Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not your father's Robin Hood

Robin Hood.

The name itself ellicts all sorts of different iconography. Sherwood Forest. Merry Men. A noble archer. A dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham. A pompous Prince John. An archery tournament for a golden arrow. There have been several adaptations of the legend of the outlaw from Sherwood who robs the rich to feed the poor. The latest (and probably the best) was a BBC series which ran for 3 seasons. It was on the heels of this that they originally announced "Nottingham", which was supposed to be a twist on the famous legend, told from the Sheriff's point of view, where the Sheriff was the good guy, and Robin was the villain.

Interesting concept. Of course, it never would have flew, but nice idea, nevertheless.

So instead, we got this version of Robin Hood (or as I refer to it, the version that never should have been), and oh boy, does it fall flat. Robin Hood is not really Robin Hood in this movie. He's an archer in the King's employ (and Richard is a jerk, let me tell you), and when the king dies, he takes the opportunity to run. By chance, he comes across a dying knight (Robert Locksley), and the crown, and uses the identity of the dead man, and the crown to get safe passage back to England (p.s., he's in France, not the Middle East), and then returns Locksley's sword to his father, where he then meets Maid Marian, and instantly becomes married to her.

Umm...where do I begin?

First of all, I am not impressed that Robin does not really earn any of his good fortune. He happens to find the crown, happens to find Robert (conveniently when he's dying), happens to luck into a marriage with Marian. Wow, how lucky is this guy? Luckier than good. Then there's the famous supporting characters. His Merry Men (Little John, Will, Alan) are all bland and pointless, the Sheriff of Nottingham is non-existent, Richard's a bit of an ass, and Guy of Gisbourne is nowhere to be found. Instead, we have Mark Strong as "Sir Godfrey", and he's the main villain (he's a traitor to England, and an ally of France). Oh yeah, France are the bad guys in this film, not Prince John (who becomes King John, and at least has a semblance of a character here).

That being said, this movie is epic in length, but not in scope. They try and throw Robin's courtship of Marian in there, the disapproval of the Queen and William Marshal with King John, the French invaders plans, Robin wandering around with his Merry Men...there's no real flow to this film, it's a bunch of jumbled scenes together. You can tell where the different writers stepped in, and took over, and I'm shocked there weren't a hundred writers credited for this film, because it felt like it. It's just an utter mess, and if you want to see a Robin Hood movie, see the Errol Flynn one, the BBC series, the Prince of Thieves, hell watch Men in Tights or the Disney one, just don't bother with this one, it's a waste of your time.

Rating: as a movie - 2.5 out of 5.
as a Robin Hood movie - 0 out of 5.

- Stephenstein

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

3rd time lucky?

Universal Soldier: Regeneration.

JCVD and Dolph Lundgren are back as the UNISOLS. Now this movie was NOT what I was expecting and even though it’s different, it was really good!

The story took place as a story that involves unisols. It wasn’t about JCVD or anyone specific. It was just an action movie that had no stars.

Like normally JCVD would be all over this movie, but he doesn’t show up till 35 mins into it and the movie is only 90!

Dolph doesn’t appear till the 50 min mark! There are other unisols doing stuff along with a cool story about hostage taking and Chernobyl possibly exploding! The action is incredible with 2 long takes (think Hard Boiled) and you can see all the hits and action without any trouble – remember when you saw action?

So all in all I really enjoyed this movie. It’s not so much a JCVD vehicle as it is an actual movie. I kinda liked that approach to this!



Citizen Kane - but for the movies.

The Bad and the Beautiful.

Kirk Douglas (slowly becoming one of my faves) plays a up and coming producer who is forced to make B pictures (which I love anyway) and slowly becomes a big time movie maker. He has burned a lot of people on the way though, and 3 of those tell their side of the story in a Citizen Kane set up. We meet the 3, they each give us their account of Douglas and what he has done to them.

Really fascinating movie with a great little moral at the end that isn’t forced, but comes about naturally.

One other little note – you know when 2 people are talking on the phone and 3rd person picks up to listen in, and neither of the 2 ever know that someone was listening in. Well that’s fake cause as soon as someone picks up the phone there is a super echo effect – that echo is still around today and this was the only movie I ever saw that actually confirmed that. Kirk is taking to a big shot and Lana Turner picks up the other phone and Kirk knows she is listening! Cool!



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Go get a 1 up!

Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

Scott Pilgrim is part of a band (the Sex Bob-Omb’s) and is currently dating a high school girl – an Asian school girl! Not good and his buds make fun of him. But all that changed when he saw Ramona Flowers! But what Scott doesn’t know is that in order to date her, he must defeat her 7 evil ex boyfriends! Thus begins one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen and will probably ever see (at least for a long time).

It’s definitely the best movie of the year so far and after watching it, I immediately wanted to watch it again and get the comic (only 6 volumes I believe and written by a Canadian and set in Toronto!)

Every single moment and second of this film was so funny and creative and inventive. Everything that happened was so fun and unique there is no higher praise I can give but to say that its truly amazing from start to finish!

If you are a gamer, comic booker, or any type of geek, you MUST MUST see this movie asap. All the jokes are great, and they are all hits, all the references are there for us geeks and the fights are wicked! They involve actual kung-fu that isn’t stupid! Plus the way Scott defeats each boyfriend is wicked too!

I think it’s a bloody tragedy that it was number 5 when it came out. What a loss. But in any case ill be getting the dvd and bluray of this big time when it comes out!

When you see the Universal Studios Logo in the beginning, you’ll know something special is about to happen.

PS The director of this is Edgar Wright – who made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz – and those were amazing too! Good career forming here boys.



Monday, August 16, 2010

Action from the masters!

The Expendables.

This movie stars – well it stars the guys in the picture above. The story is nothing – go kill this guy in Vilena.

Thus begins an epic in action films. The action itself becomes a character. The characters are just playing themselves that we’ve seen in other movies. Some have said that getting all these guys together and having no story is pointless. This is not true. Getting them together is the point of the movie.

Everyone plays themselves but this time they all team up! You don’t introduce characters cause we know them already! That’s the beauty of this film. It’s almost like a sequel. We know everyone and what they can do, now we just have to see them in action.

And I must say all the action was just incredible! You could see it for the most part – although it was fast paced, but still, you could see the important stuff, like men being blown in half by rocket launchers and pump action automatic shotguns clearing hallways of guys in a matter of seconds.

Stallone is smart here, he knows we wanna see a lot of these guys get blown away and he knows he wont be able to cast enough stuntmen to pull off this massacre of men, so he decides to have all their faces painted with black makeup with a yellow streak (hey they are baseball furies! From The Warriors!), so that he can reuse as many of them as he needs to get the job done!

The big draw for me here was seeing Willis, Schwarzenegger, and Stallone in one room talking. The next big draw was seeing Dolph Lungren on the big screen (he does have the power). He gets the first kill of the movie and its violently violent in its violence! And at one point he enters a room and he literally takes up the entire DOOR! He is a monster of a man!

Stallone also does something else I like – he gives the big fights to other guys, not just himself. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Randy Couture have a good fight as well as Lungren and Jet Li – which resembles David vs Goliath, if Goliath was a bit bigger!

All in all this is a fun action packed movie that was made for guys who like action. Everyone in the movie has a good moment and it was fun. What else do you want from this movie?



Thursday, August 12, 2010

A fistful of last men standing.


I FINALLY saw this movie. I knew the story (remade as Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing – which I saw in theatres), so I knew about this classic but never saw it.

I was only going to watch a bit just to see what it looked like, but after 3 mins had passed I was hooked and ended up watching the entire thing.

Something so wicked happens after the credits that I couldn’t stop myself from finishing it. Ill watch Sanjuro next.

Anyway, the plot is about a drifter, (samurai in this case, but gunslinger in others) who wanders into a town where there are 2 feuding clans. He pits them against each other and hires himself out to both in order to destroy them. I know this has been copied to the ends of the Earth, but this was one of the first films to use that premise (if not the first?).

The cinematography is so amazing for a black and white movie, and it’s really inspiring! And as I mentioned the opening is so wicked that I am going to steal it for one of my stories!

If you like Zatoichi and Lone Wolf, this is a must buy on DVD and it’s on bluray too!



Monday, August 9, 2010

I made you read this.

Dinner for Schmucks.

Fun movie, if a bit contradicting. They want us to laugh at the schmucks in the movie, but present a message that we shouldn’t laugh at them – huh?

Anyway, I thought the schmucks here were great. Steve Carell was good and he was very likable, but the stars of this movie were the characters Kieren and Therman. Kieren is an artist who does super huge pictures of himself naked in various costumes – like a minotaur, or holding a newborn Zebra which he explains he pulled out of the womb with his own hands, then suggests to Paul Rudd (the supposed star of the film) they he must try it.

He also lived with goats for 6 months and is surprised that Steve Carell hasn’t tried it! Anyway, this guy is so damn funny it was hard to stop laughing. If you know about video art, and how retarded some of these guys are, you will defiantly get this! I want Kieren’s video art piece he did – which is just random shots of him screaming into the camera!

Therman is the guy from Hangover / Tru Calling – he is a mind reader whose books include: Your mind is my puppet, and I made you read this. He is just hilarious too in his small role.

All in all this was a fun little movie – it’s not gonna be top 10 or anything, but I liked it!



Dont lose your head.

Marie Antoinette.

This is the story of Marie Antoinette – whose story is very tragic and very depressing.

The movie does a good job of showing what happened, and it was pretty sad. Then I made the mistake of learning more about the real MA and got even more upset.

The French revolution was the cause many tragedies but I guess the people had enough. We need a Hollywood revolution and maybe we’ll get some better movies.

So if you’re in the mood to see how all the troubles in your life are meaningless next to someone whose seen real suffering, then go rent this. You’ll be more thankful for your life and situation afterward!



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who is ...


Well, it’s Angelina Jolie. Who she is, is definitely important, but what she does is even more so.

The premise is that Salt is accused of being a Russian spy, and she is on the run from the CIA, FBI and any other government agency you can think of.

The chase is amazing and the action sequences (which you can see for once, although are a bit shaky – see Stephenstein’s review) are really breath taking! Especially the chase on the highway where Jolie jumps from one truck to the next and in some cases looks pretty realistic (I heard she did a lot of her own stunts!).

Salt doesn’t do much talking, which I like, you have to just observe what she does and figure it out on your own, which I did – for the most part.

There are about 3 twists in this movie. One I guessed before the movie started, one I figured out during the movie and one that was pretty shocking! Well not so much shocking, but really cool considering the sad state of films today. This movie has a lot of guts to do what it does, and it does it really well.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s the best action movie of the year (Losers and A-Team are up there though! – actually go see all 3 of these!)



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Not of the little variety.

Batman: Under the Red Hood.

When DC first announced they would convert this storyline to a cartoon movie several problems arouse. In order to understand the Red Hood story you need to read: A Death in the Family. The Killing Joke, and the Red Hood miniseries. You also need to know who Jason Todd is, and how Dick Grayson (the original Robin) became Nightwing.

How would they combine all these story elements that took decades to do in the comics and put them in one 80 min movie and make it all make sense and still be entertaining?
Well watch and find out!

They did it! They actually did it. F all those guys who make movies based on stuff and say “well it was too hard to adapt”, or “that wouldn’t work in film” etc. I say this cartoon is equal to the Dark Knight movie!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s right. F them all, screw these guys who cant tell a story. This is a great Batman story with an emotional finale that has to be seen to be believed. You would never expect this from a cartoon. Batman lives on in these great DC cartoons.

If they could only translate half of this to the big screen and we would be seeing comics and superheroes in a new light – oh yeah they did that in Watchmen and everyone pissed on it. Thanks dumb asses.

I must apologize for that rant just now, but it really pisses me off when great stuff gets panned.

Anyway, this Batman cartoon is just amazing, it is a MUST MUST buy for all of us who read this.



Not Rushin' love, Russian love.


This is a love story which doesn’t seem like one when you are watching it. Actually at the exact moment I figured out it was a love story was the same time the characters in the film did!

“Garbo laughs” was the tagline for this film, because Greta Garbo was a silent film star, she finally spoke in another film and laughed in this one. Well you will laugh too and you will be drawn into this great masterpiece of a love story.

This has to be the best love story I have ever seen. The reason is that it’s not obvious. Garbo is a communist who comes to Paris to help settle a dispute over some Russian jewels. She meets a man who is representing the lady to whom the jewels used to belong to, but then they meet each other. Scratch that, they met each other BEFORE they knew who each other was. So the love story part started before that! But Garbo wasn’t looking for love, in fact, she is a really strong believer in Communism and makes good points about it! She only cares about equality for all, and she is there to do a job! But when she meets the other lawyer she starts to fall for him because he keeps pursuing her.

You have to see it to understand the delicate balance this movie makes. It never gets cheesy and it’s never forced. The couples love grows in a natural way and not a forced Hollywood style way, where the audience can see it happing before the credits begin!

Check this movie out, you will not be disappointed!



Noir of the past.

Out of the Past.

Film noir is a small genre of films primarily made in the 40’s though some argue that some modern films can be considered noir – I don’t, but that’s for another time.

This film is total Noir and one of the best! Up there with Double Indemnity and Laura.

Robert Mitchum is trying to get away from his past but it catches up with him, and I am glad it did! This film is just amazing from start to finish. It changes format half way through when Mitchum’s narration catches up with him and we get sort of a sequel to the story.

The film has a femme fatale (which is a must for all Noir) and a cool bad guy (played by Kirk Douglas – who is just cool anyway) and we get a love story, betrayal, mystery, suspense, murder and more! You get it all in this movie!

My movie review book that I read from time to time calls this a forgotten masterwork – it truly is. It’s worthy to note that Bogart was supposed to play the role that Mitchum got, which would have made this movie bigger I guess, but it doesn’t matter because Mitchum is just great in it!



You're a wonder.

Wonder Woman.

I have always loved WW. I have a shelf dedicated to her in my room with toys and models and a comic autographed by Lynda Carter – thanks to my wife for that one. I also own more comics of Wonder Woman than of any other superhero. Superman and Aquaman are close though.

Anyway, I love the character and I love her origin. Besides Superman, her origin is the most exciting. I love Greek Mythology and how she was created from clay etc. This movie does a really good job of introducing her. In fact, if this was reworked a bit and maybe a bit more drama added, you would have the makings of a good origin film for her. But I’m sure they’ll ass that movie up when it finally comes. But until then, you can watch this one!



Not infinite, just 2.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

There are multiverses in the DCU – Earth 1, 2, S etc. Well on one such Earth there is the Crime Syndicate. Run by bad guy versions of the JLA. In that world Lex Luthor is a good guy with Joker (called the jester). Well this movie explores what happens when the two worlds meet.

Really good movie that gets serious half way through when – I wont tell you, go watch it!