Tag Archives: Movies

Listening to the Tories and their supporters, you’d think that they’d become the governing party. This is despite the fact that they’ve got fewer seats than Labour had until Thursday, and as far as the SNP is concerned the second biggest party just got a whole lot smaller. But the Tories are going to do what Labour wasn’t able to do, and that’s to scream SNP bad at such a pitch that windaes will shatter throughout the land. What they’re not going to be able to do, despite their claims to the contrary, is to block another independence referendum if the SNP introduce a bill for one in Holyrood.

Scream Tory, Scream

The Book of Eli wasn’t totally crap!

I know I’m a few months late to the party on this; but forgive me my cash flow issues and I’ll forgive the turgid half-one you have for “Kick Ass” alright?

I already knew that the “Magic Book” in “The Book of Eli” was “The Bible” and if I’ve spoiled it for ya, oh well.  It’s the Bible (the single most printed volume in human history, or so I’ve been led to believe); and while I accept that post Nuclear War (that’s the catastrophe and spolier number two for this one) the people rose up as one and burned as many religious volumes as they could I can’t get over the possibility that all through the movie there was a member of the Gideons out there in Alaska sitting on a mountain of them giggling to himself.

Face it, excepting the shaky premise surrounding the book in question, the rest of the movie was fairly entertaining save for one point that only made sense at the end of the damn movie.

I spent the first oh, 87% of the  movie scoffing at how the hero was leaving so many women to die or be raped at the hands of road bandits.  How the writers had made this “righteous man” a pitiless road monster who left the semi-helpless to be victims of the miscreant army that roamed the Southland.

Knowing how it all comes out I’m gonna call it okay; dude was the hero but he really couldn’t save them, unless they were his co-star and they REALLY screamed hard.

It sounds worse than it is.

Really.

Also, the “Them” pay-off wasn’t really there.  We get a few furtive “are you one of them” references and it turns out “They” are cannibals and for the most part the most sane people in the damn movie.  Save for the people eatin’ and let’s face it (for those who have seen the whole thing) that scene could have ended in the best barbecue those folks had ever had.

Also, why put a timer on your trap C4 box?

Anyway, was it good?  Yeah, well made, engaging, great score, awesome visuals.  Would I put Mila Kunis in a movie like that?  Sure. Would I dress her up in travel combat gear and send her o hr way?  NO WAY, nuh uh.  What a stupid scene that was.

Check it out, it’s at least a rental for the very first fight scene if for nothing else.

The United States of Whatevs

ReturntoSuckassNumber one Search term on Google for the past 2 hours, “Return to Halloweentown”  it’s after 7pm all over the US right now.  It is literally past the bedtimes of the majority of the people using Google to search now.  Nice.  Also, how is it that saltpeter became so popular?  Did someone on TV suddenly discover how to make their teenage son stop masturbating at dinner?

Return to Halloweentown is a kids movie about a family of witches and their ongoing relationship with an alternate universe with rubbersuit monsters as the primary residents.  Said Halloweentown residents sometimes cross over and have adventures in the “real” world.  I know this because I have a sub-teen in my house and she watches these movies as if they are entertainment.  I know that if it isn’t Ernest Saves Hallowe’en it isn’t a good kids Hallowe’en movie.

Why nostalgia isn’t good for movies

tank-girl-ice-t
Ice-T in his "Pool" Role.

Sigh, yet another top ten list on Digg.  Every day another list.  Crappy Top Ten lists (except for cracked who seem to have a good handle on such things) are thick on the ground these days and getting thicker.  Why bother with a substantive article about 80s nostalgia and the vagaries of movie production when one can just list their favorite tv shows and say “wouldn’t it be cool if Ice-T played Snarf?”

If you missed it; Ice-T played a mutant kangaroo in “Tank Girl”, it’s not a stretch to put him in a Snarf suit.

Face it;  no cartoon you enjoyed as a child will ever be a great movie.

Some movie adaptions of cartoons can be “acceptable” (I’m looking at you GiJoe and Masters of the Universe) but they can easily slide into awful (you too GiJoe, Masters of the Universe and Transformers, Flintstones, Spiderman 3, Batman Forever, Catwoman, etc).

I imagine the reason for this is the same reason we can’t enjoy the same music universally because our individual tastes and cultural lenses are so unique.  When someone tries to interpret why a given concept was so good, their own biases and interpretations will inevitably change the subject to meet their own vision, ruining it for everyone else who “loves it” as much as they do.

Take for example the “Addams Family” excepting the cultural touchstones that were added to the modern movie interpretations, the spirit of the original subject matter remains the same.  The characters are fairly tight copies of the originals, the house is a bigger budget version of the original and while more fleshed out than the original material, there were no significant characterization changes made.

Compare this to “The Transformers”  the stoic warriors from Cybertron who crashed to earth during the cretaceous period and spent millions of years in metal hibernation only to resume their fight in the modern era are replaced with pod robots who are clumsy led by a robot from Cybertron who says “My Bad” and another robot who pees on people.

This is a quality remake?  No this is inevitable.  Michael Bay looked at the Transformers and saw an opportunity to make his Robot Buddy movie.  A metal Bad Boys.

Except Transformers isn’t about cops or drugs or LA cultural commentary; it’s about an ancient war for scarce resources on an alien planet fought by refugees. This is where any adaption for movies would fall apart except in the most skillful of hands, because if you catch my drift from before, my interpretation is probably inaccurate for the general public too.

In 10 years, someone will remake Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

If someone was to remake Harry Potter as a homosexual love triangle between Snape, Draco and Harry it would still sell tickets, regardless of its fidelity to the source material.  This is the state of media and storytelling.  There is almost always an audience, but it takes a deft touch to reach a plurality of that audience.  Even when that audience is made up of fans of the subject matter.

The Harry Potter movies may even be a great example of why Cartoon Movie Remakes are doomed to failure.  Harry Potter is (for the most part) the consistent vision of a single creator telling a continuous story.  Cartoons are (with few exceptions) the product of multiple creators over many years often facing competing visions and cultural pressures.  Even the venerable South Park has uneven storytelling and writing, with wildly vacillating moral mores.  If a cartoon that has creators and producers who are so committed can be so wildly uneven, how can a toy-driven cartoon like “Thundercats” ever hope to be captured as a widely accepted and even acclaimed live-action product?

Fans who came to a product later in life would have a much different view of it if the cultural norms that bore it were no longer remembered or relevant.  GiJoe may have been about an advanced fighting force against a faceless and aggressive terrorist force, but there was a none-to-subtle “USA” vs “Russia” element that hung around it.   The GiJoe comics gave Cobra a more American origin (making Cobra a domestic Terrorist organization led by a former salesman no less – how Postman).  This proved to be somewhat more challenging to put on film, the producers and writers opting for “The Cobra Origin Story” instead of any concrete discussion of the Joes and their purpose (hint, in the 80s the Joes were formed to combat Cobra, or not, depending on who was at the reigns that day)

Which brings me back to my initial point, while reading this you’ve been thinking that here and there I’ve misinterpreted something about one of the cartoons or TV shows I’ve been talking about.  Or more egregiously praised or condemned something that you feel was worthy of neither or both.  Which is the crux of my previous piece on music and this as well.  Appreciation of art or creative works is so subjective, one cannot hope to please a plurality of people without first rendering the subject so inoffensive or so bland so as to remove all unique qualities from it, unless of course the work itself IS unqiue.  Remakes, by their very nature cannot be unique and instead must be reduced to their base elements in order to (if you will excuse the term) hit all the targets at once.  Thus Transformers was “Names, Object labels and Basic story” and Gi-Joe is “The Origin of Cobra” and Masters of the Universe was “Set AFTER the cartoon when Skeletor has won” because faithful remakes are impossible and are avoided by the very people who make them.

Transformers was easy, at least GiJoe would be a challenge

I strongly disliked the Michael Bay “Transformers” movie.  So much so that I didn’t crack the DVD my Mother in Law got me for Xmas.   It’s sitting up on my Random Crap shelf with some tea lights and Mr. Skull.  I hated the way the source material was just “character names, object labels and places” then the rest was just drek.  G.i. Joe:Rise of Cobra may not be the Museum Quality reproduction of the source material that say “Sin City” was; but it’s no Wing Commander (AND I LIKED WING COMMANDER).

They do in fact toss out “Yo, Joe!” on occasion, there is some fist pumping when “good things” happen for the “good guys”.  The Joes are pretty much and inoffensive, well-armed and proactive UN NATO strike team (mostly staffed and led by Americans).  It loses the “American Hero” aspect but gains some credibility, in a “near future” world, post Iraq and Afghanistan, would NATO allow the Americans to concentrate and recruit the best and most quirky soldiers from their ranks?  Probably not, but from a secret base in a Torture friendly nation, sure!

I’m going to try and dance around the movie a bit; as I want to encourage at least one other G.i. Joe fan to see it before the week is out.  I’ll break it down like this; if you liked the Original Mummy and don’t mind a bunch of clunking dialog (“you said that knowing is half the battle”) then this movie is for you.  There’s a couple of really great fight scenes, a great car chase and the “accelerator suits” give some of the best acrobatic run and gun sequences in the movie (they made it awesome, haters)

The concept of how Cobra is coming to “rise” is fairly believable; having the backing of the worlds largest arms manufacturer.  No prizes for guessing his identity.  I walked into the movie knowing who would turn out to be Cobra Commander; but I have to admit that the movie threw me a rope-a-dope on the big reveal, the only early Cobra character left out of this movie was “Major Bludd” who I guess we’ll see in a later movie if this weekend goes well.

I’m struggling with how to portray this movie as a “good” movie without giving away the plot.  Everything that was set up by the general consensus as “this too will suck” really didn’t suck.  It was charming.  The plot is just a way to get from fight A to chase B and on to explosion C.  There are thudding lines like “you and what army?  My ARMY” cue giant vehicle and surrounding allies.   It’s hokey and obvious and that is why it is a positive thing.

This is a movie based upon an unabashed boys toy that was simply a series of flashy space-age weapons with ever-more outrageous features.  This movie accurately captures that idea, super weapons and overpowered soldiers slamming into each other for goals that are outrageous; but not overtly national in their scope.

I strongly recommend this movie; if only for the spectacle and I promise no urine or genital jokes at all.

Harry Potter and the Half-Expected Ending

The Harry Potter Movies have been “growing up” along with my own Daughter, so as they get more complex and dark it’s fine.

Hmmm, what to say?  There were a couple moments that made me go “Ugh” especially when the a little girl is violently assaulted by an invisible “curse” then silently screamed in pain, obvious terrifying pain.  Serious gut pummeling pain.

The Soap Opera parts were fine, kind of silly.

I have only two gripes.

1.  For a good guy, Harry Potter is a dick.  Serious Dick.  His “enemy” is crying and sobbing in the bathroom and Harry busts out the “You’re a dick and deserve your pain” rather than even attempting to rise above the level, not really a “good guy” move.  That’s really how Harry is always written, fairly nice to his friends and a complete dick to anyone he perceives as bad, without any consideration for looking deeper than his own notions.

2.  The ending was abrupt, there was no lead up and no lead in, just boom boom dead.

I know it’s leading to the next story, but with no on-screen examples of how Voldemort is bad (beyond one bridge and one kidnapping and a bit of Children of The Corn tomfoolery) we don’t get the sense that Voldemort is anything more than a really murderous Elvis.

I’d have to say that I enjoyed the flick; but I’d recommend the book as a companion.  Not having read it myself, I am writing this recommendation on faith from the actual fans I work with.

Caveat Emptor or Why Can't I get a refund for Bad Movies?

I take offense at this:

“Or self-indulgent netizens who believe it is their God-given right to get all the music, films etc. they can stuff into their hard disks without paying the creators a single penny”

Caveat Emptor applies in many purchases, but when a product is defective or doesn’t deliver on it’s promised function, consumers can often return the product or at least obtain credit for their purchase. This is true for most physical purchases, perhaps not all.

However, when one buys media (music, movies, games) you end up in a hinterland. Say I’ve bought “Plan 9 from outer space” not knowing that it is camp and expecting a classic space horror (I live in a cave or something) I can’t return it to the store for a full refund. They won’t let me. However, if I watch it online or download it I can know if the investment was worth the money.

You may not agree with this, but at least you can see the sense of it. I think I’ve seen the basic content nearly 90% of the DVDs I own before I even saw the disc. Sometimes in the theatre (I vowed to never purchase the Transformers Movie (the first M bay one after that) and sometimes via other means.

However; in the cases where I went to the theatre I’m out 20-50 dollars depending how many people come along and the theater; I can’t recover that money in any way. It’s not just a foolish investment, it’s robbery. I was promised X amount of entertainment and instead I was bored or offended or even worse disgusted for X amount of time. I charge 60 dollars an hour for my wasted leisure time; where do I collect?

If groups like the RIAA can charge thousands of dollars for individually “stolen” songs, why can’t consumers have similar protections? These protections were invented for the Producers; the Pirate Bay and their ilk are the market reaction to these protections.

What I’m driving at is if consumers had the ability to receive refunds for bad media; it would go a long way to changing the mindset of people who download movies and music and so on.

How I knew that in the end "Star Trek" wasn't a Nerd Flick

Somehow, all the familiar characters of the old show get themselves instantly put in charge of the bridge of the flagship of the Federation fleet. This does not compute.

–PZ Meyers

After reading an early review that expounded upon the majesty that was an utterly silent space battle I screwed my Nerd Protection Gear into place and went into the theatre expecting to be bored to death by the time the Chief Engineer explained that one could not simply go into Hyperspace and that the Kenetic and Inertial Dampners hadn’t been properly calibrated for such a level of accelleration…

I nodded off while I wrote that.

So it wasn’t that.  Not at all.  Which is great.  I would have been really disappointed in an Action Movie that didn’t make Nerds complain and whine about it’s level of authenticity.  It amazes me that when were are talking about a movie that takes place on space craft that move faster than light and shoot lasers we have to care about how realistic the plot is.  Really?

The only complaint I thought of as the movie got into gear was that they missed the timing on the car going over the cliff, how did they even miss it?  It’s a digitial edit, just just adjust the scene to match it or swap the whole jump into slow motion, take your pick.

I have no complaints about the casting as a whole save for the constant Lip Pursing that Spock was doing; seriously, was that a Zoolander impression?  All through the damn movie too.  It paid off when it became clear that he was just getting ready to eat Uhura’s head whole.

I’m not kidding.

Whole.

One Bite

He’s out of his Vulcan Mind.