Have you ever been hanging out with a little kid in a group of adults and he makes a fart joke that just happens to have the perfect timing and words to be hilarious and the entire group bursts out into raucous laughter? At that point you can do nothing but look at the kids parents in sympathy because you know that for the next 12 years or so that kid will do nothing but fart jokes, ever looking for that magical humor lightning to strike twice and probably lead him to a future career as tow truck driver, mall security guard, or writer of a bitter and acerbic movie review blog. Basically if it doesn’t involve flatulence he will no longer think it funny just because a bunch of moronic grown ups laughed at a joke he made at age 6.
That’s pretty much what I see happening here. Robert Rodriguez teamed up with Frank Miller and came out with a mind blowing movie that was lauded for it’s camera work and noir heritage. Since whenever he’s not doing a film like this or Machete he is doing films with titles like The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl one can only imagine he is very hungry for a repeat of that adulation and as I pointed out in my review of Machete Kills he is of the “humor and excitement through repetition” school of movie making it makes sense that he would be totally cool with doing essentially the same movie with a few new characters in it. The problem is the original Sin City was mind blowing for it’s originality whereas this film ends up feeling like you just watched a really well done documentary on a subject you are already very familiar with.
Not that it’s bad. If you loved the original Sin City and found yourself wishing it would go on for another 102 minutes your dreams have come true. Also if you are a fan of Cool World-esque cartoonish camera angles, black and white, and gravel voiced monologues forgetaboutit. If you feel guilty because every year you skip the Film Noir festival at the Castro Theater you could probably fill up your artsy dark movie tank and dash off into the night like a pretentiously mysterious Spanish gentleman in a romance novel.
Loki: the Dork World
I once again must apologize for not getting this written up sooner. I have been dealing with a technical issue all week having to do with a company with two o’s and two g’s in their name (you know, the German company known as Gurslictenoogle) that has kept me out reviewing for quite a while. I feel bad not getting these out in a timely manner, but since this gig doesn’t actually pay me not that bad.
The Loki image, by the way, is from our Comic Book T Shirt collection.
I have also been hesitant to write this as I am not sure how I really feel about it. Was it entertaining? Yes. Were there fun moments? Yes. Was it good in the way a well developed, well rounded film should be? No.
I think this is another case of writing failure. One of the two screenwriters, Christopher Markus, is what I consider an accomplished writer of sorts. He did write Pain and Gain and the first Captain America movies, both of which I feel were very decent. However, most of his filmography seems to revolve around the Chronicles of Narnia, the film equivalent of nacho flavored Styrofoam packing peanuts. His co-writer is Christopher Yost, who literally has only written superhero TV cartoons. There are six more writers credited, and the whole thing seems to be suffering from death by committee. The script staggers back and forth like a car accident victim with a rear view mirror embedded in his cranium. Sometimes it is a dopey, storyless action movie, sometimes there is an attempt at character development, sometimes there is a romance, and sometimes there is a revenge/brotherhood plot.
I’m not saying it’s terrible. If a strong tone and coherent, holeless plot are secondary concerns I am sure you will enjoy the hell out of it. It’s just not as good as the first Thor. I did that which I hate doing the most, research, and found out that none of the writers on the first Thor were involved in this one. I’m not sure if I understand the logic in that. You would imagine that a sequel to a successful movie would want to keep the same tone and flavor, but I guess if it ain’t broke fix it.
Where this film falls apart the most for me is the characters. In the first movie Thor was a spoiled princeling who needed to learn humility and deal with his lack of powers after being cast down to Earth by his equally interesting father Odin, while his scheming brother sought his fathers throne. In this film Thor is a boring, flawless good guy, Odin is pretty much a non-entity, and only Loki has anything that resembles depth or interest. The fish out of water stuff that Thor dealt with in the first film was a great framework for the chemistry between him and Jane Foster. In this film without that basis he and Jane have all the chemistry of mixing all your Easter Egg dyes together to get a muddy brown color and she ends up being the extraneous third nipple of the film (by that I mean completely unnecessary).
This film also falls into the scope trap that sucks in so many mediocre writers. The first film was about Thor, his brother, their fathers love, and the struggle for identity and personal angst. Sure, there was the whole Frost Giant thing but that was more to give the film context for the story to develop. You identified with the characters and felt their pain and hardship. In this one the villains plan is to DESTROY THE UNIVERSE! OMG! I LIVE IN THE UNIVERSE! I MUST AUTOMATICALLY GIVE A CRAP! You see, when the villains plan is to hurt or destroy a character we identify with that is engaging. As soon as the villains plan is to destroy the world, or blow up a city, or do something to everything in creation all tension is drained from the story. Everyone knows that no film is going to really end with the universe being destroyed, but there is just the off chance that the film could end with the tragic and noble death of Thor. After all, Rocky lost his fight and Spock died at the end of TWOK. If a wave of artistic integrity were to sweep over the writers and directors they could just have the evil plan be for the Frost Giants to get revenge on Thor by killing Jane and have her die in his arms at the end. That would be really cool. However, the odds are more likely of me finding love than that ever happening. Of course, since each film has to have a bigger, more bad ass plot than the last one how do you go bigger than the destruction of the universe? The complete annihilation of all causality? Oh, wait. The Infinity Gauntlet. Duh.
The story starts off with Thor (Chris Hemsworth-Pacific Rim, Snow White and the Huntsman, Cabin in the Woods) running around beating down all the oppressed people who rose up against Asgard when the Bifrost Bridge was destroyed at the end of the last film. Of course since all the bad guys look like post apocalyptic mutant Botox accidents and the good guys look like muscular Abercrombe & Fitch models I guess it fair to assume that seeking freedom from the iron heel of Odin is a bad thing. Meanwhile Jane (Natalie Portman-Black Swan, the Professional, V for Vendetta, some horrible sci fi films that shall go unmentioned as they make me sad) has been languishing back on Earth for two years pining for the guy she met and knew for like twelve hours in the last film with no more contact of any kind. She is doing some kind of weird science thing (if anyone can tell me exactly what kind of science she and her crew do I would appreciate it). She is aided by her bitchy sidekick Darcy (Kat Dennings-2 Broke Girls, the 40 Year Old Virgin, Day One) and Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård-Avengers, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Good Will Hunting), who after being the Marvel whipping boy for like six films is now Birdman of Alcatraz crazy.
Meanwhile Loki (Tom Hiddleston-War Horse, Thor, Avengers) is rotting in the Asgard dungeon with a bunch of the dudes Thor just beat on. He is visited by his mother Frigga (Rene Russo-Outbreak, Ransom, the Thomas Crown Affair (note-she is naked in like 80% of that film if you are interested)) who is the only reason he hasn’t done the hemp fandango (life note-if you are the female relative or significant other of an action guy in a movie or video game but don’t actually kick ass yourself there is about a 70% chance you will die in order to give the protagonist motivation. Be warned).
Tales are told of the defeat of the Dark Elves (by the way, if you happen to play Warhammer you will be shocked at how either this film ripped off Games Workshop or Games Workshop ripped off Marvel. My money would be on Games Workshop doing the ripping off. You can’t tell me Tyranids are not HR Giger Aliens) and how they all died, but apparently a bunch of them hid in hibernation for millenia until their magic zero gravity red Silly Putty was rediscovered or all the realms align or something (details are suspiciously vague. A lot of this script felt very half assed). Super scientist Jane uses her PKE to find a location where the walls between worlds are thin and after seeing the Laws of Thermodynamics sexually molested again falls into another realm. The red Silly Putty (the name in the movie is the Aether, I think) is in a crack between a floating menhir and a big plinth (yes, I know. Google it you lazy bastards). Being the super scientist that she is she figures the best way to investigate would be to stick a finger in and the Aether enters her body (her scientist sense must have told her it wasn’t radioactive or anything).
She ends up back on Earth in time for Thor to arrive and discover she has the red scabies. He ports her back to Asgard where she is treated like a short bus child (I guess she kind of is to them). Meanwhile one of the prisoners in the dungeon with Loki turns out to be a Dark Elf (I can’t type that term without wanting to talk about the new Army Book that just came out. Warlocks are way overpowered IMO) who is one of the Kursed, a suicide super soldier of sorts. He breaks out and frees all the other prisoners except for Loki and tears ass through Asgard. Meanwhile more Dark Elves (why did they move RBTs from Rare to Special? It just means more uniformity of army builds IMO) arrive. They are attacking to capture Jane and extract the red menace from her and put it into a super weapon to destroy the universe. Frigga gets killed.
At that point Loki joins up to get revenge for the death of his mother. Thor has to go against Odin (Anthony Hopkins-the Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, the Elephant Man) and needs Loki to sneak out of Asgard. About 30 small stories that could have developed into something are planted and then left to rot (like Sif secretly loving Thor, or some look at the motivation behind the Dark Elves (now Dark Steeds have the Fast Cav rule? That is pretty awesome)). Stuff gets blown up, and crazy man Eric Selvig invents metal tiki torches that teleport Dark Elves (he must be using Lore of Shadow) around because of science(???).
I don’t want to spoil the plot twist but I will say it was at the same time painfully obvious and drawn from the deepest recesses of the writers deepest ass. A plot twist is one thing, but having some random bulls&*% happen at the end is just dumb. It’s like if at the end of Saving Private Ryan the bridge was saved by an army of ninja clown paratroopers dropping in.
Loki was pretty awesome, and every scene with him actually had nuance and character. I’d be willing to bet one writer with talent was working on him exclusively. Two stars. There were some good humor moments. One star. Action was good, and Thor’s hammer Mjölnir was even cooler than it was in the last movie. One star. CGI was as always flawless, and the 3D managed to add to the film rather than detract from it. One star. I really like that the filmmakers didn’t just roll with the idea that everyone in the Universe speaks American English and actually had the Dark Elves (at least they lost the reverse ward save) speaking a different language with subtitles. Movies that assume I know how to read please me. One star. The Dark Elves themselves (access to all the lores adds a lot of flexibility, but the vast majority of them are going to just go Mindrazor FTW) were pretty cool. One star. Pacing and editing was nearly perfect. One star. Overall I enjoyed myself. Two stars. Total: ten stars.
The black holes.
Just not terribly well written. Plot holes and little to no attempt to explain anything. I’m not looking for a thesis paper here but if you are going to teleport bad guys all over the place at least make up a fake scientific reason why that is happening or how it was developed. One black hole. There was nothing of the character development that went so well in the last one. One black hole. I really wanted to know more about the Dark Elves (why oh why do they now also have ASF?), Jane’s research, Odin, Thor, Frigga, Sif, or any number of other cool sub plots that were tossed out with the bathwater. If you hadn’t seen the first movie this film would have felt really inadequate. One black hole. There was no actual chemistry between Jane and Thor, and honestly the film might have been better without her. One black hole. If you have high tech anti aircraft guns why do you go after guys on the ground with swords? The fight against the Dark Elves (at least they are still Toughness 3) might have gone a lot better if the Asgard forces had walked in with SPAS 12 gauges. Pick one or the other. One black hole. The plot twist just spontaneously manifesting itself as if by the will of God. One black hole. Total: six black holes.
A grand total of four stars. Not horrible, but not what I want from a Marvel comic book movie. Kind of meh. The action is good, and Loki is fun. If that is enough for you go see it on a big screen in 3D. If you want more than maybe wait for NetFlix. Just not great. I feel no need to ever see it again. Date movie? Meh. At least Chris Hemsworth keeps his shirt on, so you will only have to deal with his long hair, rugged good looks, and sexy accent when being compared to by your date. Bathroom break? Any of the “romance” scenes between Thor and Jane are 100% disposable. Go nuts.
Thanks for reading. I will have something up tomorrow I promise. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. If you have a comment on this film or my review post it here, and if you have an off topic question or suggestion email me at email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
I honestly laughed out loud when I saw this. I don’t mind women superheros, but if you look back on the history of female superhero movies you can see the fields is littered with horrible movies that are kind of career killers for the stars. It’s like Scarlett is tired of being a successful actress and wants something to end her run.
If you look at girl superhero movies, the only two that are remotely canon and taken seriously are Catwoman and Electra. In both cases the films failed miserably. Catwoman was voted the 15th worst film in history, and Electra was about as unwatchable as a comic movie can get. The thing that Scarlett Johansson should keep in mind however is the fact that since those films neither Halle Berry or Jeniffer Garner have had a good solo role and have kind of slunk off to do mediocre movies and support roles.
It makes me wonder if there is something about women comic hero movies that puts the audience off. Most comic book fans are dudes, and a group more willing to look at hot women in tights you won’t find. However, it might just be that since most comic book fans like to think of themselves as the hero in a film, you won’t pull them in to watch someone the cannot see themselves as like a hot girl. Either that or Hollywood doesn’t know how to or care enough to write a decent script.
The Catwoman image I got from the comic book t shirts. Nice shirt, but I don’t know about the color.
Why is it the only two villains the Superman movies can ever come up with are Lex Luthor and General Zod?
Dave’s not much into Superman but I am, and I have to say that I was really hoping for someone other than another old villain for the next movies.
Honestly, General Zod was never much of a villain in the comic, yet somehow he is the main bad guy in two different movies. I guess this is more proof that Hollywood cannot come up with anything remotely new for anything. It’s not like there aren’t other villains who can give Superman a run for his money. Brainiac alone makes for a really good story because he is so smart, and if you just want life threatening mayhem go with Doomsday. I just think General Zod was so well done in the other movie that there is no need to rehash his character again.
This cool Braniac picture comes from Dave’s DC comic t shirts. I think I am going to have to get one for myself.
Of course, really when you think about it I don’t know if Lex Luthor was really treated fairly in Superman Returns. Sure, he was pretty cool and I thought Kevin Spacey both did a great job and had the man parts to actually go bald unlike Gene Hackman, but Lex Luthor is supposed to have a ton of super science backing him up. I want to see Lex in a super powered armor suit flying around blasting Superman with Krpytonite autocannon shells. Also, what the hell was the deal with his secret plan? He wanted to raise a new continent, killing half the world population, and then sell barren salt encrusted rock real estate to the half that didn’t drown? I mean sure he might do some damage, but did he really think that no country in the world wouldn’t have an aircraft carrier survive the aftermath and wouldn’t air strike him to death? Also, while appearing before the UN to claim the land he just created don’t you think someone might have asked him some tough questions about the billions of people he just killed in order to make it? Just dumb, really.
Back on Zod. The question I always had at the end of the last one was shouldn’t Lois Lane have had super powers after the whole switcheroo machine went off? For that matter, if the three of them could have killed Superman why did they take the chance on him pulling some kind of fast one? I’d be like “Well, we could let him use his equipment in his Fortress of Solitude where ever single wall and piece of furniture looks alike, or we could just remove all his internal organs and launch the remains into the nearest black hole.”
Also, what is up with a human having sex with Superman? I mean, aside from the fact that he would most likely tear her in half in the first two seconds, how is it he feels any sensation from her? It would be like having sex with a woman made out of tissue paper.
Damn, I just wrote a Dave length post. Don’t get used to it. I did find this really funny blog cast of General Zod talking to his defense attorney before being sentenced to the phantom zone. It’s really good.
I have been reading a bit about the new Green Lantern sequel. Any fan of comics will tell you that the first one sucked. While I don’t pay attention things like writers and directors like Dave does it seems they are making a few positive changes and then a massive number of negative stay the sames.
The GL shirt I found in Dave’s DC comic t shirts, incidentally.
First off, they are apparently firing the director, Martin Campbell. Good move in my opinion. He really chocked it. However, they are keeping the same writers. How does that make sense? I mean, do they really think the writers from the first one did such a great job, or that they have some kind of connection to the Green Lantern story? If this was an original character they created that might be a good idea, but really the original creators all are the comic book writers. Get any lame hack in the world he he will have as much connection.
They say they are going to be relying less on CGI. Good move. There was way to much of it in all the wrong directions. But the biggest mistake they are going to make is they are keeping smarmy sleaze bucket Ryan Reynolds as the main guy. Is it remotely possible to hire someone who might take the part seriously and not smirk at the camera all day long? Maybe someone who understands comics. He wears a mask. He doesn’t have to be the biggest hearth throb in Hollywood. Get rid of him.
My name is Jason, and I’m coming on board with Dave as his loyal sidekick, kind of like Robin only not so wimpy (Robin shirt from the Batman T Shirt category). I am going to be posting here reasonably often about nerd stuff I see in order to have this blog do what it is supposed to do and give Dave more time to work on his actual job.
Dave is going to keep on doing all the movie reviews and long nerd rants, and odds are won’t slow down on them. I really don’t have that kind of free time, since I actually have a life, and will be keeping my posts short and sweet. Mostly I will be keeping an eye out for interesting nerd facts about upcoming movies, comic books, and so on. One that I heard the other day has to do with the fact that they are likely to make the Expendables 2 PG-13 instead of R. Big mistake in my opinion, as PG-13 is a recipe for suck. Word on the street (or internet) is that this was a requirement put forth by tough guy Chuck Norris, as he feels the need for kids to see him in all his middle aged glory. Guess what, Chuck? No one young enough to be affected by an R rating gives a rats ass about you. Get over yourself.
Most reviews seem to have panned this, but I kind of liked it.
This week is more proof that I have been secretly transported to Bizarro world and that in it most of Bizarro humanity is comprise of freaks and I am the normal one. Everyone loved Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and I thought it was sluggish and confusing. Everyone seems to hate this movie and, to be honest, I really enjoyed it. I found it fun, interesting, and honestly frightening at points, and when I get back to the real, non-Bizarro world I am sure I will find any number of people who agree with me (in the real world I also have a ton of money and women find me irresistible. Bizarro world sucks. Bizarro image courtesy of the Superman T Shirt category).
That is not to say this movie doesn’t have it’s flaws, and I can totally see where a lot of the criticism stems from. We will get into that shortly, but overall I found this movie to be a good time.
What I didn’t find this movie to be, however, was a good value for the money. It is a woefully short 87 minutes and the ending they pulled out of their asses with no sign of any kind of resolution, conclusion, or development. As it is a mock “found footage” documentary this is kind of understandable, but honestly this film looks exactly like a student film that the people working on it got bored and decided to just end it in one fell swoop. The film puts the “ow” in “low budget” and I think there is a distinct possibility they ran out of funds and decided to wrap it up quick.
The movie is presented as a documentary about a daughter named Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade-Why am I Doing This?, Fallen, For Love or Country; the Arturo Sandoval Story) looking into the demonic possession of her mother (Susan Crowley-Born of Fire, Cristabel) with the help of a documentarian named Micheal (Ionut Grama-The Whistleblower, Guber’s Journey, Closer to the Moon) who wants to do a film about exorcisms. They travel to Rome where the mother is locked up in a Catholic mental hospital. In Rome they meet two freelance exorcists, Ben and David (Simon Quarterman-The Scorpian King; Rise of a Warrior, Inside, Perfect Strangers and Evan Helmuth-Garfield, Fever Pitch, Franks Book. Wasn’t the Helmouth the name of the portal to Hell in the basement of the school in Buffy the Vampire Slayer?), both priests who do exorcisms without the consent of the Church. The mother killed three people when they last tried to exorcise her so the Church wants nothing to do with her.
At that point we get a lot of character development. Interviews go on with Ben, David, and Isabella that explore their reasons and motivations for being into exorcism. In a normal film I would be very pleased to see such character depth presented, but in a documentary format I can’t really give props for characters more or less saying “The reason I got into exorcism is blah blah blah”. Fish in a barrel, really. This section drags on a little but the pacing seemed appropriate for a documentary. We get to the actual exorcism and at that point the story kind of drops the character exploration in favor of some scary scenes. A few minutes later someone switches the record player from 33 to 45 (all my older readers should understand that last one) and the story thunders to the conclusion like it activated the booster rocket embedded in its ass. Demonic chaos (haw!) ensues and some stuff that was hinted at never gets revealed.
The stars. Well done, given the limitations that found footage movies must labor under. One star. While it was obviously derived from Blair Witch Project, I didn’t feel like it was really just a remake. One star. The actors were all pretty good, and I liked all the characters. One star. Fernands Andrade is super cute in a wholesome way that I really liked (also brunette, my personal fav). One star. This horror movie was actually scary at points, and presented some creepy and interesting concepts. I found myself jumping at times. One star. Good use of camera and lighting to help set the creepy mood. One star. Good character development and presentation, at least in the first half of the film. One star. The didn’t do the whole camera-man-jogging-so-the-screen-is-constantly-jumping-around thing, which meant I didn’t lose my popcorn. One star. Overall entertaining. One star. Total: nine stars.
The black holes. The movie ended so abruptly I expected the airbag to go off. One black hole. The film felt really, really short and had a lot of padding in the form of characters walking down hallways and so one. Not a lot of meat. One black hole. While the horror buildup was presented with a nice progression once we got into the actual scary stuff the movie was pretty much over. It’s rare that I ask for more gore, but this movie could have used something. One black hole. There was a large number of opportunities for further plot or character development that were left by the wayside. Each character, including the possessing demon, had something hinted at that would have been really interested had we been given a little more. One black hole. Total: Four black holes.
So a total of five stars, which is way more than I expected it to get going in. I had heard this movie sucked and was more or less salivating in anticipation of something really juicy to chew on, but found that it wasn’t bad. In fact, I spent the first 20 minutes really looking for the suck before settling into my seat to enjoy it. Is it worth seeing? Sure, especially if you can see it for $5 like I did. It will do OK on a TV scree, but some of the exorcism scenes might lose a lot, especially the first one. Date movie? For the right girl, yes. Don’t take someone who is religious unless you want to get a religious lecture and a firm handshake at the end of date. Actually, I think this is an excellent date movie. Scary enough to have her holding onto your arm but not so frightening that she gets creeped out on the ride home. There are a couple scenes involving things that might creep out a girl particularly, but for the most part if she has a brain and sense of humor it should work OK.
Thanks for reading. Nothing to see tonight, so I will continue with my end of the year awards tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Have a good night, and I will talk to you all later.
Time to get into this. First of all, this is actually the best and worst movies of 2011 that I actually saw and reviewed, for the most part. If I missed something you think is supposed to be here, my apologies. I am going to do this Oscar style by listing the candidates for my fake awards and then let you know the winner. I think each post in this series I will give a few of my bitter joke awards and end up with one or two good one.
The “Who Brought This Guy Award” for the most unnecessary, worthless, or unasked for sequel of the year. The candidates are: the Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part I, Johnny English Reborn, Columbiana, and The Hangover Part II. Johnny English seems to be the obvious choice, but when you think about it the reasons for this sequel make total sense: ripping off as many foreign viewers as possible. The bitterness that resides deep in the heart of the voting Academy (one member, me) makes me inclined to go with the Hangover, but I think if the movie going audience had been poled prior to this abortion being released most people would have said a sequel was a good idea. Yes, the winner of the Who Brought This Guy Award goes to Columbiana. It was originally written as a sequel to the Professional, a film that in no way ever needed a sequel. Also it was pretty miserable as a stand alone movie.
The “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” award for the flattest, most robot-like emotionless performance(s) of the year. The candidates are Nicholas Cage for Season of the Witch and Drive Angry, Ryan Gosling for Drive, Robert the tire from Rubber, the dead cosmonaut from Apollo 18, and Atom the fighting robot from Real Steel. The winner, barely beating out the dead cosmonaut, has to be Nicholas Cage. Congratulations.
The “Accidentally drank from the Drano can instead of my beer award” (AKA the George Inman (my father) memorial award) for the movie that I thought was going be great and instead felt like I was being shot naked with a paintball gun for two hours. The candidates are The Green Hornet, The Green Lantern, Conan the Barbarian, Battle Los Angeles, The Hangover Part II, the Killer Elite, and The Adventures of Tintin. In terms of biggest level of anticipation followed by biggest fall, this Nerdy can only go to the Green Lantern. I had so much hope for this movie, and was so bitterly disappointed. (Green Lantern image courtesy of the Comic Book t shirt category)
The “Purposely drank from the Drano can” award for the movie that I totally expected to suck and it did. The candidates are New Years Eve, Jack and Jill, Footloose, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, What’s Your Number, the Change Up, and I am Number Four. This Nerdy is near and dear to my heart, as it is my chance to feel good about how smart and perceptive I am. Bucky Larson was a contender, but I have to give it to Jack and Jill, the movie equivalent of passing a baseball sized kidney stone.
The “Dave is an idiot” award for the movie I expected to suck and turned out great. The candidates are Fast Five, Bridesmaids, Friends with Benefits, Our Idiot Brother, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, Warrior, and the Thing. Honestly, I am going to have to go with the Thing. I thought it was going to be another mediocre remake of a great movie, and instead it was a brilliant prequel to a great movie. Kudos.
The “I wish I had a hot car and girlfriend” award for the best driving movie. This year there were only three eligible. Drive, Drive Angry, and Fast Five. I am going to have to give this Nerdy to Fast Five. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. The other two were retrospectively a boring arsty noir film and a bad grindhouse spoof.
That’s it for today. Warhammer tonight and I have to compose a new list. More awards tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. By the way, I saw the trailer for the Hobbit and, while it looks decent like detecting a lump in my testicles I am starting to see signs that the cancer of remaking great stories to suit Hollywood creeping its way into this film. It’s been years since I read the Hobbit, but I don’t recall Bilbo Baggins spending a lot of time in Elrond looking at the Shards of Narsil. He was there, but it was pretty brief. Also, I couldn’t be sure but I think they stuck a human into the party besides Gandalf with the dwarfs. Also someone told me they managed to crowbar Arwen into the the story. You know, in a story as rich as the Hobbit I think it’s OK to not have a pretty face in there worthlessly. I don’t know if any of this is true, but I hope they aren’t going to ruin this in order to make a few more bucks. I’ll let you know what else I hear.
Pretty damned good.
It is always nice to see something decent after being subjected to the film equivalent of a flesh eating virus. Thursday night I dragged myself to New Years Eve, and truly regretted it. Last night I went to see Sherlock Holmes and was reminded that there is still some good in the world (of movies). This movie is in all ways entertaining and exciting, with great writing, dialog, acting, and action.
It is, of course, a grandiose story of Sherlock Holmes, the greatest fictional detective ever (actually, I would claim Batman as the greatest fictional detective ever, but that’s just a personal preference. Batman image courtesy of the Batman T Shirt category) and his friend Dr. Watson. They are attempting to prevent the infamous Moriarty from literally destroying Western Civilization.
I’m not going to get too deep into the story, as I spent literally hours yesterday writing up that dumb New Years movie and have a lot to do today, but it starts off with Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.-Iron Man, of course) dealing with the impending marriage of his long time companion Dr. Watson (Jude Law-actually, some good movies here that no one but me likes. The Road to Perdition, Cold Mountain, and Enemy at the Gates to name a few). Meanwhile, he rescues a hot Gypsy fortune teller (Naomi Rapace-the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo et al) who’s brother is involved in a secret plan cooked up by Moriarty (Jared Harris-Natural Born Killers, Resident Evil Apocalypse). They are aided by Holmes’ brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry-V for Vendetta, a bunch of other roles calling for a smarmy over-educated pasty white guy). I expect you all to see this film, so I don’t want to throw too much into this. Stuff blows up, Holmes deduces stuff, and a lot of fairly cool action occurs.
The stars. I know I’m a sucker for English accents, but the dialog couldn’t be more perfect. The language and diction was perfectly in period of the late 19th century England. Two stars. Well written story. Two stories. Excellent performances by literally everyone. Two stars. They did this really cool quick cut sequences thing to show how Sherlock Holmes’s deductive brain worked. One star. There were some shooting and running slow motion action scenes that were really cool. One star. A couple of really cool plot twists. One star. There was a ton of really funny humor seamlessly mixed into the dialog. One star. The onscreen relationship between Watson and Holmes felt really real and genuine. I know this is just a reflection of the excellent acting talents of Robert and Jude, but still it was refreshing to see. One star. Mycroft was outstanding in every scene he was in. One star. So was Moriarty. One star. And two bonus stars for a good movie experience. Total: fourteen stars.
The black holes. This is just a reflection of my own stupidity, but the combination of Robert Downey Jr. fast deliver plus the English accent meant I kept missing what I felt were either funny or plot critical points. One black hole, although that’s really for my slow brain. I felt the whole Dr. Watson marriage and his wife’s character were kind of unnecessary. I don’t think they added much to the story, especially once the wife more or less fell off the screen. One black hole. That’s it. Two black holes.
In the vexing but not black hole worthy, I really only have one and it galls me like a burning coal in my gut to say this, but I honestly think this movie would have been better in 3D. Gah, I can’t believe I just wrote that! I hate 3D. However, there were a number of scenes involving artillery shells, knives, and bullets that would have looked cool in 3D. OK, I said it. I’m going to go flagellate myself after finishing this review in punishment.
So a grand total of twelve stars and my recommendation that you see it in the theater. Some of the epic scenes will lose impact on a smaller screen. Good date movie, as your date will probably be entertained by the clever English dialog. Also she could possibly fill you in on any of the dialog you missed (going to the movies by yourself sucks. Trust me, I know).
Sorry about the short review, but when I like a movie I don’t usually find a lot to write about. I am happy to report that the movie I unleashed all the bile in my life upon yesterday, New Years Eve, tanked horribly and is being counted as a film failure in spite of the celebrity lineup. Well, done, America. You reaffirm my faith in humanity. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.
Last night I was at a friends house perusing her DvD collection and came across a couple movies that sparked my interest on this topic. I love cartoons, and in many cases prefer them to real movies (and, to be honest, my own real life). My theory is any idiot can point a camera at other idiots to make a film, but the expense of creating animation is so high (at least for hand drawn) that they need to make sure the story is solid before even getting it going. Puts motivation on the writers, in most cases.
That is not to say there isn’t a lot of animated crap out there, but those movies usually fall into the trap of pandering to uptight kids parents (not the kids themselves, ironically). Also, this list has my own twist, so don’t expect to see a lot of smiley, happy Disney movies. Most of these have some kind of dark twist or complicated story.
10. Titan A.E. This movie wasn’t necessarily the greatest story ever told, but it was the very first movie to make extensive use of CGI technology. It was also a post-apocalyptic story (A.E. stands for After Earth) that had a dark theme to it. It explored some fairly cool themes as well. The movie has taken on cult status, but I feel I gain a lot of geek credibility by having actually seen it in the theater. This movie was also the straw that broke the camel known as Fox Animation Studios’s back, and whenever Fox suffers I feel good (still haven’t forgiven them for cancelling Firefly and about 10 other great shows).
9. Wall-E. I know I said no cute movies, but this one is definitely one of my favorite Pixar themes. Complex story, awesome animation, and when you look at the fact that humanity has continued it’s current trend towards grotesque, morbid obesity it has a dark theme too. I went into this film expecting kiddy pap and walked out seriously impressed.
8. Ghost in the Shell. I can’t really call myself an anime fanatic, but I enjoy the genre and any nerd worth his salt needs to see this movie at some point. Futuristic crime thriller set in cyberpunk Japan, it featured super cool cyborgs and high technology crime. It sparked all kinds of associated video games and manga series’s. Incidentally, the literal translation of the Japanese title is “Mobile Armored Riot Police”. Cool.
7. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. This movie really showed something important that most other films derived from tv shows fail at; it is possible to have a great stand alone film derived from a TV show. This movie did what South Park always does-pushed the envelope so far into the uncomfortable that it kind of pushed out the other side. Also, I happen to still love South Park, so this is kind of a personal thing.
6. Akira. Another great anime film, this one features cyberpunk motorcycle street gangs and dark, gruesome action. This one also does not pull back on the realistic violence, and ends in a level of mass destruction rarely matched in any other animated film.
5. Spirited Away. Woof. Talk about dark. Rather, talk about dark that masquerades as cute. Great story, as well as a great look into Japanese culture, this epic fish out of water story is one I will always watch given the chance. I have seen it multiple times and ever time I watch it I catch some other detail I missed entirely.
4. the Incredibles. Great story, great animation. Some might make the mistake of assuming this is a cute kiddy film, but let’s not forget the fact that Dash is killing Syndrome’s henchmen left and right and laughing the whole time. Also, remember the corpse of Gazerbeam? Or the fact that Syndrome gets sucked into a jet engine in what could be accurately described as one of the most gruesome death possible? Definitely adult themes here. Of course, the story rocks, the characters all rule, and in an ironic twist the entire film was intended to be a spoof of the Fantastic Four yet somehow managed to remain more true to the original FF than any of the actual movies.
3. the Iron Giant. This film was such a cool experience for me when I saw it in the theater. It started out as a cute ET giant robot film, with the Giant learning about what it means to be human and bonding with young Hogarth (I wish I was named Hogarth) while being pursued by a federal agent. Just when you are ready to pass out from so much sugar in your blood, the Giant thinks Hogarth is killed and turn into an UNSTOPPABLE, UNHOLY KILLING MACHINE! This is like going to see a community theater production of Hamlet and in the third act a bunch of strippers come out and perform. The Iron Giant kicks the crap out of the best military the US of the 1060’s can produce, only to revert to his kind self and save the day. My only real issue with the film is the ending. The Giant flies up to intercede the nuclear missile coming in to kill everyone. Couldn’t he just have whipped out one of the several dozen guns he had just been using and shoot it from a safe distance? Oh, well. Great film, and actually really good for kids.
2. the Nightmare Before Christmas. What a fun story. The twisted Christmas preparations Halloween town was making were great. Jack Skellington is awesome, and in one of the weirdest twists of my cinema life I actually like the songs. The only other musical where the songs didn’t have me chewing on the arm rest was Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog. This story presents a character arc in the truest sense of the term, with Jack showing a steady, progressive character development throughout the film.
1. Batman Mask of the Phantasm. I guess I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a film on here odds are most of you have never heard of, but this is my all time favorite animated movie. What this story addresses that almost all other films and cartoons treat as peripheral at best is that Batman is not really about Batman. It is about a human being named Bruce Wayne who, in spite of all his wealth, has one of the most messed up and troubled lives you could possibly imagine. Haunted by the death of his parents (and secretly blaming himself for it), he will never find peace or love in this lifetime. Of course, the Phantasm is a great villain, the story is convoluted in the coolest way possible, and we get to see the Joker as voiced by the great Mark Hamill. Also, violent and dark as hell, without the happy ending most cartoons seem to look for. In my opinion this is one of the best Batman stories ever told, and from a script point of view will take it over any of the other Batman movies except maybe the Dark Knight. Of course that was about Heath Ledger as Joker, so from a strict story perspective Mask is superior. (Lightning Strikes image courtesy of the Batman t shirt category).
That’s my list. Feel free to disagree with me. I am sure I missed something really cool. Just don’t spam me with Disney stuff. I don’t care if you think Bueaty and the Beast or the Little Mermaid are the best out there. They are fun, but given that they are all derived from fairy tales and more or less star the same character and rely on cuteness to make the movie happen I can’t go there. Also, neither of them qualify in the “I actually like the songs” category.
Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. If you do you can send me your opinions directly. Or just post here. As long as you don’t cuss I’ll put it up. Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.