Thursday, October 08, 2009

Review for Transformers 2

It's been three or four months now so I guess I should post some kind of review for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I've been putting it off for some time, but it's been weighing on my mind and I can't continue posting about any other movies until I get this shitheap off my pile. It represents everything that is wrong in our society today. I couldn't even come up with a clever title for the post because there is nothing clever about this movie at all.

First of all let's be honest with ourselves. This is a sequel to a movie based on another movie based on a cartoon show based on a series of toys from the 80's; we're not exactly expecting Shakespeare here (Or for our younger audience, we're not exactly expecting whatever-fuckhead-whose-name-I-can't-be-bothered-to-look-up-who-wrote-those-stupid-Twilight-books here.). But as an avid movie-goer and a concerned citizen of at least average intelligence I expected some kind of substance, some... thing, some glue to hold the whole mess together. Instead what I got was what felt like several different stories kind of mashed together a shitload of special effects shoved down my throat, some of the most annoying computer-generated characters in the history of cinema (Totally in the running with Jar-Jar Binks), terrible dialogue, one-dimensional characters and some shots of Megan Fox's breasts and ass.

Let's start with the only (And I mean ONLY) good thing about this movie: the mind-blowing special effects. It is quite obvious that Transformers do indeed exist and that they are indeed on Michael Bay's payroll. That is the only explanation as to how realistic they look on the screen. They have to be real. Everything I know depends on it.

The rest of the movie I could easily have done without. It's like Bay sat back and thought "Hmmmmmm, I wonder what would happen if I took everything that was wrong with the first movie and multiplied it by a factor of fifty in the second movie..." Well wonder no more, because here it is. The annoying and pointless human characters are even more annoying and pointless. I wanted to kill Sam Witwicky's parents. That whole opening scene where they're moving him into college was excrutiating to watch and not funny in the least. Weed brownies? WTF were you thinking Bay, you glorious bastard. This scene is even worse than the "masturbation discussion" from the first film. The problem isn't with the weed or the masturbation, as I normally find these things quite amusing. The problem was they were completely out of context and did not fit in this film. Also they were completely and utterly surpurfluous to the (*insert sarcastic laugh here*) plot. Then they brought back John Turturro's character, who is completely useless and annoying as hell. There were a bunch of others, but who cares? I came to see a movie called Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen not Humans: Out of Two Billion Sperm This is the Best We Could Do?

And then there were the Transformers themselves. There must have been at least a hundred this time, so the film lost focus and I didn't know who was who, nor did I care. The film did not build any kind of empathy for any robotic characters. I know it's a summer blockbuster about giant robots, but there is still this little thing we like to call "good writing." Just small little character arcs or personality traits. This comes with the proviso that these personality traits are not racially offensive or just plain annoying. I'm not sure exactly how racially offensive the twins actually were not being as sensitive to that kind of stuff but I'm pretty sure some cultural groups were being stereotyped there in a terrible, terrible way. No nuance at all. I am, however, as my wife will attest to an expert in annoying, and the Twins were fucking annoying as hell. Every time they came on screen I couldn't help but cringe as I remembered that I actually paid ten dollars to be subjected to this shit. The next time I give Michael Bay ten dollars it had better be for a handjob and an apology. In that order. Then there was the tiny Decepticon humping Megan Fox's leg for some reason, and the old Decepticon Jetfire who had a beard and farted out parachutes for some reason. And of course the giant balls on Devastator which were both disturbing and erotic all at the same time. There were just too many transformers on screen, although it was kind of cool to see Soundwave -an old favourite of mine- show up and cause some shit, even if he wasn't a boombox.

Enough of that shit. Let's briefly examine the "story" of this film. First ehy bring Megatron back to life (of course) and we find out that he isn't even badass, he's just a puppet for this Fallen guy, which to me totally detracts from the strength of that character. Then there are Transformers that can FUCKING TRANSFORM INTO HUMANS!!!! And after it happens there is NO MENTION OF IT AGAIN IN THE REST IF THE MOVIE!!! To me this would be fucking mindblowing, seeing some girl I was trying to bang turn into a robot, but after they dispatch her, they never speak of her again, and this plot device is never used again. Why don't they send hundreds of these robots in disguise as humans to terminate any resistence... oh. Yeah I guess there's the whole ripping off of another franchise thing. But if you were a Decepticon wouldn't you send these infiltrator units to disrupt your enemy and kill them from the inside? Be deceptive if you will? I thought it was a huge thread to drop anyway. Then there's the death of Optimus Prime (Oh, did I forget that SPOILER ALERT again?) which you know must be totally bogus, and it turns out that it is. Then there's the backstory of the Primes and the Matrix of Leadership which all just seems so, not-well thought out. Then there's the convenient plot devices like Jetfire's ability to teleport for some reason, that's used once and never again. The symbols that Sam reads and fucks his brain up, which is also completely forgotten about even though it is the catalyst for the whole story. Not even a mention of it later in the movie. Then when Sam is near death he for some reason ends up in the Transformer's afterlife. So, if I befriend a bunch of strippers, when I die do I go to stripper heaven?

Alright I'm tired of talking about this. Long story short: amazing special effects, terrible everything else (Except for that first shot of Megan Fox's ass and maybe those gigantic robot balls...).

I give this movie a 3/10= One Evil Decepticon Head Being Crushed Between Giant Robotic Balls

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What the Poets are Doing

Almost two months ago now (time really flies when you're not having fun) I had the honour and the privelege to see one of my favourite bands -the Tragically Hip- live in concert. For those of you not in the know the Tragically Hip consists of Gordon Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, and Johhny Fay. I don't know what it is, but ever since I started listening to them something just touched me on a musical level. And not the bad kind of touching like your priest when you were twelve behind the pulpit. The good kind like from a naked Kristen Bell. They can rock hard with the best of them, but for me they are at their best when they are slow and grooving. I could seriously listen to their shit all day long every day and never get tired of it, as my wife will attest to after popping one of my Tragically Hip mix CD's (All music aquired legally of course.) out of the car CD player for like the 90th day in a row. Plus they are a Canadian band which kind of helped sway me over being that I am in fact Canadian, and damn proud of it. If you listen to the lyrics there are tons of Canadian references in their songs, but its not overt like they've got something to prove. I also thoroughly enjoy the lyrics of their songs which are at times so bizarre and esoteric that I cannot help but be mesmerized in between trying to figure out what they mean, trying to apply my own meaning, wondering if they have any meaning at all, and just grooving out, bobbing my head to the beat. Tragically Hip lyrics are for me -at times- like musical marijuana.

But I digress. I haven't been to a lot of concerts, which I'm really starting to regret now and hope to remedy in the future. The few concerts I have been to I always have mixed emotions. When the concert started and the Hip came out on stage it happened again. I was filled with two overwhelming emotions: wonder and disillusionment all at the same time. I mean here are these beings, these musicians, these performers who had previously existed only in modern-day mythology and existed somewhere far away making albums that I bought at my local Wal-Mart and they are actually standing right in front of me. And part of me is in awe because these are the geniuses behind a large part of the soundtrack of my life, who create these amazing works of art, and the other part of me is thinking how small they actually seem. You expect giants, and these musicians seem so small in comparison. You expect gods, but you get men. I'm sure most people go to a concert and just sit back and enjoy the music and don't have some sort of existential, philosophical crisis, but I'm not most people. I know this might sound negative, but I was totally pumped about the show and they did not disappoint, and it was reassuring in some strange way to realize that they were just flesh and blood like me, like if these men were capable of these amazing things then perhaps I too -a mere mortal- might also be capable of great and terrible deeds.

The concert got off to a great start with "New Orleans is Sinking" and took off from there. There was some newer stuff I wasn't familiar with off their latest album (hey, I'm a fan, but I'm not made of money and I usually wait until something goes on sale before I buy it) but they gave a good mix of their newer and older stuff. The songs that really stood out in my mind were: "In View", "Ahead By a Century", "Blow at High Dough", "Wheat Kings", "Bobcaygeon", "Morning Moon", "Courage", "Poets", "Scared", "The Depression Suite" and "Music at Work". The crowd really seemed to go crazy for "Blow at High Dough" and "Bobcaygeon" and I can't say that I blame them. The Hip are great performers and put on an amazing show. I mean there were no crazy pyrotechnics or anything, just the sheer energy that they pumped out into the crowd was amazing, almost tangible. The lead singer Gordon Downie really put the "front" in front man. His energy level was amazing and he was busting out the dance moves. He also pantomimed a robbery at the hands of his microphone stand and used his mic stand to paddle an invisible canoe across the stage. He also had this strange obsession with handkerchiefs which he would use to wipe or cover his face then throw out into the crowd and would promptly be thrown a new one from offstage: a seemingly limitless supply.

It began raining early on in the concert, but for some reason where my friend and I were in the crowd we barely felt it. The wind was also blowing very hard and the rain was clearly being driven into the covered stage soaking the intrepid performers who seemed not to notice at all. But it was all part of the "long and difficult initiation" we endured to become their audience. At one point Downie issued an ultimatum to the crowd; it was "a point of no return" he told us. If we didn't leave at that point -about halfway through the show- then we'd have to stay until the very end. I gratefully accepted the challenge.

I know it sounds ridiculous but it was a truly spiritual experience for me. It was one of those times where time and space seemed to merge and nothing else mattered. I felt truly at peace and the music moved me. It was baptism in rain and weed smoke (which I'm pretty sure I smelled and which is pretty likely to have been at a concert especially in Canada). All in all it was an amazing experience, one I hope not to forget too soon. If you haven't seen the Tragically Hip in concert then I strongly suggest you do so ASAP.

(Also as a side note this concert was the first time I encountered hard security and I got my first pat down. Yeah I know, I don't get out much, but you can all suck my balls. Anyway, after the pat down I went over to get my wristband and I felt the urge rising up inside me. I had to comment. So I said something along the lines of "Was it wrong if that felt good?" The wristband guy just kind of gave me this look and quickly put my wristband on and sent me on my way. My friend (who we'll call Bonegod because that's one of his aliases) could only shake his head in amusement and embarrassment. I guess its a good thing I didn't ask for a happy ending. Anyway the concert was happy ending enough.)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Come With Me If You Want To Live

The aptly titled Terminator: Salvation was about as good a Terminator as we could expect to see given the circumstances. Long before the economic recession hit us we were faced with an intellectual recession which struck Hollywood particularly hard as can be evidenced with the barrage of sequels, prequels and remakes that assault our senses and insult our intellects on a weekly basis. One of the problems is the tendency of big studios to whore out their properties for a quick buck without regard for good story telling, competent acting or exploring larger concepts in any meaningful way. As with Star Trek I was extremely, extremely hesitent to get my hopes up when I heard they were making this movie. And I believe that after the crime against humanity that was Terminator 3, I tink that my apprehension was justified. Honestly when I first heard about it I had absolutely no desire to see it whatsoever. I would rather go swimming in a pool of AIDS-infected, super-intelligent, Nazi sharks than sit through Terminator 3.5 which is what I expected this movie to be. But gradually after reading more about the production, learning of Christian Bale's involvement, and eventually seeing the kick-ass trailers I was slowly won over. The power of adversising. I must admit that I am not totally impervious to it even as I am conscious of its intent.

All that being said I was very impressed with McG's entry into the Terminator pantheon. Although in my humble opinion (which, as my wife constantly reminds me, is completely irrelevent) another Terminator movie shouldn't have been made, I'm glad at least that if it had to be made it turned out to be Terminator: Salvation. Honestly James Cameron's vision was wrapped up quite nicely in Judgement Day and the way it ended didn't really lend itself well to any more sequels and he thoroughly and effectively explored some very important and powerful themes, something sorely lacking in #3 and Salvation. On the surface Terminator 2: Judgement Day was an amazing action film laced with state of the art special effects and a well-written story with characters you could empathize with. But what really made it one of the best movies of all time was that it had something to say. It explored themes like fate versus self-determinism, the value of human lif'e ("If a terminator -a machine- could learn the value of human life, then maybe we can too.") and self-sacrifice for a greater good. Plus it left off with that powerful image of the highway rolling out in front of us indicating that there was hope for the future. The new movies have been reinvented as straight up action movies, and are quite explicit in the fact that we are indeed completely fucked in the future in complete contradiction to the ending scene of Terminator 2.

I know it seems odd that I'm spending so much time review James Cameron's masterpiece when I'm supposed to be reviewing McG's paint by numbers project. This is because Judgement Day is a far superior film and without it Salvation wouldn't exist. You may also wonder why I have yet to mention the first Terminator movie that started it all. Well you can wonder no longer because I just mentioned it.

Anybody who experienced the first two Terminator movies will already know the basic plot of this movie. It outlines the ongoing war between the humans and the machines. The specifics aren't that important. It follows the exploits of John Conner, who is not yet the leader of the resistence and struggling to function within the confines of a larger beaurocracy, which seems to be becoming a common theme in movies these days and reminds me of Morphius in the two Matrix sequels. Along with this there is the story of the mysterious stranger Marcus who finds and befriends a young Kyle Reese, who as we all know ends up going back in time to become the father of John Conner in one of the most famous cinematic time paradoxes and mind-fucks of all time. Of course even if one hadn't seen all the spoilers in the trailers that had been released it wasn't too hard to figure out that Marcus was in fact some new (or old) kind of terminator. As it turns out he is some kind of new terminator with the internal organs of a human being who doesn't even know he's a terminator until about halfway through the movie. Of course all that talk about how strong his heart set off some alarm bells and you just knew it was going to come up later in the movie which it did in a slightly cheesy way.

Everybody kept raving about how Sam Worthington -who portrayed Marcus- put forth a phenomenal performance and was the shining star of the movie. Well in all honesty I was not as easily swayed as some other critics. He did an adequate job, but I was not blown away by anything I saw him do. In my mind Christian Bale was the shining star of the movie, as he is of any movie he is in. Of course those of you who know me know that I consider Bale to be the single best actor working in Hollywood today, and I am completely biased towards him in every way. His portrayal of John Conner was phenomenal. Anton Yelchin held his own as a young Kyle Reese and I'm thinking that we're going to be seeing more of him as he was in not one, but two summer blockbusters (the other, of course, being Star Trek). I'm also looking forward to seeing Worhington in more stuff. Although not blown away by Worthington I'm sure now that he's being groomed to be a leading man in such future blockbusters as Jason and the Argonauts and James Cameron's eagerly anticipated Avatar we'll be seeing lots more of Sammy boy. Bryce Dallas Howard did a good job as John Conner's pregnant wife, although her character was kind of thrown away. John Conner's unborn child for Cyberdine's sake! Common and Moon Bloodgood helped round out John Conner's team of ultimate badasses, and their brooding, tough guy (or gal) characters played into the whole bleak atmosphere of the dystopic future. Also much to my pleasure Michael Ironside made his presence known and didn't disappoint as he is always good for two things: dying and being dismembered. Helena Bonham Carter was also in the movie in a surprise little role which was nice to see.

The only other thing besides giant homicidal robots and Christian Bale that really sold this thing for me was the nostalgia value. I mean you get to see what John Conner was up to, hear some old tapes from Sarah Conner, watch as Marcus taught Kyle Reese some important survival tips (like attatching your gun to your arm with a rope, a nice homage to the original Terminator) and of course the ultimate computer-generated cameo courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The CGI for the T-800 is honestly some of the best I've ever seen and it totally looked like Arnold, although we never got a shot of T-800 ballsack for total authentisity.

All my negativity aside, I actually did enjoy this film, with the proviso that I hope to God that there are NO MORE TERMINATOR MOVIES. This was a solid action flic with good pacing and top notch special effects. As a Terminator movie I would rate this as a 5/10, but overall I would rate Terminator: Salvation a 7.5/10 = One Evil Cybernetic Soldier's Head With Fantastic Teeth.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The King is Dead. Long Live the King

It's been a week and a half and I still can't quite believe this actually happened. Michael Jackson -the King of Pop- died on Thursday June 25 apparently of cardiac arrest. Despite a personal life plagued with controversy and dark allegations there is no denying the impact he had on the musical scene and on the world at large. From his beginnings with his family in the Jackson Five, to his meteoric rise to fame as a solo artist it was glaringly apparent that he had tremendous talent and a great gift. He had a long list of hit albums perhaps none more famous than Thriller accompanied by the equally famous music video for the titular song complete with dancing zombies, the gold standard by which all music video should be measured. And of course along with the music he presented, Jackson also set a new standard in dancing. One of his most famous dance moves -and arguably one of the most famous of all time- was, of course, the Moonwalk which was been immitated to varying degrees of success by professional dancers and drunen office co-workers the world over. He was also known for his obsurdly long yet epic music videos.

While I never considered myself a huge Michael Jackson fan, I enjoyed a lot of his songs and when I heard about his death it really bothered me. Perhaps it was because he was -despite the controveries- a true legend, and a pop-cultre icon forever cemented in the collective consciousness of the human race. He is one of (please forgive the pun) a dying breed. He stands up there with legends like Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger. It seems like the end of an era. I mean, who will our children and grandchildren have to mourn? Nobody of this calibre. The King is Dead. Long live the King.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

David Carradine Dies at Age 72

Actor David Carradine perhaps most famous for his role as Caine in the classic TV series Kung Fu died while filming a movie in Thailand on June 3rd 2009. I was not overly familiar with the show and I know Carradine more from his part in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. I and II. I also remember seeing Carradine in the TV miniseries North and South as consumate asshole Justin LaMotte. He's done a lot more stuff over the years, but I can only really speak to the work I've seen. It was still pretty cool that at age 72 he was still hard at work making movies and perfecting his craft. Sudden death always seems a lot more tragic and Carradine's case is no different, no matter the circumstances. I have no doubt that his memory will live on for generations to come, cemented as he is in pop culture most notably as the aforementioned Caine. You will be missed young Grasshopper, you will be missed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Boldly Going Where Many Have Gone Before

Judging from the title of this entry many readers might feel that my opinions about the new Star Trek film are negative or jaded. That couldn't be further from the truth. I just figured it was a clever title seeing as this is the latest in a long, long series of Trek films of varying degrees of quality ranging from pure shit to complete awesomeness. This new film definitely falls into the latter category.

It was, however, with great trepidation and a general air of disapproval that I originally greeted the idea of a remake/reboot/prequel to the shows and movies I had loved and spent so much time with as a child and young adult. (Stress on the "young".) It just seemed like another sign of the times that most of Hollywood was a bloated, dead corpse canibalizing itself for old ideas because it was too stagnant and stupid to come up with anything new. And in a way, I suppose, it still is. But as the release date came ever closer and I heard more and then saw some of the trailers my utter disgust and disdain gradually evolved into a cautious optimism. And with the maverick director like J.J Abrahms I had even more hope for the film. Maybe it wouldn't completely suck balls. Maybe it would just tickle them a little with its tongue and leave the beloved Star Trek canon rest in piece until the great Star Trek Wars (not to be confused with the equally great Star Wars Trek) profesied in Futurama.

While I hoped for (at best) mediocrity, what I got was pure movie gold. The film was fantastic in (almost) every aspect and very accessible both to the hardened Trek fan and to the Star Trek virgin (and by this I mean people who have not seen the show or movies, and not a true virgin like 99% of Trek fans under the age of 60). First let me issue the standard warning for all you crybabies out there that yes this post does indeed include spoilers.

Let's start with the plot / concept. This was hands down the single best idea I've ever seen to reboot/reimagine a major motion picture property. The story starts off with the Federation ship USS Kelvin being attacked by a bad-ass Romulan vessel which we find out later has travelled back in time from the future. During the ensuing firefight a young George Kirk takes command and saves the lives of countless crewmembers, including his son James T. Kirk who is born during the cluster-fuck of the Romulan assault in one of the all-time most intense birth scenes in cinematic history. Then we see a young Spock on his homeworld of Vulcan dealing with his mixed heritage (human/vulcan). Flash forward a few years and Kirk is a motorcycling rebel without a cause whose life changes with a chance encounter at a local bar with a young Urhura, a bunch of beefy Starfleet cadets and Captain Christopher Pike who sites Kirk's father's courage and gets him to enroll in Starfleet.

So Kirk enrolls in Starfleet, promptly meets a young Dr. McCoy and they quickly hit it off. During his time at the academy Kirk butts heads with Spock. During an emergency mission to rescue planet Vulcan from an attack from the rogue Romulan vessel, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Uhura end up on none other than the famous USS Enterprise with young Sulu and Chekov. The virgin (tee-hee!) crew of the Enterprise then set out to first try to stop the rogue Romulans from detroying planet Vulcan and billions of alien lives resulting in: A) Captain Pike getting captain-napped: B) Some crazy sky diving stunts: C) Sulu pulling out some crazy wicked samurai moves with a totally sweet futurisitc fold-out sword and : D) The complete destruction of the planet Vulcan.

Now that the shit has officially hit the intergalactic fan the crew of the Enterprise becomes the one last, best hope for humanity what with the renegade Romulans making best time to Earth to try and set the record for most genocides committed within a twenty-four hour period. A beef with Spock ends Kirk stranded on some Hoth-like ice world (sorry for the comparison, but I mean, come on!) where Kirk meets the last piece of the Enterprise puzzle: the Scottich engineer named (wait for it...) Scotty! Oh yeah, he also meets a time-travelling Spock from the future who gives Kirk a little inside info into Starfleet regulations to earn him the captaincy (not sure if that's a real word, but suck on it Websters) to try to "make things right" and save an importantn and enduring friendship.

So Kirk and Scotty hightail it back to the Enterprise where Kirk uses the info from old Spock to dethrone young spock and take control of the mighty starship. So Kirk and young Spock bury the hatchet to head on a rescue mission for Captain Pike, and attempt to save Earth from the same fate as Vulcan which results in: A) The salvation of Earth: B) A crazy shoot-out/rescue scene and: C) The new crew of the Enterprise setting out on its continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out life and new civilizations... and so on and so forth.

There were a shit-tonne of references to the original Trek series which was a real treat for any existing fans. There was Captain Pike (originally portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter in the original, original Star Trek pilot) who ends up in a wheelchair at the end of this movie and who was completely crippled by a fire and ended up in a wheelchair in the original series. There was the reference to the infamous Kobayashi Maru test taken by all cadets, and passed only by Kirk who cheats, as referenced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There was also the evil Romulan Nero calling out "Spock! Spock!" much like Kirk famously yelled out "Khan! Khan!" in Wrath of Khan. There was also the simple fact that the Romulans were the bad guys, a tradition dating back forty-odd years. There was also a very subtle reference to a phenomenon known only to trekkies/trekkers about starfleet officers in red shirts who, in the original series, would always beam down with the away team and sure as shit get killed by the alien/evil force/unknown disease to let you know just how dangerous the situation was. This happens during the crazy space-jumping scene, which was sadistically satisfying to watch. There are the references to some special Vulcan abilities like the famous Vulcan Neck pinch and the mind meld. And of course all the technology was beautifully handled to pay homage to the original while updating it to look more "realistic" or at least believable (no orange, thank God).

The cast was excellent and did the perfect job of capturing the collective essences of the original characters while not simply immitating them. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock respectively were perfect for their roles. Pine did a fantastic job of capturing the devil-may-care attitude and womanizing of the action junkie Captain James T. Kirk. Quinto -aside from the fact that he looked uncannily like a young Leonard Nimoy- did an excellent job of portraying Spock as a young man caught between two worlds and giving the classic eyebrow raise. Also notable were Karl Urban as Dr. "Bones" McCoy who did a pretty good Deforest Kelly without going to over the top. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Simon Pegg who I thought did an excellent Scotty. Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin also turned in great performances as Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov respectively. All in all the cast seemed to have a great raport with each other and it really translated well on screen.

I think the scene that best expresses the new take on Trek was the scene where a young Kirk steals a car and "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys is blaring on the radio. The way the writers handled this new entry into the Star Trek canon walked that fine razor's edge between satisfying the old fans while being accessible to a new audience. This was easily the most action-oriented Trek which draws in the new audiences who are easily entertained with bright lights and flashy things.

Then there is the whole idea of an alternate dimension/timeline created by the travelling back in time by the Romulans and Spock so technically all the stuff from the old films still happened independently of the events in this movie so we can all be happy and move on, even though some of us may have had problems with certain romantic relationships involving a certain pointy-eared alien and Uhura, which I'll admit kind of bugged me. In my mind the one thing that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga really fucked up with their inheritance of the Star Trek universe is the Vulcans. I mean, Gene Roddenberry (for those of you who don't know, he's the guy who dreamed up all this craziness back in that turbulant time known simply as The 60's) really did a lot to set up the Vulcans as a drastically different species who had different drives and different philosophies on how to approach the universe, but now they just seem like mean-spirited old men who are more stoic than devoid of all emotion. But that's the nerd coming out in me.

Alright, I'm through rambling and it's been about two months since I've seen this so I'll publish this motherfucker before I make any more spelling mistakes. Overall one of my favourite movies of the year so far, and now that I've seen a few other summer blockbusters, easily the best summer blockbuster this year.

My rating is 9/10 = One Logic-Infused Vulcan Head

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Chin's Last Ride

I can't say I'm the largest fan of late night television, usually because after work and playing with my daughter my wife and I end up in bed hours before any of the craziness starts and so I never have a chance to see it and develop any kind of emotional investment. But I have watched a fair amount of late night material over the years, and I think that Jay Leno was definitely my favourite. The key difference between Leno and his closest rival, David Letterman, was that Leno seemed to be, well, funny. The only good thing about Letterman's show was the Top Ten Lists, and even some of those were kind of shaky.

But for as long as I can remember Letterman and Leno have essentially been the kings of late night, so news of either of them stepping down is like the end of a dynasty. I guess Carson retired from the Tonight Show in my lifetime, but at the time I was so young I was never allowed to stay up late enough to see his show. So instead I'd stay up all night banging my head against the wall to get back at my parents. I'm not sure how this was supposed to facilitate my revenge against them, but in all fairness the severe damage my brain sustained from years of continuous blunt force trauma has definitely affected both my long- and short-term- memory and as a result I tend to ramble whenever I talk or write and get completely off topic. Nachos are great with cheese.

Where was I? Ah yes, Jay Leno's last night as host of the Tonight Show. Even though I haven't really followed the show I still got a sense of nostalgia and a weird tingling sensation in my bathing suit area when I heard that he was handing over the reigns to another late night icon- Conan O'Brien. So naturally I had to tune in for this momentus event in television history. Jay was pretty cool about the whole thing, and the show much like the man was endearing and unpretentious. There wasn't a huge fanfare, and I guess it really wasn't too sad of an ending because aparentlt Jay is going to start his own show in the fall. The main guest was his successor Conan O'Brien, who I must say has really come into his own over the years. The story of how he came to be a late night talk show host directly after working on The Simpsons (back in the Golden Era before Marge got breast implants and other stupid shit) was kind of cool and it was very fitting that his very first appearance on TV had been with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show years earlier.

I think the best and most emotionally poignant part of the show was the ending where Jay Leno answered a question posed to him earlier about his legacy by talking about how many couples had gotten together from the production crew and then brought out all the children who were born to these couples. It was a touching moment to see how the whole crew had grown together as a family and it was a nice, classy way to end an impressive seventeen-year run. Way to be, Jay.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wolverine's Fourth (But Really First) Time Out

Well it's been several weeks and I know you're all dying to know what I thought of the piece of cinema that was (and is) X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now I know this movie has been much maligned by comic book nerds and critics alike, but quite frankly anyone who didn't like this movie is either on crack or has his head buried in the darkest recesses of his own asshole.

This was not an amazing movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was action-packed and very entertaining. The trick is to go in with very low expectations. I know this sounds like kind of a backhanded compliment (and I suppose in a very accurate way, it is) but this is a movie based on a series of comic books. Now before all you nerds start getting upset at my obvious ignorance of the Modern Mythology handed down to us by the gods from the DC and Marvel universes and how comics (or "graphic novels" as they are sometimes referred to today) are legitimate forms of literature worthy of study at the finest universities let me assure you: I am in complete and total agreement. However, the centre of this debate is how well comics translate from the page to the screen and the answer is a resounding "Not well."

This is not to say that it can't be done. There are the obvious exceptions like Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, X-men 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight (obviously), and (in my contoversial opinion) Watcmen. But for every one great movies of these there is a plethora of shitty (or at least mediocre) ones. Just for fun, let's see: there's the six Superman travesties, Daredevil, both Fantastic Four movies, anything with "Punisher" in the title, Spider-Man 3, Hulk, X3, Elektra, Catwoman, the whole 80's/90's Batman franchise (except the first one, for nostalgia sake), Ghost Rider, Spawn, not to mention the terrible Captain America movie back in good old 1990. The problem isn't necessarily with the source material, the problem is making an effective transition from the page to the screen, two very different mediums. Some of the difficulty lies in the visual aspect. Sometimes bright blue or yellow spandex just doesn't look as good in the real world as it does on the paper. Sometimes it's interference from ignorant or incompetent directors (read: Brett Ratner). And sometimes it may be difficult for filmmakers to try to pick out the "best of the best" from up to 50 years of storylines and mash it all into a coherent two hour narrative.

Anyway this is all off the point. The main thing is this movie was generally enjoyable. Hugh Jackman is a competent actor and he gets the job done. I must say he was in the best shape I've seen him in so far. It was nice to see him really throw himself into the role. Liev Schreiber also does a nice job as Victor Creed (AKA Sabertooth) Wolvie's long-time rival. Ryan Reynolds puts in a solid performance as Deadpool, a character I know nothing about and do not care to. It always amused me that whenever I talked to anybody about anticipation about this movie and they would always sight their eagerness at seeing Gambit. Now I was never a huge Gambit fan, but I didn't feel like Taylor Kitsch was the right man for the job. He was OK, and it was cool to see Gambit on the big screen doing some serious damage, but Kitsch just didn't seem right for the part, and his cajun accent was definitely nowhere near thick enough. The rest of the cast was also good, nothing special. (Keep your eyes peeled for a hobbit!)

The plot, much like the title, was too convulted and drawn out. It started out with a bit of action, got really slow with the love story in the middle, then picked up again near the end. The action was great and the fights between Wolverine and Sabertooth were very well done and there was some attempt made to give them an emotional context but it was really pretty thin. It made sense in the context of the film to go over Logan's beginnings as a small child, but I don't like the fact that they actually made it all so clear. I always thought it was more interesting when we didn't know where and when he actually came from. The ambiguity was really great and there was that romantic notion of the mysterious stranger who wanders into town and takes down the bad guys like Clint Eastwood. Except Logan was so mysterious even he didn't know who he was. Although it was awesome to see that one of my favourite superheroes is Canadian. ( After William Stryker tells Logan that he should come back to serve his country he replies "I'm Canadian.")

The two main problems with the movie for me were the love story and the fact that they just tried to stuff too much into the movie. I know there was some content from the Weapon X series, but it felt like it was too condensed and wasn't given the attention it deserved. The love story just seemed to pop in from nowhere and really I don't know why it was in there. It really didn't feel emotionally relevent. And the whole story about how Wolverine chose his name was kind of weak. The other weak point was how Wolvie lost his memory which felt really tacked-on.

All of the action was fun to watch and it was great to see Wolverine destroying and killing stuff with his shiny new claws. the final battle of the film was big and flashy and satisfying. They did a good job of giving each character his own unique fighting style. There were a ton of cameos by other mutants from the Marvel universe, so I won't go over all of them. It was a veritable mutant orgy which may sound erotic, but in the end served to be far to distract far too much in such a short film. Again, this is one of the problems in adapting comics to the screen, especially with the X-Men because there are so many characters. The movie would have been a lot better with more focus.

The director Gavin Hood hasn't done a whole lot but I expect we'll be seeing more of his work. While X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn't the best film ever made, or even the best superhero film ever made, it was still a solid entry into the franchise and it definitely was not the clusterfuck everyone thought it was going to be. It was miles better thanIn order of awesomeness I would have to say it goes X-Men2, X-Men, Wolverine, then X3. Overall I would recomend seeing this movie, and if you get a chance it is definitely worth the price of a movie ticket which is more than I can say for a lot of shit these days.

I give this movie a solid 6.5/10 = One Adamantium-Coated, Bullet-Riddled Skull

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Observe and Report... and Suck Balls

Well, one thing I can say is that this should be the easiest review I've ever had to write. When asked whether or not to see this movie the simple answer I give is: "Don't". It is a single serving of cow vomit with a side of anal rape. Observe and Report has got to be one of the worst (if not the worst) comedy I have ever had the displeasure of seeing.

I don't know what the hell Jody Hill was thinking when he was writing this, or while he was making it, or during the editing process. The answer is he probably wasn't thinking at all. This movie -and I use the term "movie" very lightly- was billed as a "dark comedy" meaning I suppose that the jokes were based around such taboo subjects as date rape, mental instability, flashing, and assaulting law inforcement officers. These things all could have been funny, but they weren't. This was not a comedy. This movie does not fit into any known category. It is in a genre all by itself. The Anti-Comedy. This movie was the antithesis of funny.

One big bias I had before seeing this movie was my hatred of all things Seth Rogen. Now to be fair, the dude can be funny in small (very small) doses, and supporting roles, but he does not have the staying power, the charisma or the acting ability to be a leading man. (The exception that proves the rule being Zack and Miri Make a Porno where I could stand Rogen's suckiness only because of Kevin Smith's awesomeness.) So I went into this experience trying to keep an open mind and give Rogen the benefit of the doubt. I was not rewarded. To be fair again, most of the problems probably stemmed from inexperienced directing and a shitty script. Still, Rogen's acting was definitely nowhere near the level it would have needed to be at to even begin to salvage this bag of putrid garbage.

I can't really summaraize the plot, because there seemed to be a total lack of narrative structure. The reason I hesitate to call this random collection of scenes poorly cobbled together a "movie" is because it lacks the characteristics of a movie. None of the scenes seemed connected, the editing was choppy at best, and most of the scenes were just thrown in completely out of context. There was no continuity. And as to the whole "dark comedy" thing, it simply wasn't even that dark. It tried to be dark, but I've seen much crazier shit in much better comedies handled much more competently. One of the main "plot points" was a flasher who was terrorizing the good people working or shopping at the mall. The final scene depicts this flasher running through the mall being chased by Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen) and it went on waaaaaaay too long. Now male nudity can be funny like in Borat, but this one was just annoying and disturbing. And then (spoiler alert!) when Barnhardt finally gets the upper hand and gets ahead of the guy I was expecting a good old-fashioned clothes-lining, but no the mother-fucker shoots the flasher point blank in the chest! It wasn't even funny. It was just like "What the fuck?!"

The acting really isn't worth mentioning. Anna Faris seemed to be in her element in yet another mindless "comedy". I had no idea how Ray Liotta ended up in this flic, but he must have realized since it came out that it was a steaming pile. Ray Liotta is a terrific actor and he needs to get back to doing quality movies again (Goodfellas II: Henry's Revenge). And there was no emotional investment in any of the characters. There were simply no redeeming characteristics in the protagonist at all. He was an asshole, but he wasn't a cool asshole.

I'm going to rap this up now because just thinnking about this pool of disease-ridden bodily fluids dripping from a hobo's corpse known as Observe and Report is making me angry. It wasted eighty-six minutes of my life I will never get back. Thank god I had a coupon from the back of a cereal box (go Oatmeal Crisp!) to see this movie because I would have been really pissed if I had paid actual money to have my eyes raped. And the title. What the hell does that even mean? It has nothing to do with anything that happens in the movie. Jody Hill can likc my balls. And in fact he should lick all of our balls because after what he did with this movie, he owes us. He should mail ten bucks to everyone who had to sit through this shit. I could go on, but I'm not going to let this terrible movie waste even one more minute of my life. In fact, I might delete this post later because just seeing it again will only remind me of the time wasted.

My rating: 1/10 = One Mall Security Guard's Head with Goat Balls in Its Mouth

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen? I Do!

OK, I know it's been a while, but I figured I should give my review for this twisted artistic vision. At least I didn't retire from the writing business completely and return only when one of my fellow writers was murdered. Yeah, that was a pretty obvious joke, but I need to make sure these entries are long enough to weed out all but the most devout watchers of movies and true fans of my verbose writing style.

Let me start out by saying that I am most definitely a fan of the original Alan Moore graphic novel Watchmen. It was a complex narrative dealing with very complex, three-dimensional characters, and complex ideas. What struck me most when I read the novel was how haunted and flawed the characters were, which to me made them more believable and more like character studies than mere characters. Even though sometimes these costumed "heroes" sometimes did terrible things, I still found myself identifying with and even cheering them on both verbally and in my head. I call this the Sopranos syndrome. Tony Soprano was a complete asshole who murdered indiscriminately and frequently cheated on his wife, but I still loved the fucker.

I only mention my love and respect for the original source material because a lot of people -that large majority of the population that falls under the category of "morons"- who feel that if the movie adaptation (and I stress the word adaptation) isn't exactly frame for frame or word for word the same as the "original" graphic novel or book that it is somehow inferior or inherently flawed. Anyone who has studied literary theory and has an open mind in any sense of the word will hopefully allow for the idea that just because a text came first doesn't mean it is the be all and end all. I know all the report that aparently Alan Moore was very vocal in his disapproval of this movie, but with all due respect Mr. Moore, kindly suck my nutsack. Just because you wrote something doesn't mean that you are the ultimate authority on that text. Reader-response criticism is one example of looking at a text (be it written or visual) that puts more emphasis on the interpretation of the reader or viewer and less authority to the author.

OK, now that all that bullshit is out of the way, let's get on with the review of the movie. I'll make this quick. This movie was excellent. Zack Snyder is fast becoming one of my favourite directors, and he's getting a stranglehold on a strange little niche: that of adapting esoteric graphic novels written by prolific authors. 300 is just an all around awesome movie, and Watchmen while not as good as 300 is an excellent addition to his portfolio nonetheless. The difficulty with Watchmen, I feel anyway, was that the story was so much more complex than 300 and so long as to make it difficult to addapt effectively into a single movie ( I smell a trilogy!). Not to put down Frank Miller's excellent work in 300, as it is a deeply layered story, and complex in its themes, I think the story in Watchmen is not as accessible and the narritive is much more fractured (ie. the jumping back and forth through time).

All in all I thought the people involved in the film did an excellent job of staying true to the essence of the original graphic novel, even thought they obviously couldn't include every single thing from the original. The one thing I'm glad they included was the giant blue shlong. I wasn't sure how they were going to handle Dr. Manhattan's reconstituted genitalia, and I'm glad they didn't shy away from it. The plot is far too complex to condense down into this article, so I will give you the same bullshit that the movie is about a group of superheroes who come out of retirement to investigate the murder of one of their own. From there the plot thickens and we are left with questions about predestination, the morality of vigilanteism, and the ends justifying the means, as well as several other fascinating, mind-blowing concepts. Speaking of blowing, make sure you keep an eye out for that giant blue dick.

There are essentially three thing which kept me from giving this movie a perfect ten out of ten. The first was the acting. First we'll start with the good. Jackie Earle Haley was perfect as the vigilante Rorschach. Jeffery Dean Morgan truly channeled The Commedian (perhaps the most complex of all the costumed heroes) and Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl was excellent. Carla Gugino should have showed her tits again in this movie (incidently, one of the best scenes in Sin City) to distract from her terrible acting in the movie. I don't know why , because usually she puts in a solid performance, but she was definitely off the ball. Malin Akerman was even worse, but at least she did show her tits (and the rest of her) so she had some kind of saving grace. Billy Crudup was OK as Dr. Manhattan, though I was slightly surprised and impressed that this was the guitarist from Almost Famous. First the long hair and killer 'stache, now the glowing blue skin and enormous blue ding-dong. Now that's a transformation. Perhaps the worst of the casting/acting was Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. He did not embody the part physically, and his acting left me unaffected. But luckily Jackie, Jeffery, and Patrick's combined awesomeness offset the rest.

The second thing was the music choices. This is were you can really see the difference between a good director like Zack Snyder and a phenomenal director like Martin Scorcese. Scorcese is an expert at matching music to each scene. Snyder, not so much. I liked a few song choices like Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a Changin' for the opening montage, but basically the music seemed a poor fit most of the time.

The third thing that really got me was the ending. My feeling about things in general is if they aren't broken don't fix them. I was totally looking forward to the giant squid monster (almost as much as I was looking forward to glowing, blue cock) and I have absolutely no idea why they changed it.

One thing I really liked and I know a lot of other people hated was the slo-mo action shots. I eat that shit up with a spoon. I loved it in 300 and I loved it even more in Watchmen. Maybe one of the problems was that Zack Snyder is all about action, and the graphic novel is a much more introspective beast. It may explain, though, why the action scenes were fantastic (though it may not explain the homoerotic nature of the giant, glowing, bright, blue weiner in so many scenes). A few of my favourite were the scene in the ally, the scene where Rorschach was captured or when he fucks up his fellow inmates in the prison, and of course the prison riot scene where Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II break in to rescue Rorschach. Phenomenal stuff.

Another thing I really enjoyed about both the movie and the book was the idea that with the exception of Dr. Manhattan (and possibly Ozymandias) none of these dudes had any super powers. (Though one had a huge, glowing wang). It was really cool, though, how these people did seem to be extraordinary in their physical abilities, due in part, I suppose, to their dedication to their training. They were ordinary people doing extraordinary things, so I could imagine that with enough training even I could one day be a superhero. I also liked how some of the costumes were adapted to the big screen. I don't think anything was lost in the translation.

Alright, that's enough for now. All you need to know is that the movie was great, there was big blue shlong aplenty, tons of action, and some nudity (the good kind (ie. not men)). Overall I'm giving the movie a 9/10 = One Vigilante Head Wearing a Constantly Shifting Black and White Super Hero Mask. (P.S. There was also an enormous, shimmering, penis. Thank you democracy.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Goodbye Ricardo Montalban

I know this is a little bit late, but I think I should still take note of the death of a great actor. Ricardo Montalban died on January 14, 2009. Montalban will always stand out in my mind as Khan Noonien Singh, one of James T. Kirk's nemesis' in the original Star Trek series and the only villain worthy of his own dedicated Trek movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This was one of my favourite Star Trek films as a child, so Montalban will always hold a special place in my heart. Well, as much as any actor who I've never met and whose personal life I know nothing about can hold a place in my heart. The other role that I remember is his part in the Planet of the Apes saga. He was a great actor and will be sadly missed.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


As a Christmas gift I recieved the much sought after Wii Fit. And I must say it is awesome. I know there are a lot of nay-sayers out there, and to the sceptics I say this: You suck balls. And not figuratively. You literally enjoy the taste of testicles on your tongue if you don't like this home fitness program. The Wii Fit is a real find for me for two reasons. 1) It gets me motivated to do some exercize again and 2) It gets me motivated to play Ye Olde Wii again. There are tons of activities, although I mostly do the strength training stuff like situps and pushups, but I do get a healthy dose of the balance games. And yes, I even do the yoga stuff every once in a while. It also keeps track of your weight and shows trends and changes over time. And I know it's a terrible way to get motivated, but I kind of feel guilty when I don't use it every day. It also keeps track of your BMI, which is a totally useless fucking number based solely on your height and weight and is an indicator of nothing in particular. I know there are a lot of people out there who consider themselves "hardcore" gamers and have nothing but disdain and a couple of roundhouse kicks for the beloved Wii, but to those "hardcore" gamers I say this: when was the last time you could do 40 push-ups in a row? You may be able to pwn some fucking noob in CoD4, but in real life I'll still throw you over my knee and spank you like a little child all thanks to my Wii biatches.