I treated myself to something special for this film. One of our local theaters was hosting the Cornetto Trilogy, which was Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and then the World’s End and I loved every minute of it (plus they game me a free t-shirt. Wish I knew were I could get more cool nerd t shirts. Oh, wait. I do). I wish to hell Hollywood would take a lesson from Simon Pegg and figure out that big stars and massive gun battles (well, except for Hot Fuzz) are not what’s needed in a good movie.
Yes, another film I rolled in to with a predisposition, thus making my unbiased reviewer qualifications suspect. I am a fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and love all their films (even Paul). I expected this one to be amazing, and am pleased to announce that my expectations were met. I am sure a less generous (cough cough fan boy cough cough) reviewer might find things to take issue with, but overall I enjoyed this film immensely.
What’s neat is once again Simon has taken a nerd trope and made it cool again while reinventing his and his friends characters into something completely different. Nick Frost is no longer an unemployed pot dealing loser or half assed cop but rather a high powered and very responsible lawyer (at least until he gets five shots of whiskey into him). Simon Pegg is the loser in this film, a barely adult who has never let go of how cool he was back in high school and yearns for those days all over again (like most of the idiots I spoke to at my reunion. As for me those four years are in my past and if I could call in a tactical air strike on the section of my brain that remembers high school I would (along with my alma mater. Burn in hell SCHS)).
And of course where would a Simon Pegg movie be without a campy action sci fi component. Paul was aliens, Hot Fuzz was cops, Shaun of the Dead was zombies, and the World’s End is all about robots (and sort of aliens). There was also a very cool Invasion of the Body Snatchers component that I enjoyed a great deal. I actually believe a robot uprising to be even more possible than a zombie apocalypse (and if you know how much I believe we are due for zombie apocalypse then you understand how likely I consider the robot uprising) and therefore makes for a great story premise.
It kind of makes me wonder why we don’t have more robot themed movies. Last one I can think of would have to be I, Robot and it really didn’t do very well (to be fair, it was kind of a crappy adaptation of a really good book). I think the issue is most people kind of understand that if there ever were a robot uprising we the human race would be royally boned. Just like it’s hard to have a superhero who is too powerful to compete against (Superman, for example) you can’t have a villain (or villainous force) that the heroes can’t really compete with. It is difficult to imagine fighting something you will break your hand punching in the face. In movie fantasy everyone likes to see themselves as a hero cutting down dozens of bad guys with their machine gun or ninja sword, not one of several thousand faceless BBS’s (Basic Bullet Stoppers) assigned to climb onto a robot tank in order to break it’s suspension with the combined weight of their corpses.
This film manages to get away from that by making the robots old school G.I. Joe style, where the heads and limbs come off easier than a Mr. Potato Head with an M-80 in it. I don’t want to start finding reasons to give black holes, but if I were going to use robots to take over the world I would probably make them at least tough enough to go mano a roboto with some out of shape middle aged drunkards.
So the World’s End. The film starts off with Gary King (Simon Pegg-not going to bother with film credits. If you don’t know who he is get off my blog) recounting the greatest night of his life when he and his four best friends from high school attempting the Miracle Mile-a route planned out to hit 12 pubs in one evening ending up at the World’s End in Newton Haven. He then goes around trying to convince his now grown up friends to recreate the trek and actually finish it this time. They are all grown up and have responsible lives and little interest in a night of alcoholic debauchery. For the record they are Any Knightly (Nick Frost-same as Simon), Peter Page (Eddie Marsan-Snow White and the Huntsman, War Horse, the Best of Men), Oliver Chamberlain (The Hobbit: and Unexpected Journey, Pirates! a Band of Misfits, Sherlock Holmes), and Steven Prince (Paddy Considine-Now is Good, Girl on a Bicycle, Submarine). (See what they did with the names?)
Anyway, Gary bullies, lies, and cajoles them all to join him and they all return to their home town of Newton Haven, a quaint old fashioned burb that I guess England is loaded with and reminds me of a lot of small towns in New Hampshire. Andy is now a teetotaler (what does teetotaler mean? It means you should have stayed awake more in school). They hit the first couple pubs and notice odd things, like no one seems to recognize them. They run into Olivers sister Sam (Rosamund Pike-you know she is really very attractive and an accomplished actress but her filmography reads like a skunk/steamroller mass murder crime scene-Johnny English Reborn, Jack Reacher, Wrath of the Titans. Those three films garnered a total of sixteen black holes from yours truly (granted, Wrath earned most of them but none of them were in the positive)) who Gary did back in the day but Steven has always had a thing for.
Gary gets into a fight with a kid in the mens room and accidentally knock his head off, discovering the awful secret of Newton Haven-most of the town has been taken over by robots. He and his chums mix it up with more and take them all down. They decide the best way to survive is to finish the pub crawl to avoid suspicion (this part didn’t sit great with me, and here is where I show you all what a hypocrite I really am as I have tossed films I cared less about down multiple flights of stairs for plot holes less weighty than this). Gary seems the most interested in finishing it as he appears to have nothing else in his life.
So the film progresses. Things get weirder at each stop as they discover the secret of what the robots are after. The story gets super cool at the end and then hokey again.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Two stars. Robots. One star. All the inside jokes that only a fan of the Cornetto series will get are in full force. One star. A surprise appearance by some very cool stars. One star. Seeing Nick Frost go on a berserk rampage. One star. A film that manages to use the story and action to show the development of relationships between characters rather than treating character development like the muck you pull out of your rain gutter. A true buddy film in the sense that friendship triumphs in the end. One black hole. Free t shirt (which I am wearing right now). One star. Some very cool camera work (as per one of these films) and excellent pacing. One star. No need to bring in huge Hollywood names based on the mistaken belief that people will go see it just because of the star (cough cough Ben Affleck Batman cough cough). One star. Overall an excellent movie experience. Two stars. Total: twelve stars.
The black holes.
I really don’t wanna, but I suppose my much abused credibility needs a bone thrown to it once in a while. The fact that the robot costume I made with a cardboard box, some silver spray paint, and duct tape in 3rd grade had more strength and durability than these robots. Also what was up with the hand thing they all kept on trying to do? When you see it you will understand. One black hole. The logical reason to keep on with the pub crawl was tenuous at best and was literally the turd in the punch bowl for a big chuck of the film for me. One black hole. Total: two black holes.
A very grand total of ten stars. Yes, you should go see this. Yes, you should watch Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz again before seeing it. I’ll say this film was on the level of Hot Fuzz but not quite as good as Shaun (but remember also I have a love of zombies, making that opinion suspect too). See it in a theater and pay full price as a means of telling Hollywood what we, the unwashed nerd masses, want from our films. Date movie? Of course. If the girl you are seeing isn’t turned by a good Pegg/Frost film drop her off at the bus stop and give her a buck for fare as you will never find true happiness with her. Bathroom break? Hell no. Hold it for 109 minutes. Either that or get one of these portable Pit Stops before heading in.
Thanks for reading. I’ll see something else tonight and write it up tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu and like us on Facebook please. If you have a comment on this film or my review post it here, and any off topic questions or suggestions can be sent to email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
Rest in Peace Division? I certainly found the parts I dozed off in restful.
I consider this review a testament to how much I love you, my beloved readers, and writing these blogs. You see, I spent all last week at Comic Con (awesome, BTW. I’ll try to write up something on it later this week) and just arrived back home yesterday afternoon to unload the hundreds of nerd t shirts I brought down there for the show (if you are curious, this Havard Law shirt was pretty much the best seller we had down there) and pack up all the orders that piled up while we were in geek heaven. Then, rather than rest, eat, or take a much needed shower I opted to go see a crap movie in order to give you all something to read this night.
Of course, I had a sneaking suspicion that there would not be many people in the audience to be offended by my stench (I like to think of it as a manly musk) and as it turns out, I was right.
It looks like the make up, facial hair, clothing, and personality worn by Jeff Bridges in the movie True Grit have become permanently attached to his body and soul as that now appears to be the only role he can perform. This film is a clear rip(d. Haw!) off of Men in Black and Ghostbusters with a bad buddy cop overview involving Rooster Colburn and Martin Riggs. The thing with rip offs and fusion films is they can be quite good if you take the cool, functional parts and meld them into a decent story and good characters. Classics are classics for a reason.
Unfortunately this film did none of those things. I often talk about Frankenstein movies where the parts of other dead films are sewn together and animated with electricity into something that moves like a live movie and occasionally does something really amazing. If this film were the work of Dr. Frankenstein however it looks like he was getting over a long crystal meth bender and just stuck all the dead movie parts into a meat grinder in order to form them into a giant man shaped meatball that he stuffed into the nearest microwave and went to go pass out. The only thing this film is good for is decay and collecting maggots.
I should probably find something good to say before Universal sends a hit man after me. I guess the reason Jeff Bridges keeps playing Rooster Cogburn is he is a cool and interesting character, and this movie milks that for as much as it is worth. This film does nothing to alleviate the burning hatred I feel for Ryan Reynolds for his butchering the Green Lantern, at least it did nothing to bury the needle further. At least he wasn’t playing his odious Van Wilder character (again), and he and Bridges managed to generate a little chemistry together. I have always had a weird thing for Mary-Louise Parker, and her looking like an uptight school principal was kind of lighting my fuse the whole time (take that for what you will).
The story is of Nick (Ryan Reynolds-the Green Lantern, Safe House, the Change-Up), a Boston PD officer. He and his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon-Sleepers, Mystic River, X-Men First Class) stole some gold in a drug bust. Nick feels guilty and is going to turn his share in. Hayes opts to shoot him in the face during a bust.
Nick flies up to some ill defined afterlife in the sky (Heaven? Why do parts of of look decidedly Hell-ish? Reminds me of the last trip I took to New Jersey) but at the last minute gets pulled into an office with Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker-Weeds, the West Wing, Red), one of the heads of the Rest In Peace Department. They go out and capture spirits who have skipped out of judgement (no clue how this is done) and are hiding among humans. She offers him a job and he takes it.
He then partners up with Roy (Jeff Bridges-True Grit, the Big Lebowski, Iron Man), a cantankerous old West guy who fell out of the stereotype tree and hit every branch. They go out looking for bad Deado’s using Indian food and assorted spices. Meanwhile Nick is obsessed with his living ex wife Julia (Dinner for Schmucks, We Bought a Zoo, the Devil Wears Prada) but to the living he appears as a creepy old Asian man (James Hong-Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China, Mulan).
Roy’s physical appearance is that of a super hot blond chick (Marisa Miller-Victoria Secret, Entourage, just generally looking hot I guess). Trust me when I say the incessant jokes that situation raises gets old so fast I think it bent time.
Anyway, the two come across some gold similar to what Nick stole and it leads them to a plan to conquer the world or something. Nick deals with his own death and the loss of his wife while Roy orneries things up.
I guess I like Jeff Bridges and his Rooster character. I just hope he doesn’t purposely typecast himself. One star. Umm. I guess I liked Mary-Louise Parker and her character. One star. Total: Two stars.
The black holes.
Bad rip off of several different movies. Two black holes. The rules of being dead were never really defined. They don’t have any sense of taste but they do feel? Do live humans see them as monsters when they get released? How does one avoid being sucked up into the sky? Can dead people kill live ones? The questions keep on coming. I suspect these questions don’t really occur to someone who has read the comic book, but to me they were like cinder blocks tied to my body for a swimming lesson. Two black holes. The whole structure of the RIPD is never defined, and nothing was done to establish it. One black hole. The story was lame, predictable, and meandered back and forth like watching back to back Scooby Doo episodes. One black hole. The whole thing felt really unfinished, especially the characters and their development. The entire film felt rushed. One black hole. Pacing was weak. It definitely dragged pointlessly at points. 96 minutes that felt like three hours. One black hole. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the main bad guy hoped to accomplish. One black hole. Once it was established that the main characters were effectively indestructible the action got painfully boring. I literally was struggling to stay awake. The curse of the PG-13 gremlin did not help. One black hole. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this, but the CGI was like 10 years ago. They tried to speed up the action in order to hide that fact that we were seeing cartoons on the screen, but there wasn’t much hiding it. One black hole. Total: eleven black holes.
A grand total of nine black holes. Not really worth spending money on IMO. If you are bored on a Tuesday night and have a box of wine to kill this will help fill up the time. Date movie? Hell no. Odds are you shouldn’t see it solo. Bathroom break? Given that Jeff Bridges was probably the most entertaining part of the film ironically you can easily miss any of the action scenes without hurting your viewing experience. However, since I expect most of you to see this at home just hit the pause button (or fast forward, if you know what I mean).
Thanks for reading. I am on a business trip right now but will try to see something else this week. I also will try to post something on Comic Con. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Post any comments on this film or my review here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
Over the past few years of doing these it has become apparent that the movie going audience craves stupid movies in the same way a 12 year old 300lb diabetic craves chocolate ice cream (if box office receipts are anything to base this on). And like a parent who feeds his obese child chocolate ice cream Hollywood could be accused of a certain amount of abuse by indulging in such base desires.
However, like the crack dealer who works down the street from my office everyone needs to get paid and Hollywood is no exception. I will say this movie is stupidly fun, but after a while for the thinking viewer the stupidity just keeps adding up until the weight of it compresses your brain into a diamond of perfect bitterness. For those of you who don’t bother to think I’m sure you will have a blast at this movie and the follow up Bachelor viewing party.
I was more than a little surprised at how stupid this film was. The director Antoine Fugua directed Training Day, one of my personal favorite films. As a fan of his previous work I am going to drop the blame for this on the two writers who have not a single movie (or TV, or YouTube video) credit to their names (production budget of $80,000,000 and they effectively hired two amateurs to write this thing. It is annoying).
I walked into this expecting a certain amount of flag porn (you know, so much u-rah! USA crap that uber right wing gun nuts like my cousin have to change their shorts after seeing it) and there was a certain amount of that, but what I really did not expect to see was the Secret Service portrayed as a bunch of moronic amateurs who barely know which end of the gun the bullets come out of. I have no real military training but even I know that charging forward in a group towards a machine gun was considered a bad plan even back in WWI. A lifetime of FPS video games has taught me the value of taking cover behind stuff in order to avoid turning into a bullet magnet, but somehow everyone except the main character seemed to feel either that taking cover was for wusses or that the Koreans were firing miniature nerd t shirt guns and they all wanted a Star Trek souvenir. Also it has been long established that we don’t negotiate with terrorists but in this film every person in the film was completely lacking in anything resembling a spine from the President down.
I was going to do an itemize list of the stupidity I saw in this film but that would be a big wast of time. Here are a few that really stick out, with a bonus science one. First off, it is laughable to believe that an unidentified cargo plane that refuses all hails would be allowed to come within sight of the White House. Also, fighter pilots are typically not dumb enough to both line up next to a potentially dangerous plane. I have to believe that Secret Service agents wear some kind of body armor, and that the front door of the White House is strong enough to withstand a single RPG. Those agents are well known for being extremely paranoid and highly trained, thus leaving it hard to believe that a bunch of strangers in the midst of an attempt on the Presidents life would be able to get the drop on them (not to mention know when to duck and take cover). I would like to think that anyone in line to become President would have the balls to not cave in to every demand that some terrorist made. I don’t know what kind of defenses the White House actually does have but I would be shocked to find out they didn’t have some kind of set of remote machine guns in case a group of commandos tries to take it out. In fact I would bet that a mere 40 commandos wouldn’t even make it across the front lawn. Finally the idea that there is a self destruct code for all our nuclear bombs that would allow for them to all blow up in the silos is laughable, and the idea that the North Koreans have the spies to figure it out is just dumb. Also, ordering a fleet out of an area and removing all the US troops in South Korea would take months, not done in an hour.
Let me take a moment and speak to my old friend science for a minute. Do you know what would happen if you threw a stick of dynamite into a nuclear bomb? OMG it would blow up! No, that’s not how they work. They aren’t just bigger piles of gun powder you can light with a fuse Wile E Coyote style. An A bomb is a precision instrument where the pieces of uranium have to come together with exact timing in order to reach critical mass. Any other way and all you get is a dirty bomb. You could pile all the nuclear bombs in the world in one place and line them with plastic explosive and all you would get would be a big radioactive mess. Also, what idiot designed a self destruct system that could be used to blow up the entire United States?
The bottom line is the implausibility of pretty much everything that happened in this film steadily bleeds the realism away leaving us to rely on our overworked suspension of disbelief. Essentially if we have a hard time believing all this could happen the enjoyment of the film really fades away. One of my favorite movie scenes in the last few years is the Nightcrawler attack on the White House in X2. I think the thing I like the most was seeing how cool and competent the Secret Service were. They were only foiled by mutant super powers beyond their ken. In this film they all look and act like mall rent-a-cops in suits. Also the villains plan goes out too far in scope, to the detriment of the tension.
Anyway, the story. Gerard Butler (Playing for Keeps, RocknRolla, 300. He’s Scottish for the record. Ironic that he plays the lead role in this super American film) is Mike Banning, Secret Service agent. He loses his position on the President’s (Aaron Eckhart-The Dark Knight, Battle Los Angeles, Thank You for Smoking) protection detail after dropping the First Lady (literally). He is now working in the Treasury. Meanwhile the President is meeting with the South Korean President when a cargo plane leisurely avoids all air defense in the most protected city in America and start shooting up the White House and Washington DC. The President is evacuated into an underground bunker where the Korean’s head of security (Rick Yune-the Fast and the Furious, Die Another Day, The Man with the Iron Fists) betrays them and captures him. He works for the North or something.
Anyway, it turns out that his team knows everything there is to know about the White House security and they take over all systems while his team of commandos tear through the Secret Service like Jason Vorhees going through a cheerleading camp. The Speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman-the Shawshank Redemption, the Dark Knight, Conan the Barbarian) is made temporary president (oh, yeah, the Vice President was hanging out with the Pres at the time of attack. No problems there I guess) and immediately caves in to every demand the North Koreans make including completely abandoning our allies the South Koreans to complete conquest by the North. Meanwhile Mike Banning has snuck into the White House and kicks seven kinds of hell out of every Korean he can find.
At that point it’s pretty much Die Hard in the White House. In fact the bad guys use exactly the same escape plan as they did in Die Hard. Banning sneaks around in the hidden wall passages and kills a bunch of guys one by one. I won’t completely spoil the movie but if you are of a patriotic bent expect to be pleasantly turned on.
The stars. It was fun, and if you are a Die Hard fan and don’t mind remakes than you will enjoy the action. Three stars. For the bad John McClane role he was handed Gerard Butler did decently with this role, and I liked the Korean bad guy. One star. This film won’t have you thinking you just wasted 120 minutes of your life even though on many levels you did. One star. Five stars total.
The black holes. The stupidity really ground on my enjoyment of the film like having a pebble in your 22 hole Doc’s and just not wanting to take the time to unlace them and get it out. One black hole. I was kind of offended at how incompetently the Secret Service was portrayed. One black hole. The fact that no one in this film had any spine and caved in at every opportunity made me lose respect for all the characters and therefore like them less. One black hole. The dialog was as schlocky as you could make it without actually cutting sound bites from the schlockiest films in movie history and pasting them together. One black hole. Some of the CGI and effects from the first half hour looked more than a little incomplete. One black hole. Total: five black holes.
A straight zero. I suppose if all you want is dumb action and consider a competent plot and dialog unnecessary options you will enjoy this. Otherwise a big “meh” from me. I suppose I am a little more disappointed than usual in that I thought going in this movie looked really cool and could have been exceptional. That will teach me to not get my hopes up. This could be seen on a big screen or small screen with no real loss of enjoyment. Big screen will mean the mediocre effects will be super visible. Date movie? Nah. There is a sort of love story (almost garnered another black hole for that one) but nothing in here is going to turn your date on. Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere, really. There are a couple scenes towards the last half involving the nurse girlfriend working in a hospital that are pretty worthless. Go then if you need it.
Thanks for reading. I’m in LA on Sunday but will try to see something tonight. I’m kind of dying for some good sci fi so I’ll see what I can find. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Post comments on this film or my review here, or send me off topic questions or suggestions to david@NerdKungFu.com. Thank again and have a great day.
Tom Cruise reaches out to show the audience how amazingly awesome he is.
Before I get into this review, I have to tell you why I am doing this particular movie. It came out as I was incredibly busy with work and I was prepared to let it slip through the cracks like so many other movies that just don’t really catch my eye for being what I perceive as blasé. However, I learned (thanks to a brow beating phone conversation) that my dear mother is a huge Lee Child fan and has read every Jack Reacher novel to date. She saw the movie (first movie I think she has seen in a theater since Gone With the Wind) and was outraged at what she thought was the ridiculous portrayal of her beloved character. She handed unto me a request (some other people might call it a directive) that I see the film at my earliest convenience and write a review for it (my mother, by the way, is my biggest fan and does sometimes read my blog, a fact that occasionally causes me to awaken in the middle of the night with night terrors).
So I saw the film. Was it any good? Sort of yes and sort of no. If all you want is some action and a slightly more complex story than the usual folderol than yes, it is good. It has action, (some) story, and more action. However, this script definitely stood too long in front of the cliche machine gun and has been riddle with them to the point that the cliches ooze from every pore and orifice. Every thing in this film is taken to such an extreme that is becomes almost laughable; Jack Reacher is SOOO amazingly awesome and the villain is SOOO ridiculously evil that the film disconnects from reality and transforms itself into a cartoon.
From what I know about the Lee Child Jack Reacher character it is indeed laughable to cast Tom Cruise in the role. Jack Reacher is supposed to be 6’5″, 250lbs with blond hair and blue eyes. Tom Cruise is (reportably) somewhere between 5’6″ and 5’9″ (based on the fact that he seems to be at eye level with costar Rosamund Pike I am inclined to go with the 5’6″ reports), dark hair, and if he weighs more that 150lbs I will eat one of the thousands of nerd t shirts I have in the room with me. As a guy who really is 6’5″ and 250lbs I find this almost insulting.
The other thing that is going on here is you can almost hear Tom Cruise pleasuring himself to this movie. His character is the most awesome thing since the invention of fire and the whole movie looks like a vehicle to show the universe that there is no one greater in the history of humanity. I don’t know. Maybe Jack Reacher is written in the books as a combination of James Bond, Bruce Lee, John McClane, and the Six Million Dollar Man, but if not this thing reeks of self gratification vanity project (If I am wrong and Jack Reacher can single handedly best five guys in a fight and is one of the top sniper marksmen in the world than I owe you an apology, Tom).
The weirdest thing for me is the director, Christopher McQuarrie, also did one of my all time favorite movies the Usual Suspects. It is a cool, complicated, and twisted story with perfect pacing and an awesome cast. I can sort of see an attempt at that level of complexity in the first half of this film but eventually what was a good, complex story devolved into a regular action shooter and that stuff at the beginning that seemed so cool early on devolved into a lot of unnecessary plot complication.
The movie starts off with a sniper in a parking garage randomly shooting five people in a clear attempt to shock the audience. He is caught in like 15 seconds of police work by Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo (the Help, Last King of Scottland, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) of the local (now that I think of it, I have no idea what city this was supposed to be taking place it) police department. The shooter turns out to be a trained Army sniper named Barr (Joseph Sikora-Safe, Shutter Island, Boardwalk Empire). He tells them to find Jack Reacher, who has been out of touch for years. Jack shows up like a conjured fairy and gets hired by Barr’s attorney Helen (Rosamund Pike-Surrogates, Die Another Day, Pride and Prejudice) as investegator in spite of the fact that he thinks Barr is guilty.
At that point the story boils down to a by-the-numbers whodunnit. Jack uncovers a conspiracy somehow involving city construction contracts. A pretty girl (Alexia Fast-Helen, Repeaters, Fido (!!! AWESOME. If you haven’t seen this movie you suck. One of the great zombie films IMO) gets him into a fight with the local color and later gets him into more trouble. The most laughable evil yet at the same time non-threatening villain ever (in my opinion) shows up to do evil stuff. The villain (Werner Herzog-Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn, Encounters at the End of the World) starts off with some incredibly complex plan to execute his evil but at the end of the film has all the complexity of a boss monster in Resident Evil. Robert Duvall surfaces like a submarine to play an ex-Marine Corps sniper for some reason. The denouement was pretty much lifted from Tango and Cash (if you have seen how bad that film is you understand how that was not a compliment). Cars get chased, guys get shot, and at the end Jack Reacher is so amazing that he literally hurts your eyes to gaze upon his countenance.
The stars. If fun action is what you are going for this movie has what you need. One star. There were a couple of really good car chases that were quite enjoyable (although a 70 Chevelle SS should be able to shred an Audi on it’s front grill like a soggy cornflake. American muscle car >>>> any Euro lamo-mobile in all ways that matter). One star. A series stab at something more complex than normal. One star. Overall not a total waste of time and money. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes. Jack Reacher is so ridiculously awesome at everything (I’m sure even his flatulence has deadly combat potential while still attracting the ladies) that you spend half the movie wondering if this is really some kind of Police Story style spoof. One black hole. If the main character shreds every obstacle with the strength of his mighty masculinity in the course of the movie every aspect of the action and story loses all gravitas and turns into a grind, which is what happened here. One black hole. Only through the magic of camera angles and highly selective supporting actor casting can Tom Cruise even be considered worthy of this role, not to mention capable of contesting with one other human (much less five) in a brawl. One black hole. The story had so much complex potential at the beginning but by the end ended with a stupid brawl in the mud. It also drank deeply from the cliche punch. I’d like to say “It’s no the Usual Suspects” but I think that would just have too much irony even for me. One black hole. The villain was given to us as the most evil man since they cloned Hitler, but very little of his back story was given to allow us to see what he was about. It essentially boiled down to “He’s evil because he has an evil eye and we tell you so. Also he ate his own fingers.” One black hole. Grand total: five black holes.
A grand total of one black hole. Meh. Worth watching if it comes on TV and your remote is out of reach. Nothing on here really needs a big screen so feel free to watch it from the comfort of your couch. Date movie? Probably not. Nothing in here for the ladies except for a bare chested Tom Cruise, and you will suffer greatly in comparison. Bathroom break? Nothing really stands out as being more worthless than the rest of the film. I’d say the scene with Reacher and Helen in the hotel room doesn’t add much, but if you are only here to see Tom Cruise shirtless don’t skip out on this.
Thanks again for reading. More this weekend, plus I have to do my 2012 recap. I think this year I am just going to do my top and bottom 10 in two different posts. Last year I went all complex and at the end of it felt like I might have just wasted a bunch of time. Feel free to comment on this film or my review here. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to me at email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
And so I continue.
The “Dressing a Pig in a Wig and Ballroom Dress” award for the most worthless, unnecessary, or misapplied use of CGI or special effects. The candidates are Transformers Dark of the Moon, The Immortals, The Three Musketeers, Conan the Barbarian, Green Lantern, and I am Number Four. There wasn’t actually a lot of mental debate on my part for this one. The inexplicable and completely unnecessary pyrotechnic special effects in Transformers Dark of the Moon make it the clear cut winner.
The “We Might Have Actually Done a Better Job With Claymation” award for the worst CGI effects. The candidates are Season of the Witch, Dylan Dog, Dead of the Night, Green Lantern, Troll Hunter and Attack the Block. I hate doing this as I honestly enjoyed the movie, but I have to give it to Attack the Block for the midnight black bugbears. A little depth and shadow is not that hard to render, guys.
The “My Trophy Wife is Actually a Real Doll” award for the most obviously tacked on unnecessary or worthless supporting character. The candidates are Erin Sadelstein (Katie Holmes) from Jack and Jill, Walter from the Muppets, Milady de Winter (Mila Jovovich) from the Three Musketeers, the entire cast of New Years Eve, Riah (Oriah Acima Andrews) from Abduction, Brawny Smurf from the Smurfs, the kids from the Change Up, Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington Whitely) from Tranformers Dark of the Moon, and Tom Kalmaku (Taika Waititi) from Green Lantern. With such a plethora of candidates it was really tough to narrow things down (I’d like to give a special mention to Hal Jordan’s entire family, especially his nephew, in Green Lantern as well) but the award has to go to Rosie Huntington Whitely for her worthless portrayal as a love interest in Transformers. I think they could have had the same result had the filmmakers just streamed internet porn into a picture-within-a-picture in one corner of the film, and we wouldn’t have had to put up with her acting.
The “$3 More Buys You a Headache and a Cheap Pair of Souvenir Glasses” award for the worst or most unnecessary 3D effects. The candidates are Drive Angry, Green Lantern, Priest, Fright Night, the Three Musketeers, the Immortals, and Hugo. I think all 3D sucks, but given a choice I think I will have to give this one to Priest. Literally did nothing for the quality of the film.
The “George W Bush” award for the movie that makes the most mockery of science. The candidates are the Darkest Hour, Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part I, the Three Musketeers, Tree of Life, Captain America: the First Avenger, Transformers Dark of the Moon, Super 8, Source Code, and I am Number Four. God I want to give this one to the Three Musketeers. The problem is, while every single invention in that movie was like a stupid sandwich served up with extra stupid and a side of dumb, they were all theoretically possible. Therefore I have to give this award to Source Code for the inane concept that a computer hooked up to a dead man’s brain can alter the space/time continuum. Saying the words “quantum physics” does not really mean you understand quantum physics. (image courtesy of the Nerd T Shirt category)
OK, enough of the negative awards. Let’s do some positive ones.
The “Sex With a Crazy Woman” award for the movie whose 3D effects were good enough to eclipse the headache I got. The candidates are the Muppets, Arthur Christmas, Transformers Dark of the Moon, the Adventures of Tintin, and Conan the Barbarian. I am going to give this one to the Smurfs. I think 3D works best when done on fully rendered animation, and having it included in a live action film helped the CGI figures really pop out nicely.
The “Square Peg Into a Square Hole” award for the best, most effective, or must seamless use of CGI and special effects. The candidates are the Darkest Hour, the Thing, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, Real Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Cowboys and Aliens. This was a real debate for me, boiling down to Real Steel and Planet of the Apes. I thin I am going to go with Real Steel. When you look at a giant robot in that film it really looks like there is a giant robot on the screen. You could easily say the same for Planet of the Apes, but honestly I just like robots better than apes.
The “Wonder Bra” award for the best supporting character or sidekick. The candidates are Kato (Jay Chao) from Green Hornet, Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) from Paul, Wise Man (Scott Glenn) from Sucker Punch, Hobson (Helen Mirren) from Arthur, Dr, Carolina Aranha (Frieda Pinto) from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Chet (Aziz Ansari) from 30 Minutes or Less, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) from Moneyball, and Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) from Young Adult. This is a tough one too as I would want any one of these people backing me up. However, if I had to choose one to be my go to guy in a tight spot I think I would go with the Wise Man from Sucker Punch.
That’s it for today. More later on, although I might see a movie tonight. I have been meaning to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It looks really good. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Thanks for reading. Talk to you tomorrow.
I was mistaken on this movie. I thought it was a remake of the 1982 film that freaked me the hell out back in the day. It is, in fact, a prequel to that great Kurt Russel movie (one of his best. It is only superseded by Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. Pork Chop Express image from Big Trouble courtesy of the nerd t shirts). Not only that, but it is one of the best prequel’s I have seen. It is easily the best of the year, even better than X-Men First Class, and might be one of the best movies this year as well.
To say I was pleasantly surprised is a bit of an understatement. The director, Norwegian Matthijs van Heijningen, has not a single film credit prior to this and is a complete unknown. The main actress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, has a somewhat limited filmography, although she did play the hot girlfriend in Scott Pilgrim verses the World (most of my friends loved that movie, but I had mixed feelings). She was also in Live Free or Die Hard, Death Proof, and Final Destination 3. Nothing to imply something great. The main guy is a guy I have talked about a lot this year, Joel Edgerton. He was in Warrior and played young Uncle Owen in the Star Wars prequels, but other than that kind of a limited history. Overall nobody that makes you think you are about to see a great film.
For those of you unfortunate enough to have not seen the Thing 1982, it is basically the story of an American camp in Antarctica that comes across a dog being shot at by a Norwegian helicopter. The dog turns out to be an alien polymorph who kills people and then imitates them. It is as creepy and horrible as puppets in 1982 can be, and ends with a massive question mark in the air. They investigate the Norwegian camp and discover it in complete ruins, with dead bodies and burned aliens all over the place. There is an implied complete story here that we only get catch pieces of and have to fill in with our imagination.
This movie tells that story, and does it brilliantly. The thing I love is that Matthijs, unlike other, more established but in many ways lamer directors (J.J. Abrams), did not feel the need to re-imagine the whole story to suit his own ego. Instead, he makes things as close to the original as possible. The Norwegian camp is exactly as it was in the original, and all the wreckage and things they found in the later film are present and explained (even the burned two headed alien corpse).
In addition to being true to the 1982 film, this movie is great as a stand alone film. The story makes sense, the tension is built up over time, and there is a terrible sense of mystery and an inability to trust anyone. The original story was based on a 1951 film, the Thing from Another World, which was in turn inspired by a novella by Who Goes There? by John W. Campell, Jr. The underlying theme in the novella is massive paranoia (I have also read the novella) and both movies manage to carry that through.
The story. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Kate Lloyd, a paleontology who is recruited by a Norwegian scientist to examine a mystery body they found encased in ice in Antarctica. They find the corpse is that of an alien, as well as a massive alien space ship buried in the ice. They pull the alien corpse up in a giant block of ice and bring it back to their base. Naturally it escapes (remember the giant hollowed out block of ice from the first movie too?) and starts killing and/or taking over humans. Flamethrower hijinks ensues. Paranoia runs rampant, most of the camp gets burned, and the movie more or less ends with another big question mark and ends where the first one picked up.
Honestly there isn’t a lot more than that in the story. However, I am not trying to imply it is not a full and eventful. It is super cool, especially the scenes where they are trying to figure out who the aliens are. One of the Norweigans, Lars (Jorgen Langhelle) is really cool and you get to like him a lot. He does not speak any English, but his tone and actions combined with subtitles really delivers a good performance.
The stars. A prequel that didn’t destroy the original. One star. Excellent story. One star. Shape changing, horrific alien. One star. Great acting. One star. None of the characters did any of the typical horror movie stupidity stuff. You don’t find yourself saying “Don’t go in there!” just before they go in there and get their face torn off. One star. The Norwegians did not hesitate to grab guns and get armed. One star. Good acting all around. One star. The story managed to tie in all the elements from the first movie and didn’t go off the rails more than a couple minor things. One star. CGI was decent, and managed to meld with the human actors really well. One star. The alien is horrible in all regards, and unlike other movies where you see too much of it and it loses it’s horror, this one gets more terrible as time goes on. One star. Great characters you find it easy to identify with. One star. Overall great movie experience. One star. Total: twelve big stars.
The black holes. Pacing seemed rushed. I strongly suspect a lot of good stuff ended up on the cutting room floor. Feels like about 20-30 minutes might be missing (run time is only 103 minutes, so I am willing to bet this is true). Hopefully the extended DVD will reinsert them. One black hole. Logically, if I were to discover an alien corpse and a massive alien space craft I think I would probably let the alien chill (haw!) while I looted the spacecraft like Viking. One black hole. If you had never seen the 1982 the Thing the ending might have left you a little flat. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
Grand total of nine stars. If you are a fan of sci fi, horror, or paranoid whodunits see this film. Try to see it in the theater is my recommendation. Not a good date film, IMO.
Thanks for reading. If I get a chance I will try to see Ides of March this week. This upcoming weekend looks a little grim, with the Three Musketeers 3D and the Return of Johnny English topping the incoming suck-o-meter. Oh, well. I guess I have to pay the price of a great movie like the Thing at some point. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Talk to you soon.
I have been saying for months, ever since I saw the trailer, that I really wanted to see this film. My friends all, to a man or woman, laughed, saying it looked stupid and cheesy. However, I would counter, it is about ROBOTS BEATING THE HELL OUT OF EACH OTHER! How could that be any less than AWESOME?
Well, any number of ways. Fortunately this movie managed to avoid most of those pitfalls and works its way into what was an all around decent and super fun movie.
In the extremely large lexicon of toys I wish I had had as a kid but my dad was either too cheap, poor, or drunk to buy Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots ranked pretty high. Of course it is probably a good thing I didn’t get it, as it would have required me to have a friend to play it against. Still, pretty cool, and as a consequence I am fascinated by the idea of robots fighting. I used to watch Battle Bots, but after a while realized they were all the same robot designed to flip their opponents over, which honest got really boring after a while. I have long dreamed of seeing robots actually fight, and this film delivers. (Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em image courtesy of the nerd t shirts category)
The first sign that this movie was not going to suck occurred 30 minutes before it started when my best friend texted me the very interesteing fact that it was based on a story by Richard Matherson called Steel. He also wrote the great book I am Legend, which got made into movies two and a half times, the best being the Omega Man starring gun nut Charlton Heston (I am not going to talk about the horrible job they did with I am Legend, the Will Smith mutation). This got me even more jazzed than before and was happy when the film did not dissappoint.
The story itself is nothing original. Take any 80’s era underdog movie and substitute robots for humans and you pretty much have it. The Karate Kid, the Bad News Bears, and Rocky all seem to surface here. Rocky in particular they seem to borrow from heavily. But just because the story is not original does not mean it isn’t good, and is supported by some awesome acting, dialog, direction, and above all, big robots.
Hugh Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, an ex boxer who now operates and promotes fighting robots. His last robot gets wrecked by a bull (little weird there) and he is at rock bottom, owing a ton of money do different thugs and having no prospects. His ex girlfriend dies, leaving the his sons guardianship, Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo, a really good kid actor who has been in Thor, Resurrecting the Champ, and a movie that looks interesting called Defendor. Kind of a decent geek filmography for an 11 year old) in question. The story is a little complicated, but he manages to get the kids rich uncle to agree to pay him a ton of money to give him custody but in return Charlie has to keep the kid for the summer so they can do their romantic vacation to Italy. He uses the money to buy another robot, Noisy Boy, who gets his ass beat and killed in his first fight.
At that point things seem at an all time low, and Charlie and Max are left scavenging an old robot junk yard for parts to build a new bot. Max finds and recovers Atom, and old sparring bot that they bring back to the training hall/garage. He is a very old sparring robot but has a rare “shadow” function that allows him to mimic actions he sees humans do and integrate them into his fighting style. Charlie trains him and the story moves on from there. Robot battle hijinks ensues. At that point they are pretty much making Robot Rocky, so I won’t bore you with the details. Max and Charlie come to bond, the Atom surprises everyone, and you walk away feeling as good as you can about a robot film (which in my case is pretty damned good).
The stars. Fighting robots. Three stars. Great acting all around. Two stars. All of the robots looked unbelievably cool and bad ass. One star. The CGI and special effects seemed flawless. I really felt like there were 10 foot tall giants running around with the humans on the screen (I have more or less stopped giving stars for good special effects, as it is now kind of expected, but this was good enough for me to make an exception). One star. All the antagonists (Kevin Durand in particular) were pretty cool, and the whole subplot of Charlie owing him a ton of money added rather than detracted from the film. One star. The love interest (Evangeline Lilly-Lost, the Hurt Locker) was cute but not just a super hot eye candy bimbo that seems to litter the screen these days (cough cough Transformers cough cough), and can act. One star. The fight scenes were brutal and very cool, and due (I guess) to the fact that they were all CGI they didn’t have to do the lazy one second cut crap that bugs me in movie action so much these days. Very well choreographed. You can actually follow the action. Two stars. Did I already give stars for fighting robots? How about two more stars for an all around awesome movie experience. Total: thirteen stars.
The black holes. The overall story, while good, was kind of dopey and overall extremely derivative (that’s my polite way of saying copied from) of a bunch of other movies, especially Rocky. Not that it wasn’t a great movie experience, but still. One black hole. The scene where Max finds Atom was a level of suspension of disbelief that was completely out of tone for the entire rest of the movie. Everything else seemed really realistic (as realistic as fighting robots can be) but that whole sequence was just kind of silly. One black hole. The opening fight scene between Charlie’s first robot, Ambush, and a rodeo bull was kind of dumb, unnecessary, unrealistic, and had elements of animal cruelty that were a little off putting. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
So a grand total of 10 stars, and my high recommendation that you go see it on the biggest screen you can find. I am seriously considering seeing it again on iMax, and I never do that. Very, very fun. Don’t bother with a date on this one. She won’t get it, and odds are will see you as lame for being into it.
Kind of a short review, so I am going to share an observation I had. Before I started doing these reviews I would enjoy seeing trailers at the beginning of the films. Gave me a chance to pick out the movies I thought I would enjoy seeing in the future. However, now that I am pretty much seeing everything trailers are more like a cancer patient being given a schedule of his upcoming chemotherapy treatments. Some I look forward too, but a lot of them look like upcoming pain. On that note, if anyone has any idea how I can start to see movies prior to release please let me know. Do I contact the studios, or what? I’d like to have my reviews come out before their release, if possible.
Follow me or message me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Thanks for reading. I’ll probably see the Ides of March tomorrow. Talk to you soon.
If you listen carefully you can actually hear your brain cells dying while watching this film.
OK. This movie sucked, but really that kind of falls into the category of “Gee, Dave. What were you expecting?” The problem is in addition to wooden, soulless “acting” and amateurish action, the plot has holes in it so massive they have collapsed in on themselves and each created a quantum singularity, sucking the rest of the film (and probably the next three films you see) into oblivion. The biggest one, and the one that had me grinding my teeth last night as I tried to fall asleep, the fact that the movie is called Abduction and yet through the entirety of the film ABSOLUTELY NO ONE IS EVER ABDUCTED! The trailers made it seem as if his foster parents had kidnapped him from some kind of super secret lab (a much better story, IMO) or WalMart parking lot, but the fact is he was placed in a foster care home with the blessings of his widowed father. During the entire movie there is no other reference to anyone being abducted, except for the fact that he finds his picture on an abduction website. That, however, is quickly established as a trap to try to find the kid. At one point his love interest gets tied up, but that is more of a hostage/prisoner situation than an actual abduction. No abducting goes on through the course of the movie.
I can actually see the retarded logic that led to this title. Odds are the working title was originally more descriptive. Something like Sizzle Chest Man Boy Shows off his Amazing Abs for all the Dumb Teenage Girls. Oh, Yeah. There are Some Spies in There Somewhere Too. At some point the producers (who go suspiciously uncredited on IMDB. I had to dig into an open casting call in order to find their names. Just to make sure all credit gets to the deserving, here they are: Dan Lautner (no other credits. I assume he’s Taylor’s father. Always a good move giving your star’s family a job on the movie), Roy Lee (the Ring, the Grudge, the Departed-anyone else seeing a pattern in these titles), Doug Davison (exact same credits as Roy. Are they related too?), Ellen Goldsmith-Vein (crap and more crap. Also, who is named Vein?), Lee Stollman (no other producer credit, but he gets Thanks credit on a ton of movies, like Pulp Fiction. What do you do to get a Thanks credit? Park the directors car?), and Gabriel Mason (not a lot, but one that has the most amazing title ever: Assassination of a High School President with Bruce Willis (???). I think I have to NetFlix this one)) are all sitting around and one of them says “You know what’s hot lately? One word movie titles. Twilight, Priest, Drive, Taken. We should do something like that.” at which point another one says “Well, there Taylor Lautner is known for his abs, and there is a minor reference to an abduction website. We should call it Abduction.” The rest of them agree and do more coke.
Anyway, what can laughingly be called the story. Taylor Lautner plays Nathan, a troubled teenager and possibly the biggest pollutant to the human gene pool since thalidomide. He starts off the movie in the stupidest “Lets show the world how wild and crazy I am” scene by riding on the windshield of a truck doing 75 mph on a country road. On the one hand I thought this scene even teenagers would think was dumb, but on the other hand I kind of liked it in that I could fantasize about a horrific accident that would end the movie quickly or leave Taylor remaking My Left Foot. Unfortunately I was not to be so blessed and he survives the trip to a wild party where everyone present is young, attractive, and white (except for the literal token black guy, who in a fit of originality takes on the role of helpful sidekick). They proceed to have more fun in one night than I had in all of high school and most of college, leaving Nathan passed out on the lawn shirtless.
I need to accelerate the pace of this. His dad picks him up, and it turns out he has been training Nathan in martial arts all his life as an excuse to beat his son without getting arrested. Nathan has to work with his super hot (and white) neighbor Karen (Lily Collins, who played the super cute young girl in Priest) to research missing children. While doing so they find a website that has his picture on it. Bad guys come to get him. Stuff gets blown up. On and on.
You know, rather than recap the whole story, I am going to actually talk about all the major plot holes I spotted. First of all, two bad guys (Russian free agents, the villain of choice) show up at his house like 10 minutes after he finds the site. They beat the hell out of and shoot his foster mother then father, but their goal is to kidnap Nathan to make his real father give up some kind of state secret. So what is the best way to capture someone alive? Obviously plant a huge freaking bomb in the oven and blow up the entire house. They also put it on a timer that, assuming they hadn’t just gotten a beating from Nathan, would have killed them as well. Also, the bomb was the size of a microwave, and the two guys showed up carrying nothing. Did they have the bomb clenched tightly between their butt cheeks? Come on.
Then there is the whole web site trap thing. It was stated that the trap was set over two years before the events of this film. The Russians are trying to get a list of double agents back from Nathans dad. Did he get the list two years ago and has been sitting on it ever since? If not why then are the setting traps?
So Nathans foster parent and his psychiatrist (Sigourney Weaver, of all people) are CIA operatives set in place in order to keep him safe in order for his dad to be free rampaging across the spy world (apparently he’s some kind of mayhem guy). Does a lifetime assignment for three highly trained people not seem like a massive waste of resources for one kid? Why not just stick him in a foster home and have someone call them every six months? Is Nathans dad so valuable? Who is he, James Bond? Also, he is supposedly off in the world doing spy stuff, but somehow manages to teleport to Pittsburgh in order to save Nathans life a the end. Doesn’t he have all kinds of other pressing business? Also, if this list is so valuable why did he leave it around the apartment he keeps as a hidey hole, hidden on a cell phone? Even if enemy agents didn’t find it, isn’t there the slightest chance that his apartment could be broken in to? No chance a thief would want to use an untracable phone for calling his drug dealer or anything.
So there is a CIA man named Burton (Alfred Molina-Raiders of the Lost Arc, Chocolat, Spider-Man 2) who, for no apparent reason, Nathan becomes suspicious of and decides spending his life on the lamb is better than trusting. Turns out his mysterious psychic powers were correct, as Burton was actually a double agent and his name was on that list. Why, then, if the list is missing and the Russians need to kidnap the kid in order to extort it back do they need to wait until Nathan contacts their website? Couldn’t Burton just called the head Russian and said “You can find him in this crappy town in Pennsylvania. If you time it right there is a good chance you can just pick him up passed out on the lawn of some dumb kegger.”?
So Nathans father shows up at the end in order to shoot the bad guy with a sniper rifle (I know I should have thrown in a spoiler alert there, but if you are seriously looking forward to seeing this movie and don’t want it to be spoiled than I couldn’t possible do or say anything to make you any stupider. Trust me, knowing the end of this film will not detract from whatever microscopic amount of enjoyment you can siphon off this beast). He and Nathan have a tear jerking (actually I was crying on the inside through most of this movie, so I don’t think the conversation was much of a contributor) heart to heart chat. However, dad still refuses to to meet the son he hasn’t seen in 14 years for absolutely no apparent reason. Can you at least try to pretend your characters are motivated by something, mediocre writer Shawn Christensen? Throw me a fricken bone here.
Anyway, the list goes on and on, but I have actual work to do tonight so I will cut it off there. Let’s get into the stars and black holes, shall we?
The stars. Sigourney Weaver is in the film for some reason. Remember when she was in cool movies like Alien? (Alien image from one of my many nerd t shirts) One star. Umm. The Russian bad guy was kind of cool (Michael Nyqvist). One star. Total: two stars.
The black holes. Taylor Lautner. One black hole. Plot holes your house could sink into. Three black holes. In addition to plot holes, the whole story makes no sense. One black hole. A movie called Abduction that does not feature even a whiff of actual abduction. Two black holes. None of the characters had any motivation do to anything whatsoever. One black holes. Nathan starts the movie as the dumbest teenager in American history and twenty minutes later is a super spy outsmarting guys with decades of experience. Also he is instantly an expert driver. One black hole. The writer may understand the definitions of the words “character” and “development” but can’t seem to contextualize the two of them together. One black hole. A movie featuring popular high school kids doing popular high school stuff instead of getting beat up by the marching band for playing D&D during lunchtime (I wasn’t cool enough to get beat up by the football team). One black hole. A million, billion cliche’s and stereotypes, including the only black character in the film being the helpful sidekick. One black hole. Dialog that made me wish for the restful sound of fingernails on a blackboard. One black hole. Total: thirteen black holes.
So a grand total of eleven black holes. Do not see this film. More importantly, do not let your children see this film. Not that it has any bad content. It rests firmly in the PG-13 trench. Just that we don’t need to encourage this sort of thing on any level, and honestly your kids will be stupider for having seen this film.
Anyway, I am trying to decide if there is enough insulin in the world to deal with the avalanche of sweetness that will wash over me when I see Dolphin Tale. Some decent stuff coming out this weekend, including 50/50, a movie I am eager to see after listening to an interview with Seth Rogan on the Howard Stern Show. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu.com. Talk to you all later.
So over the weekend I hung out with some people who called into question my geek credibility. Their logic was, sure, Dave’s into Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, video games, anything science fiction, zombies, ninjas, pirates, and cowboys, but he doesn’t have huge coke bottle glasses (the cake, I mean logo, is a lie), bathe regularly, and can actually have a normal conversation without geeking out totally. I, of course, took rapid offense to this assertation and decided the best way to re-establish my position in the nerd world by ranting about the geekiest hobby I have: Warhammer.
For those of you not familiar, is a miniature war game that was invented over 30 years ago in England. It features orks, dragons, elves, zombies, ogres, humans, vampires, lizard men, evil sorcerers, good sorcerers, and a race of half man/half rats called Skaven. It is played with little toy soldiers (hence forth referred to as miniatures, thank you very much) that each player has to buy, assemble, and paint in order to present a coherent army of 80-300 miniatures. Tape measures and dice are used to determine how the battle goes. It is absolutely as geeky as humanly possible, and I love it to the point that I travel across the country to play in tournaments (for the record, I am currently ranked 13th in the country). Next trip will be San Antonio, TX in November for the Alamo Grand Tournament.
Anyway, if you are a lay person that is as far as you really need to read, as I am going to get into it deeply in the next few paragraphs. Unless you are some kind of sociologist trying to write a paper on sub cultures (the Jane Goodall of nerds) you can probably skip to the last paragraph, where I plan to bitch about my dating life some more.
So the big news from last year was the release of 8th edition, and to be honest I was pretty bitter about it. It seemed to eliminate the maneuver as a major factor in game winning, and relied on magic and army composition. Premeasuring meant there was no advantage to being accurate in your guesses. The MSU build seemed dead, which tended to make for really fun, interesting games, and the magic phase so grossly overpowered (especially with the original rules for the Power Scroll) that you could win a game with a single roll of the dice. Steadfast seemed to eliminate the need to turn flanks, and everyone was going straight for huge, gross horde formation builds.
Some of that still seems valid. Magic is grossly overpowered, and a big horde deathstar is something to be avoided like the plague. However, I have discovered in recent months that you can still use maneuver to force your opponent into untenable situations. Furthermore, when someone shows up with 3-4 huge deployables I have learned that you can spend most of the game avoiding whatever is bad with redirection and pick off the easy meat. Since the break between a win and a draw is now only 100 points if you pay attention all you need to do is score one unit and keep him from scoring a bunch of yours. It is a different kind of maneuver game, but maneuver nonetheless.
The one thing I am really starting to see is a major difference between players who were considered good in 7th ed and what can best be described as the new breed of players in 8th. If you didn’t learn maneuver back when it really meant something you will naturally just want to do the huge blocks and have done with it.
I do still miss a lot of 7th ed. The random nature of spells and other stuff can have a good player lose to a lucky bad player. However, I am finding more to like about 8th than I first thought I would. Also, with the massive army creep going on across the board, when you beat someone using a softer list you end up feeling really good about it. Also, I am finding really cool synchronicities in a well balanced army that is missing from the huge formation builds.
Anyway, I said I was going to bitch about my dating life, but upon reflection it’s not that bad. The one girl I am seeing seems inclined to give me a let’s be friends speech, but if you can sniff it coming you can be mentally prepared. Also, she is pretty cool, and I don’t know if I would mind just being friends. Of course if she starts dating someone else I will probably have some kind of meltdown, as if there is one thing I hate it’s being the eunuch man-friend to someone who wants to bitch at me about how her BF is a jerk and/or loser (somehow they all seem to want to tell me what a great guy I am and how I will meet someone, but when faced with the possibility of having to actually date me they don’t want to “ruin the friendship”. Why, then, is it every annoyingly happy couple wants to tell you how they started off as friends? Seems like most girls want that on some level. I think it’s the hypocrisy that gets me more than anything). I think I am going out with another girl tomorrow night who I happen to know carries a sonic screwdriver in her purse. Sounds potentially awesome (Talk Nerdy To Me image courtesy of the nerd t-shirt category). Wish me luck on that one.
With bonus feature: why 3D is officially dead to me now.
I have been looking forward to this film since I first saw the trailer. It looks funny, has gorillas in it (or guys in gorilla masks), bombs, and stars a pizza deliver guy, a job I did for 3 years before and after college. All the elements for a great film, right? Well, in this case the equation added up correctly, as I laughed my ass off.
I’m a little perplexed here, to be honest. I checked a few other reviews and have found a lot of other people hated it for being too dark and/or mean. But really, how is it scatological humor in the Change Up is funny and the inane coincidence pseudo humor in Crazy, Stupid Love is heartwarming yet the frenetic gallows humor this movie hinges around is too dark and grim to be worth laughing at? Horrible Bosses was a better example of grim humor failing to be funny than this one by a long shot.
I don’t know. I just have to go with my own gut reaction, and that reaction is I was laughing a lot during this movie. It might be a matter of personal perspective. I have always appreciated gallows humor and can really understand the concept of if you are going to die anyway than there is nothing to lose by stomping on the gas and blowing through a toll booth at 120 mph.
I will say I had a weird reaction on the drive home. I was thinking about the film and remembering laughing a lot. However, I was hard pressed to actually recall which specific lines or scenes I was laughing at. I feel the biggest problem this film will suffer from is forgetability. It’s a film equivalent of self pleasuring yourself; good for the moment, but really not that satisfying and in the end you have to think to remember what motivated you to do it.
Speaking of self pleasure, I know I say this a lot, but the girl in this movie could easily be my future wife, assuming she has a thing for bitter movie critics who sell nerd t-shirts. I have always had a thing for Indian girls (Dilshad Vadsaria is actually Pakistani, but you get the idea) and dated one for seven wonderful months (before getting dumped right after Christmas. Another pleasant drive by down memory lane). I was afraid I might be creepy in the way too old thing, but then I found out she is 34, which puts her in my date range (my birthday was Monday, by the way. You don’t have to get me anything). This might have added a lot to my enjoyment of the movie.
Anyway, the movie. Jessie Eisenberg plays Nick, a go nowhere loser who delivers pizza for a living and works for a true jackass (sounds EXTREMELY familiar). Danny McBride (Your Highness) is Dwayne, a go nowhere loser who is living off his dad’s lottery winnings. He takes a lot of (well deserved) abuse from his dad, a retired Marine major (Fred Ward). He comes up with a plan to off his dad for the inheritance so he can open a tanning salon/brothel, and is going to hire a hit man a local stripper hooked him up with (strippers being eminently trustworthy when it comes to planning capital crimes). His best friend Travis (Nick Swardson) is a pyromaniac nut with a talent for explosives. In order to pay the hit man (Michale Pena) he needs $100,000. He cooks up the plan to force a local pizza guy to do it by strapping a bomb to his chest (not the dumbest plan ever).
I think this is where the movie started to really appeal to me. I love white trash humor (having come from a long line of white trash) and can totally see some of my cousins cooking up this plan. There is something about white trash plans that combines real stupidity with real ingenuity that works for me. In this case, the plan is kind of dumb but functional, and the technical expertise it took to make the bomb vest was pretty ingenious.
Anyway, Nick’s best friend is Chet (Aziz Ansari from Parks and Recreation), with whom he shares a real bromance/hate relationship that feels 100% real and was easily the best part of the movie. Chet’s sister is Kate, the aforementioned Pakistani hotty and with whom Nick has had some past history, hence a lot of the friction between Nick and Chet. Nick and Chet decide to make the robbery happen. Humorous bank robbery hijinks ensues. Stuff blows up. Nick shows off his driving skills. Plans go awry.
The stars. Pretty funny IMO. Two stars. The chemistry between both Nick and Chet and Dwayne and Travis felt really real and believable. One star. Dilshad Vadsaria. One star. Danny McBride was particularly funny. One star. Pacing was really well done, with pretty much every scene adding to the movie. One star. Some gratuitous nude scenes at a strip club. One star. While the language and humor was definitely rated R, it didn’t feel like they were doing it on purpose just to be R rated. One star. Great supporting characters. One star. Generally fun experience. One star. Total: ten stars.
Now the black holes. In spite of what I think is a decent, funny movie in the end I feel I am not going to retain a lot from it. One black hole. While I appreciate the gallows humor, the ultimate darkness of the film made me not really sympathetic to any of the characters. Even the so called “good guys” turn out to be self interested jerks towards the end. One black hole. While I am not a super avid CSI fan, I know something about crime and Nick and Chet left a forensic trail big enough to land a 747 on. One black hole. There was on scene in particular that felt fake and dumb (the “rape kit” scene). One black hole. Total: four black holes.
So a grand total of six stars. This is actually pretty good for a non-comic book or sci fi movie from me. Not a good date movie, unless your date is a huge Harold and Kumar fan. See it with a couple friends, and if you loce it up in the car beforehand I don’t think you will lose much. I don’t think you will lose much if you see it on your TV either, so there is not a huge drive to see it on a screen. As a matter of fact, if you managed to pick up a copy for your private collection this is a pretty good “play-something-in-the-background-while-we-drink-beer-and-eat-pizza” movie. Might be worth adding to the collection.
As for the bonus feature for this post, I have seen the death knell of 3D. While waiting on line to buy my ticket I saw a poster for (no joke) Glee in 3D. Yes, annoying technology has now been misapplied in a manner so bizarre as to suck out the last remaining bits of cool like a starving vampire liplocked to it’s jugular and leave it’s moldy corpse rotting down Mundane Alley. This is like using the Batmobile to pick up your kids a daycare. Seriously? Dumb ass kids dancing in 3D? Think about it. The venue that 3D will always work best in is action and/or horror, because the one thing 3D does well is the flying machete coming at your face. The doom of 3D was written when Hollywood realized just putting 3D in the title of a movie is a way of milking that cash cow for a few more bucks. I am officially over 3D. I might see a 3D movie in the future but, given a choice, will save the money and go 2D. Dumb plastic glasses can bite me.
My friend Josh is coming out with some great videos with his crew on the Geek Down show. Check out this best comic movie of the year debate. Not sure how much I can agree with them. The best comic movie of the year was X-Men First Class in my less than humble opinion. However, they raise some interesting points and, as a movie critic (self proclaimed) I like to see what they have going on. Also, the girl they have in the background is really easy on the eyes. They invited me to a party last month that I couldn’t make and now I’m regretting it. The one thing I would say is I’d like to see them buy a couple couches. I find watching them debate while standing around like the are on a playground waiting to get picked for softball a little distracting. I think I would get more from them if the looked like they were relaxing a little, but that’s just me.
My cousin wants to see Tree of Life, so I might have to do a review for a serious movie soon. Meanwhile, I’ll watch another Harry Potter tonight and come up with some more really annoying questions.