Monday, February 27, 2012

The idiot speaks

Okay, let me first start off by saying, it's a tough act following a review of a movie where a man sets another man's ass on fire.  It's...I probably shouldn't be doing this. They're going to be talking about the man setting the other guy's ass on fire for one will remember the post that preceded it, but I am a brave man and this is worth mention.

Before I begin, a thank you to Michael Blaze who read my rant on Time Play and gave me the name of the head honcho at Cineplex Famous Players.  Mr. Ellis Jacobs will be getting a letter from me, soon enough.  Then I'll let you know how the food is in jail.

This post is about a movie critic named Rex Reed.  Now, I don't read movie critics very often. I often find I have enough toilet paper in my house, it's never a need I've required.  However, while I was bashing the blah movie, Safe House (you can read the review on this blog), I noticed a comment from Mr. Rex Reed.  The comment is below:

"This is a naive director with so little insight you wonder what comic books he's been reading."

Okay, before I continue, let me give you a little background on Mr. Reed.  Mr. Rex Reed is the guy who spread the rumor that Marisa Tomei did not actually win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny, that Jack Palance was too drunk or stoned to say the real person's name properly.  Apparently there was a "massive cover-up"...yes, because the Academy wanted Marisa Tomei that badly.  This is the Rex Reed who was caught shoplifting CD's from Tower Records -- because much like his opinions, he must steal his music from others.  This is the Rex Reed who said the following line when he wrote about the 2005 Oldboy:

"What else can you expect from a nation weaned on kimchi, a mixture of raw garlic and cabbage buried underground until it rots, dug up from the grave and then served in earthenware pots sold at the Seoul airport as souvenirs?"

So, Mr. Reed, you have proven your vast capability for ignorance, so the comic book reference, I should expect from you, correct?  I mean, obviously you have kept abreast with all the happenings in comics, you read all the latest story arcs, the Darkest Night saga, the New 52, Dark Reign and Fear, Itself, right?  You weighed in on the Civil War storyline, right?  I mean, you cameo'ed in the original Superman movie, (which is a based on a...comic!) so you know everything about comics and you have every right to make that stupid comment, right?  

Thank you Mr. Reed.  Thank you for proving what an ignorant, arrogant, smug, bigoted bunch of a$$holes you and you're ilk are.  You're a member of the New York Film Critics Circle?  Are you sure that doesn't actually is supposed to say New York Film Critics Circle Jerk?  I mean, if they let an idiot like you in, then I can draw no other conclusion, can I?

You are a small man, Mr. Reed.  A small man with an even smaller mind and a tiny view of the world.  The unfortunate thing is, you think you are obviously intelligent and sophisticated and above it all.  Let me tell you something: people who are sophisticated and intelligent, don't make stupid comments like that.  They certainly don't get caught walking away with Mel Torme CD's in their jacket pockets.

By the way, you may be wondering what the picture of the 2 birds at the top of the post represent.  They represent the position my 2 middle fingers were in when I read your review and if I ever have the displeasure of making your acquaintance, you'll be seeing them, again.

- Stephenstein

Friday, February 24, 2012

Random Song of the Week – Call Me – Le Click

Call Me was released by Euro dance group Le Click in 1997, from their album Tonight is the Night. 90’s Euro was huge in Toronto, with 103.5 and NRG 108 pumping out dance tracks, and the club scene in downtown Toronto was getting airplay, not just on the radio, but on TV as well. Call Me reached number one in the dance charts in Canada for three weeks. Songs like Call Me remind me of a time when I loved dance music, even if I couldn’t dance. As with most songs of this ilk it’s overly long, feels extended with repetitive lyrics/hooks/beats and features a no-reason male rapper who interjects his two cents and almost derails the rhythm of the entire song. Still, I love it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Generic House

Look at that poster.  Isn't that pumped?  I mean, it's not on the grandeur of say, Star Wars or that Nicole Kidman poster from Batman Forever...yeah...that was great...she was in prime form for that...yeah...where was I?  Oh yeah, the poster.  So you have Denzel Washington looking relaxed.  Can you stand it?  Isn't it awesome?  If you say no, then I'm going to disappoint you because this is the only good thing in Safe House.  This poster.  At least Denzel is great.  The movie is not.

My problems with this movie are two-fold.  1 is the camerawork.  The other is the plot.  I will address them in order.

1: If I were thinking of a letter to describe the camerawork for the movie, I would give it an S.  S for Shakycam.  S for sucks.  S for shitty.  It's terrible.  The camera is never locked down.  Ever.  The camera floats around like a rubber ducky in a bathtub, when you've pulled the plug and its hit that swirl just before going down the drain.  Action scenes where you can't see who hit who.  Monologue scenes where I ended up with Denzel's right eye in the upper frame.  Quite frankly, I haven't seen many shakycam movies lately...well, I got my fill with this one.  It's shot "realistically"...meaning grainy and shaky.  Haywire was shot with realism and I didn't feel like I was on a rollercoaster.  I'm surprised it wasn't shot on video.  In any case, it blows with a capital S.

2: The plot.  Now, if you have never seen a thriller, especially an espionage thriller, than you may be enthralled with this movie.  That would pretty much be your only excuse for liking the plot.  The yahoos over on JoBlo gave this 7 out of 10.  Guess they proved how many of these movies they've seen.  Then again, the entire filmography those guys have seen are The Talented Mr. Ripley, Brazil and The Departed, so, don't worry, they're experts...if the meaning of expert has changed to IQ lower than shorts size.  I can't believe they gave this movie a seven.  It's that bad. 

To put in plainly, this is the most generic thriller I have ever seen.  I saw a character show up, I thought "this is the guy behind the whole thing."  I saw Denzel and I'm like "he's not really bad"  I saw Vera Farmiga and I thought "she's going to be the tough one, and you're going to think she's behind it all, but she's really not, and the real bad guy is going to take her out to a secluded area and kill her and we're supposed to be all shocked."  All of this literally happened, verbatim to how it happened.  Everything you think will happen, happened.  There is no surprises, no interesting plot developments, nothing to stand out.  This is Hollywood paint-by-the-numbers at its most obvious.  "Hey, I bet in this scene, Denzel gets away from Ryan Reynolds!"  "Hey, I bet they're going to team up in the next scene!"  "Hey, I bet in this scene, the bad guy becomes Mr. Exposition and reveals all!"  "Wow, the CIA is corrupt, who would have thought that?"  That was the entire movie.  It was literally, take a beginning screenplay course for 13 year-olds and it's this movie. 

I may come off like I'm pissed off at this movie.  I'm not.  It's too bland, too vanilla, too generic to be mad.  I just can't believe that JoBlo gave this movie 7 out of 10.  I can't believe Rotten Tomatoes rated this movie higher than a movie like Sucker Punch.  I can't.  It's too ludicrous.  Maybe they were excited that Ryan Reynolds got through a movie without one wisecrack?  I can't explain it, it's too unbelievable.  This movie has been done 1,000,000 times before.  If this was the first thriller ever made about spies and CIA agents, I could understand it.  That's not the case, though.  

So, do yourself a favour.  See any other thriller than this, unless you want a crash coarse on this particular genre.  For those who have a larger movie knowledge, let me just put it like this: Denzel couldn't even elevate it. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

- Stephenstein

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Cheese.

Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance.

When I was a kid I would go rent movies at Video 99 – a video store that had a great selection of weird movies. At the time that meant, Kung Fu, Horror, Fantasy, Exploitation etc. And if I had rented Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance at that time I would have loved it and said “Boy, they should make a big budget Hollywood version of Ghost Rider.” Too bad, THIS IS the big budget version.

The movie is ok as a popcorn action flick, but when it comes to being good GR movie, there is a lot wrong with it. Example, cheesey comedy. GR talks about how the devil takes different human forms on Earth. They then show a montage of evil men in history, Gacy, Hitler etc, but they end the list with a picture of Jerry Springer. Ok, was that supposed to be funny? Why is there Saturday Night Live style comedy in this movie? Then GR at one point, spins himself around in mid-air like a “spin the bottle” game and points out his next victim. Why is GR being so silly? Just destroy these punks and be done with it.

Plus, like the first film, GR defeats guys too easily. The end battle with Satan (called Roarke here?) is much too fast and I thought that he would return as a giant monster or something, and that didn’t happen (I have been watching too many Cannon films I guess).

I am baffled as to why they cannot make a really good GR movie? Look at Blade 1 and 2, Hellboy 1 and 2 and see what happens when you take a dark character and make a good movie out of him. They need to make GR borderline horror, and give him some really badass villains to fight!

That being said, as a B-picture popcorn flick it’s fun. It doesn’t drag on, it has a cool action scene in the end, and GR himself, looks amazing! That’s what I don’t get. GR looks so wicked and he kicks ass, but yet they cannot seem to do the character justice! Usually I get mad because the character sucks, or doesn’t look like what he’s supposed to, but in this case, he looks amazing (I miss the spikes though) and sinister, but the story doesn’t support him! They even had a cool idea that whatever GR rides in becomes a fiery vehicle, like his bike. At one point he takes control of a construction crane and it turns into a flaming crane! Wicked! But then the spin the bottle part came and all that was kind of lost. There are numerous examples of this throughout the film.

If you want a fun movie, then see it, if you want a serious good Ghost Rider movie, then skip it and read the comics.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

What a disappointment – where do I begin? After the mediocrity of the first Ghost Rider movie, arriving after much anticipation for decades as to what a Ghost Rider movie would look like, I expected a sequel with different people at the helm to feel refreshed, expanded and go-for-broke fun. What we have here feels shackled down, claustrophobic and suffocated. The story: Johnny Blaze is hiding in Europe for some reason while a cult is after a child that the devil himself wants to insert his essence into. Blaze teams up with some French dude and the boy’s mother to stop this. Along the way, Blaze tries to rid himself of the Ghost Rider once and for all. Sprinkle in three scenes where Ghost Rider appears and there’s your movie.

The motivations of the villains are sort of pointless. The child that the devil seeks is supposed to be half-devil, so if the devil put himself in the boy’s body, he’d be super evil (as opposed to just evil) and somewhat immortal or something. The film establishes that the devil is always on earth in a human host’s body anyway, so I’m not sure what having a human body that merely lives longer is supposed to prove. This devil-man already has powers, so having more powers doesn’t seem to me to make a difference. If it seems like I’m nitpicking, I am – and there’s a good reason for that. Lots of movies have thin stories and are still amazing (1989’s Batman comes to mind). I shouldn’t be thinking of the crux of this movie at all, and I wouldn’t if the rest of the film weren’t so dull as to coerce my mind into wandering off and contemplating its stupidity.

Much of the film has Nicolas Cage traipsing around and acting … well … Nicolas Cagey. He way overacts a lot of scenes and ends up embarrassing himself. All of the reasons why people make fun of Nicolas Cage, his face, his mannerisms, etc. are all there on the big screen in this movie for all to see. Even when he’s motion-captured as Ghost Rider, his jerky neck-and-head movements are etched onto the Ghost Rider’s visage, making the character appear awkward and goofy. It’s pretty wince-inducing.

There are some neat ideas, like the notion that anything that Ghost Rider drives turns into a flaming monstrosity like his bike. This happens in spectacular fashion when the Rider commandeers a giant crane/conveyer-belt thing and smashes a bunch of goons with it – but this is done with a lot of close-up shots and jerky camera movements which mute the effect a great deal. This film was directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the same two guys that directed the Crank films. After seeing this movie, I now realize that these two aren’t creative at all. The Crank films went far because their “creativity” was in the form of shock: Jason Statham shagging a woman in public, boobs on the screen, racism, etc. That’s dirt simple to do. Heck, anyone can put images like eating poo, cutting a person’s face, pissing on a baby, etc. on a screen and genuinely tell you that it’s something that you’ve never seen before. They would be right. But it’s not creative, it’s merely impulsive. I’m sure Neveldine and Taylor would tell you that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance looks shackled because they were tied down by the PG-13 rating. Oh, boo hoo. You can still go for broke without swearing or showing nudity or blood. At the end of the movie, Ghost Rider dispatches the human-form devil by smacking him to the ground with a chain (you might have seen this in the ads). At that point, the human-form devil is seen falling to hell. I thought, as probably anyone watching this movie thought, that the devil would rise out of the hole as a giant monster that Ghost Rider has to fight. That doesn’t happen – the movie just ends (yes, I gave away the ending – but are you surprised by the outcome?). At one point, the devil gives a punk the power to decay things. Sure, he does it in music video visuals where everything is black except for him and his victim, but even so, this guy’s power is kind of hum-drum (yeah, he’s sort of like Blackout, even in appearance, but he’s not). This is a big budget movie backed by a major studio. Ghost Rider couldn’t face off against something more spectacular? Like maybe three firey spirits, each with his/her own personality who track down the Rider? Or maybe an anti-Rider – like Teminus Rex or Zarathos with Blaze taking another Ghost Rider demon’s form. Sure, there’s the budget to consider, but there aren’t many effects in this film, and I don’t see photo-real fire as being a huge undertaking anymore – maybe in the 90’s, but not in 2011/2012. The effect of Ghost Rider and his bike could not have cost that much when Supernatural does this kind of thing on TV every week, so they could have had a more spectacular villain for Rider to face off against.

Anyway, everything in this movie seemed like a misstep. And, yes, there is some goofy humour – but honestly, I forgot that stuff as soon as it left the screen. I guess the reason why I did, and the reason why I felt the goofiness lingered in the first movie, is that this movie has an overall tone of being gritty and dark, with its down to earth men-with-guns villains (for the most part) and stark lighting. The humour just doesn’t fit and feels so misplaced that it not only does not induce any laughter, but is quickly forgotten. There’s just no room for it.

As a kid, I always thought a Ghost Rider movie should start like Ghost Rider vol. 2, issue #68 of the comics, with Johnny Blaze confessing his sins, telling his origin, then revealing that he knows the priest he’s confessing to is a murdering fraud who killed the real priest and donned his clothes to escape the authorities who are hunting him down for an armed robbery he committed “The Rider lead me here to where innocent blood was spilled – by you!” The Ghost Rider appears and gives the crook the penitence stare. Then the rest can be like Ghost Rider vol. 2, #71 from the comics, where Blaze goes to a town where, one-by-one, authority figures disappear. Blaze is compelled to stay, drawn by the Rider to nullify the threat to the innocent people of the town. The threat turns out to be Null, The Living Darkness, a Lovecraftian, tentacled, multi-eyed monstrosity born of the desires of a doomed race for revenge against all authority in the universe. So, take the introduction from issue 68 and main story from issue 71 – and I guess that’s my problem: I actually read the comics.

This is a 3 if you're watching it on TV two years from now, and a 2 if you're undertaking the hassle of going to a theatre and paying money to see this thing.

Nope, this guy ain't in this movie.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Waste of Time

This is an open letter to the suit who happens to be in charge of Cineplex/Famous Players.

Dear Mr./Mrs. Stuffed Shirt:

Hello.  My name is Stephenstein (and no, that's not my real name, you jackass) and since I was sixteen years old, I have been a regular movie-goer to your chain of theatres.  When I say "regular", I mean I go there at least twice a month and sometimes more.  In that time, I have noticed a number of changes that I have found for lack of a better work "disappointing".  I will outline these below:

1. Every time I go to the theatre, I run the risk of you having raised the price of admission another 37 cents for no apparent reason.
2. It has gotten to the point where I am now routinely performing armed robbery on an unsuspecting family on my way to the cinema, just to afford your outrageous concessions (I foundly remember paying $4.25 for a small popcorn and pop back in '96...$4.25 would only get me the pop, nowadays).
3. I am now forced to watch 3D or AVX forced, I do not insinuate that a hairy, bald, large man in a black vest drags me to the theatre and manhandles me until I pay for such...but if I want to see particular movies sooner rather than later, I must pay extra for these formats that I would otherwise avoid as if it were an STD.

That's only counting the things you do have control over...never mind the idiots talking through movies, kicking my seat, coming in late and then standing in front of me trying to decide which of the bazillion seats they want to sit in and my recent all-time favourite, the cell phone light in my face during the movie, possibly the most infuriating thing in a theatre next to loud talking during the movie. 

Okay, so that's where Time Play comes in.  This is a new feature you have recently started initiating in theatres where people are ENCOURAGED to take their cellphones out and inanely play games on the screen for "prizes" (or sometimes not even for a prize...see below).  

Okay, so let me ask you...are you out of your mind?  Are you just begging to have someone like me find you and beat the all-living bejesus out of you?  What are you thinking?  Do you not understand that these morons are checking their cell phones every 3-5 minutes during the film as it is now without encouraging them to pop it open and use it before the film?  Oh, that's right.  You tell them "please turn off your phone" before the movie starts!  YES!  That solves everything!  They will listen to you because you're asking them to!

No only is it bad enough that you're actually asking people to whip out their cell phones and use them, what they're being used on is inane beyond description.  Press this button if you want to see the guy, press that button if you want to see the girl.  Who cares?  Is the girl coming home with me?  Is she scantily clad?  Am I going to get any sort of thrill out of this?  No.  It's a car advertisement.  One I can see at home, on the net or anywhere else on Planet Frigging Earth.  Good job.  Not only are you rallying these idiots to use their cellphones, they're using them for entirely purposeless exercises.  Mind you, outside of "if you win this game, you'll win a million dollars" or "you will win private screenings for your friends for the remainder of your life of all upcoming movies", there is no prize worthy of your annoyance. 

I have been a loyal customer of yours for years.  I love movies.  I own a large movie collection.  I have DVD, I have Blu-Ray, I follow your industry, I live and die by casting decisions, in short, I am one of your more ardent fans.  I want movies to continue forever, I want them to get better and better and I want people to come out, support the movies they love and fill your cash registers.  I am not some recluse who lives in his mother's basement and types out hate mail to every person that he feels has slighted him.  Why in the world do you continue to disrespect me and people like me when I have done nothing but respect you?

Do me a favour.  Get rid of Time Play.  I know you're not going to change the concession prices, the admission prices, I know 3D and AVX isn't going anywhere, I've dealt with that.  Asking me to deal with this as know what they say about the proverbial straw and the camel's back.

Yours truly (in disgust and anger),

- Stephenstein

Friday, February 17, 2012

Random Song of the Week: Are you Ready? -- Devo

Are You Ready?, more commonly known as Action Boy Now, Action Girl Now due to its inclusion on the soundtrack of Power Rangers: The Movie (1995), was performed by pop band Devo, best known for their 1980 hit Whip It (whip it good!). This song was featured in a fight scene that became the basic clip that was shown on Letterman, Leno, and all of the other talk shows of the day during the movie’s promotional push. The scene is also the first time you see the Power Rangers in full costume fighting in hand-to-hand combat in the film, and it’s incredibly staged with many gimmicky defeats of the villains and campy, wackadoo one-liners (Kimberly slapping two enemies together while saying “Kiss and make up!” comes to mind). These are probably the reasons why this song remains the most memorable of the songs in Power Rangers: The Movie and a nostalgic mainstay for 20-somethings today. I realize now that Power Rangers: The Movie will probably be looked upon as fondly by people born 10 years after me as Transformers: The Movie (1986) is looked upon by men of my generation – a movie that to all the world looks like a stupid nonsensical kids movie, but to those who grew up with it, it can do no wrong.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sam on a Ledge

Man on a ledge...let me first say that they stole this idea from me...though my story was named 'Man in a Fridge', or something like that.  Actually, it's all a stinking lie, I never thought up a story like this.  Though I do like the title...I think that the guy who made this should hook up with the guys who made 'Snakes on a Plane' and then keep making movies...'Lobster in a basket'...'Painting in a toilet'...'Nun in a bar'...

Anyhow, this movie is basically part Negotiator, part The Score.  It's a heist movie and hostage negotiation drama rolled up into one.  Was it ludicrous?  Yes, there were parts of made me say "uh-huh".  Such as Sam Worthington's car being rear-ended by a train and he escapes without a scratch (though that's a movie thing). Ed Harris' character framing Sam for stealing a diamond just so he could collect on the insurance money and keep himself out of bankruptcy (framing a man for theft and ruining his life or simply selling the diamond for the cash...hmmm...).  The insane lengths the burgulars had to go to break into Harris' vault and yet the ease in which they got into his personal office...(uh-huh). 

You may think I don't like this movie, but it isn't true.  I did like it.  I like heist movies in general, usually (with some exceptions...Oceans Eleven and The Italian Job come to mind) and I love cat-and-mouse negotiation movies, which this also had, but I have to say that instead of splitting their attention and giving us 2 decent parts to the movie instead of concentrating on one and giving us one great movie is a definite miss.  There was some nice suspense though and the acting was good, there's an all-star cast with a lot of familiar faces.

As for twists and turns, there was really only one thing I didn't call and it didn't really matter in the big scheme of things.  If you're someone who has seen a lot of these types of movies, there's nothing really new for you here, it's all been covered in better movies, but it's not bad for what it is and at least it was a 90 minute time-waster that didn't piss me off. 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

- Stephenstein

Friday, February 10, 2012

Random Song of the Week -- I'm Yours by Jason Mraz

With Valentine’s Day around the corner (That’s right! So get your your flowers and chocolate ready, dudes!) I decided to post one of my favourite songs on here. I’m Yours is an important song to me. My wife loves Jason Mraz, a singer-songwriter who straddles the line between mainstream recognition and fashionable obscurity. On our second date, Jennifer decided to take me to a Jason Mraz concert at the Cool Haus where I was exposed to all of his songs up to that point. But one song in particular was this one. It had not yet been officially released on an album (he released it as a special MP3 track to members of his website who pre-ordered his newest album Mr. A-Z at the time). It stuck in my head. The audience seemed really enthralled too. As we were leaving, I told Jenn that Mraz should totally release I’m Yours on his next album – I had no clue why he didn’t release it sooner. It would obviously give him fame. For the next two years the song was covered by every two-bit aspiring singer on youtube, and in 2008 it was included on Mraz’s album We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things. Suddenly American Idol contestants were singing the song in auditions and Mraz was invited to the finale to perform the track with finalists. Sesame Street came knocking and, unlike other a-hole artists who show up and do some half-assed rendition of their song, Mraz reworked the ballad into a gentle, thoughtful song about playing outdoors – and it still worked. But to me, this will always be “our” song -- a song my wife and I sing together randomly, and a song that we claimed as ours long before everyone else discovered it.

The wonderful Sesame Street version.

The crappy Jonas bastardization.

Let me rail off against these ass-clowns. The Jonas Brothers rocketed to superstardom, fuelled by unlimited Disney money, among insulated tweens that don’t know anything beyond a 2-year time-span. These Jonas dicks made a killing ripping off other peoples’ songs by rewriting lyrics (badly, I should add) and keeping their tunes (or strong hints of tunes, slightly reworked) so as to cash in on a song’s recognisability but still claiming the song as their own and not giving any credit to the original songwriter, or putting in the hard work the original songwriter undertook to create the song from scratch in the first place. To be fair, this may have been an initiative by the Disney Corporation with the Jonas Brothers as their figure-head puppets, but the Jonas Bros. still went along with it. Introducing Me, as seen in the movie Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam (dear god, I should hope so) is widely seen as being similar to I’m Yours. It does have strong similarities. Sure it's playful and cute, but I have a hard time believing that this song would exist at all if I'm Yours had never existed first and become a hit -- and there's something a little sinister and disingenuous about that. I remember a news story about this on CNN, saying that Jason Mraz was upset and was going to sue (Mraz was joking, he didn’t really care). At the same time, the Jonas Brothers TV show (can’t remember the name now) got cancelled. Where are the Jonas Brothers now? Growing older and getting more obscure, just like Hanson.

With that said, Happy Valentine’s Day!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Staying awake, for now.

Underworld Awakening.

So the story of this franchise is all about Lycans (werewolves) vs Vampires. So when they kill each other off, no one cares about the morale implications. You kind of pick a side – I always liked the Lycans, so there you have it.

It was well established that the Lycans were slaves and oppressed and they revolted and now they fight. So they are kind of the good guys. Kate Beckinsale was in love with a half vampire, half Lycan, so she kind of was against the vampires, even though she is one. So in this film, which takes place 12 years after part one, humans have entered the war and have taken out almost all of both breeds.

Question – how did the humans do this – aren’t we much weaker than Vamps and Lycans? Oh well, let’s pretend we were able to defeat them. The movie starts with Kate escaping captivity and killing a bunch of human guards and doctors. I was kind of shocked that she was just killing these guys with no remorse and that we were supposed to be pumped up for her? Vampires EAT humans. So why should I side with her against humans who are trying to protect me. If anything, I would side with the Lycans – cause they don’t need to eat humans, sure they are hunters and will attack, but vampires MUST EAT US TO LIVE!

I found that very problematic. And the fact that the film is less than 90 mins. No counting credits, it’s like 80 minutes long! You cant tell a good story in that short amount of time. Well you can if you have the Battlestar Galactica writers I guess, but not here.

The movie isn’t really bad, more like misguided. I cannot side with vampires over humans because I am human therefore I am food to them, and I cannot side with vampires over Lycans, cause to me, Lycans are cooler. Added to the fact that Michael (the guy that has been hyped for 2 movies) is not in this one. Sure the actor said he wouldn’t come back, but use someone else!

That being said, the pacing is hyper fast, the scenery is wicked and the giant lycan is bloody amazing! Good fights, that you could see, and Kate is good as usual, I just felt a bit off watching these poor guys get annihilated. But there is a minor twist (not involving the little girl who is obviously Kates kid – DUH – that is NOT a spoiler), so the twist actually helps explain why we shouldn’t feel too bad about the doctors getting killed – but still, we didn’t know about that twist while it was happening, so it’s still odd to me.

This one isn’t better than 2 or 3, but maybe a bit better than 1 – simply for the pacing.



Friday, February 3, 2012

Legendary Pictures – WTF Happened to Godzilla?

Back in 2009, Legendary Pictures announced that they had the rights to do an American retry of Godzilla. They put out t-shirts at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con that featured a slick design of the monster and spat out virtual flames if you aimed your webcam at it from the Legendary Pictures website. They hired relative newcomer Max Borenstein to write it and Gareth Edwards, who stirred attention with his indie movie Monsters, to direct it. Then – nothing! No presence at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con and, other than some brief questions posed to Edwards about his “love” of the franchise by an occasional website, no real indication of any movement at all on this much anticipated project. So, what happened?

I just don’t get the careful attitude here. Okay, maybe I do. I know that Legendary is being careful after the 1998 Godzilla debacle. But, let’s be honest, that movie presented a concept and tone that was so far removed from the Godzilla brand that it’s pretty easy to “fix” the franchise from that. It’s simple: make Godzilla actually look like the classic creature, make him shoot radiation breath, and make him destroy cities in wanton, unstoppable rampages before disappearing into the ocean as quickly as he appeared. Make him a force of nature that man struggles to understand. Like a tornado. The 1998 movie got it so wrong that it put the essence of what made Godzilla as a concept work into stark light.

I read somewhere that Legendary Pictures wanted to do a campy take on the character harkening back to the 70’s, featuring aliens plotting to destroy the earth with a giant monster and Godzilla defending the planet from this menace. I love the old 70’s Godzilla movies, but really, this was the plan to reboot Godzilla in the States? In the middle of a craze of realism that renders the X-Men in leather outfits and Superman shooting lasers that you can’t see because realistically you can’t see lasers unless they’re captured by fog? Campy Godzilla beating up on some monster in a story with no layer or depth was Legendary Pictures’ response??

Aahh, the 70's. *sigh* God bless 'em.

And what is with the constant American movement away from the nuclear message? Mankind forging ahead with creating new ways to destroy each other, only to accidentally come up with something deadly and unstoppable through such attempts, is the whole point of Godzilla. Godzilla was created by man, and yet, cannot be explained. Godzilla is something that, for all of our vaunted knowledge and chest-beating of how in control we are of the world, mother nature and science cannot account for the combination of unnatural experimentation and nuclear science that this one last experiment, the straw that broke the camel’s back, unleashes – a seemingly unstoppable, gigantic creature who lays waste to populated city after populated city while we struggle to figure out what we have done -- and it’s all our fault. With the success of challenging material like the revamped Battlestar Gallactica series to newer series like Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels, I don’t get how the original Godzilla concept from 1954 wouldn’t work with today’s audiences.

As for the question of how to do Godzilla, see below for a recent (and successful) attempt at rendering Godzilla as a fully CGI creature in the movie Always 2: Sunset on Third Street (2007). It’s a dream sequence that opens the movie (and probably surprised the heck out of Japanese audiences), but Godzilla looks surprisingly good. Look, I love man-in-suit technology (suitmation) as much as any kaiju fan, but in order for this terrific subgenre of films to carry on, the special effects need to be updated to a point where giant monster movies are not just for a niche audience. After having seen The Adventures of Tintin, I think the answer for how to render Godzilla in future movies is obvious: motion-capture. The technology is at a point right now where people were screaming for Andy Serkis to be nominated for an Oscar for his role as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Motion-capture technology will establish those human elements of suitmation that fans love so much but can’t put a finger on (body language, walking motion, acting nuances like hesitation and reaction, arm and fist movements) and incorporate the advantages of CGI (more detailed muscle movement, more articulated body and tail, more facial expressions, lack of visible rubber folding and warping effects). It’s really the best of both worlds and an obvious step forward for Godzilla.

The CGI Godzilla from Always 2

I guess my point here is that all of the choices for a Godzilla reboot are obvious. This movie should have been released last year. I don’t get the hesitation, I don’t get the foot-dragging, and I especially don’t understand the lack of concern or urgency at Legendary Pictures. “Oh, we don’t want to get it wrong!” Well, it seems to me that if you’ve seen all of the movies and you are in fact fans, it takes a lot of effort to get it wrong. The 1998 movie made obviously stupid choices (I mean, no radiation breath?? Seriously???). Just don’t be stupid. That’s the best advice anyone can give Legendary at this point.

Oh, and for eff sake, please include the iconic Akira Ifukube godzilla theme!


Random Song of the Week: Let Your Heart Decide - Celine Dion

Before you get up in arms about me posting a Celine Dion song (I'm not a huge fan, but I don't mind her as much as some people -- okay I don't like her big-eyed face, but that's it), let me point out that this song has geek roots. Let Your Heart Decide was written exclusively for the movie Asterix and the Vikings (2006), based on the french comic book. Asterix himself is a household name in Europe where his comic stories have been hugely popular since the 60’s. The character has starred in 8 animated movies and 3 live-action films (so far) with a fourth live-action movie Asterix and Obelix: On Her Majesty’s Service set for release later this year and a 3D animated feature Asterix: The Land of the Gods currently in production and slated for a 2014 release. I loved reading the English translations of Asterix in grade school and am happy to see the tale of unassuming Gauls holding off the Roman army with resourcefulness and a secret strength-giving formula to be as popular as ever in the 21st century. Asterix and the Vikings was a so-so movie, with the Romeo and Juliette-like characters stealing a lot of the story away from Asterix and Obelix – but the animation is terrific and it’s great seeing the characters brought to life on the screen. Let Your Heart Decide is only available on the Asterix and the Vikings soundtrack. The song makes this movie seem more epic and emotional than it really is and I find myself remembering it and listening to it often.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Go Haywire.


Look at the cast of this film! The only new comer is Gina, you may remember her as Crush from American Gladiators (the Hulk Hogan one). She is a former MMA fighter (I don’t think she was in UFC though), now turned actress? Why not, the 80’s were full of them, Norris, Van Damme, Lundgren, Li – wait, that’s the cast of Expendables 2!

So basically this is a simple story, she was an agent, she got screwed. What makes this movie so amazing is the realism. This is a realistic action film. Not much blood, very simple gun fights and chases, and the fights are real, so they don’t last too long and are pretty rough. Why is this good – because we’ve never seen it done (or at least modern audiences haven’t). Now-a-days. it’s all CGI and fake stunts in today’s action films!

This movie has the feel of a 70’s movie, gritty realistic action that sometimes is down played, but that makes the movie all the better! It also has kick ass blaxploitation soundtrack, which I will be buying large, and Gina is great in the role!

I have to add that since she is a real fighter the fights are amazing. They are realistic – she takes damage and gets a bruise that stays with her! She doesn’t always succeed in her goal, like scaling the buildings, she falls, she takes hits and it’s all good stuff.

If you know anything about action films this is a MUST see for sure. You will be really amazed at how fresh the movie feels. I also like the no music during fight scenes choice. The lack of music really makes the fights hard and rough, no bullshit in this movie.

Check it out!