Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy F-Ing New Year

I've been sick since I got home which means you all get squat today. It's New Year's Eve anyway so substitute the previous excuse with that. "But Mike," you say, "why should we suffer just because you are?" Cause that's the way the bulldog barks, kiddies. What does that mean? I have no idea. Just try and enjoy the holiday.

If you want to share my mood, watch this trailer and die a little inside like I did.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 12/30/10

This is the last edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs of the year. Let the importance of this moment sink in for a moment. Is it sunk in? If not too bad cause this sucker is starting up now.

MTV Movies Blog has a list of the Top 10 Breakout Stars of 2010. To my great surprise, none of them severely annoys me. Usually when I see a "Who's Hot" list, there are always a few whose sudden, violent death wouldn't upset and at least one I would gladly shoot in the face myself. All ten of these folks, however, managed to endear themselves to me over the past year and I'd love to see Emma Stone become the Next Big Thing. Of course, the Next Big Thing often becomes the Next Big Trainwreck and I certainly don't wish that for Emma Stone. Now if I hear that she was pulled on Hollywood Boulevard at 2 AM wearing nothing but cocaine, I'll feel partially responsible.

The answer to this question is: It's just you.

If you saw Big Momma's House and its sequel and thought that those movies had unanswered questions that demanded further exploration of the Big Momma-verse, your prayers are answered. I'm sure all the fans at this year's Big MommaCon will be thrilled to hear that the director of Big Momma 2 decided not to do that Merchant-Ivory produced adaptation of Middlemarch and will be taking up the reins once again as Martin Lawrence's character introduces his son to the glories of being a cross-dressing crime fighter. This is also great news for film critics making next year's "Worst Films of 2011" lists since they can get started with this one.

It should come as no surprise that a man who has directed major science fiction films thinks that science in movies need not be accurate. Fans of serious science fiction have known this for decades. We also know that the primary reason for this is that most film makers actually hate science fiction and consider it to be one step above pornography so it doesn't matter if you think terms like "galaxy" and "solar system" are interchangeable. Basically, they think that because they themselves do not care that no one in the audience will care either, except of course for their nerd fanbase, a group whom they actively loathe.

The American version of the hit BBC series Being Human will be premiering next year. Usually when Americans try to adapt a British series for American television, the first thing they do is sit down and say something along the lines of, "We have to rip out any and everything that made this show so great and replace all that with lame jokes, cardboard characters and bland melodrama." Anyone who has seen recent attempts like Life On Mars or The Eleventh Hour knows what I'm talking about. Also, it's on the SighFigh Channel, a cable network incapable of doing anything worth watching that's not Battlestar Galactica. Still, I shall indulge myself with a small amount of optimism for this based solely on this early review from IO9. If it turns out to suck now, I shall place 100% of the blame on the same review. I know that's a lot of responsibility to put on some poor science fiction/pop culture website but they knew the risks.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Three Is A Magic Number

Today I have to play a bit of catch up so instead of one big review of one big thing I'm going to post three little reviews of, well, three big things. Just go with it.

True Grit -- The new Coen Brothers production of True Grit is, simply, one of the reasons movies were invented. It's not a "great" movie in the sense that it will change or influence the world in any significant way or that it shines a light on the human condition. It's just a very entertaining film about some very interesting characters. I recommend you read the book as it is a masterpiece of simple, straightforward storytelling and this new cinematic adaptation of the book can be described the same way. Jeff Bridges gets all the attention for the role of Rooster Cogburn, the harsh and pitiless U.S. Marshal, but the main character is actually a 14 year old girl named Mattie Ross and the Coen Brothers should be commended for having enough confidence in an inexperienced newcomer like Hallee Steinfeld to play this crucial role. They turn out to have made the correct decision and she turns out to be someone who can hold her own with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. True Grit is a movie I'm going to see again on the big screen, something I rarely do anymore, and I guess that's the best recommendation I can give it.

Toy Story 3 -- Much as I wanted to last May, I was just never able to get around to seeing Toy Story 3 in theaters. It's a shame there isn't some method for viewing movies in your home after they leave theaters BUT WAIT there is. The DVD of Toy Story 3 was a pleasurable way to spend the morning after Christmas. I remember everyone talking about how sad the ending was and I thought I was prepared because the other two Toy Story movies. I thought two things as the movie was playing. First, I considered what a shame it is that too often in life something wonderful has to end in order for something else that's wonderful to begin. We have to leave behind the pleasures of our childhood imaginations in order to partake of the wonders of adulthood. If we're lucky, of course, we manage to keep a little of that childlike sense of wonder as we grow older and I always have pity for people who weren't able to accomplish that. The second thing I thought of was, "Oh my God, can you imagine how horrible it would be if toys really were sentient beings and we just kept abandoning them like that?" I'm surprised these characters from Toy Story haven't founded their own version of Skynet by now and just taken us all out.

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol -- My favorite show had a new episode on Christmas day which, of course, officially made Doctor Who the new Reason For The Season. Still, I keep going back to the fact that this episode took some of the rules that govern the Doctor Who universe and tossed them out the window. Michael Gambon played Kasran Sardick, a horrible, wealthy and powerful old man who's refusing to help a spaceship that's about to crash even though he could easily prevent it from doing so. The Doctor then decides to go back in time to when Sardick was a child and see if he could make him a nicer person. Thing is, this really isn't supposed to be possible. One of the major plot points of Doctor Who is that once he becomes part of events, he can't alter them. From a storytelling point of view, it's a necessary weakness or else he could just go back in time every week and prevent stuff from happening instead of dealing with it in the present. So why was he able to do it this time? And why not just go back and tell the ship not to take off in the first place? It's all good, though. If you read yesterday's post, I went on about how I could excuse certain plot holes if a story is done skillfully enough. This is one of those times. It was an enjoyable episode written by Steven Moffat, one of my favorite writers, and at least now Doctor Who fans will have something to complain about on forums for the next several months while they're waiting for the new season to premiere. By the way, I have a theory about what the Silence is. Maybe someday I'll tell you about it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hit Me Santa Baby One More Time

I was going to take the day off of blogging today in observation of Christmas but, instead, I've decided to dishonor Christmas and bring upon myself the ire of a billion Christians in order to talk about what I posted on Friday. Perhaps the memory of that has already been lost in the food/alcohol induced haze we adults imposed upon ourselves in order the to survive the sheer torture that is the most joyous time of the year and you have no idea that I wrote up one of my famous Liveblogs for your Christmas Eve pleasure. In this case, the poor, cinematic soul being stretched upon my metaphorical rack was Santa Baby 2 starring Jenny McCarthy. It turns out, much to my surprise, that movies, even one I don't like, are made by real people with real feelings who work very hard to entertain and are passionate about such work. That state of affairs led to an email I received from Brian Turner. One of Santa Baby 2's authors is listed as Brian Turner but I'm sure that's a coincidence and this guy's email is a spam trying to sell me an acai based antioxidant supplement that somehow got past my filter. Let's read his email, posted here with his permission.
Michael,
OH MY GOD, THAT'S ME. What can I do for you?
First off, we'd like to thank you for taking the time to review our movie. A year late, but better late than never right?

Second, we'd like to congratulate you on two key points that apparently ALL the other reviewers missed!
- Teri _should_ be in charge of Christmas!
- Why is it always sunny at the North Pole?

Garrett and I had long discussions after the drawn out rewrite process resulted in a script where neither Santa nor Mary actually wanted to run Christmas and the one person who had stepped up and was doing a great job was being painted as a villain for doing nothing wrong. Further, you caught the fact that both Santa and Mary systematically mistreated the Elves, ignoring their demands and not thanking them for their hard work.

Clearly you watched the film a lot closer than any of the other reviewers!
That's true, I am amazing.
As for the lights at the North Pole, Garrett and I had a discussion early on during the writing of Santa Baby 1 about this. Here's what we concluded:
- People are uneducated and we'd literally have to explain to them why it was dark all the time
- Shooting a holiday movie that takes place entirely in the dusk would be gloomy and difficult

So, while we both concur with how little Sun would actually be there, we went the route of all the other Xmas movies and made it look pretty.
Yes, I figured it was artistic license. I was being snarky though I did keep noticing it as well as the presence of lush looking forest land and the fact that no one was dressed warmly enough to survive the North Pole in summer, much less Christmas time. If I had liked the movie better, none of this would have bothered me in the least. It can all be easily excused as an attempt to make a fairy tale that would have been much less entertaining and light-hearted had the entire cast frozen to death on a landscape that looked more like the set of The Thing than a movie about Santa Claus.
On a third count, you are also the only one who caught that Teri was an elf. When we first say that Kelly had been cast, we thought it was a DEAD GIVEAWAY. The girl is something like 4'2"! Again, you're the only reviewer that picked up on it.

So, overall, nice work!
I don't want to claim special powers but I don't ever remember thinking she wasn't supposed to be an elf. I don't remember a line of dialogue saying, "Gosh Teri, you are totally not an elf," and she was short with a high pitched voice. Oh well, the rest of the world was fooled. I feel like one of those people you want to punch who like to claim that they figured out The Sixth Sense when Bruce Willis was in the restaurant.
Oh! And you got our names in there. Along with Santa's ass, but still! Thanks.
I did? (Quick re-read later) Oh, it was in the screencap. I actually intentionally left out the names of you and your writing partner. The reason is that I hardly ever like to blame writers for what I feel is wrong with a movie. If there's something wrong with the script, it was almost certainly something that the writers were told to do by someone higher up. There are too many legendary stories of a writer being told to take a perfectly good script and completely fuck it up in order to serve the whims of people who have no idea what they're talking about. If The King's Speech had been a big budget Hollywood film instead of being an independent production, the sensitive and intelligent screenplay would have ended up being an Adam Sandler comedy. The point is that, if someone is a good enough writer to rise above a group that consists of literally thousands of other wannabe screenwriters, they're probably smart and talented enough to spot things like weak characterizations and logical inconsistencies. If a script contains those things, it's because the people who sign the writers' checks wanted them in there. The writer then buys a house and pays for his kids' braces with the money and, hopefully, is happy to be able to make a living doing something that doesn't involve digging ditches or grinding on a stripper pole.
If we could ask one favor from you/ Kelly Stables (Teri/Phoebe) is a fantastic actress and a wonderful person. We feel strongly that she did an absolutely terrific job with what could have been a thankless role. And, though she's pictured in the review, you don't mention her by name. They say there's no such thing as bad press, so if you get a chance, can you just slip her name in there?
Thanks so much,
Brian Turner
No problem there. She was easily the best actor in the movie as well as being the prettiest female in a movie that starred a woman who was once Playmate of the Year. Don't believe me? This is what Kelly Stables looks like. The scenes with Teri/Phoebe were actually a pleasure to watch. She and some of the scenes with the elves (their dialogue was often hilarious) kept the movie above the, "Who the hell thought it was a good idea to make this" level and, if I ever meet Kelly Stables, I'll tell her so. Hopefully, I won't be drooling or have a massive erection when this happens but I'm not making any promises. (That line's going to really work against me if she writes to me next.)

Thanks for your thoughts, Mr. Turner. They were very helpful and I'm glad I stuck to my policy of polishing the ass of anyone who writes to me personally.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The New McCarthyism

My Christmas Eve gift to you this year is another addition to what is, if stats are to be believed, this site's most popular feature. Yes, it's another Liveblog in which I find a movie that looks horrible that I haven't seen and write real time comments. I wanted a Christmas themed movie but all the ones I could think of like the Santa Clause movies were available for streaming. Then I found this little gem that Google assures me was released last year on the ABC Family Channel. It's called Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe and it stars Playboy model/"actress"/self-appointed anti-vaccine warrior Jenny McCarthy. I haven't seen Santa Baby 1 which means I'm ignorant of the complex mythology of the Santa Baby-verse. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up.

0:05:00 -- The movie opened in the spectacular fashion one comes to expect from movies made especially for basic cable television. We opened with Paul Sorvino, in my opinion one of the greatest living actors, playing a Santa Claus leading his elves in a pilates class while some generic Christmas song blared. According to the song, "Christmas is coming," so, you know, great. We then jumped to New York to see Jenny McCarthy's high powered businesswoman character Mary Class. She and her assistant blathered on for a while about what they did but all I can tell you is that it's one of those jobs everyone who's not a cop or firefighter in NYC seems to have in movies in which you have to shout into your cell phone non stop. Not sure if the other guy in the room is her husband or boyfriend but his name is Luke and he's a mailman who worries that people just don't have the Christmas spirit. Somehow, they managed to fill this role with Dean McDermott, a man the internet assures me is famous for being married to Tori Spelling. My biggest surprise is that this movie was directed by Ron Underwood who also did the very funny City Slickers. He also directed the famously awful Eddie Murphy film Adventures of Pluto Nash which is why he's now doing basic cable films with Jenny McCarthy.

Only a director like Ron Underwood would have the guts to show us Santa Claus' ass up close.

0:10:00 -- I've just discovered that Mary is the daughter of Santa Claus. I found this out when Santa showed up at a party she was throwing for her business colleagues as part of a jazz quartet and no, you didn't just misread that. I still don't know what the hell Mary does but whatever it is, everyone else at the party did it too. Luke showed up wearing jeans and a corduroy jacket to a party at which every other man was wearing a business suit because his goal was apparently to embarrass Mary in front of her pretentious friends by looking out of place and acting so uncomfortable that you'd think one of the other guys there had just shot his dog. Anyway, Mary is wondering why Santa-Dad isn't at the North Pole since it's only 10 days till Christmas and Santa said, "Well why aren't YOU at the North Pole." I'm sure there's a fascinating backstory here and I sincerely hope I won't doze off and miss finding out what it is.

0:25:00 -- From what I can gather, in the first movie, Mary saved Christmas. I'm not sure how but Christmas is always portrayed as a fairly fragile thing in fiction like this that constantly needs saving. She did such a good job that Santa felt he was no longer needed which is why he joined the jazz quartet. Anyway, Luke agrees to watch out for Mary's dad and an elf named Skip who came along with him. He takes them to a mall and Santa acts completely taken aback by the concept of mall Santas. Through a series of wacky and easy avoidable circumstances, the three wind up in jail and Mary insists they all head back to the North Pole, a place that is apparently a short driving distance from New York. After Luke and Mary go to their room and fuck (offscreen but they do it), Mary goes to visit the toy workshop and sees it running efficiently. Still pumped up from all the sex chemicals that had been released into her system less than an hour ago, Mary tells the elves that she's back in charge but they don't seem excited because the place has been running very efficiently thanks to a woman named Teri who was working in the mail room and just sort of took over. Mary seems upset even though she wanted to go home anyway. Teri seems nice enough except that she gets a sly, evil looking expression every time there's no one else around. Eek. Teri, as you can see below, is also kind of hot. Maybe she and Mary will end up making out.

When did Tina Fey become one of Santa's elves?

0:50:00 -- Teri, the elf who totally rocks the sexy librarian look, is in fact evil. She managed to convince the elves to go on strike. Luckily for her, Mary is from the world of big business and thus is the type of person who thinks Chinese factory workers have it too soft and will engage in union busting just for the sake of doing so. She offers to let the elves take a break every six hours and walks out of the room then tries to be a scab and make all the toys herself, a fairly simple job that she fucks up in a manner both spectacular and spectacularly unfunny. Why she won't just let Teri take over is a mystery since she says she wants to go home and she'd better go home soon as her chief rival, a guy whose English accent reveals him as being worse than the Devil, has been undermining her while she's been gone in whatever the hell it is they do. Teri's also been subtly letting Luke know that she'd be available to have him deck her halls any time he wanted to but Luke has apparently never had a woman show interest in him before and thinks that the kittenishly playful way she helps him make cookies is her way of being nice. Did I mention Luke is kind of thick headed?

1:03:00 -- Mary has decided to pack up and leave but Luke says he's happy there and won't be going back with her. It's very sad and, as we all know, there's no vaccine against sadness and, if there was, Jenny McCarthy wouldn't take it anyway. Luke is now vulnerable to Teri's charms but makes the mistake of letting it slip that Mary has left just before Teri's going to put her head in his lap. Oh, she was going to. She made him brownies and that always leads to oral but she abandoned Luke and ran back to the workshop to end the elf strike and get the toy shop up and running again. Teri's organizational skills and her skill in dealing with the elves means she should probably be in charge anyway even though she's evil. Mary, meanwhile, is back in New York putting her business back together. Her nemesis, the British douchebag, has suddenly become her ally and potential new romantic partner. I'm sure this will end well.

1:24:00 -- Santa has a change of heart and decides to come out of retirement and take over the shop, much to Teri's dismay. Like Mary, he gives Teri zero recognition for the work she's done and figures she'll just go back to the mailroom. After he says this, Santa mysteriously disappears. The elves don't question any of this because they're idiotic, weak-minded fools who are easily manipulated by Teri's Jedi mind tricks. She's not ready for when Mary suddenly returns from New York because she has figured out Teri's secret. It turns out Teri is actually an elf named Phoebe. I'll be honest and say that I had no idea I wasn't supposed to think she was an elf all along. She's short and has a squeaky voice. I'd be upset by this if I actually gave a crap about this movie. While Mary frees her dad from the giant gift box in which he'd been trapped, Phoebe takes off with the sleigh and all the toys. She leads them on a merry chase until they get to a fishing shack with a hole in the ice over which Phoebe has suspended the bag of toys. At this point, I'd like to question how all the toys for all the children in the world fit into a bag small enough to drop through a 4 foot icehole. I'd also like to question how the Sun can be up at the North Pole at Christmastime. These questions do not get answered but that could be because Ron Underwood is saving them for Santa Baby 3. Anyway, Mary, Santa and Luke make an emotional plea to Phoebe and she has a change of heart because, well, fuck it, she just does. Unfortunately, as she reaches out to hug everyone, she drops the bag. Luckily, the elf Skip had loaded a bag of cookies onto the sleigh instead of the toys which means everything's OK. Mary helps Santa deliver the toys, Luke goes back to town and Phoebe lets Skip know that, in thanks for saving the toys, he's about to get his bells jingled. Mary then starts a new life of splitting her time between being a high powered...ad exec? Lawyer? Stock broker? I don't know. Anyway, she does that and then goes back to the North Pole on the weekends and I guess that's a happy ending. It's an ending, at least. Hopefully, I have angered Jenny McCarthy by vaccinating you against ever wanting to see this movie.

Close your mouth, Jenny. AND MERRY CHRISTMAS, ONE AND ALL.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 12/23/10

Christmas is almost upon us. I assume I didn't need to tell you that. I also don't need to tell regular readers that this is another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

This trailer is great right up until the moment you realize it's for the new Transformers film. Is it possible that Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon is actually going to be good? Oh no. God no. It's like asking if manure isn't going to stink. If I turn out to be wrong, I'll admit it, but I'm not going to be wrong.

I agree with most of the observations made in this Hollywood Reporter article. I don't think The Walking Dead would have been as good as it was if NBC had picked it up instead of AMC. NBC would have insisted on toning it down on all levels. They probably would have wanted it to be even more episodic than it was and they would have wanted more likability in the characters. Then, when it failed, they would have blamed Frank Darabont and the other makers of the show and said that this was why everything they did had to be variations of The Biggest Loser. I'd also like to comment on their conclusions about Lone Star. As someone who actually saw that show, I can tell you that it failed because it sucked. The small audience that the first episode attracted didn't like it and didn't want to see it again. It's as simple as that. If you want to make complex dramas about multi-faceted people, they have to be really good otherwise people won't want to take the time to try to get to know and root for the characters even when they do horrible things. Seems like an obvious lesson but it's one that Fox didn't seem to know.

Yet another person has been injured on the set of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. People were wondering if the show's producers were considering shutting down the show entirely. As of this writing, those producers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, could not be reached for comment.

Like the rest of the world, I didn't know what to say when I heard that The Tourist and Burlesque had been nominated for Golden Globes. Now, of course, I know exactly what to say. The fact that the judges were bribed makes perfect sense and brings order to an otherwise chaotic universe. By the way, if you click the link and see the screencap from The Tourist, you may agree with me that Angelina Jolie was born to be the leading lady/femme fatale in Hitchcock films. It's just a shame that no one is making Hitchcock films anymore. At least, no one is making good ones.

Since Mel Gibson is one of Hollywood's most famous conservative actors, the right wing movie site Big Hollywood wants to know when Mel is going to give us a chance to forgive him. The answer is, "Most likely, not ever." Mel Gibson is a bigoted fuckhole. He's most likely been a bigoted fuckhole his entire life and it's very unlikely that he will change. Winona Ryder recently recalled an encounter she had with him 15 years ago when he found out she was Jewish and called her an over dodger. We've only heard about this in the past few years because his alcoholism has gotten out of control and he's lost the ability to hide the fact that he's a bigoted fuckhole. When he's sober, he's calm, gentle, and witty long enough to convince people that he's a civilized man. In all honesty, if he makes a decent movie, I'll go see it and will encourage others to do so. I do that for Roman Polanski movies and Gibson has never raped a teenager or, if he has, he's been smart enough to keep the world from finding out about it. Don't worry though, Big Hollywood. Not all famous conservative actors have substance abuse problems. There's Kelsey Grammer...oh, right.

Apology accepted, Sam Worthington. Now what about Terminator: Salvation?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

White God's Burden

You may have heard of the Conservative Citizens Council (CCC) before now. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour created a bit of a stir on the lefty blogs yesterday when he favorably mentioned them although he called them by a different name. It turns out that, if you look these guys up on Wikipedia, you get redirected to this page. Before 1956, they were called the White Citizens Council, an organization that came into being when the Supreme Court desegregated public schools. When former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was accused of being a racist, one piece of evidence supposedly proving this was that he had spoken to the CCC on five separate occasions. I had no idea until last week what they'd been up to since their name was used to end Lott's political career. Until last week, that is.

It turns out the CCC isn't just well monied racists who like to get together to bitch about their granddaughters dating black guys or how the kids these days all listen to that crazy rap music. Now we find out that they're also passionate fans of movies and comic books. They're such huge fans they insist that actors starring in movie version of their favorite comics not deviate in appearance from the way they are drawn. This is nothing new. It happened when Jessica Alba was cast as Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four movie although that tempest in a teapot died down when she dyed her hair blond. There are always nerds who don't understand the concept that the comic book and the movie are two different art forms and that what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. It's why superhero costumes in movies these days are usually leather instead of spandex tights like they almost always are in the comic books.

Anyway, it turns out that the CCC has decided to take a break from whatever the hell it is they do all day to stand up for the artistic integrity of their favorite comic book. They are really cheesed over the upcoming movie adaptation of Marvel Comics Thor. What are they complaining about? Maybe they don't like that Thor has a beard because they prefer the 1960s Jack Kirby version in which he's clean shaven. It could be that they don't like that the movie will include Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Thor's love interest who was written out of the story years ago. But no, it's none of those things. Should I say what it is or bury the lede some more?

The CCC is upset over the character Heimdall. Heimdall is the Guardian of the Bifrost Bridge, the link between Earth and Asgard, home of Thor and the other Norse gods. What has the CCC up in arms is that Heimdall in the movie will be played by Idris Elba. Idris Elba is an excellent British actor who distinguished himself in shows like The Wire and Luther. He's also of African descent. Meaning he's black. This has caused the totally non-racist the CCC to collectively crap their pants and at least throw their support behind this totally non-racist web site that's calling on everyone to boycott the Thor movie NOT AT ALL because they're a group of racist dickholes who think too much melanin in the skin makes one unqualified to play a fictional deity but because this is just another example of Marvel's liberal agenda.
Marvel has a history of advocating for the left-wing. In early 2010 they even used their Captain America comic to attack the TEA Party movement. Marvel front man Stan "Lee" Lieber personally funds left-wing political candidates. Now Marvel has inserted left-wing social engineering into European mythology, casting a black man to play a Norse deity.
The way the writer helpfully lets us know that Thor creator Stan Lee is actually a Jew named Stan Lieber is proof positive that they're not racist. A true racist would have denounced Lee for being Jewish while the writer never goes that far. He just puts up menacing square quotes around the author's pen name and lets us decide for ourselves whether or not he drinks the blood of Christian babies.

For some reason, the CCC and Boycott-Thor.com don't feel the need to complain about other changes the movie has made. For instance, Anthony Hopkins' Odin should have a much bigger beard than he does in the movie. Hell, Thor himself shouldn't be blond. In Norse mythology, he had red hair yet no one at the CCC has felt the need to get pissed off over that. And what about other superheroes? Why has there been no mention of the fact that the Hulk was gray when he first appeared and then turned green later? Why didn't Peter Parker have to get teleported to an alien world by the Beyonder to find the alien called Venom that he wore as a costume instead of it just landing on Earth? What non-racist reasons are there for not noticing any of this?

I'm sure all these questions will be answered soon. Let's just hope that the CCC doesn't notice that Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson in Iron Man 2, was significantly changed when taken from the page and put on screen. Yes, that's right. Nick Fury fought in World War II. He should be over 90 by now yet Jackson is in his 50s. Let loose your rage, CCC.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Clu Abides

Perhaps you've seen 1982's TRON. It's a movie that has served as a model for big studio blockbusters since it came out. Every movie since TRON has followed in its footsteps and had spectacular special effects coupled with a weak, often stupid story. It's also a movie that, in the 27 years since it came out, has inspired exactly no calls for a sequel. Hollywood heard that message and has given us TRON: Legacy.

The movie's greatest achievement is that they managed to pack enough money into a moving van to convince Jeff Bridges to reprise the role of Kevin Flynn, a role I barely remembered he had done. When I think of TRON, I think of lightcycles and glowing disc battles and pretty much forget that it even had people in it. I suspect I will think of TRON: Legacy in much the same way as the years go by. The lightcyles and disc battles in this movie are great and I really mean that. I hope there's a special DVD release of just those. The problem was that there weren't enough of those. I normally complain that an action movie's plot was thin to the point of being non-existent. In this case, the problem with TRON: Legacy was that it had too much plot. Every time you'd have something like, say, a cool lightcycle scene, it would be followed by what felt like 2 hours of characters chatting aimlessly about algorithms or Isomorphs or, worst of all, their feelings.

Rising young actor Garrett Hedlund, one of those guys you've never heard of until suddenly he's in everything, plays Kevin Flynn's son Sam. Sam's been in a generally pissy mood since about 1990 when dad Kevin disappeared and he takes his mood out on society. Oh, nothing serious, mind you. When we first see him as an adult, he's sneaking into his dad's old company, ENCOM, in order to take a new piece of software they plan to sell and puts it on the web for free. After he dramatically exits the building only to be chased down by the police, we discover that everything he did was completely pointless since, as his father's heir, he's majority stockholder of ENCOM and could have just told them to do that. Also reprising his role from the original movie is Bruce Boxleitner who played Flynn's partner, Allen Bradley, as well as the titular* character, a security program called TRON. Allen lets Sam know that he received a page from his father's old phone, a number that's been disconnected for 20 years so Sam heads on down to the old Flynn arcade and, through a series of innocuous circumstances, ends up in the computer world we first saw in 1982.

The movie wisely wisely declines to try to explain how any of this is possible and instead focuses on the vast, dark landscape of the Grid. I'm of the opinion that making everything dark is the last refuge of incompetent art directors but I did like the way the Grid looked. As they did to his dad in 1982, merciless patrollers pick up Sam thinking he's just another program in this virtual reality and toss him into an arena to fight for his life in a very extreme version of ring toss. This brings him to the attention of his dad but OH NO it's not his dad. It's Clu, Kevin Flynn's lookalike avatar who has taken over the city and forced Flynn himself to the outer edges of the Grid. Even though Clu says he needs Sam alive, he forces him into another deadly contest, this time with LIGHTCYLCES WOO! That makes no sense but that's fine with me. I like lightcycles. Lightcycles are those things that drive around and create a wall behind them into which other lightcycles can crash and, with 2010 computer technology, they're now far more maneuverable than they were in 1982.

Sadly, this good thing must come to an end and Sam escapes Clu with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a student of his father. She brings him to Kevin Flynn and we once again see that, judging by his appearance and his dialogue, Jeff Bridges has decided that every character he plays from now on will be some variation of the Dude. Kevin Flynn is a man who, depending on the needs of the script, is either helpless or has god-like powers, a situation that makes it difficult for them to return to the exit portal in the middle of Clu's fortress. On their journey there, Sam and Kevin talk A LOT about Sam's daddy issues before the action finally starts back up again. When the action DOES start up, it turns out Clu has daddy issues of his own. Does Sam A) get to go home and B) get to have sex with Quorra. It's a Disney film so no to the second one, at least not onscreen. As for the first, what do you think?

To wrap things up, here is my advice for the next sequel in 2038. God only knows what will be possible then, special effects wise, but that's what the movie should be. Don't have Sam Flynn have to be rescued by some jerk off son or, if you go that route, don't spend half the movie talking about it. The actors did OK but I didn't care. Disc battles and lightcycles should rule the day. In fact, disc battles should be in every movie from now on including Black Swan and The King's Speech. Make it so.

And that concludes this edition of Jeff Bridges Movie Of The Week. Come back next week for True Grit and the week after Little Fockers starring Jeff Bridges.

*I love that word. I think I'll use it more often. Signed, Michael Clear, titular own of this blog.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bizarro World Movie Reviews -- TRON: Legacy & How Do You Know

Life is not a series of unconnected episodes. It is something greater than the sum of its parts. One incident cannot be viewed on its own but rather should be viewed in the context of all that has taken place before it. Everything affects everything else and that's why I can wholeheartedly recommend both TRON: Legacy and How Do You Know. Individually, they are huge pieces of stupid, formulaic crap that causes your soul to die shortly after viewing them. Viewed back to back, however, they are a magical combination of two imperfect things that come together to form something that is wonderfully and dazzlingly beyond description.

If TRON: Legacy and How Do You Know could truly combine and if that combination could transform itself into an animal, it would be a unicorn whose horn created unlimited chocolate and when it farted, perfection would come out instead of gas. I'm not sure if the release of these two movies was done intentionally with full knowledge that they are two halves of a whole or if it was a grand cosmic accident not unlike the first time it occurred to someone to create fire or to spin sugar into cotton candy. Either way, I consider that to be proof of the existence of God as the endless corporate analyses, focus groups and marketing strategies that all came together and formed the decision to release these two gems on the same day could not have been a coincidence but rather the culmination of a plan that began at the Big Bang and ends today in movie theaters across the world.

TRON: Legacy is, on its face, some dumb flick that was needlessly made to cash in on a well known brand name and, as a movie, exists only as a showcase for CGI effects at the expense of anything resembling intelligent storytelling or interesting characters. How Do You Know, on the other hand, is an excuse for stars to get big checks while telling lame jokes and acting out a romantic comedy plot that has been done a million times before. It is only when the two are seen back to back that the truth emerges. TRON is the head of this beast while How Do You Know is the heart. Both of these movies together transcend such simplistic concepts as "fun" or "entertaining" to become something else. Something different. Something that tells all of humanity that they've crossed a line and can never go back. We must now go forward into a new age and fulfill a grand and magnificent destiny, a destiny both in playing games in cyberspace before going home to the apartment we share with Owen Wilson while Paul Rudd romances us.

And so, here we are. An old era ends and a new one begins. Future generations will look back on this day, the day that two little movies brought us one step further away from global chaos and one step closer to a global family. And hey, TRON is in 3D so that ought to be cool too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 12/16/10

Can't think of a joke but do you really need a joke when you have an entire article stuffed full of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Once again I have been passed over as Time Magazine's Person of the Year. The bad thing about this contest is that it's biased against people like me who have done nothing with their lives.

A remake of Firestarter? Sure, why not. Firestarter was a mediocre movie and that's the kind of movie that should be remade as opposed to shot-by-shot remakes of Psycho or taking the wonderful Day The Earth Stood Still and changing it into something dark, dumb and incoherent.

Yet another sequel to The Fast and the Furious? Sure, why not. I say that because it's already been made and, if it wasn't, I wouldn't have the power to stop it. Also, for some reason, whenever I see Paul Walker on screen I always imagine him saying, "Yo, who's a guy gotta blow to get a Fluffernutter around here?" so maybe the theater will be empty and I'll finally be able to say that out loud. At this point, I once again want to say that we're getting another Fast and Furious sequel yet Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man hasn't been adapted for cinema even once. Yes, I know the odds are that they'll screw it up but I'd still like to see one of my favorite books on the big screen.

Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson are no more? This is good news for me. Yeah yeah, I'm sure you're thinking a guy like me has no chance with Scarlett Johannson but I've been developing an intricate plan to win her ever since I heard that her marriage had ended. Unfortunately, the first step involves her car breaking down outside my house while her cell phone simultaneously fails and she has to come in to my place to call a tow truck. Should that ever happen, though, I'll suggest she unload all her problems onto my sympathetic ears while we share a box of wine then I'll suggest we watch some DVDs in my bedroom but, of course, there is no DVD player in my bedroom so how will we possibly pass the time now? I don't see how this could NOT lead to sex.

I don't like to go around saying I was right but, well, actually I like very much going around saying I was right. In this case, I was right last month when I said that Jessica Alba was, in fact, misquoted when she supposedly said that, "Good actors never use a script." She's pointed out to the world the obvious fact that she doesn't think writers are useless. Sadly, I was the only one who thought that and some people made fools of themselves by unleashing righteous indignation her way, most notably screenwriter John August. This is, ultimately, a minor story and I'm only bringing it up again so I can say loudly and freely that I WAS RIGHT. This will make up for the next time I am wrong.

If this headline is true, next year's Best Picture Oscar will go to Blowing A Guy In The Wind starring Wanda Wetz.

Director Joe Carnahan now says he knew how he blew it with his most recent film The A-Team. Yeah, I know too. He blew it when he said, "Do I think it's a good idea to make a movie out of The A-Team and do I want to direct it? Hell yes!" Check with me next time, Joe. I would have been more than happy to tell you this.

And, to close things out, all I know about this movie is that it looks incredible and I can't wait to see it. If it turns out that it sucks, don't tell me. Let me find out for myself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tourist Crap

The Tourist is the kind of movie that Alfred Hitchcock could have directed effortlessly. Or, rather, he would have worked very hard for months and years scouting the right locations, perfecting the script and working with a group of talented, experienced actors to make a movie that looked as if it was made with no effort at all and that a quality film about this subject was simply part of the natural order. Sadly, this director of this movie is not Alfred Hitchcock and what I described above was beyond the abilities of writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck who, for the sake of my typing fingers, will be referred to for the rest of this review as Rick.

This movie should have been a real winner for director Rick. He had two huge stars in his leading roles, an experienced and competent supporting cast and the real city of Venice to use as his stage. Someday I'll write a lengthy article about this but I would like to see movies and television swap places. So much of television is still stuck in the 1970s. You still have gimmicky detective shows filled with dumb plots and lame jokes and sitcoms with laugh tracks as well as more lame jokes. Every time I think we're moving away from old fashioned television we get a Hawaii Five-O or a Mike and Molly. Movies, on the other hand, need to move back toward the 1970s and embrace some old fashioned techniques such as having real people do real things in real places and not have everything take place inside some guy's Macintosh.

This brings me to the parts of the movie I liked. Beautiful locations and some honest-to-God stunt work were a pleasure to see on film as they are something of a rarity these days. Rick was probably going for a cross between Hitchcock and the Bourne films but sadly achieved neither. The Hitchcock comparisons come from the basic plot premise of Chasing The Wrong Man. Angelina Jolie plays Elise Ward, a beautiful and sophisticated character who, in the 50s, would have been played by Ava Gardner or Grace Kelly. Angelina Jolie plays the role perfectly. It's a shame the movie wasn't all about her. Sadly, the focus was Johnny Depp's Frank Tupelo. I'm not sure if Frank Tupelo as portrayed in the movie was Rick's idea or if Depp wanted to play him as depressed and poorly groomed and Rick just didn't feel he could stand up to a star like Johnny Depp. Depp is known for making gutsy and controversial acting choices that studio executives hate but that doesn't mean he's always right. Hell, I've seen teenage girls use the word "hot" when describing Depp, a guy who is pushing 50, yet someone decided he should look like this:

What Bea Arthur would have looked like if she'd had a beard.

Angelina Jolie's Elise is being followed by Interpol through Paris because they are looking for her boyfriend, Alexander Pierce, a fellow who has embezzled $2 billion. Elise receives a note from Pierce telling her to choose someone his height and build and hang out with him so that Interpol will think that poor schmuck is Pierce after extensive plastic surgery. Apparently, Frank Tupelo fits the bill and he can't believe it when someone like Elise sits down and starts talking to him. Cary Grant would have played this meeting scene the way Jolie does, like a movie star who knows this isn't realistic so she acts and behaves like a witty and glamorous person instead of a realistic one. Depp, on the other hand, acts the way I would if Angelina Jolie sat down and started flirting with me. He acts awestruck and tongue-tied. We're supposed to eventually accept the idea that Elise Ward starts to legitimately fall for this guy and feel guilty for getting him into the trouble he's in but would you?

Also, there's a surprise ending that I saw coming a mile away but that's not what brought down the movie for me. Oh, it's not horrible. It just wasn't a good old fashioned international mystery made in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock like it should have been. I'm not sure who today could have pulled that off but it certainly wasn't Johnny Depp or his director, Rick.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lion Jesus Gives It Two Paws Up

Voyage of the Dawntreader is the latest movie adaptation of the famous C.S. Lewis Biblical fanfiction series The Chronicles of Narnia. I've always put the Narnia books in the "Didn't suck but nothing great" category and feel that they pale in comparison to other great fantasy series like Lord of the Rings or the Oz books. Out of all the books in that series, my least favorite is Voyage of the Dawntreader. You can imagine that I wasn't particularly excited to see what I consider to be the worst chapter in a book series that I don't particularly like. And yet...

I'd say that this is the best of the three Narnia films. If Rotten Tomatoes is anything to go by, I seem to be in the minority on this, but I found it to be very entertaining and definitely better than the very dull Prince Caspian. I actually approve of the ways in which the movie changed the book which was basically an island hopping travelogue.

As the book did, the movie opens with the two youngest Pevensie children, Edmund and Lucy, now staying with their aunt and uncle. Also there is their cousin, Eustace. "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it," is C.S. Lewis great opening line to the book and the spot-on casting of young actor Will Poulter as the whining and trouble making Eustace is one of the things that made me like this movie, a fictional character I've always wished existed just so I could kick him in the balls. I've spent many, many years hating Eustace Scrubb and yet here I am identifying him as one of the things that made the movie for me. I know, I'm surprised too.

Edmund and Lucy are finding their real world a tad dull compared to their Narnia adventures as I suppose anyone would. Luckily for them, the mighty, wise and merciful Aslan once again faces a threat so great that he, a being with godlike powers, can't handle on his own so he figures the best solution to this mortal threat to his world is to risk the physical and mental health of children and he once again summons Edmund and Lucy and, possibly by accident but probably by design, manages to get Eustace too.

This time around, they don't land in Narnia proper but rather in the ocean east of it where they get picked up by the Dawntreader, the personal sailing vessel of the King formerly known as Prince Caspian. Caspian is looking for the Seven Lost Lords, as he did in the book, but in the cinematic version they're also looking for seven enchanted swords, gifts from Aslan to the Lords. A living star-turned-wizard named Coriakin tells them that they must gather all seven swords and lay them upon Aslan's table in order to defeat some sort of mysteriously evil red mist. They are told that, in addition to fighting the mist, they must also defeat, "the evil within themselves." Anyone at all familiar with fantasy literature knows that when you are asked to fight the evil in yourself, you're pretty much screwed. All this eventually leads to them being warned not to think of their deepest fears so, naturally, that little dip Edmund has a Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man moment and nearly dooms them all. Do things works out? This is the third in a seven book series so try to figure that out for yourself.

Director Michael Apted, new to the Narnia series, made the movie look good (I didn't see this in 3D so I can't comment on that) and also made some intelligent decisions that successfully transformed the written word into a watchable movie. It's not great but it is pretty good. One issue that's not dealt with, a question no Narnia story ever answers, is why Mr. Lion God just doesn't wave his paw and make the evil go away. Sure, the kids wouldn't have learned a valuable lesson but all the people who died or were terrorized would have been alive and unterrorized. Still, as I said, the kids learned a lesson. Not sure what it is but, hopefully, they do.

I hope now that the other books are made into films. The fate of future Narnia movies is in doubt (they make money but not enough to justify the risk). It would be a shame if non-reading audiences may never get a chance to see The Last Battle. SPOILER ALERT: mouse over the following white space if you want to see it. I just want to see how you film it when the Lion Savior causes the brutal deaths of all but one of the Pevensies but don't worry, they're much better off that way. Good times.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2011 Wish List

These are things I'd like to see happen to the movie industry in 2011.
  • Bring back old ladies who rap -- There are so many great scenes of rapping grannies in movies that I'm hard pressed to name a single one. I'm sure we all have our favorite, though.

  • Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo 3 -- Who among us wouldn't cheer as loudly as we could at the news that the ineffable Rob Schneider was returning to the role that spoke to and defined an entire generation. I think we can all agree that it's been too long since we've heard the term "manwhore" and that society as a whole has suffered because of that.

  • 3D -- Can't we be honest and just admit that every movie would be better in 3D? If The King's Speech had been in 3D, imagine how much better the actual speech would have sounded.

  • Reimaginings -- The modern film industry is doing its very best to make sure that every movie ever made will be remade but tehy're not moving fast enough. Why have we not yet seen remake of Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man for example? I just mentioned Rob Schneider. That project would be absolutely perfect for him and Zac Efron. The last Harry Potter movie is coming out this summer which means next winter would be a perfect time to start the whole series over and again, this would be a perfect vehicle for Zac Efron as Harry and Rob Schneider as Ron.

  • Zombies -- As I look through lists of upcoming films, I see there are still movies coming out that don't have zombies in them. Is anyone going to seriously argue with me that Inception, Tangled and Hannah Montana: The Movie* wouldn't have been better had they been gory, violent zombie flicks?

  • Michael Bay -- I think it's a given that every movie would be better if Michael Bay directed it. At the very least he or, more properly, He should be involved in every movie made even if he's just listed in the credits as "Guy Holding Hotdog". Also, every movie should cut to a new scene every four seconds and have at least one huge explosion. This applies to every movie from the new Narnia film to Precious.

  • Roland Emmerich -- See Michael Bay.

  • CGI -- Computer graphics are used in almost every major studio release but even that isn't enough for my tastes. I think we should completely do away with actors altogether and have everyone in movies be computer animated. Then we could see the same perfect faces in every movie. People would end up wanting to copy that look and everyone would look like they were made out of plastic and life would be a paradise. (I'm not the only who has a fetish for plastic, right?)
*That one's not a joke.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 12/9/10

Break time is over. I'M BACK, BABY. I'm back just in time for another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

There have been three shows this Fall that I have really liked. They were Running Wilde, Terriers and The Walking Dead. Running Wilde went down last month and now Terriers has joined it. I'm convinced that FX, the cable network that showed Terriers, had no idea what they had on their hands, a fact made obvious by those stupid ads showing a terrier walking around. Oh well, at least I'm one for three.

The answer to this question posed in this headline is most definitely yes. The same situation exists for science fiction. If Inception manages to get any of the non-technical nominations, it will be because Oscar voters silently and collectively decided to pretend not to notice that it was science fiction like they did with Vanilla Sky. That's how it will be for Black Swan too. They will call it a "descent into madness" or a "psychological thriller" even though from all accounts (I haven't seen it) it's most definitely a horror film. A high class horror film to be sure, but a horror film nonetheless. Of course, I don't think that genres like horror and science fiction are bad things but many people even today, despite their widespread appeal, consider them to be the ghettos of fiction. Hence, we get psychological thrillers instead of horror films come Oscar time.

If this trend continues, look for Disney to quietly add violence and buttsex scenes when Tangled comes out on DVD.

I actually want to see this film version of Atlas Shrugged although it looks like I will be the only other one in the theater. I don't expect it to be any good but I'll be fascinated to see how they filmed a book that, as written, is unfilmable.

This is on the SighFigh Channel so I'm assuming it will suck. It looks like a takeoff on Heroes and even Heroes sucked after the first season ended. Whether it will be good like Battlestar Galactica or crushingly mediocre like everything else on that channel remains to be seen but, from what I can tell, that channel is run by people who have no idea what decent science fiction, fantasy or horror even look like.

Really? I wouldn't have even gotten past the headline had we been anywhere near April 1.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Busy

Sorry folks. I can only do this in my spare time. Sadly, a combination of various social activities, stuff people pay me to do and stuff people hopefully will pay me to do has left me with no time that could reasonably be called spare. I might not be able to sit down and write anything for this site until Thursday. That's not definite but it is possible. Whatever happens, have a nice week.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bad Wolf

You can blame today's Liveblog on a guy named Joe. Until I read this column he wrote, I was going through life blissfully unaware of the fact that this movie even existed. Now that I know, I must watch it and you must watch it with me, or at least read my real time comments about it. I haven't seen this. I don't really want to but I'm firing up Netflix Instant anyway. I present to you the 1987 film...HOWLING III.

0:05:00 -- After opening credits that consisted of nothing but white titles on a black screen showing unrecognizable names set to music that, so far as I can tell, was played by the director's nephew's tuba band, we see, well, quite a bit for 5 minutes. The filmmakers wasted no footage because so far they've packed in some residents of the Australian Outback standing around a dead werewolf, some guys in Siberia being attacked by a werewolf and American Intelligence Operatives implying that the bulk of America's spy activities during the Reagan years consisted of listening to the Soviets talking about werewolves. To top off the movie's inaugural 5 minutes, we see a college professor showing his students some unintentionally hilarious footage of the 1905 incident that he thinks is some sort of ritual where aborigines gently poke a woman in a werewolf suit with spears. He's amazed that the wolf mask looks so real so I think he's talking about some other wolf mask footage because he's clearly not talking about this.

Excuse me for a moment. HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!! Thank you. Please resume reading.


0:12:30 -- If you never saw 1981's The Howling, it's not bad. That, at least, looked like it was made by people who could tell their asses apart from their elbows, unlike this movie. As far as I can tell, this "sequel" bears zero relationship to that movie apart from the fact that both have werewolves. If this movie's Wikipedia entry is accurate, my suspicion that the producers already had a werewolf movie in the can and paid to slap the Howling III title on it is confirmed. Anyway, the professor, Beckmeyer, basically flew to Washington D.C. and strolled into the White House while the Secret Service blithely escorted this stranger to the President though the fact that he holds the meeting in his bathrobe makes him look less like the American President and more like the publisher of a men's magazine. Beckmeyer must have amazing people skills because I can't figure any other way you could arrange a meeting with the President of the United States to inform him that there is an impending werewolf threat with no evidence to back it up. I could have evidence that Al Qaeda had a nuclear weapon aimed at the nutsack of every man in the country and I might get a meeting with the undersecretary in charge of cheese price coordination. Also, a hot werewolf girl named Jerboa ran away from her werewolf clan in the Outback and went to Sydney where she landed a movie role and no, I did not just make all that up.

0:30:00 -- Three of Jerboa's fellow werewolf chicks go to Sydney looking for her dressed as nuns. The internet assures me that Sydney has a population of over 4 million and that it's twice the size of New York City but this movie assures me that it's small enough to pretty much trip over anyone you're looking for as Beckmeyer says he really wants to examine a werewolf and walks right by the movie set where Jerboa is working while the three werewolf women keep going to places where Jerboa has been. Jerboa, meanwhile, has hooked up with some douchewad named Danny. Werewolf girls must be turned on by douchewads because she has sex with him on the first date. I'm wondering how to explain the next part but the only way I can think to do it is to come out and say she has a pouch. Because, you know, Australia and all so I guess the werewolves have pouches. It's scientifically accurate. Look it up. Danny kind of looks the pouch over but after that the subject is closed for him. You know, I've been desperate enough for sex that I wouldn't have questioned if a girl had a hump or a conjoined twin but a pouch? I would at least ask about it the next morning over a breakfast of Weet Bix and Vegemite after bragging that I know what is and is not a knife if she'd ever at least had that pouch looked at. Anyway, Jerboa gets hit by a car and is brought to a hospital where the doctors who aren't horny douchewads like Danny take notice of the pouch. Unfortunately, the three werewolf women track her down there and kill everyone except, unfortunately, Danny before taking her back to the Outback.

Oh look, some more of those "realistic" wolf masks. If you'll indulge me once more...HA HA HA!


1:00:00 -- OK...all right...I just can't think of where to begin. The stupid is so thick you could sell it by the slice. I could write a book about this movie alone. First off, this movie lacks anything even vaguely resembling competent filmmaking. I truly believe that you could teach random people off the street the rudimentary usage of movie equipment and not come up with anything worse than this. To sum up, Jerboa got herself pregnant by Danny Douchewad. Even though she ran off before, her tribe sees no reason to put any sort of security on her so she sneaks off again and has a werewolf baby that crawls into her pouch. Believe it or not, this is the most believable and logical thing that has happened in the past 30 minutes. Back in Sydney, a famous ballerina who was also a werewolf spontaneously wolfed out while Beckmeyer just happened to be in the audience. Beckmeyer, a genius, straps her down WHILE LEAVING HER ARMS COMPLETELY FREE and starts to examine her. No one, certainly not a genius like Beckmeyer, could have foreseen that her arms being free would allow her to take wolf form and escape and then she winds up with Jerboa's tribe and she and the rest of the tribe get captured again and fuck it, let's move on.

Do they really all dress like the Road Warrior down there?


1:38:00 -- At first, I thought this script was written before it was named. I am now seriously convinced that they had no script and just made this shit up as they went along. Beckmeyer helps the ballet dancer, Olga, and Thylo, head of the marsupial werewolves, to escape military custody. The ease of this escape tells me that they were being guarded by trained hamsters and that their cages were locked with sticks of gum. The Australian military responds to this mortal threat to society by sending two YES TWO soldiers after them. After Thylo sacrifices himself by turning into a super wolf and taking out that elite two solider unit, Jerboa, Danny, Beckmeyer and Olga all set up house in the bush. The Australians must have said screw it and given up because literally years pass. Jerboa and her douchewad lover decide to sneak back to civilization. They figure that the best way to remain inconspicuous and evade the authorities is to, and this is true, get into the movie business. So I don't have to repeat myself, everything I'm about to write is from the actual movie and not made up by me. Jerboa becomes a famous actress and Danny becomes a director and none of the world's governments who now see werewolves as the #1 threat in the world notice. Years later, one of Beckmeyer's old friends tracks him down and tells him that everything's good now and that society is just fine with werewolves after the Pope said they were cool. Beckmeyer becomes a lecturer at a southern California university where all the students speak with Australian accents and Jerboa wins an Oscar. After Dame Edna, yes, THAT Dame Edna, makes a cameo appearance as an Oscar presenter, cameras start flashing on Jerboa and she turns into a werewolf live on television. Did I mention that strobe lights make werewolves involuntarily change? Well, they do. I don't know why it's a bad thing that she changed on camera since people are cool with werewolves now but she did and it was bad and Dame Edna just stood around screaming and podiums got knocked over and some generic 80s song started to play as the end credits rolled because that's all that happened. Try not to crash Netflix's servers by everyone trying to watch this all at once. Take turns.

He's single, ladies. See ya later.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 12/2/10

The hectic Christmas season has begun. We're all so stressed out that we can't remember if stockings are to be hung on the fireplace mantle or mixed in with the ginger bread cookies. Fortunately, there is one surefire method to relieve all that stress and that is another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

We all think he's cuuuuuuuuuuuuute. I only realize now as an adult what huge mega-watt assholes Santa and the other reindeer were.

Bono and I have something in common. If I wrote a Spider-Man musical, it would also be an unwatchable money loser. The producers of this show forgot that with the great power to make a musical comes the great responsibility to make it good. I never did see how they would make Spider-Man work on the stage and it looks like I was right. Too bad although at least now we won't be getting any Wolverine or Black Lightning musicals.

This headline was ripped from the cover of this month's No Shit, Sherlock Magazine. I don't know who exactly was demanding to see Anne Hathaway and James Franco co-host the Oscars but I'm not going to instantly write them off. I did that when I heard that Hugh Jackman would be hosting and he turned in a great show.

The more I hear about Cowboys and Aliens the more excited I get about it. This probably means that my expectations for it will build to levels so unrealistic that no movie could possibly meet them and I'll declare that the movie sucks even if it's on a Citizen Kane level of quality. Or maybe it will be absolutely horrible and will suck for that reason.

Anyone who ever saw Texasville will not be excited by the prospect of another sequel to The Last Picture Show. True story: someone I know worked on Texasville. He even got his parents jobs as extras in the movie. They still have the picture on their mantle of them with Jeff Bridges. He told me how director Peter Bogdonavich would change whole scenes and schedules without consulting people like the line producer or art director at the last minute for often trivial reasons. When I asked him why Bogdonavich did this, this person said, "Because that's what people who are stoned all the time do." Oh, good luck on the new film, Peter.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows what he says that Glenn Beck's memories and perceptions of It's A Wonderful Life are complete fantasy. He wanted the movie to be a paean to modern conservative ideas so he made up a government conspiracy and made Mr. Potter into a liberal to do it. If George Bailey was a conservative, he would have left Bedford Falls like he dreamt of doing and made a fortune while living an adventurous life instead of living his whole life in Bedford Falls and turning his Building and Loan into an instrument for the common good. Not much more to add except that Glenn Beck was paid a fortune to lie whereas I got paid nothing to tell the truth, definitely proof that there is a God.

People have been wondering how some of the more unsavory aspects of Twilight: Breaking Dawn could possibly be filmed without disgusting the audience and earning at the very least an R rating. The answer seems to be that any sort of faithful filming of the book will be tossed out the window in favor of an extremely sanitized treatment. The first piece of evidence of this is a photo released this week of the aftermath of Edward and Bella's first time having sex. In the photo, Bella's arm looks fine. In the book, Edward had beaten Bella unconscious. Oh, he didn't mean to, mind you. And Bella loved it too, even if her injuries did cause partial memory loss. Thus, Stephanie Meyer and all her fans managed to retain plausible deniability against accusations of the glorification of domestic abuse. This is just one of the many reasons that I hate the Twilight series.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anne Francis Stars In...

Surely that can't be a monster of the id?

I'm assuming you heard about the recent passing of Leslie Nielsen. Please now congratulate me on the restraint I showed just then by not saying, "Surely you heard about the recent passing of Leslie Nielsen." I've seen a great deal of well deserved praise for the guy who defined deadpan humor so well that comedy roles were written just for him well into his old age. I come today, however, to talk about my favorite Leslie Nielsen movie and it's not a comedy.

1956's Forbidden Planet stands as one of the finest examples of science fiction ever put on screen. Fans of serious science fiction have remembered that movie fondly whenever they would see a movie in which a solar system was called a galaxy or that invading aliens came from a planet 3 million miles from Earth. The makers of Forbidden Planet treated their material as if it was actually supposed to make sense and it did as opposed to most producers of science fiction movies who think that mistakes and lazy writing don't matter since the very genre is stupid anyway. Most science fiction films rip each other off doing variations of the radioactive monster or conquering aliens storylines over and over again. Forbidden Planet used Shakespeare as its inspiration.

The movie opens in the 23rd century, a fact that already puts it ahead of the other movies of the 50s that postulated an incredibly advanced space faring civilization by 1980. Leslie Nielsen plays J.J. Adams, a character that would later inspire Gene Roddenberry to create a starship captain who has sex with green women. Adams commands the United Planets Cruiser C-57D, a ship on a mission to investigate a human colony on the planet Altair IV that disappeared 20 years earlier. They discover that the expedition's sole survivor, Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), has built himself a very comfortable existence on this planet for himself and his 18 year old daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis). What killed the rest of the colony and how did Morbius survive? The answer to that holds up to this day as one of the most interesting and evocative ideas ever advanced in science fiction cinema.

The special effects technology is sadly dated but still holds up well enough, especially when compared to other movies made between this and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even more dated, though, are the cultural attitudes. The crew of the ship is very male and very white. Altaira's character is classic damsel-in-distress. Adams describes a machine that takes care of dirty dishes as being perfect for Earth's housewives. I mention this because I see this movie at least once a year and these points always stand out as a distraction but I manage to get past them because the rest of the movie is so good.

I love the scene when the crew does battle with an invisible creature that can only be seen by the outlines it leaves in their force field (a scene that entertains to this day and makes up for other outdated effects). I love it when the movie tries to penetrate the history of a long-dead alien race called the Krell. I love it when J.J. Adams has to outwit a genius to defeat something that can't be fought.

The key to Leslie Nielsen's comedy is that he played his funny roles pretty much the same way he played the serious and solemn J.J. Adams. I often snicker a bit when I hear him in this or The Poseidon Adventure or any of the numerous television guest spots he did all through the 60s and 70s. His comedic skills were incredible and they are what most people are talking about but, if you happen to have room in your Netflix queue or TCM is running it during one of their science fiction marathons, your time would be well spent checking out Forbidden Planet. Just don't call it Shirley because, you know, that would make no sense.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Give Me A Head With Hair

Tangled fulfills two longstanding Disney traditions. The first is for Disney to release a family friendly animated film during the Thanksgiving weekend so parents can pay 50 bucks so their kids can see it while they take a nap. The second is Disney's long-standing plan to take every ancient fairy tale or classic piece of children's literature, slap its name on it and claim ownership of it now and forever more. If they make a movie version of a much told and beloved tale, they make damn sure that, from then on, you identify that story with their movie and they'll fight like hell to make sure no one ever does anything else with that story again.

Still, this is a movie review and not a review of Disney policies that annoy me and, when regarded as a movie and not a symbol of the ways corporate thinking and greed can corrupt even the universal appeal of fairy tales, Tangled is quite good. It's actually nice to see that Disney can make a good animated film without Pixar. Last year's Princess and the Frog was ok. Tangled is much better. It has all the elements of the successful formula Disney has been using since Snow White. Beautiful Princess in trouble? Check. Handsome hero come to rescue the fair lass? Check. Anthropomorphic animals who pretty much keep the stupid humans alive? You bet. Songs? In this case, they're forgettable but they're there. Sorry Disney music fans, there is no Someday My Prince Will Come, Under The Sea or Circle of Life in this one. There's something about a girl's life beginning once she gets free from her prison. Other than that, you could put a gun to my head and I might lie and say one of the other songs was Bad Romance so you wouldn't shoot me.

If you were just freed after several months trapped in a mohole shaft, Tangled is a modern retelling of the Rapunzel story. This new version is a huge departure from the original fairy tale and that's fine. The one best known today was written by the Brothers Grimm but there were several varied versions before they were even born. In this case, they kept the character of Mother Gothel but, instead of being a witch, she's now an old woman who discovered a magic flower capable of giving her eternal youth if she sings to it periodically. Unfortunately for her, the Queen of the land grows ill so the flower is made into a potion that heals her but also transfers its healing power into the Queen newborn daughter so Gothel steals the girl and locks her away in a tower. The healing power is in the girl's hair which must never be cut lest the power go away.

Flash forward 18 years and Rapunzel is now a hot teenager voiced by Mandy Moore with about 50 feet of hair. Her "mother" tells her the reason she can't leave the tower is because it's just too darn dangerous out there. Naturally, all she can think of doing is leaving. Mother Gothel's lies have worked though because she stays up there even though she could leave anytime she felt like. We also meet Flynn Rider (voiced by Chuck star Zachary Levi), an outlaw who just broke into the Royal Palace and stole a crown meant for the long lost daughter of the King and Queen. It's really, really unlikely that, while fleeing from the Palace guards, Flynn would more or less trip over Rapunzel's tower so that's exactly what happens. One twist in the story is that Rapunzel has ninja-like mastery over her long, magical hair and easily overpowers Flynn when he climbs into her tower. She tells him she'll give him back the crown he stole if he escorts her to the city so she can see the floating lanterns launched every year in commemoration of the lost Princess. And things go swimmingly after that. The end.

Actually, a lot of entertaining stuff happens after that, much of it provided by one of the smartest and most thoroughly dedicated and competent law enforcement officials ever seen on a film, a Palace horse named Maximus. Maximus is Javert to Flynn's Jean Valjean and would hunt him to the gates of Hell and back if that was where Flynn led him. To me, the movie's two biggest weaknesses are the forgettable songs* and the main villain, Mother Gothel. The villain in a movie like this should be the most interesting character and Mother Gothel and her passive/aggressive digs at Rapunzel aren't that interesting. Oh, the movie's in 3D. The fact that I waited till now to mention that is the highest compliment I can pay it. It didn't distract me or give me a headache and that's the second highest compliment I can pay it. The little kids in the audience seemed to love it and constantly "oohed" and "aahed" when something would come flying at the screen.

To sum up, Tangled is good. Not great but very, very good. If you're an adult, you will probably be able to enjoy it along with your kids. If you're not an adult, please have your parents add this site to your nanny filters because I swear a lot and talk about blowjobs. What are blowjobs? Ask your parents.

*Did I mention those already? I can't remember.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 85

It's official. They'll make a movie out of anything.

The reason you never hear about a ninja killing anyone is because they spend most of their time trying to kill each other.

If a movie has a sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, I'll go see it. This is something I have learned about myself and I'm totally cool with it.

Jesus was a talking lion who mercilessly ripped apart his enemies. Did I get that right, C.S. Lewis?

It's all right if you get tricked, framed and have your life threatened so as as it's Angelina Jolie doing all that to you. Seriously, she could do all that to me and I'd still want to take her to McDonalds or whatever it is she likes to do.

Sure, the story of an underdog boxer going all the way has been done a million times but that means you can say the lines along with the actors. That's good, right?

Sure, 99% of all romantic comedies suck but how do you know for sure? Yes, how do you know?

This movie is a true revelation. I would have thought it would be a huge deal if bears started talking but now I see that people will be nonplussed and the two races will instead enter into a battle of wits over picnic baskets.

Allegorical fantasy stories about Irish class differences in the 18th century that are considered to be classic works of literature make a great basis for modern day comedies about idiots who bounce cannonballs off their body fat.

Story ideas that ran out of steam in the first movie should definitely get a second sequel.

The Dude abides. As does the Clu. And the Rooster.