Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 69

You really should make sure you aren't a character in a movie with a title like Drag Me To Hell. Really, when you have a title like that, odds are someone's getting dragged to Hell. If the movie was called Scramble Me Some Eggs you'd sure as hell expect to see some scrambled eggs, right? This is another helpful tip from me on how to live your life.

By the way, this is Thing I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 69. I am obliged to engage in juvenile behavior whenever I see that number so...WOO SIXTY NINE! OW GIVE IT TO ME!


Friday, May 29, 2009

He Shall Be Levy

Night At The Museum 2 rung in at the number one spot this week. This was not surprising as the first one was the type of movie that caused kids to say, "Please can we see it please please please," to their parents for hours at a time until the spirit of Mom and Dad was sufficiently broken and they were willing to drive to the theater with little kids in the back seat screaming, "THIS IS GONNA BE THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER ooh look McDonalds can we get McDonalds after the movie WHICH IS GONNA BE THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER," in their ears the whole time. What did surprise me was this observation from Deadline Hollywood Daily. It turns out that Museum director Shawn Levy has racked up 6 movies in a row that premiered in either the number 1 or 2 spot. I read that and wondered when exactly I'd been transported to the Bizarro World. I thought it might be useful to do a quick breakdown of these six movies to see how we, as a society, could have allowed this to happen.

Big Fat Liar -- This was okay. I can see kids going nuts over it. It's about a kid (Frankie Muniz) who writes a story that is ripped off by an unscrupulous Hollywood producer (Paul Giamatti who probably has to explain why this movie made more money than his award nominated roles in American Splendor and Sideways). It also introduced us to Amanda Bynes who ended up being the best thing in the movie. She's an underrated actress who really should be getting better roles but that's neither here nor there. What is right here and also over there is that it's a cute family film that made a lot of money with a very low budget.

Just Married -- This, on the other hand, is an abomination of Lovecraftian proportions. Though made in 2001, it sat on the shelf for two years despite having Ashton Kutcher as its star. Why? Because it's a comedy that was extremely stupid and thoroughly unfunny. I suppose Kutcher's star power coupled with the lack of competition that comes with a January release date opened the door and let this pool of crap wash in and soak itself into the carpet that is the movie theater box office. With these two hits under his belt, Levy went on to direct...

Cheaper By The Dozen -- I like this one. Well, sort of. The remake of a couple with 12 kids has Steve Martin as the father doing something Martin does well, that being playing a guy who's often on the verge of completely losing it. This is the best movie on this list. Just Married was the worst which brings us to one that's smack dab in the middle...

The Pink Panther
-- This is one of those movies that never should have been made. Steve Martin must has enjoyed being in a hit film so much that he let Levy talk him into trying to recreate Peter Sellers' iconic character. Martin did all right although his performance suffers when compared to that of Sellers. I think it was Roger Ebert who pointed out that Mike Meyers would have been a better choice but, oh well. We also got to see Beyonce Knowles giving one of the greatest performances ever given when she plays a character who looks like Beyonce Knowles and is supposedly attracted to a complete idiot twice her age. It had a few laughs but not enough to justify the movie's existence although none of that stopped it from opening at #1 and making $158 million worldwide. Unfortunately, all this led to the even worse Pink Panther 2, a sin for which Levy cannot be forgiven.

Night At The Museum -- This was just a lame movie. Good in some spots but mostly dumb and not entertaining. The kids disagreed with me though. They loved the slapping monkeys and the dinosaur skeleton and everything else. They liked it so much that we now have the sequel (haven't seen it yet) that has even more slapping monkeys and a giant octopus to go along with the dinosaur.

So, why is Shawn Levy so successful when his movies never really get better than average? Nikki Finke put it best:
Which just goes to show: never underestimate the drawing power of a family film.
With the exceptions of Just Married and, to a lesser extent, Pink Panther, Levy makes movies that kids love to go see and adults can at least tolerate. I also think I've discovered why his movies aren't very good. It's right there in Nikki Finke's comments section:
And he’s a nice guy.

Comment by Gogo
Mr. Go is right. Shawn Levy is said to be a very nice guy which is why he'll never be a great director. The greatest directors having always been raging assholes. You're not a great director until actors tell stories about you like, "He didn't like the way I expressed myself during a crucial take so he shoved a beer bottle up my ass and smashed it," while still having the actor say that he or she is absolutely in awe of your talent. Hell, Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old girl and still gets to be called one of the great filmmakers. So, there you have it. Our only hope of getting of getting a decent Shawn Levy movie is if he becomes a jerk or a criminal. Until then, let's all look forward to Night At the Museum 3.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Look At My Briefs

Brief comments on various subjects is really more like blogging than the full length reviews or commentaries. I should try to call someone a "ghey ray-tard" at some point to feel like a real blogger.

Twitter is participating in a reality show about people who use Twitter to track down celebrities. Ashton Kutcher does NOT like that idea and, in retaliation, has threatened to...brace yourselves...STOP TWITTERING. Yeah. Just let that sink in for a minute. I fully support Kutcher on this. Everyone knows that stalking celebrities is worse than the Holocaust. Why couldn't they have done a more acceptable form of celebrity humiliation like making them think that their home was being seized by the IRS or make them think that they're doing a charity visit to some sick kids that's actually a cruel prank. Also, if you're going to threaten people to get something you want, shouldn't it be something like, "I'll poison the world's oceans," or something along those lines? If you stop twittering, people will just start following Shaq or Stephen Fry.


This can't possibly fail.
Doing Star Wars without George Lucas is a better idea than doing Buffy without Joss Whedon. The director of the new Buffy movie is said to be the same talent free douchebag who directed the lame 1992 movie, the one who took Joss Whedon's perfectly good script and managed to remove the "perfectly good" from it. Oh well, not much you can do except not see the movie, something I feel won't be much of a sacrifice.


Gee, I wonder who's going to win this award.
Guess there's no possible way to predict. We'll find out on Sunday.


New Doctor Who episodes are finally getting a run in America which makes me say IT'S ABOUT GOD DAMN TIME! Thanks a crapload, England. We save your ass in World War II and this is the thanks we get? I'll have you know that I had to acquire those episodes in a dirty, sleazy manner cause I wasn't going to wait for you to stop cramming fish and chips down your gullets, get off your lazy bums and make sure that we obsessive Doctor Who fans didn't have to wait more than six months to see the new stuff. Are you still mad about the whole Revolution thing? Is that it? Maybe we can work something out.


Finally, it's nice to see that the Twilight series is no longer targeting teenage girls though I'm not sure if this new pitch to gay men will bring them more money.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I think the best show about teenagers I've ever seen is the BBC show Skins. Skins is a mixture of wild and funny adventures grounded in realism that allows its cast of colorful characters to live dramatic and interesting lives without descending into the melodramatic cliches.

Glee, on the other hand, just loves those melodramatic cliches. Okay, "loves" is a strong word. Maybe it's more like stupid television cliches (STC) about teens are Glee's no good boyfriend. The show would like to get away from them and they even break up for a while but, sure enough, you see them out at McDonalds together a week later. STC is saying that Glee has to pay cause he forgot his wallet while he slaps Glee on the ass a little too hard saying, "You know you love it."

Glee has an interesting cast of character actors that play the adults who, as is usual in shows that focus on teens, range from apathetic to utterly moronic. Jane Lynch, a gifted comic actress you've seen in movies like 40 Year Old Virgin, is especially good as a cheer coach who manages to make drinking a health shake funny. She clashes with Spanish teacher Will Shuester (Matthew Morrison) who wants to take over the Glee Club after its current teacher gets a little too friendly with a student. Will is driven by his own memories of high school in the 90s when, if his memories are accurate, the entirety of high school life revolved around the wondrous and magical world of show choir.

As for the kids themselves, as I mentioned yesterday, the only one I really liked was Rachel, played by Lea Michelle. She's a very smart girl who's also a gifted singer and is a perfect addition for the Glee Club. Her problem is that she knows all this and doesn't feel any constraint in constantly talking about how wonderful she is. Lea Michelle manages to take this annoying, self-absorbed girl who desperately needs to get over herself and make her someone interesting and fun to watch.

There are other kids in the club but the only other one you find out anything about (though all the characters would eventually get the spotlight on them) is Finn Hudson. The first thing I noticed about him is that the actor who plays him, Cory Monteith, could only be a high school sophomore if he'd been held back for the last ten years. Sure enough, he's 26, only four years younger than the man playing his teacher. One thing I liked about Skins was that they actually used real teenagers to play their teenage characters. Casting someone who's too old be a college senior as a high school sophomore is distracting and, if the show turns out to be a hit, will only become more distracting when his hairline starts to recede.

Anyway, Finn is a football star who, along with his fellow players, enjoys bullying the weaker kids. You know right off the bat though that he's a little different when he allows one kid to take off his expensive new coat before he gets tossed into the dumpster. Shuester hears Finn sing and plants drugs on him so he can blackmail the guy into joining Glee Club. Seriously.

That, at least, wasn't a common cliche of teen shows, unlike several other instances that caused this show to lose me as a fan. People in shows like this often start talking in melodramatic speeches that no human being on the face of the Earth has ever actually said. There's a point where Finn, having been enlightened by the spiritually healing powers of Glee Club, releases a kid in a wheelchair being tormented by his fellow bullies, "because he's a loser." Finn then launches into a monologue that I think lasted for twenty minutes even if the clock said it was less than two about how we're all losers which was stupid. Rachel also goes on at one point about how she really wants to accomplish something. Even Will Shuester gets in on the fun as he talks at length about how he wants to do something that makes him happy rather than take a better paying job cause after all wouldn't he want his child to do something that made him happy and OH GOD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP AAAHHHHH!!!!!

And that's why I don't like Glee. The show could improve and the things I don't like about it could be removed but I don't expect them to do this because a lot of people in the television business think that cliche filled monologues about melancholy teenage existence are high art. Oh well, we still have Gossip Girl, right?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Lieu Of Actual Content

Had loads of stuff to do today but I do have just enough time right now to throw together something resembling a post so I thought I'd comment on a couple of YouTube videos.

This fan-made trailer has a lot of people talking. Whenever I see the words "fan-made trailer" I think of this piece of crap that made the rounds before the actual Spider-Man 3 came out. This, however, is very cool and really makes me want to see a Green Lantern movie starring Nathan Fillion be made.

If you'd told me ahead of time I'd enjoy cobbled together bits of Firefly, Matrix, Star Trek and Green Lantern cartoons as well as several other things, I'd have assumed you were off your medication. The video's creator, Jaron Pitts, should be very proud of himself.

I may do a full write up on the new Fox show Glee later in the week. For now, I'll say that the only thing I really liked about it is actress Lea Michelle who is the lead female singer in this clip. She makes an annoying, full-of-herself character very likable and, as this song shows, she's also stands out in a cast of very good singers. Do yourself a favor and turn off the annotations.

And, to leave you with a laugh, there's this. I think I've shown this German pop song before but it's worth seeing again.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Ohhhhh, Goooood For You."

I'd like to give Terminator Salvation a ringing endorsement. I'd like to do that and would if it was good enough to deserve one. The best I can say about Terminator Salvation is that it isn't the cinematic equivalent of a slimy, pus covered abomination ripped off the walls of Hell and dragged into the world of light and sanity and reason by ancient evils to to rob us of our sanity and send our spirits screaming into the void that I thought it would be. Oh, the popcorn was good too. Tastes like they added some sort of spice to it this week. I meant to ask them about that but forgot. I'll have to make sure to bring it up the next time I'm there. Also, they had this cool looking trailer for the movie Nine. I can't wait to see that. When's it coming out? September? Darn. I'd like to see it now. Oh wait, why did I start writing this?

Yeah, ok, Terminator.

On Friday, I clearly was not optimistic about this movie's prospects. I'm happy to say that the movie exceeded my expectations. That's not saying a lot as I think I vividly described above what my expectations were. It could have been some cheap YouTube video of kids getting high and singing the theme song from the Jetsons and still exceeded my expectations.

You all know at least part of the story. It's now 2018 and all that, a computer network called Skynet, whose designers apparently neglected to delete the, "Must destroy mankind," legacy code from its original COBOL program, took control of a crapload of nuclear weapons and detonated them. Amazingly, a large portion of the world still seems to be in pretty good shape. I was sort of hoping for some mutants who maybe worship the Holy and Everlasting Bomb but I guess everything we've always heard about radioactive fallout causing sickness and birth defects was garbage since the surviving humans all seem to be fairly healthy.

Enter John Connor (Christian Bale). His late mother told him all this was going to happen and that he would someday lead the human race to victory over the machines. Unfortunately, Mom was really short on the details of exactly how and when this would happen, something which made this movie possible. The only really specific thing that Sarah Connor ever told her son was that he was destined to send his own father, Kyle Reese, back in time so that he could knock her up and then be brutally murdered by a Terminator. This is why Connor, when not getting shot at by robots, is busy looking for Kyle Reese.

Reese (Anton Yelchin, seen just last week as Chekov on Star Trek), it turns out, is living in the ruins of Los Angeles with a little girl named Star. This is where the details in which the devil lives start getting filled in. He meets a man named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) who seems remarkably ignorant of why all the buildings are falling apart* and why heavily armed killer robots are running around making the mess worse. We saw Wright at the beginning of the movie as a death row inmate who donated his body to the Cyberdyne Corporation though he missed the fine print about the nature of that research being to develop a series of homicidal androids to be used to eliminate what was left of the human race after most of it was killed during a nuclear holocaust. Wright doesn't realize he's a machine until he manages to make his way to Connor's camp and manages to set off the magnetic mines they have set up around their perimeter. And then, the fun begins.

By "fun" I mean basically the same series of explosions, rapid fire weapons, stunts and CGI effects that you see in pretty much every other big summer action film. It's entertaining though uninspired and forgettable but still better than I expected from the director of Charlie's Angels and the writers of Catwoman (one of the stupidest movies ever made, may you both be forced to watch it in Hell). If you see it, you'll probably enjoy it though it has about as much chance of creating demand for another sequel as Terminator 3 did for creating a demand for this one. This one was made because on the success of Terminators 1 and 2, not the mediocre 3.

Hard to believe it's been 25 years since James Cameron first ripped off Harlan Ellison** to create Terminator. I'm really hoping this will be the last chapter but I sense a storm coming in the form of probably two more sequels. Trust me, they'll be ba...oops, almost said it.

*How he knew that I don't know since parts of Los Angeles look like that today.

** True story. Google it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Reason For The Season

Memorial Day is the day set aside by the United States to remember and honor those who have fallen in noble defense of this great nation. The debt we owe these great and wonderful people is more than we can ever pay, but we try to do it by taking the day off, eating hot dogs till we puke and playing miniature golf as I'm sure our soldiers would have wanted.

Another way we may homage to our heroes is to load the theaters up with with multiple blockbusters. How has Hollywood chosen to bring glory to Memorial Day this year? To find out, I once again go to the Tomatometer.

First up, we have Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, a title that's way too long so for the remainder of this post I will refer to it as Steve. Steve is a sequel to the big hit/lame movie, Night at the Museum, (to which I will now refer as Barry). I thought Barry was mostly a bore but the kids liked it so they didn't need me to make it a hit. If the current 48% rating is anything to go by, this one looks to be more of the same. This movie is a dilemma for me as I have a huge crush on Amy Adams and know that she will someday be mine if I give good reviews to everything she's in. This means I may ignore Steve altogether if it does end up sucking or else the review will be written by my Russian cousin Майкл Клер. The bad news for movie fans is that, at 48%, it is currently the frontrunner for this week's new releases.

Chiming in at number 2 is Terminator: Salvation. It's 35% rating is about what I have been expecting ever since I heard another Terminator movie was being made. The first strike against it is that it's directed by McG, who sucks. The second strike is that it's a sequel that didn't exactly have a huge groundswell of fans demanding it. Strike three is that it's the first in this series that doesn't concentrate on Schwarzenegger's Terminator character because he was too busy driving California's economy into the ground to participate in this*. Strike four is McG again who still sucks since I wrote about him the first time. I'm guessing that 35% rating will go even lower.

I can't really say that Dance Flick is in third place since it doesn't have a rating, at least not as of this writing. It's always a good sign when studios don't make their products available for mass critic screenings ahead of time, right? One of the few people who has seen it is Matt Pais of who gave it this resounding endorsement:
It stinks, but the Wayans family has done a lot worse.
Cool, first time feature director Damien Wayans can now go to his family and merrily chant, "I'm not the worst, I'm not the worst." Mix all this in with the fact that this is a parody film, a genre that last produced a decent movie about twenty years ago, and I am forced to come to the conclusion that the producers said to themselves, "Twenty years? This means the odds are due to change in our favor. Greenlight it."

This may be a good weekend to go see Star Trek again. Or, you know, honor some fallen soldiers. Whichever you think would be the most fun.

*I've heard he makes a cameo somewhere. If true, I'm betting it was the day he had to spend shooting his scenes that caused his state to collapse.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thankfully, There Was Nothing About Rocking The Vote

The MTV Movies Blog can be a great source of information. It can also be a great source of lame headlines. For example:
Stephen Spielberg Has A Dream Of Producing A Martin Luther King Jr. Biopic
Really? That was what you decided to use? The only explanation that makes sense is that an editor had a choice between that and "Martin Luther King Movie To Be Shot, Though Not In The Way King Himself Was." If that was the case, you made the correct choice and I salute you. If it wasn't, you have no excuse.


Lookey lookey, more clips from Terminator: Salvation. This means that approximately 75% of the movie is now available in promotional clips. On the other hand, I suppose you could look at it as 25% of the movie will still be a complete surprise. That's the "glass is half full" viewpoint although actually it should be called the "Half the glass is available for free online" viewpoint.


At this rate, Robert Pattinson will be playing Edward Cullen when he's well into his 40s. It's not too bad when you're 21 playing 17 (or a vampire who was 17 when he died) but it's bad when you start moving into your mid-20s and beyond. You become the only teenager who has to hide laughlines and dye the grey out of his hair. Also, I'm gonna laugh my ass off if the upcoming sequel flops and they've already paid for two more. The more likely scenario is that teenage girls will be laughing their asses off at me when it becomes an even bigger hit. For the first time in my life, I'm happy that teenage girls have always ignored me.


Yeah, this is a good idea. I know that sounds sarcastic but no, really, a Zoolander sequel is an awesome idea. I know I can't go anywhere without people saying, "When is Zoolander 2 coming out? My life will be bland and meaningless until it does. In a world lacking a Zoolander sequel, even the taste of spicy food and the sweet sensation of masturbation have lost their appeal." This is probably a good idea for the producers though. The first Zoolander shows on Comedy Central 8 times a week and must have made a bazillion dollars from that alone.


Sometimes they have good headlines. I don't even want to know what this is about so don't tell me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Screw You, Sadness

I wish this trailer would stop making me cry. As I'm sure you can understand, after multiple viewings of that, especially when the cancer girl says to her father, "Do I look pretty, Daddy?"...oh Lord, I gotta go comb my hair.

*locks self in bathroom for several minutes of uncontrollable sobbing*

Okay, that's all done. Anyway, I'm far too emotionally devastated to write anything today. That, and I had various appointments that ate up any and all time that could be described as "spare" and spare time is when I work on this. See you all tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Still Cringing

I did not foresee Fringe having a full season when I first saw the pilot back in September due to the fact that it sucked, was stupid and it sucked. I watched it from time to time and discussed it briefly a couple weeks ago and my opinion has modified a bit. It still sucks but not enough to say it sucks twice in the same sentence.

Fringe is the story of FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham who is assigned to work for the Department of Fringe Science. Fringe Science, if I properly understand the show's plot, is real science made really weird and gross by evil guys for pointless purposes. There's some sort of huge conspiracy to accomplish some vague goal and, to accomplish said goal, they do things like, and this is true, create a substance that causes extra skin to grow so quickly that it covers your nose and mouth so you suffocate. Most of the time, we're told that the terrorist organization behind all this, ZFT, did it just to show us they could. This, of course, guarantees that the government that previously couldn't give a crap about ZFT's existence now devotes a massive amount of time and resources to taking them down. So, they're smart enough to literally rip open holes in the space-time continuum yet dumb enough to let the government know that not only can they do it but also that they intend to use it for evil purposes.

Olivia Dunham, in addition to having the job of running into terrorist controlled buildings by herself cause gosh darn it they just can't wait for backup, is also the handler of Dr. Walter Bishop, a super genius whose work was the basis for a lot of the science fictional advancements made in the show but he's also loopy as the day is long and spent the last 17 years in a mental institution. Therefore, Olivia needs Walter's somewhat criminal and slightly less brilliant son Peter to help out. This "Dream Team" is great at the Jack Bauer Method of Crime Fighting, that being to figure everything out five minutes after the bad guys completed their objectives and made a clean getaway.

In last week's season finale, semi-regular character Nina Sharpe, COO of the fictional Massive Dynamics Corporation which may or may not be connected to ZFT, was attacked and nearly killed by ZFT operatives, one of whom has been made extremely ill by using a teleportation device. It turns out they wanted what looks like a Double-A battery that was hidden in her mechanical arm they needed to operate a device that would open a hole to a parallel universe.

That is one of the least weird plots of Fringe. You'd have to toss in a few monstrous creatures and a godawful virus that causes you to grow an extra head which then eats you to make it a more typical episode.

Anyway, why did ZFT want to enter a parallel universe? The details and motives, as usual, are vague. Apparently, a mysterious and heretofore unseen character named William Bell has escaped there and they want to go and do something to him. Fortunately, twenty years ago Walter Bishop anticipated that someone would try to break through to a parallel universe for nefarious though ill-defined purposes so he created and hid a Parallel Universe Portal Closing Doohickey (which looks mysteriously like a television remote control circa 1987) which was used to stop the bad guys just before they managed to fulfill their pointless goals.

I honestly don't see the appeal of Fringe. Oh, it's not the worst show on television but the only reason I can see for its high ratings is that it follows American Idol. I wonder if next season Fox will move it to Friday, its science fiction graveyard. We'll see what if it passes the ratings test then. Until then, the writers have the whole summer to come up with new ways to melt skin, create man-sized badgers and enter alternate universes where hamburgers are healthy and nobody Twitters. I, for one, can't wait.

Monday, May 18, 2009

There's No Place Like Rome

Angels and Demons is a dumb movie about smart people. I like movies about smart people. We don't get enough of those. Usually movies are about big, dumb heroes fighting ingenious villains and saving the day by performing feats that violate the rules of reality (outrunning a fireball is a classic example). A&D, at first, seems like it's going to be a smart movie. It opens in Rome shortly after the death of the Pope and then cuts to the Hadron Super Collider in Geneva. All the scientists there are excited because they're about of generate a large amount of antimatter. Why are they doing that? Well, what the hell else do you do when you have a super collider? It's like having a deep fryer and not deep frying anything. Anyway, I normally wouldn't think of a scientific facility like this as a high crime area but I guess I would be wrong since one of their scientists is killed in a particularly gruesome way and the antimatter is stolen.

We cut to Harvard where Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), fresh from shaking the very tenets of Christian belief in The DaVinci Code, is asked by a Vatican official to help solve the kidnapping of four Cardinals who are basically the first round draft picks to be the next Pope. He's being asked because the kidnappers claim to be members of the Illuminati, one of those mythical groups about which your conspiracy-theory loving friend is always emailing you. Supposedly they were a group of smart guys in the 17th century who were persecuted by the Catholic Church and now they want revenge. They say they'll kill one Cardinal per hour and then use the antimatter they stole from Geneva to cause a catastrophic explosion*. Langdon once wrote a scholarly text about the Illuminati so they jet him off to Rome to do what the finest criminal minds in Italy cannot.

Tom Hanks manages to make Robert Langdon's historical ramblings interesting even if I have no idea how much of them are true. He's convincing enough that Vatican officials, even the total A-Hole Chief of the Swiss Guard Commander Richter (Stellan Skarsgård) who is openly hostile toward him, allow him access to an invaluable text written by Galileo that possesses some hidden Illuminati thing. The pamphlet, an item of incalculable value, promptly gets a page ripped out of it by physicist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), a woman who's annoyed that someone stole her antimatter, because it has a poem that may help them figure out the plans of the Illuminati and, even though she and Langdon are both technologically equipped geniuses, neither one thought to bring a cell phone with a camera in it.

The movie then becomes a series of chase scenes. Langdon's greatest power is to figure out where the cardinals are going to be killed and then arrive there five minutes too late to save them. This doesn't shake the confidence that his chief Vatican ally, Father Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) has in him which is why McKenna keeps granting Langdon access to the Catholic Church's most sacred artifacts despite the fact that Langdon keeps destroying them.

You figure that someone in the cast must be a traitor. Is it the A-Hole security chief? The A-Hole Cardinal (Armin Mueller-Stahl)? The other A-Hole Cardinal (Cosimo Fusco)? The nice Father McKenna who seems too handsome to be a villain but hey, who knows? It becomes obvious after a bit which only adds to the movie's dumbness.

Angels and Demons really annoyed me because it started off well and then got stupid. There I was, sitting in that theater thinking I was going to see a good movie only to watch it slide into the abyss. I did like the fact that some of it was actually shot in Rome. There's nothing like seeing real people doing real things in real places rather than having an entire location that exists only in some guy's Macintosh. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make me recommend the movie.

*Physicists are claiming this wouldn't happen. All I know about antimatter is that, when used with dilithium crystals, it can power a starship so, for the sake of the story, I'm going to take the movie at its word that the laws of physics are actually the loosely enforced guidelines of physics and that simply exposing antimatter to matter would be sufficient to blow up Vatican City.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Old Man Yells At Cloud

Geez, just a few days ago I was complaining that Big Hollywood never gives me anything worthy of its own post anymore and they go and make a liar out of me. What grabbed my attention today is an article by Orson Bean who also rated my attention back in January when he complained that no one made inspirational movies anymore except of course for the ones he mentioned.

The octogenarian 1970s game show star's most recent offering to his son-in-law's website is an amazing journey that starts with the story of when he went to see the movie Earth and manages to end equating Democrats to child molesters.

In the first three paragraphs, we find out the following things about Orson Bean:
  • He was skeptical about seeing Earth because it got good reviews and he always disagrees with those fancy-pants critics. This means his favorite movies of the last 30 days must have been the critically lambasted Obsessed, Wolverine and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
  • He thinks the footage of polar bears was shot in Antarctica, which is wasn't since polar bears live on the other side of the planet.
  • Armed with this level of perception, he thinks that since the movie used edited footage to present the partly fictional story of a polar bear who dies because the ice flows he used to live on melted that means that actual stories of polar bears dying in the warming Arctic waters is a big propaganda stunt.

Bean revels in his own cleverness when he calls the filmmakers out for the way the movie presented fictional identities and personalities to the animals. Anyone who's ever seen a nature documentary made for kids knows that this is quite common or, as Roger Ebert put it:
In the tradition of such favorites of my childhood as Disney’s “The Living Desert” and “The Vanishing Prairie,” the narration provides these animals with identities. It opens with a mother polar bear and her two cubs. The desperate polar bear is identified as their father, although I will bet a shiny new dime that the authors of the narration have absolutely no evidence of the bear’s paternal history. I’m not complaining; in a film like this, that goes with the territory.
Then, of course, we get the usual dose of Big Hollywood concern trolling when he lectures Disney on how to make money.
After a lucrative opening weekend, moviegoers realized that this picture was not something they wanted to take junior to see, and business fell off sharply. The movie could have made a fortune if an uplifting story had been created.
Could have made a fortune? The movie made $26 million domestically and almost $112 million worldwide. I'm trying to remember the last time a documentary made more than that but no, those Disney guys are idiots and Orson Bean, a man whose lifetime box office take probably doesn't equal the amount made by Earth, is the guy to whom they should be listening.

I had to read the final three paragraphs more than once because I just didn't understand them. They way they use environmentally themed movies to make a wild and outrageous accusation is just amazing.
“Wall-E,” a brilliant animated picture, is another example of the Disney crowd using its powerful creativity to send a message to the younger set: we are destroying the earth. “We” meaning, of course, America with its incredibly successful production of “stuff”. And like all good propaganda, it has more than a kernel of truth to it. The waste in this country is overwhelming. I don’t object to reasonable preachment in favor of conservation and against waste. What pisses me off is the fact that the cultural left is frightening the children. And they’re doing it on purpose. Polls of little kids have been taken which show that they are scared as hell that the earth will be an uninhabitable place to live in when they grow up.

There’s a video called “The Story of Stuff” being shown in classrooms around the country. It has been put together by a former Greenpeace employee and, to quote The New York Times, it “paints a picture of how American habits result in forests being felled, mountaintops being destroyed, water being polluted and people and animals being poisoned”. The filmmaker also complains that the federal government “spends too much on the military.”

Children are being frightened. It’s not enough that the cultural left is sexualizing them at an early age, it’s also making a generation of worrywarts out of them: trans-fats and second hand smoke and climate change and toxic this and toxic that. And who is strong enough to save us from all this? Only the government, of course; only Big Brother. Worriers tend to vote Democrat and the left is systematically manufacturing a generation of them. Child molesters belong in jail.
I kept swearing I had missed something major. Bean goes from talking about Earth, Wall-E and some classroom film, mixes them all together and somehow manages to conclude that the sum of those parts is child rape. To reach this conclusion, he casually dismisses unhealthy food, the unstable climate and whatever the hell "toxic this and toxic that" is (probably fluoride in the water and that crazy rap music). From there, he magically transforms an offhand assertion about "the cultural left" sexualizing kids and turns it into a massive Democratic Party conspiracy to get kids thinking that those nice, friendly corporations need a powerful government to get them to spend the money required to safely dispose of their pollutants and that this is all equal to raping them.

You know, Bean is an 80 year old man. I should feel guilty about calling him an asshole. Wait, I don't think I actually did that. Orson Bean, you're an asshole! There. I should have felt guilty about that but if he's going to spend his golden years saying stupid things like Democrat Are Using Disney Films to Rape Your Kids then he deserves what he gets.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 68

Comedians for some reason have difficulty being taken seriously as scientists. I wonder if anyone would take an AIDS cure if Dane Cook created it.


New York City subway passengers need to be even more heavily armed than they already are.


If you and all your friends engage in a night of heavy drinking, make sure that at least one of them can hold their liquor.


These two totally aren't going to fall in love. No way! No how! I mean, look at how much they resent each other when the story first starts. How could they fall in love after all that?


Road trips haven't changed that much since the dawn of time. I wonder if they'll say, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" and then simultaneously say, "ROAD TRIP!" while Steppenwolf starts to play.


When two equally matched groups of powerful alien robots go at it, the only things that can tip the scales in the favor of the good guys are Shia LeBeouf and his hot girlfriend.


It's perfectly okay to exploit your daughter's love for your own personal gain.


Genetically engineering kids to be organ donors can't possibly backfire.


Some movies are made by people who don't really give a shit whether or not anyone actually wants to see them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Things To Come

As I look forward to the summer movie season, I was wondering which of these exciting trailers would precede exciting movies and which would drive me to serial murder. I thought I would offer my speculations even though I am often wrong. However, I figure that the fact I am often wrong means maybe the odds that I will be 100% correct now should swing in my favor.

Angels and Demons -- I think this will belong in the Good category. I liked DaVinci Code. It actually took that unwieldy, unreadable book* and turned it into a watchable, mildly entertaining movie. Sure, it peed history down its leg but even some of your better historical films do that. I'm looking forward to being entertained this weekend. If I'm not, I will call director Ron Howard "Opie" and see if he survives the humiliation.

Terminator: Salvation -- Don't see this being much good. Some of the action looks cool but there just won't be much to it when things aren't blowing up. On the other hand, it was directed by McG who once made this, something that makes me want to take back what I said about the action. The only thing I'd like to see would be a scene where Christian Bale starts yelling at a guy in a way that intentionally makes light of his famous "Anger" tape.

Dance Flick -- A couple of these shitty parody movies come out every year and there's an excellent reason why I referred to them as "shitty" parody movies. This one is made by the Wayans Brothers who also made Scary Movie, a parody movie that wasn't quite as shitty as other films of its class. In fact, it could be described as top quality manure from which delicious crops grow. On the other hand, the three sequels got progressively worse (in fairness, the last two were made by David Zucker who forgot how to make these movies 20 years ago). Therefore, I send this respectfully to the Suck bin.

Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
-- I dunno. The first one wasn't super horrible so it might be fun. I like pretty much anything with Amy Adams in it too. I'll declare this Mostly Harmless.

Drag Me To Hell -- At first this looked like yet another cheap ass horror film but then I saw it was actually directed by Sam Raimi. I suppose I can hope against hope that the ads are wrong and it's actually about Bruce Campbell fighting demons and assorted monsters in some remote wooded area but it's probably not. I'll file this under Cautiously Optimistic unless it IS about a guy named Ash in which case I'll call it Mega-Awesome.

Ok, those are my predictions for May. If I'm right, you all owe me a thousand dollars. If I'm wrong, you only owe me a hundred.

*I stopped reading after page 30. Did it stop sucking after that? Dan Brown still got my royalties too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Little Big Hollywood

I was very excited when Big Hollywood first went online. The conservative movie site at first amused me like little else did. I enjoyed hilarious claims like the guy who said that profitable liberal movies actually lost a fortune or saying that the industry that just had big hits with Wolverine and Star Trek should make more escapist films. At first, I had to pick and choose which BH articles would be my subjects. It's hard to believe they've only been around since January. Since then, they're often indistinguishable from any other right wing blog. You see post after post about how Barack Obama is a Fascist Communist Socialist Muslim Atheist and the worst part of it is that so much of their content these days has nothing to do with show business. Also, it is oh so very boring.

Still, while no one there rates an entire column all to themselves, they do deserve another edition of Quick Hits.

S.T. Karnick: Karnick reaches up his ass and pulls out reasons why the government is about to launch an anti-trust suit against Hulu right after he gets done clearly laying out all the real reasons why this will never happen.

Ben Shapiro: 24 year old war supporter Shapiro who has never seen fit to actually enlist in the military so he can actually fight in the war he supports calls Wanda Sykes gutless.

Ted Baehr: Don't go see Angels and Demons because Tom Hanks and Ron Howard will donate 1/10th of one percent of the money they make on it to Democrats.

Chris Muir: Jesus wept. I feel so sorry for conservatives if this guy is the best alternative they have to Doonesbury.

John Romano: With no evidence whatsoever to support the assertion, he claims that Barack Obama will ban tourism the day he visits Normandy because he hates mixing with the common folk. Also, the soldiers buried there died so we would never, ever have universal healthcare. AND WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MOVIES?

S.T. Karnick again: Fear of zombies and fear of swine flu are both socialist power grabs. (This one's a real winner.)

Greg Gutfeld: The fact that a famous actor is getting a high profile divorce is considered newsworthy and that people want to see pictures of a famous sexy girl wearing nothing but pink panties proves that liberals are all vicious hypocrites.

Steven Crowder: Here's yet another of those videos that serve as evidence that he really sucks as a comedian. (I wrote about Crowder a few times but lost interest in him when I realized that he was really nothing but a troll who had been promoted from typing things in ALL CAPS in comments sections to a regular Big Hollywood gig.)

Moxie: Hey all, look at me. Steven Crowder's not the only crap comedian writing at this site. I'm here too.

Orson Bean: Everything was better when I was young. Here's a direct quote from Mr. Bean:
Men are attracted to youth and beauty; women are attracted to power.
This appears to be casual misogyny at first glance but is proven right when you realize that incredibly good looking guy Brad Pitt has only been able to attract hags like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Time Is Fleeting, Madness Takes Its Toll

Simply put, Star Trek is better than I thought it could be. I'm not saying it's the greatest movie ever. It's not even the best Star Trek movie. I'm just saying that I figured if it was good, it would basically hit a quality wall which it would never get beyond. If I had to compare it, I rank it as equal to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It's a mix of exciting science fiction action, interesting characters and intelligent plotting that is found in your better action films. Oh sure, there comes a point where the "intelligent plotting" comes to a screeching halt, but we'll get to that.

There are changes made to the continuity and mythology of Star Trek itself but hey, it's not like anyone really gives a damn about all that stuff, right? I'm talking significant and catastrophic changes in the timeline that caused me to stay the hell away from any and all online forums, message boards and comments sections that had even a vague connection to Star Trek.

The movie starts as many Star Trek adventures start, with a Federation starship investigating some abnormal readings in some godforsaken part of the galaxy. The anomaly they're investigating turns out to be a rip in the space-time continuum through which a Romulan ship arrives. As always happens, some crewman yells, "SHIELDS DOWN TO 40%," after the first photon torpedo hits and the Romulan captain, Nero (Eric Bana), demands that the Federation captain come aboard his ship. Captain Anonymous Bitpart tells his First Officer, Commander George Kirk, that he's in charge. This was a bad time for Kirk as his wife is about to give birth but the Romulans don't seem to care about that so he takes the bridge. Naturally, everything goes to crap and George Kirk is called upon to sacrifice himself for the sake of the crew. He does get to hear the cries of his newborn son, Bronx Mowgli Kirk. But I kid, that's baby James Tiberius Kirk he hears over the radio just before his ship blows up.

We see little Jimmy grow up to look a lot like an actor named Chris Pine and be a rambunctious juvenile delinquent who one night starts chatting up a sexy Starfleet cadet named Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and ends up in a fight with her buddies. The fight is broken up by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood*) who encourages him to stop being such an angry young man and honor his father's legacy by joining Starfleet. Sure enough, we see him three years later at Starfleet Academy cheating his way to winning a supposedly unwinnable computer simulation called the Kobayashi Maru designed by a Vulcan named Spock. Kirk and Spock come into conflict over this so, gosh, I guess they'll never become friends.

Starfleet doesn't have time to kick Kirk out of the Academy because of an emergency situation that requires all available ships including Pike's Enterprise. Kirk recognizes the enemy as that which killed his father 25 years earlier so he sneaks aboard with the help of his best buddy, Dr. Leonard McCoy. We meet the rest of the original Enterprise crew along the way to Vulcan which is being attacked by Nero's ship.

This is where The Big Event happens. I don't know what else to call it since it shouldn't be revealed to those who haven't seen the movie but it's Big. Really, really Big. Star Trek's history changes and even the characters recognize that they're now in an alternate timeline and that their future is wide open for both them and the writers. A lot of people hated this but it didn't bother me a bit. Well, it did because it's a depressing event but not because things are now different. Up to this point, I believe the story made sense and successfully suspended disbelief. Unfortunately, there comes a point where it simply stops doing that. Coincidences start piling up. Kirk lands on a planet in the just the spot where he needs to have a fortuitous meeting with a familiar stranger. It turns out Nero is angry because, in the future, his planet Romulus is destroyed by a supernova but exactly how this happens is very convoluted and the solution (turn the nova into a black hole) sounds just as bad. I also found it hard to believe that 400 years in the future we travel faster than light, travel through time and have sensors that can tell us that two microbes are doing it in the Delta Quadrant yet we can't tell when a star near a populated planet is about to blow up.

Still, things get back on track, the action starts up again and Kirk ends up going from being a nearly-washed out cadet to Captain of the Enterprise in the space of a few days (don't ask).

Despite the dumb stuff, it's a very good and exciting movie. My advice to the world is: SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THE CONTINUITY! It's an alternate timeline now. The filmmakers can now have Kirk order a pepperoni pizza without contradicting the 1966 episode where he said he hated pepperoni. If you liked the old Star Trek, it's still there. Rent the DVDs or just watch YouTube or Hulu or Netflix or iTunes or God only knows how many other venues have the last four decades of the various chapters of Star Trek available. Your world has not ended and your childhood is not ruined. The fact that, as far as Star Trek is concerned, you really can eat your cake and have it too doesn't seem to be good enough for a segment of the fan community but that's too damn bad. The new movie's a big hit which means more sequels set in the new world so it's time to get over yourselves and enjoy what you have.

Make it so! (A phrase that will now never, ever be said because Picard will probably never exist SO CHEW ON THAT FANBOYS!)

*You may remember the character being played by Jeffrey Hunter in the classic "Menagerie" episode. Greenwood's appearance in this movie should once and for all settle the age old "Is Greenwood or Hunter better as Pike?" debate.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek Fresheners

I'm home from having seen Star Trek. If I get some spare time I'll try to post a review later in the day. Until then, I've decided to write about what I will call Fresheners. These are reverse-spoilers; things that DIDN'T happen in the movie.
  • No one tells a woman that her dead son would be pissed because she destroyed the Crystalline Entity, a genocidal alien who's responsible for the destruction over over a dozen worlds.
  • No one makes a long, fruity speech about why it's a good thing to let an entire world die so the Prime Directive can be upheld.
  • In fact, the words "Prime" and "Directive" aren't mentioned, at least not together.
  • Two characters don't turn into lizards after reaching warp ten and end up having disturbing lizard sex. This is because no one with a writing credit has a name even similar to Braga*.
  • No hot women decide to betray their races, values and everything they've ever known simply their panties got wet when they met James Kirk.
  • On a similar note, no woman feels the need to ask, "What is...Kiss?"
  • No one feels the need to deliver a long winded melodramatic monologue about they way in which whatever extraordinary science fictional situation they happen to be in that week reminds them of how their dads didn't hug them when they got good grades in math. SPOILER ALERT: In fact, when they have a chance to do that, they usually just yell, "FIRE PHASERS!" instead.
  • And finally, there are no Frenchmen with British accents who extensively quote Shakespeare to prove that everyone with the exception of him is a complete dick.
Hopefully, knowing all this will not ruin your enjoyment of the film.

*Brannon Braga wrote that lizard sex episode and is one of the people responsible for the general suckiness of the Star Trek franchise from the mid 90s to today. There were a few bright spots (the movie First Contact for example) but mostly Star Trek movies and television have blown for more than a decade.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Right Wing Movie Reviews -- Wolverine

My ankle still hurts so it's fortunate that I was once again contacted by right wing blogger Gotterdamerung, a top conservative voice who from time to time demands space here in order to bring balance to some perceived bias on my part. Today, he offers his thoughts on Wolverine.

Hi all, Gotterdamerung here. Anyone who’s figured out that Global Warming is socialism disguised as nonsense will understand immediately that Wolverine is Communist Fascist Radical Environmental Tree Hugging Propaganda dressed up to look like a fun summer action flick that Hollywood really hasn't been able to make since Red Dawn. The subtext, as defined by the plot point of of the character Wolverine having molten metal poured into his body and bonded to his bones, clearly is meant to show how the cutest animals (Wolverine) are being endangered by the man-made warming of the Earth (molten metal). This warming is never openly blamed on man, but it no longer needs to be. Years of dishonest propaganda have laid that groundwork so well that Wolverine can toss off the warming fallacy in the most effective of ways: by looking at you funny and dismissing you as crazy (as Wolverine director Gavin Hood did to me when I saw him buying a six inch chicken teriyaki at Subway and started screaming at him about his liberal bias).

Propa-nonsense or no, the saving grace of any liberal message film in the guise of an action movie is whether the stunts and effects can rise above the leftist message bombs planted like IEDs throughout the movie. The problem here is that even the exciting scenes are loaded down liberal imagery and anti-American symbolism. Take, for instance, the scene where Wolverine is being chased by a helicopter through the woods while riding a motorcycle. The people in the helicopter are evil government operatives trying to kill Wolverine and are clearly meant to represent George W. Bush trying to wipe out entire races of innocent woodland creatures. Eventually, the helicopter explodes, belching out hot flames. Get it? Bush just made the planet warmer while trying to destroy nature.

Then there's the fight on top of a nuclear reactor when Wolverine and Sabretooth team up against a government created mutant killer meaning that the filmmakers hope that nature itself will rise up and destroy what Rush Limbaugh told me is perfectly clean and utterly safe nuclear power.

There's some truly disturbing imagery when a group of captured mutants has to depend on Wolverine to set them free from their captors. This is left wing Un-Americanism in its purest form. The movie's message here is: don't try to solve your own problems. Instead sit around and wait for a Messiah to come along, be it Wolverine of Barack Obama, and then do whatever the hell that superman tells you to do. If he tells you to hang back while he takes care of some of the guards, do that. If he tells you to let him regulate CO2 emissions or pass cap-and-trade legislation, do that too.

There are a few compelling moments in the movie's 107 minute run time but the overall narrative is episodic with too few wowsers for the eyes. But it is a film made for kids who will be enamored with the animals/super heroes, caught up in their plight, leave the theater thinking that things like the environment, gay marriage, universal health care and socialism are important and grow into another mindless minion in the forever secured Democrat majority.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Turns out the "injured foot" I mentioned yesterday is a rather painful sprained ankle. This puts me in a non-writing mood today. Hopefully the drugs will kick in and I'll be back here with some awesome new stuff tomorrow. Buh bye.

Ohhhhhhhh...all right, one little thing before I go rest my foot.

What is the deal with Fringe? Do people actually stay home on Tuesdays to watch it and get upset if it's preempted by things like a Presidential speech or the World Parrot Show Championships? I reviewed the premiere episode back in September and, while it has improved, it's still not something I go out of my way to watch. Mainly, it doesn't do what all science fiction must do: suspend disbelief.

The advanced scientific feats performed in this show never seem to have much of a purpose other than to piss off the FBI agents who have to investigate them. The bad guys basically get together and say things like, "Hey, let's combine human and squirrel DNA to create a race of nearly unstoppable Man-Squirrels that feed on human flesh." Why do that? Who knows. All we do know is that they don't feel the need to take extra security precautions so the Man-Squirrels escape and wreak havoc before the show's heroes figure out that the squirrels can be killed by some far out solution they pull out of their asses.

Oh well, no one is forcing me to watch it and I've yet to meet anyone who wants to engage me in a long, boring conservation about Fringe trivia so I suppose I can put it in the category of Mostly Harmless and move on.

Anyway, that's all for now. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow. If not, I'll let you know, mainly because I don't think anyone should be having a good time if I'm not feeling well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Been Down So Long...

...I don't know what up is anymore. Between a heavy workload and an injured foot, I don't have the spare time required to do this whole writing thing. As always, it is you, the readers, that suffer most. Seriously, I feel sorry for you. You're like Holocaust victims, only worse. Anyway, I will offer a few random observations.


I love dirty sounding headlines that aren't actually dirty.


My skepticism that Stephen King's The Dark Tower series can be successfully adapted to the big screen is about on the same level as my skepticism that the world will be destroyed by a giant marshmallow man. Still, the project seems to be in the hands of the Lost guys and they just managed to slap together what, by all accounts, is a decent revival of the Star Trek series so I'll keep an open mind. It's hard to keep an open mind on the internet, of course. The whole thing is designed to allow people to endlessly hold onto their unproven, half-assed assumptions.


Now and then, Roger Ebert likes to tantalize me with some obscure film he says is the greatest thing ever yet never seems to be showing anywhere. One of the best examples of this is Gates of Heaven, Errol Morris' first documentary about, of all things, pet cemeteries. Now he's doing it with Sita Sings The Blues, possibly the most independently independent movie of all time. He wrote about this a few months ago on his blog and now he's talking about it on his front page. I'd managed to successfully forget about it and now Ebert has shoved this unattainable gem onto my consciousness again. Screw you, Ebert.


Hmm, that's not a bad amount of content for someone who said he didn't have time to write. What the hell are you people complaining about?

Monday, May 4, 2009


Watching Wolverine, you get the sense that they weren't actually using a script and just had the actors improv things as they went along. The problem with that is that someone, for example, mentions an artificially constructed mutant killer and the filmmakers all slap their heads and work furiously to quickly add a mutant killer even though it really makes no sense. That also explains why some characters you thought were dead suddenly showed up. They probably just wandered onto the set and just made up the crazy explanations as to why they were still alive.

The sin of a stupid plot is hardly unique to Wolverine. Hell, Wolverine is a Mensa candidate when you compare it to Transformers. Whatever happened in Wolverine, it doesn't compare to the movie in which powerful, noble robots crossed the galaxy to complete their sacred mission of helping Shia LeBeouf outwit his parents and nail the hottest girl in school. The question is, as always with most high concept action films, does the movie's entertainment value overcome the gross stupidity of the writing? Let's find out.

The movie opens in the 1830s where we meet young James Howlett and a boy who turns out to be his half brother, Victor Creed. In a plot twist even Shakespeare wouldn't have touched, James ends up sprouting bone claws out of his hands and killing his own father. He and Victor run off into the night and grow up to become Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber. We see them fighting in every major American war over the next 150 years thanks to a wonderful collection of mutant powers that includes the bone claws (Victor sprouts them out of his fingers), animal senses and prowess and, the big one, a mutant healing ability that takes care of their wounds and stops them from aging. It even brings them back to life when they're executed after Victor gets the brilliant idea to kill a superior who tried to stop him from committing atrocities during Vietnam.

This brings them to the attention of William Stryker, an army major who's putting together a team of mutants to do army stuff. This is where Wolverine turns into a real name dropper. Any Marvel Comics mutant you didn't see in the three X-Men films shows up here. Were you always upset that you never got to see Gambit, Kestrel, Deadpool, Silverfox or Emma Frost? Well, fret away no more. This is like one of those historical movies where all the Founding Fathers make cameo appearances. You know, the characters are at some party and they befriend Benjamin Franklin who calls to another guy across the room, "Say Jefferson, how's that Declaration of Independence thing coming along?"

Anyway, if you're thinking that a guy willing to hire people who'd received the death penalty for war crimes might himself not be a very nice guy, you'd be right. Stryker leads his team to one of those African diamond mines run by slave labor to look for the source of some mysterious metal. When the villagers say sorry, we can't tell you where it is cause it's on sacred ground, Stryker orders the village wiped out. Victor's more than happy to wipe out innocent people but James (now also known as Logan) gets all picky about it and walks off in a huff, thus setting off the classic comic book plot dynamic in which close allies become arch foes.

So far, the movie's not too bad. The plot up to this point is fairly simple and straightforward and is a good frame upon which to hang action scenes and pretty explosions and, when people do crazy stunts that should shatter their spines, it's perfectly reasonable that they can get right back up because they have super powers. The problem is that, from this point on, madness lies. A bazillion different characters show up, sometimes out of nowhere. There are double, triple and quadruple crosses. It's hard to keep track after a while of who's friends and enemies with who and why anybody is doing what they're doing. Oh, if I may give a tip to the characters, if you are in a movie where someone has the mutant ability to hypnotize through touch, YOU MIGHT WANT TO NOT LET THAT PERSON TOUCH YOU.

And thus, we are brought back to, "The question is, as always with most high concept action films, does the movie's entertainment value overcome the gross stupidity of the writing?" The answer is no, oh no, Lordy Lord no. You might be entertained by the explosions and fights and Logan jumping onto a helicopter but it offers nothing more than that and even that isn't well done even by standards of previous X-Men movies. I personally found myself wondering why I had passed up what must comparatively have been the sheer awesomeness of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, a movie that I think is the 1 millionth ripoff of A Christmas Carol, for this.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I see YouTube is offering free movies now for your viewing pleasure. Other sites do that, including Hulu, but today I'm just going to concentrate on YouTube because, when it comes to internet video portals, they're NUMBER ONE, baby which means they also get the most attention and criticism.

Sites that do this always offer a very eclectic selection that consists of a few decent offerings mixed in with a massive crapload of totally ghastly offerings. It's free and no one is forcing anyone to watch anything and, unlike a great deal of YouTube's content, it's actually legal for them to show so really, why would anyone complain? Why? This is the internet and complaining is why it exists. Take away the complaints and the whole world wide web would never have evolved past Dancing Hamsters since, at the time that came out, 90% of all web content was people saying, "DANCING HAMSTERS IZ GHEY! :)" I figured today I'd select a few titles at random and see if we can gauge what sort of quality film viewing experience YouTube has to offer.

BLUE JUICE -- This caught my eye because I noticed how much the people on the poster looked like Ewan McGregor and Catherine Zeta-Jones and I foolishly assumed that a crap 3rd rate 90s surfing movie wouldn't have Ewan McGregor and Catherine Zeta-Jones, thus setting myself up for a crushing disappointment. The movie's IMDB plot synopsis contained one of my all-time favorite plot synopsis lines:
JC has his own problems with Chloe: Will he stay with her and run a surfer coffee shop or travel around the world without her?
I do have to wonder how it is that JC fucked up his life so badly that his options have been reduced to world travel or serving coffee to guys who call each other, "Bra." This all just screams "quality film."

THE BLUE LAGOON -- This is the very pretty looking 1980 movie that catapulted the very pretty looking then-16-year-old Brooke Shields to fame. It's an awesome movie for people who think 16 year old girls should be presented on film as either scantily clad or totally naked objects of sexual desire. In 1991, there was a sequel called Return to the Blue Lagoon that opens with the grisly deaths of the two characters from the first movie and tells the story of their son who followed in Mom and Dad's footsteps by getting stranded on an uncharted island and nailing an underage girl who seems to hate clothes (then-16-year-old Milla Jojovich). It's probably time to carry on this proud tradition and make a 3rd movie in which Miley Cyrus receives her cinematic deflowering. Just a suggestion.

FITZCARRALDO -- Ah, a decent movie. This is Werner Herzog's 1982 classic about how a man whose obsession to fulfill his dream of building an opera house in the Peruvian jungle just about destroys him and everything around him. It's actually one of the more amazing technical achievements in the history of cinema because they actually pulled a 300 ton riverboat through the jungle without the use of special effects. There's even a documentary about the making of the movie called Burden of Dreams that's probably more interesting than the movie itself. Herzog had originally cast Mick Jagger as Fitzcarraldo's assistant but cut the character out when Jagger had to leave to go on tour. Fitzcarraldo stops just short of greatness but there are worse ways to spend your time than watching it. For instance, you could watch just about everything else on YouTube.

THE MOD SQUAD -- Okay, enough about good movies. Let's all gather around our internet box things and watch one of the stupidest movies based on a television show ever made. Dennis Farina's cop character gets the brilliant idea of recruiting criminals to serve as police officers and seems surprised when, at first, the whole thing goes to shit. Fortunately, their fate is controlled by the godlike powers of screenwriters so it all does come together even though these geniuses needed Farina to die first. This is especially memorable for the scene where Claire Danes drags a guy she barely knows into a dirty public bathroom for sex. I wonder if she's proud of that role.

Oh well, that's enough. I'm off to see Wolverine, a movie I'm sure will be more than worthy of being shown free on YouTube in a few years.