Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Carrie

Stephen King has had a very interesting history with movies. When they're good, they are really good, or they just really suck. There never really seems to be much of a middle ground. Today's movie, Carrie, is a special circumstance. Based off the Stephen King novel of the same name, and remade off of a Brian De Palma film of the same name, Carrie is the story of an unpopular girl who is the only daughter of a single mother who to say she is religious, is a gross understatment. I think saying she is borderline Westboro status is scratching the surface. As a result of her strict religious upbringind, Carrie is considered an outsider at school and is the target of constant abuse at the hands of her peers, especially at the beginning when she, ugh, well, becomes a woman if you catch my drift and she doesn't know what to do. As if I should tell you any more of the story because either you already know it, or you really need to see it for yourself.

So, how does the remake hold up? Well, you know how I said this is a special circumstance compared to other King movies? The reason why it's so peculiar is because it's just okay. When we left the theater, my reaction ranged from "meh" to mildly positive. Don't get me wrong, by itself, it's actually a pretty good movie. However, being that the original even exists, that means that this movie gets banished to the group of movies that when we bring them up, we find ourselves saying "Did we really need a remake?" In this case, not really, although there are a few changes and modern updates that actually fit in well, even if they make the villains so despicable even Joffrey Baratheon would look at them and say "Whoa, pump your brakes guys!" As an adaptation, it's pretty good, though towards the end it alters things from the book that didn't really have a reason behind them.

Final Verdict: B-, maybe I'll rent it

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Today's movie is going to be a little different. I'm not judging it based on how good of a movie it is, but on how good of an adaptation it is. And no, I won't be using my own experiences with the books, I'm going to be using my girlfriend's experiences.

Alright, a little backstory. I am not all that familiar with the book series that today's movie is based on, and hadn't really heard that much about it until I saw the first trailer for it. My girlfriend, on the other hand, is a fan of the books and was waiting for this movie with the attitude of "Please don't suck! Please don't suck! Please don't suck!"So, this review is going to be a combination of my thoughts (as a casual viewer) on the movie as well as hers (being a fan).

Let's get this out of the way: It sucked. Doesn't matter who you ask, her or myself. It's just bad. From what I reckon, it's not Last Airbender bad, but it's still pretty poor, at least they got the name pronunciations right.

So, again, knowing next to nothing about the series, I went in with an open mind not exactly expecting Harry Potter, but with some high hopes. Put it to you this way, if I had a nickel for every time I shrugged my shoulders and thought "I guess I should have read the books" everytime a character did something nonsensical or something just came out of left field, I could fund my own Dark Knight Trilogy, and it would be awesome and not have Ben Affleck, but I digress. Seriously, there are some moments that just come out of nowhere. Like a guy being called out on having the hots for another guy. Apparently it was made clear from the beginning that this character was gay but in the movie, we were just expected to know it already, I guess. I wasn't able to call it. Then again, I'm a guy, my gay-dar is practically nonexistent. But I digress. I will give it credit for having some creative ideas and a competent enough cast, but I just couldn't get over the number of plot holes that came up that only those who read the book could fill.

On the other end of the fence, you have my girlfriend who's feelings on the movie were almost identical to mine, but her contempt for it had more to do with the fact that so much of the book was either left out or not explored enough. Not to mention that a key character was totally botched, both by the writing and the character performing his part. I guess in the book, he was a sarcastic wise-cracker and in the movie, he's very stoic and serious all the time.

Final grade: D+, wait for the dollar theater

Sleepy Hollow Pilot

Am I the only one who ever imagine the different networks as being like competing siblings? Whenever one comes out with a cool show that is creative and kind of different, at least one of the other competing networks has to jump on it and make their own version. For instance, ABC has Once Upon a Time, NBC has Grimm, the CW has Supernatural, and now Fox has their latest entree, Sleepy Hollow. Each of these shows have the premise of taking some old stories or mythology and bringing them into a modern day context, as is the case with today's show. In Sleepy Hollow's case, they have taken the characters or the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane and brought them into modern day New York. I know, it sounds lame, but then again, so did the other shows I listed above when I first heard about them, and they all seemed to have done well for themselves. I have to admit, I even find Once Upon a Time to be kind of fascinating, but I digress.

I went into watching the pilot episode thinking it was either going to be cool and creative or just flat out lame. And I was actually rather surprised. Going into it, I learned that the head writers of the show were also the brains behind such success as Lost, Cowboys and Aliens, Prometheus, and the recent Star Trek movies. Now, whether you like or dislike all or any of those endeavours, you at least have to admit that the writing that went into each of them was really creative and there was a lot of thought put into them. As is the case with Sleepy Hollow. The plot is much deeper than you would expect, and the dialogue is witty and well written and the ending of the pilot episode did leave me wanting to see more next week. One of the more major strengths of the show is that it tackles the time-jump element really well. There are a number of good jokes and one-liners regarding Ichabod's struggle to adapt to the 21st century, and the Headless Horseman, while he does start out with the classic Big Fucking Ax, he eventually upgrades to toting a shotgun and assault rifle. Is it cheesy? Undoubtedly. Is it cool as fuck to see? Hell yeah!

My only concern is that maybe a little too much thought went into the show. I know it sounds odd, but the plot of the show is if you took National Treasure, Da Vinci Code, Dark Shadows and the book of Revelations and all shoved it into one. It's creative, but it feels a little crowded. Though then again, I guess that's why they decided to make a show instead of a feature-length movie. And besides, we already have a movie.

So, my final word on the show is while it hasn't gotten me hooked in the way that Walking Dead, Game of Thrones or even Hannibal has me hooked, it is still intriguing, though I wouldn't be totally crushed if it went off the air in a season or two.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ben Affleck as the next Batman

It's not the same as Heath Ledger! And I am sick of people who keep telling me that. Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. Moving on, I have to say that the casting of Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader in the sequel to Man of Steel is probably one of the most baffling casting decisions of the past few years. And today, we are going to address the reasons for my concern on this casting choice.

1. Christopher Nolan- This is really the key difference between Heath Ledger and Ben Affleck. Christopher Nolan was one of the main brains behind the creation of the Joker that we saw in The Dark Knight, and while he was the producer and the story writer behind Man of Steel, it has been reported that he won't be involved in any further projects in the DC universe, which means that he won't be writing anything for the upcoming movie. You see, Nolan was a man with a specific vision and a specific writing for the Joker, which is why so many people had faith in him and why people came to love what he and Ledger put together when the Joker first came on the screen. Zack Snyder, on the other hand, while he is a competent director, is not a writer. That's not really his area of expertise. He can create a really visually dazzling image for each frame but story wise, he's not as gifted. That's why I'm not as confident in either Affleck or Snyder. Plus, we won't have the back story that was built up and well thought out from Batman Begins, I guess he's just gonna show up in the suit and say "I'm Batman from Baastin". One of my facebook friends told me that if I'm a fan of Batman, then I should love whoever plays him no matter what. And to that, I say this "Arnold as Mr Freeze" Fuck off.

2. Christian Bale- Say what you will about his performance, but I thought Christian Bale was a damn good Batman. Whether he is the best is up for debate, but he was certainly a great one, and he more than made up for the atrocity that was George Clooney in that movie that doesn't exist. Now, I really respected Bale's decision to end it at 3. My feeling has always been that 3 is the safest number to cut it off at, once you hit 4, you run the risk of your audience losing their emotional interest in what you are giving them, until you finally hit 6 and people have just stopped giving a crap. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but 3 is usually the best place to end it. However, if I had known that Ben Affleck was going to be the next choice, I would have asked Christian how strong his commitment to this decision really was. Plus, I've always thought that every generation never needed more than one of something, especially when it came to an iconic role. For example, I've always seen Daniel Craig as my generation's James Bond because Pearce Brosnan made his last 007 movie just as I was old enough to get into James Bond, and then along comes Daniel Craig. In that sense, Christian Bale is my generation's Batman. He's the definitive one. Before him, it was Kevin Conroy, before him, it was Michael Keaton and before him it was Adam West. If we cast someone else as Batman this soon after Christian Bale has finished, we'll just get confused as to who is the real Batman.

3. Ben Affleck- About a year ago, I said that while I hated Ben Affleck years ago, I have come to be more kind to him in recent years. When he's acting in movies that aren't Gigli or Daredevil, he's actually not that bad of an actor. And with only 3 movies under his belt, he's proven that he's actually a pretty good director as well. But is he Batman? My answer is doubtable. While Ben Affleck is a competent actor, I don't see him being the Dark Knight. If anything, I always saw him as being closer to Superman than Batman. Plus, he's already played one superhero in his career. Yeah, it was a piss poor one, but it still counts. I feel like you would be stretching yourself if you tried donning two different pairs of tights in your career.

So ther you have it, my reasons on why I'm doubttful about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman. If it turns out that I'm wrong and he plays a freaking fantastic Batman, then great! I am always open to being proven wrong. In fact in times like this, I would welcome it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Favorite Characters pt 4- Rick Blaine

What can you say about Casablanca? Nothing that hasn't alreay been said to be honest. It's known for being one of the greatest love stories of all time, in my opinion, it's THE greatest. Why? Because it's the ultimate example of someone who was willing to put aside their own pride and self interests to truly help someone who had hurt them.

Rick is a club owner in the city of Casablanca, which is currently being occupied by the Nazis. He's the kind of character that really only looks out for number one, everyone else doesn't really seem to warrant. Whether the Germans or the French hold the city is of little concern for him. He's a mysterious man with a shady, and more than likely troubled past who is just looking to live comfortably and that's about it. Things seem to be working out for him until the love of his life, the one that got away, Ilsa walks through the door of his club with her husband asking for his help getting out of the country. At first, he turns them down and wonders why "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine". Eventually, he swallows his pride and decides to help them leave town to find friendlier skies. Even at the end, when Ilsa wants to stay with him rather than leave with her husband because she still has feelings for Rick, he forces her to go because of how much danger she will be in if she stayed with Rick. One of the best moments of the movie is when he says "If you don't get on this plane, you'll regret it. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon". I know it's a cliche for people to say "If you love her, let her go" when someone breaks up with them, but in Rick's case, that is literally what he had to do. The best kinds of characters are those that decide to make sacrifices when it would have been just as easy to take what they probably deserve. I only saw this movie about a year ago, and didn't know that much about it going into it, so I was genuinely shocked when I saw the ending. I don't think anyone would have blamed Rick if he let Ilsa stay with him because that's all he wanted, the only moments when you see Rick smile are in the Paris flashbacks and when you see the difference between him then and now, you have to feel bad for the guy. In the end, it's hinted that he and the corrupt police chief are leaving their cushy lives in Casablanca to go join the French resistance, both now having found reasons to pick a side. Renault because he's fed up with the Nazis and Rick because he wants to follow Ilsa's example of courage.

Favorite Characters Part 3- Chris MacNeill


I've always wanted to include a parent in my favorite characters list, and while I could include Liam Neeson's character from Taken, it makes a lot more sense to include Chris MacNeill, the mother of Regan the possessed girl from The Exorcist. To me, there is nothing better to see than a parent who is willing to put it all on the line for their child, and what is more ballsy than putting it all on the line when your daughter is possessed by the devil? At the start of the story, she is a loving mother who, despite being a well-known actress, still finds time to raise young Regan. And for once, you have a parent that isn't completely clueless about their child's condition in a horror film. That's what always bugged me about evil kids, the parents area always really reluctant to face reality until it's far too late. Chris here immediately jumps on the situation and only suspects for a second that her sudden changes are due to puberty or a mental disorder. Even after the doctors continuously tell her that it may just be a problem with the temporal lobe or whatever, she yells at them "Are you serious? Did you not hear my daughter speaking with a creepy man's voice?". Throughout the course of the story, it is taking a physical tole on her as well. By the time she goes to Damien for help, she looks old and tired and just really worn out.

And considering that she is going up against the greatest evil of all, that being the devil, you can't discount the measures that she takes to save her daughter. Even though the movie is technically named after Max Von Sydow's character, it really is Chris that stands front and center along with Father Damien for the rest of the story, both are very strong characters. We are sympathetic to Damien for his recent plights and you want to be in Chris's corner as she continues to tackle realities that were long dismissed as fantasies, even to the Catholic church.

I hate to sound like a broken record but The Exorcist is one of the best horror films of all time, and it's not just because of the scary girl, but all of the effort that was put in by the rest of the actors, especially Ellen Burstyn, who is the emotional weight of the movie

Saturday, August 10, 2013

2 Guns

So here we are. The summer is winding down, all of the movies that we were absolutely hyped to see have come and, in some cases, left the cinemas, and now we are stuck with the left overs. If you accept that fact before you go into 2 Guns, you'll enjoy it so much more than if you went into it with the same hype that you went into say, Star Trek Into Darkness or The Wolverine. That's all I can really say about today's movie because there isn't really that much left to it. All you really need to know going in is that it stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, two of the coolest, most charismatic dudes in America, and they shoot shit and blow shit up, they exchange funny dialogue, and they are being shot at by Bill Paxton, James Marsden and that weird guy from Bladerunner that had all the origami. The plot is a bit convoluted and there are some things that I wasn't really clear on, but the movie was enjoyable enough. I don't really see anybody's career being made or broken on this movie. Besides, all you're really paying attention to the whole time is the two leads, which is what you should be doing because the scenes with the two of them saying funny shit is the best part of the movie because they are both very good actors and they share some great chemistry.

Final Grade: C+, I could have done dollar theater on this one and not lost anything

Friday, August 9, 2013

People of the Chair- George Lucas

So, I started out this series by talking about someone who I have always admired, I guess it only makes sense to follow it up with someone I... Well, I don't despise him exactly, but I definitely don't think that highly of him as a filmaker, even though his brainchild is three of my favorite movies.

With the selling of Lucasfilm to the mouse and the coming of Episodes VII-IX on the horizon, I thought it was time that I gave my thoughts on the man behind the sale. George Lucas is one of those people that everybody seems to have an opinion on. Some people love him, a lot hate him. But our feelings for him really started to take shape after the release of the prequels because it showed audiences his true prowess (or lack thereof) as a director. So what are my thoughts on the guy? I don't like him as a filmaker, but as a businessman, you have to give the guy credit. So much so that I think of him as a businessman first. Which would be great except that you are in show business, and you are trying to sell toys. Not always the best goal to have because one is always going to suffer. In his case, his movies suffered. If you look at a lot of the creatures and machines in the prequels and the remastered originals, you may find yourself coming to the conclusion that it was there for the sake of selling action figures, which is really sad. When you start thinking more about the profits of the movie rather than the integrity of the piece, you lose your credibility as an artist in my opinion. Now, I'm not going to turn this into a review on the prequels, though we will get to that eventually.

And it seems that his way of thinking only became that way in the mid nineties when the prequels were being written because in his earlier days, he appeared to at least be somewhat passionate about what he was doing. These days, filmakers like James Cameron and Zack Snyder have been known for pushing the envelope in terms of the visuals of a movie, but George Lucas was the first person to do that. A New Hope was one of the first big sci-fi movies that had such a big and grand scale, which is why it has become a cultural phenomenon in the years following its release in the 1970's, and for that you do have to give George Lucas credit. Story wise, though, you would have to credit the legions of writers who had to go through rewrite after rewrite in order to make the story work. You see, while Star Wars had the scale to dwarf all other sci-fi adventure movies, it certainly didn't have the story. You remember the movie they were faking in the movie Argo? From what I understand, the original draft by George Lucas was on par with that, which would not do. IF the visuals were going to be grand, then the story needed to match it. Now, thankfully it went through the treatment that it did because not only has it been a cultural phenomenon, but some people are saying that, along with comic books, Star Wars is American mythology. Unfortunately for George, it wasn't the story that he had wanted, and when it came to writing the stories for the sequels, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he found his ideas getting rejected more and more. I've heard that one of his ideas was so stupid that he got laughed out of the writer's meeting. I don't know that to be true, but when you hear stories about what the original was supposed to be like, then I wouldn't be surprised. I know that these days, George Lucas has all of the credit to be had for creating Star Wars, but I think that it is wrongly placed. Now, I know what some defenders of George Lucas would want to say, that even if he was entirely responsible for the original Star Wars, it's possible for him to make a bad movie. And yes, thta is true, not even Martin Scorsese has a hit every time. But to make two bad movies, a mediocre third, and then produce a fourth movie in another franchise that sucked... and then a few years later produce another mediocre movie that could have been great, you have to admit, something's not right here. Even if Star Wars was his complete brainchild, you could definitely see that there was a point where Lucas had given up on the artistic aspect of his work.

And now he says that he's retiring. Considering that since the release of the prequels, he's only made three major decisions, I have to ask... What are you retiring from? He hasn't had many hands on jobs in previous years, so what has he been doing? I was under the impression that he was already kind of retired. But I guess now that he has officially handed off the baton, I guess now he can officially stop screwing his own ideas.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why we need a Pirates vs Ninjas movie

I am of the generation that was given the internet at the right time. We had our childhoods to be imaginitive and creative and we had our teenage and adult years to enjoy the perfect thread to express that creativity. One of the longest running gags on the internet is proof of that creativity. Since my early high school years, people have long debated one of the greatest mysteries of the universe: Who would win in a war between the two greatest badasses of history, pirates and ninjas.

Now, I'm not gonna sit here and tell you which side is better or who would win, though I do have my beliefs in that area, I'm going to give you my reasons as to why a movie on this subject is not only plausible, but should happen ASAP.

1. We live in a time where writers have taken concepts that would have been seen as silly or childish in an earlier time (i.e comic book heroes) and have turned in some great stories and relatable characters. And while the idea of these two forces of awesome may still be a little outlandish, it's still not entirely ludacris to say that perhaps a director like Zack Snyder (300, The Watchmen) or Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys and Aliens) could make a halfway decent film.

2. With the success of movies like Pirates of the Carribbean now is a better time than any. Say what you will about them, but they grossed a ton of money and even if there was a pirates movie without characters like Captain Jack or Barbossa, people would still pay money to see a good swashbuckler flick. Now ninjas on the other hand, have always been a popular item in pop culture, especially amongst boys, so why wouldn't you want to see a movie made with two of the things young boys spent most of their childhoods pretending to be the most?

3. And this is the most important reason, we've made dumber movies. I have 2 in mind that you could argue are dumber than a PVN movie: Machete (which is now getting a sequel mind you) and Cowboys and Aliens. Now before you go crazy, I did actually enjoy them, for as stupid of an idea as they had behind them, and there was some real talent thrwon into both of them. The former had big names like Danny Trejo and Robert De Niro while the latter had two guys that played my childhood heroes, James Bond and Han Solo. Neither of these flicks were by any means artistic achievements nor were they Oscar contenders, nor were they really intended to be, but they were fucking awesome! Okay, I know neither were huge hits at the box office, and a lot of people thought they were meh, but I liked them, I know people who liked them, and if a studio is willing to through money at a movie where the title character named himself after a knife, then why can't I see my pirates vs. ninjas? And even if you don't think those were all that good, there are still a number of films out there that frankly I can't explain the existence of. Here's a short list

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Expendables
Half of Jason Statham's IMDB resume, from Crank to Transporter
Any of the Fast and Furious movies except for the first one
Rock of Ages
The Smurfs
RIPD
The Great Gatsby (okay, that one doesn't apply, I just hate it)
I even hear rumors that they are working on a Nazi zombie movie with Sean Bean (oops, sorry, spoilers)

Now I reiterate, these are not movies that I necessarily consider bad, I actually do enjoy a few of the movies that I listed. But I do have to redirect you to the point I made earlier about these movies not being made for the sake of art, they were made for pure entertainment value and nothing else. If a PVN movie were approached in the same manner, they could strike gold.

So, to summarize, my message to studio heads is... I'M WAITING!!!!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Favorite Characters Part 2- Jaime and Tyrion Lannister



(just ignore the guy on the right)

It was inevitable, if I was going to put together a list of favorite characters, I had to include at least one contender for the iron throne. Well, instead you have two, so deal with it. These two are brothers who have been brought up in privelege being raised by the richest and arguably the most powerful man in the kingdom. Despite having similar upbringing these two brothers could not be more different. Jaime was a born warrior who had a sword put into his hand on day one and has been trained to become one of the finest swordfighters in the country. Tyrion was born as a dwarf and has had to fight society's and his father's perception of him to succeed in life. Not only that, but he has the hatred of his father for having killed his mother as he was being born. This transforms all three men into tragic figures in their own right.

Jaime- He was the sworn bodyguard of a tyrannical king who was rebelled against before the events of Game of Thrones and earned the nickname "Kingslayer" because he killed the king that he had sworn to protect, thereby ending the war and the reign of the Targaryen family. For this act that should have won him the respect and admiration of the people but instead earned him the disdain of all the lives he ended up saving, and the particular hatred of Lord Eddard Stark, the first book's protagonist, who never saw Jaime as anything more than a breaker of his oath. And I know what you're thinking "That asshole that looks like Prince Charming from Shrek?" Yes, I am talking about that guy. Don't get me wrong, I wanted nothing more than to see him get killed in horrible ways at the end of the first book/season. From throwing a small child out of a window, to attacking Ned in the streets of the capital, I never thought I would find myself finding this guy anything above despicable. But as the story progressed and we learned more about him, his actions become much more sympathetic and the only reason why he acted like such a prick before is because he had long given up on trying to change people's image of him, they would never see him as more than just an oathbreaker now matter how many honorable deeds he did. And keep in mind that when he attacked Eddard in the street, it first began as a questioning of Tyrion's whereabouts. It only turned violent after Ned confessed to having ordered him be arrested based on circumstantial evidence. Towards the end of the second book, he gets chastised yet again for being a Kingslayer, and in turn he recites the oath that he was forced to take when he first became a knight and how when you are serving a king like the one he did, it's impossible to keep all of your vows "Protect the king, obey the king... defend the innocent... Obey your father. But what if your father despises the king? What if the king preys on the weak and the innocent. No matter what you do, you're forsaking one vow for another" Well, when you put it like that... Later on, it's revealed that the king was attempting to burn down the capital city with himself and all of its citizens in it in order to keep it from being siezed by the rebels. At that point, Jaime decided that enough was enough and slit the king's throat before he could see the order carried out. In that way, Jaime becomes the most honorable character in the whole series. Sure, he still has some sins to answer for, like the bedding of his sister and having three kids with her. But unlike her, he legitimately cares for her and has not been with any other woman, unlike his sister, who sleeps around in his absence. If you read further in the books, Jaime's course of actions continue to show his transformation and how he has been trying to turn over a new leaf. His long quest for redemption is far from over, but when you see him doing things like jumping into a pit to save a woman from a grizzly bear, it's easy to throw your support behind him.

Tyrion- Tyrion is by far and away the best character in this show. If there are three things that all Game of Thrones fans can agree on it's this: 1. Joffrey needs to fucking die 2. Ned Stark's execution was a bummer 3. Tyrion is the man. He puts the imp in pimp. The great thing about both of these brothers is that they sum themselves up in one sentence. Jaime with his oaths and Tyrion with his views on his status as a dwarf "Never forget what you are, the world surely won't. Wear it like armor and it can never be used against you". He is the ultimate example of someone we should strive to be like. Something that bugs me about people who say that they don't care what other people think, is that they parade that they are different. Don't believe me? Look at the most pretentious friends that you have on Facebook. Tyrion is the one that has it figured out. When someone laughs at him for being a dwarf, he just shrugs it off. What he doesn't have in physique. he makes up for with his wit and by being the only truly admirable person in the show. He comes from a family of schemers who believe that in order to be successful, you are going to have to throw people to the wolves. He too has this line of thought, but rahter than screwing over people that get into his way, he screws over the people that deserve it. His devotion to his family only goes as far as to have the same last name as these people. If he didn't have that one thing in common with these people, he'd be throwing them to the wolves the same way that he threw the murderer or multiple innocent babies and sent him to join the Night's Watch... Look if I'm using a lot of terms and names that you've never heard of, don't worry, it just means you don't watch the show, and you therefore suck. But I digress. It's hard to buy the idea of somebody being so manipulative while also being so noble, but Tyrion is just that. And of course, the fact that he is underestimated and dismissed by so many people early on just makes it that much more satisfying and awesome to watch. Now that's not to say that he is perfect. Much like Jaime, we meet him while he is still very flawed. He is a drinker, a gambler and is addicted to whores at the start (his first scene is of him getting serviced by a prostitue). But as his story continues to put him into situations where he is forced to make difficult decisions, we truly get to see a man who steps up to the plate and is always willing to swallow his pride, even when his position gives him the opportunity to do what he does best (if you know what I mean) with his new bride (a teenage girl who he is being forced to marry for political gain). But he refuses to even share the bed with her until she feels comfortable with him. When she asks what if she never wants him to, he merely shrugs and says "And so my watch begins" (considering this is the oath of the Night's Watch, it really comes across as sweet rather than creepy).

Now for both of these characters, a lot of what I like comes from the performances of both Nikolaj Coster Walder as Jaime and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion. As someone who has read 3 of the books and has long been following the show, I can say that both of these actors fit my image of them perfectly. Dinklage especially owns the character in the second season while Walder just commands the screen during the third. If you aren't into the show, I'd really recommend it, just be prepared to have your hearts ripped out when you aren't ready for it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Favorite Characters Part 1- Sean Devine


To kick off the segment on my favorite characters in film and literature, we'll start with my favorite character from one of my favorite books, one of my favorite movies and played by my favorite actors. Sean Devine is one of three lead characters from Dennis Lehane's best selling novel Mystic River, which was in turn made into a film directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Kevin Bacon, so I guess this counts as both a book and film character.

Sean, as a young boy, witnessed one of his friends, Dave Boyle, get taken away by a suspicious looking car while they were playing with another good friend , Jimmy Marcus (Jimmy Markum in the movie). Years later, the boys have grown up and have followed down very different paths until the murder of Jimmy's daughter has thrown these three men back into each other's lives. Sean has grown up to be a state deteeective, Jimmy is an ex-convict who runs a local grocery store and Dave has not recovered from the horrific events that followed him being taken away in that car all those years ago. While each of these men have their own amount of baggage to deal with, it's Sean that has been able to keep it together all these years. Now part of that is due to him having to deal with different issues than the other two, but there is another reason and that is because of Sean's unwillingness to quit like the other two. There is a great scene where Sean is talking to his estranged wife on the phone and he admits that he doesn't really know why he does what he does anymore. It won't matter if he ever finds who killed Katie because it won't really fix anything. The scumbag that killed her will go to jail and then get to return to his life after doing his time, while  "the dead are still dead". It's sad because you know that he wouldn't like anything more than to give up or just crack and hurt somebody, which is exactly what the other two end up doing before the end of the story. In Sean's case, he decides to pull himself out of that ditch before it's too late and makes a silent vow to right a wrong that was committed by Jimmy. Of the three men, he is also the only one who things work out for in the end and in a story that is so darn depressing, it's nice to see at least one thing go right. In one of the final scenes of the movie, Sean confesses that he often thinks back to that day with the car and how in his mind "All three of us got in that car. In reality, we're still just ten year-old boys stuck in a basement wondering what our lives would have been if we had escaped". His actions throughout the movie prove that he was the closest to escaping that basement.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grease pt 2


If you read one of my previous installments, I had said that I was going to go through one of the play's more memorable and stupid songs to show just how flawed and illogical it is. Now keep in mind, the set up for the song is Rizzo just got pregnant, she refuses to tell who the father is, and Sandy has just tried to reach out to her and say that she wishes her best, to which Rizzo says is bullshit. So, without more ado, here is the wrongest thing ever written until the inception of Stephenie Meyer.

There are worse things I could do,- That list is fairly short
Than go with a boy or two.- Yeah, you could get pregnant with some random guy you don't know
Even though the neighborhood thinks I'm trashy,
And no good,- Well, you did just get pregnant after a night of anonymous sex, so they aren't wrong
I suppose it could be true,-Suppose? Hon, that's truer than the Bible
But there are worse things I could do.-I refer you to my statement at the beginning of the stanza
I could flirt with all the guys,-That's worse than getting pregnant after anonymous sex?
Smile at them and bat my eyes.- That isn't that bad at all
Press against them when we dance,- As my teachers would all say "Leave room for Jesus!"
Make them think they stand a chance,
Then refuse to see it through.- That's called being a cock tease. Annoying, but there are worse things you could do
That's a thing I'd never do.-You're right, screwing every guy you meet is much better and more admirable than just being flirty
I could stay home every night,-Well going out every night and partying is what landed you and so many other dumb teenage girls in this situation in the first place
Wait around for Mr. Right.-Looks like you just found him, you're already having his baby
Take cold showers every day,
And throw my life away,
On a dream that won't come true.-Well you just threw any dreams you had away by getting pregnant
I could hurt someone like me,- Well, you did just hurt Kenicke by cheating on him
Out of spite or jealousy.- Isn't that what you just did?
I don't steal and I don't lie,
But I can feel and I can cry.-Bitch, please. We all know sluts don't have feelings
A fact I'll bet you never knew.
But to cry in front of you,
That's the worse thing I could do. -Showing a little emotion to someone who has been nice to you and who you have been a bitch to since day one is the worst thing you can do?


And now the ending. For this segment, I'm going to look at how each character ends up, and how they would have ended up had their fates been decided by my pen.
An now the ending. For this segment, I'm going to look at how each character ends up, and how they would have ended up had their fates been decided by my pen.
Rizzo and K- How it ended: Rizzo's pregnancy is a false alarm, her time of the month was late by almost a full week.
How it should have ended: Rizzo is still pregnant, but she refuses to tell who the father is. K is left in a moral dilemma since he doesn't know for sure if the child is his. He is stuck between two decisions: Stick around with Rizzo to help her care for the baby that may be his, or he can ditch the slut because she keeps insisting that it's not his, so there is no longer any reason for him to see her anymore. We last see him left in this emotional conflict
Marty- How it ended: She doesn't really change, however throughout the story, she has a reputation for being a flirt and all around slut as well, since she is supposedly engaged to a marine she went on one date with and yet still flirts with Vince Fontaine, the radio DJ who hosts a school dance (in the original stage play, they full on make out, or necking as it says in the script)
How it should have ended: Vince Fontaine gets arrested for having sexual relations with a 17 yr old, and following the scandalous headlines, rumors start to spread that she did more than just flirt (or neck) with Fontaine at the dance and she becomes a pariah.
Frenchy- How it ended: She somehow seems to succeed at getting a job in a cosmetics store despite the fact that she dropped out of both high school and beauty school. To be honest, this is the story arc that really pisses me off the most because there was a song where her guardian angel comes down from heaven to tell her that it would be best if she went back and finished high school.
How it should have ended: She becomes a prostitute. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT! You know as good as I that this is the only way for her story to go.
Sandy and Danny- How it ended: Sandy decides to make Rizzo her life coach and undergoes a total makeover in order to win Danny's heart. What a shocker, they end up together.
How it should have ended: Sandy realizes that if she is to get anywhere in life, she can't be wasting her time chasing after the most superficial guy in movies until the introduction of James Bond. Danny continues down his self destructive path of pursuing the sins of the flesh while Sandy decides that she was much better off at the catholic school, even if they were a little strict on the dress code.
Doody and Sonny- I got nothing for them.
Rump and Jan- How it ended: They end up together
How it should have ended: Actually, I'm cool with that. These are the only people that don't do anything all that stupid so what the heck, we'll let them stay that way.
Just kidding. You see Rump got his nickname for having a reputation for being the mooning champ of Rydell High. So assuming he stays as immature in the future as he is right now, we'll say that one day he mooned a car that had a small child in it and was arrested for indecent exposure to a minor. It's a stretch, I know, but you have to remember that I come from the same school of thought as Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Bros, where shit just happens.

People of the Chair: Walt Disney


I've been thinking about new topics to write about on this blog, besides movies because that can get a little boring after a while and I haven't been able to go to the movies as much as I would like to this summer. So, I figured why not write about the people behind the camera? The people that sit in the chair all day and make the films that we love or the films that we despise. They can be actors, directors or even producers. They are the talented individuals who make what we see on the screen possible. And so, I've decided to start giving credit where credit is due by starting off with the name that everyone in the world has heard: Walt Disney
I was thinking about who I should start this series off with, and while you could make the argument for people like Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, or Steven Spielberg (and don't worry, we'll get to them) would make better starting points, to me, Disney was the one that made the most sense. Why? Well, because everybody knows who Walt Disney is and for a lot of people, some of the first movies they ever saw were ones that had the name Disney attached to them. He is one of the first, if not the first real icon of film and animation.
At work, I've often heard the saying "It all started with a dream and a mouse", and I don't really see Disney's work as being the fulfillment of a dream, I'd say it was more of following a vision. Fulfilling a dream is great, but doing what Walt did takes mountains of dedication and commitment and the word 'dream' doesn't seem to do that hard work justice. Walt was more than just a film maker, he really was a visionary, and that can be seen in many of the films that were made during his time. Probably the two best films that signify this are Bambi and Fantasia. Neither of these films follow the typical conventions of films made at that time or even today. Unlike Fantasia, Bambi may have a narrative like most films, but it doesn't have a typical one. One of the most identifiable aspects of Disney films are the villains, and Bambi doesn't really have one, or at least a clear one with a face. The villain is fate. I know a lot of people say that the villain is man, but it's really the cruel hand of fate. Man didn't enter the forest with the specific intent of messing up Bambi's life, it just happened. And in that way, Bambi is more of just a story of life and how things may happen for a reason, but the reason is not always clear, sometimes, stuff just happens whether we wish it to or not. But the strength of movies like Bambi lies not in the story but in the visuals or animation. When you get a chance, take some time to just watch the film and admire the animation. At times, it really is life like and you just feel like you are in nature.
Fantasia is a movie like no other because it doesn't have a narrative or real story. Sure, some of the segments have their little story to them, but they don't last very long. And if anything, this is the movie that should be released in 3D. When Walt Disney was envisioning Fantasia, he wanted it to be a total experience, he even wanted people in the theater to smell the things that you would be smelling when you would see these segments. The only way to describe it is animators listening to the pieces of music and just coming up with images to accompany them. In some instances, they are pretty akin to what you may have imagined, but in other times, you really have to ask how they came up with that. An obvious example would be in the sequel when they envisioned the whales emerging from the water and swimming in the clouds as they would in the ocean. But another example from the original would be The Rite of Spring, in which the visual accompaniment is dinosaurs. When I was a kid, I thought that was awesome, now I look at it and think "How did they come up with that?" It's just a testament to how the creative juices flowed at that studio. And the funny thing about all of this movie was that it was only intended to be one short, The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Initially, the film was just going to be the bit where Mickey gets ahold of a sorcerer's hat and does all sorts of crazy stuff with it. But the expenses just kept building up and it took way more time than was supposed to, so Disney just said "Screw it, let's make more out of this".
What do these movies say about Disney? Well, if anything, they are a statement about his commitment to the craft. A lot of people have argued about whether movies should be considered as art, and if you wanted a quick end to that argument you'd only need to look at these two films. And even if you don't like the movies or any movies that came from Disney, you have to admire the passion and the effort that went into them. Walt was always pushing his animators to see what they could come up with and try to top it, and the final result ended up being some of the most iconic movies in history.
But what about the man the myth the legend himself? Well, while Disney was an icon and a father to many, he certainly wasn't perfect. It has been reported that he was a workaholic and that he did have a bit of a temper at times. But does that mean that we shouldn't remember him as we do? The answer is of course not. Even if he did have his moments where he wasn't as cheery as the pictures show, the thing that we all have to remember is that he was devoted to making films that were primarily to be enjoyed by families, not just one specific age group, and that's really hard to do. Even if he wasn't always successful, you can't knock him for trying. Is trying even the right word for it? I feel like you are doing more than trying when you are giving each and every project your all.
I know I sound like a broken record by singing Walt Disney's praises as much as I am, but I do it for a reason, as does everyone else who you've heard talk like this. Unfortunately there are times where I believe that the Disney film studio of today has long strayed from the initial vision that Walt had when he initially started Walt Disney Studios, what with the countless direct to video sequels of 50+ year old movies, but as long as people like Hayao Myazaki (I'm kind of winging it with that name spelling) and John Lasseter are around, I still think that there is some hope that children and family entertainment won't fall into the chasm that houses Hannah Montana and The Suite Life.

The Wolverine

I never really gave a shit about the other X-Men. There, I said it. Don't get me wrong, the X-Men movies were all really fun and totally kick ass, but to be honest, the only two that I really cared about the whole time were Magneto and Wolverine, that's why I was so hyped to see First Class and today's movie, The Wolverine. Why? Because those were the first times (not counting the godforsaken origins movie) where these mutants were standing front and center and it was there time to shine. Sure, Magneto still had to share the screen with Professor Xavier, but it was still an interesting look into their relationship and how their different upbringings led to their different views on mankind and the world. So all we needed now was a standalone Wolverine movie and the series is prettu much golden, as long as we can bring ourselves to forgive and forget the third movie and the atrocity that was that other Wolverine movie.

So yeah, that was pretty much the task of director James Mangold when he took on the job. And how did he do? Well, let's take a look. The story is set about a year or so after the end of the original trilogy. Wolverine has left the mansion and is living in some unnamed forest, having taken a vow to never hurt another person after he was forced to kill Jean Grey. He's having a hard time living with his curse that is his immortality and has all but given up until an old acquaintance reaches out to Logan and invites him to visit his home in Japan. The person in question is a former Japanese soldier who Wolverine saved from the A bomb that hit Nagasaki while he was staying there as a POW. Nothing of what I have told you is a spoiler because #1- it's literally told to you in the first five minutes of the movie and #2- it was in all of the damn previews. Upon arriving in Japan, Wolverine is both thanked for what he did and is also offered the chance to have his rapid healing ability taken away so that he can age and eventually die like a regular human. Which, not to nitpick, but the reason for his andamantium skeletal structure is because of his rapid healing ability. Having said that, if that power were taken from him, wouldn't he just collapse? I'm a little hazy on that. If you have an explanation, feel free to leave it in the comments. So anyway, he denies the offer, but I guess that didn't matter because he got infected with something that caused his healing to become less quick and eventually stop altogether.

And here is the strength of the movie, Wolverine is finally vulnerable. I've always enjoyed watching Wolverine kicking ass but the thing that always bugged me was that it didn't matter what people threw at him, he was just going to get back up and keep fighting. I know this makes him more of a beast, but it takes away from the tension. Here, if Wolverine got shot or stabbed, he took damage, and there was a point in the movie where I thought Wolverine might actually not make it, which to me, made me care more than I did while watching movies like Iron Man 3 or The Dark Knight Rises, because in those stories, the characters were faced with the possibility of death and had come to accept the fact that they may just have to make that ultimate sacrifice. Here, Logan is being faced with that reality for the first time in his life, and that made it all the more heavy for the audience. So in the heavier, more drmatic and emotional sense, the movie florished. It's other strength is the fact that this is a purely Wolverine centered film. There are only two other mutants in the movie and even then, their roles are fairly limited. There isn't even a mention of the other X-Men. And the final thing that this movie got right was that Wolverine didn't dress up in the X-men uniform. Okay, I get that it  is a part of the X-Men lore for him to wear it but I really just prefer him fighting in just the wife-beater and jeans. I don't know why, but that is just way more badass to me. Maybe it's because Wolverine is a guy that very much marches to his own tune and having a uniform is just out of character for him.

Now where did this movie falter? Actually, it didn't really start to fall apart until the very end, but even then, it wasn't as bad as you would think. The end battle is between Wolverine and a giant robot suit thing called the Silver Samurai, which is like Optimus Prime if he had a japanese son. My only problem with this is that the only other enemies that Wolverine had to go up against for the rest of the movie are Yakuza assassins and ninjas. And to me, that was far more interesting because even though none of these guys had special powers and nond of them were mutants, they were still pretty badass and presented a very real threat. So for me, if the climax was just Wolverine going up against like fifty of these ninjas and probably have to fight Lord Shingen at the end of it, that would have been just fine. There's also a twist at the end of the movie in which we learn who the real villain is, and it's one of those twists where you really learned to like a guy because of how wise and how respectable he was, but then his true colors are revealed and I just said "Oh, you were an ass hole the whole time". And for a movie that was so deep and made Wolverine much more complex than we're used to seeing him have this kind of watered down ending that you'd expect to see in a typical comic book movie was kind of a let down.

With all of that said though, Wolverine is finally given the badass movie that fans and casual movie goers have always wanted to see from him.

Final verdict: B+, buy it on blu-ray

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whose Line is it Anyway? Series Premiere

Some of you may not know this, but one of my all time favorite shows is Whose Line is it Anyway? It doesn't matter how many times I watch clips from it, I always end up falling out of my chair. So, naturally, when I learned that it was going to be coming back on the CW, I got excited, and then I learned that the three musketeers themselves, Ryan, Colin and Wayne would be back and I was freaking hyped to see this return. The only downside was that Drew Carrey would not be returning as host, due to his obligations of hosting The Price is Right. That was a bummer, but then again a lot of the jokes aimed at him were aimed at his weight, so it just wouldn't be the same. Instead, we have Aisha Tyler from Archer hosting and we've got the rest of the old gang back.

So, how does it hold up? Like you even need to ask, it's freaking Whose Line is it Anyway?! You know right from the get go that it's going to be hilarious! It's formatted exactly the way that it was in the old days, it has the same cast, the same layout, really, the only thing that's different is the host and Colin has white hair, which I will admit was a little unsettling at first, but his humor was just as sharp as ever so I got over it.

The only thing that I was unsure about was the host. Aisha Tyler is a successful comedian herself, though I was apprehensive as to how she would fair as the new host. And to be honest, I think she does alright. She's not all that spectacular in the first episode in terms of her own jokes, but she definitely seems to know what she is doing. I think she just needs a little time to get into the groove of the show. Even if she doesn't, we have the original three, so the host is trivial.

With all that aside, the return of Whose Line deserves to be seen by all. This is something that everyone has been waiting for for years and it doesn't even hint at disappointment. In these times where fandom a are getting hurt by reboots that don't do the original justice, it's nice to see a return that we have been praying for. Whether it's Wayne's songs or Colin and Ryan's bromance, it's almost as if the show never left.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When did villains become hot?

There have been a number of trends popping up in pop culture in past years, but the one that I find the funniest is having to do with villains. When did being the villain become sexy? Think about it. In the old days, the bad guys were always the ones you rooted against. You were not supposed to be attracted to them in any ay because their goals were always not supportable. Now, it seems that the trend is to root FOR the bad guys. There are three characters that come to mind when I think of villains that were considered sexy. Loki, Bane and Khan. All three of these characters want to cause chaos and bring down the people that wronged them. And yet, these are the people that got cheered for the most during their respective movies. When I went to see the most recent Star Trek movie, I went to a special pre screening a few days before the actual release and, as you can imagine, the theater was packed. But when the movie started, I noticed that the parts that everyone cheered at were not the ones with Kirk or Spock or anybody from the Enterprise for that matter, the biggest cheer came at the beginning when they first showed Khan's face and at a part where Khan wastes a group of Klingons single handedly.Now I realize that part of that is due to Benedict  Cumberbatch's already existing cult popularity, but even so, he seems to be the only thing people had to talk about with the movie, or at least the only thing people remember. And with Loki, I remember hearing girls swoon when he first made his appearance in The Avengers, and if you look at the trailer for the new Thor movie, you'll see the comments section loaded with people talking about how hot Tom Hiddleston is. Following the release of The Dark Knight Rises, a lot of people were talking about it, but one of the bigger topics of discussion was how hot Bane was. This one really intrigues me because you can't even see his full face. So I've taken the liberty at looking at the similarities between these characters to see why women find them so appealing.

Number 1- none of them are what you think of when you think of somebody who is good looking. Benedict Cumberbatch especially, but even so, he is considered one of the hottest men in show business and his adoring fangirls have a name for themselves: Cumberbitches. I swear I did not make that up.

Number 2- All of them have a past that is less than pleasent. Loki has living in his brother's shadow, Khan was an outcast and Bane was born in a prison and has to where a mask to survive. People are drawn to that, women especially because that just creates a character that you just want to hug. Like all their problems would go away if they were shown some level of comfort.

Number 3- They are all badboys. Though I don't see how this is appealing because all three of them are too far gone down the path of destruction. You'd think people would be smart enough to realize you can't fix any of these characters because of the past that they have and the present environment that they have to deal with. Bane especially because he's apart of a cult that causes destruction as a means of bringing world peace.

Number 4- They all have a goal, and that is to wreek havoc. And that doesn't sound that appealing because if you want to talk relationship wise, they would be too preoccupied with what they are doing to even remember that they are in a relationship.

Number 5- The actors playing them, while they aren't traditionally good looking, are still intelligent and charming in their own right, which is what most of their fanbase is attracted to. And I think that is where most of it comes from, the already existing reputation of the actors selected to play them. I've already mentioned Benedict Cumberbatch but Tom Hardy and Tom Hiddleston both have their own fangirls, and that number just seemed to get bigger once their respective movies came out. And I think that's why most audiences ended up liking these characters. While the actors are considered hot, they also turned in really good and convincing performances.

So, of the things that they all have in common, probably the biggest appeal comes from both 2 and 5. People seem to be drawn to people that they can fix. In most cases this would fall under the badboy category, but since all of three of these people are, you know, mass murderers and terrorists, I think it's the fact that most of their issues comes from their troubled past that makes people want to fix them and remind them that if things had been different, they could have been a better person. Of course they all have their own reasons for being considered so hot, but since those three stood out the most, I wanted to see what they all had in common, which is not that much, given that they are all from different movie franchises that all have their own unique style and approach.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Monsters University

Prequels are rarely a good sign. I always get the feeling that whenever I see a prequel for an already existing movie, I feel like the studio is throwing up their hands and just saying "We've given up". And I would be lying if I said that thought didn't cross my mind when I first heard about Monsters University, which I originally thought was going to be a short, kind of like how we all thought there was going to be a fourth Toy Story, but it turned out to just be something on the Disney Channel. I thought the case was the same here, and it turns out I was wrong, this was an actual full length movie. And besides, I figured this kind of prequel already had its ending written in. They graduate from college and go on to work for Monsters Inc. And that is where the movie's real strength lies, the fact that that is not how it ends. I don't want to ruin too much for you, but I will say that it certainly threw me for a loop. And I like that it's a children's movie of all things that tried this sort of course. It reinforces the theme that sure, life doesn't always work out the way that we want it to, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't give up on our dreams. It's a humbling message to see our characters go through all of this adversity and not get the results that they wished for, but it's also empowering to see how they do end up getting their dream job, which is of course working for the title company, Monsters Inc. Is this a perfect movie? No, there are some shortcomings in the script and even though this is a prequel and a children's one at that, but I felt like there were too many winks to the audience saying "Well, you know how it goes from here". I love Steve Buscemi, but I felt that his role as their rival to be was a little underdeveloped, except for one line at the end, which is one of those winks that I was just talking about. And while it did bog me to the point that it's worth mentioning, it didn't keep me from enjoying the rest of the movie, it didn't even bug me while I was watching the movie, I just thought of that point now while I was writing this.

With all that aside, I do recommend Monsters University, because let's face it, it's a Pixar film. If you have blood in your veins, you're obligated to see the film at least once, whether for it's heart or for it's clever humor, and there is quite a bit of both to be found in there latest film.

Final Grade: B +, I'd see it again, maybe buy it on Blu Ray

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man of Steel


If there was ever a franchise that needed saving after the nineties, other than Batman, it was Superman. I don't know much about Superman's lore or mythos, but I do know that his original franchise was similar to Batman's in a lot of ways. The first two were good, if perhaps a bit corny, and the third and fourth sucked balls. Around the time that Batman Begins came out, Warner Bros, also tried reviving Superman with Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, which was a continuation of the Superman canon, while leaving out the third and fourth movies and denying they existed. Which was great except that Returns ended up being mediocre at best and not the savior that fans were hoping for. Since then, Warner Bros has been looking for a way to resurrect the franchise in the same way that Nolan resurrected Batman. For a while, it was rumored that Nolan himself was going to direct a Superman film and maybe even a crossover film with his Dark Knight trilogy. Admittedly, that was not an idea that I was all that excited for, and I would still like it if that never happened. However, I was interested in seeing a new Superman and thought it would be interesting to see what Nolan and his team, including famous comic book writer David S Goyer could bring to the table. The result is Man of Steel.

There are a lot of things to like about Man of Steel. For starters, I think the prologue on Krypton could be made into an entire movie itself. It was really interesting to see a new take on the planet's culture and history and I got to admit, I was not a fan of the way it was portrayed in the original series. They made it seem too perfect. In this new storyline, they make Krypton a once great planet whose ambition and over reaching its grasp had lead to its destruction. And to me, that is far more interesting since in here, it's their fault that Krypton was doomed in the first place. The rest of the story is pretty good, though I feel that the stuff on Krypton was a bit too rushed because I was really hoping to see more of it. Also, what almost kills the movie for me is that the villain's plot is exactly the same as the villains on all of the Transformers movies. Though, I think this was noticably better than in the Transformers movies, I still could not get over it.

I've never been a huge Zack Snyder fan, but when I heard that he was hired to helm the project, I thought that was the perfect choice. Even in Snyder's duds, like Suckerpunch (it sucked guys, get over it), I give him credit for his visual style so that there is never a dull moment in the movie, and you can see he really went all out for his scenes on Krypton as well as any scene where Superman is flying or fighting.

And the casting was the one area I was hoping the movie would soar, and in some cases it did, especially with Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe, but in other areas, I thought it fell flat. Michael Shannon is a talented actor and is great on Boardwalk Empire, and I was really pulling for him to steal the show here, perhaps not to the degree of Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch or even Heath Ledger, but I was really hoping he would just command the screen and while he did a good job, it wasn't the scene stealer I was hoping for. The rest of the cast is okay, but considering it includes A listers like Laurence Fishburne and Amy Adams, I was hoping there was more done with them.

So, overall not a bad movie, but I think it would require me to see it again before I say whether or not I would buy it on Blu-Ray. But, I would definitely say that I recommend it.

Final Grade: B, I'd see it again, not sure if I'd buy it on DVD/Blu-Ray

Fast and Furious 6

I have to admit, I have never really given the Fast and Furious franchise much thought, which is why when I first saw Fast Five, I didn't really get that these were movies that were made for the sole purpose of being big stupid fun, so when I saw the fifth movie, which was the first one that I ever saw, I ripped it apart. In recent years, however, I have grown to appreciate the movies more and say that while I wouldn't say that any of the Fast and Furious movies are ones that I am rushing out to buy on DVD, I do see their value and I guess I wouldn't mind sitting and watching them if they were on TV or if I was at a friend's house.

I guess I just gave away all of the review that I had lined up for Fast 6, so I guess there isn't a whole lot else to talk about. Well, why don't we cover the high points. The biggest high point of the movie has to be Dwayne Johnson. If anybody gets what the point of these movies are, it's this guy. For a while, people were saying that he was the one to take the baton from Arnold, and I think that is really the case with his character. He's an FBI agent that has a massive build and is never, and I mean NEVER seen without a black Under Armor shirt on. I honestly think he has a whole closet full of them. And just the way he acts and says his lines just shows that he really knows what these movies are, and you can tell he is just having a blast with it, which makes him so much fun to watch.

The other high point of the film is the climax, which is so stupid and awesome, that I can only attempt to describe it. All I can say is that it takes place on the world's longest runway.

Other than that, there isn't really much else that I can say that you don't already know. The key to enjoying these movies is to just detach yourself from reality, leave logic at the door and turn your brain off and just enjoy the ride.

Final Grade: B, not rushing out to buy it on DVD, but I still liked it

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness


Let's get this out of the way, I am a Star Wars man, through and through. I grew up idolizing Han Solo and never gave much attention to the crew of the Enterprise. But, like a good sport recognizing the worth of my adversary, I always acknowledged that there were some good things about Star Trek. Although I never really gave a rat's ass, and up until 2009, the only Trek film I had seen was Nemesis. Clearly, it was an uphill battle for me to be hooked by Kirk and Spock. However, when I saw the 2009 reboot, I was actually surprised by how much I liked it. I was kinda dragged into seeing it because my Dad was a huge Star Trek fan and was really hyped to see it and I thought "What the heck, I'll give it a shot". And yeah, I thought the movie was pretty good. It felt like a crash course in Star Trek for those who were unfamiliar with the characters and lore, but it also had some good action to go along with it. Really, the only thing missing was a strong villain and while Nero was a solid villain, he didn't really meet the high bar set by the rest of the movie.

So, when rumors started coming up about a sequel, I felt more inclined to see this one, only because I immensely enjoyed the previous one and had no reason to suspect anything less from this installment. And where 2009 failed in the area of a good villain, it appeared that the makers of Into Darkness wanted to excel. First off, they kept the villain's identity shrouded in mystery, causing people to suspect it would be someone like Gary Mitchell or Khan Noonen Singh. I'm not going to give away anything about the movie itself, but speaking as a non trekkie who has now seen 4 Star Trek movies (2009, Nemesis, Into Darkness and Wrath of Khan), I gotta say that again, JJ Abrams delivered a really awesome movie. Of course the one thing you are going to walk away from and remember the most is the villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch who just commands the screen every time he is on and owns every line of his dialogue. In my opinion, he's the best part of the movie, and I don't think I am alone on that. His character has that perfect combination of superior intelligence and strength that leads to some really badass moments, like single-handedly decimating a group of Klingons wielding a rifle in one hand and a BFG in the other and then not flinching or batting an eyelash while Kirk attempts to beat the crap out of him. And just the way that he manipulates and mindfucks people is just incredible. There have been a number of good villains since Heath Ledger played the Joker, and John Harrison is probably the best one to come in the years following, you can quote me on that.

The rest of the movie has it's strengths too. At least I'm assuming it does, I was too blown away by Cumberbatch to even remember the rest. I've got a bit of a man crush on him, in case I haven't made that obvious yet. In all seriousness though, Star Trek Into Darkness is a great movie that, if you can, I would tell you to see it in IMAX, just to behold the majesty of Cumberbatch even more. And, if this film is any indication of what Star Wars will be like, then I am already buying my ticket for Episode VII

Final Grade: A+ See it again, but it on blu-ray

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Great Gatsby


I don't even know where to begin. I was really looking forward to this movie because I love the novel and I was really hoping for a good adaptation because gosh darn it, this book deserves a good movie. It deserves a movie of the caliber of Lord of the Rings, that's how good it is. Now, for those of you who have been following the critic's reactions, you'll know that the critic's reviews have been mostly negative and the audience's response has been pretty mixed. And once again, it is up to me to give you the real deal. It fucking sucks.

I know there are people who really like this movie, but I'm going to tell you to ignore them. They're idiots. If they have any sort of love for F Scott Fitzgerald's book and actually understood it, then they would hate this movie. Fitzgerald is spinning in his grave. God! I fucking hate this movie! Baz Lurhmann was the one person who should NOT have been trusted with making this movie. You know why? Because I don't even think he knew what book he was making. He was just using a random source material as an excuse to try and jam his pretentious artsy style down our throats. If you want to do that with a book that's fine, but for the love of God, don't make it The Great Gatsby!

I'm not going to get into the story of the movie because if you graduated from high school, then you probably already know it. And because Lurhmann sure didn't care about the story, all he cared about was how it looked, how long he could make the party scenes and putting rap music into it. The party scenes were so long and drawn out that I began to check my watch during them. Everything about them really boggled me, from the way that they were shot, edited and even the choice of music for them. For being as long as they were, they were shot and edited in a really fast manner. I get that it's to show our characters having a wild and crazy time, but why does it have to be so long? You could have gotten the idea across and made the scene so much shorter. And then music wise, it would start with something that sounded like music that would be played during that time, but then all of a sudden, it would just randomly transition into some rap number. When the soundtrack for the movie was released, I told everyone my disdain for it because it was all Jay-Z, Beyonce, Fergie, will.i.am and so on, and I expressed my bewilderment that they would be showing up at all in a movie set in the jazz age. Now, I know that Baz's style is to take an older source material and give it a modern spin to appeal to today's audience (I'll get into that later), but I just don't see the point for a movie on Gatsby. Gatsby was a statement about the jazz age, it sort of created that picture of what society and people were like in that time the same way The Canterbury Tales and Huckleberry Finn painted similar portraits for the times that they were written in. Having said that, this movie should have been a hardcore period piece, something like Boardwalk Empire, that has been a 30 hour period piece set during the exact same time as Gatsby, and they have been doing it just fine. When a novel makes this profound of a statement about its setting, it doesn't need modern elements. And when you look at the opening, it looks like that is what we are going to get. The Warner Bros. logo is in black and white and it's all grainy, it kind of reminded me of something out of the Bioshock games, and since those games, while they were science fiction horror games, they also had an aura that made you feel like you were in the time that they were set in, I thought maybe the same could happen here. I am a fool for hoping for as much.

And when you really think about it, the music was only really used during the party scenes. Someone who saw the movie before me told me that when you were hearing the Jay-Z or whoever the hell's song it was during the party, it was meant to be something that only us, the audience, could hear. But no, there were moments when the camera would go to someone inside, and the music would get really muffled and quieter, the way music sounds when you are inside, and it is being played outside. So no, the characters can clearly hear it. And honestly, when you take all of this into account, I really have to ask WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE STORY OF GATSBY?!!! It has absolutely nothing to do with Jay Gatsby. When you think about it, all of this modern day shit did nothing to move the story along or advance our emotions. It just made us say "Hey! Cool party! I wish I was there!" If anything, it brings the story to a halt because we have to spend 10-15 minutes on something that took up about five pages in the book. Towards the end, everything felt rushed because somebody finally realized that they were taking way too much time with unnecessary shit. There was a great part at the end of the book that involves Gatsby's father and it got cut out of the movie! That was a really important part that gave us some more insight into our hero, and it got left out! I haven't been this mad about a scene getting cut since Dumbledore's funeral! Another part that was left out involved our narrator interacting with the other characters after Gatsby's death. He refuses to shake one character's hand and is rude to the other character. We see his hatred for the characters and why Gatsby of all people is the one who remained in such respect.

There are two ways that the narrative/cgi relationship can work. You can either use cgi to help tell your story, similar to say Lord of the Rings, or you can use your story to give you more excuses to use cgi, as is the case with the Star Wars prequels. The second approach is a risky one, and nowadays, people are beginning to see through it more and more. To be honest, I'm not entirely against heavy use of cgi, just as long as it is done right. I'm not a huge Zack Snyder fan, but in cases like 300 or Watchmen, he really put his computers to good use and gave those movies a look and style that really worked. Gatsby, sadly, also used this second approach, but it ended up being more like the Star Wars prequels. This movie used way too much cgi and while it looks cool, one really has to question what the point was. I'll admit that it looks nice, but again, going back to the Star Wars prequels, we all know that you can polish a turd all you like, it's still a piece of shit. I was once watching an interview with some of the actors in the Star Wars prequels, and they were complaining about how almost every set they were on had some kind of green screen connected to it. The same is the case here. Though, with Star Wars, it's slightly more justifiable because that is a movie about adventures in space with other planets and weird aliens. Did I just say George Lucas is a better filmaker than Baz Luhrmann? Yup. While we're at it, at least George Lucas tried writing his own material. It was awkward and hackneyed  but it was his own. Baz Luhrmann took a novel he clearly doesn't understand and used it as a vehicle to ram his overly artsy and pretentious style down our throats.  And I know that he doesn't understand it because if he understood it, he would not have volunteered to make the movie because he should know himself well enough to know that he couldn't resist the urge to do his thing, and he would have realized that he should, for the good of the novel, stay the fuck away. His style adds nothing to what should have been the main focus, the story. It just felt like he was going through the motions with the story while his real attention was on how it looked. In the end, the narrator (played by Tobey Maguire who honestly looked like he had no idea what he was doing) had to tell us how we should feel about these characters. We have to feel inspired by Gatsby's spirit. And the reason why I know that is because the narrator told us that, we didn't get to experience it for ourselves. They wasted so much time on useless crap that the stuff that mattered ended up getting rushed into a narration rather than it being properly displayed through dialogue and action.

So how was the acting? Well, I have to say that I certainly had high hopes from the cast because it is certainly a good collection of actors. In the end, I only had 3 people that I was all that impressed with: Leo, Joel Edgerton and the gal who played Jordan. Leo DiCaprio always turns in a good performance, but even then, I have seen far better from him. Whenever I heard his voice, I just kept thinking of J. Edgar Hoover. And he is supposed to be portraying the ultimate facade. Someone who is really charismatic and acts like they are on top of the world but on the inside, has a lot of baggage to deal with, similar to Bruce Wayne. In fact, with the right writing, you could have had Christian Bale play this part really well because he's already played that part perfectly. Joel Edgerton was great as Tom, and it's nice to see him getting more roles, because the guy's a good actor, and he really got to show his range with this character. Jordan's role was really underwritten I thought and the script didn't give the actress playing her much to work with, but she did her best and her effort shows. Carey Mulligan, who I was hoping would steal the show, was just annoying and she is supposed to be the girl every guy wanted to be with, and she never really showed any of that in her performance. And Tobey Maguire, bless his heart, just has this look on his face like he doesn't know what he's doing there. In his opening narration, he sounds really old and I thought it was going to be narrated by an older Nick Carraway who is relating this story to us, the audience. Instead, it's being told by a young Nick Carraway about a month after it all happened to his therapist. This subplot really baffled me because it wasn't in the novel  and there was no point to it. You coud have left those scenes out and it would have cost us nothing, except maybe a shorter screentime, but then again, I felt that this movie was about twenty minutes too long anyway so their loss is our gain.

The last thing that I have to touch on is who they were aiming at. I keep hearing that the target audience is those who didn't read the book. Why? You know that this book is a famous and beloved one, and you know that people have long been waiting for a good movie on it, so why are you pandering to those who never bothered? In the end, all you'll end up doing (and did end up doing) was dumming down a great book so that your audience can enjoy it. As for the modern music, the argument is that he is trying to hook younger audiences into coming. How can I put this? I find it disgusting when a director feels the need to pander to who they think their audience will be. Younger audiences should learn to put down the Transformers doll and pay attention to what a good story is. When all is said and done, all you accomplished was sacrificing the dignity of one of my favorite books all so that you could serve your own artistic ego.

Final Grade: F, I don't want to see this movie ever again.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grease pt 1


I'm gonna be honest with you, I know I rip on popular movies and even full movie series a bit on here, but sometimes, I actually feel kind of bad about it. I know that people like these movies, God bless them, and I kind of feel bad going on and on about how much I think they suck. I feel bad because I know how they feel. I have to work with some asshole that every now and then just feels the need to go on and on about how stupid Batman (as well as other superheroes) is, and why I am stupid for looking up to him. So I get it, I know it sucks. Today, however, is a special case. I am going to rip into Grease with no regrets. Why? Well, while it is still a popular movie that has survived generations, there is a bit of a trend that I noticed beginning a few years ago. It was people who saw the movie when they were younger, rent/bought it so they could share it with their own children, and then realized that it was horrible. Whether it was the story or the decisions of the characters that just don't add up or make sense or the fact that it just isn't very appropriate at all for children to see, parents came to regret showing their kids this movie. I'll admit, I didn't really get what all the hooplah was about until a few months ago when my school put on a production of the original broadway play (with some of the songs from the movie thrown in) and I was cast in a minor role. At this point, it was almost inevitable, I had to see the movie now. So I recorded it and watched it and I have to say... I still don't see why the movie is popular. I mean, okay now that everybody is taking off the nostalgia goggles and seeing for themselves, it's lost a few points, but I don't get why it was popular in the first place. Sure, the songs are catchy to an almost annoying degree but once you get past that there is nothing else that Grease has to offer.

So what's the story? Sandy Dumbrowski (aka Sandra D), which they changed to Sandy Olsen in the movie for reasons that are yet to be explained to me, is the new girl in school and seems to have trouble fitting in with one group of girls that call themselves the Pink Ladies. Or, well, she doesn't really have trouble fitting in with them, they are pretty nice to her except for Rizzo who in both the play and the movie is built up as being a bitch. I'm gonna guess that this was done on accident because she has a number towards the end of it that's supposed to make her appear sympathetic, but I still look at it and think "Nope, you're still a bitch". For all intensive purposes, we'll say she has trouble fitting in. So she has trouble fitting in because of her conservative catholic upbringing which clashes with the rebellious pink ladies who smoke like chimneys, drink wine and pressure her into getting her ears pierced. Again, this was mostly Rizzo, the other girls seem to be mostly indifferent about it. And since Rizzo just seems to be an all around bitch, I don't really see why Sandy feels the need to fit in. Why doesn't she just hang out with another group of people? The student body is not just these dozen or so nimcapoops, there are other people to meet. While this is all going on, Sandy is also crushing on Danny Zucko, a boy that she dated for a little bit over the summer until they decided to end their relationship due to the fact that they are both going to different schools. However, when the school year starts, she ends up going to the same school as Danny due to a last minute change of plans. So happy ever after right? Bitch, please. Their very first encounter, Danny pretends not to know her in order to keep up his reputation with his friends.

And this is my other main problem with the movie, the character of Danny. Usually in movies about high school where one person is jumping through hoops in order to date someone, this person usually has something to offer. Normally, the person of interest is big on athletics or is a cheer star or is at least passionate about something in school. Instead, Danny is desirable because... he wears a black leather jacket even when it's sunny and warm outside. I'm sorry, I don't really get why Sandy wastes her time with Danny. He isn't that smart, he's not athletic, he's not even that charming, he just comes off as awkward. And on top of that, he denies having this great relationship that they had over summer and that they devoted a whole musical number to just because of how it will make him look to his friends. I can understand them having something over the summer, but once she saw the way he was in the real world and the lack of integrity that he had, she really should have cast her feelings to the wind and looked for another fish. Even when they finally do start dating, he spends half their date trying to get in her pants in his best friend's car. Yeah, he's a keeper alright. In the end, after he wins a drag race she, out of nowhere, ends up changing everything about herself in order to impress him. Now call me crazy, but I am a fond believer of the idea that if you have to change yourself to impress someone, then that person is not worth impressing. You have no idea how much I have tried to explain that to people in real life to no avail.

The musical itself, which again, has some good songs, is not that good. The rest of the story is not so much one plot but rather a bunch of subplots that all get resolved in one sentence in the final 90 seconds of the show. For example, one of the Pink Ladies, commonly known as Frenchie, I'll let you figure out how she got that name, is in a bit of a pickle because she dropped out of high school because she was flunking and wanted to go to beauty school and then dropped out of beauty school because it was too hard. And in the end, she just announces that she got a job at a cosmetic store. That's a great lesson to teach your kids. Make all of the wrong decisions and drop every endeavor you attempt and things will just work out for you. The other subplot that really annoys me is the pregnancy subplot with the queen of bitchy herself, Rizzo and her... um... boyfriend (?) Keniecke (feel free to go grammar nazi on my spelling of his name, I'm just gonna call him K). They have one of those relationships where they are always either fighting or... another word that starts with an F. In the play, she gets pregnant from some nameless guy (we can assume it was K, but it's never explicitly stated and she keeps saying "You don't know the guy"), and in the movie, she gets pregnant after she and K have sex with a broken condom, and yet he is only stated as being the "potential father". Conclusion: Rizzo's a skank, no matter how you spin it. Okay, everybody in this story can be assumed as a skank, but to hear Rizzo try to talk her way out of it is just mind boggling. In the words of Stu from The Hangover "You are literally too stupid to insult" And yet that plot gets resolved by it just being a false alarm... Wow... You know, there's a difference between Deus Ex Machina and just plain stupid. I'll let you decide which category it belongs in (hint: the second one). Keep in mind, she believes that she got pregnant after missing her period. In a scene shortly following this revelation, where Sandy offers her royal bitchiness some comfort, Rizzo breaks into that music number that I mentioned earlier. I could go line by line through that song and tell you just how wrong it is. You know what? Why not? Let's do it. In my next entree, I'll go through this song as well as the ending and explore how I could have made it better.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Iron Man 3




The summer season is upon us, and what better way to kick off the most fun part of the year than with a super hero movie? Last year, we had The Avengers, the year before that, we had Thor, this year, we have another installment in the Marvel canon, Iron Man 3. By now, you've probably heard the movie getting some mixed reviews. Some love it, while others say it's the worst thing since Batman and Robin. But don't worry, I'm here to tell you the truth: This movie is actually pretty freaking awesome.

People will hate me for saying that, but wait til they here this: Iron Man 3 is my favorite of the 3 movies revolving around Tony Stark. I could already feel the heat of the hatred of a thousand angry fanboys burning my veins as I typed out that sentence. But it's the truth, 3 times really is a charm in this case. However, I can see how fanboys would rage at this movie. I had a friend tell me that his one problem with my blog is that there are times where I am too apologetic to the fans I'm insulting, but in this case, I am being absolutely legitimite, I feel for the fans. The reason being that there is a twist halfway through the movie that practically rewrites the story and changes the perspective on one of its key characters. Specifically, The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. I'm not going to say what they did with the character, but I'll put it to you this way, if they had pulled that sort of thing with The Joker or Bane in a Batman movie, I would boil with furious anger, yell so loud that I would practically Fus-ro-dah the screen into oblivion (one movie I refuse to see because of Tom Cruise's presence), and storm out and beat the shit out of the manager until he gave me back my money. However, they didn't do that to my favorite character, and for the movie, I thought it really worked well.

The other high point of the movie is the always great Guy Pearce, who I should really just call Douche Bag, because let's be honest, Guy Pearce can play a douche bag like no other. Even his face is just one of those that I just want to punch, it's so smug. He plays the only other scientist with swag besides Tony Stark, Aldrich Killian, inventor of a drug called Extremis, which helps wounded people heal and replace dead tissue. Or is that all it does? It's not, it makes them super strong and turns them into fire benders from Avatar: the Last Airbender. That sounds stupid, and I thought that at first, but then I considered how awesome it would be to make someone's face melt just by touching it, and I learned to just run with the idea.

The movie itself is really enjoyable. It was written and directed by Shane Black, who penned the screenplay for the Lethal Weapon movies, as well as directed and wrote the criminally underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and his style of writing really shows in the dialogue. I think he is one of the only screenwriters who is able to make an action movie with alot of humor and still make it feel primarily like an action film. In the same way that The Dark Knight is a drama with a crap load of action, Iron Man 3 is an action movie with a crap load of humor. And much like the other Avengers tie-ins, it does enough to remind us that it's part of a bigger universe, while still allowing it to stand on its own and not feel like a sequel to Thor or any of the other movies.

Final Grade: A-, See it again and buy it on Blu Ray