Sunday, November 23, 2008

Zack and Miri Make an Excellent Movie

First off let me start by saying Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a fantastic movie. There, that was one of my easiest reviews yet. No, I’m not done actually done yet, you’re not that lucky. I am one verbose motherfucker. And you puny humans are driven by your insatiable curiosity and also by the hope that somewhere in at least one of my articles there might be some modicum of insight or accuracy. However none of this changes the fact that Zack and Miri Make a Porno is an excellent piece of cinema. If you like hilarious, entertaining movies, breasts, helping orphans, democracy or breasts then you will love this movie. Of course I do come to the table with a slight bias towards Kevin Smith, the visionary director who helmed this project and produced such modern classics as Clerks, Mallrats, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

To me Kevin Smith is truly one of the best writer/directors working in Hollywood and hands down one of the funniest people alive today.  For those of you who don’t already know this movie follows the misadventures of the titular characters as they try to make a pornographic movie in order to solve their financial woes. And of course hilarity ensues. Every new Kevin Smith movie is a real treat for me, not just because it reinforces my own proclivity towards using the fuck-word, but it’s very fascinating to see Kevin mature as a director and to see how the themes running through his movies change with his maturity. I think one of the reasons Kevin is able to connect with audiences is because we can relate to the down-to-earth scenarios and characters he presents us with. Some kids hanging out at a mall. Two dudes working at a fast food restaurant. A couple of junkies trying to stop a movie from being made about them. Heh, heh. Good times.

The movie starts off at a high school reunion where Seth Rogen (Zack) and Elizabeth Banks (Miri) reluctantly show up and meet and reconnect (read: handjob in the bathroom) with their old classmates. Miri is trying to fuck her high school crush played by Brandon “Superman” Routh who turns out to be gay. His life partner is a gay porn star played to perfection by Justin Long. This is where the idea originates for Zack who subsequently tries to convince his roommate and lifelong platonic friend to make a porno with him. And of course they find they mean more to each other than they thought.

The acting was good, and everybody seemed to having a lot of fun. Now I’m not a huge fan of Seth Rogen, but even I couldn’t dislike him in the capable hands of Kevin Smith. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the Rogenator, he has playing the lovable loser down to a tee. This is really the first time I became conscious of Elizabeth Banks and she seems like a very good actress. The one scene that stuck out to me was when Zack and Miri finally do the deed (ie. Fuck) it’s Elizabeth Banks who really sells it. I mean there is a lot of complex emotions going on in the scene and she manages to get it all across all the while having an orgasm. Kudos. Craig Robinson also stood out for me. I’m really starting to enjoy this guy on the screen. Then there were the Kevin Smith regulars Jason Mewes as Lester (Zack: What's your name? Lester: Lester... Lester the Molester Cockenschtuff. Zack: Wow. That's a great porn name. Lester : I get to pick a porn name?... Then I want to be called... Pete Jones.) and Jeff Anderson as Deacon whose best scene involves a face full or shit. Fantastic.

The strength of Kevin Smith’s movies has, in my opinion, always been the superb dialogue. I get kind of irritated when people refer to his films as “vulgar” or “crude.” While these monikers are accurate in a sense they have a kind of negative connotation. But these characters speak how most regular dudes speak in the real world. Or maybe I just really like to fucking swear. Ass. The dialogue is finely crafted by a master wordsmith and I bow to you in honour, Mr. Smith. I also kind of got irritated when people were telling me about the new Seth Rogen film Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I would reply to these people “You fucking idiot. Go eat shit and die.” A bit extreme, but it’s a Kevin Smith film that happens to star Seth Rogen. All due to respect to Rogen and the “Apatow crew” but they are not the comedy kings of Hollywood that all these idiots in the media make them out to be. They’re like the default kings when Kevin Smith is in between movies. While their films are mildly amusing, they pale with the hilarity and the heart in any of Kevin Smith’s masterpieces. Now maybe I’m biased because I love Kevin Smith, or because I love good, quality movies, but any of you communists who hated this movie can lick my balls. And you can quote my on that. Over all I give this movie a 10 out of 10 = One Shit-Covered Porn Film Maker’s Face.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blow Me, Heroes

Fuck you Heroes. Yeah, you heard me. And Tim Kring can kiss my ass too. After watching the episode this past Monday I realized once again how aggravating and emotionally exhausting it is to watch this show week to week. See, I missed the first season and watched it all on DVD, so if there was a crazy cliffhanger ending (which there seems to be in every fucking episode) I could instantly watch the next episode to see what happened and wouldn't go to bed trying to guess how the hell whatever crazy twist just assaulted my senses was going to be resolved. And then after a superb first season, Tim Kring decided to make a classic hollywood move and alienate the many fans of his popular new show by making it crap. The whole bullshit with Hiro "stuck" in the past drew on for far too long. I actually found myself getting ready to take my bathroom breaks during the part in the episode where Hiro showed up with his childhood hero Takezo Kensei (AKA Adam Monroe) instead of during the commercials. Yes, that's right, I would rather have sat through some advertisement for more absorbent tampons than sit through that shit. Hiro can control time and space! How can he possible be "stuck" in any time period?!? He just warps the fuck out.

And now I'm stuck here in the third season, which is infinitely better than the second season despite some shifty writing devices (So Nikki Sanders was one of a set of triplets? I mean seriously, if Ali Larter has some kind of air-tight contract then put her in flashbacks or some shit. Triplets? Really?? That's the BEST you could do?). And I love the show and the fact that a show about super heroes is on prime time, I'm just tired of the constant cliff-hanger endings and the overall slow pace of the show despite more action per capita than the two previous seasons. Seriously, I am sick of this shit. I mean two episodes ago Hiro all of the sudden stabs Ando through the heart because crazy fear-strength guy tells him to? You knew something had to be afoot, but still the writing left no clue so it could have been that Hiro had become a complete and total asshole. And now Peter is finally going to stir some shit up and he finds his father (still alive for some reason) who STEALS HIS FUCKING POWERS?!? And then the show just ENDS!!!! Honestly, I was up half the night, and I was actually stressed out by this shit. It is so infuriating watching this show. I love it, but I'm probably going to have to wait for the DVD to come out to watch the rest of it, because I simply cannot watch a show every week that raises my blood pressure like that. It's like having psychological blue-balls (is that one word or two?) every week trying to wrap my head around the ending. And I'm sick of it. So now I have to find a way to masturbate my psyche to relieve all this fucking stress. I've got one more word for you Tim Kring: fuck. Just, fuck. I love your show, but I hate it so, so much at the same time.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Screen Legend Paul Newman Dead at 83

I know this post is a bit late, but for those of you haven't heard Paul Newman is dead. He passed away on September 26, 2008 losing a long battle to cancer. He is one of the few actors who has reached true Legendary status and is an iconic figure in cinematic history. From the sound of it he was also a pretty great guy in real life as well. Besides the fact that he was married for fifty years (to the same woman), a feat almost completely unheard of in Hollywood, he was also a philanthropist of massive proportions. All proceeds from the Newman's Own food line that bore his name and image were donated to charity.

Before he left us, though, he gave us countless unforgetable performances. From his classic on-screen team-ups with Robert Redford in the classics "The Sting", and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (a personal favourite of mine) all the way to "The Color of Money" and 2002's "Road to Perdition" there was never a role that he did not seem to embrace wholeheartedly. He always seemed to effortlessly enter into the headspace of all the characters he portrayed and take the audience on the journey with him. He truly was a giant of a man and his legacy will undoubtedly live on for generations to come.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Virtually Musical

For those of you who haven’t been swept up in the tidal wave of musical/rhythm gaming and the seemingly never-ending peripherals that accompany them then let me just say that you don’t know what you’re missing. Why spend years practicing on so-called “real” instruments only to never realize your dream of playing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to a crowd of undulating, naked women when you can become a quote-unquote “Guitar Hero” in a matter of weeks with cheap, plastic instruments? I do have some musical ability (What’s the hold up with Piano Hero, biatches?) and I would practice every so often, but I mean, what’s the point? Now I can merely hook up “Rock Band” or “Guitar Hero,” skulk away to the basement for an hour or twelve avoiding all human contact (Except for my “bandmates.” Totally non-gay, even though we’re all guys and like to play naked.) and rock out to my favourite tunes.

If you haven’t been keeping track then let me fill you in. “Rock Band 2” is currently set for release On September 14th for the Xbox, October 19th for the PS3 and November 18th for the Wii. This is, of course, to the best of my knowledge. I seriously hope it’s accurate though, because my friend has an Xbox, a lot of disposable income, and an addiction to rhythm gaming that rivals my own. It also means he needs somebody to help him test out the newest addition to the gaming family. (Hint: It’s me.) Now I hear that “Guitar Hero: World Tour” is due out on the October 27th, although I don’t believe it has been officially confirmed. While several people have taken sides in the rhythm gaming “war” I love both franchises. Both games have aspects that I like and others I’m not so keen on, but I would gladly own both of them if my budget and usable living area would allow it. What can I say? I’m a consumer whore. I freely admit to owning several editions of the same movie, so I would have no qualms about multiple plastic instruments. Whatever makes you feel good on the inside.

I know the full track listing for “Rock Band 2” has been out for a while, but the “GH:WT” track listing was just officially released, and I am totally stoked for both games. Below is the track listing for the new instalment of the “Guitar Hero” money-grab –er –I mean instalment. Bon app├ętit.
311 - "Beautiful Disaster"
30 Seconds To Mars - "The Kill"
Airbourne - "Too Much Too Young"
The Allman Brothers Band - "Ramblin' Man"
Anouk - "Good God"
The Answer - "Never Too Late"
At The Drive-In - "One Armed Scissor"
Beastie Boys - "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"
Beatsteaks - "Hail to the Freaks"
Billy Idol - "Rebel Yell"
Black Label Society - "Stillborn"
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - "Weapon of Choice"
blink-182 - "Dammit"
Blondie - "One Way or Another"
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band - "Hollywood Nights"
Bon Jovi - "Livin' On A Prayer"
Bullet For My Valentine - "Scream Aim Fire"
Coldplay - "Shiver"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Up Around The Bend"
The Cult - "Love Removal Machine"
Dinosaur Jr. - "Feel The Pain"
The Doors - "Love Me Two Times"
Dream Theater - "Pull Me Under"
The Eagles - "Hotel California"
The Enemy - "Aggro"
Filter - "Hey Man, Nice Shot"
Fleetwood Mac - "Go Your Own Way"
Foo Fighters - "Everlong"
The Guess Who - "American Woman"
Hush Puppies - "You're Gonna Say Yeah!"
Interpol - "Obstacle 1"
Jane's Addiction - "Mountain Song"
Jimi Hendrix - "Purple Haze (Live)"
Jimi Hendrix - "The Wind Cries Mary"
Jimmy Eat World - "The Middle"
Joe Satriani - "Satch Boogie"
Kent - "Vinternoll2"
Korn - "Freak On A Leash"
Lacuna Coil - "Our Truth"
Lenny Kravitz - "Are You Gonna Go My Way"
Linkin Park - "What I've Done"
The Living End - "Prisoner of Society"
Los Lobos - "La Bamba"
Lost Prophets - "Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)"
Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama (Live)"
Mars Volta - "L'Via L'Viaquez"
MC5's Wayne Kramer - "Kick Out The Jams"
Metallica - "Trapped Under Ice"
Michael Jackson - "Beat It"
Modest Mouse - "Float On"
Motorhead - "Overkill"
Muse - "Assassin"
Negramaro - "Nuvole e Lenzuola"
Nirvana - "About a Girl (Unplugged)"
No Doubt - "Spiderwebs"
NOFX - "Soul Doubt"
Oasis - "Some Might Say"
Ozzy Osbourne - "Crazy Train"
Ozzy Osbourne - "Mr. Crowley"
Paramore - "Misery Business"
Pat Benatar - "Heartbreaker"
R.E.M. - "The One I Love"
Radio Futura - "Escuela De Calor"
Rise Against - "Re-Education Through Labor"
Sex Pistols - "Pretty Vacant"
Silversun Pickups - "Lazy Eye"
Smashing Pumpkins - "Today"
Steely Dan - "Do It Again"
Steve Miller Band - "The Joker"
Sting - "Demolition Man (Live)"
The Stone Roses - "Love Spreads"
Stuck In The Sound - "Toy Boy"
Sublime - "Santeria"
Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger"
System of a Down - "B.Y.O.B."
Ted Nugent - "Stranglehold"
Ted Nugent's Original Guitar Duel Recording
Tokio Hotel - "Monsoon"
Tool - "Parabola"
Tool - "Schism"
Tool - "Vicarious"
Trust - "Antisocial"
Van Halen - "Hot For Teacher"
Willie Nelson - "On The Road Again"
Wings - "Band on the Run"
Zakk Wylde's Original Guitar Duel Recording

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Dark Knight: Colour me Awesome

There are certain moments in a man’s life that affect him in ways that change his entire perspective on life. Things like getting married, or the birth of my daughter. Now I know what you’re going to say. “You monster, how can you possibly even THINK of comparing the birth of your daughter to a movie!?” To which I would reply “The Dark Knight, bitch,” and you would be left with absolutely no way to come back from that shit because the sheer awesomeness of the movie would have rubbed off on me and put an end to your completely spurious argument. Because that’s how awesome The Dark Knight was. It is the ultimate answer to any situation. Boss on your ass for being late to work? Dark Knight, bitch! Cop pulls you over for speeding? Dark Knight, bitch! Saint Peter ready to turn you away from the pearly gates for years of killing kittens? Dark Knight, bitch!

Let me start out by saying thank you. Thank you so much Christopher Nolan and where have you been all my life? This movie has raised the bar not only for comic book movies but movies as a whole. It was superb, fantastic and in all respects awe-inspiring. From the opening bank robbery scene –which was deliciously twisted- to the final scene with Batman driving away as commissioner Gordon delivers his monologue to explain to his son why daddy’s friends at the police station have to try and “kill the Batman” (You see what I did there?) The Dark Knight was firing on all cylinders. Even with a running time of 152 minutes I didn’t feel like there was any part of the movie that really dragged like some movies over two hours are prone to do.

The acting was superb all around. Christian Bale was phenomenal of course. He’s really the only actor that I could buy in the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne now. He’s also one of the few guys who if I was in jail with him I would voluntarily be his bitch. Those of you who know me know that I think Bale is the shiznit (read: God’s gift to the universe) so in my eyes he can do no wrong. He could fuck my wife and kick me in the balls and I’d still lick his shoes clean, and thank him for the privilege. I loved watching Bale take Bruce Wayne on this extreme emotional journey, and drawing us all along for the ride. I also enjoyed watching Batman kick the swat team’s collective asses. I mean that one scene at the end with the radar vision dealie (sorry to get so technical there) was not only a wicked action scene, it was also ten times better than the entire Daredevil movie. (I only make the comparison because of the same visual effect used in both movies. Obviously The Dark Knight did it much better.)

The other awesome performance, of course, was the late Heath Ledger as Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker. If I hadn’t already known that Mr. Ledger was portraying the Crown Prince of Crime, I would have had absolutely no idea. I mean, you really have to give the guy kudos for getting so lost in the role. It was truly an amazing performance, and it is forever etched in my brain, but in a good way. Not the I-saw-Kevin Bacon’s-penis-in-Wild Things-and-almost-threw-up-and-was-so-pissed-off-because-they-showed-his-shlong-but-not-Neve Campbell’s-tits kind of way. He truly was one of the all time great movie villains. Ledger took the character from homicidally psychotic to comedically endearing within a matter of seconds. I mean there were a million awesome quotes from The Joker: pretty much everything was pure gold. “Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos.” I mean that pretty much sums it up right there. This Joker wasn’t some punk leading a bunch of goons. He was a force of nature. He was a disaster. He was a tsunami of destruction. Fantastic.

And of course the rest of the cast was great. Gary Oldman was amazing as usual. I really love his characterization of Commissioner Gordon. He really brought the character to life as a competent, vulnerable, honourable cop who is in it for the right reasons. In the film he is really as incorruptible as the Joker says Batman is. I love how he is kind of thrust into the role as Commissioner, as he really has no political ambitions and I could really see that kind of conflict being set up for a possible third flick (wistful thinking at this point, I know). And the scene at the end when Two-Face has his son, well, Oldman really was the one who sold that scene with his raw emotion.

Speaking of Two-Face, Aaron Eckhart was also another excellent casting choice. Props go out to Chris Nolan as well (Yeah, ‘Chris’ is what his friends call him. Snatch!) for really bringing an otherwise two-dimensional character and made him part of his dark and twisted vision. Harvey Dent really was the emotional core of the movie, and I felt his transformation was especially heart-wrenching considering the emotional context. Eckhart really did a good job of portraying the “white knight” district attorney and the homicidal maniac. I loved it when he screamed “Shut-up!” at that off-duty cop. I don’t know why, but I could really feel the rage of the character in that line.

Another smart move was to replace Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal. I really felt that Katie was the weakest part of the first movie (Actually, the only weak part of the first movie. Yeah, fuck you Joey.) and I’ve always been a fan of Ms. Gyllenhaal. She’s straight up a better actor than Katie Holmes, and just pound for pound hotter than the brunette from Dawson’s Creek.

The plot was fantastic. Like I said before, it never let up, but I never felt overwhelmed either. There were a lot of really beautiful shots which were obviously done to make the IMAX experience that much more IMAX-y with Batman standing on various rooftops from Gotham all the way to Japan city. I loved how the Joker caused his chaos by putting people in these situations that caused some kind of moral dilemma (“Ernest Goes to the Beach” vs. “Ernest Doesn’t go to the Beach”). It was really twisted. And this movie showed the detective side of Batman a lot more than the first one which was cool because we got to see the character grow. Then there was the new Bat-suit which let Batman turn his head from side to side. That seems like one of those important things he probably should have thought of from the beginning, like a zipper on the front of the suit so he can take a piss. Or maybe the suit has a built-in catheter. That’s one for the internet discussion boards.

It was also very interesting to see Batman’s relationship with the police. It was kind of a love/hate relationship, although the cops seemed to grudgingly welcome his help (Except, of course when he was kicking their collective asses.) And then the reversal at the end when Batman takes the blame for Two-Face’s rampage and the cops then start to hunt him down. (“Why do we have to chase him daddy?” “Because he can take it.”) There were a lot of really cool ideas, but the one that really struck me was this idea that sometimes “people deserve more than the truth.” I mean for a comic book movie that the squares would scoff at as mindless entertainment, the film really does a good job of exploring some really tricky moral issues and really makes you think about what is right and what is wrong and how tricky those terms can be. In short, it was a well-written, well-acted, well-executed cinematic masterpiece. Consider me officially impressed. I definitely give this movie a 10/10 = One Laughing Joker's Head of Chaos

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Every once in a while there is a movie that captures the spirit of its time. A movie that explores the depths of one man’s soul as he struggles to find a place in a world that has shunned him and win back the only woman he’s ever loved… and then turns into a giant, green monster that smashes the shit out of anything and everything in his path. That movie is The Incredible Hulk, the second independently produced Marvel flic (the first of course being Iron Man). And I don’t think that I’d be alone in saying Marvel is two for two so far. Bravo, Mr. Hulk. You are truly a credit to the Marvel pantheon of colourful characters they occasionally whore out to the silver screen to make some extra cash and try to breathe life back into suffering comic book sales.

I was very impressed by Iron Man but it was with great trepidation that I went to see The Incredible Hulk despite Iron Man’s success. And who could blame me, what with the terrible incarnation of the Big Green Dude in Ang Lee’s film way back in 2003. But I needn’t have feared. I’ll start off with the special effects for a change. They were phenomenal. I mean you can’t beat Lou Ferrigno covered in green body paint with some tattered purple shorts to hide his Hulk-junk, but I guess we’ll have to settle for second best. The Hulkster himself looked great, very bestial and rough-and-tumble. They even went so far as to give the Hulk stubble. How adorable! There were several sequences where you really got to see what the green guy could do, especially that last totally ass-kicking last battle sequence with The Abomination. Simply delicious.

Now what really makes a movie is a coherent idea or set of ideas that its creators sets out to explore. This is one of the things the 2003 Hulk lacked severely. A wacked out Nick Nolte turning into some kind of elemental … thing, and Hulk dogs? Seriously? Thankfully the new film (though not technically a sequel) was not tainted by this stupid shit. Instead we find Bruce Banner, a tortured man on the run, trying to deal with his inner demons, and seeking a way to live in peace and harmony. (But instead he gets angry and smashes stuff. Boo-yah!) Then you had the antagonists played excellently by William Hurt (Gen. “Thunderbolt” Ross), and Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky). The great thing about this movie is that the conflict between all the main characters is firmly established as is their motivation for doing what they do, so you don’t end up with any “Why the fuck is he DOING that?!?!” moments halfway through the film.

Obviously the writing is one of the things that sets this movie apart from other comic book movies (as in surprisingly good, not painfully ridiculous. I’m looking at you Punisher). Now throughout production of this film there were rumours aplenty that Edward Norton was up to his allegedly meddling ways again, what with rewriting parts of the script. I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is kudos, Ed. And kudos to Zak Penn, the dude who got the writing credit for working on an Ed Norton script (You see what I did there? Damn I’m funny.).

Speaking of Ed Norton, lets speak of Ed Norton. I bought him as Bruce Banner much more easily than Eric Bana back in the 2003 film. I really hate to keep coming back to the earlier, crappier movie, but it provides a frame of reference. Not only is Ed Norton simply a better actor than Mr. Bana (don’t get me wrong, I like Bana), but I bought Norton more as the scrawny scientist. Now that’s a good thing. Norton is one of those actors who can really immerse himself into a role not only into that headspace but also the body type as well (Think of the difference of the Ed in American History X and the Ed in Fight Club. That’s what we in “the biz” call The Norton Factor.). All in all Ed Norton made an excellent Bruce Banner and really got me emotionally invested in the movie.

While part of the movie’s appeal is its accessibility to the general public and those who have not read Marvel’s entire catalogue, there are many references to Marvel mythology that offer an extra payoff for people who have read some comics (There were some parts that made me feel a little funny in my pants.). There is reference to the super soldier serum, a huge shout out to The Leader (check it out on, biatch!) and of course Iron Man as the born-again Robert Downey Jr. makes a brief appearance at the end of the movie. All of which makes me all a little antsy in my pantsy for The Avengers movie due out whenever Marvel figures it will make the most money. All in all I would give The Incredible Hulk an 8/10 = One Giant, Green, Mutated Head of Destruction.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

George Carlin Dead at 71

By now you've probably heard the news that Mr. Carlin died several days ago on June 22 at age 71. From the reports I read he died of heart failure (and if I read it on the internet I know it must be true). I haven't heard a lot of his stand-up comedy or read a lot of his stuff, but what I have heard and read is pure gold. The man was obviously a very intelligent, very talented guy. What I do remember are his roles in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back where he played the blow-job-giving hitchhiker ("Gay, straight, it's all the same. Don't be so suburban.") and to a lesser extent Ben Afleck's dad in Jersey Girl. God speed, George Carlin.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Bourne-Again Fan

Recently I was at my friend’s house and we were just hanging out together like two normal, heterosexual friends and I had the pleasure of watching The Bourne Ultimatum. I know I’m a little behind the times what with the movie being out for a year and all, but I’d still like to comment on the final (or I assume final, but you never can tell this day and age) instalment to the Bourne saga. So after talking about movies based on colourful comic book characters, video games, and watching trailers for upcoming movies my completely heterosexual friend and I each put our pants back on and started watching as Jason Bourne once again kicked some ass. Good, old-fashioned heterosexual ass. Why? What have you heard?

Now it’s been a while since I’ve seen the first two Bourne films, and I remember thinking that they were both solid action films, but lacked a little je ne sais quois, and the same goes for Ultimatum. Now all three movies are merely solid action films, the action in them is top-notch. Especially the fighting. I mean, holy shit! Jason Bourne is a one-man wrecking crew. Now I know that in the “real world” Sarah Silverman is fucking Matt Damon, but in the Bourne movies Matt Damon fucks you. As in, fucks you up. I mean what other movie are you going to see where the hero of the story beats the living shit out of the bad guy with a book? I’d hate to have seen what happened to Jason Bourne’s teachers when he got angry. Math textbook to the jugular!! Brilliant. Then the bad dude grabs a knife, and Bourne grabs a towel. And lays waste to the guy. I can only imagine if the bad guys had a tank. Jason Bourne would simply grab a nearby toothpick and fuck up an entire army. Of pirate, robot zombies. (Yeah, you read that right.)

Now the action part of these films was never in question. They did a superb job of choreographing the fight scenes and the other action elements like that car chase in the cop car. Again, loved it. The thing I didn’t like about the second two films was the camera work. Now Supremacy and Ultimatum are the only two movies I can recall seeing that were directed by Paul Greengrass so I don’t know if his other work shares the same realistic unsteadiness, but I certainly hope not. At times I thought maybe Michael Bay had stepped in. And not the delightful, old-school The Rock Michael Bay. The new-school Transformers Michael Bay who wouldn’t just give me a steady shot of those giant mechanical behemoths. Just one, steady shot. Is that really so much to ask?

The plot was typically Bourne with lots of crazy action. The characters had just enough depth that I could suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy them. (Deep enough to, say, drown a puppy, but not so deep that you could get lost at sea). I wouldn’t say all the characters weren’t two dimensional, but they were enjoyably two dimensional. For some reason Julia Stiles is back as Nicky Parsons. Maybe they kept her around to counterbalance all the raging testosterone in the movie, or because she’s passably hot, or maybe it was some kind of contractual thing. Anyway, her character was a little less pointless in this movie than the previous two, and she hinted that she and Bourne (AKA David Webb) had a relationship (I assume of the sexual kind, though maybe they were roommates in college. Who the fuck cares?) but she was still completely superfluous to the plot. The FBI or CIA (or whatever agency they were fucking from) agents did an OK job, trying to track down Bourne in “real time.”

Matt Damon was good, as usual. He handles the physical stuff really well and I can believe that this guy can physically do the things he’s doing (ie. Damon’s in really good shape. I mean, from a heterosexual point of view. I don’t think about him in that way if that’s what you’re thinking.) Mr. Damon holds his own in some of the most explosive, man-on-man fighting scenes in recent movie history (except, of course, those Spartan warriors from 300. Now there were some naked dudes who were ready to rumble.) Matt Damon is, in my opinion, a great actor who has delivered tremendous performances in Good Will Hunting and The Departed, but this movie didn’t really allow Matt to demonstrate his full range of versatility. Oh well, you do the best with what you have to work with.

When I grow up I want to have trained assassins lying in wait for my enemies all around that. Assassins that will blindly track down and kill whatever name and face appears on their cell phones. I could really go for a couple of “assets” right about now. The whole operation Blackbriar thing and Bourne’s back story are good, and the final scene which mirrors the opening scene of the Bourne Identity very nicely really felt like they were trying to “wrap up” the trilogy (as much as any trilogy is wrapped up these days) and add coherence to the whole series. Overall I really enjoyed the Bourne Supremacy and looking back I realize how solid the other two movies were. And I suppose these movies are as close to the hardcore action movies of the 80’s and 90’s as this generation is going to get. This trilogy is the heir apparent to greats such as Die Hard and Indiana Jones and I suppose they could have had worse offspring. The Bourne Supremacy is a good movie with some straight-up, raging heterosexual action scenes. So for the trilogy as a whole I will give a generous 8/10 = One Bullet-riddled Terrorist Head

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Baffling Fourth Installment

All right after a slight delay due to a brownout situation I was finally able to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Now, I have been ruminating over this fourth installment in the saga for the last two days, running over the events in the film, and of course comparing it to the original three. I think what I'm going to do is write this review like a compliment sandwich: first I'll say something I liked, then something I didn't like, followed by (you guessed it) something I liked. What you can infer from this is that I have mixed emotions about the film and that I am devilishly handsome. You can also infer that there will be spoilers aplenty. Well maybe you can't infer it, but I'm telling you anyway.

First of all we will explore the goodness. What really struck me were some of the action scenes. There were some classic, honest to goodness, plain old-fashioned Indy action scenes. Take, for example, the opening scene in the Area 51 bunker. Even though Indiana is obviously older my suspension of disbelief (and I will be using this term quite frequently) allowed me to enjoy him climbing over crates, swinging from rafters, and just generally raising hell with the Russians. That whole scene was awesome. And then the big Russian dude with the chain beating the shit out of the aging archeaologist only to have the tables turned on him: classic. When the movie started off this way I thought "Okay. This could still be good." I was pumped. I was excited.

And then Indy escaped to the atomic testing site and (hold on to your fedoras) SURVIVED A NUCLEAR BLAST! The only thing that didn't survive was my suspension of disbelief. But wait. He was in a lead-lined fridge, and the bomb wasn't dropped directly on the city, and the fridge was blown far away. Okay. Suspension of disbelief might be ressurected if Indy doesn't do anything like that again. Anyway, as I was saying, excellent old-school Indy action. The motorcycle chase: great. Indy fighting crazy mask-wearing natives: great. Dr. Jones in a classic fist-fight against a big guy with a foreign accent whilst surrounded by flesh-eating ants: priceless. The old guy still knows how to rumble. I thought it was great how Indiana Jones was basically this force of nature that was unleashed on the bad guys (see: Indy jumping onto a vehicle full of Russians and knocking them all over like a bunch of bowling pins. Evil communist bowling pins.).

OK now for something I didn't like. Special effects. Yeah, I had the sneaking suspicion that Lucas would want to fuck up the movie with crazy special effects but I figured Spielberg would have kept him in line. How wrong I was. The best example (and by best I mean worst) is Mutt swinging through the jungle with his new monkey friends. Computer animated monkey friends. My question is: Why? Why would they want to subject us to this level of shititude? There are several other examples of this throughout the film (SURVIVED A NUCLEAR FUCKING BLAST!) but the creme de la creme, the cherry on the shit-cake was the final scene of the movie (not counting the wedding which felt so tacked-on). First of all they show us the alien, then the crazy ship which lays waste to the entire place. But it looked so... un-Indiana Jones-like. And I'm not trying to be a wet blanket here. If you look back at the first three movies there is always some kind of supernatural power, although the other ones were spiritual. So honestly aliens aren't that far of a stretch, and fuck you if you think that it is. The special effects just seemed so out of place and you just knew that the actors were just standing in front of a green screen. Even in some of the action sequences (see jungle chase scene) the in-your-face special effects really made it tough for me to enjoy what I was watching.

Okay now for something good. There were a bunch of nods to the other movies. The picture of Sean Connery as Henry Jones Sr. (now deceased), the Ark in the warehouse, and the statue of Brody really invoked that sense of nostalgia for the originals. Of course the flip side to this is that it felt like the movie was trying too hard to connect itself to the originals, like it needed to prove it was an Indiana Jones movie. It was kind of like a teenager with a fake I.D. trying to convince the bartender to give him a drink, and then the bartender looks down and says "Sorry, no Crystal Skulls allowed in here" and he goes into the corner and cries.

The acting was good, and there were some memorable scenes, but overall it was just good. Not great. I was surprised and relieved to find that Shia LaBeouf did not ruin the entire movie. I don't know why but I just have a hate-on for this kid. I've only ever seen him in Transformers and he had a solid performance and I know there's no reason for me to dislike him, but everytime I see him I just want to punch him square in the face. Just fucking unleash on the kid. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just an angry person. But he did a pretty good job. Karen Allen was a little less entertaining. Was it just me or was she smiling the whole time? I mean even when they go over the giant waterfall ("Drop three times." Suspension of disbelief fading... fading...) and she's sitting on the shore holding the wheel from the crazy communist car-boat she's still smiling like she's wearing a pair of vibrating underwear. I could have swallowed a lot more of the movie a lot easier if the actors had sold it a bit more. Even in the most dangerous moments a lot of the main characters didn't seem all that concerned (see: Karen Allen smiling like she's high on crack).

John Hurt was impeccable as always. It doesn't matter what he does he does a great job. Cate Blanchett was a good choice. She did a good job as the bad guy and it looked like she was having some fun with the role. Now I've loved Ray Winstone ever since I saw him in Sexy Beast ("Oh, yeah. Bloody hell. I'm sweating in here. Roasting. Boiling. Baking. Sweltering.") but his character didn't seem all that fleshed out. This is not Ray's fault. Ray did a great job. But for a main antagonist I just didn't get a good feel for the character or his motivation, or why Indiana kept him around until the very end! Is he a triple agent? It must be the senility kicking in.

Last but not least was the Big Whip himself, Harrison Ford. Now there were some times in the movie when it felt like old times, but then there were times when it felt less like Indiana Jones and more like Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. There was some good work on Ford's part as we saw into Henry Jones Jr.'s professional life and to see the kind of lonely, old professor he had become. Although he had the Dean who resigned to protect him (and with barely a word of thanks from Indy. Or a promise to help him and his wife financially. For god's sake man, this guy was willing to quit his job for you, at least buy him a coke or get him a hooker or something.). While not quite up to par, I think Ford still gave a solid performance.

I'm just about to wrap this up because I realize that I've been going on for some time. The reason is I think I'm so torn about this movie. There was so much that I liked (I hope when I travel I can get the magic Red Line of Power to trace my path) and so much that I wanted to like because it was Indiana jones, but there was also so much that tested my faith. I mean I could forgive SURVIVING A NUCLEAR BLAST!, the crazy Mummy-style antics (Bugs that eat people whole? You can't tell me that you didn't think of Brendan Fraser during that whole scene. Or Ray Winstone trying to steal all that stuff at the end just like the douche bag Beni in the Mummy. Yeah, who cares what his real name is.) the selective magnetism of the Crystal Skull, and the over the top humour, and the whole lack of follow-up on the CIA investigating Indy thread, but on the other hand I shouldn't have to do all this forgiving to enjoy a movie.

This is the kind of movie that I think I'm going to enjoy a lot more the second time I see it. As far as twenty-year-later sequels go, it is definitely better than that piece of crap Live Fee or Die Hard but not quite as poignant as Rocky Balboa. I mean the last scene of The Last Crusade was this iconic riding off into the sunset and this sort of reconciliation between father and son. Now the series leaves off with a cheesy wedding scene? This fourth movie just seemed to lack the scope of the first three. Would I recommend seeing this movie? Yes. It is still Indiana Jones, and although it is definitely the worst of the series, the worst Indiana Jones movie is still better than most of the crap that comes out these days. Rating: 7/10 = Glowing Crystal Skull

Monday, May 12, 2008

Summer Movie Season 2008

The hits just keep on coming. The summer started off with a bang with the awesomeness of Ironman and it looks like the trend will continue. Well hopefully. While I am definitely looking forward to Indianna Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (I love the trend towards succinct movie titles these days. Yeah I'm looking at you X-Men Origins: Wolverine) it is with great trepidation that I await its release on May 22. While it is without question that I will pay my hard-earned cash to see the movie because I am a consumer whore I think my worries about 20 year old sequels is at least slightly justified. Take, for example, Live Free or Die Hard. I would choose to live free: free from shitty, money-grab sequels that leave me with the aftertaste of a steamed testicle sandwich. I think it would be shorter to list everything that was good about that steaming pile of crap than to include the laundry list of sickeningly awful garbage that made up the bulk of the film.

There are several reasons I think the new Indy flick will not succomb to the same trap. First of all there is the god of sci-fi geeks everywhere, his majesty George Lucas. It seems everything this man touches turns to liquid money that flows right into his bank account. I mean even with his constant (and often bafflling) desire to alienate his devoted fans with suicide-inducingly annoying characters like Jar-Jar Binks and scene altering of his own holy teachings (Greedo shooting first? WTF?) he continues to make money hand over fist. The second reason is Steven Spielberg. Who among us has not been touched at some point by one of his magical movies? From classics like Jaws or Close Encounters of the Third Kind (so close encounters of the fourth kind... some kind of anal penetration?) to movies that just blew your fucking mind when you saw them like Jurassic Park or Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has more than proven his ability to direct the shit out of a movie. And while we can agree that Mr. Lucas is a cinematic visionary, he can't hold a candle to Senior Spielbergo when it come to directing (and congratulations to those of you who picked up on the Simpsons reference). The final reason is, of course, Harrison Ford who is a great actor and has helped create, dare I say it, the greatest on-screen action adventure character in the history of the universe? (Sorry Jesus).

The next movie, titled The Incredible Hulk, follows the tale of a simple man who seeks only compassion and understanding in the world. And when he doesn't find it WHAM! he turns into a giant green monster who will smash you and eat your kids for breakfast. While there is absolutely no logical reason why I should look forward to this movie following the mind-raping I sustained from the last Hulk movie (simply titled Hulk) I am still excited about this film. First of all they have Ed Norton, whom I love as an actor (and as a life-partner if he'd ever return my calls. What happened to us Ed?). This will also be the second independently produced film from Marvel, the first being Iron Man. Now after seeing that movie a glimmer of hope shone in my eye that they might produce... (wait for it)... a Hulk movie that didn't suck balls.

But of course the icing on the proverbial cake (mmmm.... cake) for any sane, semi-intelligent, red-blooded movie-goer this season is The Dark Knight. I mean unless you've been living under a rock or are deaf, dumb, and blind (and that's still no excuse) you have to have heard of this movie. If you are a fan of good superhero movies, or good movies in general then you must be in tune with the Batman. This movie has to be awesome. It just has to. Everything I believe to be true and good in my life is based on the fact that The Dark Knight will be amazing. If it's not I don't know what I'll do. I will have to reconsider every decision I have ever made in my life. Up is down, black is white, Grease was actually the best movie ever made. From what I've seen and read so far this movie is going to rock, and rock hard.
The first reason is one word: Christian Bale. OK, it's actually two words, but if Christian Bale told be two words was one word I'd believe him because he is a great actor and all-around better person than me. In my opinion I think Christian Bale is hands down the best actor working in Hollywood today. Who can play Batman? Christian Bale. Movie about Stephen Hawking? Christian Bale. Bio-pic about Rosa Parks? Call up Christian Bale. Second is the late Heath Ledger. Truly a great talent and from what I've seen of the Joker so far I am impressed. This Joker is a scary, murdering psychopath. In other words a true villain. Then you have Christopher Nolan in the director's seat. I don't know but after Memento I would trust this guy not only with any movie project but also the life and the life of my family (there's always a babysitting job ready for you at my house if this whole movie thing doesn't work out). Then he comes out with Batman Begins and The Prestige, the old double-whammy. Superb, just superb.

So there it is, my hope for the future (Well, the immediate future. Well, the immediate future of movies anyway). If you don't agree you can go sit on a cattle prod because unfortunately here in the Western Hemisphere we have the right to free speech, and until that changes (support Proposition 92!) I am still free to voice my opinion on a wide range of topics from movies to... something else I get excited about. BBQ maybe? Until next time I hope you enjoy the 2008 summer movie season.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Awesomeness that is Iron Man

I was recently witness to a cinematic experience that renewed my faith in both God and man. And yes, as you can guess by the title of this article, that film was Iron Man. As Marvel's first time out of the gate with a movie produced entirely by themselves without the interference, er, I mean partnership with a major motion picture studio it was an unquestionable success. Of course only time and box office numbers will tell if Iron Man is a success in the true sense of the word (ie. money) but as an obsessive moviewatcher, casual comic book reader (very little background in reading Iron Man comics), and general fan of awesomeness, I was definitely impressed. The special effects were superbly blended with the live action actors, the plot was well-thought out, and Robert Downey Jr. did a fantastic job as usual. And of course there is the wonderful direction of Jon Favreau (yeah, that guy from Swingers).

The casting obviously was a major part of what made this movie great. Cudos to Robert Downey Jr. for playing himself: a drunken, womanizing celebrity who exudes charisma from virtually every bodily oriface. He did a fantastic job of portraying Tony Stark, mixing the right amounts of humour, arrogance and humanity that made him so accessible to the audience. This was a great character study of a "flawed" hero. His chronic drinking (I mean, who brings alcohol to a weapons deal? I'm no expert, but ever since my uncle lost his leg after my cousin's 17th birthday party I have been a big supporter of the philosophy that "Booze and guns don't mix" let alone "Booze and weapons of mass destruction don't mix), and inability to commit to a serious adult relationship (Banging the reporter who questioned your ethical obligations as a weapons manifacturer: priceless) really brought him to the level of a mortal man, rather than some kind of goody-goody, indestructible super man.

Of course it was great seeing Jeff Bridges playing a bad guy. Ever since The Big Lebowski I have loved that guy. Of course after that flick I always think of Jeff Bridges as The Dude (He was a lazy man, and my personal hero) and it's difficult for me to reconcile the fact that he doesn't have a white russian in one hand, a roach in the other, and a flabby stoner's body, but he does an excellent job in Iron Man as the antagonist Obadiah Stane. Gwyneth Paltrow, who I was very surprised to see in this type of film, did an excellent job as usual. I've always loved Gwyneth (that's right, we're on a first name basis). She has an elegant beauty and she carries herself with such grace, not to mention the fact that she can act circles around most so-called actors today. It was also really cool to see Jon Favreau giving himself a small cameo in the movie. I mean, come on, wouldn't you?

As far as plot goes, this movie was lightyears better than several other superhero movies (need I remind you of the abomination that was Punisher?) The movie takes no time in getting into Iron Man's origin. It was pretty hardcore, what with Tony Stark being kept alive with a car battery at one point and crazy exploratoy surgery in some dank cave in Afganistan. I particularly enjoyed the lack of a sappy love story, although I did enjoy the interplay between Tony and Penny. I think that Jon Favreau really handled Tony Stark's motivation for becoming the metallic hero very well, not getting too cheesy, or having Tony suddenly swing from horny-drunken-millionaire-playboy to ultra-noble-tights-wearing-boyscout. Of course there was plenty of ass-kicking action leading up to the final metal-suit-wearing-man on metal-suit-wearing-man action. I don't know but watching giant metal humanoids fight each other to the death always makes me blow my load (thanks again Transformers for getting me through so many lonely, lonely nights). And thank you Iron Man for helping clean out my pipes again.

So overall impressions of this film? Excellent. Is it my favourite superhero movie of all time? Sorry to Mr. Stark and Mr. Favreau, but no. I can't really think of anything wrong with the movie ("The truth is.... I am Iron Man.") I still don't think it's quite as good as Spider-Man 2 or my personal favourite Batman Begins (which I'm sure will be knocked down to number two once I see The Dark Knight). But if this is a sign of things to come from Marvel's new line of independently-produced movies then I am definitely sold. It also gives me hope for the new Hulk movie. Overall I was very impressed and can't wait to own this puppy on DVD (or Blu-Ray now I guess). What a great start to the 2008 summer movie season. Let's hope it's a sign of things to come, because I just bought a bunch of new underwear just waiting to be creamed in.
Rating 8.5/10 = Shining Metal Helmet of Heroism