing for a highbrow publication like The New Yorker automatically makes you a smartass but it's this review that makes him a dumbass.

Mind you, I'm not calling him a dumbass because he trashed the movie. While I loved the original Watchmen series, I'm hardly some rabid fanboy who refuses to accept the idea that the movie may turn out to be as entertaining as a urinary infection. I haven't even seen it yet but even if I thought it was the BESTEST AWESOMEST MOVIEST MOVIE EVER I still would be able to accept the idea that taste differs for various reasons and I wouldn't think someone was a dumbass just because we had different opinions.

Also, I'm not calling him a dumbass for what I will politely refer to as his more entertaining observations like when he describes the background music being played during a scene set in the 1960s.
But must we have “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” in the background? How long did it take the producers to arrive at that imaginative choice? And was Dylan happy to lend his name to a project from which all tenderness has been excised, and which prefers to paint mankind as a bevy of brutes?
While it would be nice to have a 60s scene that wasn't host to "The Times They Are A-Changin" or "All Along The Watchtower", the only thing I can imagine upsetting Bob Dylan would be if his royalty check from the movie's production company didn't clear. Another favorite Lane quote of mine is when he wrote this:
The problem is that Snyder, following Moore, is so insanely aroused by the look of vengeance, and by the stylized application of physical power, that the film ends up twice as fascistic as the forces it wishes to lampoon.
I'm assuming that "twice as fascistic" means that there is a scene where we see a swastika with eight points instead of four. Also, a movie about superheroes that didn't have "the look of vengeance" or "the stylized application of physical power" would be the worst superhero movie ever. There's also this stupid quote:
Incoherent, overblown, and grimy with misogyny, “Watchmen” marks the final demolition of the comic strip, and it leaves you wondering: where did the comedy go?
Uh, yeah. First off, Watchmen was never a comic "strip". It could fairly be described as a comic book or a graphic novel. A comic strip is where Sarge catches Beetle Bailey sleeping on guard duty and makes him wash dishes. Also, neither comic strips nor comic books necessarily have to have comedy in them. This makes me think Anthony Lane once read Maus, Art Spiegelman's famous comic book series about the Holocaust and wondered why it wasn't a laugh riot.

But none of that is why I call him a dumbass.

I call him a dumbass for the same reason I didn't provide a hyperlink to his review. I call him a dumbass because he did something that all save the stupidest IMDB commenters know not to do. I call him a dumbass because he's a dumbass and to call him anything else would be dishonest.

Anthony Lane is a dumbass because, in his review, he blew the movie's ending. Twice. This happens in the third paragraph but he makes sure to do it again at the end just in case someone's cat got sick just when they were reading the third paragraph and that person missed it when he REVEALED THE FUCKING ENDING. Luckily for me, I had read the original comic books so I knew the ending. Nothing got spoiled for me. Maybe Anthony Lane figured that everyone in the country attended the same critic screening he did and already knew the ending. If that's true, he not a dumbass, he's a completely insane dumbass. But no, I suspect that Lane is the type of writer who masturbates to his own work and that revealing the ending turned him on like nothing else.

Jokes aside, I call Anthony Lane a dumbass because I can't figure out why a professional film critic for a major publication with over 15 years of experience under his belt would reveal the ending of an upcoming motion picture and the only possible reasons that make any sense are that he hates all humanity and is basically trolling the entire planet by putting major spoilers into his review without even a hint of warning that he was going to do so or that he's a dumbass. Anthony Lane, I chose to go with Option Two and declare to the world that you pee on electric fences, drink paint, cut your nails with a cheese grater and think that Two And A Half Men is the funniest thing that ever was and the funniest thing that ever will be.

In other words, to end where I began, Anthony Lane is a dumbass.